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Archive for March, 2012

During Lent Catholics practice penance and will sometime before Easter go to the Sacrament of Penance. There sins are confessed and forgiven, absolution is given by the ordained priest, reparation is made for the offense committed and grace is imparted making the penitent stronger. As Catholics we examine our conscience before going to confession. This examination is often done with the aid of an examination that runs through the Ten Commandments, or through the Theological Virtues, by going through a series of questions and reflecting on your life to see where you have failed to obey God and love your neighbor. A good example of an examination like this can be found here or here.

These examinations are useful as a preparation for this sacrament and are good in forming one’s conscience according to the teachings of the Catholic Church. A well-formed conscience is certainly necessary on the path to holiness that we are all called to travel. What we have done wrong needs to be acknowledged so that we can repent and reform our lives. We are children of God and need to live like we belong to so great a Father. In our search for God, too many things can distract and entice us away from the search for so great a good as God.

St. Teresa of Jesus stresses the need for self-knowledge for everyone. This self-knowledg requires courage and humility. St. Teresa stresses that self-knowledge is really humility. Humility is really nothing else but the truth. We all fail from time to time; it is self-knowledge that helps us to see those failures and admit our guilt in them.

As one grows in the spiritual life a different type of examination might prove to be helpful for further growth. Sometimes, when one has advanced in their prayer life and has begun to seriously leave sin behind, even venial sin – making much progress in this regard, a different kind of daily examination may be in order. A more positive examination, one that focuses more on what God has done rather than on what one has done wrong, may be more useful in growing in self-knowledge. A positive examination of conscience that can lead you to seeing where God has been working in your life can be found here.

A Daily Examination of Conscience can be found here to download and print if so desired.

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Choose what bears close resemblances to the cross.

Lent is a time to practice self-denial. I think that the term ‘self-denial’ should really be changed to ‘deaths’.

Death can occur on many different levels. One can die on the natural level, that is death of the body, where there is no longer any breath left, no pulse or heart beat, no life. There can also be death in the events in one’s life, that is, in the temporal and material things that one has: loss of material goods and property, jobs, support from others and things like that.

Deaths in the will– this is where the death really occurs. This is what self-denial really means, to die in the will. Yet, I am so attached to my will, to the things I want, the way I want them, when I want them.

But I am a follower of Christ. As His follower I am to pick up my cross and follow Him. How? He tells me to follow him. Follow his ‘deaths’, his ‘many deaths’.

The chalice – “can you drink?” – the chalice means death to one’s natural self. This occurs through denudation (being stripped of everything: possessions, status, assets and even clothes); and annihilation: reduced to nothing. Christ certainly did this in His sacrifice on the cross.

On the narrow road – there is only room for self-denial and the cross on this road.    Christ certainly walked and lived this path of the narrow road. He invites me to walk this narrow road. “How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.” (Matt 7:14)

The cross is a supporting staff and it greatly lightens and eases the journey.

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” (Matt 11:29-30)

 

“The journey then… is in the living death of the cross.”

 

“The more completely he is annihilated for God’s sake, according to these two parts, the sensual and the spiritual, the more completely is he united to God and the greater is the work which he accomplishes. And when at last he is reduced to nothing, which will be the greatest extreme of humility, spiritual union will be wrought between the soul and God, which in this life is the greatest and the highest state attainable. This consists not, then, in refreshment and in consolations and spiritual feelings, but in a living death of the Cross, both as to sense and as to spirit — that is, both inwardly and outwardly.”

(Ascent of Mount Carmel Book II, 7, 11)

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“It is only natural to think of someone you love.” ~ St. Therese

 If I don’t have time for devotions and prayers I can take up the practice of the Presence of God. Motivated by love and a desire to please Him, I can develop the habit of being attentive and aware of God at all times. After all, He is always near me residing in the depths of my heart.

Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection, defines this “Practice of the Presence of God” this way:

“to take delight in and to become accustomed to his divine company speaking humbly and conversing lovingly with him at all times, every moment without rule or measure.”

 Read more here over at Suscipio.

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“The soul is like the air within the flame,

enkindled and transformed in the flame for the flame is nothing but enkindled air.”

“The movements and splendors of the flame are not from the air alone or from the fires of which the flame is composed, but from both the air and fire. And the fire causes the air, which it has enkindled to produce these same movements and splendors.”

(The Living Flame of Love, Stanza 3, 9 ~ St. John of the Cross)

We are being offered this transformation. As we follow Christ through this Lenten season and throughout our lives, we are becoming transformed by the Glory of God.

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