Posted: 01 Jan 2012 10:19 PM PST
Whether you are challenged with overwhelming obstacles or just undertaking your daily responsibilities, The of Book of Confidence by Father Thomas de Saint-Laurent draws upon the wisdom of Saints and great thinkers of the Church in order to persuade the reader that God and his plan can be depended on. In fact, the chosen instrument of God to strengthen our confidence in him is adversity. Yes, virtues are tested by its opposite. Hence, confidence in God is tested by those very circumstances which naturally lend themselves to anxiety and uncertainty.
Excerpts from The Book of Confidence:
Neither the most afflicting temporal misfortunes nor the greatest spiritual difficulties will disturb the peace of the confident soul.
The soul will lean on Him with a certainty that increases in proportion to the degree that she feels herself deprived of human help.
On one of his journeys, Saint Martin fell into the hands of highwaymen. The bandits stripped him and were going to kill him. Suddenly, however, touched by the grace of repentance or moved by a mysterious fear, they turned him loose and, against all expectations, freed him. Later, the illustrious bishop was asked if, during the pressing danger, he had not felt some fear.
"None," he responded. "I knew that as human help became more improbable, the divine intervention was all the more certain."
"Providence," Louis of Granada used to say, "wishes to give the solution to the extraordinary difficulties of life directly, while it leaves to secondary-causes the resolving of ordinary difficulties." But it is always necessary to cry out for divine help.
This is the doctrine taught by St. Francis de Sales: "Providence only delays in coming to our aid in order to excite us to confidence. If our Heavenly Father does not always grant us what we ask, it is because He desires to keep us at His feet and to provide us with an occasion to insist with loving violence in our petitions to Him. He showed this clearly to the two disciples at Emmaus, with whom He did not consent to remain until the close of the day, and even after they had pressed Him."
Therefore, do not be discouraged when the mirage of human assistance fades away. To count on nothing but the help of heaven, is this not already a most high virtue?
Our Lord Jesus says, "Seek, therefore, first the kingdom of God and His justice, and all these things shall be added unto you."
It is not enough for us to skip lightly over this discourse of Our Lord. We must fix our attention on it in order to seek its profound significance and to imbue our souls deeply with its doctrine.
It behooves us, then, not afflict ourselves. We must occupy reasonably with our obligations, not allowing ourselves to be dominated by anguish over the somber prospects of the future, and counting without hesitation on the aid of Divine Providence. The Lord will occupy Himself all the more with our interests when we concern ourselves with His interests.
Posted: 01 Jan 2012 12:27 PM PST
Excerpts from the writings of Archbishop William Ullathorne (1806-1889), first Catholic bishop of Birmingham, England.
From the moment of His conception He had already made His oblation, for as St. Paul says: ‘Coming into the world, He said, A body you have fitted to me. Holocausts for sin did not please you. Behold I come. In the head of the book it stands written of me: that I should do your will, O God’ (Heb 10:5-7). And Mary was the most pure temple in which the great High Priest made His offering. There He had first offered up that blood, there He first offered up that flesh, of which He said at a later time: ‘If you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you shall have life. As the Father lives in me, and I live by the Father, so he who eats me, the same shall live by me’ (John 6:55-58).
But now it is in a far more intimate and constant way that Jesus lives by Mary, and Mary lives by Jesus. Oh, who can tell that mystery of life? Who can comprehend that union between the two hearts of Jesus and Mary? Everyone can understand how much He has been enriched through the heart of His mother, and how His noblest sentiments have been derived from her. But who can understand how Jesus enriched the heart of Mary in that incomparable union? For, next to that union by which Jesus is God and man in one person, there is no union so intimate as that of a mother with a child. The Saints are his brethren by adoption, but Mary is His mother by nature. They have affinity with Him, but she holds with Him the first degree of a relationship through blood. Her graces, then, are quite another order than that which sanctified the very holiest of Saints…Mary is a summary of all the truths of the Gospel, displays all the graces of her Son, strikes down countless errors, and puts sin, and the author of sin, beneath her stainless feet.
Posted: 01 Jan 2012 11:34 PM PST
The Word of God is that unchangeable yet inexhaustible standard of truth which has served as a reliable map of life for thousands of years. Map of Life is a feature of Sky View where we garner whatever insights or directives Scripture has to offer (if people like it, we'll post this series a couple of times a week). As the saying goes, praying is our way of speaking to God, reading Scripture is God's way of speaking to us. Indeed our relationship with God is a two way street. To take at least 15-30 minutes a day and meditate on the Word of God. It is food for the soul and light for the mind. Slowly but surely, this spiritual exercise is bound to yield its fruit. You will then notice a difference about the way you see God, yourself and the world around you!
Scripture passage: Luke 14:25-33
Great crowds were traveling with him, and he turned and addressed them, "If any one comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
Which of you wishing to construct a tower does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if there is enough for its completion? Otherwise, after laying the foundation and finding himself unable to finish the work the onlookers should laugh at him and say, 'This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.'
Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down and decide whether with ten thousand troops he can successfully oppose another king advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops? But if not, while he is still far away, he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms. In the same way, everyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.
Sky View Comments:
These two parables are desperately needed for the spiritual growth and salvation of the individual Catholic and for the vitality of the Church.
1. As it regards to the individual, our Lord makes it clear that his followers must put him first; not just in theory, but in practice. Possessions, family and even the one's own life must be put at his disposal. Not only is he calling for total fidelity but he says anything short of that would disqualify the person from being his followers. Here, Jesus is saying, in so many words, that he will not accept half measures. This is not to say that he is intolerant of imperfect Christians. Not at all! What he is saying- and dare I say this escapes the pastoral practices of many dioceses and parishes –is that at the very least he wants a full commitment; a resolve to believe all that he commanded, to obey all of this laws and to do one’s best to live his life to the full! If the intention is not there to go the distance, then Jesus is telling us- do not even bother! Oh! You might say, “That is harsh.” But it sounds “harsh” only because we have not taken these firm requirements by our Lord very seriously.
2. What else do these parables mean? After all, he wants all of us, not part of us. When we observe eight or nine out of Ten Commandments God is not benefiting from our total fidelity. St. James reminds us of the following: "For whoever keeps the whole law, but falls short in one particular, has become guilty in respect to all of it." Somehow we lead people to believe that they can believe in "most" of what Christ taught and do "most" of what he commanded. However, conversion means turning towards him and, at the same time, turning away from sin. Christ and the Apostles never emphasized the former without also insisting upon the latter. It begs the question: What has been result of emphasizing conversion to Christ without turning away from sin? Ministries like "Catholics Come Home" have been created to win back scores of fallen away Catholics.
Jesus says do not be like the builder who quits half way through the construction of the tower or the king who wages war with his enemy without the resources to finish. That means half measures will not cut it with him nor has it attracted prospective converts to the Catholic Church.
As a Church, with regard to our pastoral practices, compassion is defined as “accepting people where they are at.” What this usually translates into is accepting half measures; that is, permitting people to participate in the Sacraments knowing full well that they are not resolved to believe all that Christ taught and do all that he commanded. For instance, when when couples are living in mortal sin via cohabitation, many are not required to repent before the Church blesses their marriage. However, it is important to note that from the early Christian period to the 1950’s, this would not have been allowed.
As these two parables apply to the Church, the pastoral practices from the last fifty years have significantly departed from the standards Jesus had insisted on. If being a disciple of Christ is synonymous with being a Catholic in good standing, then admission into the Church and access to the Sacraments ought to reflect our Lord’s teaching on the parable of the Tower and the King at Battle.