Trusting in God means letting go of what we want, Pope says

On Wednesday Pope Francis said having total faith and trust in God means recognizing that he always knows and wants what is best for us, even if it’s hard to accept because it doesn’t align with our own plans.

Wednesday, Pope Francis talked about what it means to have total faith and trust in God, acknowledging that he knows what is best, and always wants what is best for us, even if it is often difficult to accept.

“Trusting in God means to enter into his designs without demanding anything, even accepting that his salvation and his help should come to us in a different way from our expectations,” he said Jan. 25.

The Pope’s catechesis for the general audience in the Pope Paul VI hall centered on the story of Judith in the Old Testament, a woman who was “a great heroine,” he said, and an excellent example of the virtues of faith, hope and trust.

In the story, Nebuchadnezzar’s army, under the leadership of General Holofernes, is laying siege to a city in Judea, cutting off the water supply and thus “sapping the resistance of the population,” the Pope said.

“The situation is dramatic,” to the point that the people in the town are giving up, wanting to surrender to the enemy, he said. Faced with such despair, a leader of the people suggests that they wait only five more days. If God has not saved them by then, they will surrender.

But then Judith comes onto the scene, “a woman of great beauty and wisdom, she speaks to the people with the language of faith,” Francis said.

“You want to test the Lord Almighty,” the Pope said, quoting the words of Judith, who cautioned the people not to “provoke the wrath of the Lord, our God.” The Lord, she said, “has full power to defend us in the days he wants or even to destroy us by our enemies.”

Referencing the passage, Pope Francis told pilgrims that “we never put conditions on God and give up…instead hope conquers our fears.”

“He is a Father, he can save us,” he said. In this way, “a woman full of faith and courage gives new strength to his people in mortal danger and leads them on the path of hope, revealing this also to us.”

Judith shows us the path to trust, to “wait in peace, prayer and obedience,” Francis said, noting that this sort of resignation is not easy. We must do everything in our power, but “always remaining in the furrow of the Lord’s will.”

In off-the-cuff comments, the Pope said Judith was brave to trust in God as she did, adding that “this is my opinion: women are more courageous than men.”

We can and should ask the Lord for life, health, happiness, he said, but always “in the awareness that God is able to bring life even from death” and that we can experience “peace even in disease, serenity even in solitude, (and) bliss even in tears.”

“We are not the ones who can teach God what to do, what we need,” he said. “He knows better than we do, and we have to trust, because his ways and his thoughts are different from ours.”


By Hannah Brockhaus | Catholic News Agency | Link

Advertisements

Pope Francis: ‘never lose faith in God’s providential care

Pope Francis has invited believers to trust in God’s providential care while doing everything in their power to respond to the challenges that come their way.
He was addressing pilgrims gathered in the Paul VI Hall for the weekly General Audience.
Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni:
Resuming his ongoing catechesis on Christian hope Pope Francis recalled the courageous figure of Judith, and of how, during the siege of the city of Bethulia by the Assyrian general Holofernes, she urged the despairing population to reinforce its wavering hope in the Lord and ended up proposing a plan that led to victory over the enemy.
The example of this woman of great wisdom and courage, the Pope said, teaches us to trust in the Lord’s providential care, but also, in prayer and obedience, to discern his will and to do everything in our power to respond to the challenges that come our way.
“How often have we felt our trust in God waver? How many times has each of us, perhaps in desperation, been tempted to lose faith and expect the worst?” he said.
Judith’s faith, Pope Francis continued, inspires us to commend ourselves to the Father with trust and obedience.
And remarking on Judith’s courage, the Pope mentioned that in his opinion, women are often more courageous than men…
“Dear brothers and sisters, never impose your conditions on God, but allow Christian hope to defeat your fear. To trust in God means to be unconditionally part of his plan accepting the fact that we are given salvation and His help in ways that are different from what we expect” he said.
God, the Pope continued, knows exactly what it is we are in need of and we must trust Him because his paths and his actions are different to ours.
Judith, a woman full of faith and courage gave strength to her people who were in mortal danger and conducted them on the path of trust. We too, the Pope said, must heed the wise and courageous words of humble women…
“The wise words of grandmothers who often know what to say and how to give encouragement because they have the experience of life; they have suffered, they have trusted in God, and the Lord gives them this gift of showing us how to keep on having faith” he said.
Let us commend ourselves to the Father, Pope Francis concluded, with the same obedience that led Jesus, in the Garden of Gethsemane, to pray: “Not my will, but yours be done”.
(from Vatican Radio)

iPray with the Gospel: I Will Make You Fishers of Men

Jesus saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.

Matthew 4:12-23

Dear Apostles, what an astonishing reaction of yours. We don’t know ‘why’ Jesus decided to choose you and no others. We don’t know of any special talents you had or whether you could write, read, speak in public or answer basic religious questions about your faith… But there is something we know about you. When Jesus called you, you responded immediately. We don’t know what Jesus saw in you but maybe it was just that: that you were ready to say ‘Yes’ without delay. Perhaps Jesus called many others, but only you twelve were ready to leave everything and follow Him immediately.

Peter, Andrew, James, John, Matthew, Philip, Nathanael, all the Apostles!…Your reaction is astonishing. There was no dialogue, no negotiation, no questions and answers. You just left everything to follow Jesus and you didn’t care where or how, what for or for how long, who else was coming with you, what you would eat or drink or wear, where you would sleep, whether you would have holidays of any kind or a salary…

God could count on you, His Apostles, because you trusted Him. You help to understand it well: in God’s projects, you don’t see the plan and then follow Him; you follow Him and then you see His plan. We could say that in God’s plans, the ‘light switch’ is behind the door. You need to enter the room in darkness, to grope along the wall until you find the switch, turn on the light and, then, you see the room into which God called you. We don’t follow our vocation when we are 100% sure, because we can only be 100% sure when we first ‘follow’ it. Peter, Andrew, James, John and all the other Apostles, I ask your help today, with the powerful intercession of Mary, Queen of Apostles, to be able to follow God immediately, leaving behind everything He asks me to.


By Rev. George Boronat

Link: http://stjosemaria.org/ipray-fishers-of-men/

Pope Francis: Get moving if you want to follow Jesus

 

Commenting on the Gospel account of the paralytic who is lowered from the roof of the house where Jesus is teaching, the Pope said people follow Jesus out of self interest or because they are looking for a comforting word. Even if no intention is totally pure or perfect, he said, the important thing is to follow Jesus. People were drawn to Him because of the “things He said and the way he said them. They understood Him. He healed them and many people followed Him to be healed”.

There were times, said Pope Francis, when Jesus admonished people who were more interested in their own well-being than in the Word of God.

Don’t be Christians to look at life from the balcony and judge others

There were other times, continued the Pope, when people wanted to make Jesus King, thinking He was “the perfect politician!”. But they were wrong and Jesus “went away and hid”. Even so, the Lord let anyone follow Him because He knew that we are all sinners.

The bigger problem, confirmed the Pope, “was not with those who followed Jesus”, but with those who stayed where they were.

“Those who didn’t move…and watched. They were sitting down…watching from the balcony. Their life was not a journey: their life was a balcony! From there they never took risks. They just judged. They were pure and wouldn’t get involved. But their judgements were severe. In their hearts they said: What ignorant people! What superstitious people! How often, when we see the piety of simple people, are we too subject to that clericalism that hurts the Church so much”.

Reflecting on those who don’t move in their lives, Pope Francis referenced the man who “sat beside the pool for 38 years, without moving, embittered by life, without hope…someone else who failed to follow Jesus and had no hope”.

Encountering Jesus means taking risks

But those who did follow Jesus, continued the Pope, were ready to risk in order to meet Him, in order to “find what they wanted”. Going back to the day’s Gospel reading, Pope Francis said “the men who made a hole in the roof took a risk”. They risked the owner of the house suing them and taking them to court to pay for the damages.

They were ready to risk because “they wanted to go to Jesus”.

The woman who was sick took a risk when she furtively touched the hem of Jesus’ cloak: she risked being ridiculed. But she risked: because she wanted to be cured, “she wanted to reach Jesus. Remember the Canaanite woman: women risk more than men do! That’s true: they are better at it! We have to admit that”.

Following Jesus, the Pope went on, “isn’t easy, but it’s wonderful! And it’s always a risk”. There are times, he said, when we risk “being ridiculous”. But we achieve what counts: “our sins are forgiven”. Beneath whatever request we are making, whether it be for good health or for a solution to a problem, “there’s the desire to be healed in spirit, to be forgiven”. All of us know we are sinners, said Pope Francis, “and that’s why we follow Jesus: to meet Him. So we take risks”.

Beware of a soul that is static, closed and without hope

Let’s ask ourselves, concluded Pope Francis: “Do I take risks, or do I follow Jesus according to the rules of my insurance company?” Because “that’s not the way to follow Jesus. That way you don’t move, like those who judge”.

Do we follow Jesus because we need something, or do we follow Him because we are ready to risk? “This is faith: trusting in Jesus, having faith in Jesus. And with this faith in Him, these men cut a hole in the roof and lowered the stretcher down in front of Jesus so he could cure the sick man”. “Do I put my faith in Jesus?”, asked the Pope. “Do I entrust my life to Jesus? Am I walking behind Jesus even if sometimes I seem ridiculous? Or am I sitting still, watching what others are doing?” Am I watching life with a soul that is static, “with a soul that is closed with bitterness and lack of hope? We should each be asking ourselves these questions today”.

Link: http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2017/01/13/pope_francis_get_moving_if_you_want_to_follow_jesus/1285450

Abandonment to Jesus

Per ipsum et cum ipso et in ipso: through Jesus, with Jesus, and in Jesus.

“Without me, you can do nothing.”

“With You, Jesus, I can do all things.”

Renew these thoughts which bind you to Him and which plunge you into the abyss of love which is His Heart. The logical and necessary consequence of the complete confidence which I have preached to you until now is total abandonment.

Since it is through Jesus that everything must be accomplished, the more I let Him do, the more the work of grace will be beautiful and perfect.

What is this work of grace? The transformation of our souls into Jesus through love. St. Thomas shows us, after St. Augustine, that the Eucharist transforms our souls into Jesus through love. It is there that I find the definition of sanctity, the final word, if I may put it that way, of our divine predestination.

Jesus transforms us into Himself. Our intelligence is no longer our intelligence, but His: we see things as He sees them. Our will is no longer our will but His: we will what He wills, and we reject what He rejects. Our heart is no lon­ger our heart, but the Heart of Jesus: we love what He loves, and we detest what He detests.

“And I live, now not I, but Christ lives in me.” Mihi vivere Christus est: “For me, to live is Christ.”

Perhaps you will say to me, “You claim that we are continually transformed more and more into Him, but I do not notice it; I cannot put my finger on it. And even, some days, seeing myself so miserable, I am tempted to believe the contrary.”

Yet, do you not see things more than ever as He does? Of course, you do. Do you not want what He wants, more every day? Of course, you do. I am sure that today, more than ever, you want to love Him and make Him loved, with a will even more sincere, even more profound, with a desire even more sure than ever, although perhaps not felt. You would not say, “I have less desire to love Him and make Him loved than yesterday.”

What trips us up is that we mistake sensible fervor for sanctity. But it is not. Sanctity is a disposition of soul, ani­mated by grace, which is the life of the soul, under the ac­tion of infused virtues and under the influence of the gifts of the Holy Spirit; a disposition to belong to Jesus more than ever, to accomplish His will, to know Him and make Him known, to love Him and make Him loved more.

He looks much more at what we are than at what we do; and we are, in His eyes, what we sincerely want to be for Him.

We understand now why so many Communions — those Communions which transform us into Him — do not bring us all the supernatural fruits they could. We open our arms to Him, yet we close the doors of our intelligence, of our will, of our heart, by not living in this abandonment. We bid Him come, but we do not permit Him to enter. But if, in receiving Him, we grant Him, by perfect abandonment, all the controls, all the keys to the house, that He may be Master in us with full liberty to act, then, oh! what marvels will His omnipotence not accomplish in our souls in the service of His love!

Rightly Understood

Abandonment, rightly understood, includes everything. It requires a great humility, since it is submission of ourselves to creatures and events, seeing Jesus Himself in them. It requires an immense faith, confidence every moment, to tear open the veil of secondary causes, to break through the screen of creatures which too often prevents us from seeing Jesus behind them, who governs everything, since nothing — nothing — happens without His having willed or permitted it.

Abandonment is nothing but obedience pushed to its extreme, since it consists of submission to everything within the limits of the possible and the reasonable, in order to obey God, who has foreseen and willed it all.

Finally, it is in abandonment that our great desires find their perfect fulfillment. I spoke to you of the splendid pas­sage from little Thérèse where she says that she would have liked to “enlighten souls as did the prophets and doctors, to encircle the earth and announce the Gospel unto the remot­est islands, to have been a missionary since the creation of the world and to be one until the consummation of the world, to have suffered all martyrdoms.”

She finds the means to realize all that by being the love in the heart of the Church, her Mother. And how was she the love in the heart of the holy Church? By living in com­plete conformity with the will of God, who is nothing but Love.

To live with abandonment is to rediscover a perfect har­mony in God; for, after all, it is God, it is Jesus, who writes all the lines, all the words, and all the letters of our lives. It is striking to see how the sanctity of all the saints is con­summated in total abandonment. All their efforts, all their prayers, all the lights which they have received from Heaven, have led them to this.

When our Lord makes some reproach to the saints, to St. Gertrude, to St. Margaret Mary, for example, it is most often their lack of abandonment which He laments.

St. Margaret Mary, shortly before her death, wrote that she had finally understood what He expected of her when He said to her, “Let me do it.” “His Sacred Heart,” she wrote, “will do everything for me if I let Him. He shall will, He shall love, He shall desire for me and make up for all my faults.”

Like St. Margaret Mary, you may hear Jesus a hundred times a day, saying to you, “Let me do it.” In your difficulties, in your problems, in all those things in your daily life which are sometimes so difficult, so distressing, when you ask your­self, “What shall I do? How shall I do it?” listen to Him say­ing to you, “Let me do it.” And then answer Him, “O Jesus, I thank You for all things.” And it will be the most beautiful dialogue of love between a soul and the all-powerful and all-loving God!

Little Thérèse came in this way to the point of no longer having any other desire than to love Jesus to the point of “foolishness”:

I desire neither suffering nor death, yet I love both; but it is love alone which attracts me. Now it is aban­donment alone which guides me. I have no other compass.

My heart is full of the will of Jesus. Ah, if my soul were not already filled with His will, if it had to be filled by the feelings of joy and sadness which follow each other so quickly, it would be a tide of very bitter sorrow. But these alternatives do nothing but brush across my soul. I always remain in a profound peace which nothing can trouble. If the Lord offered me the choice, I would not choose anything: I want nothing but what He wants. It is what He does that I love. I acknowledge that it took me a long time to bring myself to this degree of abandonment. Now I have reached it, for the Lord took me and put me there.

Yes, I ask the Lord to take you, also, and to put you there, in the depths of His Heart!

This simple abandonment is the peak of holiness, the peak of love. When St. Teresa of Avila, in the Interior Castle, speaks of the spiritual marriage, the culminating point of the mystical life, she depicts it as a union of likeness in charity. “Such is the ineffable ardor with which the souls desire that the will of God be accomplished in them that they are equally satisfied with anything which it pleases the Divine Spouse to command.”

By: FR. JEAN C. J. D’ELBÉE

Link: http://catholicexchange.com/abandonment-jesus

Faith Like That of the Magi

“We need a strong life of faith to appreciate the wonder his providence has entrusted to us—a faith like that of the Magi, a conviction that neither the desert, nor the storms, nor the quiet of the oases will keep us from reaching our destination in the eternal Bethlehem: our definitive life with God.”– St Josemaria Escriva | Christ is Passing By, no. 32
When the Magi prostrated themselves before Christ, what sentiments must have filled their hearts? They must have thought: All of our hardship was worth it. The inconveniences of travel, the searching, everything was worthwhile. And since that moment of worship until today, this is the truth that all souls reach who seek Christ with all of their hearts. All that we embrace for Christ is worthwhile—and not only at the end of the journey, but even in the midst of it. Our privations, sacrifices, and hardships all lead us to deeper union with Him whom we are seeking.
The Magi offer us great encouragement on our own journey of faith. Their passage was fraught with hardship, both coming and going. And once they had found Christ, more suffering awaited. They had to escape in secret to “their own country by another way,” avoiding Herod’s notice. Had they been caught, there is no telling what Herod might have done. History remembers him as power-hungry, paranoid, and violent.
In fact, the next time the wise men are mentioned in Matthew’s Gospel, the evangelist reports Herod’s “furious rage” when he realized that they had departed without returning to him: “He sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under.” These were some of the circumstances surrounding the approach of these Gentile kings to their Lord and Messiah.
St Augustine in a way summarizes the strange and hard circumstances of their (and our) journey to Christ: “So you wanted to live a quiet life. But God wanted otherwise. Two wills exist: your will should be corrected to become identified with God’s will: you must not bend God’s will to suit yours.”
When sinners decide to become saints, we too can expect a lot of trouble—with ourselves, with the evil one, with the world. Ours is a narrow path, as the Lord promises, and it is not for the fainthearted. Nor is it a road of our own making, as the itinerary of the Magi had many turns that they were not planning for.
They arrived in Jerusalem after a long journey and had to ask where they might find the Messiah’s birthplace. God did not provide that information for them beforehand. He relied upon their willingness to investigate, to ask questions, to be guided by secondary instruments. The star was a divine sign that guided them only so far, then they had to trust that God would also work through other means—through things as dissimilar as the scheming of a tyrant and ancient prophecies of the birthplace of a ruler who would be a shepherd to his people.
They are sages, even kings, and yet they bow humbly to the divine will and flee like criminals after their long pilgrimage. Not exactly what one would expect. As soon as the nativity story is told in the Gospel, after we have heard about the angels, shepherds, Mary’s contemplation of these things, and the Magi’s visit, then there is cruel bloodshed. The Holy Family flees to the west, the wise men secretly return to the east. The peace, the silence, the joyful brightness that radiates from Bethlehem is rudely displaced by savage brutality, hasty departures, and intense grief.
There is no good human explanation for all of this. If we could invent the story ourselves, we would have it otherwise. There would be no awkward details, no conflicts. Everyone would do what they are supposed to do. Everything would fit nicely, as in an idyllic Christmas card. But reality, the reality into which Jesus was born, the reality into which He willed to enter, our reality, is seldom as perfect as we would like it to be. If it were so perfect, then Jesus would not have come to save us in it.
Our world, our families, our lives, are in a disarray that only God’s hand can untangle and set right. We must follow His star, the star that leads us away from our ways of thinking and acting, and into the presence of Christ and His mother. Keeping our eyes trained on the guiding light of God’s will prevents us from focusing too narrowly on the secondary things that He uses to bring us where we need to be.
Imagine yourself involved in the events surrounding the first Christmas. Think of how impossible it would be to obey God’s will if you were paying attention only to the attitude of the innkeeper, the inconvenience of the stable, Herod’s deviousness and malice. The stable seems like an afterthought. The flight into Egypt and the escape of the Magi seem like emergency measures taken against unforeseen dangers. But in God’s providence nothing is an afterthought.
It is a pattern throughout Sacred history that God tests us in this way: whether we will trust Him through others or not. From the call and trials of Abraham, to those of the patriarch Joseph in Egypt, all the way to when the Apostles heard God speaking in a human voice, with human inflection, and telling them to do the unthinkable: “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” They too had to learn to trust God working through a human form. When, humanly speaking, there is no good reason to obey, faith makes us untie our boat, pull up the anchor, and go.
Ecclesiastes teaches us a similar lesson in a few words: “Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days” (Eccl 11:1). Cast your bread means to cast one’s livelihood, one’s means of support, one’s fortunes, one’s very self, over something as uncertain as the currents of the sea. But if you take that risk for God, you will surely find yourself after having momentarily lost yourself for Him: “For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
The last verse of the Epiphany Gospel especially underscores this: “They departed by another way.” The Magi had been inspired to seek the Messiah; they persevered until they found Him; then they allowed God to direct their path ever after. And so, “They departed by another way.” Having undergone great hardship and inconvenience to find the newborn King of the Jews, they were prepared to do it all over again for the same Lord. And it made even better sense than before.
After we have found Christ our path changes radically. We cannot go back the same way. To go back the same way would mean infidelity on our part after having been shown a better way—a harder way, but a better one. There are plenty of easier paths in life, but only one that leads to God: Christ, who is the Way.

By Rev. John Henry Hanson, O. Praem

http://stjosemaria.org/faith-of-the-magi/

THE 5 ADVENT VIRTUES OF ST. JOSEPH

Saint Joseph can help us to live a most fruitful Advent, and for many reasons. Let us quietly meditate upon five extraordinary virtues of this greatest of all saints so that we can live a most fervent Advent season and allow Jesus to be born in the depths of our hearts this Christmas!

1. Silence. Not once in the Bible do we hear a word from the great Saint Joseph. This silence of Saint Joseph is very eloquent. It teaches us a fundamental attitude to enter into deep prayer: silence. If we are constantly bombarded by noises then it is impossible to hear the Word of God, the Holy Spirit that speaks to us in the gentle breeze of silence. Also the silence of Saint Joseph teaches us the importance of example. We must prove our authenticity by words, but also by our actions. Saint Joseph taught the world by the holy way that he lived. May he be an example for us.
2. Prayer. Saint Joseph was a man of prayer. What an extraordinary role he played in the history of salvation. He was both the spouse of Mary the Mother of God as well as the foster-father of Jesus the Son of the living God. Saint Joseph actually taught Jesus to speak and to address God as “Abba”—meaning “Daddy”. In a certain sense Saint Joseph taught Jesus to use the human words to talk to the Heavenly Father—this is prayer. Therefore, if Saint Joseph taught Jesus how to pray, how much could he teach me how to pray if I simply ask for his help. Start now: Saint Joseph, teach me how to pray!
3. Courage and Manliness. In a society where too many men shirk their obligations toward their wives, children and family and turn to vices and the easy life when confronted with difficulties, Saint Joseph shines as a model of courage and fortitude. He travelled the many miles in the cold and wind, only to meet rejection. He found refuge in an animal shelter for the birth of Jesus. He arose early to flee into Egypt saving the Child Jesus from the vicious and murderous threats of King Herod. Faced with so many difficulties, Saint Joseph stood tall and confronted the obstacles with manly courage. May the men of the present generation lift up their gaze to the gentle but courageous man of God—good Saint Joseph.
4. Provide and Protect. Saint Joseph both protected and provided for the Holy Family. He was a hard worker—exercising the trade of a Carpenter. He earned the bread that he made with the sweat of his brow. He thought not of himself but of how he could best provide for and protect the family that God had entrusted to his care. As we draw close to Christmas let us beg good Saint Joseph to provide and protect our spiritual lives. Materialism, consumerism, hedonism are the gods of the present culture. These actually suffocate spirituality. Saint Joseph’s prayers can help us to look beyond the buying, having, and possessing. He can help us to realize that true joy and happiness does not come from having things, but in possessing God. To hold the Child Jesus in our arms and in our hearts is worth more than all of the money and possessions of the entire world. Good Saint Joseph can teach us this simple but profound lesson!
5. St. Joseph, Our Lady, and Jesus. To arrive at a true and authentic devotion to Mary, good Saint Joseph can serve as a powerful bridge. Aside from Jesus Himself, nobody on earth knew, understood, cherished and loved the Blessed Virgin Mary more than good Saint Joseph. Turn to Good Saint Joseph and beg him for the grace of greater knowledge and love for Mary, his beloved spouse. Your devotion to Mary will make a huge jump! Then turn to Saint Joseph and beg him for the grace of intimate knowledge of Jesus that you will love Jesus more ardently and follow Jesus more closely. Aside from Mary nobody knew Jesus better on earth than good Saint Joseph. The Holy Family is complete only when the three members are recognized, honored and loved. May the prayers of good Saint Joseph open your hearts to the immense treasures that God has in store for you this Advent Season. Then may Jesus be born in the depths of your heart this Christmas day!

From Fr. Ed Broom

http://catholicexchange.com/st-joseph-teaches-us-live-advent