Archive for November 2012

Still a tad foggy on the Year of Faith?

November 22, 2012

Today we begin Week #7 of the Year of Faith.  If you are still unclear about its purpose, or are having difficulty determining concrete goals and objectives for yourself or your family, perhaps this relatively short article will help.

Lucas Pollice

The author, Lucas Pollice, MTS, is the Director of Training for the “Symbolon RCIA” program from the Augustine Institute in Denver.  He summarizes well our Holy Father’s “blueprint” for the Year of Faith, which he sees as organized into three well-defined steps.  This article is a good resource for both personal reading and group discussion.

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Conversion in the Year of Faith – 6

November 17, 2012

In our previous consideration of ongoing conversion in the Year of Faith, we heard this admonishment from the CCC:

The free gift of adoption requires on our part continual conversion and new life.

We already looked at the first of the two “fundamental dispositions” noted by the CCC to which our ongoing conversion should lead us.  Now let’s explore the second, which is presented as follows in CCC n. 2785:

Second, a humble and trusting heart that enables us “to turn and become like children”: for it is to “little children” that the Father is revealed.

  • [The prayer is accomplished] by the contemplation of God alone, and by the warmth of love, through which the soul, molded and directed to love him, speaks very familiarly to God as to its own Father with special devotion.
  • Our Father: at this name love is aroused in us . . . and the confidence of obtaining what we are about to ask. . . . What would he not give to his children who ask, since he has already granted them the gift of being his children?

The encouragement to develop a “humble and trusting heart”   reminds me of the call of the First Beatitude to be “poor in spirit,” to recognize our relative helplessness and live in absolute dependence on the Lord.  We can make progress in this by deepening our personal relationship with God through a faithful prayer life, in which we speak “very familiarly to God as to [our] own Father with special devotion.”

Regarding the Father’s willingness to “give to his children who ask,” I too often focus on the prayers of mine which seem to have gone unanswered, and in self-centered disappointment ask of our Lord “Why have you not granted my request?”  Rather, I should be taking more time to reflect on the ways in which God has indeed been at work in my life, and should profusely offer Him heartfelt gratitude for his generosity and paternal concern for me.  Regarding those seemingly ‘unheard’ prayers, these words of Pope Benedict near the end of his Year of Faith letter, Porta Fidei, provide some perspective:

The life of Christians knows the experience of joy as well as the experience of suffering. How many of the saints have lived in solitude! How many believers, even in our own day, are tested by God’s silence when they would rather hear his consoling voice! The trials of life, while helping us to understand the mystery of the Cross and to participate in the sufferings of Christ (cf. Col 1:24), are a prelude to the joy and hope to which faith leads: “when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor 12:10)

Conversion in the Year of Faith – 5

November 11, 2012

We are now one full month into the Year of Faith.  How’s it going for you?

Another resource to which Pope Benedict directs us in this Year of Faith is the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), wherein we find this demanding teaching concerning ongoing conversion (in n. 2784):

The free gift of adoption requires on our part continual conversion and new life. Praying to our Father should develop in us two fundamental dispositions:

First, the desire to become like him: though created in his image, we are restored to his likeness by grace; and we must respond to this grace.

  • We must remember . . . and know that when we call God “our Father” we ought to behave as sons of God.
  • You cannot call the God of all kindness your Father if you preserve a cruel and inhuman heart; for in this case you no longer have in you the marks of the heavenly Father’s kindness.
  • We must contemplate the beauty of the Father without ceasing and adorn our own souls accordingly.

Note the importance of grace.  It is so easy, as we endeavor to make changes in our lives, to tend to rely on our own power.  Cooperating with grace is an art, and takes a great deal of personal discipline.  The temptation is so great for us to want to be in control.  Perhaps some reflection on the healing miracles performed by Jesus will help to increase our faith in the ease with which the power of God can effect change in our lives.  Our post-Communion prayer time would be enhanced by taking some time to entreat Jesus for the special grace we need in order to make progress in those areas in which we are striving for conversion.

I was strongly convicted when I read that “We must contemplate the beauty of the Father without ceasing…”  It revealed to me a certain faith-blindness with which I am afflicted.  I have surely taken time now and again to reflect on the beauty of God in nature, in His creation.  But I have difficulty ‘seeing’ the beauty of the Father Himself.  Yet, the CCC challenges us to contemplate it “without ceasing.”  I can see how this is necessary for our ongoing conversion.  Since we, as adopted sons, are called to participate in the eternal exchange of love among the Blessed Trinity, contemplating the various aspects of it will provide us with inspiration, with a vision to pursue, with motivation.