Category Archives: The Illusion and the Reality

The Perspective of Perfection

Only non-divine entities define perfection. Perfection, by its very nature, is a matter of comparison, if only with a Platonic image in the mind. From God’s perspective, He simply is, without comparison, perfection, and what He “speaks” in creation, each and every leaf, rock, tsunami, fire, hydrocephalic child is perfect, unique, as He knows it, loves it into being.

Not only is each creation perfect in itself, but also somehow, within the perspective of creation as God sees creation, it fits perfectly with all the rest.

It is only when we, with our finite minds, our one location viewpoint, our limited historical vantage, view an individual, that we begin to categorize and lump together and define (from the Latin words for “completely” and “limit or boundary”), that we begin to compare with other similar creations, to contrast with them, to place value judgments based, again, on our limited perspective. We don’t see the whole picture, i.e., the forest is perfect, each tree fitting a unique and irreplaceable niche, even if from our perspective, we may not be able to comprehend the whole picture. We don’t and won’t get it. We don’t and can’t take the infinity necessary to understand the uniqueness of this individual, the myriad of relationships within which this creation rests and the precision of love that placed that creation here and now.

Maybe, then, from our perspective, we should reserve value judgments,….forever.

Amen. Alleluia!!!

Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. [1] [1Thes 5:16-18]: A Summary of Ignatian Spirituality

I have this as my mantra at the bottom of all the emails I send. This statement summarizes Ignatian Spirituality. The Principle and Foundation, indeed the whole Spiritual Exercises, could be considered a meditation on and elaboration of this verse.

Rejoice always.

“All the things in this world are gifts of God, presented to us so that we can know God more easily and make a return of love more readily.[2]” Neither Paul nor Ignatius limit their exuberance but include everything, not only includes “things” but “life” itself. “Health or sickness, wealth or poverty, success or failure, a long life or a short one,…everything has the potential of calling forth in us a deeper response to our life in God.”[3] Because these are given by God, they are designed by God to help me, are from the loving hand of God. For both Paul and Ignatius, everything, every happening, every moment, good or ill, everything is a cause for rejoicing.

Pray without ceasing.

This admonition of Paul finds its expression in the Exercises in multiple modes:

First, the conclusion of the Principle and Foundation is that that my only desire and choice should be that “I want and I choose what better leads to God’s deepening His life in me.” [4] Choosing, for Ignatius, involves discernment, “the interpretation of what St. Ignatius Loyola called the ‘motions of the soul.’ These interior movements consist of thoughts, imaginings, emotions, inclinations, desires, feelings, repulsions, and attractions. Spiritual discernment of spirits involves becoming sensitive to these movements, reflecting on them, and understanding where they come from and where they lead us.”[5] Constant monitoring of these movements requires my being in constant contact, aka prayer, with God and particularly the Holy Spirit. This ever present desire, a constant discernment, an ongoing choice, can only occur in a continual dialogue with God, aka prayer.

Second, the Ignatian Examen of Consciousness opens up our hearts and minds to God’s active presence in our world, to see messy details of our world transformed by the grandeur of God’s vision for creation in our lives. The triple Examen, a reminder in the morning and an Examen at noon and at night, is one of the first exercises that Ignatius recommends. This is not a complete Examination of Conscience but rather reviews our strengthening exercises done under the watchful eye of our Trainer, God, replacing a good habit for a bad one, how many repetitions we have made during the day, how many times we sloughed off and went back to our bad form. It ends with a renewed commitment to practice, practice, practice until, with God’s help, we get this right. It’s not so much a rag of ourselves as conditioning, as an update by our Trainer to keep ourselves in fit. As Paul says, Every athlete exercises discipline in every way. They do it to win a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one. [1Cor 9:25] The Examen, therefore, is but one part of a whole fitness program monitored by a constant dialogue, aka “prayer”, with our Trainer, God.

Third, “Finding God in all things is at the core of Ignatian Spirituality and is rooted in our ever growing awareness that God can found in every person, in every place, in everything. When we learn to pay more attention to God, we become more thankful and reverent, and through this we become more devoted to God, more deeply in love with our Creator.[6]” Bringing to consciousness our awareness of God in all that we think, say and do, all that we encounter of people, places, things, events is praying always.

Fourth, “To live Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam is a way of being that permeates every thought, every deed, every action and inaction—all is contemplated and weighed, all for the greater glory of God. To live Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam is to lay claim to…a completely integrated other-ness that seeks to make all things whole, that approaches the liminal without hesitation, finds God in all things, finds the Good in all things, and seeks to proclaim His glory in all that we do…To seek Him and to find Him in all things, people, circumstances, and places, Unafraid to speak Truth to injustice To embrace the contradiction of Love Clothed in the power of the One who died naked and penniless. To be…called together at one table, unity in diversity, One family, working together to realize heaven on earth. Answering the call to serve and to glorify, in all ways, The Love that always finds a way.[7]So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. [1Cor 10:31] Such constant dialogue with God as to which option is for His greater glory is nothing other than constant prayer.

Finally, The Suscipe is a culmination of the last Exercise, the “Contemplation to Attain Divine Love”, a total giving of God everything that one has, turning our will and our life over to Him: “Take Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, all that I have and possess. You have given all to me. I surrender it all to you to be disposed of wholly according to Your will. Give me only Your love and Your grace. With these I will be rich enough and desire nothing more.”[8] By giving all I am to God, holding nothing back, and asking only for His Love and His Grace, which are sharings of Him Himself, we are asking to be continually united to Him in mind, body and soul, the ultimate everlasting prayer.

In all circumstances give thanks

This is the attitude accompanying active indifference, the posture Ignatius formulates in the Principle and Foundation from the beginning:

The other things on the face of the earth are created for man to help him in attaining the end for which he is created. Hence, man is to make use of them in as far as they help him in the attainment of his end, and he must rid himself of them in as far as they prove a hindrance to him.

Therefore, we must make ourselves indifferent to all created things, as far as we are allowed free choice and are not under any prohibition. Consequently, as far as we are concerned, we should not prefer health to sickness, riches to poverty, honor to dishonor, a long life to a short life. The same holds for all other things.

Our one desire and choice should be what is more conducive to the end for which we are created.[9]

Having based this premise on the fact that man was created for a higher purpose: “to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save his soul,”[10] Ignatius then classifies everything else as a given by God to man as means to that end. Everything, good or ill, is a gift for which we are to be thankful. And our thankfulness is not based on the categories of the world, i.e. good or “bad,” nice or not nice, windfall or disaster. Regardless of whether we have health or sickness, riches or poverty, honor or dishonor, a long life or a short life, each of these can be “conducive to the end for which we are created.”

When we have a choice between one or other of these alternatives, we may strongly prefer one or the other. Ignatius urges us “to rid…[ourselves] of the attachment,…in such a way that [we]… seek only to will and not will as God our Lord inspires them, and as seems better for the service and praise of the Divine Majesty.”[11]

But whether we are allowed free choice and are not under any prohibition or not, Paul urges us in all circumstances give thanks. “In a society which is focused on the next goal, the next success, the next whatever, gratitude is countercultural. In truth, gratitude is the first step on the pathway to true freedom in God.” [12] Such an attitude is actually a help and support to the freedom from the tyranny of selfishness, of the need to control, of things, of the world’s definition of good and bad, success and failure. It is the mantra of active indifference. It enables us to see that God has control of our lives and, in His providence, is providing us with that which is best for me. Thus, if God gives me health or sickness, riches or poverty, honor or dishonor, a long life or a short life, it is time to rejoice, for it is precisely what I need to attain my greatest happiness. The Venerable John Henry Newman summarized this in a meditation:

God has created all things for Good; all things for their greatest good; everything for its own good….God has determined, unless I interfere with His plan, that I should reach that which will be my greatest happiness. He looks on me individually, He calls me by my name, He knows what I can do, what I can best be, what is my greatest happiness, and He means to give it me.

God knows what is my greatest happiness, but I do not. There is no rule about what is happy and good; what suits one would not suit another. And the ways by which perfection is reached vary very much; the medicines necessary for our souls are very different from each other. Thus God leads us by strange ways; we know He wills our happiness, but we neither know what our happiness is, nor the way. We are blind; left to ourselves we should take the wrong way; we must leave it to Him.

Let us put ourselves into His hands, and not be startled though He leads us by a strange way; a mirabilis via, as the Church speaks. Let us be sure He will lead us right; that He will bring us to that which is, not indeed what we may think best, not what is best for another, but what is best for us.[13]

Thomas Merton, in his prayer of unknowing, voices similar trust in Divine presence and providence: “…you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”[14]

Thus, as St. Paul writes elsewhere, my life is a continual hymn, giving thanks always and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father. [Eph 5:20]

for this is the will of God for you

As stated above, viewing the world with the eyes of one who resides in the Eternal Now, I can continually rejoice and thank God for what surprises, gifts, tokens of His unconditional Love, which He is unveiling before, above, and around me at this moving moment of my life. “The person who knows that there is far more to the spiritual journey than she currently experiences but is content to let God lead the way…she may experience the desire for more, but… focuses on what she has.”[15] The past is done and the future is not yet. God is the God of Now, of Love, and He reveals Himself in His providence and love to me in His ever changing display of my presentness.

While providence is history from God’s point of view, whether I (a) recognize, (b) acknowledge, (c) embrace, and (d) react with joy and thanksgiving are my perspectives. To be able to discern providence in the ongoing turmoil of my life, the ever evolving agony of the world in birth requires the gift of faith. Whether I acknowledge God as the creative genius, the loving Father, the sacrificing Son, the inspiring Spirit, behind providence or view in horror as incomprehensible karma or fate the chaos of life and death’s drama is my call. Whether I embrace that providential chaos as Christ did on the Cross and with Him redeem it and remold it into the Kingdom by taking up my Cross daily and following Him is my choice. Here I remember the Psalmist’s words: It was good for me to be afflicted, in order to learn your will. [Ps 199:71] And finally, whether I have the hope and trust in God’s abiding love to know that what is happening is for the greatest happiness of me and every other person, because what is the best for me is the best for all around me, as the 12 Step program says,…all this is an embrace of God’s love, is a gift of God’s vision, God’s eyes, of Jesus viewing the world through me. I am called to continual willing acceptance, to repeat and live the refrain: your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. [Mt 6:10] God’s will is that His Eternal Now continually elicit my Everlasting Yes. 

in Christ Jesus

I am in Christ and Jesus is in me. I cannot rejoice, pray always, give thanks in all circumstances alone. I will be faced with trials, with sorrows, with crosses too great for me to even pretend to rejoice or give thanks in their midst. My only prayer will be for deliverance, for rescue. Humanly, I will be blind to the deep undying, unconditional love that surrounds me, that envelopes this tragedy, this meltdown, this death, without the abiding and sustaining presence and support of Jesus within, around, under and over me. Only by working through the denial, the anger, the frustration, the silence of God with Jesus at my side, joining my cry: My God, My God, why have You forsaken me, [Ps 22:1; Mt 27:46] only as He picks me up and carries me over the sand until I am ready to walk beside Him again,[16] will I leave my depression behind. Only with Jesus’ personal help will I again be able again to enter into God’s temple singing praise and thanksgiving with the joyful crowd. [see Ps 42:4]

But, in such times, I do not sit Shiva alone. Jesus arrives in the persons of family, friends, relatives neighbors, priests, pastors, children and adults. Sometimes sitting in silence with me is all I need or want, just being there is a comfort. I am not alone as I walk through my dark valleys, You are there in others. Your crook to bring me back when I stray to deep depression, Your staff wards off the evil that wishes to crowd in and take me even then.

Thus, it is in Jesus, through Jesus, with Jesus that I can fulfill the will of the Father whether in the sunshine of happiness or in the midst of misery, rejoicing that He is with me, praying for His will to be done, giving thanks that he “has vouchsafed me knowledge of his works; deep thanks that he has set in my darkness the lamp of faith; deep, deepest thanks that I have another life to look forward to–a life joyous with light and flowers and heavenly song.”[17]

Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. As I said, the whole statement exudes Ignatian spirituality. God, grant that I may live it out to the fullest, discerning You in all things, following You into the More, choosing the Way of Your greater glory, offering all that I am and have to You, knowing that You will care for me in all circumstances. And whatever I do, in word or in deed, may I do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. [Col 3:17] Amen. Alleluia!!!


[1] Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

[2] David Fleming, SJ, A Contemporary Reading – St. Ignatius Loyola – First Principle and Foundation, Spiritual Exercises [23], http://www.xavierhs.org/s/717/ images/editor_documents/petrielloj/fp_f_3ver_.pdf

[3] Fleming, Contemporary, Ibid.

[4] Fleming, Contemporary, Ibid.

[5] Discernment of Spirits, Ignatian Spirituality, Loyola Press, http://www.ignatianspirituality.com /making-good-decisions/discernment-of-spirits#sthash.CGi90JEL.dpuf

[6] Finding God in All Things, Our Catholic Faith, Ignatian Spirituality, Loyola Press, http://www.loyolapress.com/ignatian-spirituality-finding-god-in-all-things.htm

[7] Rebecca Ruiz, Living “Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam,” July 22, 2015, Ignatian Spirituality, Loyola Press, http://www.ignatianspirituality.com/22204/living-ad-majorem-dei-gloriam#sthash.jbIJIP8v.dpuf

[8] Amy Welborn. Suscipe, the Radical Prayer, adapted from The Words We Pray, Ignatian Spirituality, Loyola Press, http://www.ignatianspirituality.com/ignatian-prayer/prayers-by-st-ignatius-and-others/suscipe-the-radical-prayer

[9] Ignatius of Loyola. The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius: Based on Studies in the Language of the Autograph (Kindle Locations 179-183). Kindle Edition. Para. 23.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid. Para 155.

[12] Mags Blackie, The Centrality of Gratitude, Ignatian Spirituality, Loyola Press, Nov. 20, 2014. http://www.ignatianspirituality.com/20010/the-centrality-of-gratitude#sthash.2fHO4qbM.dpuf Subscribe to dotMagis, the blog of Ignatian Spirituality

[13] Venerable John Henry Newman, Meditations on Christian Doctrine, I. Hope in God—Creator March 6,1848, http://www.newmanreader.org/works/meditations/meditations9.html

[14] The Merton Prayer, Reflections, Yale University, Spring, 2012, http://reflections.yale.edu/ article/seize-day-vocation-calling-work/merton-prayer#sthash.Oh2wm0Je.dpuf

[15] Blackie, Gratitude, Ibid.

[16] See Mary Stevenson’s “Footprints in the Sand,” http://www.footprints-inthe-sand.com/index.php?page=Poem/Poem.php

[17] Helen Keller, Quotable Quote, Goodreads, https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/3268-for-three-things-i-thank-god-every-day-of-my

Excursus during a Cold: Shared Suffering

I don’t get it. At least not as I would like to. (a) How can suffering be accepted as good? And (b) How can my suffering be connected with that of You, Jesus, and offered up for the salvation of the world? Does not compute! Please show me.

  • You said For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. [Mt 7:8][1] Well, I’m asking, seeking, knocking.
  • You said: Knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been granted to you. [Mt 13:11] This is certainly one of those mysteries…why You had to suffer and die to redeem us.
  • You said: If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. Well, suffering is certainly taking up my cross.
  • Paul writes: The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him. I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us. [Rom 8:16-18] “Only if we suffer with You so that we may be glorified with You.” You seem to make suffering a sine qua non!
  • Peter writes: 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. [1Pet 4:13] While You have him qualify the type of suffering: whoever is made to suffer as a Christian should not be ashamed but glorify God because of the name. [1Pet 4:16], I’m suppose to rejoice exultantly at something that is repulsive to the flesh.

Perhaps that’s at least part of the answer: it may be repulsive to the flesh, but it is to be embraced by the spirit in obedience to You, Father, who have placed it in my life at this time, to give witness to my belief and adherence to You, Jesus, the answer, the reason for living, the Truth, the ultimate sine qua non!

This “obedience” thing seems to be the major reason. Such obedience seems, at least on the surface, like the Charge of the Light Brigade, “Some one had blunder’d: Theirs not to make reply, theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do & die, into the valley of Death Rode the six hundred.” [2] But You don’t blunder. All You do is ultimately for my greatest happiness….Is the obedience of suffering a bloodless, though suffering, martyrdom, in the original sense of the word: “witnessing,” actively, passively, witnessing to You, to Your wisdom, to Your love shown in ways I don’t understand but accept? You certainly placed this here, now, for me to endure. Help me understand.

Certainly You didn’t exempt Yourself or Your loved ones from this ordeal. I’m rather sure Mary would have opted out of unwed motherhood by an unbelievable father. And Joseph would have preferred to have his espoused presented without child. They both would have preferred that the teenage Jesus not have gone off on his own and left them frantically searching for three days. You, Jesus, would probably have preferred not to have been cast out into the desert by the Spirit, the same casting out of exorcism and the money changers from the temple. I’m sure it would have been much easier for You to have a place to lay Your head. I’m sure not only that You could have had that cup pass from You, but also that You would not have had to have had such sure and detailed knowledge of exactly the torture You were to undergo so long in advance…what a recipe for sleepless nights! I’m sure Stephen would have preferred not to have been stoned, Paul beheaded or Peter crucified. But in all these instances, the answer is the same: not my will but Yours be done. [Lk 22:42; Mk 14:36] A deep trust, a deep faith, an adamantine belief that Your way, God, was the best way, the only good way, the true way, the way that lead to their greatest happiness and the happiness of the world.

Perhaps another part of the answer is Your training me, helping me, forcing me to let go of my need, my craving, my addiction to controlling everything that happens in my life….and, by my personal ludicrous and vaguely malicious interpretation of the 2nd great commandment, everybody else around me. It’s a type of self-idolizing, actually disobeying the 1st great commandment: “I’m perfect, I know everything, I am god, at least for this corner of the world, and therefore what I say goes.” However, when the rug is pulled out from under me by illness, injury, disaster, etc., You force me to refocus, reevaluate, reestablish communication with You, the source of all help, all healing, all love. Maybe that’s why so many of us become ill just before we die; You want to get our attention, to reconnect, to help us reprioritize before it is too late, to remind us that we are going to be meeting with You soon for our end-of-lifetime evaluation and, if we need to make any adjustments, forgive others and be reconciled with You and they, this is the only time to do it.

I may wander away again, reconstruct my fallen idol of self-sufficiency, let you fade into the background, but for the moment, You are center stage, my Hope, my Savior. I just need Your help to realize, to accept and to retain You there always. Sniffle, sneeze, cough, drip, wheeze, expectorate, sigh. Amen. Alleluia!!!

 

[1] Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

[2] Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1854, http://www.nationalcenter.org/ ChargeoftheLightBrigade. html#sthash.1NIf3a5r.dpuf

Walking on the Water: Pope Francis and the Church

“How are we doing?” The answers to Ed Koch’s famous question when asked about the Catholic Church encompasses the complete spectrum of opinion from Cardinal Burke’s “Catholic Church Under Pope Francis Is ‘A Ship Without A Rudder’”[1] to Fr. Donald Cozzens foreseeing the possibility of a “Catholic Spring.”[2] What should we be doing, bewailing the radical comments and actions of a renegade or rejoicing at a new renewal of a prophet?

Three comments:

  1. “The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” [Jn 3:8][3] While Pope Francis is definitely “born of the Spirit,” and blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes, Jesus guaranteed that the Spirit would lead the Church in truth always:
  • I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you, and will be in you. [Jn 14:16-17]

and He will teach us everything:

  • The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name—he will teach you everything and remind you of all that [I] told you. [Jn 14:26]

and testify to the truth of Jesus.

  • When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me. [Jn 15:26]

and He will guide us in all the truth that Jesus revealed as we can bear it.

  • For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. [Jn 16: 7,12-14]

Thus, while we are a sinful community of men and women, the Church, the Body of Christ, is built on rock and guided by the Spirit. Of that, I have no doubt!

  1. Richard Rohr, OFM, has had a series of meditations recently that bear on our views of Francis and the Church:
  • Experience and Doctrine: Most of organized religion, without meaning to, has actually…[told us] almost exclusively to trust outer authority, Scripture, tradition, or various kinds of experts (what I call the “containers”)—instead of telling us the value and importance of inner experience itself (which is the actual “content” the containers were made to hold). In fact, most of us were strongly warned against ever trusting ourselves. Roman Catholics were told to trust the church hierarchy first and last, while mainline Protestants were often warned that inner experience was dangerous, unscriptural, or even unnecessary. Both were ways of discouraging actual experience of God and often created passive (and passive aggressive) people and, more sadly, a lot of people who concluded that there was no God to be experienced. We were taught to mistrust our own souls—and thus the Holy Spirit! Contrast that with Jesus’ common phrase, “Go in peace, your faith has made you whole!” He said this to people who had made no dogmatic affirmations, did not think he was “God,” did not pass any moral checklist, and often did not belong to the “correct” group! They were simply people who trustfully affirmed, with open hearts, the grace of their own hungry experience—in that moment—and that God could or would even care about it.[4]
  • Outer and Inner Authority: Paul trusts his experience of God and of Christ over his own upbringing, over the Twelve Apostles, over Peter, and over the Jewish Christians. Paul doesn’t follow the expected sources of outer authority in his life, neither his own Jewish religion nor the new Christian leaders in Jerusalem. He dares to listen to—and trust—his own inner experience, which trumps both of these establishments. It’s amazing, really, that institutional religion makes him the hero that it does, and almost half of the New Testament is attributed to him, because in many ways he’s a rebel. He’s not by any definition a “company man”—anybody’s company in fact! In terms of human biographies, he is almost in a category all his own. It is ironic that the ability to trust one’s own experience to that degree has not been affirmed by the later church, even though both Jesus and Paul did exactly that. They trusted their experience of God in spite of the dominant tradition. And the church came along and domesticated both Jesus and Paul. We were never told to trust our own experience. In fact, we were probably told not to have any experience. It was considered unnecessary! (Yet the Church still produced people like Augustine, Francis, Teresa of Ávila, Thérèse of Lisieux, and Teresa of Calcutta—who trusted their own soul experience against the tide.) Once you know something, you can’t deny that you know it. You don’t need to dismiss outer authority—its intuitions are often correct—but you’re not on bended knee before it either. The church’s fear of inner authority has not served the Gospel well and has not served history well either. I am afraid this has to do with those in charge wanting to keep you co-dependent. I don’t think Paul wants to keep you dependent upon him at all. He is the great apostle of freedom—a scary freedom that much of tradition, and most clergy, have not been comfortable with at all (Galatians 5:1-12, Romans 8:20-23).[5]
  • As long as you think you’ve got to fix everything, control everything, explain everything, and understand everything, you will never be a peaceful person. These things largely happen by endless ruminating and commentaries in the mind, which are usually negative…The common phrase “peace of mind” is a complete misnomer. When you are in your mind, you are never at peace, and when you are at peace, you are never in your mind, but in a much larger, unified field that includes body, mind, soul, and others all at once! We called it the “communion of saints.”[6]
  1. Finally, a vision[7] the Spirit shared, an interpretation of Peter walking on the water, makes sense to me.

There’s Peter, aka Francis, getting out of the safety of the boat, aka Ark of the comfortable Church, and going off in search of Jesus on the deep, blue sea of the world. As long as he has his attention on Jesus in whatever form He presents himself, be it LGBTs, the Israeli Prime Minister, the Palestinian President, a deformed child he kisses, the bickering bishops, Francis is cool. The Pope is savvy to this journey; it is one he has been on for his entire life, in Buenos Aires subways and old 100,000 mile cars. He knows that as soon as he pays more attention to the chaos swirling around him than to Jesus, he will be sucked into that maelstrom. So he keeps on walking toward Jesus with faith that Jesus will protect him, Jesus will lift him up, Jesus will guide him through the night and the storm, ever mindful that his role as “petrus,” the rock upon which the Church is built, makes him even more vulnerable to sinking into the world…or running back to the safety of the tried and true solidity of belief in dogmas, not the less defined, scarier, more challenging faith in Jesus.

Meanwhile, back in the boat, the rest of the Apostles, aka bishops, are thinking, if not shouting, “That’s a ghost. Don’t believe in false messiahs who perform signs and wonders so great as to deceive, if that were possible, even [us,] the elect. [Mt 24:24]. Get back here and lead us! You’re nuts to go chasing after ghosts!”

To carry the analogy of the sea a bit further, just as Francis has emphasized getting down with the people and knowing the smell of the sheep, Jesus was dealing with fisherman, and, for them, He uses the analogy follow me and I will make you fishers of men.[Mk 1:17; Mt 14:19]. Even the angels are to be fishermen: The kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind. When it is full they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets. What is bad they throw away. Thus it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. [Mt 13:48-50]. The sea is where the action is, the people, the righteous and the wicked, the prostitute and the publican, the tax collector and the garbage collector, the corporate executive and the file clerk.

Maybe that’s why Frank is walking on the sea!

 

 

[1] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/02/cardinal-burke-pope-francis_n_6083940.html

[2] http://elephantsinthelivingroom.com/New Pope; New Hope: Our from the Underground, Fr. Donald Cozzens

[3] Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

[4] Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation, Trust Your Own Experience, Tuesday, October 28, 2014, Adapted from Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi, pp. 1-2

[5] Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation, Trust Your Inner Authority, Wednesday, October 29, 2014,

Adapted from Great Themes of Paul: Life as Participation, disc 1 (CD)

[6] Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation, Peace of Mind? Thursday, October 30, 2014; Adapted from Dancing Standing Still: Healing the World from a Place of Prayer, pp. 75-76

[7] in the sense of an allegorical interpretation of Scripture [CCC, 117.1] that was inspired in me by the Holy Spirit.

The Will of God

In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.[1] [1 Thes 5:18]

What has bewildered me for years…decades…is what the will of God is for me right here, right now.[2]

For years I wondered why God hadn’t revealed His will for me, knocking-off-my horse revelations, big, huge life-long challenges, monumental tasks of self-sacrifice and dedication, missions worthy of a “S”aint [the big “S” of which I “aint”].

But St. Paul [a very big “S”], who was knocked off his horse, summarized the secret very nicely in this succinct Rule for Life: In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. [1 Thes 5:18]

In all circumstances give thanks…not just in happy, wonderful times when remembering God and giving thanks is natural, easy to do,…not even in just in the painful, trying circumstances in which being reminded to give thanks may seem counterintuitive but it serves to remind me that God is with me, no matter what,….but even, and perhaps especially, in ordinary, hum-drum, everyday circumstances in which it may be most difficult to discern the hand of God, in which it is hard to find a reason to give thanks just because it is ordinary, hum-drum, everyday. Then its easy to take God for granted, like many persons I live with day in and day out, even my wife, my children; He is overlooked, forgotten, ignored. I guess my awareness quotient needs boosting, my appreciation factor a major overhaul, my humility a better work-out. “Ya guess?” Duh!!!

Scripture can tell me how to recognize the joyous, the exuberant occasions. The Annunciation’s be it done unto me according to your word [Lk 1:38], an acceptance of God’s will in humility, trust and wonder. Again, Mary’s My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior [Lk 1:46-47], the working of God’s will in her. Peter’s stammered Master, it is good that we are here [Lk 9:33], a humorous but oh, so human understatement of the glory of the Transfiguration. The first converts, so overjoyed that they even ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart, praising God and enjoying favor with all the people. [Acts 2:46-47]

There are poignant examples of obviously painful acceptance of God’s will, My Father, if it is not possible that this cup pass without my drinking it, your will be done! [Mt 26:42], the most obvious, the terrifyingly magnificent paradigm of obedience. Abraham’s “God will provide the sheep for the burnt offering.” Then the two walked on together [Gen 22:8], true, unflinching faith with fear and trembling. [Phil 2:12] Remorse for sinful failures: Peter remembered the word that Jesus had spoken: “Before the cock crows you will deny me three times.” He went out and began to weep bitterly, [Mt 26:75] followed days later by the humbling interrogation by Jesus: Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” [Jn 21:17]

How about the hum-drum, the ordinary, the mundane. I can’t look to the miracles…too miraculous…or can I. Granted, raising Lazarus and walking on the water, even calming the storm is a little beyond the norm…but how about eating? The way it was done was miraculous, Jesus knew the crowds followed him because you ate the loaves and were filled. [Jn 6:26] Ok, so that’s still a bit out there.

How about the eighteen years between His being found in the temple at age twelve and his baptism by John at about age thirty. All we know about those years are summed up in two verses in Luke: He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus advanced [in] wisdom and age and favor before God and man. [Lk 2:51-52] That must have been rather an ordinary, hum-drum existence. Even his neighbors didn’t see him as a stand-out: Where did this man get all this?…Is he not the carpenter? [Mk 6:2-3] Throughout His life, He only did what the Father told him: a son cannot do anything on his own, but only what he sees his father doing; for what he does, his son will do also. For the Father loves his Son and shows him everything that he himself does. [Jn 5:19-20][3] Does this mean that carpentry, that being subject to his parents, that growing up and doing the normal things in this out-of-the-way one horse town is doing what He sees His Father doing? It seems as though it does…

The corollary to Jesus stating that He cannot do anything on his own, but only what he sees his father doing [Jn 5:19] is that I, in turn, are totally dependent on Jesus to do anything good, i.e. God’s will. He explicitly states this at the Last Supper: whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. [Jn 15:5] If I take this literally, and I see no reason why I should not, then everything else that He said is subsumed in this: everything from “follow me” to all of the Sermon on the Mount or Plain to carrying my cross daily to doing to the least of these must be done, can only be done, will not be able to be done, without remaining in Jesus and, through Him in me, being His hands, His eyes, His mind, His feet, here and now, in this moment in time and this small place in the universe. Of course, any pretensions of my being Him totally are ridiculous hubristic inanity; He must function on earth through me and you…and you…and you, through each of us in our own sphere of activity, of interaction, of grace, to reach the whole world and…every creature. [Mk 16:15]

Perhaps the most cogent argument for the ever present revelation of Your will is the prayer You taught us which reflects the perfect way, His Way, of relating to You. In it, You coupled two significant calls to action on my part: Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as in heaven. [Mt 6:10] The Kingdom is what I am called upon to preach by word and action in season and out of season…seems to me that that should cover a whole bunch of moments right there.

But then He added: Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Let me think about this for a second; how is God’s will done in heaven? (a) Heaven is where God is; (b) God’s will cannot be thwarted, is not unfulfilled, creates not just automatically, as if there is a time lapse between the willing and the accomplishment, but simultaneously; what is willed is; (c) and the prerequisite for remaining in heaven is the compliance and carrying out of God’s will, as was evident in the presumed test of the angels, would they obey God, even when He became man, as well as the continual praising and serving of God by the heavenly host. Now, if this alacrity, this absolute unquestioning immediate accelerated performance of God’s will in heaven is the criterion by which my performance of God’s will on earth is judged, the standard is extremely high. Obedience, the listening and carrying out of His will, is to be immediate, here, now, always and ongoing forever…

Besides those considerations, how about:

  • There is the constant and omnipresent awareness by God of everything that goes on in the universe: Yet not one…[sparrow] falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. [Mt 10:29] This “hands-on” management style of creation should give me pause, if He’s on top of every tiny bird falling to the ruling of nations: You would have no power over me if it had not been given to you from above. [Jn 19:11]
  • How about the fact that He not only watches over me but provides my every need: No one can receive anything except what has been given him from heaven. [Jn 3:27] Do I really not worry about your life, what you will eat [or drink], or about your body, what you will wearYour heavenly Father knows that you need them allBut seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness,[4] and all these things will be given you besides. [Mt 6:25,32-33] Do I have the faith He requires: For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. [Mt 7:8]
  • How about the implications of…If anyone says, “I love God,” but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. [1 Jn 4:20]
    • And Jesus is very explicit about His total identification with each and every person we meet: As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.[5] [Jn 13:34] both during his life and after his resurrection: Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? [Acts 9:4]
    • He was also explicit about how I am to treat them: For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ [Mt 25:35-36]
    • And my reward: And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because he is a disciple—amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward. [Mt 10:42]
  • In case I plead prejudice and exclude someone from my love, Jesus teaches me (a) in parable a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight. [Lk 10:33] and (b) in action: How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink? [Jn 4:9] that my neighbor [Lk 10:29] includes everyone.
  • And what is God’s will: Whatever town you enter and they welcome you, eat what is set before you, cure the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God is at hand for you.[Lk 10:8-9] (a) welcome; (b) making friends; (b) show them tangible evidence of God’s Kingdom; and (c) welcome them into God’s Kingdom.
  • Come, we have work to do: You will not finish the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. [Mt 10:23]

But external work is not the only thing to which God calls me. He first calls me to discipleship, to listening, to learning, to prayer. Jesus cautions me about being anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her. [Lk 10:41-42] “Pray as if [since] everything depends on God; work as if everything depends on you.” [Augustine] For me, this is a particularly important point. I tend to focus on doing, on accomplishing, on finishing. I tend to forget that in everything, especially in the Kingdom, depends on God…I am simply a servant and not a very obedient one at that…Jesus warns me against pride and hubris in action: When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do. [Lk 17:10] The only way I can stay focused and humble is prayer, relying on God, understanding that all I have in resources comes from God, realizing that I can jump up and down until the cows come home, but without His grace, without His help, without His being there before me, being there from the beginning, being there knocking at the door, I might as well be blowing against the wind.

Another obvious clue of God’s will, but one I have overlooked is that it comes packaged with every temptation; it is constant, ongoing, always before me. With every temptation comes an equal grace in the form of an invitation to choose to do His will. If I consider how may of these zing by me every hour, I should have no problem seeing God’s graces swirling in multitudes around my head.

There is also a correlation of the will of God with the experience of consolations and desolations in my life. These are also constantly present, though some, if not much of life, takes place in the middle of this spectrum where neither is consolation or desolation is obvious. On the other hand, as Ignatius points out, if I am trying to follow the will of God, around me is peaceful and serene and temptations are fraught with anxiety and frustration. Such peace and serenity is indeed consolation, though unfortunately often so prevalent as to be unnoticed and “expected” rather than a gift to which I have no entitlement and which is worthy of awe and thanksgiving.

If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. [Lk 9:23] The interesting twist to this doing God’s will is that by denying myself and taking up my cross daily, hourly, minute by minute, second by second, and following Him, I find that my yolk is easy, since it is shared by Jesus, and my burden is light, since He has borne the weight of my sins, and I will rest in green pastures and find eternal happiness in heaven.

Do this…and this…and this…and this in memory of me.[1 Cor 11:24; Lk 22:19]

[1] Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

[2] This is the question Ignatius sought to address through the discernment of spirits, both in discerning the major decisions in Your life and in determining which way you are being tempted in consolation and desolation.

[3] Even what Jesus says, He attributes to His Father: I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and speak.[Jn 12:49] Indeed, at the Last Supper, He tells his Apostles who have been with Him three years: If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him…[Jn 14:7] and He goes on to repeat what He had told them earlier: The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works. [Jn 14:10]

[4] To fulfill all righteousness: in this gospel to fulfill usually refers to fulfillment of prophecy, and righteous-ness to moral conduct in conformity with God’s will. Here, however, as in Mt 5:6; 6:33, righteousness seems to mean the saving activity of God. To fulfill all righteousness is to submit to the plan of God for the salvation of the human race. [NABRE Note on Mt 3:14-15] This is in keeping with Paul’s interpretation of salvation as faith in Jesus Christ, God’s plan for salvation, rather than judgment on adherence to the Law or moral conduct in conformity with God’s will.

 

By my fruit, I shall know me

By their fruit, you shall know them. Mt 7:16[1]

Jesus, I always thought of this “recommendation” as referring to others…probably my habitual pension for judging others negatively and myself positively, over compensating or at least giving myself a major benefit of the doubt and a huge grain of salt…not really what You had in mind when You commanded me to love my neighbor as I love myself, I am sure. In fact, You said very specifically, Stop judging, that you may not be judged.[Mt 7:1] Indeed, it would behoove me to reverse my judgment pattern if I really took to heart Your next statement: For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.[Mt 7:2]

However, what if I were to apply this knowledge by fruit criterion to myself. I often get tied up during self-examinations with whether I actually, really intended to do that thing or did it just happen, was it an accident…does my regret and empathy belie by alleged premeditated intent… gave into this temptation or not…of course, being honest with myself, I have to use the same criterion in cases where I have used reverse, or should I say perverse, logic to convince myself that what, objectively, is good is literally “subjectively”, aka for me in this instance, evil and what is objectively evil I crave and therefore “determine” to be “subjectively” good…care for a dose of Situational Ethics, anyone? In either case, applying the fruit criterion should help clarify the validity of my judgment.

Thank you, Jesus, for turning the tables on me and showing me that as I judge my neighbor, so I should judge myself. Thank you for showing me this is simply an application of loving myself as I love my neighbor, the inverse of your commandment, its Symmetric ‘if a = b, then b = a” Property, as it were. Since, Holy Spirit, I note that I am reluctant to apply this commandment forthright or forewards due to my warped thinking that I would be loosing out on something for myself if I did what I would do for myself for my neighbor, help me to “get real” and utilize my neighbor’s viewpoint as a starting point and myself as an ending point…probably greater humility in that approach also. Amen. Alleluia!!!

[1] Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Perfect Love Casts Out Fear[1]

1Jn 4:18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 

I am confused. The Bible speaks over 400 times about fear. The references seem to be of three types: personal fear, God or Jesus telling us not to fear,[2] and multiple references to the efficacious “Fear of the Lord.” How can I “Fear not,” while simultaneously exude the virtue of “Fear of the Lord”???

Holy Spirit, this is a confusing conundrum…and I am sure the resolution is probably one of Your inevitable both/and’s! This verse from 1John seems to shed some light on it. I have always envisioned the virtue of Fear of the Lord as a continuum from the “shock and awe” fear which the almighty Jehovah inspires with His with his blackening suns and falling stars, his voice which shatters the cedars of Lebanon and his trumpets which portend the end of the world…to the recognition that God is love, a love so tender, so intimate, that He knows every hair on my head. But love, to be solid and firm, must be based on truth…and on humility, the recognition and embracing of that truth. So, it is the recognition of the total God, Jehovah and Jesus, the Almighty and the baby at Bethlehem, that I see as encompassed in the total concept of Fear of the Lord.

And somewhere in there, at least in the back of my mind, I have at least a very significant reverence for, if not awe, mingled with the inkling of fear of…the Power of this God who loves us.

So when Jesus tells the Apostles in the boat, “Fear not, it is I,”[3] the basis of overcoming this fear is recognition of a loved one, of Jesus. Thus, as John states, perfect love casts out fear. Perhaps that is the moral of the subsequent acted out parable of Peter’s less than auspicious stroll on the water. As long as he kept his eyes on Jesus whom he loved, he was fine. As soon as he let the whirling wind and the crashing waves take his focus off Jesus, his mind clicked into instinctual mode and self-preservation took over, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”[Mt 14:30] After rescuing Peter, Jesus, probably exasperated but chortling, chides him: “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” [Mt 14:31] Is that all your faith is worth, a few steps and then sploosh? Did Peter see the threats of nature as “punishment” for his frailty, as John would explain it? Or, better, rather his beginning to drown as “punishment” for his lack of faith, his lack of love.

John and Paul have the same image of love in mind, a love that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.[1 Cor 13:7] Such a perfect love casts out fear. Perfect love is up for anything.

There are, however, different fears that are connected with any love. One is the fear of You leaving, growing tired of me, or having other things to do and just not being there one day. With You, God, as with everything, this fear is “writ large,” as it were. What have I that You should love me, pay attention to me, abide in me. [Ps 8:4-6] I am Your creation, Your creature, “dust and unto dust” I shall return, no more that a flower of the field, blooming during the day and by the night, gone, [Ps 103:15-16] lasting but a blink in eternity. Unlike human love where the feeling is based on need, on desire, on companionship, on agape or a combination thereof, and there is a mutual reciprocal bond, with You, all must initiate from You, from entity to eternity, the need based on love, mercy, sharing, the desire to eat this supper with us, the companionship of mortals with the immortal, the love which surpasses all understanding and comprehension. In human bond, we like to think that we have some control over the other, some link, some bond, some silken thread which the other will not break without them bearing consequences as well as us. But with You, what hold have we on You, but only that which You place there Yourself and can as easily remove. Therein lies the source of such fear…and, strangely, miraculously, mysteriously therein, since You bind Yourself to us with perfect love, therein and thereby you cast off the fear. As St. Paul so rightly puts it, what can, indeed, separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword?… For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. [Rom 8:35, 38-39]

Having established that You, by Your own will, love us incomprehensibly, I face the much more likely, much more real fear of You, the fear of making you angry. From the first time we crunched down on the apple till now, You have only been good to us and we, in return, have usually only been disobedient to You. We have rejected You, reviled You, worshipped ourselves and our idols instead of You, used Your creation for our own pleasure instead of serving You, pushed You out of our lives and pursued our own desires instead of You, trampled down each other and You, even demanded You be crucified and then attempted to kill You; fortunately, You would not let a little thing like death stop You from loving us.

Any red-blooded human being would be furious at me, would not only demand justice in court but would thrown out where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. [Mt 22:13] I would not be released until you have paid the last penny. [Lk 12:59] Thank You, God, that You are not a red-blooded human being, or rather, that when You became a red-blooded human being, you did not follow our fight-or-flight instincts, but gave us another, a new “f”, no instinct, but paradigm, forgive. You portrayed Yourself as the Good Shepherd who doesn’t play the percentages but leaves 99 vulnerable sheep and comes looking for me, as I wander aimlessly, helplessly, getting into thorn bush after thorn bush of trouble, with the rabid wolves of worldliness closing in for the kill. But you came searching for me, just me, little, old insiginificant me…and with Your rod and Your staff, You chase them away, You gently pull away the thorns of addiction, picked me up and carried me home on your shoulders…no wonder I could only see one set of footprints. You proved Your love for us in that while we were still sinners, You, our Christ, died for us. [Rom 5:8] Nothing, no nothing, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. [Rom 8:39]

Finally, I face the fear of losing you, not by anything that You do, but by my being lulled into laxity by the sirens of seduction, lured into the grips of addiction by the rationalization of irrational decisions, until ultimately my “almighty” I, realizing what I am doing, choose to bar You from my life, to turn my back on Your Goodness and Love, to, for myself at least, play God and “control” my own life without heeding Your call to listen to You, to ob-audiere to Your use and care manual for humanity. This spiral of loss is self-perpetuating; I convince myself I’m right by doing wrong. There is no escaping this maelstrom of madness on my own. And in the midst of this self-destruction, a still small voice in my conscience will whisper, “You have shut out the only friend, the only one who can extricate You from Your misery.” And I will convince myself that I have lost You.

But You are intrepid, incorrigible in your tenacity, patient beyond enduring with the patience of eternity, and you perpetually stand at the door and knock. [Rev 3:20] I will shout out: Do not bother me; the door has already been locked. [Lk 11:7] And, hopefully, by the constant, never-ending dripping of Your grace drop by drop on my soul, in Your Love, I pray that You will wear me down, smash my resistance, and if I do not get up to give You my love, my sorrow, my self because of our friendship, I will get up to give You whatever You ask for because of Your persistence. [Lk 11:8] You will not let me lose You. For nothing, no nothing, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. [Rom 8:39]

Lord, help me to love You perfectly and to cast out fear from my life. Amen. Alleluia!!!

[1] Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

[2] For example, Gen 15:1; Ex 14: 13-14; Is 8:12, 35:4, 40:9, 41:10,13, 43:1,5, 44:2; Bar 4:5,21,27, 30; Dan 10:12; Joel 2:21,22; Zec 8:13,15; Mt 14:27; Jn 20:19.

[3] Literally, “I am,” This may reflect the divine revelatory formula of Ex 3:14; Is 41:4, 10, 14; 43:1–3, 10, 13. Mark implies the hidden identity of Jesus as Son of God. [NABRE, Note on Mk 6:50]