Touching the Sunrise

‘Awake, my soul, awake! show thy spirit, arouse thy senses, shake off the sluggishness of that deadly heaviness that is upon thee, begin to take care for thy salvation. Let the idleness of vain imaginations be put to flight, let go of sloth, hold fast to diligence. Be instant in holy meditations, cleave to the good things which are of God: leaving that which is temporal, give heed to that which is eternal. Now in this godly employment of thy mind, to what canst thou turn thy thoughts more wholesomely and profitably than to the sweet contemplations of thy Creator’s immeasurable benefits toward thee.’

St. Anselm of Canterbury

What Wondrous Majesty! The Saints and the Eucharist

“What wonderful majesty! What stupendous condescension! O sublime humility! That the Lord of the whole universe, God and the Son of God, should humble Himself like this under the form of a little bread, for our salvation.”
– St. Francis of Assisi
There are some amazing synonyms for prayer that only the saints seem to remember: Admiration! Astonishment! Humility! Adoration! Wonder! Mystery! These words of St. Francis of Assisi describe for us his prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.
I believe the heart-movements of adoration and wonder so dear to the saints have been deadened in us by the over-stimulation that bombards us from all sides these days. The beautiful Feast of Corpus Christi this Sunday causes us to step back, kneel down, prostrate ourselves before Infinite Glory, and be swept up into the divine life of the Trinity.
“God dwells in our midst, in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar.” – St. Maximilian Kolbe
Our parish churches and chapels are temples of the living God. In the Eucharist, the Trinity—Father, Son, and Spirit—becomes “fully a part of our human condition… God’s whole life encounters us and is sacramentally shared with us” (Sacramentum Caritatis, no 8).
Recently, I came across a story about Fr. Benedict Groeschel, CFR (priest, author, and retreat master, who died in 2014). He was traveling with a Protestant minister in a car and when they passed a Catholic Church, Fr. Benedict made the sign of the Cross. The minister asked him why he did this. Fr. Benedict explained that it was out of reverence for Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament. The minister told him, if I believed what you believe, I would get out of the car, run inside the Church, fall on my knees and never get up again.
God dwells in our midst. God dwells in our midst. It isn’t quite like the wardrobe that was the portal through which the three children slip into the fantastic world of Narnia in C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, from his epic fantasy series The Chronicles of Narnia.
Instead, heaven is here among us. It is no fantasy, but Mystery. Yet the same struggle between good and evil that raged in Narnia, plays out also in our midst. In the end, as the prophetical scene described in the fifth chapter of the book of Revelation reveals, the majesty of God will be gloriously triumphant:
Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were saying: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshipped.
Behind the tiny door of the tabernacle in our churches is not only a ciborium, but the awesome Glory of Infinite Love and Mercy who has chosen to live in our midst. Even in tabernacles where he is alone and blasphemed he remains with us.
“O Jesus, You instituted this Sacrament because Your love exceeds all words. Burning with love for us, You desired to give Yourself to us and took up Your dwelling in the consecrated Host, entirely and forever, until the end of time. And You did this, not only to give us a memorial of Your death which is our salvation, but You did it also, to remain with us entirely and forever.”
– St. Angela of Foligno

At the beginning of the fourth century, during the reign of the Emperor Diocletian, Christian worship was still forbidden by the imperial authorities. In 304, however, 49 Christians at Abitanae, however, felt compelled to celebrate the Lord’s Day with the Eucharist. Though the local bishop had obeyed the edict, they defied the prohibition. After cruel torture, the Christians and Saturninus, a priest, were martyred. Emeritus, in whose house the Christians had met, declared that it was not possible for them to live without the Eucharist, the food of the Lord. May these martyrs of Abitanae and all those who down the centuries have given their lives because “they couldn’t live without the Eucharist,” cause our hearts to burn in astonishment and gratitude for so great a gift.

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A treasure for praying before the Eucharist: Prayers for Eucharistic Adoration.

In covenant with God

We are persons who are in covenant with God. In this covenant we discover what it is to be truly human: sought out by God, loved, embraced, committed to by the One who was, who is, and who ever will be. This covenant assures us post-moderns that the identity we so desperately seek is found in the arms of a loving God who can’t abandon us. My Lord, I hunger so much to know my life has meaning. Is it too much to ask you to call me by a new name? Tell me who you’ve created me to be….

From the book Cherished by the Lord

Inner Space

I usually have at least 20 tabs open on Chrome on one of my monitors with 8 to 10 programs open on the other. I’m switching constantly between online and offline programs to accomplish tasks connected with maintaining and website, making apps, or facilitating digital publishing. At the end of the day my spirit is fragmented into as many splintered pieces as windows that flashed in front of my sight and soul during the day. I’ve spent a lot of time pondering the effect of internet and computer use on the human spirit. If I were out gardening all day I’d probably have other complaints, but being in nature would be healing and whole. Multi-tasking across a number of different platforms in front of a screen doesn’t quite have the same healing effect.

One thing I’ve been trying to do is to spend 15 or 20 minutes before I go to bed, in a darkened room, in prayer or reading. Candles or incense awaken my senses to beauty once more. My reflections or conversations with God reconnect me personally to the Infinite Mystery who hears and listens and speaks and touches and tastes and holds and cares. This restores me to myself. This restores me to him.

Do you have any small rituals you’ve developed to restore your fragmented or drooping spirit at the end of a long day?

Allow the Spirit

Pope Francis, in his document Gaudete et Exsultate, encourages us to allow the Spirit into our lives that we might “be saints for God’s greater glory” (no. 177).  Below are a few quotes I found to be powerful departures for contemplation on this Solemnity of Pentecost.

Every saint is a message which the Holy Spirit takes from the riches of Jesus Christ and gives to his people (no. 21).

Always ask the Spirit what Jesus expects from you at every moment of your life and in every decision you must make so as to discern its place in the mission you have received (no. 23).

Allow the Spirit to forge in you the personal mystery that can reflect Jesus Christ in today’s world (no. 23).

Do not be afraid to set your sights higher, to allow yourself to be loved and liberated by God. Do not be afraid to let yourself be guided by the Holy Spirit. Holiness does not make you less human, since it is an encounter between your weakness and the power of God’s grace (no. 34).

Holiness is also parrhesía: it is boldness, an impulse to evangelize and to leave a mark in this world. To allow us to do this, Jesus himself comes and tells us once more, serenely yet firmly: “Do not be afraid” (Mk 6:50). “I am with you always, to the end of the world” (Mt 28:20). These words enable us to go forth and serve with the same courage that the Holy Spirit stirred up in the Apostles, impelling them to proclaim Jesus Christ. Boldness, enthusiasm, the freedom to speak out, apostolic fervor, all these are included in the word parrhesía. The Bible also uses this word to describe the freedom of a life open to God and to others (no. 129).

We need…to ask the Holy Spirit to liberate us and to expel the fear that makes us ban him from certain parts of our lives. God asks everything of us, yet he also gives everything to us (no. 175).

God’s love is irreversable

There is an irreversible vulnerability in God’s love that was first expressed “in the beginning” and continues to offer itself over and over again through the history and prophets of Israel, through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, through each of our lives. God’s first offer of love still stands: I will be your God. Will you be my people? (cf. Ezek 37:27).

From the book Cherished by the Lord