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A TEMPLATE FOR
HOLINESS, HOPE, PRESEVERANCE
vocation, through Baptism, as faithful disciples and soldiers of Christ, in the
heart of the world, within the human family, in the heart of the Church, is to
be love. [cf. Jn.13:34; 15: 12-14; 1 Thess. 4:9; 1 Jn.2:7-10; 3:23; 2 Jn.
An Indigenous elder speaks gently to
his grandson: “There are two wolves inside everyone which are always at war
with each other. One of them is a good wolf and represents things like
kindness, bravery and love. The other is a bad wolf and represents things like
greed, hatred and fear. The grandson stops to think about this for awhile, then
he looks up and asks: “Grandfather, which wolf wins the war?” The grandfather
quietly replies: “The one that you feed.” 
it is easy to assume the enemies of faithful disciples of Christ constantly
feed the bad wolf, we need to be humble enough, honest enough with ourselves
about which wolf we are feeding.
fall into satan’s trap of suggesting we can get away with just giving the bad
wolf tidbits, rather than a full meal. The danger is the bad wolf, like satan
his mentor does when we give into any temptation, becomes more aggressively
demanding and fear can cause us to abandon caring for the good wolf and just
feeding the bad one.
to be nourished with the sacraments, reflecting upon Sacred Scripture with
priority to the Gospel, with the Holy Rosary and other times of prayer, using
sacramentals, reading the lives of the saints and their writing, in a word
being nourished through all such means by the grace of the Holy Spirit.
rightly, will challenge the above and note that in the lives of the saints we
see that even when they were totally faithful to the will of God in the present
moment, even when they were filled with faith, lived truly holy lives – or
perhaps because of their very fidelity – suffering was seemingly never absent,
rejection, persecution, sometimes even the profound pain of the dark night of
the soul, the profound absence of God, all this they experienced as we do.
is no quick fix, no magic elixir, nothing that exempts faithful followers of
Christ from the Cross, however we can trust that the will of God, always an
invitation never an imposition, only takes us/invites us, where His grace will
mistaken to understand love as primarily or only a feeling, likewise with
faith, hope, forgiveness of self and others.
true love is an act of the will, a choice expressed in words and actions, so
are faith, hope, charity, kindness, patience, etc., and when such virtues are
lived out when the night is at its darkest, the burden-bearing of the actions
of others at its heaviest, when the enemy and his human cohorts are most
fiercely attacking, that is when the choice to love, to believe, to endure, to
be faithful in the precise moment we are living, is truly to be living
holiness, radiating the Light of Christ.
should rejoice in and be comforted by the very fact we are living in these
times because the Trinity granting, us life and grace in these times, shows the
love and confidence God has in us to be His faithful disciples and witnesses in
these very days.
Francis, who understands very well the reality we are living in has given us a
wonderful pastoral gift of encouragement, his call to holiness in the modern world:
“REJOICE AND BE GLAD” (Mt 5:12), Jesus
tells those persecuted or humiliated for his sake. The Lord asks everything of
us, and in return he offers us true life, the happiness for which we were
created. He wants us to be saints and not to settle for a bland and mediocre
existence. The call to holiness is present in various ways from the very first
pages of the Bible. We see it expressed in the Lord’s words to Abraham: “Walk
before me, and be blameless” (Gen 17:1)…… The Holy Spirit bestows holiness in abundance
among God’s holy and faithful people, for “it has pleased God to make men and
women holy and to save them, not as individuals without any bond between them,
but rather as a people who might acknowledge him in truth and serve him in
holiness”….. Let the grace of your baptism bear fruit in a path of holiness.
Let everything be open to God; turn to him in every situation. Do not be
dismayed, for the power of the Holy Spirit enables you to do this, and
holiness, in the end, is the fruit of the Holy Spirit in your life (cf. Gal
5:22-23). When you feel the temptation to dwell on your own weakness, raise
your eyes to Christ crucified and say: “Lord, I am a poor sinner, but you can
work the miracle of making me a little bit better”. In the Church, holy yet made
up of sinners, you will find everything you need to grow towards holiness. The
Lord has bestowed on the Church the gifts of scripture, the sacraments, holy
places, living communities, the witness of the saints and a multifaceted beauty
that proceeds from God’s love, “like a bride bedecked with jewels” (Is 61:10)……
At times, life presents great challenges. Through them, the Lord calls us anew
to a conversion that can make his grace more evident in our lives, “in order
that we may share his holiness” (Heb 12:10). At other times, we need only find
a more perfect way of doing what we are already doing: “There are inspirations
that tend solely to perfect in an extraordinary way the ordinary things we do
in life”. When Cardinal François-Xavier Nguyên van Thuân was imprisoned, he
refused to waste time waiting for the day he would be set free. Instead, he
chose “to live the present moment, filling it to the brim with love”. He
decided: “I will seize the occasions that present themselves every day; I will
accomplish ordinary actions in an extraordinary way”……. I would like these
reflections to be crowned by Mary, because she lived the Beatitudes of Jesus as
none other. She is that woman who rejoiced in the presence of God, who
treasured everything in her heart, and who let herself be pierced by the sword.
Mary is the saint among the saints, blessed above all others. She teaches us
the way of holiness and she walks ever at our side. She does not let us remain
fallen and at times she takes us into her arms without judging us. Our converse
with her consoles, frees and sanctifies us. Mary our Mother does not need a
flood of words. She does not need us to tell her what is happening in our
lives. All we need do is whisper, time and time again: “Hail Mary…”
ancient Cree Legend quoted by Ken LaPointe in: Rouleauville, The Cradle of
Calgary, © 2008-2018 by Ken LaPointe and (BVC)
The Call To Holiness in Today’s World: paras 6, 15, 17, 176: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20180319_gaudete-et-exsultate.html
Fr. Arthur Joseph
BEING GOOD SOLDIERS OF CHRIST, AS LIVING ICONS
So you, my child, be strong in the
grace that is in Christ Jesus. And what you heard from me through many
witnesses entrust to faithful people who will have the ability to teach others
as well. Bear your share of hardship along with me like a good soldier of
Christ Jesus. To satisfy the one who recruited him, a soldier does not
become entangled in the business affairs of life. [2Tim.2-4]
like all military personnel, are sworn to protect the people, to do battle
against the enemy, even to laying down their lives.
words of St. Paul are applicable in our own day. He is not calling us to be
soldiers in terms of methods used by the military to defeat an enemy, for
example the use of lethal force. He is calling us to fidelity to our baptismal
oath, fidelity to the Gospel of Christ, the Gospel of Life and Truth, fidelity
to our vocation within and flowing from our baptismal vocation to be
proclaimers of the Gospel with our lives without compromise while living within
this world, this culture.
good soldier means trusting and living out this from Christ’s prayer to His
Father at the last supper: I speak this
in the world so that they may share My joy completely. I gave them Your word,
and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world any more than
I belong to the world. [Jn.17:13 ff.]
often say how overwhelmed they feel under the weight of this culture of
darkness and death. To borrow a military phrase, we all are suffering “battle
least because: Our enemies are trying to
wipe us off the face of the earth, literally. Our enemies are not at the gates;
they are inside the gates. The enemies of Christianity are trying to ensure
that Christianity has no future. 
cause of battle fatigue is the very human, and understandable, need for
acceptance by others, added to which for some Catholics and other Christians,
there is a persistent mythology that in ages past we were not only accepted but
admired, even dominant.
are a few crumbs of truth in that mythology, but just a few. Martyrdom, by
blood, oppression, rejection, is more normative than acceptance and dominance.
Christ’s teachings on the Church are teachings about the power of littleness:
the mustard seed, the leaven, a cup of water, salt, light, ordinary acts of
charity such as giving food to someone who is hungry, the grain of wheat: [cf. Mt. 5:13-16; 10:42; 13: 31ff; 25:31ff;
do seek to live lives of faith, hope, love, peace, active charity, with a sense
of fulfillment, as both good soldiers of Christ and a bulwark against the
culture of darkness and death it means taking up our cross each day, following
Christ and as St. Paul teaches, we are called to make up in our lives: …. what is lacking in the afflictions of
Christ on behalf of His body, which is the church…[Col. 1:24], the ‘what is
lacking’ is our willingness to take up the Cross each day, follow Jesus, be in
every moment one with Him.
makes this difficult is what we take in from the surrounding culture of
darkness and death through various media, the music we listen to, the books we
in, garbage out.
the treasuries of Sacred Scripture, access to Holy Mass, Holy Communion,
Confession, adoration, the assistance of Our Lady, the Angels, to music, art,
literature which uplifts.
in, beauty out.
take in what vivifies or what wearies?
tendency which satan uses to disrupt and discourage is having us look back at
some point in history, in the life of the Church, the nation, our family, our
own lives through frankly, as the saying goes, ‘rose coloured glasses.’
of dwelling fully in the present moment, which is the precise moment in our
lives where Christ is with us, we pine for some other moment, or regret, without
trust in Divine Mercy, some previous moment.
waste of time and grace!
sanctification, our deepening our union with Christ, fulfilling our vocation,
accomplishing the will of God in our lives, defeating satan, the real enemy in
this reality of war, proclaiming the Gospel of Truth and Life with our lives,
takes place in, and only in, this precise moment.
precise moment is both a sacred place and a threshold place. We step deeply
into this moment from the previous moment and this moment is simultaneously a
threshold into the next moment of grace.
Jesus said, “No one who sets a hand to
the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.”
the moment of His Incarnation, through His birth, childhood, adulthood, public
life, through the desert, the garden, on the Cross, in the tomb, in His Holy
Resurrection, to this very moment Christ never looked back, never sought to
somehow go back in time for any reason, rather He dwelt in and fulfilled the
will of the Father for our redemption and to be with us in this precise moment.
the Good Shepherd leading us through every moment to the eternal moment, the
unchanging yet for all eternity ever deepening moment of communion of love with
Him, the Father and the Holy Spirit.
Remember the word I spoke to you, ‘No
slave is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also
persecute you. If they kept My word, they will also keep yours. [Jn.15:20]
Beloved, I urge you as aliens and
sojourners to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against the soul.
Beloved, do not be surprised that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as if
something strange were happening to you. But rejoice to the extent that you
share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when His glory is revealed you may
also rejoice exultantly. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, blessed
are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. Be sober and
vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking
for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your fellow
believers throughout the world undergo the same sufferings. The God of all
grace who called you to His eternal glory through Christ Jesus will Himself
restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you after you have suffered a
little. To Him be dominion forever. Amen. [cf. 1Pt.2:11; 4:12-14; 5:8-11]
We belong to God, and anyone who knows
God listens to us, while anyone who does not belong to God refuses to hear us.
This is how we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of deceit. [cf.
Evdokimov reminds us of an adage which affirms: “The hour that you are living, the task that you are doing, the man
whom you are meeting in this moment,
are the most important in your life.”
greater reality than the reality of the war we experience is that Christ
Himself is already our victory, that greater than all the noise and hatred is
the deep silence of God, which is the sound of His loving voice.
dwell in moments of grace.
Biggest Lie In the History Of Christianity, Matthew Kelly, p.61; Kakadu, LLC,
Struggle With God, Paul Evdokimov, p.213, The Paulist Press 1966
Fr. Arthur Joseph