Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Wondrous God Who Became Human for Us

O what a wondrous night Christmas Eve is... yes, magical, but not of the Harry Potter kind, nor of the Hollywood kind, but rather what happens to us, within us, with us, and all around us when we take note that God is present....

God is ever present, since this single, unique, divine being alone existed before the universe, or anything else that might exist other than God, came to exist. The "magic" happens when we take note that God is indeed present, ever speaking, and ever acting....

He got our attention in a clever and oh so authentic way on this night all those centuries ago when the Son of God, who had humbly accepted to be carried by Mary in her womb for some 9 months, was finally delivered by her into our world to be made manifest, visible, put on display, for our benefit.

Jesus was born not only to get our attention, but to open up for us the possibility of noticing and actually loving God. After all, how hard can it be even for the most hardened human being to love a new-born infant?

Peace to you, my friends, to your colleagues, family, and friends, to your clients and associates, and yes, even to your enemies, if you have any... as Jesus Himself suggested, no, commanded us to do....

Yes, these 12 Christmas Days are indeed magical, powerful, because God offers to change us, to transform us, not to make us someone we're not, but to bring us into being more completely the person we are meant to become, the one we most deeply desire to be, the person who realizes that our very life itself is flowing into us moment by moment from the Source which is God.... This is my Christmas wish and prayer for you and all those you love and care for....

Feel free to share the Advent / Christmas prayer in English or French.... If any of you translate it into Italian or any other language, please send me a copy. Thanks....

“Were not our hearts burning within us as He talked to us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us

Merry Christmas !   May you and all those you care for experience the

Presence of Jesus in the ordinary and special moments of life….

 

Happy, Healthy, and Holy New Year 2014 !

            May the peace and joy of Christmas abide with you at every moment

throughout the year, when you’re alone and when you are with others….

 

Fr. Gilles     

PAX + CARITAS       Web Site:   http://fathergilles.net/       Visit Madonna House !
 “Were not our hearts burning within us as He talked to us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?”  Luke 24:32   

 

Come Holy Spirit….

Monday, December 02, 2013

God guides us through the storm of life and temptations by Satan and his demons

Spiritual insight into God, or our own life, or the universe and God's creation, or into life itself is a gift from God... thanks be to God who is so great and yet so close to us and so kind and considerate as to care for each of us, though we are so many....

Life is awesome and it's normal for human beings to at times feel overwhelmed, especially when we are young because there is so much we have yet to discover and begin to understand, but even in middle age or old age, as the "scenery" of our life changes, we can feel disoriented and lost with the impression we may have to start all over again. This can appear as though we might be "losing our faith" but often it is simply that a more naive form of faith needs to "die" in order to make room for a more mature and robust faith that takes into account the complex realities of life and the many levels of our own inner complexity and human frailty....

I rejoice with all believers and fellow pilgrims and thank God for the way in which He let us know that He is there and loves us. The "withdrawal pains" or troubling doubts we may feel after having "religious experiences" or moments of "grace" when we felt "close to God" or as if all was "right with the world" or that "we were in the right place or exactly where we were meant to be"... all such experiences help us understand why God does not generally "show Himself" to us yet... we are not ready to experience the great intensity of his dynamic presence and love... so we have the gift of time and life on Earth as a time of preparation, and all of life - both the good and the bad - are used by God to help us grow, be stretched, deepen, and widen our spirit and bring our flesh to serve our spirit and of course God and our neighbor. Pope Francis talks much about all these things.

We have to be careful about what we see and hear on TV these days... there are so many programs and episodes that present themselves as scientific research and discovery when in fact they employ a "little science" in order to camouflage flagrant theories which fail to take into account overwhelming quantities of evidence that quite frankly shows their theories are unfounded.

Take for example St Paul. I have seen TV episodes claiming that St Paul exerted undue influence on the early Church and in effect started a new religion that was not and is not in accord with Jesus' intentions. This is the voice of those who set themselves up as critics and naysayers against the Roman Catholic Church and Tradition. There is nothing further from the truth. It is clear from the Acts of the Apostles that Jesus knew exactly what He was doing when He chose Saul and through the grace of conversion made him into Paul.

It does seem as though Paul exercised an overly predominant influence on the early Church and could seem "over represented" in the New Testament... take Paul away and you only have the Gospels, Acts, the other pastoral letters, and Revelation left. It is true that Paul formulated much of the theology that has allowed the Church to deepen her understanding of much of what Jesus said and did.

That is the whole point though, that Paul invented nothing but only reflected deeply on what Jesus said, did, was, and is, and Jesus used then and uses now Paul to bring us closer to Himself. No, the thought that Paul started his own religion is quite wrong, and you are wise to recognize this as a doubt, even a temptation.

Remember dear Reader when you consider your own doubts or confusion on these matters how Satan treated Jesus. First he tried to seduce his human instincts with appeals to our human appetites and wants. When that failed he left Him alone until a later time, which was in the Garden of Gethsemane, at which time he unleashed all the fury he could muster through the instruments of the authorities and soldiers and even bystanders, who all mocked Him....

We cannot expect better treatment from demons than Jesus got. First they appeal to our human weaknesses and passions. When that fails they try the use of power, either supernatural power or material power through natural disturbances or through people. The "storms" we experience in life and in our spirit are not likely the effect of God or his angels but rather the rebellious angels or demons. Why do I think this?

You have only to read the Book of Job to see how God has shown us the true nature of his love and the true nature of Satan and his followers. They are out to "get us" but God takes our part. The Word of God tells us that God never tempts us nor intimidates us nor accuses us. In Revelation 12:10 God makes it clear through John's words that those who accuse the children of God and denounce them before God are Satan and his demon rebellious angels.

God in his kindness, mercy, and respect for the freedom of his intelligent creatures continues to allow even the demons certain freedom, as we can see in the Book of Job, but He imposes limits on what they can do, and all of this just becomes part of God's plan to allow his children the opportunity to have the joy and satisfaction of sharing in Jesus' victory by choosing to resist and fight as Jesus did.

The battle line runs right down the middle of the human heart, which God says in Jeremiah 17:1 is very tortuous and convoluted... we cannot trust our own heart and must certainly not follow it. However, our heart is an important part of us and so we need to pay attention to it, to notice its movements and moods, and learn what our heart is telling us at any given moment about what is happening within us and outside us and in others and how we are reacting to that. Being aware of all these things helps us to understand the situation and to judge what to do in light of God's Word and will.

We need to verify our understanding against God's Word and guide our judgment and actions and words in accord with God's holy will, which means guiding our heart, not following it. We can see, often in retrospect looking back, how God has guided and protected us from following our heart... Even in the face of terrible dark times and awful temptations to go so far as to take our own life, we have not taken our life but are accepting to struggle through it all, to live as fully as we can, by God's grace and in accord with his love and will.

This is the human life of faith in God through Jesus about which St Paul spoke and wrote so eloquently and profoundly precisely because he accepted to live life fully, to follow Jesus with all his might, and to desire one thing alone, to allow Jesus to live in him and "reproduce" his life within Paul.

It is the greatest grace of God that He offers to do the same in each of us.... Peace to you dear Reader and to your family, colleagues, friends, enemies, and loved ones....
“Were not our hearts burning within us as He talked to us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us

 

 Fr. Gilles

Friday, November 29, 2013

Agony and Ecstasy both lift us up to God

Dear Fellow Christian, or if not a Christian, Dear Fellow Traveler on the road of life....

As it often happens to us moderns, or people living at the beginning of the third millennium, we run the risk of defining or valuing ourselves a lot by our "doing"... and when you go through a "valley" in life, dark shadows of suffering, pain, isolation, loneliness, loss of employment or recognition, or of downright persecution, harassment, exploitation, or abuse; then you could say that you are feeling as though you are "in crisis mode" and unable to do as you normally do.... Well, one could say "So far so good" in the sense that what you are feeling under such circumstances is entirely human and normal for a human being that is still alive.

For the Christian as a disciple of Jesus, as also for the Jew or Jewess as a son or daughter of God, this is a time of grace. For the Muslim, it depends on what kind of faith they have come to experience, since many dominant movements or trends in Islam are all about controlling and engineering society and the behavior of others - much as the Catholic Church, which I dearly love and to which I am very devoted, has done in many places at various times - whereas the Word that God addresses to both Jews and Christians and all people of good will is that the Lord is offering us human beings during times of trial a "spiritual package of grace" that under normal circumstances He is not able to offer us because we would not notice or if we did notice we would not recognize the value and would simply pass over it. God not only wants to advance his divine work in the world of human beings, but He also wants to give human beings growth towards the eternal life He offers and which begins already here and now on Earth....

When our ability to "do" is diminished, the reduction of "noise", of "racing thoughts", of "impulsive activity", and of so many other dynamics begins to "clear the air" within our soul; so that we could say that "the dust begins to settle" and "the smoke begins to clear" and our soul's "eyes" can begin to notice a divine presence and activity it may never have seen before....

To the mind, it appears as an interior "light" that clears up many thoughts and dismisses many thoughts as useless shadows and makes room for the thoughts that are in the "mind" of Christ.... Jesus can begin more easily to "think his thoughts" in our mind and guide us along and further, deeper into the "mind" of God.... Call it wisdom, and it opens up before our mind many doors through which we can enter into all the vitality and possibilities generated within the Holy Trinity. In simple terms, God can help us step back and take a "big picture" view of our life, activity, and experience.

To the heart, it appears as an inclination to relax, to trust, to rest in God and let Him take care of things for a change, and stop worrying, stop thinking that everything is up to me, and a greater, easier willingness to let God do his part. In this heavenly light, all things suddenly become much more clearly as in God's hands, that the Holy Trinity are and always will be "Master of life and existence" in the universe and in the heavenly realms.... Our heart suddenly remembers it is only a creature and not a god, that this corporeal existence began a short time ago in our mother's womb and will shortly leave this earthly realm and be clothed with immortality in preparation for entry into the heart of the Holy Trinity to enjoy unending life for all eternity, and it will be anything but boring....

To the soul, the divine presence and activity becomes slowly more perceptible as something that is so real that it is more real than I am, than the world is, than life itself. The soul begins to grasp the magnitude of the divine being - the Father, the Son - Jesus, Risen from the dead and Master of all - and the Holy Spirit; who have existed for all eternity... we are incapable of grasping there having been no beginning to God, intellectually that is... but the soul slowly accepts to "walk on the water" like Peter and simply accept the eternity of God and that He is offering us the incomparable gift of entering into that eternity.

We may have had a beginning but we too, in God, will have no ending, because our soul is immortal, incapable of dying. All that is asked of us is to enter into God and in this way avoid the "second death", the death of the soul, which is what happens to souls that refuse to trust in God or to become like Him.... The good news is that even now the Holy Trinity breathe into the soul that opens up in trust the very breathing that is happening in the Holy Trinity... so that deep within us our soul can accept to let the Holy Spirit take care of the breathing of our soul... breathing with the very love and trust that are in the Father and the Son... the Holy Spirit living within us now, and this happens so deep within, so imperceptibly, that the soul is only conscious of being loved and wanting to love back, and beginning to do so by letting go... letting God....

In the body, the divine presence and activity is perceived in a variety of ways and in each of them the scenario is similar... the body senses its own struggle and then also perceives from God an invitation to let go, to trust, to surrender, to make room, to open up and welcome that divine presence and action. This results in the body then softening up, opening, relaxing, letting go, trusting, warming up or cooling down in a way that is coming closer to what would be "normal" and good....

This experience of God happens in a wide variety of circumstances, from ecstasy to agony.... When a soul feels physically the beauty and goodness of God, the love of God, it experiences the kinds of feelings we could associate with allowing oneself to be "seduced" or "won over" by a beloved person. Someone we trust and admire loves us and we are so taken up by trust, gratitude, and a burning desire to return that love that we surrender, we give in, we want to turn our whole life over to the beloved.

When a soul suffers agony - the physical pain caused by disease, medical procedures, torture, accidental injury, or physical degeneration, or any other cause - the body is pushed beyond the limits of comfort, of acceptance, and even of ability to endure. It is ironic that similarly to ecstasy where joy lifts us up and out of ourselves in a pleasant way, agony also lifts us up and out of ourselves, but in an unpleasant way. Still, the lasting benefit for the body is the same or similar. When we accept to be lifted up and out of ourselves - whether by ecstasy or by agony - we are in a position to accept from God a great grace: that of indifference to our own fleshly existence, of such freedom regarding our existence in the flesh that this freedom gives us a new capacity to value God, to acknowledge the importance, value, and extravagant love of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

This is why God allows human suffering and eventually death, because his grace opens up for us through these experiences so many opportunities for spiritual growth that also prepare us for greater and greater vitality and enjoyment in eternity. Our time on Earth is so short that God wants to seize every opportunity to help us prepare for the much greater gifts that are yet to come....

Of course, in the meantime, it is right for us to value the life we have now, since it is the only life we know - not just the physical, earthly existence, but also the spiritual and supernatural one as daughters and sons of God. We become more fully and more mature sons and daughters as we take to heart the "things of our Father" and become eager that He be known and loved in Jesus his Son and that more and more people come to this personal knowledge and experience in the Holy Trinity and surrender to God's advances and welcome his love, only to become fruitful in turn and a blessing to all those around us, especially those who have not yet been touched and transformed by the life-giving love of God....

Peace to you Dear Reader and to your family, and if you will allow me to formulate a very Christian wish and prayer of blessing for you and your loved ones, during these days of trial, may you allow the Holy Spirit to lift you up to the heavenly realms within you, as Jesus and Mary walk with you moment by moment, and day by day....

With all my love and respect....
"Were not our hearts burning within us as He talked to us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us
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   Fr. Gilles     

Friday, October 25, 2013

Blessed be God who gives his children Kingdom eyes

LOVE LETTER TO YOUNG COUPLES STRUGGLING UNDER THE WEIGHT OF DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILY HISTORIES

It's so good and healthy and actually spiritual that young marrieds open their hearts and minds and spirits to each other and are finding words and images to express what they are feeling and going through as they bear the brunt of the misery of their dysfunctional relatives, near and far....

Much of what we have experienced of family over the years leaves a bad taste in our mouth, and sooner or later we are having the impression that our life tastes like misery, isolation, anger, and divorce, that all paths seem to be leading us there, and we don't see any other way.... By the way, dear Reader, feel free to share both your thoughts and my reflection with your spouse, partner, close friend, trusted relative; since as you may already be blessed to be able to say you and this other person are so trusting and open with one another, which by the way, is the way of love... it is God's way, not the world's way....

You may not know this or you may already know so well by now that the Holy Trinity have given us, those who wish to cultivate and use them, Kingdom eyes which in the light of the Holy Trinity allow us to see clearly the truth about God, about creation, about ourselves, about others, and about the world.

Remember in the Old Testament how God said to Israel that their sins linger on to the 3rd and 4th generation but that in the just his love endures for a thousand generations? Isn't it true... see how, though he was a sinner, because he was repentant and really did love God, David let God bring forth good fruit in his life, fruit that is enduring even today because among his offspring came Jesus....

All the cranky, miserable, nasty, hateful, jealous, malicious, angry, vengeful, wicked... words, looks, manipulations, judgements, actions, behaviors... and more that you have endured from your family and your spouse's or significant other's family - that both of you and perhaps also your children have endured - are in the category of the sins of ancestors that linger to the 3rd and 4th generation....

We all are defiled by such things - kind of like a mom or dad who in attending to their muddy little children who've had a lovely time playing in the mud become all muddy themselves, but it's not their mud, it's the children's mud - so too we are besmirched by people who are defiled by their ancestry and remain caught in it due to their own sin and failure to walk in God's grace or inability or lack of energy, desire, or resolve to extricate themselves. So they are miserable and their misery vomits forth onto anyone and everyone within range.... It's a real bitch, but what can you do?

That things are this way is no reason to give up on life, Marriage, God, joy, laughter, grace, struggle, work, and fruitful living. Just because some people live a bankrupt existence doesn't mean we should give it all up and go naked and homeless like them, figuratively speaking, and literally sometimes....

So just maybe what you're up against is too big, all-pervasive, dark, strong, grasping, clutching, suffocating for you to expect to fix any of it or for you to expect relief from each other, you and your counterpart. Only the Savior can bring you relief, and first and always, He brings you relief by walking with you along the road, like the disciples Cleopas and Simeon on he way to Emmaus, with the comfort of knowing that our Lord Jesus Christ cut through all that entangled jungle with the huge machete of his merciful love and sharp Word of life, making a path in which we can find some footing moment by moment.

That is why our Opus Dei brothers and sisters and fathers and all those firmly committed to walking in the steps of Jesus focus so much on the little things that keep us in constant communion with the Lord Jesus in the company of Mother Mary and Saint Joseph and in the dynamic heart of the divine vitality of the Holy Trinity. It's a real bugger that we can't fix any of it ourselves... our original sin infected spirit keeps wanting to pridefully fix things and people, but we can't even fix ourselves, let alone others, and it's just as well. In fact it is an act of divine providence that we can't save ourselves, because if we could, we would crash in a rapid spiral of focusing in on our own self and become inextricably isolated. No, it's much better that we need a Savior every moment of every day, because our desperate need continually drives us into the arms of Christ and into the heart of the Holy Trinity....

The dispensation of the Divine Mercy is to leave the darnel grow among the wheat; so that the weeds provoke us to reach out to God all the more for breath and life and sun and light and hope and love and faith.... It's on the taught string of the sharp arrow against the bow that the bow sings... it's in the friction of flesh on flesh, heart on heart, bone on bone, spirit on spirit that a married couple make divine music together, allowing the Holy Trinity to restore them, their children, and all those who accept the blessing, to Christ....

Only in Christ do we truly breath fire and light and living water as children of the Most High, only in the tension of the dance can the music lift up our spirits and draw others into the eternal dance of the Holy Trinity....

So, my dear Reader, do I think you and your counterpart, your soul mate, your other half, your dear friend are headed for separate ways, for isolation, for divorce? Of course not... but I do think that chances are - when you are intensively under fire on all sides - that in the heat of such battle how you feel, both of you, is a warning of divine providence to allow the Holy Spirit to wash you anew with living water and blow away all the dust and cobwebs of the worldly ways of those who are lost that threaten to engulf us.

As Satan discovered when he tempted Jesus, He has already been vanquished... he can scream and scheme and threaten and send minions and stir up the lost people and raise up armies against us, but we are already victors in Jesus who has already won the definitive victory. All that remains is for us to endure the struggle as Jesus extends his victory into all the dark corners of our lives and the lives of all the tormented lost souls in this world....

The only difference between us and them is that the Lord is giving us the blessed grace of Kingdom eyes to see what's really going on, to know the score, to discern the path, and to walk in it....

Peace to you both and your children if you have any, and be docile to the graces the Holy Spirit is giving you these troubled days to lean on the Lord and to touch his tender mercies in each other... If you are merely friends, don't forget the grace of friendship, of seeking first the good of the other. If you are married, then don't forget the grace of Marriage, of the blessed union of two souls bent on the other's well being, pleasure, joy, and consolation....
--
“Were not our hearts burning within us as He talked to us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us

Come Holy Spirit…. Viens Esprit Saint…. 

 

      L’abbé / Fr. Gilles     

PAX + CARITAS       Site Web Site:   http://fathergilles.net/       Visit Madonna House Visitez Madonna House!
 “Were not our hearts burning within us as He talked to us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?”  Luke 24:32   
«Notre cœur n’était-il pas tout brûlant au-dedans de nous, quant Il nous parlait en chemin, quand Il nous ouvrait les Écritures?»  Luc 24 :32