Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Desert Soul by Rend Collective Experiment

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Brother Roger: Free in the image of God

Free in the image of God from Taize on Vimeo.

The Necessary Practice of Interior Silence

The following comes from the Catholic Exchange:
We cannot always be thinking of God, nor is it necessary. We can be constantly united with God without the constant thought of Him. The union of our will with the will of God is the sole form of union that is really requisite.
Wherein, then, lies the utility of the exercise of the presence of God enjoined by all the masters of the spiritual life? We will now explain.
It is necessary to have an absolutely sure intention in all our actions, so that the generous fulfillment of our daily duties may be directed toward the highest supernatural ideal. Thus, our life, apart from moments of prayer, will be a prayerful life.
It is clear that the habit of giving an upward glance to God at the moment of action is a great assistance in aiding us to behave always with a pure intention and in freeing us from our natural impulses and fancies, so, that, retaining our self-mastery, or rather, God becoming the sole Master, all our movements become dependent upon the Holy Spirit.
We see in the Gospel that whenever our Lord was about to undertake some important step, He always paused for a moment to raise His eyes to Heaven, and only after this moment of recollection did He take up the work He had to do. “He lifted up His eyes to Heaven” is a phrase that recurs with significant frequency. And doubtless, when there was no outward sign of this prayer, there was the in­ward offering.
The ideal is the same for us. The constant subjection of self to the guidance of the Holy Spirit is made easier from the fact of His presence in the soul, where He is asked explicitly to preside over all our doings. It is impossible to put the spirit of recollection into generous practice unless there is also a deeply rooted spirit of self-renunciation. We shall not submit wholeheartedly to the invisible Guest unless He is kept in close proximity to us. The death of self cannot take place unless the spirit of life is already installed, unless it moves upon the face of the waters.
Man will not consent to drive away the money-changers from the temple of his soul until he realizes that it is a Holy of Holies — not a house of traffic, but in very truth the house of God.
We thus reach two striking conclusions:
  • There cannot be entire dependence upon the Holy Spirit’s guidance, which is the true meaning of living in Christ, without complete self-renunciation.
  • There cannot be complete self-renunciation without the constant underlying spirit of faith, without the habit of interior silence, a silence where God is dwelling.
Many do not see the connection between thoughts about the King and the service of the King; between the interior silence, which seems to consist in immobility, and the continual detachment, which is the essence of supreme activity.
If we look closer, it will be seen that there is a strong, close, unbreakable link between the two. Find a recollected person, and he will be detached; seek one who is detached, and he will be recollected. To have found the one is to have discovered the other. The truth of this may be estimated by the ease with which the one or the other of these two types can be found.
Anyone who tries, on a given day, to practice either recollection or detachment cannot ignore the fact that he is doing a double stroke of work.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Family adopts child with Down syndrome and he recieves Pope's blessing

Saint of the day: Augustine of Canterbury

The following comes from the Monastery of Christ in the Desert:

The man who would become the first Archbishop of Canterbury and eventually be acclaimed as the "Apostle of England" was the prior of the Abbey of St. Andrew in Rome when, in AD 596 Pope St. Gregory I selected him to head a missionary effort aimed at converting the Anglo-Saxons. Although difficulties encountered in southern Gaul forced him to return to Rome, the pope promptly consecrated him a bishop and dispatched him again. This time the the endeavor met with success and the party reached Ebbsfleet on the Kentish coast in 597, to be warmly welcomed by King Ethelbert of Kent and his Christian wife. The monarch gave the monks permission to evangelize, and soon provided them with an old church in his city of Canterbury, as well as a place in which to live. Before long Ethelbert and many of his courtiers and subjects would be baptized.

Augustine then journeyed to Arles to be invested with the pallium as bishop of the English by St. Virgilius. Thus empowered, he set about establishing bishoprics in London and Rochester. Pope Gregory had desired that the principal See be situated in London with a second in York, both of which would have twelve suffragens. But Augustine thought otherwise, electing instead to remain in Canterbury, a city which he felt to be not only the most culturally sophisticated but also the most important for the Church, since it happened to be the capital of the only Christian Anglo-Saxon kingdom. It was there he built the Cathedral of Christ Church. Outside the walls, King Ethelbert erected the Abbey of SS. Peter and Paul, later to be renamed after the kingdom's first archbishop.

Gregory instructed Augustine carefully on matters pertaining to the integration of this new territory into the Roman Church. Extant letters show that as long as his actions remained canonically correct he was given a certain latitude on decisions concerning the adoption of Gallican liturgical practices. Gregory forbade the outright destruction of pagan temples, and his bishop was strongly encouraged to absorb popular religious rites into Christian feasts whenever possible.
In 603, Augustine tried to united the Celtic Church with Rome, but without much success. In fact, there had been little in the way of cooperation along these lines during the whole of his time in England. Old attachments to provincial customs and practices were simply too engrained. However, with Canterbury firmly established as the ecclesiastical center of England, use of the Roman Rite and calendar would, after his death be universally accepted.

Shortly before his death in 604 he consecrated Lawrence of Canterbury as his successor. Augustine was buried in the Abbey Church of SS. Peter and Paul.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

How Can It Be by Lauren Dangle

St. Bede the Venerable: Father of English History

Today the Church remembers St. Bede the Venerable. Bede was a monk at the English monastery of Wearmouth and Jarrow, in Northumbria. From the age of seven, he spent all his life at that monastery except for a few brief visits to nearby sites. He says of himself: "I have devoted my energies to a study of the Scriptures, observing monastic discipline, and singing the daily services in church; study, teaching, and writing have always been my delight."

The following comes from Brittania.com:

Within the walls of the imposing Norman Cathedral of Durham lies the simple tomb of a Christian monk who has earned the title as "Father of English History."

Bede was born at Tyne, in County Durham, and was taken as a child of seven to the monastery of Wearmouth. Shortly afterwards he was moved to become one of the first members of the monastic community at Jarrow. Here, he was ordained a deacon when he was 19 and a priest when he was 30; and here he spent the rest of his life. He never travelled outside of this area but yet, became one of the most learned men of Europe.

The scholarship and culture of Italy had been brought to Britain where it was transported to Jarrow. Here it was combined with the simpler traditions, devotions and evangelism of the Celtic church. In this setting Bede learned the love of scholarship, personal devotion and discipline . He mastered Latin, Greek and Hebrew and had a good knowledge of the classical scholars and early church fathers.

Bede's writings cover a broad spectrum including natural history, poetry, Biblical translation and exposition of the scriptures. His earliest Biblical commentary was probably that on the book of the Revelation. He is credited with writing three known Latin hymns.

He is remembered chiefly for his "Ecclesiastical History of the English People." This five volume work records events in Britain from the raids by Julius Caesar in 55-54 BC to the arrival of the first missionary from Rome, Saint Augustine in 597. Bede's writings are considered the best summary of this period of history ever prepared. Some have called it "the finest historical work of the early Middle Ages."

Bede's motive for recording history reminds us of his deepest desires. He clearly states his purpose in his writings when he says, "For if history records good things of good men, the thoughtful hearer is encouraged to imitate what is good; or if it records evil of wicked men, the good, religious reader or listener is encouraged to avoid all that is sinful and perverse, and to follow what he knows to be good and pleasing to God."

As we celebrate the new millennium, we are indebted to Bede, as it is to this man that we owe, from his historical accounts, our dating of years from the birth of Christ.

Check out a brief video on St. Bede here.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Only in God by John Michael Talbot

Cardinal Zen on Mary, Help of Christians in China

Cardinal Zen - Mary Help of Christians from Mike Massey on Vimeo.

Here is another bit of the interview with Cardinal Zen from his visit with us!

Also, here is more Our Lady and her presence to the people of China from this site:

Our Lady appears in China
In 1900, China reported three apparitions:
One in Beijing in which Our Lady was accompanied by St. Michael the archangel who, in turn, was surrounded by multitudes of angels.

A second apparition involved a weeping statue of Our Lady in the village of Santai during the Boxer Rebellion.
The third apparition occurred in Donglu.
Donglu is about 40 kilometres from Baoding in Hebei province, and it is one of the strongholds of the unofficial Catholic Church in China.

Witnesses recount that a beautiful lady, recognised as Mary, appeared in the skies. The Catholics implored Our Lady to save them from their enemies and their city from destruction. In thanksgiving for Our Lady’s protection over the city of Donglu during the Boxer Rebellion, a beautiful church was built in her honour. It was meant to serve as a constant reminder to the people of Mary’s loving and motherly protection. The pastor, at the time, secured a painting of the Dowager Empress Ci Xi dressed in imperial robes. He commissioned an artist to use it as the background for the image of Our Lady holding the Christ Child. The picture was hung in the Church of Donglu, which eventually became a famous place of pilgrimage.

The shrine at Donglu
People began coming to the shrine in Donglu in 1924, but the first official pilgrimage took place in 1929. By 1932, the location became such a popular pilgrimage site that Pope Pius XI approved it as an official Marian shrine.
Since 1929 tens of thousands of pilgrims have made their way up the hill to the shrine, especially in May.

The Miracle Of The Sun 23 May 1995
On 23 May 1995, pilgrims witnessed another phenomenon. Over 30,000 Catholics from the unofficial Church had gathered for Mass at the Donglu shrine. It was the vigil of the Feast of Our Lady, Mary Help of Christians, a favourite of Chinese Catholics. There were four bishops of the unofficial Church concelebrating the Mass and nearly 100 unofficial priests standing in the open field, all eager to honour Our Lady in a special way during her special month.
Suddenly, during the opening prayer and again during the consecration, the people observed the sun spinning from right to left. Light rays of various shades emanated from the sky. The people, mesmerised by the phenomenon, could look directly at it without blinking. Suddenly from the centre of the sun people saw what they later described as an apparition. Some beheld the Cross; others said they had seen the Holy Family. Still others had seen Our Lady holding the Infant Jesus while others claimed they had seen the Sacred Host. People, overwhelmed by the vision, suddenly became conscious of their sinfulness and began to cry out, “Holy Mother, forgive me my sins,” or “Holy Virgin Mary, have pity on us your children.” The phenomenon of the sun changing colours, approaching and then retreating while radiating various hues, lasted for about 20 minutes.

The government’s response
Needless to say, the government has not been terribly enthusiastic about having thousands upon thousands of people gather anywhere. This is all the more threatening when the gathering involves religion and people of the unofficial Church. The Public Security Bureau, the agency in charge of keeping watch over the unofficial Catholic community, periodically flexes its muscles to prevent anyone from going on pilgrimage to Donglu. In 1995, when tens of thousands of pilgrims flocked to Donglu for the Feast of Mary Help of Christians on May 24, the Public Security barred all pilgrims from joining anyone on the hill. The police forced people back into buses and trains without offering any explanation. Still, thousands successfully reached the area by finding alternative ways to get there. As many as 100,000 participated in the celebration.

Again in 1996, an official announcement forbade anyone from going to the Donglu shrine. This time two reasons were given for the prohibition: it was an illegal gathering and it was bad for social stability.

Teams of Public Security agents as large as 500 strong were dispatched to all the villages surrounding the Donglu area and to towns all over Hebei Province. As they travelled around, they tried to force the members of the unofficial community to join the Patriotic Association and to do away with unrecognised religious premises such as Donglu. Priests in the towns and villages were ordered not to leave their residences and were forbidden to preach from May 13 until further notice. Lay people were also forbidden to leave their villages. Parents were not allowed to take their children to church or to wear any religious objects.

Against all odds
It seems no amount of pressure can dull the enthusiam of Catholics intent on honouring Our Lady at the Donglu shrine. Every May, regardless of prohibitions, tens of thousands of pilgrims make their way up the steep hill, either in silence or reciting the rosary or singing hymns to praise one who is truly their mother and protector.

The shrine at Sheshan
In June 1989, Pope John Paul II prayed that the Virgin of Sheshan Help of Christians, would look kindly on “the beloved Chinese people.” This remark by Our Holy Father indicates the importance of this shrine as a symbol of Christian renewal in China. Sheshan, with its “nine peaks above the clouds” is situated about 35 kilometres from Shanghai city. Its forest of bamboo, its scenic winding paths and running brooks are a fitting location for communing with God and Our Lady. The mountain, according to legend, gets its name from a hermit named She who centuries ago, lived atop the mountain.

In 1866, the Church in Shanghai built a hexagonal pavilion and placed within it an altar and a statue of Our Lady. Five years later, the Jesuits built a church at the summit of the mountain and dedicated it to Our Lady Help of Christians, opening it in 1873.

In 1924, the bishops of China consecrated the nation to Our Lady and following the consecration they made a pilgrimage to Sheshan. Work on a basilica began in 1925 and was completed 10 years later. This church was the first basilica in all of the Far East and it became China’s favourite pilgrimage site.

During the Cultural Revolution the beautiful bronze statue of Our Lady at the pinnacle of the basilica disappeared and other religious symbols, including the altar and the stained glass window were all virtually destroyed. A replica of the bronze statue of Mary holding up the Christ Child was finally re-installed on top of the tower in the year 2000. Some 10,000 believers paid for it. Pilgrimages to the shrine resumed in 1979.

Every year since then, pilgrims by the thousands have flocked to Sheshan. In 1990, the first pilgrimage of the decade saw 30,000 Catholics coming to Sheshan for Our Lady’s feast. The elderly and the young made the long steep climb from the foothills of the mountain to the summit as a testimony of their love and devotion to Our Lady. One large group of pilgrims are the fisherfolk of Jiangnan who, from earliest times, sailed up the Yangtze, carefully steering their craft through the canals surrounding the foothills of the mountain.

Every year, they come, moor their boats and spend three days and nights at Sheshan to implore Our Lady’s help for the future and to thank her for favours received. But they are only a small group compared to the thousands from all over China who come to pay tribute to their heavenly mother in whom they place so much of their trust.

You can read more here.

Feast of Mary, Help of Christians!

The following comes from the CNA:
The Feast of Mary Help of Christians is celebrated on May 24. 
The tradition of this advocation goes back to 1571, when  the whole of Christendom was saved by Mary Help of Christians when Catholics throughout Europe prayed the Rosary. The great battle of Lepanto occurred on October 7th 1571. For this reason this date has been chosen as the feast of the Holy Rosary. In 1573 Pope Pius V instituted the feast in thanksgiving for the decisive victory of Christianity over Islamism.
Near the end of the 17th century, Emperor Leopold I of Austria took refuge in the Shrine of Mary Help of Christians at Pasau, when 200,000 Ottoman Turks besieged the capital city of Vienna, but a  great victory occurred thanks to Mary Help of Christians: on September 8th, Feast of Our Lady's Birthday, plans were drawn for the battle. On September 12, Feast of the Holy Name of Mary, Vienna was finally freed through the intercession of Mary Help of Christians. All Europe had joined with the Emperor crying out "Mary, Help!" and praying the Holy rosary.
In 1809, Napoleon's men entered the Vatican, arrested Pius VII and brought him in chains to Grenoble, and eventually Fontainbleau. His imprisonment lasted five years. The Holy Father vowed to God that , if he were restored to the Roman See, he would institute a special feast in honor of Mary. Military reverses forced Napoleon to release the Pope, and on May 24th  1814, Pius VII returned in triumph to Rome. Twelve months later, the Pope decreed that the feast of Mary Help of Christians, be kept on the 24th of May. 
St. John Bosco (1815 - 1888) was a dynamic priest who founded the Salesian Order in the XIX century in Italy. His many prophetic dreams, beginning at age nine, guided his ministry and gave insights on future events.
On May 14, 1862, Don Bosco dreamed about the battles the Church would face in the latter days. In his dream, the  Pope of those days anchors the 'ship' of the Church between two pillars, one with a statue of Mary (Auxilium Christianorum or 'Help of Christians') and the other with a large Eucharistic Host
St. John Bosco wrote about his congregation, the Salesians:  "The principal objective is to promote veneration of the Blessed Sacrament and devotion to Mary Help of Christians. This title seems to please the august Queen of Heaven very much." 
The Salesian Sisters of St John Bosco or Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, are the sister order of the Salesians of Don Bosco.
St. John Bosco, himself, on June 9 1868, dedicated to Our Lady Help of Christians, the mother church of his congregation at Turin (Italy). The Salesian Fathers and their Sisters have carried the devotion to their numerous establishments.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Prayer of Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity

O my God, Trinity whom I adore, let me entirely forget myself that I may abide in you, still and peaceful as if my soul were already in eternity; let nothing disturb my peace nor separate me from you, O my unchanging God, but that each moment may take me further into the depths of your mystery ! Pacify my soul! Make it your heaven, your beloved home and place of your repose; let me never leave you there alone, but may I be ever attentive, ever alert in my faith, ever adoring and all given up to your creative action.

O my beloved Christ, crucified for love, would that I might be for you a spouse of your heart! I would anoint you with glory, I would love you - even unto death! Yet I sense my frailty and ask you to adorn me with yourself; identify my soul with all the movements of your soul, submerge me, overwhelm. me, substitute yourself in me that my life may become but a reflection of your life. Come into me as Adorer, Redeemer and Saviour.

O Eternal Word, Word of my God, would that I might spend my life listening to you, would that I might be fully receptive to learn all from you; in all darkness, all loneliness, all weakness, may I ever keep my eyes fixed on you and abide under your great light; O my Beloved Star, fascinate me so that I may never be able to leave your radiance.

O Consuming Fire, Spirit of Love, descend into my soul and make all in me as an incarnation of the Word, that I may be to him a super-added humanity wherein he renews his mystery; and you O Father, bestow yourself and bend down to your little creature, seeing in her only your beloved Son in whom you are well pleased.

O my `Three', my All, my Beatitude, infinite Solitude, Immensity in whom I lose myself, I give myself to you as a prey to be consumed; enclose yourself in me that I may be absorbed in you so as to contemplate in your light the abyss of your Splendour!

         --Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity

Fr. Robert Barron on The Sacred Trinity

The Mystery of the Holy Trinity

The following comes from Fr. Ray Blake:

In some parishes Trinity Sunday was the time to give a financial report, anything rather than preach on the Most Holy Trinity. The problem is of course that too many Catholics think of the Trinity in terms of algebra or geometry rather than in terms of relationships.

Muslims love to debate with Christians God in terms of  the 1+1+1=1 approach, they are less comfortable with the idea of the God who loves to point of emptying himself of His Divinity to embrace His creation, indeed to dwell within it and suffer with it.

The high point of our prayer is always the doxology, when we address the Father, through the Son, in the unity of the Holy Spirit. Indeed when we look at a crucifix we are supposed to, in a sense look through it to the Father, the high point of the Eucharistic prayer is the priest taking up the Sacred Host and addressing the Father saying, "Through him, with him, in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honour is yours, almighty Father, for ever and ever. Amen."

Although popular devotion might address individual persons of the Trinity, the Church's liturgy, with a few notable exceptions is addressed to the Father, through the Son, in the Spirit.

The Son is perfect icon of the Father, in His humanity we see revelation of the Father. Perhaps the worst sermon I ever heard on the Trinity was basically, "The Trinity is a mystery we can't comprehend, so let us get on with the Mass!". It was the worst but yet it was also the best, because the Triune God is always mysterious and unknowable, and yet He is revealed totally in the Mass, through the Son, in the Spirit.

True worship always leads us to contemplate the God who is always beyond us, the God who in the Old Testament patriarchs and prophets fall on their faces and worship.

Practically at every Mass I have celebrated over the thirty years I have been ordained I have felt the need 'to break the bread of the word', to preach, except at the Traditional Mass, where all I want to do is adore the Father through the Son, in the unity of the Holy Spirit. I am beginning to believe that if the Word of God does not lead us to worship there is something wrong in its presentation, and if the Mass does not lead us to fall on our knees to be fed by God there is something wrong here too.

Contemplating the Mystery of the Trinity should lead us to be lost in the immensity and beauty of God, realising his greatness and our nothingness, desiring only to abandon ourselves to Him and crying out with Christ, "Father into your hands I commend Spirit".

If this realisation is not the result of worship, perhaps we are not worshipping at all!

Per ipsum, et cum ipso, et in ipso, est tibi Deo Patri omnipotenti, in unitate Spiritus Sancti, omnis honor et gloria per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen

Saint of the day: Rita of Cascia

Today we remember St. Rita of Cascia; a patroness of hopeless causes! The following comes from Catholic Online:

Augustinian nun, also called Margarita. She was born in Roccaporena, near Spoleto, Italy, in 1381, and expressed from an early age the desire to become a nun. Her elderly parents insisted that she be married at the age of twelve to a man described in accounts of her life as cruel and harsh. She spent eighteen extremely unhappy years, had two sons, and was finally widowed when her husband was killed in a brawl. Both sons also died, and Rita, still anxious to become a nun, tried unsuccessfully to enter the Augustinians in their convent at Cascia. She was refused because she was a widow and because of the requirement that all sisters should be virgins. Finally, in 1413, the order gave her entry, and she earned fame for her austerity, devotion to prayer, and charity.

In the midst of chronic illnesses, she received visions and wounds on her forehead which resembled the crown of thorns. She died on May 22 at Cascia, and many miracles were reported instantly. Canonized in 1900, she is honored in Spain as La Santa de los Impossibles and elsewhere as a patron saint of hopeless causes.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Beloved by Tenth Avenue North

Inspirational Story of Garvan Byrne

A twelve-year-old trapped in the body of a five-year-old, Garvan Byrne, of an Irish background, endured intense pain as he flirted with certain death. Throughout all of the trauma, he remained hopeful and optimistic, finding peace and meaning in life that most adults have never seen.

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Cave by Mumford & Sons (Bookshop Sessions)

Hidden by United Pursuit (ft. Will Reagan)

Thursday, May 19, 2016

St. Francis de Sales on Patience

“Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them—every day begin the task anew.”  

St. Francis de Sales

Chris Stefanick: Do You Believe All This For Yourself?

The following comes from the NCR:

“He was left alone with the woman before him. Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She replied, “No one, sir.” Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin any more”  
(John 8:10-11).

Jesus was alone with her. Her accusers left her. And they are imperfect. Jesus, the only one who is perfect, and the only one who by rights really could accuse her—He stays behind. He doesn’t accuse her. He comforts her. He forgives her. And then He gives her a mission: He sends her out to be a witness to mercy. It changed her life. God has given us mercy. Isn’t it time we give it to others? That’s hard to do, isn’t it? But really, I think it’s most hard to do when we don’t receive the mercy of Jesus for ourselves! Harsh judgment of others usually starts deep within—when our own self-perception is formed by negative events in our lives rather than the love of God.

Scripture calls the devil “the father of lies.” Lies about who we are tend to slip into our lives in a million different ways:

  • Bullying tells us “you’re weak.”
  • Molestation tells us “you’re worthless.”
  • Verbal abuse tells us “you’re unlovable.”
  • The self-abuse of sin tells us “you’re no better than your worse mistake.”

All lies, from the father of lies.

Jesus said, “I am the truth.” He also said, “the truth will set you free.”

The woman caught in adultery bore the name: whore. Until a man stood between her and her executioners. “Let anyone without sin cast the first stone!” One by one they walked away. “Is there anyone left who condemns you? Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

Peter bore a name: unworthy. He fell to his knees and said “Depart from me Lord. I’m a sinful man.” Jesus saw something more in Peter than he saw in himself. “Come follow me. You’ll be a fisher of men.”

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Forever by Kari Jobe

Pope Francis: the Holy Spirit makes Jesus' teaching come to life

On the solemnity of Pentecost Pope Francis said the Holy Spirit, rather than giving a new message, brings Jesus’ timeless teachings to life and helps us to both understand and live it throughout our lives.
“The Holy Spirit exercises a role of teaching and memory...the Holy Spirit doesn't bring a different teaching, but makes that of Jesus alive and active, so that the time that the passage of time does not erase it or make it fade,” the Pope said May 15.
“He grafts this teaching into our hearts, helps us to interiorize it, making it become part of us, flesh of our flesh,” the Pope continued, adding that at the same time, the Spirit “prepares the heart so that it is able to truly receive the words and example of the Lord.”
Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims present in St. Peter’s Square for his final Regina Coeli of the liturgical year, which he prayed after presiding over Mass for the solemnity of Pentecost inside the Basilica.
In his address, Francis told pilgrims that the day’s liturgy serves as a reminder to open our minds and hearts to the Holy Spirit, who Jesus promised to send to his disciples and is “the first and primary gift he has obtained for us with his Resurrection and Ascension into heaven.”
Jesus himself prayed for the Holy Spirit during the Last Supper when he told his disciples that “if you love me, keep my commandments; and I will pray to the Father and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever.”
These words, the Pope said, remind us that both love for God and for other people “is not demonstrated with words, but with deeds.” He said that “to keep the commandments” ought to be understood in an existential sense “so that one's whole life is involved.”
To be a Christian, he said, “doesn't primarily mean to belong to a certain culture or to adhere to a certain doctrine, but rather to bind one's own life, in every aspect, to the person of Jesus and, through him, to the Father.”
Thanks to the grace of the Holy Spirit, which is “the love that unites the Father and the Son and who proceeds from them, all of us can life the same life as Jesus,” he said, adding that the Holy Spirit teaches us “the only essential thing: to love as God loved.” 
When promising the Holy Spirit, Jesus refers to him as “another Counselor,” Francis observed, explaining that Jesus himself is the first.
The Spirit, then, is a Consoler, Advocate and Intercessor who “assists us, defends us, and is by our side on the path of life and in the fight for good and against evil.”
Francis closed his address by turning to Mary, and asked her intercession in obtaining for all “the grace of being strongly animated by the Holy Spirit in order to bear witness to Christ with evangelic frankness and open ourselves increasingly to the fullness of his love.”
After his speech, the Pope drew attention to the 90th World Missionary Day, which will be celebrated Oct. 23, 2016, and prayed that the Holy Spirit would give strength to all missionaries and support the mission of the Church throughout the world.
His message for the event, published May 15, is titled "Missionary Church, Witness of Mercy."

Spiritual Warfare Made Easy

The following comes from the Holy Spirit Interactive site:

The lives of the Saints provide us with an excellent commentary on real spiritual warfare. St.Ignatius of Loyola, a military man and master strategist, gives excellent guidelines for recognising and guarding against "the deceits of the rebel chief" and for a "knowledge of the true life exemplified in the sovereign and true Commander". He says that the Enemy summons and scatters innumerable demons throughout the world and goads them on to lay snares for men and women and to bind them with chains: first they are to tempt them to covet riches, that they may the more easily attain the empty honours of this world, and then come to overweening pride; from there he leads them to all other vices. Christ, on the other hand, attracts men and women to the highest spiritual poverty, and if God so chooses them for it, even to actual poverty; secondly, to at least a readiness (if not also a desire) for humiliations (insults and wrongs), for from these spring humility; and from there to all other virtues.

St. Ignatius wrote the above 500 years ago, but the respective strategies of the Enemy, and of Christ, are still the same today too! Materialism and consumerism are nothing but temptations of the Evil One to covet riches, by which people can then attain the empty honours of this world, and end up in overweening pride. The huge success of the Enemy's strategy is seen from the fact that individualism and freedom from restraint, together with self-indulgence, have become distinguishing characteristics of our modern generation, not only in secular culture but also within Christianity, for example, in the signs-and-wonders branch of fundamentalist TV evangelism.

On the other hand, knowing that the "world" and the "flesh" are the vast battlefronts where the Evil One is gaining ground, Jesus invites us to the direct opposite of "coveting riches, and empty worldly honours, and pride". He pours out his Holy Spirit, so that our "desires are against the flesh" (Gal.5:17), and so that we experience power to "not live as if we still belong to the world" (Col.2:20). The Holy Spirit tries to attract us to the Beatitudes (Mt.5), and to a Gospel-lifestyle as in the early Church (washing one another's feet, bearing one another's burdens, forgiving one another 70 times 7, becoming the servant of all, etc., etc.).

Hence, a most important way of getting equipped for effective spiritual warfare is personal openness to the Person of the Holy Spirit, and to the gifts and fruit of the Spirit. The charismatic gifts of faith, discernment of spirits, and prayer in tongues, the messianic gifts of wisdom, counsel, knowledge and fortitude, and the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, self-control and steadfastness are especially important items of the spiritual armour we must wear every waking moment. This is because the Spirit is "another Advocate," especially given to us by Jesus and the Father, to help us in spiritual warfare. Jesus even said it was better for us that he himself should go, otherwise we could not receive his Spirit. And whereas the world, the flesh and the devil are very strong, "the Spirit who is within us is greater than the one who is in the world" (1Jn.4:4).

Even so great an apostle as St. Paul would confess, "I buffet my flesh, lest after preaching to others, I myself should be lost!" (1Cor.9:27). Paul engaged in thisordinary and personal spiritual warfare throughout the year, besides the specialspiritual warfare he waged when casting out evil spirits from other people. In the Catholic Church, the season of Lent is the special time when the whole People of God gears itself annually to renewed involvement in spiritual warfare. Then, the means of daily personal prayer, a steadily increasing familiarity with and devotion to theword of God, fasting and penance, making new attempts at promoting social justice, frequent participation in the sacraments, enlisting the powerful intercession of Mary in the context of an authentic Marian devotion, etc., are all recommended. But all these are not merely for the season of Lent! For those of us who are serious about spiritual warfare, they are the basics of ongoing, ordinary, all-year-round spirituality.

To conclude, spiritual warfare, I mean holistic spiritual warfare, is more than just "casting out demons". That kind, the extraordinary kind (of setting people free who are oppressed by evil spirits) is meant for a few Christians, depending on the ministry they are called to. But the ordinary kind that is meant for all is fighting against the "world" and the "flesh". This is the kind Paul was referring to when he wrote about fighting against the principalities and powers of darkness, and what Peter warned us, about the devil going about like a roaring lion. In this "spiritual-warfare- made-easy", all of us must be involved as Spirit-filled and Spirit-led disciples, and we will experience the Holy Spirit taking many initiatives on our behalf, for God's greater glory and our eternal good!

Monday, May 16, 2016

As We Cry by United Pursuit

Pope Francis and the Sleeping St. Joseph

"I have a great love for St. Joseph, because he is a man of silence and strength.  On my table I have an image of St. Joseph sleeping.  Even when asleep, he is taking care of the Church."  Pope Francis

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Holy Spirit / Set a Fire (United Pursuit) cover by Sarah Reeves

Invasion of the Holy Spirit

The following comes from Fr. Broom's Blog:

The Gift of Gifts, the Paraclete, the Counselor and Consoler, Sweet Guest of the soul, Interior Master, the Finger of God, the Divine Architect, Friend, Sanctifier, Third Person of the Blessed Trinity—all of these are different titles given to the Person of the Holy Spirit.   In an earlier article we explained the power of the Holy Spirit to transform sinners into great saints—as we saw in the Apostles, and especially Simon Peter. Saint John XXIII actually said:  “The saints are the masterpieces of the Holy Spirit.”   A future saint can be you and me!

In this article we would like to point out ten specific ways that we can deepen our knowledge, love, intimacy and union with the Holy Spirit and thereby allow Him to do the work of transforming us from sinners into saints. It can be done if we become docile instruments in the hands of God who is the Holy Spirit!  “Come Holy Spirit, come, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary!”

1.    PRAYER!  Form the habit if praying to the Holy Spirit on a frequent basis! You could pray the traditional prayer to the Holy Spirit:  “Come Holy Spirit fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle within us the fire of your divine love.” If you like the hymn in Latin: “Veni Creator”; or the Sequence prayed on Pentecost “Veni, Sancte Spiritus.”  Or you might sing the classical hymn to the Holy Spirit, “Come Holy Ghost.”   Or it might appeal to you to pray the Litany of the Holy Spirit. Never forget, you can pray and talk to the Holy Spirit using your own words, simply speak to Him from your heart.

2.    ACTS OF THE APOSTLES.  Read the book from the Bible, “The Acts of the Apostles”. Written by the Evangelist Saint Luke, this book clearly shows the powerful working of the Holy Spirit in the Apostles—especially Saint Peter and St. Paul—as well as the formation of the primitive church. As you read be keenly attentive to the presence and workings of the Holy Spirit and beg Him to work powerfully in your own personal life! “Come Holy Spirit come….”

3.      GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.   Get to know the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. You received the Gifts of the Holy Spirit the day of your Baptism. These Gifts were fortified the day of your Confirmation. However, these Gifts must be used and exercised. This saying is true: “If you do not use it you lose it!”  If these Gifts are not used then they become rusty, dormant, and inactive. Memorize them and study them. Here they are:  Wisdom, Knowledge, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Piety and Fear of the Lord.  These gifts, according to St. Thomas Aquinas, perfect our intellect and our will—so that we can know God more clearly and love Him more ardently.

4.    SILENCE.   We must cultivate zones of silence in our daily lives, even though many of us have to combine the Martha and Mary (The Active and the Contemplative) in a harmonious balance. Still the danger is to launch ourselves into a frenetic activism whereby there is little time for prayer and much less for silence.   The Holy Spirit speaks to a heart that is ready to listen in silence. With Samuel in the temple we should pray: “Speak O Lord for your servant is listening.”

5.    DOCILITY.    Silence is a prerequisite to move on to the next step—docility to the Holy Spirit.  A person who is living in the state of grace, honestly pursuing a life of holiness and seeking perfection will be exposed to heavenly inspirations that come from the Holy Spirit. The key is an ability to listen to these gentle but insistent inspirations, discern them coming from God and then the most difficult is to follow and obey these inspirations!  The Holy Spirit is so to speak a “Gentleman” and will never force Himself upon anybody. Rather, He waits patiently for us to respond and then He can work very powerfully only if we are silent, humble and obedient!

6.    SPIRITUAL READING.  Highly to be recommended, with respect to learning to be docile to the Holy Spirit, is the reading of a spiritual masterpiece “The School of the Holy Spirit”, written by the French spiritual master Jacques Philippe.   The essence of this book is very clear and simple. If we want to arrive at sanctity of life we must get to know the Holy Spirit, love the Holy Spirit and manifest this knowledge and love by being docile to His heavenly inspirations!  Purchase and read!  You will never regret it!

7.    BE CAREFUL AND ALERT!   The work of the devil is to discourage us, make us sad and to push us into desolation and then despair. Be aware of the workings of the Holy Spirit. The workings of “The sweet Guest of the soul” are the direct opposite of the devil.  How does the Holy Spirit work? St. Ignatius of Loyola in his rules for discernment specifies how the Good Spirit works.  He strengthens our resolve to follow Jesus and fortifies our faith, hope, charity. He infuses peace and joy and energy to follow the Lord. He encourages us to lift our mind to heaven. He consoles us with the thoughts of the eternal salvation of our soul. Therefore, do not allow the devil to discourage you, but let the Holy Spirit encourage and strengthen you!

8.    PRAYER, PENANCE, POWER, PERSEVERANCE, AND PERFECTION. Try to connect these “5 P’s” to union with the Holy Spirit; all are necessary for a constant and growing union with the Holy Spirit.  We must pray to the Sanctifier. Also, as Mary and the Apostles acted in the Cenacle for this powerful novena, we must practice penance or self-denial.  This will give our will power--- or if you like “Will-power” to do good. However, the journey can be long and cumbersome, we must persevere and if we fall bounce back! Then if we are faithful to the first 4’P’s the Holy Spirit will bring us to perfection in the following of Jesus.

9.    LONELINESS? PROBLEMS?   If you experience loneliness and are weighed down by many problems then never forget to enter into the depths of your soul and speak to the Holy Spirit whose name is “Sweet Guest of the soul”.  You will recognize that you are really not alone and that your problems and crosses are not as heavy as you think. Rather, the Holy Spirit can help you to resolve your problems or at least help you to cope with them.

10. MARY AND THE HOLY SPIRIT.   Mary is the Daughter of God the Father, the Mother of God the Son, and she is the Mystical Spouse of the Holy Spirit. St. Maximilian Kolbe has written brilliantly on the intimate relationship between Mary and the Holy Spirit. Also Saint Louis de Montfort has gone so far in saying: “Those who love Mary, the Holy Spirit flings Himself into that soul,” if you like, as a powerful Frisbee cutting through the air going from one hand to the next.   If you want to have a powerful invasion in your heart of the Holy Spirit,  a personal Pentecost experience in your life, then why not turn to Mary. As the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles the day of Pentecost through Mary’s prayers and presence, He can descend into your soul through the prayers and presence of Mary.  “Come Holy Spirit, come, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”

Bishop Robert Barron on the Holy Spirit

Saturday, May 14, 2016

A Prayer to the Holy Spirit by Pope John Paul II

Holy Spirit, I appear before you as a sinner, but I appear before you in your name. Come with me, stay with me, enter into my heart, teach me what to do and what direction to take. Show me what to choose so that, with your help, I may please you in all things. Be my counselor and the author of my purpose. You, who with God, the Father, and his son, bear the name of glorious. You, who love justice, do not let me become a destroyer. May my ignorance not lead me astray, success not deceive me, may my own interest or that of others not fail me. Bind me closely to you with the girt of your grace so that in you I may be one and never be distant from the truth. And since I appear before you in your name, my justice, guided by love, govern me in all things so that I may do nothing against your will in the present, and by my good acts earn eternal reward for the future.

I thank you, spirit of truth. I thank you, consoler, because you brought me close to the mystery of the pierced hands and feet, the pierced side of God. Because you have again brought us close to the depth and the power of the mystery of the redemption.

Come, Holy Spirit. Come. Enter deep into the hearts of those who belong to you. May each be given the manifestation of you for the common good. So that God may be all in all.

Lord, give me a spirit of faith and knowledge. Give me a spirit of kindness and generosity. Give me a spirit of love and unity. The fruit of the spirit is love, patience, and generosity. It is peace.

Send upon me, O Father, a new effusion of the spirit so that I may walk in a manner worthy of the Christian vocation, offering to the world the testimony of the Gospels’ truth and inspiring the faithful to unite all believers in the chain of peace.

Spirit of eternal love, who proceeds from the father and the son, I thank you for all the vocations of apostles and saints that have enriched the church. I beg you to continue this work of yours. Remember when, at Pentecost, you descended on the apostles gathered together in prayer with Mary, the mother of Jesus, and look at your church today, which has a particular need for holy priests, and for faithful and authoritative witnesses of your grace. Holy Spirit, eternal spring of joy and peace, it is you who open heart and mind to the divine call to the good, to truth, to charity.

Your sighs too deep for words rise up to the father from the heart of the church, which suffers and struggles for the Gospel.

Open the hearts and minds of all so that we may show forth the fidelity of your love and all may come to know Christ, the true light coming into the world to offer to every human being the sure hope of eternal life.


Jesus the Lord by Roc O'Connor

Friday, May 13, 2016

Set a Fire by Will Reagan and United Pursuit

Saint of the day: Mary Domenica Mazzarello

Maria Domenica was born on 9th May 1837 at Mornese in the Alessandria region of Italy. In her family she received a grounding in solid piety, hard work and a remarkable common sense and judgement which stood her in good stead when she became a Religious Superior.

At the age of fifteen she enrolled in the Association of Daughters of Mary Immaculate and started to take part in apostolic work for the girls of the area. A serious bout of typhoid contracted when she was 23 had a profound effect on her spiritual development. This experience of being physically frail deepened her sense of abandonment to God, but also moved her to open a dressmaking workshop in order to teach girls about work, prayer and the love of God. Thanks to her devout sacramental life and the wise guidance of Don Pestarino she made great progress in spirituality.

When Don Bosco visited Mornese on 8th October 1864 she remarked "Don Bosco is a saint! I can sense it!"

In 1872 Don Bosco chose her to help him found the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians. As Superior she showed herself to be an able teacher and guide in the spiritual life. She had the gift of serene and comforting cheerfulness, radiating joy and drawing other young people to dedicate themselves to the education of girls.

After her death the Institute continued to develop rapidly. She left her Daughters a style of education permeated with gospel values: the search for God, known through enlightened teaching and fervent love, responsibility in work, openness and humility, austerity of life and joyful self giving.

She died at Nizza Monferrato on 14th May 1881. Her body is venerated in the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians in Turin. She was canonized on 24th June 1951 and her feast is celebrated on 13th May.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Bishop Robert Barron on the Disorienting Quality of Real Prayer

Saint of the day: Epiphanius of Salamis

The following comes from the CNA:

On May 12 the Catholic Church honors Saint Epiphanius of Salamis, an early monk, bishop and Church Father known for his extensive learning and defense of Catholic teachings in the fourth century.

During a 2007 visit with the Orthodox Archbishop of Cyprus, Pope Benedict XVI praised Epiphanius as “a good pastor” who “pointed out to the flock entrusted to him by Christ, the truth in which to believe, the way to take and the pitfalls to avoid.”

“At the beginning of this third millennium,” the Pope reflected during the visit, “the Church finds herself facing challenges and problems not at all unlike those which Bishop Epiphanius had to tackle.”

Epiphanius was born in Palestine around 310 or 315, the son of Greek-speaking Jewish parents. He is said to have been drawn to the Church after seeing a monk give away his clothing to a person in need. Not long after his conversion, he became a monk himself, spending time in the Egyptian deserts.

Around 333 he returned to the Holy Land and built a monastery near his birthplace in Judea. Epiphanius showed great dedication to the rigors of monasticism, which some of his contemporaries considered excessive, although he insisted he was only seeking to work faithfully for God’s kingdom.

The devoted monk was also a man of extraordinary learning, versed in the Hebrew, Egyptian, Syrian, Greek, and Latin languages and literature. For over two decades, until 356, Epiphanius was a disciple and close companion of Saint Hilarion the Great, a monk known for his wisdom and miracles.

The spiritual bond between them remained unbroken after Hilarion left Palestine around 356. Hilarion’s influence within the Church of Salamis, in present-day Cyprus, led to its choice of Epiphanius as bishop in 367.

During his years in Palestine, Epiphanius had frequently offered guidance and help in the Church’s struggle against Arianism, the heresy which denied Jesus’ eternal existence as God. As a bishop, he went on to write several works arguing for orthodox teaching on subjects like the Trinity and the Resurrection.
Determined to protect the Church from error, Epiphanius became involved in various controversies and was known as a strong voice for orthodoxy. In some instances, however, his zeal was misguided or uninformed, as when he inadvertently became involved in a plot against Saint John Chrysostom.
Likewise, some of Epiphanius’ apologetic works are regarded today as inaccurate or flawed on certain points. Nonetheless, he is revered among the early Church Fathers, and his writings – which contain important formulations of orthodox belief – are cited in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

St. Epiphanius of Salamis died in 403, while returning from Constantinople after distancing himself from the attempt to depose St. John Chrysostom. Sensing the approach of death, he gave his disciples two final pieces of advice: to keep God’s commandments, and guard their thoughts against temptation.
He was buried on May 12, after his ship’s return to Salamis. The Seventh Ecumenical Council, in 787, confirmed his reputation as a Church Father worthy of veneration.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Archbishop Chaput: Ten ways to deepen our relationship with God

The following comes from the Catholic Philly:

Over the years I’ve heard from many good people who want a closer relationship with God.  But they’re stymied by what they perceive as God’s silence.  What they often mean, without knowing it, is that they’d like God to do something dramatic in their lives; something with a hint of Mt. Sinai that proves his credentials.
But God typically doesn’t work that way.  He’s not in the theater business.  God wants to be loved and even in a sense “courted” – which means that we can’t be passive partners in the relationship.  We need to pursue God as we would the persons we love.
So as we make our way through these last weeks of ordinary time before Lent, here a few steps – in no particular order – that can help us draw closer to God.
First, start by listening to him.  Faith isn’t a 12-step action program.  Nor is it an algebra problem that needs to be “solved.”  It’s a love affair.  As with a spouse, the most important thing we can do is to be present and listen.  This requires the investment of time and focus.  If a spirit of impatience or pretending to listen doesn’t work with your spouse, why would it work with God?
Second, cultivate silence.  We can’t listen when our world is filled with noise and toys.  C.S. Lewis often said that noise is the music of hell.  Our toys – those things we choose to distract us – keep us diverted from focusing on the main questions of life:  Why are we here?  What does my life mean?  Is there a God, and if so, who is he, and what does he ask of me?
Third, seek humility.  Humility is to the spirit what material poverty is to the senses: the great purifier.  Humility is the beginning of sanity.  We can’t really see – much less love – anyone or anything else when the self is in the way.  When we finally, really believe in our own sinfulness and unimportance, many other things become possible: repentance; mercy, patience, forgiveness of others.  These virtues are the foundation stones of that other great Christian virtue: justice.  No justice is ever possible in a spider’s web of mutual anger, recrimination and hurt pride.
Fourth, cultivate honesty.  Complete honesty is only possible for a humble person.  The reason is simple.  The most painful but important honesty is telling the truth to ourselves about our own motives and our own actions.  The reason honesty is such a powerful magnet is because it’s so rare.
Modern life is too often built on the marketing of half-truths and lies about who we are and what we deserve.  Many of the lies are well-intentioned and not even very harmful — but they’re still lies.  Scripture praises the honest woman and man because they’re like clean air in a room full of smoke.  Honesty allows the mind to breathe and think clearly.
Fifth, seek to be holy.  Holy does not mean nice or even good, although truly holy people are always good and often – though not always — nice.  Holiness means “other than.”  It’s what Scripture means when it tells us to be “in the world, but not of the world.”  And this doesn’t just miraculously happen.  We need to choose and seek holiness.
God’s ways are not our ways.  Holiness is the habit of seeking to conform all of our thoughts and actions to God’s ways.  There’s no cookie-cutter model of holiness, just as piety can’t be reduced to one particular kind of prayer or posture.  What’s important is to love the world because God loves it and sent his Son to redeem it, but not to be captured by its habits and values, which are not godly.
Sixth, pray.  Prayer is more than just that portion of the day when we advise God about what we need and what he should do.  Real prayer is much closer to listening, and it’s intimately tied to obedience.  God certainly wants to hear what we need and love and fear, because these things are part of our daily lives, and he loves us.  But if we’re doing the talking, we can’t listen.  Note too, that we can’t really pray without humility.  Why?  Because prayer requires us to lift up who we are and everything we experience and possess to God.  Pride is too heavy to lift.
Seventh, read.  Scripture is the living Word of God.  When we read God’s Word, we encounter God himself.  But there’s more: J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Georges Bernanos and so many others – these were deeply intelligent and powerful writers whose work nourishes the Christian mind and soul, while also inspiring the imagination.  Reading also serves another, simpler purpose: It shuts out the noise that distracts us from fertile reflection.  We can’t read The Screwtape Letters and take network television seriously at the same time.  And that’s a very good thing.
By the way, if you do nothing else in 2014, read Tolkien’s wonderful short story, Leaf by Niggle.  It will take you less than an hour, but it will stay with you for a lifetime.  And then read C.S. Lewis’ great religious science-fiction trilogy – Out of the Silent Planet,Perelandra and That Hideous Strength.  You’ll never look at our world in quite the same way again.
Eighth, believe and act.  Nobody “earns” faith.  It’s a free gift from God.  But we do need to be willing and ready to receive it.  We can discipline ourselves to be prepared.   If we sincerely seek truth; if we desire things greater than this life has to offer; and if we leave our hearts open to the possibility of God — then one day we will believe, just as when we choose to love someone more deeply, and turn our hearts sincerely to the task, then sooner or later we usually will.
Feelings are fickle.  They’re often misleading.  They’re not the substance of our faith.  We need to be grateful for our emotions as God’s gifts, but we also need to judge them in the light of common sense.  Falling in love is only the first taste of love.  Real love is both more beautiful and more demanding than the early days of a romance.
In like manner, a dramatic “road to Damascus” style conversion doesn’t happen to most people, and not even St. Paul stayed on the road very long.  Why?  Because in revealing himself to Paul, Jesus immediately gave him something to do.  We know and more deeply love Jesus Christ by doing what he tells us to do.
In the real world, feelings that endure follow actions that have substance.  The more sincere we are in our discipleship, the closer we will come to Jesus Christ.  This is why the Emmaus disciples only recognized Jesus in “the breaking of the bread.”  Only in acting in and on our faith, does our faith become fully real.
Ninth, nobody makes it to heaven alone.  We all need friendship and community.  A friend of mine who’s been married more than 40 years likes to say that the heart of a good marriage is friendship.  Every successful marriage is finally about a deep and particular kind of friendship that involves honesty, intimacy, fidelity, mutual sacrifice, hope and shared beliefs.
Every successful marriage is also a form of community.  Even Jesus needed these two things: friendship and community.  The Apostles were not simply Christ’s followers; they were also his brothers and friends, people who knew and supported him in an intimate way.  All of us as Christians need the same two things.  It doesn’t matter whether we’re a religious, layperson, deacon or priest, single or married.  Friends are vital.  Community is vital.  Our friends both express and shape who we are.  Good friends sustain us.  Bad friends undermine us.  And that’s why they’re so decisive to the success or failure of a Christian life.
Tenth and finally, nothing is more powerful than the sacraments of Penance and Eucharist in leading us to the God we seek.  God makes himself available to us every week in the confessional, and every day in the sacrifice of the Mass.  It makes little sense to talk about the “silence of God” when our churches are made silent by our own absence and indifference.  We’re the ones with the cold hearts – not God.
He’s never outdone in his generosity.  He waits for us in the quiet of the tabernacle.  And he loves us and wants to be loved wholeheartedly in return.
If we’re willing to give that love, these steps will lead us to him.