To Competence

St. Thomas of AquinasDiscipleship has its required competencies.  Four important competencies of discipleship are: prayer, thirst for knowledge of God, selflessness, and sharing faith, hope and love in Christ Jesus.

The great saints — Augustine, Dominic, Aquinas, Therese of Lisiuex, Theresa of Avila, and Francis of Assisi, to name a few — possessed these competencies.  Each maintained their spiritual health through prayer, vocal and silent. Each had a profound thirst for knowledge of God, his Word and his ways.  Each gave selflessly, to others and the Church.   Each relentlessly shared their faith, hope and love of Christ and His bride, the Church with others.

Any one can practice these competencies, in any state or stage of life.

Prayer is not limited by state or stage in life.   A fruitful prayer life requires, discipline and practice.  Silent prayer is especially important, since God often speaks in silence.

Knowledge of God is not bound by intellect.   It is enkindled by desire and thirst and acquired through grace. God freely gives knowledge of himself to those who ask with a pure heart burning for greater knowledge of him.   Knock and receive.

God loves a cheerful giver. He rewards a cheerful giver ten fold, a hundred fold.

Our faith, hope, and love of Christ is best shared through our actions and deeds, and the manner we live our life.

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Ten Counsels of St. John of Avila – Third Counsel

St. John of Avila

St. John of Avila

The third counsel of St. John of Avila that leads a soul in the way to salvation, is:

Return thanks to God for all your spiritual graces, natural gifts, and every other good that you possess, attributing nothing to yourself except your sins, faults, and imperfections.

We cannot create grace; we can only receive it from the Lord.  He provides all we need. He will not disappoint nor will He abandon us.  This does not mean that pain and suffering will be absent from our life. The Lord will, however, turn any pain and suffering into movements of grace and salvation.  In the Lord we find peace.

The Lord freely bestows His grace, we accept or refuse.  The source of our sins, faults and imperfections is our refusal of His grace.  The summit of our refusal is desolation and suffering.

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Ten Counsels of St. John of Avila – Second Counsel

St. John of Avila

St. John of Avila

The second counsel of St. John of Avila to lead a soul in the way to salvation, is:

If you have not strength to desire sufferings, censures, vexations, or affronts, rudeness and hard work, at least endure them patiently and in silence; do not concern yourself to know from whom they come, but look upon them as sent from the hand of God.  Pray to Him for those who are the cause of these trials and beg Him to give you grace to bear them for His love, reflecting that patience in suffering is a sign of salvation. (Finding Confidence in Times of Trial: The Letters of St. John of Avila)

Salvation lies in the cross.  Christ followed the will of His Father and took up His cross, so should we.  Christ suffered death at the hands of the governing Roman authorities, rejection of the Jewish nation, betrayal of an apostle, and abandonment of His disciples.  Should we expect to be treated differently? Should we not also endure abandonment, betrayal and rejection by family, friends and country?  In these lies our cross, our crown, our glory — Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:10-12)  We are to rejoice in our suffering, enduring all in patience for Christ Jesus.

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Ten Counsels of St. John of Avila

Ten Counsels of St. John Avila

Ten Counsels of St. John Avila

St. John of Avila presented ten counsels to lead a soul in the way to salvation.  His first counsel is:

At once reject from your mind not only rash judgment of your neighbor, but the very thought of his faults or sins.  Turn you mind toward God and show Him the wounds of your own soul that He may cure them.  (Finding Confidence in Times of Trial: The Letters of St. John of Avila)

The Divine Physician, Christ Jesus, heals the wounds inflected by sin.  Christ showers His healing mercy not on the self-righteous, but those who seek forgiveness.   He measures His mercy with the measure that we measure.   The merciful receive mercy, the merciless, none.

With the mercy and gentleness that Christ healed our wounds, we can approach our neighbor, as Christ taught  — first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye (Matthew 7:3-5), for all called to bring Christ to those we encounter.

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Purgatory: A Logical Argument For

V Carmen de Beniajan Wikimedia Commons

V Carmen de Beniajan
Wikimedia Commons

Jimmy Akin has presented a logical argument for purgatory.   His argument is, as follows:

Premise 1: There will be neither sin nor attachment to sin in heaven.

Premise 2: We (at least most of us) are still sinning and are consequently attached to sin at the end of this life.

Conclusion: Therefore, there must be a period between death and heavenly glory in which the saved are cleansed of sin and their attachment to sin.

In other words, after death those who have achieved eternal salvation but still have some residue or attachment to sin need to undergo purification before entering the joy of heaven.  The purification is necessary to achieve the holiness necessary to stand in the presence of God.

To rebut this deductive argument and its conclusion one or both of the premises must be shown to be wrong.  That is, to argue against premise 1 one must take the position that sin or attachment of sin is present in heaven.  And, to argue against premise 2 one must take the position that sin or attachment of sin does not exist in this life.

Jimmy Akin blogs at Catholic AnswersNational Catholic Register, and Jimmy

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Distraction in Prayer

Albrecht Dürer Betende Hände Wikipedia Commons

Albrecht Dürer Betende Hände
Wikipedia Commons

Distractions can be a difficulty in prayer.  They can affect vocal, meditative, and contemplative prayer.  Distractions do not withdraw us from God; only sin withdraws us from God.  Distractions can be annoying and distressing, but lacking resolve and deliberation are not sinful.

Distractions need only be fought if they draw our heart away from God.  Small distractions may briefly draw our attention away from our prayer and God, but not our heart. These small distractions may even help draw our attention to God and His presence in our life.

It may help to present our distraction to God in prayer.  Is this distraction a path you desire me to take in my prayer?  If it is, I offer it to you. Help me to journey with you along this path.  If it is not, please come to my aid, my only wish is to journey with you along the path you desire.

St. Francis De Sales reminds us “it is not less profitable to us or less pleasing to God when it [our prayer] is full distractions; nay it will perhaps be more useful to us than if we had much consolation in it, because there will be more labor – provided, however, that we are more faithful in withdrawing from these distractions, and in refraining from dwelling upon them voluntarily. … What, then, can we do except have patience and not weary our labors, since they are undertaken for the love of God.”

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St. Paul on Reconciliation

Saint PaulSt. Paul taught that those in the state of sin cannot inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.  (Galatians 5:19-21)

Furthermore, Paul taught the forgiveness of sins through Christ Jesus.  All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.  So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:18-21)  “The ministry of reconciliation” Paul refers to is the authority given to the apostles by Christ to forgive sins in His name.   Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.”  And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” (John 20: 21-23)  The power to forgive sins resides in Christ and is exercised through those having apostolic authority vested in them by Christ and His designates.  Those having apostolic authority are the “us” Paul speaks.   The “you” are the laity (of Corinth).

Paul clearly preached the forgiveness of sins through the sacrament of reconciliation administered by those having apostolic authority vested in them by Christ and designates.

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Worship of God is How We Live our Life

The Prophet Micah

The Prophet Micah

God has revealed the type of worship He desires, worship carried out in how we live our life.   Worship is not only the words we pray, it is also the actions we take throughout each day.

In 1 Samuel (15:22) we learn: “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.”  This is not to say that the God condemns sacrifices, but that the God finds obedience better.

The Prophets further echo the Lord’s desire of a life lived in obedience:

For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God, rather than burnt offerings.” (Hosea 6:6); and

With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:6-68)

And, Jesus taught:

I desire mercy, and not sacrifice. (Matthew 9:13, 12:7); and

And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that he is one, and there is no other but he; and to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” (Mark 12:32-34)

For this reason we are called to live our lives in worship of God in the public square.  We cannot separate how we live our life from the actions we take (public or private) from our faith.  God calls us to remove evil, seek justice, and show mercy with profound love in all we do.  We are to pray not only with words but also with our actions.    Actions become prayer when carried out in union with God for His greater glory.  Life is to be lived in continual glorification of God.

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Seeing and Hearing Truth

Seeing and Hearing TruthWhen a child does not want to acknowledge a parent, they close their eyes and cover their ears.  Some adults are not much different, they too close their eyes and cover their ears when they do not want to acknowledge God.

They have eyes that see; yet they do not see.   Their eyes fail to perceive God and His works.   Rather, their eyes perceive God and His works as works of man, nature, or a random aberration.

They have ears that hear; yet they do not understand.   They hear, but fail to understand the truth, love and mercy that God proclaims.  Rather, they perceive His truth as hate, the love He declaims as restricting their free will, and the mercy He extends as a useless commodity.

A heart turned to the Lord has ears that on “hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bring forth fruit with patience” (Luke 8:15-16).   Blessed are those with a pure heart with eyes that see and ears that hear, for they shall see the face of God.

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Be a Saint

SaintAll are called by God to be a saint.  The Holy Sprint instills in each the gifts and talents necessary for their saintly calling. The saintliness God desires is to humbly walk with Him, as His son walked with Him, in mercy and justice with kindness and love.

Each is called to do the work of Lord by extending love, mercy and kindness to others in the name of the Lord and His beloved son, Jesus Christ.  All are not called be a Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta, or Saint Francis of Assisi, or a Saint Augustine of Hippo.   Many are called to serve the Lord as saints within their family, at their place of employment, or within their parish.  Some may be called to find one lost sheep for the Lord, for when the sheep that was lost is found there will be great rejoicing throughout the Kingdom of Heaven.

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