Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Rejoice and Be Glad - n. 122




JOY AND A SENSE OF HUMOUR

122. Far from being timid, morose, acerbic or melancholy, or putting on a dreary face, the saints are joyful and full of good humour. Though completely realistic, they radiate a positive and hopeful spirit. The Christian life is “joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom 14:17), for “the necessary result of the love of charity is joy; since every lover rejoices at being united to the beloved… the effect of charity is joy”.[99] Having received the beautiful gift of God’s word, we embrace it “in much affliction, with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit” (1 Thess 1:6). If we allow the Lord to draw us out of our shell and change our lives, then we can do as Saint Paul tells us: “Rejoice in the Lord always; I say it again, rejoice!” (Phil 4:4).

[99] THOMAS AQUINAS, Summa Theologiae, I-II, q. 70, a. 3.

© LIBRERIA EDITRICE VATICANA.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Rejoice and Be Glad - n. 121



PERSEVERANCE, PATIENCE AND MEEKNESS

121. To act in this way presumes a heart set at peace by Christ, freed from the aggressiveness born of overweening egotism. That same peacefulness, the fruit of grace, makes it possible to preserve our inner trust and persevere in goodness, “though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death” (Ps 23:4) or “a host encamp against me” (Ps 27:3). Standing firm in the Lord, the Rock, we can sing: “In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety” (Ps 4:8). Christ, in a word, “is our peace” (Eph 2:14); he came “to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Lk 1:79). As he told Saint Faustina Kowalska, “Mankind will not have peace until it turns with trust to my mercy”.[98] So let us not fall into the temptation of looking for security in success, vain pleasures, possessions, power over others or social status. Jesus says: “My peace I give to you; I do not give it to you as the world gives peace” (Jn 14:27).

[98] Cf. Diary. Divine Mercy in My Soul, Stockbridge, 2000, p. 139 (300).

© LIBRERIA EDITRICE VATICANA.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Rejoice and Be Glad - Week 20 in Review


Congratulations on completing Week 20 of The Holy Father's Apostolic Exhortation, Gaudete et exsultate!  To review this past week's readings, see below:


APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION
GAUDETE ET EXSULTATE

OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS 

ON THE CALL TO HOLINESS
IN TODAY’S WORLD


PERSEVERANCE, PATIENCE AND MEEKNESS

115. Christians too can be caught up in networks of verbal violence through the internet and the various forums of digital communication. Even in Catholic media, limits can be overstepped, defamation and slander can become commonplace, and all ethical standards and respect for the good name of others can be abandoned. The result is a dangerous dichotomy, since things can be said there that would be unacceptable in public discourse, and people look to compensate for their own discontent by lashing out at others. It is striking that at times, in claiming to uphold the other commandments, they completely ignore the eighth, which forbids bearing false witness or lying, and ruthlessly vilify others. Here we see how the unguarded tongue, set on fire by hell, sets all things ablaze (cf. Jas 3:6).

116. Inner strength, as the work of grace, prevents us from becoming carried away by the violence that is so much a part of life today, because grace defuses vanity and makes possible meekness of heart. The saints do not waste energy complaining about the failings of others; they can hold their tongue before the faults of their brothers and sisters, and avoid the verbal violence that demeans and mistreats others. Saints hesitate to treat others harshly; they consider others better than themselves (cf. Phil 2:3).

117. It is not good when we look down on others like heartless judges, lording it over them and always trying to teach them lessons. That is itself a subtle form of violence.[95] Saint John of the Cross proposed a different path: “Always prefer to be taught by all, rather than to desire teaching even the least of all”.[96] And he added advice on how to keep the devil at bay: “Rejoice in the good of others as if it were your own, and desire that they be given precedence over you in all things; this you should do wholeheartedly. You will thereby overcome evil with good, banish the devil, and possess a happy heart. Try to practise this all the more with those who least attract you. Realize that if you do not train yourself in this way, you will not attain real charity or make any progress in it”.[97]

118. Humility can only take root in the heart through humiliations. Without them, there is no humility or holiness. If you are unable to suffer and offer up a few humiliations, you are not humble and you are not on the path to holiness. The holiness that God bestows on his Church comes through the humiliation of his Son. He is the way. Humiliation makes you resemble Jesus; it is an unavoidable aspect of the imitation of Christ. For “Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps” (1 Pet 2:21). In turn, he reveals the humility of the Father, who condescends to journey with his people, enduring their infidelities and complaints (cf. Ex 34:6-9; Wis 11:23-12:2; Lk 6:36). For this reason, the Apostles, after suffering humiliation, rejoiced “that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonour for [Jesus’] name” (Acts 5:41).

119. Here I am not speaking only about stark situations of martyrdom, but about the daily humiliations of those who keep silent to save their families, who prefer to praise others rather than boast about themselves, or who choose the less welcome tasks, at times even choosing to bear an injustice so as to offer it to the Lord. “If when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval” (1 Pet 2:20). This does not mean walking around with eyes lowered, not saying a word and fleeing the company of others. At times, precisely because someone is free of selfishness, he or she can dare to disagree gently, to demand justice or to defend the weak before the powerful, even if it may harm his or her reputation.

120. I am not saying that such humiliation is pleasant, for that would be masochism, but that it is a way of imitating Jesus and growing in union with him. This is incomprehensible on a purely natural level, and the world mocks any such notion. Instead, it is a grace to be sought in prayer: “Lord, when humiliations come, help me to know that I am following in your footsteps”.

[95] There are some forms of bullying that, while seeming delicate or respectful and even quite spiritual, cause great damage to others’ self-esteem.

[96] Precautions, 13.

[97] Ibid., 13.

© LIBRERIA EDITRICE VATICANA.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Rejoice and Be Glad - n. 120



PERSEVERANCE, PATIENCE AND MEEKNESS

120. I am not saying that such humiliation is pleasant, for that would be masochism, but that it is a way of imitating Jesus and growing in union with him. This is incomprehensible on a purely natural level, and the world mocks any such notion. Instead, it is a grace to be sought in prayer: “Lord, when humiliations come, help me to know that I am following in your footsteps”.

© LIBRERIA EDITRICE VATICANA.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Rejoice and Be Glad - n. 119



PERSEVERANCE, PATIENCE AND MEEKNESS

119. Here I am not speaking only about stark situations of martyrdom, but about the daily humiliations of those who keep silent to save their families, who prefer to praise others rather than boast about themselves, or who choose the less welcome tasks, at times even choosing to bear an injustice so as to offer it to the Lord. “If when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval” (1 Pet 2:20). This does not mean walking around with eyes lowered, not saying a word and fleeing the company of others. At times, precisely because someone is free of selfishness, he or she can dare to disagree gently, to demand justice or to defend the weak before the powerful, even if it may harm his or her reputation.

© LIBRERIA EDITRICE VATICANA.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Rejoice and Be Glad - n. 118




PERSEVERANCE, PATIENCE AND MEEKNESS

118. Humility can only take root in the heart through humiliations. Without them, there is no humility or holiness. If you are unable to suffer and offer up a few humiliations, you are not humble and you are not on the path to holiness. The holiness that God bestows on his Church comes through the humiliation of his Son. He is the way. Humiliation makes you resemble Jesus; it is an unavoidable aspect of the imitation of Christ. For “Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps” (1 Pet 2:21). In turn, he reveals the humility of the Father, who condescends to journey with his people, enduring their infidelities and complaints (cf. Ex 34:6-9; Wis 11:23-12:2; Lk 6:36). For this reason, the Apostles, after suffering humiliation, rejoiced “that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonour for [Jesus’] name” (Acts 5:41).

© LIBRERIA EDITRICE VATICANA.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Rejoice and Be Glad - n. 117




PERSEVERANCE, PATIENCE AND MEEKNESS

117. It is not good when we look down on others like heartless judges, lording it over them and always trying to teach them lessons. That is itself a subtle form of violence.[95] Saint John of the Cross proposed a different path: “Always prefer to be taught by all, rather than to desire teaching even the least of all”.[96] And he added advice on how to keep the devil at bay: “Rejoice in the good of others as if it were your own, and desire that they be given precedence over you in all things; this you should do wholeheartedly. You will thereby overcome evil with good, banish the devil, and possess a happy heart. Try to practise this all the more with those who least attract you. Realize that if you do not train yourself in this way, you will not attain real charity or make any progress in it”.[97]

[95] There are some forms of bullying that, while seeming delicate or respectful and even quite spiritual, cause great damage to others’ self-esteem.

[96] Precautions, 13.

[97] Ibid., 13.

© LIBRERIA EDITRICE VATICANA.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Rejoice and Be Glad - n. 116




PERSEVERANCE, PATIENCE AND MEEKNESS

116. Inner strength, as the work of grace, prevents us from becoming carried away by the violence that is so much a part of life today, because grace defuses vanity and makes possible meekness of heart. The saints do not waste energy complaining about the failings of others; they can hold their tongue before the faults of their brothers and sisters, and avoid the verbal violence that demeans and mistreats others. Saints hesitate to treat others harshly; they consider others better than themselves (cf. Phil 2:3).

© LIBRERIA EDITRICE VATICANA.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Rejoice and Be Glad - n. 115




PERSEVERANCE, PATIENCE AND MEEKNESS

115. Christians too can be caught up in networks of verbal violence through the internet and the various forums of digital communication. Even in Catholic media, limits can be overstepped, defamation and slander can become commonplace, and all ethical standards and respect for the good name of others can be abandoned. The result is a dangerous dichotomy, since things can be said there that would be unacceptable in public discourse, and people look to compensate for their own discontent by lashing out at others. It is striking that at times, in claiming to uphold the other commandments, they completely ignore the eighth, which forbids bearing false witness or lying, and ruthlessly vilify others. Here we see how the unguarded tongue, set on fire by hell, sets all things ablaze (cf. Jas 3:6).

© LIBRERIA EDITRICE VATICANA.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Rejoice and Be Glad - Week 19 in Review


Congratulations on completing Week 19 of The Holy Father's Apostolic Exhortation, Gaudete et exsultate!  To review this past week's readings, see below:


APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION
GAUDETE ET EXSULTATE

OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS 

ON THE CALL TO HOLINESS
IN TODAY’S WORLD


The worship most acceptable to God

109. The powerful witness of the saints is revealed in their lives, shaped by the Beatitudes and the criterion of the final judgement. Jesus’ words are few and straightforward, yet practical and valid for everyone, for Christianity is meant above all to be put into practice. It can also be an object of study and reflection, but only to help us better live the Gospel in our daily lives. I recommend rereading these great biblical texts frequently, referring back to them, praying with them, trying to embody them. They will benefit us; they will make us genuinely happy.

CHAPTER FOUR
SIGNS OF HOLINESS IN TODAY’S WORLD

110. Within the framework of holiness offered by the Beatitudes and Matthew 25:31-46, I would like to mention a few signs or spiritual attitudes that, in my opinion, are necessary if we are to understand the way of life to which the Lord calls us. I will not pause to explain the means of sanctification already known to us: the various methods of prayer, the inestimable sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation, the offering of personal sacrifices, different forms of devotion, spiritual direction, and many others as well. Here I will speak only of certain aspects of the call to holiness that I hope will prove especially meaningful.

111. The signs I wish to highlight are not the sum total of a model of holiness, but they are five great expressions of love for God and neighbour that I consider of particular importance in the light of certain dangers and limitations present in today’s culture. There we see a sense of anxiety, sometimes violent, that distracts and debilitates; negativity and sullenness; the self-content bred by consumerism; individualism; and all those forms of ersatz spirituality – having nothing to do with God – that dominate the current religious marketplace.

PERSEVERANCE, PATIENCE AND MEEKNESS

112. The first of these great signs is solid grounding in the God who loves and sustains us. This source of inner strength enables us to persevere amid life’s ups and downs, but also to endure hostility, betrayal and failings on the part of others. “If God is for us, who is against us?” (Rom 8:31): this is the source of the peace found in the saints. Such inner strength makes it possible for us, in our fast-paced, noisy and aggressive world, to give a witness of holiness through patience and constancy in doing good. It is a sign of the fidelity born of love, for those who put their faith in God (pístis) can also be faithful to others (pistós). They do not desert others in bad times; they accompany them in their anxiety and distress, even though doing so may not bring immediate satisfaction.

113. Saint Paul bade the Romans not to repay evil for evil (cf. Rom 12:17), not to seek revenge (v. 19), and not to be overcome by evil, but instead to “overcome evil with good” (v. 21). This attitude is not a sign of weakness but of true strength, because God himself “is slow to anger but great in power” (Nah 1:3). The word of God exhorts us to “put away all bitterness and wrath and wrangling and slander, together with all malice” (Eph 4:31).

114. We need to recognize and combat our aggressive and selfish inclinations, and not let them take root. “Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger” (Eph 4:26). When we feel overwhelmed, we can always cling to the anchor of prayer, which puts us back in God’s hands and the source of our peace. “Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts...” (Phil 4:6-7).

© LIBRERIA EDITRICE VATICANA.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Rejoice and Be Glad - n. 114




PERSEVERANCE, PATIENCE AND MEEKNESS

114. We need to recognize and combat our aggressive and selfish inclinations, and not let them take root. “Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger” (Eph 4:26). When we feel overwhelmed, we can always cling to the anchor of prayer, which puts us back in God’s hands and the source of our peace. “Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts...” (Phil 4:6-7).

© LIBRERIA EDITRICE VATICANA.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Rejoice and Be Glad - n. 113




PERSEVERANCE, PATIENCE AND MEEKNESS

113. Saint Paul bade the Romans not to repay evil for evil (cf. Rom 12:17), not to seek revenge (v. 19), and not to be overcome by evil, but instead to “overcome evil with good” (v. 21). This attitude is not a sign of weakness but of true strength, because God himself “is slow to anger but great in power” (Nah 1:3). The word of God exhorts us to “put away all bitterness and wrath and wrangling and slander, together with all malice” (Eph 4:31).

© LIBRERIA EDITRICE VATICANA.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Rejoice and Be Glad - n. 112




PERSEVERANCE, PATIENCE AND MEEKNESS

112. The first of these great signs is solid grounding in the God who loves and sustains us. This source of inner strength enables us to persevere amid life’s ups and downs, but also to endure hostility, betrayal and failings on the part of others. “If God is for us, who is against us?” (Rom 8:31): this is the source of the peace found in the saints. Such inner strength makes it possible for us, in our fast-paced, noisy and aggressive world, to give a witness of holiness through patience and constancy in doing good. It is a sign of the fidelity born of love, for those who put their faith in God (pístis) can also be faithful to others (pistós). They do not desert others in bad times; they accompany them in their anxiety and distress, even though doing so may not bring immediate satisfaction.

© LIBRERIA EDITRICE VATICANA.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Rejoice and Be Glad - n. 111




111. The signs I wish to highlight are not the sum total of a model of holiness, but they are five great expressions of love for God and neighbour that I consider of particular importance in the light of certain dangers and limitations present in today’s culture. There we see a sense of anxiety, sometimes violent, that distracts and debilitates; negativity and sullenness; the self-content bred by consumerism; individualism; and all those forms of ersatz spirituality – having nothing to do with God – that dominate the current religious marketplace.


© LIBRERIA EDITRICE VATICANA.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Rejoice and Be Glad - n. 110




110. Within the framework of holiness offered by the Beatitudes and Matthew 25:31-46, I would like to mention a few signs or spiritual attitudes that, in my opinion, are necessary if we are to understand the way of life to which the Lord calls us. I will not pause to explain the means of sanctification already known to us: the various methods of prayer, the inestimable sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation, the offering of personal sacrifices, different forms of devotion, spiritual direction, and many others as well. Here I will speak only of certain aspects of the call to holiness that I hope will prove especially meaningful.


© LIBRERIA EDITRICE VATICANA.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Rejoice and Be Glad - n. 109




109. The powerful witness of the saints is revealed in their lives, shaped by the Beatitudes and the criterion of the final judgement. Jesus’ words are few and straightforward, yet practical and valid for everyone, for Christianity is meant above all to be put into practice. It can also be an object of study and reflection, but only to help us better live the Gospel in our daily lives. I recommend rereading these great biblical texts frequently, referring back to them, praying with them, trying to embody them. They will benefit us; they will make us genuinely happy.


© LIBRERIA EDITRICE VATICANA.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Rejoice and Be Glad - Week 18 in Review


Congratulations on completing Week 18 of The Holy Father's Apostolic Exhortation, Gaudete et exsultate!  To review this past week's readings, see below:


APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION
GAUDETE ET EXSULTATE

OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS 

ON THE CALL TO HOLINESS
IN TODAY’S WORLD


Ideologies striking at the heart of the Gospel

103. A similar approach is found in the Old Testament: “You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you yourselves were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Ex 22:21). “When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress him. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Lev 19:33-34). This is not a notion invented by some Pope, or a momentary fad. In today’s world too, we are called to follow the path of spiritual wisdom proposed by the prophet Isaiah to show what is pleasing to God. “Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own kin? Then your light shall break forth like the dawn” (58:7-8).

The worship most acceptable to God

104. We may think that we give glory to God only by our worship and prayer, or simply by following certain ethical norms. It is true that the primacy belongs to our relationship with God, but we cannot forget that the ultimate criterion on which our lives will be judged is what we have done for others. Prayer is most precious, for it nourishes a daily commitment to love. Our worship becomes pleasing to God when we devote ourselves to living generously, and allow God’s gift, granted in prayer, to be shown in our concern for our brothers and sisters.

105. Similarly, the best way to discern if our prayer is authentic is to judge to what extent our life is being transformed in the light of mercy. For “mercy is not only an action of the Father; it becomes a criterion for ascertaining who his true children are”.[88]Mercy “is the very foundation of the Church’s life”.[89] In this regard, I would like to reiterate that mercy does not exclude justice and truth; indeed, “we have to say that mercy is the fullness of justice and the most radiant manifestation of God’s truth”.[90] It is “the key to heaven”.[91]

106. Here I think of Saint Thomas Aquinas, who asked which actions of ours are noblest, which external works best show our love for God. Thomas answered unhesitatingly that they are the works of mercy towards our neighbour,[92] even more than our acts of worship: “We worship God by outward sacrifices and gifts, not for his own benefit, but for that of ourselves and our neighbour. For he does not need our sacrifices, but wishes them to be offered to him, in order to stir our devotion and to profit our neighbour. Hence mercy, whereby we supply others’ defects, is a sacrifice more acceptable to him, as conducing more directly to our neighbour’s well-being”.[93]

107. Those who really wish to give glory to God by their lives, who truly long to grow in holiness, are called to be single-minded and tenacious in their practice of the works of mercy. Saint Teresa of Calcutta clearly realized this: “Yes, I have many human faults and failures… But God bends down and uses us, you and me, to be his love and his compassion in the world; he bears our sins, our troubles and our faults. He depends on us to love the world and to show how much he loves it. If we are too concerned with ourselves, we will have no time left for others”.[94]

108. Hedonism and consumerism can prove our downfall, for when we are obsessed with our own pleasure, we end up being all too concerned about ourselves and our rights, and we feel a desperate need for free time to enjoy ourselves. We will find it hard to feel and show any real concern for those in need, unless we are able to cultivate a certain simplicity of life, resisting the feverish demands of a consumer society, which leave us impoverished and unsatisfied, anxious to have it all now. Similarly, when we allow ourselves to be caught up in superficial information, instant communication and virtual reality, we can waste precious time and become indifferent to the suffering flesh of our brothers and sisters. Yet even amid this whirlwind of activity, the Gospel continues to resound, offering us the promise of a different life, a healthier and happier life.

[88] Bull Misericordiae Vultus (11 April 2015), 9: AAS 107 (2015), 405.

[89] Ibid., 10, 406.

[90] Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia (19 March 2016), 311: AAS 108 (2016), 439.

[91] Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (24 November 2013), 197: AAS 105 (2013), 1103.

[92] Cf. Summa Theologiae, II-II, q. 30, a. 4.

[93] Ibid., ad 1.

[94] Cited (in Spanish translation) in: Cristo en los Pobres, Madrid, 1981, 37-38.

© LIBRERIA EDITRICE VATICANA.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Rejoice and Be Glad - n. 108




The worship most acceptable to God

108. Hedonism and consumerism can prove our downfall, for when we are obsessed with our own pleasure, we end up being all too concerned about ourselves and our rights, and we feel a desperate need for free time to enjoy ourselves. We will find it hard to feel and show any real concern for those in need, unless we are able to cultivate a certain simplicity of life, resisting the feverish demands of a consumer society, which leave us impoverished and unsatisfied, anxious to have it all now. Similarly, when we allow ourselves to be caught up in superficial information, instant communication and virtual reality, we can waste precious time and become indifferent to the suffering flesh of our brothers and sisters. Yet even amid this whirlwind of activity, the Gospel continues to resound, offering us the promise of a different life, a healthier and happier life.


© LIBRERIA EDITRICE VATICANA.