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Archive for April, 2010

Sacrifice

“Unite me to Yourself, O good Jesus, draw me into Your sacrifice, so that I may be sacrificed with You and by You. Since the victim must be sacrificed, slaughtered, and consumed by fire, make me die to myself, that is, to my vices and passions, to all that is displeasing to You.” (St. John Eudes)
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It is difficult for people to be joyful. Life isn’t easy. We are often weighed down with problems. Yet we were made for joy!
The opposite of joy is sadness. My last post was titled “sadness” and I receive more visits to my blog that day than on any other since I began to blog. So today I am hoping to raise awareness to this fact: that God is the God of joy and wants His children to be happy.
We have a soul and this is what is in us that tunes us to the inner life of the joyfulness of God. It is our soul that enables us to enjoy God in prayer. Did anyone ever teach you that you were to enjoy God in prayer? Enjoying God in prayer- seems like the concept should be self evident, but for some reason it isn’t. The little known secret of discovering enjoyment in prayer is that God is present to us; He is the God of love and joy. If we truly believe and understand this then prayer will not be just a duty, but a joy!
Do you think of prayer as drudgery or perhaps as something altogether boring? True joyfulness, that joyfulness that is seen in the saints, comes from being rooted in and nourished by a deep prayer life. This is the grace-filled secret to joyfulness.
“To live always joyfully. God is infinite joy”

“When one loves, everything is joy. The cross doesn’t weigh down. Martyrdom isn’t felt. One lives more in heaven than on earth.” (St. Teresa of the Andes)

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Sadness

The greatest enemy of spiritual joy is sadness. It is so easy to serve God fervently, to spread goodness and practice virtue when we are aware of God’s presence in our lives. However, when we experience feelings of sadness and despondency we act in the opposite manner. We have no inner peace, we are troubled and down-hearted. We go about weak and all our good resolutions have diminished. We may even avoid praying. Yet prayer is what we really should do.
“Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray.” (James 5:13)
When we are suffering from sadness we should turn to prayer so that our hearts can be strengthened. Prayer puts us into God’s presence and this will lift our spirit and fill our souls with confidence.Our awarenss of God’s joyful presence will bring peace, the peace for which our hearts long.
Rejoice in the Lord! We celebrate this season of Easter for fifty days! We have reasons for joy…
Beloved brethren and sons and daughters, is it not normal that joy should dwell in us, when our hearts contemplate or rediscover, in faith, the fundamental and simple reasons for joy? God has so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son; through His Spirit, God’s presence does not cease to enfold us with His tenderness and to fill us with His life; and we are journeying towards the blessed transfiguration of our life in the path of the resurrection of Jesus. (Apostolic Exhortation, On Christian Joy, Pope Paul VI, 1975)
We as Chrsitains should always be filled with joy, even in our sufferings, because of Christ. He is the source of our joy, the cause of our joy. St. Paul tells us in several places in his Epistles to rejoice in the Lord always, to pray without ceasing and to give thanks to God for everything, counting all to be pure joy.
The attainment of such an outlook is not just a matter of psychology. It is also a fruit of the Holy Spirit. (Apostolic Exhortation, On Christian Joy, Pope Paul VI, 1975)
The fruit of the Spirit is
love, joy, peace, patience,
kindness, generosity, faithfulness,
gentleness, self-control. (Gal. 5:22)

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I will ponder your precepts and consider your paths. (Psalm 119:15)

Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your laws (Psalm 119:12)

Your decrees are my delight; they are my counselors. (Psalm 119:24)

I lie prostrate in the dust; give me life in accord with your word. (Psalm 119:25)

I disclosed my ways and you answered me; teach me your laws. (Psalm 119:26)

Make me understand the way of your precepts; I will ponder your wondrous deeds. (Psalm 119:27)

LORD, teach me the way of your laws; I shall observe them with care.  Give me insight to observe your teaching, to keep it with all my heart. (Psalm 119:33-34)

How I love your teaching, Lord! I study it all day long. (Psalm 119:97)

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Teach me, O Lord!

“Teach me, O Lord, how to meditate; teach me to pray, for I can do neither the one nor the other as I should, and You alone can teach me. Give me ears to hear You in the reading and in the meditation; give me a tongue to speak with You in prayer. Inspire me with your divine Spirit, so that He may enable me to know the subject on which I should reflect, what I should say and ask, and how I should ask in order to obtain it. Let the Holy Spirit teach me to groan in Your presence; or rather, may He Himself form in me those holy groanings which You always hear and never reject. Inspire me, O Lord, with a great love for Your divine truths and doctrines, so that when I read of them, I shall understand and relish them. Open my mind and my heart; make me faithfully believe what You teach and practice what You command.”  (an ancient author)

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During periods of aridity and excessive activity of the imagination the soul can turn to meditative reading. When the soul is unable to meditate it can turn to a book to help collect the wandering thoughts and bring its soul in touch with God. St. Teresa of Jesus confesses to not being able to meditate without a book for many years and recommends this practice.
The choice of book should be one that is devout and will help in time of prayer. The Gospels are always a good choice and are of great assistance in this matter. The book can also be one of the writings of the saints. It should be one that is practical and affective, not too speculative or intellectual. This is to foster love, a work of the heart, rather than that of the mind.
The purpose of reading is to put the soul in a proper disposition for conversation with God. Read until enough has been read to arouse good and holy thoughts. Then when devote affections occupy the mind, stop reading and with the attention directed to God, meditate on the thoughts that have been read; speaking to Him or silently savoring the sentiments inspired by what was read.
“Like birds, who, when they drink, bend their heads toward the water, take a few drops, and raising their beaks toward the sky, swallow gradually, and then begin again, let us also bend our heads toward the devout book to gather a few drops of devotion, and then let us raise them to God, so that our minds may be fully impregnated with these thoughts. In this way, it will not be difficult to finish the prayer which we have begun by reading in an intimate colloquy with God.” (Divine Intimacy, #149 by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D.)

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St. Teresa of Jesus compares contemplation as water from a fountain: “rivers stream from this overflowing fount, some large, others small; and sometimes little pools”. (Way 20:2)
Some souls drink abundantly from this fountain, other partake only of a small rivulet. There are many forms of contemplation. This kind of prayer can be sweet, giving clarity, or dry and obscure, even painful. However, all forms of contemplation are useful to the soul. Contemplation, like water, if live-giving and opens the soul to intimacy with God. It can give the soul light into the mysteries of God. It can make the soul understand that God is everything and creatures are nothing.
All should seek contemplation because all are called to it. “Jesus stood up and exclaimed, “Let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as scripture says: ‘Rivers of living water will flow from within him.” (John 7: 37) Keep in mind that God gives to whom He wishes, when He wishes and as much as He wishes. God never refuses this life-giving water to anyone who seeks it. The soul should seek it in the right way, however. We must do our part by disposing ourselves in such a way as to be worthy of this gift.

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