Advent is a mini-Lent, a Nativity Fast. It is intended to be a time of preparation for our Savior. Not surprisingly, as we enter into this season we enter into a time of temptation. Fudge everywhere! Materialism everywhere! It unfortunately can become the season of instant gratification. We can deny ourselves the temptation and temporarily reject it. Success! But (and this is especially true of addictions), if we don’t replace it with something what do we have? An interior void ready to be filled by temptations again (Mt 12:43-45). At their root, all temptations are a temptation of desire. We must ask to be filled with a new desire that is Holy. After all, this is the purpose God permits it to begin with. He is waiting to give you a Holy desire for Him. 😊
It was a cold November night as I sat in Mary’s garden outside of our church praying a rosary for a friend who had just died. A young man in his 20’s came by and decided to look at the statue in the garden. He was curious as to who the woman was standing on a serpent.
God has designed life full of these poetic moments. Just as one of his sons is brought to his eternal rest, another son follows the Holy Spirit’s trail of grace and finds the path.
Something is different, and it isn’t just the weirdness of living in a worldwide pandemic. This Advent let’s also come to know this woman standing on the serpent and her Son.
Something is different…
The Gospel of the rich young man (MT 19:16-22) is prayed when preparing for the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. A young wealthy man doing everything “right” as he was taught by his elders. Yet at some point in life, he came across Jesus. We all know what happen. Jesus told him the one thing he must give up, and the young man walked away sad.
The young man didn’t just walk away from Love itself. He walked away from salvation. The question begs, of course, how many times a day do I?
Holiness isn’t an event; it is a lifestyle of living a discerning life. In the examen and mental prayer, we pick apart the reasons for our response, behaviors, attitudes, coming to better know our own thoughts vs. God’s inspirations. To grow in knowledge of God, one also grows in understanding of self.
This growth, however, necessitates discerning God’s will in the small details of the day, rejecting the enemy who tempts and allures with his own suggestions. St. Ignatius of Loyola gives us a set of 14 rules to follow in the action of this, the recognizing of desolation and proper response to it. As with the work of all saints, these rules are born out of God’s Word in scriptures. Scripture references are provided for each of the 14 rules of the ‘1st week’ from the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola.
An insightful reading into our lived Christian reality is the book Called to Communion by Josef Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI). He provides small tidbits of details not commonly preached that add dimension to this beautiful communion in which we exist. Most impactful was the apostles as the qahal of Jesus, followers of a spiritual leader who were interconnected through Him. As we enter into a month reflecting upon the communion of saints, it gives us opportunity to grow in understanding how ‘church’ is a spiritual communion and our reality within which we live our daily lives.
November 21 is the feast of The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to the Temple. When Mary was 3, the age of being weaned, Joachim and Ann presented her to the temple in service of God. Today, with Jesus the new covenant of God, we baptized Catholics (as His body) are each a spiritual temple (1Cor 3:16-17). Filled with His Spirit, “wherever this water comes the sea shall be made fresh” (Ez 47:9). In modern times, we use the word purity to refer to sexual purity. However, God calls us to a purification through which we gain purity of heart, complete purity.