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Archive for the ‘faith’ Category


“Seek the LORD while he may be found,
call him while he is near.” (Is 55:6)

Our faith teaches that, “The Lord is everywhere and always present. (CCC 2802) Yet we, like St. Augustine, will seek Him in all kinds of places, but will ultimately find Him within. St. Teresa of Jesus says that, “all one need do is go into solitude and look at Him within oneself and not turn away from so good a Guest.” She asks us to try to “understand this truth: that the Lord is within us, and that there we must be with Him.” (Way of Perfection, 28:2-3)

God, however, speaks silence, and for most of us He is passed by to the noisiness of the day and events that fill it. No one thinks to find Him in the silence – so near and within.

In The Interior Castle St. Teresa describes the soul as a castle, and in the center of the castle is the “place where the very secret exchange between God and the soul take place.” (Interior Castle 1:1,4) Here in this deep solitude and silent exchange, the soul and God deepen their love.

Even sin does not remove God’s presence from the soul. St. Teresa explains, “It should be kept in mind here that the fount, the shining sun that is in the center of the soul, does not lose its beauty and splendor; it is always present in the soul, and nothing can take away its beauty and splendor.” (Interior Castle 1:2, 3) However, sin does have an effect in the soul’s ability to find God. She goes on to say, “[But] if a black cloth is placed over a crystal that is in the sun, obviously the sun’s brilliance will have no effect on the crystal even though the sun is shining on it. . . How sad a thing it is to see a soul separated from this light!” (Interior Castle 1:2, 3-4) Souls in mortal sin have covered this light and become totally dark, and their works are darkness too. She exhorts anyone in such a state to strive to remove sin from their life and to once again enjoy this light!

The prophet Isaiah lovingly calls these souls back to God saying, “Let the scoundrel forsake his way, and the wicked his thoughts; let him turn to the LORD for mercy; to our God, who is generous in forgiving.”  (Is 55:7)

All we have to do is turn back to Him, with all our heart and to “Go into solitude and look at Him within oneself.” (Way of Perfection, 28:2)  Speak to Him there and listen to Him speak to you in the Silence, letting Him love you, while you return the love. Then God’s majesty and presence will shine in the hearts of souls made just. (CCC 2802)

“God alone is enough.”  —Teresa of Ávila

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St. John of the Cross pic

What we need most in order to make progress is to be silent before this great God with our appetite and with our tongue, for the language he best hears is silent love.  –St John of the Cross, OCD

Advent is a time of waiting…waiting in the darkness where it is still and quiet. This season is also a time to establish the conditions I need to have in order to bring Christ into my life.

Night, these long winter nights, can be a time for prayer, waiting prayer. In this night of waiting prayer, I can remain before the Lord in silence. St. John of the Cross teaches that silence is the language the God hears best.

As St. John of the Cross reminds me, I need to remain in silence with my desires and tongue silenced. Thoughts and words are limiting. They limit my time with the Lord; therefore, I need to be present before Him with these silent and remain there in a state of interior quiet. It is in this silent waiting of my prayer through faith and love that will bring me to the God I am seeking.

In the darkness of Advent I can then see and adjust my responding after this time in silence. My response can then be to bring Christ into the lives of others, but first I need to begin by bringing Him into my own interior life.

Today is the Feast of St. John of the Cross who was and still is a good guide through the darkness that is faith. With him and his writings he will draw me to seek God in faith and love.

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We are approaching the end of the Christmas Season, which ends this coming Sunday with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. We have all been given a clear and intimate inspiration in our souls by God at His coming to us as the babe in a manger. This inspiration has urged us to greater generosity and a closer union with Him. Promptly and generously we will follow this inspiration, this star, with the faith of the Magi. Faith will allow this inspiration to guide us on our journey and it will lead us to the One we too are seeking.

 Three_Wise_Men_Following_The_Star_Wallpaper_mnmg

On this journey to find the One they were seeking, the Magi did not give up even when the star, this inspiration, had disappeared from sight. “We should follow their example and their perseverance, even when we are in interior darkness. This is a trial of faith which is overcome only by the exercise  of pure, naked faith.” (Divine Intimacy, #41, Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, OCD)

 “In this you rejoice, although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1: 6-7)

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This is a question I would love to ask a group of young people. I don’t think I would be surprised by their responses. That is because I believe that prayer is something quite innate to our human nature more than we realize. I also was thinking about the Catechism of the Catholic Church in that beautiful section on prayer where this very question is asked.

What is prayer?

And who does the Church quote? Of all the saints and doctors over all the many centuries who have passed before us, the Catechism quotes a young person, a young and modern person.

“For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.”  (CCC #2558)

This is St. Therese of Lisieux’s definition of prayer from her autobiography. Therese was a little Carmelite nun in France who died at the age of twenty-four. That is who the Catechism quotes, and fittingly so. This child of God was so filled with the theological gifts that they spill out of her definition. Charity is that “surge of the heart”, Faith is “a simple look turned toward heaven”, and Hope is the “cry of recognition and of love”. These are deeply imbued in us, given to us at baptism and increase within us every time they are exercised.

There is no better way to exercise these virtues, faith, hope and charity, than by praying. Prayer is an exercise of faith. Every time we pray we are saying “I believe”. I believe God is there, is with me, can hear me, and cares for me. Prayer is simple, it has to be, because to complicate it with excessive reasoning destroys it. And it is a look, but not the look done with the physical eye. Faith is, as St. Paul writes to the Hebrews, “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Heb 11:1) So the faith-filled person is convicted even though he has not seen.

Prayer is the activity especially intended for making fervent acts of charity. It is during prayer that we lovingly meet with God. Our love for God should be with a pure heart; a heart that loves Him so much that it seeks only after His glory and His will. When our prayer is that of a soul that loves God, we forget ourselves and are ready to sacrifice every wish for Him. Love grows stronger and will continue to grow as we perform all our actions with our whole heart and with all of its capacity for goodwill.

The Christian expands its capacity to love, through prayer. Prayer – contact with God. And what do Christians ask of God?

-for the gift of Himself

-for His grace

-for the gift of the Kingdom

The life of a Christian is and ought to be a continual prayer. Surely, then one can see that this is interior. But, all prayer attracts or leads to an act of love (at least it ought to).

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Pouring out a thousand graces,

he passed these groves in haste;
and having looked at them,
clothed them in beauty.
~(Spiritual Canticle, stanza 5)

God created everything and He left some trace of who He is in them. “He passed” because creatures are like a trace of God’s passing. Through them one can track down his grandeur, might, wisdom and other divine attributes (Spiritual Canticle). Everyone is created in the image and likeness of God (Gen 1:26). This is our Faith. Therefore, it takes great faith to see God in His creatures. But what is it that disfigures the divine image in me and my neighbor?

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