Twentieth (20) Sunday after Pentecost
SAINT TERESA OF AVILA
Ester, Chapter 8, Verse 17
In each and every province and in each and every city, wherever the king’s order arrived, there was merriment and joy, banqueting and feasting for the Jews. And many of the peoples of the land identified themselves as Jews, for FEAR of the Jews fell upon them.
So, Ester saves the Jews and now it is cool to be a Jew. So cool that in Persia there were Jewish posers. Interesting. Here we see God’s promise to those who trust that after the trial, will come rejoicing; just as after the darkness of night the sun does rise.
There is no better consolation under crosses and afflictions than the thought that all the troubles of this world are not to be compared with the glory to come, and that which is at present momentary and light of our tribulation worketh for us above measure exceedingly an eternal weight of glory (n. Cor. iv. 17). And, therefore, St. Bede says: If we had to bear for a while the pains of hell, it would not appear so hard, if thereby we might merit to see Christ in His glory, and to be added to His saints.
Trusting in God
Life is filled with many difficulties and challenges that cause us to worry. Each day we are confronted with many events that may cause us to become apprehensive. What is worry? The dictionary says that when we worry, we torment ourselves with disturbing thoughts. According to the National Institutes of Health, one in three adults has occasional insomnia, and one in ten adults has chronic sleeplessness. Experts are concerned about the ever-increasing consumption of sleeping pills by many Americans. The remedy for worry is for all of us to trust in God. St. Augustine once said that God is closer to us than we are to ourselves. We experience God through our life of prayer. Prayer is conversation with God. Prayer is a continual being in love because God is real. God is personal. No matter what might be going on in our lives, we must always pray and pray daily. Prayer is the air that we breathe. One of the greatest challenges that we encounter is our inability to see and to listen to God. We can be caught up in the distractions of daily life that prevent us from really encountering God. Our busy lives require refreshing times of prayer throughout the day. God is moving us away from clinging to things, people and institutions. He is calling us to detachment, to the desert, to the journey into the night of naked faith. He is calling us to cling to him and only him. This journey is difficult, frightening at times and even risky. But, those who embark upon the journey will be transformed into living witnesses of the God of love. However, without a serious spiritual life, anxiety and fear will overwhelm us. If we are a people who live truly spiritual lives, we will be filled with peace and joy no matter what may be going on around us. And this is so, because we will always be able to trust God.
St. Teresa of Avila, the famous Spanish mystic, once wrote: "Let nothing trouble you. Let nothing frighten you. Everything passes. God never changes. Patience obtains all. Whoever has God, wants for nothing. God alone is enough."
St. Teresa provides us profound words of wisdom for our present times. The staggering number of prescription drugs available for the many forms of uneasiness and tension illustrates that many of our contemporaries suffer deep inner turmoil. It is true that we are experiencing profound challenges: wars, continual threats of terrorism, problems within our Catholic Church, the rapidly accelerating unraveling of moral decency in our society, an uncertain economy and the terrible wounds caused by the dismantling of family life. Nevertheless, challenges such as these should remind us that we must always trust in God who is always with us. Trust is rooted in faith which is a gift. If your faith is weak, ask God to give you more faith. To do this incorporate into your lives four practices that are so basic for anyone who wants to be a serious Catholic: contemplative prayer, daily Mass or a prolonged visit before the Blessed Sacrament, daily Rosary and the frequent use of the Sacrament of Confession. These four things will allow you to trust God and they will provide you with the interior peace that all seek.
What are the practical steps that we can take in order to incorporate into our busy lives a serious spiritual life?
· First of all, we need balance in our lives. When was the last time that we enjoyed dinner with family and friends, or turned off our cell phone and refrained from checking our email at every moment? Excessive work and travel, excessive involvement in sports and entertainment are tearing us apart.
· Secondly, a serious spiritual life requires the capacity to be alone. It is difficult to be alone in our contemporary society. Even when we are alone, the noise of our own worries and fears drown out the silence of God's voice. Many people are incapable of being alone and they immediately feel an obsession to talk with someone on a cell phone or check their email. We all need moments of solitude. Spending a quiet time before the Eucharist, reading the Scriptures during a peaceful moment at home, taking tranquil walks through the woods or along the beach all are necessary for our soul. In order to be with God, we must develop the ability to be alone with ourselves.
· Thirdly, we need order in our lives. Working out daily schedules for the entire family by setting realistic priorities and minimizing extra-curricular activities for the children are steps that we can take. Early to bed and early to rise is a wise principle which is still valid today.
ON KEEPING THE LORD'S DAY HOLY
My esteemed Brothers in the
and the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
7. The duty to keep Sunday holy, especially by sharing in the Eucharist and by relaxing in a spirit of Christian joy and fraternity, is easily understood if we consider the many different aspects of this day upon which the present Letter will focus our attention.
Sunday is a day which is at the very heart of the Christian life. From the beginning of my Pontificate, I have not ceased to repeat: "Do not be afraid! Open, open wide the doors to Christ!". In the same way, today I would strongly urge everyone to rediscover Sunday: Do not be afraid to give your time to Christ! Yes, let us open our time to Christ, that he may cast light upon it and give it direction. He is the One who knows the secret of time and the secret of eternity, and he gives us "his day" as an ever-new gift of his love. The rediscovery of this day is a grace which we must implore, not only so that we may live the demands of faith to the full, but also so that we may respond concretely to the deepest human yearnings. Time given to Christ is never time lost, but is rather time gained, so that our relationships and indeed our whole life may become more profoundly human.
Twentieth (20) Sunday after Pentecost
The final manifestation of Christ...the Church focuses on making our hearts ready through faith as we "redeem the times".
THE Introit of the Mass is a humble prayer by which we confess that we are punished for our disobedience. “All that Thou hast done to us, O Lord, Thou hast done in true judgment, because we have sinned against Thee, and we have not obeyed Thy commandments; but give glory to Thy name, and deal with us according to the multitude of Thy mercy (Dan. iii.). “Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord.”
Be appeased, O Lord, we beseech Thee, and grant to Thy faithful pardon and peace, that they may be cleansed from all their offences, and serve Thee with secure mind.
EPISTLE. Eph. v. 15-21.
See, brethren, how you walk circumspectly: not as unwise, but as wise: redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore become not unwise but understanding what is the will of God. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is luxury, but be ye filled with the Holy Spirit. Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns, and spiritual canticles, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord: giving thanks always for all things in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, to God and the Father: being subject one to another in the fear of Christ.
GOSPEL. John vi. 46-53
At that time there was a certain ruler whose son was sick at Capharnaum. He having heard that Jesus was - come from Judea into Galilee, went to Him, and prayed Him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. Jesus therefore said to him: Unless you see signs and wonders, you believe not. The ruler saith to him: Lord, come down before that my son dies. Jesus saith to him: Go thy way, thy son liveth. The man believed the word which Jesus said to him and went his way. And as he was going down, his servants met him: and they brought word, saying that his son lived. He asked therefore of them the hour wherein he grew better. And they said to him: Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him. The father therefore knew that it was at the same hour that Jesus said to him, thy son liveth; and himself believed, and his whole house.
Consolation in Sickness
To console ourselves in sickness, let us bethink ourselves that God has sent us sickness for the good of our souls; that we may thereby attain a knowledge of our sins, and make satisfaction for them; or, if we suffer innocently, we may exercise ourselves in patience, charity, humility, and such like virtues, and so increase our merits. When ill let us employ a competent physician and use the remedies he may prescribe. But before all else, let us betake ourselves to God, give ourselves up unreservedly to His will, pray Him to enlighten the physician, and bless the means employed for our recovery, and subdue our inclinations if the prescription of the physician does violence to our former habits. For how otherwise should medicine have its proper effect?
O Lord, here burn, here wound, only spare me in eternity!
ON THE CARE OF THE SICK
All who have charge of the sick should before all think of the soul, and to that end call upon Jesus to come in the Blessed Sacrament, before the sick person is past the point of receiving Him with devotion. Therefore, parents, children, relatives, and friends, if they truly love the sick, should seek to induce him to receive the Blessed Sacrament in time. At the beginning, and during the progress of the sickness, we should endeavor to encourage the patient to resignation and childlike confidence in God; should place before him the Savior, suffering and glorified, as a pattern and consolation, should pray with him, to strengthen him against desponding thoughts and the temptations of the devil; should sign him with the sign of the cross, sprinkle him with holy water, and, before all, pray for a happy death. But in caring for the soul the body is not to be neglected. We must call in time a skillful physician, give the sick person his medicines at the appointed times, keep everything clean, observe particularly the prescribed limit as to eating and drinking, and not permit the patient to have his own will, for he might often desire what would be hurtful to him. In general, we should do what, in like case, we would wish to have done for ourselves, for there is no greater work of charity than to attend a sick person, and particularly to assist him to a happy death.
Saint Teresa of Avila
Teresa, whose name was Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada, was born in Avila, Spain, in 1515. In her autobiography she mentions some details of her childhood: she was born into a large family, her “father and mother, who were devout and feared God”. She had three sisters and nine brothers. While she was still a child and not yet nine years old she had the opportunity to read the lives of several Martyrs which inspired in her such a longing for martyrdom that she briefly ran away from home in order to die a Martyr’s death and to go to Heaven (cf. Vida,[Life], 1, 4); “I want to see God”, the little girl told her parents.
A few years later Teresa was to speak of her childhood reading and to state that she had discovered in it the way of truth which she sums up in two fundamental principles.
On the one hand was the fact that (1) “all things of this world will pass away” while on the other God alone is (2) “for ever, ever, ever”, a topic that recurs in her best-known poem: “Let nothing disturb you, let nothing frighten you, All things are passing away: God never changes.
· Patience obtains all things. Whoever has God lacks nothing, God alone suffices”. She was about 12 years old when her mother died, and she implored the Virgin Most Holy to be her mother (cf. Vida, I, 7).
· When she was 20, she entered the Carmelite Monastery of the Incarnation, also in Avila. In her religious life she took the name “Teresa of Jesus”. Three years later she fell seriously ill, so ill that she remained in a coma for four days, looking as if she were dead (cf. Vida, 5, 9).
· In the fight against her own illnesses too the Saint saw the combat against weaknesses and the resistance to God’s call: “I wished to live”, she wrote, “but I saw clearly that I was not living, but rather wrestling with the shadow of death; there was no one to give me life, and I was not able to take it. He who could have given it to me had good reasons for not coming to my aid, seeing that he had brought me back to himself so many times, and I as often had left him” (Vida, 7, 8).
· In 1543 she lost the closeness of her relatives; her father died and all her siblings, one after another, emigrated to America. In Lent 1554, when she was 39 years old, Teresa reached the climax of her struggle against her own weaknesses. The fortuitous discovery of the statue of “a Christ most grievously wounded”, left a deep mark on her life (cf. Vida, 9).
· The Saint, who in that period felt deeply in tune with the St Augustine of the Confessions, thus describes the decisive day of her mystical experience: “and... a feeling of the presence of God would come over me unexpectedly, so that I could in no wise doubt either that he was within me, or that I was wholly absorbed in him” (Vida, 10, 1).
Teresa of Jesus had no academic education but always set great store by the teachings of theologians, men of letters and spiritual teachers. As a writer, she always adhered to what she had lived personally through or had seen in the experience of others (cf. Prologue to The Way of Perfection), in other words basing herself on her own first-hand knowledge.
Among her most important works we should mention first of all her autobiography, El libro de la vida (the book of life), which she called Libro de las misericordias del Señor [book of the Lord’s mercies].
Among the most precious passages is her commentary on the Our Father, as a model for prayer. St Teresa’s most famous mystical work is El Castillo interior [The Interior Castle]. She wrote it in 1577 when she was in her prime. It is a reinterpretation of her own spiritual journey and, at the same time, a codification of the possible development of Christian life towards its fullness, holiness, under the action of the Holy Spirit. Teresa refers to the structure of a castle with seven rooms as an image of human interiority. She simultaneously introduces the symbol of the silkworm reborn as a butterfly, in order to express the passage from the natural to the supernatural. The Saint draws inspiration from Sacred Scripture, particularly the Song of Songs, for the final symbol of the “Bride and Bridegroom” which enables her to describe, in the seventh room, the four crowning aspects of Christian life: the Trinitarian, the Christological, the anthropological and the ecclesial.
Prayer is life and develops gradually, in pace with the growth of Christian life: it begins with vocal prayer, passes through interiorization by means of meditation and recollection, until it attains the union of love with Christ and with the Holy Trinity. Obviously, in the development of prayer climbing to the highest steps does not mean abandoning the previous type of prayer. Rather, it is a gradual deepening of the relationship with God that envelops the whole of life.
Another subject dear to the Saint is the centrality of Christ’s humanity. For Teresa, in fact, Christian life is the personal relationship with Jesus that culminates in union with him through grace, love and imitation. Hence the importance she attaches to meditation on the Passion and on the Eucharist as the presence of Christ in the Church for the life of every believer, and as the heart of the Liturgy. St Teresa lives out unconditional love for the Church: she shows a lively “sensus Ecclesiae”, in the face of the episodes of division and conflict in the Church of her time.
A final essential aspect of Teresian doctrine which I would like to emphasize is perfection, as the aspiration of the whole of Christian life and as its ultimate goal. The Saint has a very clear idea of the “fullness” of Christ, relived by the Christian. At the end of the route through The Interior Castle, in the last “room”, Teresa describes this fullness, achieved in the indwelling of the Trinity, in union with Christ through the mystery of his humanity.
Dear brothers and sisters, St Teresa of Jesus is a true teacher of Christian life for the faithful of every time. In our society, which all too often lacks spiritual values, St Teresa teaches us to be unflagging witnesses of God, of his presence and of his action. She teaches us truly to feel this thirst for God that exists in the depths of our hearts, this desire to see God, to seek God, to be in conversation with him and to be his friends. This is the friendship we all need that we must seek anew, day after day. May the example of this Saint, profoundly contemplative and effectively active, spur us too every day to dedicate the right time to prayer, to this openness to God, to this journey, in order to seek God, to see him, to discover his friendship and so to find true life; indeed many of us should truly say: “I am not alive, I am not truly alive because I do not live the essence of my life”. Therefore, time devoted to prayer is not time wasted, it is time in which the path of life unfolds, the path unfolds to learning from God an ardent love for him, for his Church, and practical charity for our brothers and sisters.
Catechism of the Catholic Church
PART TWO: THE CELEBRATION OF THE CHRISTIAN MYSTERY
SECTION TWO-THE SEVEN SACRAMENTS OF THE CHURCH
CHAPTER TWO-THE SACRAMENTS OF HEALING
Article 4-THE SACRAMENT OF PENANCE AND RECONCILIATION
I. What is This Sacrament Called?
1423 It is called the sacrament of
conversion because it makes sacramentally present Jesus' call to conversion,
the first step in returning to the Father5 from whom one has strayed by sin.
It is called the sacrament of Penance, since it consecrates the Christian sinner's personal and ecclesial steps of conversion, penance, and satisfaction.
1424 It is called the sacrament of
confession, since the disclosure or confession of sins to a priest is an
essential element of this sacrament. In a profound sense it is also a
"confession" - acknowledgment and praise - of the holiness of God and
of his mercy toward sinful man.
It is called the sacrament of forgiveness, since by the priest's sacramental absolution God grants the penitent "pardon and peace."
It is called the sacrament of Reconciliation, because it imparts to the sinner the love of God who reconciles: "Be reconciled to God."7 He who lives by God's merciful love is ready to respond to the Lord's call: "Go; first be reconciled to your brother."
· Today in honor of the Holy Trinity do the Divine Office giving your day to God. To honor God REST: no shopping after 6 pm Saturday till Monday. Don’t forget the internet.
Porters of St. Joseph by joining them in fasting: Today's Fast: Families of St. Joseph’s PortersUnite in the work of the
· Litany of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus
Goffine’s Devout Instructions, 1896.