Thursday, January 17, 2019



                               A TEMPLATE FOR HOLINESS, HOPE, PRESEVERANCE

Our 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. 1:5-6]

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.”  [1]

While 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.

We may 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.

We need 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.

Some, 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.

There 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 sustain us.

We are mistaken to understand love as primarily or only a feeling, likewise with faith, hope, forgiveness of self and others.

Pure, 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.

We 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.

Pope 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…”

[1] An ancient Cree Legend quoted by Ken LaPointe in: Rouleauville, The Cradle of Calgary, © 2008-2018 by Ken LaPointe and (BVC)

[2] On The Call To Holiness in Today’s World: paras 6, 15, 17, 176:

© 2019 Fr. Arthur Joseph

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