Archive for August 2009
This morning at our St. Leo GOTR group, Jim had a great spontaneous thought.
On reflections about chapter 7 of the signposts book, ‘Putting on the Armor of God’; he said “the road to hell may be paved with good intentions, but the road to heaven is paved with good actions.”
Now before any of our Protestant or evangelical brothers reading this fly off the handle, “No — we do not work our way into justification” but read these comments in light of the following:
Mt 19:21 “Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.”
Mt 25:4 ‘Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me’
Lk 6:46-49 “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and not do what I tell you? Every one who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep , and laid the foundation upon rock; and when a flood arose the stream broke against that house , and could not shake it, becasuse it had been well built. But he who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground withouit a foundation; against which the stream broke, and immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”
Jn 5:28 ‘Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come forth, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgement.’
Rom 2:13 ‘For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.’
2 Cor 5:10 ‘For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, so that each one may recevie good or evil, according to what he has done in the body.’
Gal 5:6 ‘For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision not uncircumcision is of any avail, but faith working through love.’
I could go on for a while more, but it is hot in this un-airconditioned room. I’ll throw in the whole letter of St. James for good measure — but I think it was nicely encapsulized this morning by another James, working on being a Saint; as we all are.
This came to me today from a most unusual source. In light of the prensent news situation regardin our Diocese and the commentary, I think it bears watching.
This woman is a model of prayer and hope for everyone. St. Monica was born around Anno Domini 331 to a Christian Family in the North African Part of the Roman Empire.. She married young.
Monica was born of a Berber family in Thagaste within the Roman province of (North) Africa subsequent to the Christianization of the imperial government, during the later administration of Constantine the Great. Every indication is that she was a Christian from her youth. Of her ancestry there is no record. She married young as Roman law fixed the age at which a daughter given to a spouse by her father officially became a matron, a recognized spouse with all the privileges set forth in marriage law. That age was twelve years.
Patricius, her husband, was an ill-tempered pagan twenty-two years older than she. Patricius became annoyed with her constant prayer, fasting, and caring for the poor and slaves. He was guilty of infidelity, which plagued St. Monica and helped create a sense of loneliness in her newlywed household. These hurdles only served to strengthen her life in prayer. She bore two sons and one daughter, which she took great pains to raise with Christian diligence and with great success. Patricius would not allow the baptism of their children. Instead of arguing with Patricius, St. Monica used meekness and devotion to draw her husband closer to God. She believed that when Patricius became angry, the best thing to do would be to obey whatever he asked. Someone said of her that “she had learnt not to resists an angry husband, not in deed only, but in word” in so doing, she felt that she would be obeying God. “For the unbelievenig husband is sanctified by the wife” (1 Cor 7:14). With this devotion to her husband, she received no blows during his fits of anger, whereas she knew many other wives of the same time suffered cruel beatings. However, Monica had fit in well into her husband’s family (according to her rather more famous son) such that in spite of how “hot-tempered a husband my mother had to cope with” nothing indicated “there had been any domestic disagreement between them, even for one day”; and moreover while “her mother-in-law was at first prejudiced against her by the tale-bearing of malicious servants,” Monica “won the older woman over by her dutiful attentions and her constant patience and gentleness.”
She eventually won her husband over to God through constant prayer and meek devotion. After sixteen years of marriage, Patricius was finally baptized. One year later Patricius died. St. Monica took comfort that he died a believer in the True Faith. Meanwhile, her son, Augustine, had been caught up in the passions and in the Manichean heresy. She once again devoted herself to persistant prayer to guide her son back to the Faith. It took fourteen years before St. Augustine was brought back to the Faith and baptized. With her family once again finally brought to the True Faith, St. Monica was content and desired nothing of this world.
She died at the Roman port of Ostia as they were returning to Africa, but not before witnessing the baptism into the “Catholic” church of her son, Augustine and his son Adeodatus, along with Augustine’s friend and colleague Alypius on Holy Saturday, April 24, 387. at the hands of St. Ambrose of Milan. Her ultimate influence upon her incomparable son is the other side of his own “confessional” autobiography. Her own cult developed in the later Middle Ages. She is revered for her patience and strength in prayer. Many ask for her intercessions concerning wayward children and unsanctified husbands. Her supposed remains were transferred from Ostia to Rome in 1430 by Martin V (pope November 11, 1417 – February 20, 1431; ODP 239-240).
It was said of one of the elders that he persevered in a fast of seventy weeks, eating only once a week. This elder asked God to reveal to him the meaning of a certain Scripture text, and God would not reveal it to him. So he said to himself: “Look at all the work I have done without getting anywhere! I will go to one of the brothers and ask him.” When he had gone out and closed the door and was starting on his way, an angel of the Lord was sent to him saying: “The seventy weeks you fasted did not bring you any closer to God. But now that you have humbled yourself and set out to ask your brother, I am sent to reveal the meaning of that text.” And opening to him the meaning which he sought, he went away.
By making the bread into his body and wine into his blood, Jesus anticipates his death. He accepts it in his heart, and he transforms it into an action of love. What is on the outside an act of brutal violence is, on the inside, an act of total self-giving love. This is the substantial transformation which was accomplished at the last supper and was destined to set in motion a series of transformations leading ultimately to the transformation of the world when God will be all in all. In their hearts, people have always and everywhere somehow expected a change, the transformation of the world. Here, NOW, is the central act of transformation that can truly renew the world. Violence is transformed into love; and death into life. Since this act transmutes death into love, death as such is already conquered from within — the resurrection is already present in it. Death is, so to speak, mortally wounded; so that it can no longer have the last word. To use an image well known to us today, it is like inducing nuclear fission into the very heart of being.
The victory of love over hatred. The victory of love over death. Only this intimate explosion of good conquering evil can then trigger off the series of transformations that little by little, will change the world. All other changes remain superficial and cannot save. For this reason we speak of redemption. What had to happen at the most intimate level has indeed happened, and we can enter into its dynamic.
pope b16, world youth day 2005
man versus himself
man versus machine
man versus the world
mankind versus me
the struggles go on
the wisdom I lack
the burdens keep piling
up on my back
so hard to breathe
to take the next step
the mountain is high
I wade in the depths
yearning for grace
and hoping for peace
dear God increase