24 April 2011
23 April 2011
22 April 2011
21 April 2011
Brothers and sisters, we will want to give up and jump ship when our Christian journey has carried us to our lowest of lows. Like the apostles we will want to Jesus into the authorities, denied our friendship with him, leave him alone in the garden at his time of great need. When we are exhausted, confused, and want nothing more than to have our lives be "nice and simple like they used to be," we are all but bound to give up the cross of Christianity. If we know anything, it's that we get things wrong; we mess up; we are imperfect.
But we have hope if we stay with Christ, if we join him in prayer. Paul puts it best:
If we have died with him we shall also live with him;
But . . . if we are unfaithful he remains faithful,
For he cannot deny himself. (2 Timothy 2: 11-13)
When we falter, Christ lovingly carries us onward. All the more, Christ carries the burdens of sacrifice when we are too scared and unwilling to face loneliness, mockery, and rejection that comes with it.
As for me, I trust that in this Christian life, if I am to truly succeed, than I must give up my ego, my pride, and my security to Jesus. I must give him my all, the parts of me for which I rejoice and the parts I hide in shame. If I am his, all I have and possess is his. I must walk with Jesus to his trial, his sentencing, and to his final execution. It's a scary journey to be sure. And more often than not I am hesitant that to journey with him. But looking behind me, all I see is darkness and death. So, I stay with Christ because I believe that his love has become this world's light through which all is made visible. I am blind without it. I must follow it, and, with great humility, preach it to the world.
Let us pray to Christ for the grace that we may heed his Father's request to "Stay here with me." May we have the grace in these days to come to recall with Christ his journey to Calvary. Moreover, that, having received his graces, we can be faithful to Him in our times of greatest darkness, fear, and uncertainty.
17 April 2011
"The teacher says, 'my appointed time draws near; in your house I shall celebrate the Passover with my disciples'” (Mt 26: 18).Inspired by such a command, Two by Two wishes to share with you that the time to remember Christ's passion has come. With Lent having zoomed by, we are at the threshold of the most sacred days of the Church year. Walking with Christ these past 40 days has finally brought us to our destination: Jerusalem. And here, during our one short week in the Holy City, we will be witnesses to his last supper, prayerful passion, trial, sentencing, crucifixion, death, burial, and glorious resurrection.
This week is what our Christian faith is all about. Holy Week is a gift. Amidst all our daily life's demands, we should make an added effort this week to pray, reflect, and give God thanks. Spend some time in silence, open up the family Bible, attend the Holy Week services at the parish. In short, let us make time for Christ to enter more fully in our lives!
For our part, Brian and I will be posting on Two by Two from Thursday through Sunday so as to aid the prayer of our readers (and of ourselves). So, with that being said, check us out come Holy Thursday.
Blessings on you and all you love during this sacred week!
13 April 2011
This evening my classmates and I will sign oaths of celibacy, fidelity to the Church, and make a profession of faith as we prepare for our ordinations in less than a month's time. While I'm usually long-winded, the following expresses my sentiments about the gift of celibacy. Please keep us in your prayers today!
Early in life our prayers begin like this:
I love you Lord; what do you ask of me?
Slowly He shows the path of our true bliss
For some like me He asks celibacy
Punishment not—no He blesses my life
Although the world thinks it a waste of time
Young man! Go forth and find yourself a wife!
But what you ask of me, Lord, makes me Thine
No spouse, no kids but father just the same
And with Your grace abundant seeds are sown
Regardless of my failures or acclaim
I know that I shall never be alone
For You an oath, You shall I behold
For what I give, receive a hundredfold…
05 April 2011
We have within our Church: Westerners and Easterners, White Robes and Black Robes, Celibates and Married, defenders of the Faith and seekers of the Truth, university scholars and village peasants, CEO's and refugees, priests and pilgrims, the cloistered and the apostolic. As a Universal Church, the list could very literally go on forever, from one polar opposite to the other.
So what is it that unifies this old ragtag Church of ours?
As a member of an apostolic religious community, I am always particularly amazed by my counterpart in the Church: the monastics: the men and women throughout the world who haven chosen to follow Christ within the walls of their cloister or monastery. You have probably already heard of some of these groups. They have names like the Benedictines, Carmelites, Trappists, Augustinians, and Carthusians. By the time the Jesuits were starting to traverse the globe, most of these monastic groups were already considered by their contemporary society to be ancient ways of life. Yet despite their long heritage (or should I say, because of it?), each generation of the Church's monks and nuns continue to passionately follow Christ according to the specific teachings and habits laid out by their group's founder.
To many people inside the Catholic faith (and outside it for that matter), these monks and nuns are the world's true radicals. Just think about it: their routine of prayer (7x/day), unique robes, their unassuming austerity and simple diet, their uncomfortably communal way of life, their tested humility and persistent commitment to silence.
Located within a world saturated with materialism and individualism, their community shares each others' burdens and collectively raises them to our Father in Heaven. In his obedience, his chastity, and his poverty, each monk makes his life an offering to Christ. They live in the hope that, in response, Christ will do with him what He wills.
If I make a monk's life sound too romantic, that's only because I am not a monk. For sure, being a monk is hard work. Waking up early each day for prayer, keeping himself in silence, being grateful for his community, accepting that sometimes he will be misunderstood, constantly dedicating himself to his study and work, doing it all over again day in and day out.
Why do we consider monks to be so radical? As I have been reflecting on the life of a monk, I cannot help but wonder just how similar in spirit the routine life of a monk is to that of a parent.
Thinking about it, the mother wakes up early too, takes care of others, spends time at the desk, fills out the bills and family schedules, finds nuggets of time for rest and a prayer, feeds her family, puts the kids to sleep. Then, she does it all over again the next day. Although the parental robes look nothing like those of Carthusian and the parent's routine is anything but silent, overall, the daily life of a dedicated, faithful, and loving parent is not totally dissimilar from the daily life of the monks.
All faithful people share the habit (the day-in and day-out routine) of following Christ. All of us seek to have Him be our center, our teacher, our friend, and our Savior.
All too often we tend to think of monks as holier than the rest of us. For sure, monks are holy people, but so is everyone else who gives their lives to the Gospel. Holiness is not dependent upon what you wear, where you live, or the specific prayers you say. Holiness is dependent upon Christ. Whether we are a stay-at-home mom or the president of a company, a seminarian or a lapsed Catholic, to be holy is to give our lives to the teaching, example, and life of Jesus Christ. The Church is big and there is no one style of Catholicism that is "more right" than the others save that of making Christ the center of our lives. Whether we are in the Grande Chartreuse or Suburbia, USA, a life centered in Christ comes through the routine experiences of the Sacraments, service, community, and prayer.
In a review for PBS of the award-winning film Of Gods and Men, Fr. James Martin, SJ, said this: "The life of the contemplative and the life of the active person are untied in the monks and should be united in all religious people." Well said, Fr. Martin!
As a Jesuit, my life is lived more out of a suitcase than a monastery cell. So it goes that I am not a monk. The overwhelming majority of the Church aren't monks either. But as they hold a rich and lasting tradition in the Church, they have something to teach us about dedicating ourselves to a routine life rooted in the person of Christ. So when you have the time, search around the Church's attic. With 1.16 billion members, you will never ceased to be surprised by what you will find and, moreover, in what way those finding relates to you.