Monday, October 29, 2018
Acts, Chapter 3, Verse 16
And by faith in his name, this man, whom you see and know, his name has made strong, and the faith that comes through it has given him this perfect health, in the presence of all of you.
Peter at the beginning of Christ’s approach to him said Lord Leave me for I am a sinful man-and he was. Notice that after the resurrection Peter was changed and now took on the work of Christ. We are all sinners we are all lame as the man in this verse but by faith we can do the work of Christ and He will change us.
Demonstration + Proclamation = Credibility
After Pentecost when the apostle received the Holy Spirit they started to build the church: The Kingdom of God. Peter and John encountered a lame man on their way to temple. Using only the name of Jesus they healed the man and they gained credibility because they did what they said, “they walked the talk.” As their credibility grew so did the church. Note how Acts 3 (Acts 3:1-26) describes these leaders:
1. They faithfully did what they knew to do.
2. They stopped and sensitively addressed needs.
3. They had courage to face problems.
4. Others anticipated receiving solutions from them.
5. They realistically admitted their lack of material resources.
6. They generously gave away their spiritual resources.
7. They solved practical problems.
8. They gained credibility through demonstration, not just proclamation.
9. Peter’s demonstration gave him a platform and a convincing argument.
Eyes of Faith
Many of us today are still enthralled to a Deist view of God, whereby God is a distant and aloof first cause of the universe, uninvolved with the world he has made. But Thomas Aquinas taught that God is in all things, "by essence, presence, and power" and that God providentially cares for every aspect of his creation. Therefore, we should expect to see signs of his presence and activity in nature, in history, and in human affairs. And once we see, we are meant to speak! In a way, followers of Jesus are not looking at the signs of the times for their own benefit, but rather that they might share their prophetic perspective with everyone else. So, look around, look with attention, look with the eyes of faith!
Fasting gives birth to prophets and strengthens the powerful; fasting makes lawgivers wise. Fasting is a good safeguard for the soul, a steadfast companion for the body, a weapon for the valiant, and a gymnasium for athletes. Fasting repels temptations, anoints unto piety; it is the comrade of watchfulness and the artificer of chastity. In war it fights bravely, in peace it teaches stillness. – St. Basil the Great
Are you struggling with a sin? I mean a sin that you just can’t seem to get rid of; a sin that is keeps you in a constant state of guilt and despair. You’ve prayed, you’ve frequented the sacraments, but you just can’t seem to break its hold. We’ve all been there at one point or another, and such struggles are part and parcel of the spiritual life. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Today, I want to introduce you to a very powerful, but much neglected weapon in the spiritual arsenal: Fasting. If you want to put to energize your spiritual life, if you want to slay a sin that has you in bondage, if you want to grow in union with God, take up the holy weapon of fasting. For as Jesus said, there are some demons that “cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting.” Let’s examine this powerful weapon and its use in the spiritual life.
1. Start with the basics – The first step in fasting is obeying the law of the Church—fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, abstaining from meat on Fridays, and observing the Eucharistic fast (do not eat or drink one hour before communion).
Regarding abstaining from meat on Friday, it’s true that it is technically is not required in the U.S., but some sort of food-based penance or sacrifice is still required. But instead of trying to invent some new penance, why not just stick with what Catholics have always done? Abstain from meat on Fridays. There’s a good reason for it. Men, fasting two days a year and abstaining from meat on Fridays is incredibly easy. In the “old days”, fasting was required every weekday in Lent. And there was once even a time when that fasting required abstinence from all dairy products. There were a ton of other fasts and days of abstinence throughout the liturgical year as well. I would say that we have it easier than any other period in Catholic history. So let’s start with the basics and obey the law of the Church without grumbling or complaining.
2. Add more – As Catholic men, we should never be satisfied with the bare minimum. We should seek to constantly pursue a deeper conversion. St. Francis de Sales gives some good advice in this regard: If you are able to fast, you will do well to observe some days beyond what are ordered by the Church, for besides the ordinary effect of fasting in raising the mind, subduing the flesh, confirming goodness, and obtaining a heavenly reward, it is also a great matter to be able to control greediness, and to keep the sensual appetites and the whole body subject to the law of the Spirit; and although we may be able to do but little, the enemy nevertheless stands more in awe of those whom he knows can fast.
Accordingly, once you’ve begun to follow the law of the Church, build on that foundation to include fasting in other ways. Here are some ideas:
· Skip one meal extra a week, like breakfast or lunch. In addition to Fridays, Wednesdays are traditional days of fasting, so that might be a good day to start with.
· Deny yourself dessert on set days. Most of us eat too much sugar anyway.
· Skip salt on your food.
· Fast from soda. It’s terrible for you!
· Skip the beer or other alcoholic drinks when going out to eat.
· Don’t eat between meals. This sounds easy but try it. You’ll find it’s quite hard since most of us snack frequently and don’t even realize it.
· Include things besides food. For example, fast from all technology one day a week.
· Fast (one main meal with two small snacks) one day a week.
· Drink only water.
· Now, you don’t have to fast from all of these things all of the time. It is best to choose set days for fasting, like the Wednesdays or Fridays mentioned above. Doing so helps keep our fasting consistent.
3. Fast from sin – Bodily fasting is meaningless unless it is joined with a spiritual fast from sin. St. Basil gives the following exhortation regarding fasting: Let us fast an acceptable and very pleasing fast to the Lord. True fast is the estrangement from evil, temperance of tongue, abstinence from anger, separation from desires, slander, falsehood and perjury. Privation of these is true fasting.
4. Pray – Fasting is not simply a matter of will power. Grace is absolutely necessary. While fasting energies prayer, prayer energizes fasting. Both are weak without the other.
As you fast to conquer your passions, pray constantly for the grace of God to flood your soul, beg for the virtues in which you need to mature, and ask for strength in the spiritual warfare.
5. Beware of Pride – With any kind of self-discipline, penance, or fasting comes a temptation to pride. We face the danger of believing that we are superior to others because we fast or thinking that fasting is an end in itself. But fasting itself is never the goal, nor does it make us perfect or more spiritual than others. Rather, fasting is an aid, a training tool in our ascent toward perfection, which is found in a pure, self-giving love of God and neighbor. “Be on your guard when you begin to mortify your body by abstinence and fasting,” says St. Jerome, “lest you imagine yourself to be perfect and a saint; for perfection does not consist in this virtue. It is only a help; a disposition; a means though a fitting one, for the attainment of true perfection.”
Conclusion: If we neglect fasting, our spiritual life will always be mediocre. We will be weak in the combat against our passions, we will easily succumb to temptation, and we will never truly overcome our inherent selfishness and self-indulgence. As men, our desire should be to strengthen ourselves and be the best that we can be. We should train ourselves to be strong in the spiritual warfare, so we can resist the temptations of the evil one. There is no better way to begin this spiritual training than through the practice of fasting.
Amoris Lætitia the Transformation of Love (163-164)
Longer life spans now mean that close and exclusive relationships must last for four, five or even six decades; consequently, the initial decision has to be frequently renewed. While one of the spouses may no longer experience an intense sexual desire for the other, he or she may still experience the pleasure of mutual belonging and the knowledge that neither of them is alone but has a “partner” with whom everything in life is shared. He or she is a companion on life’s journey, one with whom to face life’s difficulties and enjoy its pleasures. This satisfaction is part of the affection proper to conjugal love. There is no guarantee that we will feel the same way all through life. Yet if a couple can come up with a shared and lasting life project, they can love one another and live as one until death do them part, enjoying an enriching intimacy. The love they pledge is greater than any emotion, feeling or state of mind, although it may include all of these. It is a deeper love, a lifelong decision of the heart. Even amid unresolved conflicts and confused emotional situations, they daily reaffirm their decision to love, to belong to one another, to share their lives and to continue loving and forgiving. Each progresses along the path of personal growth and development. On this journey, love rejoices at every step and in every new stage. In the course of every marriage physical appearances change, but this hardly means that love and attraction need fade. We love the other person for who they are, not simply for their body. Although the body ages, it still expresses that personal identity that first won our heart. Even if others can no longer see the beauty of that identity, a spouse continues to see it with the eyes of love and so his or her affection does not diminish. He or she reaffirms the decision to belong to the other and expresses that choice in faithful and loving closeness. The nobility of this decision, by its intensity and depth, gives rise to a new kind of emotion as they fulfill their marital mission. For “emotion, caused by another human being as a person… does not per se tend toward the conjugal act”. It finds other sensible expressions. Indeed, love “is a single reality, but with different dimensions; at different times, one or other dimension may emerge more clearly”. The marriage bond finds new forms of expression and constantly seeks new ways to grow in strength. These both preserve and strengthen the bond. They call for daily effort. None of this, however, is possible without praying to the Holy Spirit for an outpouring of his grace, his supernatural strength and his spiritual fire, to confirm, direct and transform our love in every new situation.
The Way Purity
"Read these counsels slowly. Pause to meditate on these thoughts. They are things that I whisper in your ear-confiding them-as a friend, as a brother, as a father. And they are being heard by God. I won't tell you anything new. I will only stir your memory, so that some thought will arise and strike you; and so you will better your life and set out along ways of prayer and of Love. And in the end you will be a more worthy soul."
111. When you resolve firmly to lead a clean life, chastity will not be a burden for you: it will be a triumphal crown.
· Day NINE spiritual warfare
John Maxwell, The Maxwell Leadership Bible.
Bishop Robert Baron, October 27, 2017, gospel reflection.
 Pope Francis, Encyclical on Love.
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