Topic: Fifth Station of the Cross
I give this resolution to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Mark Mallett will be in concert Friday, February 29th in Edmonton, Alberta. Mark will also be in Toronto, Ontaria giving three evening parish missions next week which are open to the public. To see his full schedule, click here.
AS the body needs food for energy, so too does the soul need spiritual food to climb the Mountain of Faith. Food is as important to the body as is breath. But what about the soul?
From the Catechism:
Prayer is the life of the new heart. —CCC, n.2697
If prayer is the life of the new heart, then the death of the new heart is no prayer—just as lack of food starves the body. This explains why so many of us Catholics are not ascending the Mountain, not growing in holiness and virtue. We come to Mass every Sunday, drop two bucks in the basket, and forget about God the rest of the week. The soul, lacking spiritual nourishment, begins to die.
The Father desires a personal relationship with us, His children. But a personal relationship is much more than just asking God into your heart…
…prayer is the living relationship of the children of God with their Father… —CCC, n.2565
Prayer IS the personal relationship with God! No prayer? No relationship.
THE ENCOUNTER WITH LOVE
All too often, we see prayer as a chore, or at most, a necessary ritual. It is far, far more.
Prayer is the encounter of God’s thirst with ours. God thirsts that we may thirst for him. –CCC, n. 2560
God is thirsting for your love! Even the angels bow before this mystery, the mystery of an infinite God in love with His finite creation. Prayer then is putting into words what our soul thirsts for: love… Love! God is love! We are thirsting for God too, whether we know it or not. Once I discover that He loves me with His very life and won’t take back that love, then I can begin to talk to Him because I don’t have to fear Him. This trust changes the language of prayer (hence it is called the "Mountain of Faith"). It is no longer a matter of repeating dry words or reciting poetic texts… it becomes a movement of the heart, a uniting of hearts, thirst satiating thirst.
Yes, God wants you to pray with the heart. Talk to Him as you would to a friend. This is His invitation:
I have called you friends… you are no longer a slave, but a child. (John 15:15; Gal 4:7)
Prayer, says St. Teresa of Avila,
…is a close sharing between two friends. It means taking time frequently to be alone with Him who loves us.
PRAYER FROM THE HEART
When you pray from the heart, you are opening yourself up to the Holy Spirit who is the Love of God for whom you hunger and thirst. Just as you cannot eat food without first opening your mouth, you must open your heart in order to receive the power and graces of the Holy Spirit necessary to ascend the Mountain of Faith:
Prayer attends to the grace we need… —CCC, n.2010
Can you see now the importance to become a soul of prayer? Pray from the heart, and you are praying the right way. Pray often, and you will learn to pray always.
So what are you waiting for? Shut your computer off, go to your inner room, and pray.
He, who is Love, is waiting.
Mark Mallett is presently giving two parish missions on Vancouver Island, Canada. For more information, see his events calendar here.
PERHAPS you are overwhelmed by the plethora of spiritual paths you've heard and read about. Is growing in holiness really that complicated?
Unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matt18:3)
If Jesus commands us to be like children, then the path to Heaven must be reachable by a child. It must be attainable in the simplest of ways.
Jesus said that we are to abide in Him as a branch abides on the vine, for without Him, we can do nothing. How does the branch abide on the vine?
If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love… You are my friends if you do what I command you. (John 15:9-10, 14)
THE MOUNTAIN OF FAITH
The Desert Path is really one that begins to wind up a mountain, the Mountain of Faith.
What do you notice about mountain roads as they go higher and higher? There are guardrails. These guardrails are God's commandments. What are they there for but to protect you from falling over the edge as you ascend the mountain! There is also the opposite edge of the path, or perhaps it is a dotted line in the middle. This is the duty of the moment. The soul, then, is guided up the Mountain of Faith between God's commandments and the duty of the moment, both of them constituting His will for you, which is the path to freedom and life in God.
The lie of Satan is that these guardrails are there to restrict your freedom. They are there to keep you from flying like gods over the valley below! Indeed, many people today refuse to obey the commandments of God, refuting them as old-fashioned, out-dated, out-moded. They steer their lives straight toward the guardrails, bursting through the protective barrier. For a moment, they appear to be free, flying high above their conscience! But then, the law of gravity kicks in—that spiritual law which says "you reap what you sow"… the "wages of sin is death"… and suddenly, the gravity of one's mortal sin pulls the soul helplessly toward the abyss of the valley below, and all the destruction the fall brings.
Mortal sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, as is love itself. It results in the loss of charity and the privation of sanctifying grace, that is, of the state of grace. If it is not redeemed by repentance and God's forgiveness, it causes exclusion from Christ's kingdom and the eternal death of hell, for our freedom has the power to make choices for ever, with no turning back. —Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), n. 1861
Thanks be to Christ, there is always a way back onto the Mountain. It is called Confession. Confession is the Great Gateway back into God's grace, back onto the path of holiness which leads to eternal life, even for the most depraved sinner.
Venial sin, however, is like "bumping" one's life into the guardrail. It is not enough to break through and fall from Grace because this is not the soul's desire. However, out of human weakness and rebellion, the soul still flirts with the illusion of "flying," and therefore begins to be worn down each time it rubs against God's commandments. This does not stop the journey toward the Summit, but impedes it. And if one takes his venial sins lightly, he may end up eventually breaking through the barrier…
Deliberate and unrepented venial sin disposes us little by little to commit mortal sin…
While he is in the flesh, man cannot help but have at least some light sins. But do not despise these sins which we call "light": if you take them for light when you weigh them, tremble when you count them. A number of light objects makes a great mass; a number of drops fills a river; a number of grains makes a heap. What then is our hope? Above all, Confession. —CCC, n1863 (St. Augustine; 1458)
Confession and the Holy Eucharist, then, become like divine Oases on our journey to the Summit which is Union with God. They are places of refuge and refreshment, healing and forgiveness—the Endless Spring of beginning again. When we lean over their merciful waters, looking back at us is not our own sinful reflection, but the face of Christ saying, "I have walked this Mountain, and I will ascend it with you, My little lamb."
LET NOTHING TROUBLE YOU
The truth is, most of us are venial sinners. Few of us complete the day without having committed some fault, some transgression. This reality can lead us to discouragement such that we can even give up. Or we believe the lie that since we struggle constantly with a particular sin, it's part of who we are, and therefore excusable or unbeatable… and thus, we begin to backslide. But this is why it is called the "Mountain of Faith"! Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more. Do not let Satan define you, accuse you, or put you down, child of God. Pick up the Sword of the Word, raise the shield of Faith, resolve to avoid sin and the near occasion of it, and begin to walk up this road again, one step at a time, trusting completely in the free gift of God's mercy.
For this is the truth which you must hold up in the face of the enemy's lies:
Venial sin does not break the covenant with God. With God's grace it is humanly reparable. Venial sin does not deprive the sinner of sanctifying grace, friendship with God, charity, and consequently eternal happiness. —CCC, n1863
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 Jn 1:9)
Thank you Jesus! Despite my faults and even venial sins, I am still on the Mountain, still in your grace on this simple little path of keeping your commandments. How much more then do I wish to be rid of these "little" sins that I may speedily ascend higher and higher toward the Summit of your generous Sacred Heart, where I will burst into living flames of Love for all eternity!
THE desert of the soul is that place where consolation has dried up, the flowers of delightful prayer have wilted, and the oasis of God's presence seems but a mirage. At these times, you may feel as though God no longer approves of you, that you are falling away, lost in the vast wilderness of human weakness. When you try to pray, the sands of distraction fill your eyes, and you may feel utterly lost, completely abandoned… helpless.
The place of God in my soul is blank. There is no God in me. When the pain of longing is so great—I just long & long for God… and then it is that I feel He does not want me—He is not there—God does not want me. —Mother Teresa, Come By My Light, Brian Kolodiejchuk, M.C.; pg. 2
How does one find peace and joy in this state? I tell you, there is a way, a path through this desert.
At these times, when the Sun seems obscured by the sand storms, lower your eyes, look down at your feet, for there you will find the next step.
If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love.
How do you know you are abiding with God and God with you? If you keep His commandments. The way through the desert should never be judged by feelings or a sense of anointing. Feelings are phantoms which come and go. What is concrete? God's will for your life—His commandments, the duty of the moment—that which is required of you according to your vocation as a mother, father, child, bishop, priest, nun, or single person.
My food is to do the will of the one who sent me… (John 4:34)
When you feel the rush of the Spirit, thank God for this grace. When you encounter His presence, bless Him. When your senses tingle with His anointing, praise Him. But when you feel nothing but the dryness of the desert, do not think the path has been pulled out from beneath you. It is as sure as ever:
If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love… I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do. (John 13:15; 15:10)
When you are washing the dishes, you are abiding in God, whether you feel a thing or not. This is the "yoke which is easy and burden which is light". Why look for grandiose methods to be spiritually transformed when you have been given the most simple and sure road to holiness? The way of love…
For the love of God is this, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. (1 John 5:3)
THE WAY OF LOVE
This way through the desert is summed up in one sentence:
This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. (John15:12)
The greatest temptation we face in the desert is discouragement, which can lead to anger, bitterness, a hardened heart, and even to total despair. In this condition, we might even fulfill God's commandments, but in a way that injures our neighbour through grumbling, complaining, impatience, and anger. No, we must always do these little things, the duty of the moment, with great love.
Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things… (1 Cor 13:4-7)
Without love, says St. Paul, I gain nothing. If you fail in this, you need only ask for the grace to turn your heart back again, with the firm resolve to love under all circumstances.
THE NARROW ROAD
The word to "abide" or "remain" in Jesus derives from the Greek, "hupomeno" which means to remain under or endure adversities, persecutions, or provocations with faith and patience. Yes, you must persevere on this path, the "narrow and difficult road." It is such because it involves a battle with the world, the flesh, and the devil. It is "easy" because His commandments are not too great; it is "difficult" because of the resistance and temptation you will feel. Thus, you must become moment by moment like a little child, constantly humbling yourself before Him with all your failures and mis-steps. Here is strong faith: to trust in His mercy when you least deserve it.
This Desert Path can only be tread by the humble of heart… but God is near the humble and broken-hearted! (Psalm 34:19) So do not be afraid, even of your failure. Get up! Walk with me! I am near, Jesus says. I have walked this road of human frailty Myself, and will walk it again with you, My lamb.
Quiet your mind, ignore your emotions, and look at the present moment, asking, "What is my duty right now?" That is the next step on your journey deeper into God, a journey which, despite your emotions, leads to freedom and joy. Trust in His Word, not your emotions, and you will find peace:
If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. (John 15:10-11)
In reality, holiness consists of one thing only: complete loyalty to God's will…. You are seeking for secret ways of belonging to God, but there is only one: making use of whatever he offers you…. The great and firm foundation of the spiritual life is the offering of ourselves to God and being subject to His will in all things…. God truly helps us however much we may feel we have lost His support. —Fr. Jean-Pierre de Caussade, Abandonment to Divine Providence
Vatican City, Feb 22, 2008 / 04:11 am (CNA).- The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has transferred the celebration of the Solemnity of St. Joseph to March 15, since the traditional date of observance—March 19—coincides with Wednesday of Holy Week.
The universal norms of the Liturgical year and Calendar stipulate that the celebrations of Holy Week, including Wednesday, have priority over any other celebration, feast day or solemnity. If the feast of St. Joseph had not been moved this year, it would have been completely omitted, as the week after is the Octave of Easter, which also trumps any other feast day or solemnity.
For this same reason, the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, which is normally observed on March 25, has been moved to March 31, the first Monday after the Easter Octave.
"…I give you love; give this love to others… Help the others to change their lives. I give you might, dear children; with this might, you can bear everything. May this might make you strong in everything. You need it; that is why I give you might."
S O N G F O R K A R O L
I recently finished a video tribute to the late Holy Father. Pope John Paul's words and life have laid the foundation for the times which we live in. They have often inspired my writings and preaching. I often sense his presence very near me in my ministry…
The final words of this song are more urgent now than ever. Here is my tribute to Papa…
CLICK ON THE COVER TO SEE THE VIDEO