Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Catholicism Lenten Reflection



REFLECTION QUESTIONS:

1. Father Barron highlights the life and witness of one of the great saints of the 20th century- Edith Stein, whose name in religious life is Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. Saint Edith demonstrates that the Faith is not just a matter of emotions, but also a matter of mind. Why does the Catholic Faith insist on the rapport between faith and reason? What happens to the Faith if it is limited to emotions and experiences?

2. Saint Edith Stein's faith in Christ was quickened by an encounter with a friend who had suffered the death of her husband, yet found in Christ's cross consolation and hope. What does the cross reveal about humanity's experience of suffering and death? In what ways does the Cross of Christ offer humanity hope?

3. Saint Edith Stein entered the Carmelite Order, a community whose evangelical witness demonstrates a radical poverty, rigorous commitment to prayer and detachment from worldly pre-occupations. One of the great spiritual masters of the Carmelite Order is St. John of the Cross. Saint John of the Cross wrote eloquently of the "dark night of the soul" or the feeling that God was distant and that one's spiritual practices afforded little, if any, emotional consolation. This dark night was not so much an experience of depression or evidence of the distance of God, but was, paradoxically, an encounter with the Lord so profound that the soul lacked the capacity to feel or understand God's presence. Can the negative experiences of life actually be bearers of God's grace and presence? How so?

4. The Carmelite Order directs itself to prayer and contemplation. How and why are prayer and contemplation essential to the mission of the Church?

5. The sad circumstances of Saint Edith Stein's final days might evoke our own fear of catastrophe and inescapable suffering. What does the Paschal Mystery of the Lord Jesus teach us about our fears concerning suffering and death? What quality or virtue was given to Saint Edith Stein that enabled her to face the circumstances of her death with the conviction that whatever happened, God still was acting to redeem and to save?

6. Saint Edith Stein is part of a great flowering of Catholic intellectual culture that happened in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. For many, it seems that this bloom has faded over the past few decades. What can the Church do to renew Catholic culture in terms of the arts, literature, theology and philosophy? Why are such things essential to the mission of the Church?

7. Father Barron asserts that too many of us opt for spiritual mediocrity rather than aspire to holiness. Why do we resist holiness? What do we fear will happen if we aspire to heroic sanctity? Why do we think that we can get away with opting for less in terms of our commitment to Christ rather than desiring more?

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