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August 18th, 2013

Spiritual and Emotional Charity

Spiritual and Emotional Charity

Charity is the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God. Normally we put charity as love of neighbor. But mostly we limit it in the physical capacities. For example we can say charity is feeding the poor, helping the needy, giving shelter to the orphan.

But this only involves food, shelter and clothing which are only the physical aspect of charity. The physical aspect of charity is called almsgiving. But there is much more to charity than just alms-giving. We need to increase in love so that we can see spiritual and emotional charity, the two important forms of expressing love based on the two greatest commandments taught by Jesus Christ.

Spiritual Charity

a) Jesus says, “Love your God with all your heart and all your mind.” So loving God means always thinking about him, seeking his presence, giving him the first priority in life. This means never missing an opportunity to be with him, always desiring more and more time spent with him. To seek the Holy Spirit and relish his gifts and charisms.

b) The next one is always thanking him irrespective of all circumstances, because only he is worthy of all praise and honor from his people. We must always remember his wonders in our lives as well as thank him for sending us his son for our salvation. He always desires that we adore and praise him. Like our Lord Jesus Christ, we must accept God’s will in our lives and always give thanks to him.

c) Loving his Church, the living body of Christ is our duty and responsibility. We are called to obey and support the holy Catholic Church. To understand what the Church teaches and clearing all misconceptions about our faith is our duty. To remain strong in faith and obedience to the Church till the Lord comes again is our duty. Taking Mother Mary as our example we must always live with the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit when on earth.

d) God does not differentiate between Jews , Muslims or Buddhists. All are part of his creation. He would like each one of his sheep to be saved. He would also desire that his children live in peace when on earth. So let carry out our Christ’s command in proclaiming the gospel to the ends of the earth in whatever ways possible by us. Let us remember God’s love for the world. That he gave his Son for each person on this earth whom he willfully created.

e) God reigns from the everlasting to the everlasting. He has given us life, and with his abundant mercy forgives and heals us even though we fail frequently. We must not take for granted any of his blessings he has bestowed upon us. We must not take pride or credit for his blessings. Even faith is a gift which he gives freely to his children. We must acknowledge and testify to his presence and blessings in our lives.

Emotional Charity

a) Jesus says, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Judging or pointing out others mistakes is not charity. Instead appreciating them as a gift of God, we must respect and encourage them with compassion and benevolence. We must remember to pray for them. Jesus said, “everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, `You fool!’ shall be liable to the hell of fire.”(Mt 5:22).

b) Sometimes we are forced to lie or avoid the truth in order to remain worthy/great in the eyes of another person. Sometimes to cut the conversation short or to escape punishment we use this way out. Jesus says in John 17:19 “And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth.” Here we see how Jesus is consecrating himself with truth. If we are not consecrated in truth, we are not partakers of Christ who is himself the truth, the way and the life.

c) We are recognized as Christians not only by faith but also by our works. We must always practice what we preach, without acting like hypocrites. We must live in such a way that inspires all around us to live a holy life. We must exude love always and everywhere we go. Jesus tells us,” You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”(Mt 5:48) It is our duty to inspire and encourage others around us to live in with hope and consolation in our Lord Jesus Christ.

d) Jesus says in Matthew 10:16, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” In the verses that follow Jesus says that you will be flogged, mocked, persecuted for me. We must not find ways and means to escape this pain. Instead remembering our Lord’s passion we must bear it with patience. By saying wise as serpents, Jesus is calling us to be aware of the vain promises and schemes of the evil one. To always lookout for the traps the evil one sets for us in our daily lives.

e) “Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the man by whom the temptation comes!”(Mt 18:7) We must in no way be a cause for our neighbor to sin, either by looks, words or actions. We must always be charitable to others in the way we speak, act or dress such that they are not led to sin. And also we must be aware that we do not yield to such temptations like jealousy, pride or inferiority complex by the way others behave with us.

Prayer: May we be empowered by the sacrament of Holy Eucharist, through which we become one with Christ and be filled with the Holy Spirit, always seeking the will of God in our lives through the powerful intercession of our Mother Mary.

– – – written by Praveen Sebastian

July 18th, 2013

The Importance Of Spiritual Food

The Importance Of Spiritual Food

Napoleon Bonaparte had conquered almost all of Europe with his might. No one could resist his leadership and war technique. He showed his strength in Spain, Prussia and Austria. Soon, the desire to conquer Russia was musing in his mind.

He moved to Russia with a large army. Knowing the advance of Napoleon, the Russian people destroyed all their fields and crops. Taking the cows with them they moved to the interior parts of the village abandoning their houses.

The French army could find only the burnt out fields and empty villages at their arrival in Russia. They were in trouble. They had nothing to eat. As the Russians destroyed all the crops and took with them all the animals, the French army didn’t have anything for their survival. Lakhs of soldiers starved to death. Even then Napoleon led the army ahead. Reaching Moscow, the capital city, they had the terrible sight of the city burnt into ashes. People had retreated to the interiors.

Soon winter started and the French army was in dismay. They suffered a lot in the new land. At last Napoleon was forced to call back his army. An estimated 5 lakhs soldiers died in between. Only one sixth of Napoleon’s army survived on their return.

At this juncture the enemies attacked Napoleon and his worn out army. On March 30, 1814, the French army was defeated. Napoleon was dethroned and deported to Elba Island, in the Mediterranean Sea.

The highly keen war technique of the Russian people made Napoleon’s army fragile and caused their defeat. Out of fear the Russian army took shelter in the interior villages during the initial stages of the war. But they made it sure that the enemies reaching their land would not get anything to survive. As they didn’t get food, diseases were on the rise. They couldn’t resist the heavy weather and the adverse situations.

Satan puts traps

Similarly Satan puts traps for those who are strong in their faith. He knows that he will taste defeat at a face to face encounter. So he hides and blocks the food and water which sustain the individual.

As we loose our zeal for the Holy Eucharist, the Word of God and prayer, we will feel a terrible scarcity of spiritual food. Reluctance to repent and aversion to sacraments will make us weak and morally powerless. Knowing that we are fragile, he will start his direct fight against us. Therefore we should never ignore the importance of spiritual food, however great and strong we may be.

Sin will tear down our confidence. Like our forefathers, sin will take away the courage to face real life situations. It is the white robe of holiness that make us strong in our fight against the enemy. Therefore never ignore the spiritual food.

Prayer: Lord, help us that we may not ignore the spiritual food that you prepare for us through the Church. Strengthen us so that we may be ready to fight the enemy by approaching the sacraments seriously. Amen.

– – – written by  Benny Punnathara

October 10th, 2012

Tips To Overcome Spiritual Struggles

Tips To Overcome Spiritual Struggles

In a conversation some days since with a person of piety, he told me the spiritual life was a life of grace, which begins with servile fear, which is increased by hope of eternal life, and which is consummated by pure love; that each of these states had its different stages, by which one arrives at last at that blessed consummation.

The Start

I have not followed all these methods. On the contrary, from I know not what instincts, I found they discouraged me. This was the reason why, at my entrance into religion, I took a resolution to give myself up to God, as the best satisfaction I could make for my sins and, for the love of Him, to renounce all besides. For the first years, I commonly employed myself during the time set apart for devotion, with the thoughts of death, judgment, hell, heaven, and my sins. Thus I continued some years applying my mind carefully the rest of the day, and even in the midst of my business, to the presence of God, whom I considered always as with me, often as in me.

At length I came insensibly to do the same thing during my set time of prayer, which caused in me great delight and consolation. This practice produced in me so high an esteem for God, that faith alone was capable to satisfy me in that point. Such was my beginning. Yet I must tell you that for the first ten years I suffered much. The apprehension that I was not devoted to God as I wished to be, my past sins always present to my mind, and the great unmerited favors which God did me, were the matter and source of my sufferings.

Fell and Rose

During this time I fell often, and rose again presently. I was troubled sometimes with thoughts, that to believe I had received such favors was an effect of my presumption, which pretended to be at once where others arrive with difficulty. At other times that it was a willful delusion, and that there was no salvation for me.

When I thought of nothing but to end my days in these troubles (which did not at all diminish the trust I had in God, and which served only to increase my faith), I found myself changed all at once; and my soul, which till that time was in trouble, felt a profound inward peace, as if she were in her center and place of rest. Ever since that time I walk before God simply, in faith, with humility and with love; and I apply myself diligently to do nothing and think nothing which may displease Him. I hope that when I have done what I can, He will do with me what He pleases.

The Present

As for what passes in me at present, I cannot express it. I have no pain or difficulty about my state, because I have no will but that of God, which I endeavor to accomplish in all things, and to which I am so resigned, that I would not take up a straw from the ground against His order, or from any other motive but purely that of love for Him.

I have quit all forms of devotion and set prayers but those to which my state obliges me. I make it my business only to persevere in His holy presence, wherein I keep myself by a simple attention and a general fond regard to God, which I may call an actual presence of God; or, to speak better, an habitual, silent, and secret conversation of the soul with God, which often causes in me joys so great that I am forced to use means to moderate them and prevent their appearance to others. In short, I am assured beyond all doubt that my soul has been with God above these thirty years. I pass over many things, that I may not be tedious to you, yet I think it proper to inform you after what manner I consider myself before God, whom I behold as my King.

I consider myself as the most wretched of men, full of sores and corruption, and who has committed all sorts of crimes against his King. Touched with a sensible regret I confess to Him all my wickedness. I ask His forgiveness. I abandon myself in His hands that He may do what He pleases with me. This King, full of mercy and goodness, very far from chastising me, embraces me with love, makes me eat at His table, serves me with His own hands, gives me the key of His treasures. He converses and delights Himself with me incessantly, in a thousand and a thousand ways, and treats me in all respects as His favorite. It is thus I consider myself from time to time in His holy presence.

My most usual method is this simple attention, and such a general passionate regard to God to whom I find myself often attached with greater sweetness and delight than that of an infant at the mother’s breast. If I dare use the expression, I should choose to call this state the bosom of God, for the inexpressible sweetness which I taste and experience there. If sometimes my thoughts wander from it by necessity or infirmity, I am presently recalled by inward emotions so charming and delicious that I cannot even describe them.

– – – written by St. Lawrence

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