Phil 4: 4-8

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Getting Right with Our Creator

In a few days, Pope Francis will be visiting Philadelphia.  Nearly forty years ago, Pope St. John Paul II told us during his visit to Philadelphia, “We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has ever experienced.  I do not think the wide circle of the American Society, or the wide circle of the Christian Community realize this fully.  We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-church, between the Gospel and the anti-gospel, between Christ and the antichrist.  This confrontation lies within the plans of Divine Providence.  It is, therefore, in God’s Plan, and it must be a trial which the Church must take up, and face courageously…We must prepare ourselves to suffer great trials before long, such as will demand of us a disposition to give up even life, and a total dedication to Christ and for Christ.  With your and my prayers, it is possible to mitigate the coming tribulation, but it is no longer possible to avert it, because only thus can the Church be effectually renewed.  How many times has the renewal of the Church sprung from the shedding of blood?  This time too, it will not be otherwise.  We must be strong and prepared and trust in Christ and in his Holy Mother and be very, very assiduous in praying the holy rosary.” (1)

In recent months and weeks some of us have heard of or actually read reports from several experts who are predicting a variety of occurrences which could play out as major catastrophes here in the U.S.  These predictions range from further stock market devaluations, to a major recession or depression, to an all-out global economic meltdown.  There also has been some talk of possible natural disasters which could cripple communication, transportation and economic infrastructure.  And there seems to be an increase in reported “locutions” (2) or private revelations where individuals are receiving warnings of an impending period of dark times during which God’s Divine Mercy will be available to all who wish to avail themselves of it.

Whether or not you believe in any of the negative economic, societal or geopolitical forecasts, and whether or not you believe there’s any substance to any or all of the reported locutions, consider for a moment, “What if…
  • What if everything we’ve known and taken for granted about daily life were to be changed nearly overnight?  Is our relationship with our Lord strong enough to see us through it—have we consecrated ourselves to Him, with a total surrender to His will, or are we still bargaining with Him to do it our way?
  • What if key people and things of the here and now, of this world, were to disappear suddenly from one’s life?  How might that impact us, and to reiterate, is our relationship with our Lord strong enough to see us through it?
  • What if we ourselves were to perish before our previously “estimated time of departure”?  Do we still have some reconciling to do with Him before that happens?
  • None of us knows the day or time of our departure from this life, whether it’s facilitated by old age and natural causes or by something unexpected happening.  But—what if—as we say in the succession management business—“What if the beer truck ran over you today?”

Indeed, what can we do to get closer to our Creator, starting right now?  Numerous Catholic authors, including priests, have suggested what we ought to be doing in order to live in the present moment, taking full advantage of God’s grace in our lives.  The following is a synopsis of multiple Catholic authors’ suggestions for creating or strengthening our prayer and spiritual routines.

Prayer routine—start and end the day with some brief prayers of adoration, thanksgiving and supplication—it doesn’t have to be more than a few minutes if that’s all the time you have available. The morning offering prayer is a great way to start the day.
Scripture reading and meditation—(A/K/A Lectio Divina) spend a little time each day reading the Word of God, pondering, meditating on it and what it means to you, asking for the Holy Spirit’s guidance for you.
Rosary—Carry a Rosary with you, and pray one full Rosary of five decades a day.
Divine Mercy chaplet—pray one a day—this only takes about seven to ten minutes.
End of day examination of conscience—in the evening, review what your day has been like, where you’ve fallen short and ask for God’s forgiveness and the grace to avoid doing it again.

At Least Weekly:
Mass and reception of Holy Communion—we are SO blessed in the       U. S. Catholic Church to have routine access to the Holy Eucharist!  While we will meet our minimum obligations by attending weekly Mass, if it’s at all possible, we ought to look at more frequent reception of Communion. 
Eucharistic Adoration—an hour a week with our Lord’s physical presence—his body and blood, soul and divinity.  Fr. Lou Guardiola, CPM characterizes it aptly—“In like a lion, out like a lamb.”  Spend some quiet time with Jesus—he’s our friend.  Don’t we try to spend quality time with our friends?

At Least Monthly:
Confession—this is another blessing we have in our Church.  Most spiritual directors and authors recommend taking advantage of this sacrament at least once a month.  But, of course, if we have committed a sin that’s been particularly hurtful to our Lord, we don’t need to wait for the passage of time to attend confession again.  In most communities there are a number of parishes with different times for regularly scheduled confession, but one can make an appointment to see a priest outside of scheduled confessions as well.  To be clear, if we’re in need of reconciliation at any time, we need to get to confession ASAP—remove the stain of sin and open ours souls to God’s grace. 

The State of Grace
Our goal should be to stay in a state of grace, which means avoiding sin, and confessing and repenting it when we don’t avoid it.  Fr. Pierre Garrigou-Lagrange, OP a theological advisor to four popes, tells us that even venial sin is an infinite offense against God, because God is an infinite being; it is an outrage and serious ingratitude toward God.  Sin, even venial sin, deprives us of the precious grace of God.  And once we deprive ourselves of that grace, we can never get the time back during which we wasted the potential access to the grace—never.  Venial sin, according to Garrigou-Lagrange, hinders our exercise and demonstration of charity.  It can lead us to mortal sin through its creation of a spiritually tepid state in us.  Fr. Pierre suggests that we always should take advantage of the opportunity to pray, because even when our souls are in a tepid state, we still have the grace to pray.  So, as St. Paul exhorts us, in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, "Pray without ceasing."

Sounds like good advice to me.  We never know the day or the time…

  1.         Magnificat October 22nd, 2013 on the Memorial of Blessed Pope John Paul II, quoting his statement made in Philadelphia, 1976; blog post at Quartermaster of the Barque,
  2.             From Catholic Answers: “A locution is a form of private revelation, similar to an apparition, but rather than being seen a locution is heard or received internally. As with all claims of private revelation it is important to be certain that a locution is authentic before any recognition or significance is determined.”

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