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Saturday, 18 July 2015

Catholic365.com Call for Writers!!

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Catholic365.com is calling for more contributing authors to join the team and write articles about the Catholic faith in order to evangelise and "Spread the Good News". If you have a gift/charism of writing, then perhaps you would like to share this by contributing some articles every so often. Please see below for more on the information portal.
With love and prayer as always,
Kim Lee :)

Catholic365.com is growing fast but we still need your help to spread the word.

We would appreciate it if you would take a look at http://www.Catholic365.com and let everyone know about the site. If you see an article that your readers or friends would particularly enjoy, please let them know about it too.

Catholic365.com is a Catholic-focused article and information portal from Catholic writers and bloggers who write about things Catholics are interested in, with 3 main categories - Faith, Life and What's Going On, from a perspective consistent with the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. We strive to spread the word of God and the Catholic faith by highlighting both the articles and the writers through internet and social marketing campaigns. Our goal is to engage and support the Catholic faithful to evangelize to all Catholics using modern technology. Our mission originated with Pope Saint John Paul II's call to Catholics for a "New Evangelization".

Catholic365.com is owned by Catholic365 LLC. Any realized profits will be donated to Catholic evangelizing charities.

We are also looking for more contributing writers. If you, or someone you know, are interested in being a contributing writer, and write articles consistent with the teachings of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, please contact our editor at editor@Catholic365.com

If you see anything that we could improve or have any questions please let us know.

Thanks
Joe
Catholic365.com

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Kim's Prayer

Just sharing...



Lord, open our hearts. Open our minds. Help us to see things as they really are. Help us to know the truth. Father, call on us. Bring us ever closer to you. Lead us ever deeper into the depths of your love. Holy Spirit, guide us. Lead us to doing His will. Envelop us in the love of the ever-faithful Triune God. Jesus, pray with us. Amen.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Community Spotlight: Community of St John (Active Sisters)


Order:
Community of St John (Apostolic Sisters)
Gender: Female
Apostolate: Their work is varied: children, youth and campus ministry, retreats for families, hospitality, parish ministry, education, ministry in nursing homes, visits to the poor and homebound.
Eligibility: Unknown
Formation: Postulancy of 6 to 12 months, novitiate 2 - 2 1/2 years, temporary profession 4 years.
Vows: Chastity, Obedience, Poverty (More info. on vows)

Practices:
Typical Weekday in a House of Formation
6:15 Silent Prayer
7:00 Lauds
7:30 Breakfast
8:00 Lectio Divina
8:45 Fraternal services
9:15 Classes or personal study
11:15 Sext & Mass
Thanksgiving
1:00 Lunch
Rosary
Manual work
4:30 Class
5:30 Vespers
6:00 Holy Hour
7:00 Dinner
8:15 Compline

History:

Founded in France in 1984 by Fr. Marie Dominique Philippe, the Congregation of the Apostolic Sisters of Saint John is the third branch of the Family of St. John. It is a Roman Catholic religious institute with a monastic spirit and an apostolic mission. It was recognized by the Bishop of Autun (Burgundy, France) as an institute of diocesan right in 1993.

Today there are 17 priories throughout the world.

Recommended: 'Follow the Lamb' ('Wherever He Goes')

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Guides: Opposition to Religious Vocations

When discerning a religious vocation, many people experience some form of opposition. Whether this be from close family, friends, extended family, co-workers, acquaintances or total strangers it can be a very daunting and painful part of discernment. These issues are often as simple as misunderstandings, miscommunications and plain old stubbornness. So this guide aims to help discerners who are having such struggles both understand why they are facing opposition and positive ways to help.

Sometimes when people oppose your discernment, it can be because their fears due to past experiences may surface. Often one of the best ways to combat this is simply to show them that whatever it is they are afraid of, their fears may not be reality, so whether they come for a visit, or talk to the vocations director, try it out, because then perhaps they will come round to the idea after a while.

Section 1 - Parents

The most painful opposition often comes from one's parents - it can be very disheartening to find that your parents oppose the possibility of a religious vocation. However, having a child discern or enter religious life can be very difficult for parents and it is important to understand that. These suggestions are aimed at helping parents understand and come to terms with the reality of discerning religious life.

1. Listen to your parent's concerns and let them share why they are opposed. They may have valid concerns, or be coming from a place of misunderstanding or misinformation. Even if you feel their concerns are irrational or unfounded, they are obviously troubling so be respectful. Stay calm, and respond to their concerns or questions without being angry or defensive.

2. Arrange for your parents to visit a community/communities with you. If you are discerning seriously with a community, see if one of the members or particularly the vocations director can meet with your parents without you present and in confidence. This gives your parents a chance to speak openly with a member of the community and settle some of their questions or concerns. Parents often worry that their children are taking a romanticised or unrealistic view of religious life, so having someone from the community to speak to can be very helpful. Even if you are not discerning with a specific community see if there are any religious communities nearby you could visit with your parents, or visit communities you are interested in with them. Even contact by phone or email could be helpful.

3. Give it time. Don't expect an immediate conversion. Often parents can feel, especially if you have not shown interest in a religious vocation before, that it is a temporary whim and not grounded in reality. It is often true that when one feels the first call to a religious vocation they can be somewhat 'swept up' in it - something that is difficult to see in yourself. So by giving things time and showing, if your feelings of a religious vocation continue, that it is not just a whim then that can allay a lot of concerns your parents may have.

4. Remember that your parents care for you and want you to be happy. Most likely, their concerns and opposition comes from fearing that you would not be happy in a religious vocation.

Section 2 - Siblings and close family members

A lot of what applies to parents applies to siblings and other close family members.

1. As with parents, listen to their concerns openly. They love you and only want what is best for you (even though they may not know how to show it!). Try to explain to them, but bear in mind that it is part of the vocation that you cannot expect those who have not been given Religious vocations to understand.

2. While siblings may naturally be included in parental visits to communities, try to keep family visits to communities you are seriously discerning with - this is simply because you don't want to be flooding communities with visitors.

Section 3 - Close friends

It can be difficult when close friends don't support your decision. It may be because they don't want to lose contact with you - this is one of the biggest fears of those connected with people who enter Religious Life - the significantly less contact they will have with them, especially during the earlier years of formation.

1. Explain the importance of the time you need to discern without influences from elsewhere, hence the less contact with them for a while. Try to help them to understand that this is what you believe God is calling you to, and that you must respond in the most loving way to serve God.

2. Know your boundaries. If you truly believe that it is God's will for you to enter, don't let pressure hold you back. Go with what you know is right. There will come a time where people will try to talk you out of entering, but don't succumb to their requests. Firmly tell them that this is your decision and they need to respect it.

Section 4 - Acquaintances 

Even aside from those close to you, there will be acquaintances who may question your decision. Whether these be classmates, co-workers, neighbours, even people you are not close to can be outspoken in their confusion and opposition. Dealing with this is very different to opposition from loved ones.

1. You do not have to defend your choice. If people are antagonistic and attack you or your choice then you shouldn't feel you owe them a defence. A simple "I feel this is what I am called to and where I will be happy and grow in faith" or words to that effect is more than enough. If you feel able to respond to specific issues they have then feel free to but try to avoid getting into debate because chances are your efforts are futile.

[We may update this at another point in time, but for now, here it is, and we hope it helps!]

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Guides: What to do if you are asked to wait...

I have come across several instances where people have been asked to wait before entering into the formation process or in between formation stages in Religious Life. It is not uncommon nowadays for people to be asked to wait for various different reasons. However, if you are feeling a bit lost as to what to do because you have been asked to wait, here is some useful (or at least, we hope it's useful!!) advice...

Time for God and Liminal Space...
For those times we didn't plan, the times of waiting, especially in our daily lives, turn to God and say a prayer. It doesn't have to be long or of a particular format. It could be very simple, just something like, "Jesus, thank you for this day, and for all its blessings. I trust you to help me through the rest of it. Amen".

Always be mindful of your mission for God's people...
A Tyburn Nun once said to me, "Be faithful in all the current duties of your life, because that is what will help you grow closer to God". If you are not faithful to the current duties of your life, then how can you expect to be faithful to your duties in Religious Life? Do everything you do whole heartedly, and the best you can. Don't worry about what others think. This is between YOU and GOD.

Learning to leave it all in God's hands...
Surrender to God and leave it in His hands. He is THE Father, and knows what is best for you, His Child. God is the perfect Father, so as long as you leave it to Him, then you should be fine.

Trusting in the Lord...
Our Mother Mary trusted in the Lord at all times. There were many times where she did not understand what was going on, yet she still trusted.

St Therese of Lisieux said, "Though he might kill me, yet I will still trust in Him". This faith is what you need in times of waiting and uncertainty.

Reflect on those two things above and see if you can do the same. Believe that "God works with all who love Him and turn all to their good". (Romans 8:28)

Time to grow closer to God, and to grow in maturity and fully as a person... 
Sometimes time can help us to see the bigger picture, as well as to know ourselves better. Initially, it can be very frustrating if you know you desire to enter Religious Life, but for whatever reason, which may be out of your control, due to your circumstances, you cannot enter at this moment in time. However, you have to remember that if God's will is that you will enter, and you are open and willing to say YES to Him in HIS time, then your vocation is not going to suddenly "disappear into thin air".

Take time to learn more about yourself. What are your gifts? your hobbies? interests? Where do you find the most fulfilment? Where can you best serve the Lord in the current situation you are in? How can you grow closer to Him? Perhaps pray about having a spiritual director to help you grow in your prayer life? Ask yourself these questions and pray about them, then, with an open heart, attentively listening for the voice of God, wait for the answer. It might not come as you expect it, so be warned! There are many ways of finding out things. :P

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Vocation Stories: Sr. Mariae Agnus Dei, Sisters of Life

Sr. Mariae Agnus Dei


SMAD&NoaWhen my twin sister and I were born, we numbered six and seven of what would eventually be eight children, making for a childhood full of life, creative adventures, and loving chaos nestled in the woods of rural Maine.
While a public school education didn’t afford much in the formation of faith, my mind and heart grew to appreciate and engage the spiritual world of Divine love and grace through the witness of my parent’s lives and a powerful experience I had when attending a summer Catholic youth conference before my freshman year of high school. For the first time I was exposed to Eucharistic Adoration. I remember gazing at the Eucharist and being pierced to the heart. I knew it was God. Tears rolled down my face, my soul was filled with peace, and my heart was filled with an invitation – “live life with love and compassion.” I was overwhelmed by God’s personal love for me. As I began high school I started making different choices. My encounter with Jesus in adoration that summer filled my heart with great expectations for life. God had a plan for me and I wanted to live it. Though many activities and passions filled my high school days, when it came time to graduate and look for a college one priority rose above all the others. I wanted to go somewhere I could nourish the seed of faith planted that summer and let God’s plan for my life unfold. Following the lead of grace, I left Maine and headed to Washington D.C. to begin a degree in nursing at Catholic University of America.
The next four years were pivotal in my faith journey. Whether encountering patients as a nursing student, training with teammates for cross-country meets, or attending the many activities offered on campus, God sought to reveal Himself and draw me into a fuller vision of faith. For the first time I had Catholic community, friendships, and opportunities to learn how to pray, all of which served to guide me through the joys, sorrows, uncertainties and challenges of my college years. The discouragement, confusion, and pressure I felt trying to keep up with a world that measured worth on appearances or by what one could do or achieve, fell away as I listened to the words of John Paul II, especially his teachings on the Theology of the Body. I was drawn into a new world of hope realizing my immeasurably dignity, sacred worth in the eyes of God, and the call to self-gift as a means to fulfillment. As my relationship with God grew and I became more and more open to His love I began to look at the deeper questions of my heart with Him. Who am I? How do I live life in a way fulfilling? Where am I called to love and be loved?  As I encountered vibrant young religious and the beauty that emanated from young married couples who shared a love founded on God, my heart was filled with freedom to entrust my future entirely to Him. I knew the beauty that I sought to live and possess in life would source and center on Him, and He was the only one who could lead me there.
One afternoon I went to the large Basilica on campus to pray. As I visited the various side chapels devoted to Our Lady, the Lord placed Romans 12:1 on my heart. “I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice…” In that moment I knew the loving gaze of God the Father. I experienced deep within my heart the call to be a “living sacrifice” for the Lord, and to live in response to His great love for me.  While this grace didn’t grant understanding about whether I was called to marriage or consecrated life, it steadied my heart in a time when it was discouraged and impatient with the purifying process of discernment. Fear and anxiety would at times grip me. Did I miss my call? How come I didn’t know yet?  My young twenty-something-year-old heart was discouraged at not having an answer to that deep ache to lay my life down in love. This experience of prayer steadied me. God’s promise of abundant life and love would be fulfilled – I just needed to be patient with Him.
When I graduated college, nursing jobs were abundant. I could find work anywhere and in any field. I decided I was open to anything, except I didn’t want to stay in the WashingtonD.C. area and I didn’t want to do intensive care nursing. As I explored hospitals and programs, grace led me right to the door I had closed. After a bit of an arm wrestle with the Lord, I surrendered to His will and began working in the intensive care unit of a hospital just outside D.C. city limits, ready to be surprised by God in last place I planned to be.
Though steadied by a prayer life and vibrant community of Catholic friends, working in intensive care as a new nurse was challenging and often discouraging. The dignity of the patient was often lost amidst the technology and fast-pace of the floor, co-workers readily opposed my Christian ideals, and love seemed all but lost in the conviction that health-care was a business of economy and utility rather than healing, service, and ministry. Little did I know that as each night shift passed the seeds of my vocation were beginning to grow. This year brought to life the charism that I was soon to be called to – that of protecting and enhancing the sacred dignity of life.
Late into a quiet night shift, I was sitting at the nurse’s station and grace drew my attention. Something in my heart had shifted. It was as if a door had opened, and God was inviting me to step through – to look at a part of my heart I had yet to explore with Him. I called the vocations director for the diocese as soon as I got home and scheduled a time to meet. I knew I needed help exploring this new grace that filled my soul.
The vocations director gave the best advice I could have received in that sacred time. He simply told me to go and be quiet before the Lord and pray for the grace to know the deepest desires of my heart. He concluded, “and pray for the grace not to be afraid of what comes in answer to that question.” As I left the meeting my whole soul was filled with a peace I had never experienced before. I continued on to a nearby Church for Mass, knelt down in the pew, quieted my heart and let the Holy Spirit lead my prayer. My interior seemed to possess nothing but the peace of Christ’s presence. As it came time to receive the Lord in Holy Communion I knew He was inviting me to receive Him in a new way. The veil of my heart was drawn aside and the Lord answered my prayer. I was given the grace to see that the deepest desire of my heart was God. God and God alone was the treasure of my heart and worth all my life and love. A loving invitation followed this realization. It resounded throughout my soul with gentleness and clarity, “consecrated life with the Sisters of Life”.
As my heart received the grace of this call I could see God’s presence of mercy and love in every moment of my life – in all the crosses, resurrections, joys, sorrows, and challenges. Each were for a reason, each had helped prepare me to respond to this moment of invitation with love and freedom. Forth from my heart poured a most pure, love-filled, totally free “yes!” to the Lord –a yes that led me to enter the Sisters of Life that fall, and continues to draw me deeper and deeper into the inexhaustible beauty and gift of His love today.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Blog Update: Year of Consecrated Life Inspiration...

Since it's the Year of Consecrated Life, I am going to be posting various articles, vocation stories, information on Religious and reflections to inspire you. I hope that you will enjoy reading them, and that you will ask God what His will for YOU is.

Know that you have my prayers as always,
Kim Lee

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Blog Update: Catholic365.com Articles

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

I am sorry that Emily and I haven't written much lately. Life has been so busy with so many things that it has been hard to keep up with everything. We have not forgotten you, and we always keep you in our daily prayer.

Lately, I've been writing articles which are being published on Catholic365.com - please do check them out. There are a lot of good write-ups on various topics on there by Catholic writers and bloggers. If you believe God gave you a gift of writing, as He has with me, then please do offer to contribute to use your gift of writing to evangelise and catechise.

The vocations chat is still up and running, though not many people have been online, so I am now proposing that on Wednesday evenings, 8-10pm UK time (currently in BST - GMT+1) discerners can log on and chat together. You will have to figure out what time that is for you!
The link is: http://us23.chatzy.com/42621103301760

Please do stay tuned for further updates, reflections, and information. If there is any specific information you would like us to add to this blog, please do drop me an email:
franciscan.klt@gmail.com 

Thanks.

God bless,
Kim Lee

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Reflection on Vocation by Sr Cecilia Ross SJW

As part of the Year of Consecrated Life, I asked a Religious Sister to write a reflection on Vocation Discernment. Here it is. Please read it and reflect on what she has written. God bless - Kim Lee :)

Vocation discernment is a process that is different for everyone. Sometimes your family is supportive, and sometimes they resist your decision. Some people may have financial struggles. Some are “late bloomers” and some enter right out of high school. Despite all the variables, I have reached the conclusion that there are basic elements in the discernment process. Using my own experiences I worked these “stages” into a catchy acronym: Call, Hear, Respond, Investigate, Select, Try, or C.H.R.I.S.T.

It all starts with a Call of some sort. The question I receive most often is “How do you know if God is calling you?” The answer differs from person to person. For some, a friend or family member may suggest that you look into a religious vocation. For me, it was kind of an intuition that God was calling me to something higher and that feeling was developed by prayer. Since God is the only one who knows what vocation He has planned for each person, the only way to find out is to listen to Him, and to talk to Him. Give Him your time in prayer and He’ll let you know what to do with your life.

The next two stages, Hear and Respond, are very similar but they are not the same. Hear is the point in our discernment when we think that God is calling us. Respond is the stage where we actually take steps to find out what He’s calling us to. Often, people stay on the Hear level and don’t move on to Respond. This is the category that I like to refer to as “Perpetual Discerners.” One of our Sisters who entered the convent in her late 20’s tells us how she told a priest that she was considering a religious vocation. Upon learning that she was 27, he said, “Stop sitting on the fence and make up your mind!” If you think God’s calling you, get up and do something about it!

Investigate and Select are also closely related. Now, it is time to Investigate the possibilities open to you. Learn about religious life, or the priesthood if you are a young man. Visit a convent or seminary. Go and talk to Sisters, Brothers, and Priests. This involves taking concrete steps to further your vocation. Eventually the time will come when you are ready to Select a path to follow and you will choose a seminary or convent or monastery. This all takes time and commitment, but it’s the only way to find your true calling.

Finally, we have Try. Try to live the life you have chosen. I use the word Try because we’re still talking about discernment. Discernment continues throughout initial formation in religious life and seminary life. There are people in religious houses and seminaries whose sole job is to help you decide if you are really called to that life. The discernment is over when you are not just Trying, but Living! When you have completely fallen in love with Christ and His Church, then, and only then, is the discernment process complete.


So there you have it: Discernment 101 from someone who has been there and is still Trying. My prayer for each of you is that you will open your hearts to God’s call, and grow closer to Him as you discern your vocation in life. Remember, it’s all for CHRIST!

Alleluia Alleluia, Christ is Risen! Alleluia...Easter is here!

Alleluia Alleluia, Christ is Risen, Alleluia!

Easter is finally here, and apologies for not keeping up with the Lenten Reflections. Life, as always, has been very busy and very blessed. I have been working on a lot of projects and assignments, and this week, I will be serving a fair bit in the parish for the novena and Mass, which I am looking forward to very much! It is such a blessing, and I very grateful to God for that.

So, Easter is here! Didn't Lent go awfully quick?! It seems a blink of an eye and we are into the next season of the Church's liturgical calendar! Christ is Risen! The tabernacle is no longer empty! heehee :P But the bigger question is, what does it mean for us? What are we really celebrating in Eastertide? Surely it's not chocolate eggs and "Easter bunnies"?!

We are celebrating new life in Christ. Many people were baptised and received into full communion with the Church during the Easter Vigils in Catholic churches throughout the world. Isn't that beautiful?

P.S. Sorry for the late posting!

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Lent Reflections: 4th Sunday of Lent 2015

This is a rare occasion as I normally wouldn't post a hand-written reflection from one of my journals. However, I felt that this was one I wanted to share, and one that wasn't too personal, so here you go.

The short phrase at the top of the article is taken from John's Gospel, which was the Gospel for this Sunday.

The short reflection I wrote about the verse was inspired by the Teens Ministry in my parish. I was helping out at one of their events after Mass last night and we were talking about the three denials of Jesus that Peter had committed. I was one of the group leaders, helping to lead the teenagers there into a prayerful time of reflection of when they had denied Jesus. It was also a time where they were allowed to share why they thought they denied Jesus in various situations - their fears, their hopes, and their feelings about their faith and belief in Jesus. It was a very interesting experience.

Looking at when we deny Jesus is very appropriate for Lent. After all, by sinning, we deny him our love in so many different ways. So, let us take this time of Lent to reflect how we could deny Jesus less and less, that one day, by His grace, we no longer deny Him, but recognise, appreciate and accept Him openly as our Lord and Saviour, but also as our Brother and our Friend. Jesus loves us all exactly the way we are, and when He fell on the way to Calvary, when going there to be crucified, He always got back up. Let us get up and rise up for the Lord! Follow His example! Praise the name of Jesus!

Please be assured of my prayers for you all, especially those of you who are discerning at this time.

God bless you all! :)

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Lent Reflections: 3rd Sunday of Lent 2015

Third Sunday of Lent
Reflection by Fr John Moloney CSJ, taken from St. Antony's Forest Gate:

Today’s Gospel presents to us a quiet shocking scene…. an angry Jesus chasing the moneychangers and traders out of the temple.
What is Anger? Is it a sin and why? If it’s a sin then why was Jesus angry? Is there such a thing as good anger? When does it become bad and so a sin? What are the different kinds of anger?
Anger is the unreasonable desire for vengeance” St Thomas
anger 65
An angry Jesus chasing the moneychangers and traders out of the temple.
Anger is a capital sin (source of other sins) but is less serious than pride or envy because the passion of anger can be directed positively. This takes place according to St Thomas Aquinas, when one seeks the righting of a wrong in an ordered and moderate way. Like a teacher getting angry on purpose for the good of the student or victims voicing their anger. 
But the sin of anger is the lust for vengeance, untethered to reason. 
So 1. Sensing the indignation of injustice but 2. Acting on this sensation disproportionately.

It would have been so easy for Martin Luther King to surrender to sinful anger. Once after his home had been attacked by an angry mob, he reacted by saying; “love your persecutors and hate what they have done”. King knew that passion without righteousness is a short road to both moral and political chaos. King’s witness is so rare on the world scene. In Ireland, Rwanda, Holy Land, China, Russia, here in the UK, anger is passed on from generation to generation. Never recovering from past offenses, lust for vengeance wells up unchecked. Families long after what hurt has been forgotten, have anger.

In Dante’s Purgatorio the angry are tormented by a thick smoke that stings their eyes and throats. 
Gregory the Great quoted by St Thomas Aquinas “ the heart goaded by the pricks of anger is convulsed, the body trembles, the tongue entangles itself, the face is inflamed, the eyes are enraged and fail utterly to recognize those whom we know, the tongue makes sound indeed, but there is no sense to its utterance”
Sinful anger obscures correct vision, clean thinking, and honest and helpful communication.
anger
Anger is the unreasonable desire for vengeance” St Thomas
What is the antidote? Forgiveness
How central this is to the Bible and to the New Testament. 
Eph 4:27“Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry and do not give the devil a foothold”
To forgive is a choice not a feeling. If you are waiting to feel it you will never forgive. If you are waiting for revenge or even justice before forgiving, you will never forgive. 
Jesus in this passage of the Gospel use’s his anger to make things right. He doesn’t let his anger get out of control (a very difficult thing to do) but uses it for the good of his father’s house. Anger that’s out of control and no longer attached to the reason is the sin of anger and “anger” is spelt almost the same as “danger”. 
Anger is always a reaction to something that we see as wrong and unjust, the only problem is, we almost always over-react and don’t let the Holy Spirit use it for good and we end up doing something even worse than what we are reacting to.
anger6
“anger” is spelt almost the same as “danger”.
One intriguing aspect of today’s gospel story is the portrait of an angry Jesus in the temple-cleansing scene that gives way to two extremes in our own image of the Lord. Somepeople wish to transform an otherwise passive Christ into a whip-cracking revolutionary.
Others would like to excise any human qualities of Jesus and paint a very meek, bland character, who smiled, kept silent and never rocked the boat. The errors of the old extreme, however, do not justify a new extremism.
Jesus was not exclusively, not even primarily, concerned with social reform. Rather, he was filled with a deep devotion and burning love for his Father and the things of his Father. He wanted to form new people, created in God’s image, who are sustained by his love, and bring that love to others. Jesus’ disciples and apostles recognized him as a passionate figure — one who was committed to life and to losing it for the sake of truth and fidelity.
imgfullsizejesus
Jesus in the temple

Have we given in to these extremes in our own understanding of and relationship with Jesus? Are we passionate about anything in our lives today? Are we filled with a deep and burning love for the things of God and for his Son, Jesus?

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Vocations Chat has now been reopened

Hi Discerners,

Vocations Chat has now been reopened. Please follow this link to join the chat room.

http://us23.chatzy.com/42621103301760

Thanks!

Happy Discernment and Lent!

God bless!

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Lent Reflections: 2nd Sunday of Lent 2015


Second Sunday of Lent, Year B – March 1, 2015

Moriah. Sinai. Nebo. Carmel. Horeb. Gilboa. Gerizim. Mount of Beatitudes. Tabor. Hermon. Zion. Mount of Olives. Calvary. Golgotha. Mountains are often used in the Bible as the stages of important encounters between God and his people. Though we may have never visited the lands of the Bible, we are all familiar with these biblical mountains and the great events of our salvation history that took place there.
Today’s Old Testament and Gospel reading take place on two important biblical mountains– Mount Moriah and Mount Tabor. Both readings give us profound insights into our God and his Son, Jesus, who is our Savior.
First let us consider the story of the sacrifice of Isaac by his father Abraham as portrayed in Genesis 22:1-19. The story is called the “Akedah” in Hebrew (Anglicization of the Aramaic word for “binding”) and it easily provokes scandal for the modern mind: What sort of God is this who can command a father to kill his own son?
index
The binding of Isaac, then, is a symbol of life, not death, for Abraham is forbidden to sacrifice his son.
How many pagan voices were assailing Abraham at this moment? What would a contemporary father do if he were to be called on to sacrifice his only son to God? He would be thought mad if he even considered it — and unfaithful to God as well. What a poignant story indeed! 
“Take your son, your only son Isaac whom you love … and offer him as a burnt offering. … So Abraham rose early in the morning.” 
Because Abraham listened to the Lord’s messenger, his only son’s life was spared. The binding of Isaac, then, is a symbol of life, not death, for Abraham is forbidden to sacrifice his son.
What happens on Mount Moriah finds an echo in what happens atop Mount Tabor and Mount Calvary in the New Testament: The mounts Moriah, Tabor and Calvary are significant places of vision in the Bible. For on these peaks, we see a God who never abandons us in our deepest despair, terror and death. God is with us through thick and thin, through day and night.
These mountains teach us that it is only when we are willing to let go of what we love most and cherish most in this life, to offer it back to God, the giver of all good gifts, that we can ever hope to receive it back in ways we never dreamed of or imagined. Only then will we experience resurrection, healing, consoling light and new life.
transfiguration2
Transfiguration
We can only speculate on what lies behind the story of the Transfiguration — one of the Gospel’s most mysterious and awesome visions (Mark 9:2-8; Matthew 17:1-8; Luke 9:28-36). Peter, James and John had an overwhelming experience with the Lord on Mount Tabor. Following the night of temptation and preceding the blackness of Golgotha, the glorious rays of the Transfiguration burst forth. Before their eyes, the Jesus they had known and with whom they walked became transfigured. His countenance was radiant; his garments streaming with white light. At his side, enveloped in glory, stood Moses, the mighty liberator, who had led Israel out of slavery, and Elijah, the greatest of Israel’s prophets.
Jesus needed the light and affirmation of the mountaintop experience in his own life. In the midst of his passion predictions, he needed Mount Tabor, to strengthen him as he descended into the Jordan Valley and made his way up to Jerusalem. For every disciple since, it is the same. Those who follow Jesus must ascend the mountain to catch a glimpse of the mystery of God’s presence in our world and in our lives.
And yet Mark’s story of Jesus transfigured reminds us that gazing in contemplation is not enough. The disciples are told to listen to Jesus, the Beloved of God, and then return to their daily routine down in the valley.
The awesome Gospel story of the Transfiguration gives us an opportunity to look at some of our own mountaintop experiences. How have such experiences shed light on the shadows and darkness of life? What would our lives be without some of these peak experiences? How often do we turn to those few but significant experiences for strength, courage and perspective? How has the mountaintop experience enabled us to listen more attentively to God’s voice — a voice calling us to fidelity and authenticity in our belief? When we’re down in the valley we often can’t see Christ’s glory.
The most consoling message of the Transfiguration is perhaps for those who suffer, and those who witness the deformation of their own bodies and the bodies of their loved ones. Even Jesus will be disfigured in the passion, but will rise with a glorious body with which he will live for eternity and, faith tells us, with which he will meet us after death.
So many voices assail us that we find it difficult to listen to God’s voice. Before light envelops us, we need to go through darkness. Before the heavens open up, we need to go through the mud and dirt. We must experience both mountains — Tabor and Golgotha — in order to see the glory of God. The Transfiguration teaches us that God’s brilliant life included death, and there is no way around it — only through it.
It also reminds us that the terrifying darkness can be radiant and dazzling. During moments of transfiguration, God penetrates the hardened, incredulous, even disquieting regions within us, about which we really do not know what to do, and he leaves upon them the imprint of his own face, in all its radiant and dazzling glory and beauty.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Lent Reflections : 1st Sunday of Lent 2015

GospelMK 1:12-15

The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, 
and he remained in the desert for forty days,
tempted by Satan.
He was among wild beasts,
and the angels ministered to him.

After John had been arrested, 
Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God:
“This is the time of fulfillment.
The kingdom of God is at hand.
Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

I've picked out the Gospel reading for this first Sunday of Lent because I think it really puts across the themes we ought to think about during Lent. 

This reading really struck me because we often think of Lent as a time where we give something up - a form of penance, but this reading shows us that penance, in any form, is not easy. Even Jesus was tempted, but he fasted and prayed. In the same way, when we are tempted to break our Lenten promises, we should remember this and also fast and pray. 

Here's why:

Following Jesus' example, we fast because we want to bring out the true hunger and thirst for God, and also to discipline the desires of our hearts for worldly things - food, water, shelter, sex, material things to make our lives more comfortable. But, in actual fact, our deepest need is for God, and fasting helps us to realise that. People seek God, but so often in the wrong ways. They look for him outside when He is actually there within, in the depths of their hearts, waiting for them to speak to Him. That is why we must pray, to communicate with God, because any relationship needs communication, and without it, well, the relationship breaks down. 

We should also give alms, because in the last judgement, we are challenged to feed the poor and help those less fortunate than ourselves.Jesus says, "Whatsoever you have done to the least of my brothers and sisters, you have done to me". Think about how you can "do" something to help those who are not so well off in your community. Maybe start a lenten alms box. :)

Lenten Challenge: Pray about what you can "do" this Lent, and Fast to help the true hunger of God come into your life. Find a way to give back to your community, and give alms. 

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Preparation for Lent - A reflection by Fr John Jesus Moloney CSJ

Gospel Reflections: Lent 2013 (recycled wisdom from Fr John Jesus Moloney CSJ).
Lent 2013
This week's reflections will be a few thoughts on how to live the Lenten season.
Prayer, fasting, alms giving
The Church traditionally says there are 3 things we ought to "do" during lent. Putting stress on the word "do". We emphasize very often the interior dimension. That lent is about attitudes, ideas and intentions. In the traditional practice of the Church, lent is about doing things. Things that involve the body as much as the mind. That involve the exterior of your life as much as the interior.
There is a very Catholic principle that goes like this..... what your body does your soul will follow. We like to give bodily expression to spiritual movement, acting out with our whole person the conversion process. That’s why we love pilgrimages, going on our knees to pray, sign of the cross, rosary; that engages the body, mind and will, we love "smells and bells" as we say because they awaken the body and lead the soul into the divine.
Take pilgrimages for example; lent is all about conversion, "metanoia" in the Greek of the Gospel, "beyond the mind"; to go beyond the present way the mind perceives, to change the way we see things. To travel to a place of pilgrimage... (Bible full of pilgrimages...Abraham leaves his home and sets off...Moses journeys to the promised land, Mary to Hill Country to visit her cousin Elizabeth, Jesus to Jerusalem....)....is to mimic the arduousness of the spiritual path, the soul follows the lead....
The 3 great practices of lent are prayer, fasting and alms giving. Lets look at each one in turn.
Prayer has been defined in all sorts of ways over the centuries. There are many many different ways of practicing prayer.
Prayer is a conscious and disciplined accessing of the center. Jesus Christ wants to be the center of your life. That power around which all of your talents, abilities, your powers revolve. Jesus says I want to live in you, I want to be your life, your mind, your will. To pray, is to access that center. To become aware of it. To live in it, to be open to it in a conscious and disciplined way. Lent the Church says is a great time for this practice of prayer.
Here are some very practical things; The Jesus prayer.... its a very ancient prayer form and very simple. Its roots are biblical. It flourished especially in the East, in the monasteries of the Byzantine Church. The Jesus prayer unfolds this way. As you breath in deeply you say "Lord Jesus Christ Son of God" and then as you breath out you say "Have mercy on me a sinner". Notice please how it involves the mind, you are thinking about Christ, you are thinking about sin, about forgiveness. It involves the will, the desire and it involves the body. As you breathe in you fill your lungs, you are signaling to your body, that you are filling your life up with Jesus Christ, you breathe Him in. Then as you breathe out, "have mercy on me a sinner". You are breathing out all the negative spirits in your life. You are breathing out sin, negativity. If you read the book "The way of the pilgrim", its a very short little book. It’s all about a young man who discovered the Jesus prayer. And it changes his life. He was leafing through the bible on day and he found St Paul's invitation to pray constantly. And he wondered what that meant. So he sought out various spiritual masters. Until he finally came to someone who finally explained to him what it meant. He said it means you should practice the Jesus prayer. "Lord Jesus Christ Son of God. have mercy on me a sinner". How many times ? Hundreds of times. Thousands of times. As you make your way through the day, maybe pausing and very consciously saying it in a very focused way. But let that prayer seep into your bones. Let it seep into your lungs, your body, your mind. And what this young man discovered was that his whole life changed as he let the Jesus Prayer work its way through his whole being.
The beauty of the Jesus Prayer is that you can pray it in a very concentrated way, you can spend an hour in the morning, in the evening with this prayer. Sit before the Blessed Sacrament and pray it. Or you can pray it for a minute, maybe in the midst of a very busy hectic day. Facing though decisions, take a minute, take 30 seconds and pray this prayer. Lets say you are caught in traffic, you can give yourself over to frustration or you can give yourself over to prayer, to access the deep center. To make contact with Jesus Christ.
The second great practice of lent is fasting. Jesus himself fasted for 40 days in the desert. It’s an ancient and powerful spiritual practice. Why do we fast ? Because we have a hunger for God. Which is the deepest hunger. We`re meant to feel that hunger, to access it so that it can direct us towards God. What's the danger ? (and every spiritual master East and West recognizes this), the danger is that if we allow the superficial hungers of our lives to dominate, we never reach the deep hunger.
Thomas Merton once said that the hungers for food, for drink and for shelter, for sex are like children because they are insistent, they are immediate, they want satisfaction now. The way a little kid does, give me this now, therefore these desires can dominate the soul very quickly if we let them. Fasting is a way of disciplining those desires. Quieting those desires. Not responding immediately to them so that the deep desire, the deep thirst and hunger might emerge. Unless you fast you might never even realize how hungry you are for God.
How about some practical suggestions...the Church tells us clearly to follow certain dieting recommendations during the Lenten season, abstaining from meat on Fridays, having certain days of fast, these really aren`t all that stringent and Catholics are encouraged to follow them. But maybe we could try skipping a meal once a week during lent, and taking the money you would have spent in that meal and giving it to the poor. Or skipping a meal and during that time pray the rosary. To substitute the hunger and thirst for God, in a conscious way, for the hunger and thirst for food and drink.
But here's the thing, don't simply do it as a kind of masochistic self-punishment. "I'm fasting from this meal and now I'm miserable....I'm not smoking and that’s making me crazy" ...... rather feel that hunger, that need, that lack, and then treat it as a kind of sacrament of your divine hunger. Feel that hunger and say "Lord I know this is symbolic for me of the hunger and thirst for you".... feel that as you fast.
The 3rd practice, the one that’s often the most overlooked; alms-giving. During lent we are encouraged to give alms to the poor. Because we are members of a body. The Church is not a club, a society, not a collection of like-minded people. The Church is a body. We participate in Christ, we are the cells and molecules of his body. What that means of course is that we are connected one to another. Just as the organs of a body are interconnected. If the liver has a problem its the whole body's problem. The lungs have a problem...the whole body is affected. So we Christians say and believe that if you have a problem, that’s my problem too. Because we are connected. If someone in the far corner of the world is hungry, is thirsty or alone or afraid, I can't say; "that’s their problem". That’s our problem. We give alms because we are connected to each other.
How do you give alms ? Here are some concrete suggestions..... as a kid in Ireland we used to have a poor box, the "trocaire box" as we'd call it. During lent put a poor box next to your door and then every time you leave during lent, put something in that box. It could be 50 cents, 1 dollar, 10 dollars...whatever, and encourage your family to do it too. Knowing that each time there is somebody in the body of Christ who needs it.
Another ancient practice is to set an extra place at your table, at dinner. To remind you of that person in the body of Christ, who is starving. Who doesn't have enough to eat. And then take the money you would have spent to prepare that meal, put that in the poor box.
Here is one that’s very difficult....St John Chrysostom said that "If you have 2 shirts in your closet, one belongs to you and the other belongs to the man who has no shirt. If you have 2 cloaks in your closet, one belongs to you and one to the man who has no cloak". Go into your closet this lent, we all have more clothes than we actually need. Find something in there that you don't need, and give it to someone in the body of Christ who has far greater need of this than I do.
This lent forget about fussy introspection, ask not am I happy ? Ask; am I giving, doing, caring, follow the Gospel's recommendation and do 3 things....pray, fast and give alms.