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For Your Eyes, Mind, Soul

In Uncategorized on 2017/08/11 at 11:10 PM

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Approach With Prayer

In 13 Today's Church on 2017/08/04 at 12:00 AM

 

  • The famous Carmelite mystic, St. John of the Cross, once wrote that, “the more a soul hopes the more it attains.” His point, of course, is that the more we approach our Lord with complete trust and abandonment, the more our Lord will grant us His blessings.
  • Indeed, it is the collective wisdom of the saints that we should approach our Lord in prayer with great trust in His goodness and mercy, not fearing to ask Him for even the greatest or most impossible of favors.
  • How we approach our Lord is the primary theme of our readings today. In our first reading from the 1st Book of Kings we hear the story of Elijah going up to Mt. Horeb to pray, which is believed to be just another name for Mt. Sinai.
  • In this story we are given a brief primer in how to pray. Note well that in going to approach God in prayer on Mt. Horeb, Elijah takes shelter in a cave. We can see in this action a metaphor for going to a quiet place in order to be properly disposed to pray.
  • Our Gospel today records that our Lord did the same thing. After feeding the multitudes of people, we are told that Jesus went up on the mountain by Himself to pray.
  • So both Jesus and Elijah show us that in approaching our Lord in prayer, we should try to find some solitude. We must come to our Lord in silence so that we can hear His voice.
  • As the first reading makes abundantly clear, God is more often found in stillness rather than in great phenomena. For Elijah our Lord was not in the heavy wind, the earthquake, or the fire, but in the tiny whispering sound.
  • And so we must learn to cultivate silence in our life as best we can so that we are capable of hearing our Lord speak, for prayer should really be more a process of listening rather than speaking to God.
  • Our Gospel today also shows us that we must approach God in prayer with great confidence and faith, most especially in the difficult and turbulent moments of life. We see this in the story of St. Peter walking on water.
  • You can imagine the scene: the disciples are on the Sea of Galilee fighting the waves and wind when our Lord goes out to them, walking on the water.
  • St. Peter wants proof that the man they see on the water is indeed Jesus and not a ghost, and so in a wonderful act of faith, he asks our Lord to command him to walk on the water, too.
  • The problem is that Peter’s faith wanes when he encounters the strength of the wind. Peter gets distracted and takes his eyes off Jesus, and he begins to sink. And our Lord chastises him for it: “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
  • Thus this Gospel shows us that our Lord truly wants us to approach Him with a confident faith. He wants us to believe and trust that He can accomplish all things – even that which seems impossible to our finite human minds.
  • This Gospel also reminds us that our Lord is quick to come to us in our times of need and distress, even when we don’t recognize Him. He counsels us to take courage and trust in Him, and He reaches out to save us when we are overtaken by our fears.
  • But perhaps the most important metaphor in our readings today is the mountain we find in both the first reading and the Gospel.
  • Climbing a mountain has long been a metaphor for approaching God in prayer, a metaphor given its best expression by St. John of the Cross, who wrote a treatise on prayer called: The Ascent of Mt. Carmel.
  • In The Ascent of Mt. Carmel, St. John of the Cross treats reaching the summit of the mountain as the pinnacle of prayerful union with God, and that to which every soul should aspire.
  • But ascending to the heights of prayer is not an easy task, just as climbing a mountain is by no means an easy task.
  • Just as mountain climbers must have the right knowledge, the right tools, and no small amount of courage to ascend their peak, the same is true of the Christian who wishes to approach our Lord in prayer and reach the peak of mystical union with Him.
  • If we wish to be united with our Lord in prayer, we must have knowledge of Him – which we glean by studying our Faith, but most importantly by studying His Word in Sacred Scripture. As St. Jerome said, “ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.”
  • As for the proper tools for ascending the mountain of prayer, we must be equipped with the virtues, especially humility, prudence, and charity. For humility and prudence enable the other virtues to grow within us, while charity forms all of the virtues.
  • And, of course, we must also have courage. Like St. Peter, we must be willing to get out our boats, even in turbulent water, and go to Jesus.
  • Life is often difficult. All of us from time to time must deal with various stresses and anxieties. None of us ever completely escapes suffering. But our Gospel reminds us today that our Lord is always with us in our times of trial.
  • Yet if we wish to experience His presence in our trials, then we must cultivate an intimate relationship with Him through daily prayer.
  • Indeed, the great benefit of Christian discipleship is that our Lord invites us through prayer to begin experiencing on earth a little of the joy that will be ours in Heaven, for ultimately, prayer is not a matter of asking God for what we want.
  • The goal of prayer is to be united with our Lord now, so that we will be better prepared for being united with Him for all eternity in Heaven. But this requires that we be willing to climb the mountain.
  • My brothers and sisters, let us never be content with the poor and feeble prayers that so many of us often mutter without much thought.
  • Rather, let us strive to ascend to the very heights of prayerful union with our Lord through our study of Him and His Word, and by cultivating a life of virtue.
  • Let us always approach our Lord courageously and with great confidence, and trust that by so doing He will raise us to the heights of holiness.

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio .
To enable the audio, please go directly to Fr. Reid’s homily homilies and select the matching date.

Link to Homilies:
http://stanncharlotte.org/content/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&id=8&Itemid=61

Notre Dame de Chartres

In 13 Today's Church on 2017/08/04 at 12:00 AM

 

  • Perhaps the most spectacular church in the entire world is the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Chartres. Located about an hour from Paris, the current building, which was constructed between 1194 and 1250 is actually the 5th church building on the site.
  • This church is really the greatest example of French Gothic architecture, replete with flying buttresses, soaring spires, extraordinary sculptures, and some of the most noteworthy and beautiful stained glass windows in the entire world.
  • Wonderfully well ordered and beautifully coherent in all of its element, this church is a masterpiece of the medieval mind and an incredible testament to what man is capable of accomplishing when his aim is to glorify God.
  • From the Middle Ages Chartres Cathedral has been an important and popular pilgrimage site because it houses the Sancta Camisa: the tunic worn by the Blessed Virgin Mary when she gave birth to Jesus.
  • Amazingly, even though this church has burned down and been rebuilt several times, the Sancta Camisa has never been damaged.
  • But perhaps even more amazing still is the speed with which Chartres Cathedral has been rebuilt whenever it has been damaged or destroyed by fire. Again, this is due in large part to the devotion of the people of that time and place.
  • With limited money and certainly a lot less technology than we have today, the good people of central France relied on their faith in building this grandest of the great Gothic cathedrals.
  • And in this church they proved that, if we have our hearts and our minds focused on God, if we make God our highest priority in life, there is nothing that we cannot accomplish by His grace. Thus, this church is a great testament of man’s love for God.
  • Both our epistle and Gospel today speak of that ever-important virtue of charity.
  • In his letter to the Ephesians, St. Paul calls us to “walk worthy of the vocation in which [we]are called,” by practicing the virtues of humility and mildness, patience, and in particular,charity.
  • In our Gospel our Lord reminds us that the greatest commandment of the law is to “love theLord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul and with thy whole mind,” andthe second is to “love they neighbor as thyself.”
  • After proclaiming these two great laws of charity, our Lord makes an audacious statement.He says: “On these two commandments dependeth the whole law and the Prophets.” Inmany ways I think this is the most important line of this whole passage!
  • In saying this to the Pharisees, our Lord is claiming that the entire Mosaic law and all theteachings of the Prophets – basically the whole content of the Jewish faith – is derived fromthese 2 commands!
  • So in other words, the entire basis of a Judeo-Christian understanding of morality and of howlife should be lived derives from this understanding that God must be loved and honored above all else, and that our relationships with others must be governed by the practice of treating others like ourselves.
  • Hopefully, this doesn’t come as a shock to any of you, but rather makes complete sense.
  • However, I doubt that ordering one’s life such that God is the highest priority and that one’sneighbors are given as much respect as one gives to one’s self, is really the practice of most people in our society today.
  • The scourge of modernism and rampant secularism have effectively dethroned God in the hearts of most men so that modern man tends to worship himself more than anything else these days.
  • The problem is that when we fail to make God our highest priority, failing to love Him and honor Him as we are called to do by divine law, disorder creeps into our lives.
  • If we cannot get the most important priority right, then chances are that we will fail in getting our other priorities straight as well.
  • Moreover, when we fail to love and treat others as ourselves, then we eventually begin to see others as less than ourselves, enabling us to dehumanize them and sin against them in any way that we please.
  • But even worse yet, when a large segment of a society fails to carry out these two greatest of commandments, then the society dooms itself to moral chaos and strips itself of any possibility for unity on moral issues.
  • This is precisely why there is such division in our country today on issues like abortion and same-sex unions. We will never find unity on these issues as long as a large portion of our society refuses to believe and follow the laws of God.
  • Every time we have an election in this country, the media ramps up the rhetoric on the divisions between Democrats and Republicans, between “red” states and “blue” states.
  • But I submit to you that the real division in our country is not based on political affiliation. The real division is between those who truly love God and therefore seek to follow His divine law, and those who don’t love God – and consequently have no objective moral compass.
  • With this in mind, I think it good that we each examine ourselves on this count. Ask yourself: do I truly love God as I should – with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength? Is glorifying God with the way I live my life my absolute highest priority?
  • My dear brothers and sisters, we live in a time and place in which there is increasing hostility toward those who seek to live by the laws of God. Slowly – but surely – the laws of our country are becoming more and more anti-God.
  • So what are we to do? Well, first we mustn’t lose hope or be disheartened! For it is in times and places like our own that saints are made. Thus we should rejoice that our blessed Lord has allowed us to live here and now.
  • But even more importantly, we must cling to our Catholic faith and beliefs with all the more tenacity than ever before, living out the tenets of our Faith with integrity and courage, and looking for opportunities to share our faith with others.
  • Most importantly, we must follow these 2 greatest commands given to us by our Lord today, loving Him above all else and our neighbor as ourselves.
  • In doing this we will be ordering our lives properly, walking worthy in the vocation given to us. And if we do it well, we may even become saints – whose souls are even more magnificent and beautiful in their orderliness than any church that man can build.
  • May our Lady, good St. Joseph, and all the angels and saints pray for us that we might indeed become worthy of the promises of Christ!

15 September 2013

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio.
To enable the audio, lease go directly to Fr. Reid’s homily homilies and select the matching date.

Link to Homilies:
http://stanncharlotte.org/content/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&id=8&Itemid=61