As all the water outside a vessel can do it no harm until it enters the vessel, itself, so outward persecutions cannot really injure the Church of God. But when the mischief oozes into the Church and the love of God’s people grows cold—ah, then the boat is in sore distress!
The present article of ongoing formation offers you the Pope’s message for Lent and an (old but interesting) Sermon of the famous Eglish Baptist preacher Charles Haddon SPURGEON (1834-1892) on the evangelical sentence chosen by the Pope as the topic of his message: “Because of the increase of iniquity, the love of many will grow cold” (Mt 24:12)
Let us to share three moments experienced by Peter and the first community: Peter and the community disheartened, Peter and the community shown mercy, and Peter and the community transfigured. I play with this pairing of Peter and the community since the life of apostles always has this twofold dimension, the personal and the communitarian.
After having meditated last time on the place Christ occupies in the cosmos, I would like to dedicate this second reflection to the place Christ occupies in human history: after first considering his presence in space, we will now consider his presence in time.
Most theories of religion start out with defining the religious situation as man’s search for God and maintain the axiom that God is silent, hidden and unconcerned with man’s search for Him. Now, in adopting that axiom, the answer is given before the question is asked. To Biblical thinking, the definition is incomplete and the axiom false. The Bible speaks not only of man’s search for God but also of God’s search for man.
There are three comings of Jesus. Christ did come in the past, Christ does come right now, and Christ will come in the future. If you don’t mind me saying it in a more poetic way, Our Lord comes to us in history, mystery, and majesty.
Each year we prepare a month in advance, for our Christmas celebration. This time is called “Advent”, in latin “ad-venire”, in Spanish “lo/el que viene”, in English “the coming of someone or something”. But there are two ways in which we can prepare and celebrate Christmas.
There is a deep longing in the human heart for enduring love, and because God is love (cf. 1 Jn 4:8), this deep longing is really a longing for God. God alone can ultimately fulfill this longing of the human heart because He Himself created us with this innermost desire for Him, although so often we do not consciously realize its true source.
I think that one of the great New Testament Biblical characters to put on the “lamp-stand of our house” (Matthew 5, 15) is Mary Magdalene, the woman of the great daybreak, the first messenger of the Resurrection. She is the image of the passionate Church Wife, looking for her Lord.
HENRI J.M. NOUWEN is the author of more than thirty books. He taught at the University of Notre Dame, as well as Yale and Harvard Universities. From 1986 until his death in September, 1996, he was pastor of the L’Arche Daybreak community in Toronto where he shared his life with people with mental disabilities. The present text is taken from the introduction and last chapter of his book Can you drink the cup? (AVE MARIA PRESS Notre Dame, Indiana – 1996)
St. Joseph is a key figure in understanding some of the essential dimensions of the Christian vocation. Let us consider four of them: protecting life, living fairly, letting God be the protagonist in our life, cultivating the mystical dimension. They highlight why the Church holds up Saint Joseph as a model for all Christians.
In a spirituality which is focused on others and their needs, the Eucharist becomes first of all a time to remember: to remember, in thanksgiving, how this community, to which we have committed ourselves, began, namely through the total self-sacrifice of its founder and leader, the Risen Jesus, and to recall, once again, the core value of self-sacrificing love by which the community is to live.
Either the vc will understand this cultural period of transit and once more adopt a deeply relational and communal approach, or it will risk placing itself outside the meaningful human context, no longer meeting any demand or any aspect, any expectation held by men and women today, and, therefore, having nothing more to say, no image to present, no appeal.
My working hypothesis is that the new image of the vc should first and foremost be that of relationship. “Relationship” in its widest and most essential meaning, precisely because relationships are at the basis of human life.
My Dear Young People,
I am pleased to announce that in October 2018 a Synod of Bishops will take place to treat the topic: “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.” I wanted you to be the centre of attention, because you are in my heart. Today, the Preparatory Document is being presented, a document which I am also entrusting to you as your “compass” on this synodal journey.
Nazareth is the town of Mary, thus the echoes of childhood surface once again! Nazareth has hosted silences, disquietudes and, above all, dreams. The dream of Mary who, in her listening, was ready to welcome centuries of Biblical memories. The dream of Joseph, the young carpenter, who trusted an angel and, like children, put every calculation aside. “Here everything has a voice, everything has a meaning. (….). Oh! How much willingly we would like to be children again and sit at this humble and sublime school of Nazareth…
MISERICORDIA ET MISERA is a phrase used by Saint Augustine in recounting the story of Jesus’ meeting with the woman taken in adultery (cf. Jn 8:1-11). It would be difficult to imagine a more beautiful or apt way of expressing the mystery of God’s love when it touches the sinner: “the two of them alone remained: mercy with misery”.
The dialogue is not a doctrinal truth; it is not just an ingredient, essential though it is. It is the figure of a new way of “being Church” and of “building Church”.
Evangelical Fidelity and personal satisfaction.
Our religious profession implies two dimensions: our life and our mission. In our life, it appears impossible to mark the boundaries between life and mission since everything in our is based on the evangelizing mission.
Let us hope that the Lord will grant us what we sought in prayer: to imitate Jesus’ example of patience, and with that patience to overcome all our difficulties.
This, our third meditation, is entitled: The good odour of Christ and the light of his mercy.
In this third meeting, I propose that we meditate on the works of mercy, by taking whichever one we feel is most closely linked to our charism, and by looking at them as a whole. We can contemplate them through the merciful eyes of Our Lady
After meditating on the “embarrassed dignity” and “dignified embarrassment” that are the fruits of mercy, let us continue by considering the “vessel of mercy”. This is not something complicated. Let me simply say that the vessel of mercy is our sin. It is that simple.
Spiritual Retreat Given Pope Francis On the occasion of the Jubilee for Priests.
Let us begin this day of spiritual retreat. I think it will benefit us to pray for one another, in communion. A retreat, but all of us in communion! I have chosen the theme of mercy. First, a short introduction for the entire retreat.
Today they often mention the rediscovery of beauty as expression of a necessary integration with the truth and the goodness, the two pillars or the two classically transcendent things. I debate to introduce a forth pillar, that of joy, of happiness and beatitude. Joy is an intimate desire of every person, a constant not always satisfied research, the promise of somebody who keeps on inviting us to live in joy, also amidst trials and persecutions. We must add “God is joy”.
When, four years ago, I went to Saint Petersburg to see Rembrandt’s The Return of the Prodigal Son, I had little idea how much I would have to live what I then saw. I stand with awe at the place where Rembrandt brought me. He led me from the kneeling, dishevelled young son to the standing, bent-over old father, from the place of being blessed to the place of blessing. As I look at my own aging hands, I know that they have been given to me to stretch out toward all who suffer, to rest upon the shoulders of all who come, and to offer the blessing that emerges from the immensity of God’s love.
Here is the God I want to believe in: a Father who, from the beginning of creation, has stretched out his arms in merciful blessing, never forcing himself on anyone, but always waiting; never letting his arms drop down in despair, but always hoping that his children will return so that he can speak words of love to them and let his tired arms rest on their shoulders. His only desire is to bless.
The return of the elder son is becoming as important to me as – if not more important than – the return of the younger son. How will the elder son look when he is free from his complaints, free from his anger, resentments, and jealousies? Because the parable tells us nothing about the response of the elder son, we are left with the choice of listening to the Father or of remaining imprisoned in our self-rejection.
The full tide of Rembrandt’s painting is, as has been said, The Return of the Prodigal Son. Implicit in the “return” is a leaving. Returning is a homecoming after a home-leaving, a coming back after having gone away. The father who welcomes his son home is so glad because this son “was dead and has come back to life; he was lost and is found.” The immense joy in welcoming back the lost son hides the immense sorrow that has gone before. The finding has the losing in the background, the returning has the leaving under its cloak. Looking at the tender and joy-filled return, I have to dare to taste the sorrowful events that preceded it. Only when I have the courage to explore in depth what it means to leave home, can I come to a true understanding of the return.
2016 marks the 20th anniversary of the untimely death of Henri Nouwen (1932-1996) – widely regarded as one of the most profound and influential spiritual writers of the 20th Century.
“The Return of the Prodigal Son” is Nouwen’s masterwork, a vivid and beautiful reflection on Rembrandt’s painting of the return of the prodigal son (1669), one of the most well-known parables of the Gospel. I am quite sure many have read this book; however, it demands a rereading in this Jubilee Year of Mercy. We are invited to go back to this very special gem.
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