Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Peter's Sermon - Acts 4:8


"Our first reading for today proposes a very serious challenge to the inclusiveness and non-judgmentalism that is taken for granted in our culture today. The chief of the Apostles says, “He is the stone rejected by you the builders, which has become the cornerstone. There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.” Stay with how uncomfortable this is—because in a way, that’s the point." Bishop Robert Barron.


Sunday, 22 April 2018

Good Shepherd Sunday - 2018

Who's Voice do I hear ...

... and What Is That Voice Saying?

 I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, ...

“Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber. But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice. But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.” John 10:

 In Jesus time, it was the practice for shepherds to coral several flocks into a single sheepfold over night for their protection and safety. In the morning, a shepherd would come to the gate, call out to the sheep, and only his sheep would come out and follow him. Such was the recognition and influence of the shepherd's voice. Knowing this gives us insight into why Jesus chose to use it as an image of his influence in our lives. To be a follower of Christ, we must have His Voice imprinted on our hearts.

 This imprinting happens through our reflective, meditative prayer. When the Lord speaks, it has a positive effect on our hearts. When it is not the Lord's voice we are hearing, its effect is negative. In our previous Post, we discussed identifying these movements of our hearts as we prayed. In this Post, we will look at identifying and naming the specific things that are attached to the different movements of heart we feel. 

 This is particularly helpful in matters having to do with choices. Here is an example of what I mean.

 Supposing a friend invites you to spend a week with them at their new summer home. You are delighted with the invitation, especially since you are desperately in need of a break. You are about to accept when you remember, that it is the same week you promised another friend, that you would help them with some much needed renovations at their house. Both are good propositions; and after some thought, you decide to beg off helping your friend in favour of taking the week at the summer home.

 But, having made this choice makes you feel conflicted. You feel sad for turning down a friend in need. What to do?

 Now, a third friend calls you to commend you for offering to help your friend in need. They remark how kind and generous you are, especially since your friend could not possibly have done the work without you. This makes you feel very positive about yourself. So you reconsider your decision and choose to decline the holiday in favour of helping your friend in need.

  That call from the third friend is likened to the Lord's Voice in prayer. Having been presented with choices, you make a decision. Now you take your decision to prayer. You stack your decision up against the images, examples and thoughts you see as you pray the scriptures. This sheds new light on the process that lead to your decision. In the light of the "grace of prayer", ether a confirmation or a rethinking of your choice emerges. Like the friend's voice in our example, the Voice of the Lord will lead you to a better choice, confirmed by its positive thoughts and feeling.

 We can rationalize ourselves into all manner of choices. But there is no deceiving the Lord. A heart sincere and open to listening in prayer, will hear the Good Shepherd's voice. If your choice is a bad one you will want to move away from it. If it is a good one, it will draw you closer to the Lord.

 For a more complete and comprehensive treatment of this subject, prayer and choosing, visit the Ignatian Spirituality Site.

 "The sheep of the shepherd hear his voice, as he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out."


Tuesday, 17 April 2018

The Beginnings of the Eucharistic Liturgy


 From the first apology in defense of the Christians by Saint Justin, martyr
The celebration of the Eucharist

No one may share the Eucharist with us unless he believes that what we teach is true, unless he is washed in the regenerating waters of baptism for the remission of his sins, and unless he lives in accordance with the principles given us by Christ.

We do not consume the Eucharistic bread and wine as if it were ordinary food and drink, for we have been taught that as Jesus Christ our Savior became a man of flesh and blood by the power of the Word of God, so also the food that our flesh and blood assimilates for its nourishment becomes the flesh and blood of the incarnate Jesus by the power of his own words contained in the prayer of thanksgiving.

The apostles, in their recollections, which are called gospels, handed down to us what Jesus commanded them to do. They tell us that he took bread, gave thanks and said: Do this in memory of me. This is my body. In the same way he took the cup, he gave thanks and said: This is my blood. The Lord gave this command to them alone. Ever since then we have constantly reminded one another of these things. The rich among us help the poor and we are always united. For all that we receive we praise the Creator of the universe through his Son Jesus Christ and through the Holy Spirit.

On Sunday we have a common assembly of all our members, whether they live in the city or the outlying districts. The recollections of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as there is time. When the reader has finished, the president of the assembly speaks to us; he urges everyone to imitate the examples of virtue we have heard in the readings. Then we all stand up together and pray.

On the conclusion of our prayer, bread and wine and water are brought forward. The president offers prayers and gives thanks to the best of his ability, and the people give assent by saying, “Amen.” The Eucharist is distributed, everyone present communicates, and the deacons take it to those who are absent.

The wealthy, if they wish, may make a contribution, and they themselves decide the amount. The collection is placed in the custody of the president, who uses it to help the orphans and widows and all who for any reason are in distress, whether because they are sick, in prison, or away from home. In a word, he takes care of all who are in need.

We hold our common assembly on Sunday because it is the first day of the week, the day on which God put darkness and chaos to flight and created the world, and because on that same day our savior Jesus Christ rose from the dead. For he was crucified on Friday and on Sunday he appeared to his apostles and disciples and taught them the things that we have passed on for your consideration.

From the Office of Readings - Third Sunday of Easter.

This special series of posts focuses on  Baptism In the Holy Spirit and guides one, through a process of prayer, to seek this experience or to renew one’s personal experience of the Gift of the Holy Spirit.


Saturday, 14 April 2018

Third Sunday of Easter - 2018

However, when the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth. Jo. 16:13

A Meditation for the Third Sunday of Easter

Today’s gospel reading is taken from Luke’s gospel account – Chapter 24. This chapter has four parts: 1. Easter morning and the empty tomb of Jesus; 2. The encounter with Jesus on the road to Emmaus; 3. The appearance of Jesus in Jerusalem; 4. The Ascension of Jesus.

In each of these encounters, the people involved are overcome with amazement and struggle to understand what they are experiencing. Obviously, they did not understand what Jesus had been foretelling of his pending suffering and death, but that he would overcome death and return to them. The cross crushed all the hope they had in Jesus, as the two disciples on the road to Emmaus reveal. That is evidence of the great power death has to tear apart the trust and hope of any believer.

With his resurrection Jesus begins the healing and restoration of their shattered faith, and it begins with physical evidence: “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” But Jesus does not intend that this physical way of coming to certain faith will be the way of the future. A more convincing and certain way is now to be revealed.

Do we not sometimes wonder why Jesus did not continue to remain physically present for every generation to see and be convinced?

Luke has given us two books to instruct us and answer that question. His first book is his Gospel Book, and his second book is the Acts of the Apostles. It is in Acts that we learn of this better way. Let me use an illustration to explain. Suppose I were to lead you to the entrance of a tunnel, and I explained that on the other side of this tunnel is a glorious ancient city, magnificent and beautiful. Now you know about the existence of that city, but only by the evidence of my reporting. But if you enter into that tunnel and pass through it to the other side, you will know for certain, by your own experience, of the existence of that city I described. Knowledge comes from hearing, certainty comes by experience.

Jesus wants to take us into the mystery of his resurrection by way of the “tunnel” of spirituality. This will be accomplished through the working of the Holy Spirit. We see the beginnings of this certifying of faith with the two disciples on the way to Emmaus. They asked one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us as He spoke with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” Lk 24:32 <> Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures. Lk 24:45

When the Holy Spirit seeds the revelation of Jesus’ gospel, deep within our hearts, nothing, not even death itself can destroy such certain faith. This is work of the Holy Spirit and it happens within us when we engage in the practice a personal spiritual life. Lots of people know about Jesus and his teachings; indeed, great scholars have far more knowledge of scripture than you or I could ever hope to know, yet some of them are atheists. A dynamic living faith is a work of grace, and it is discovered when we enter the “Tunnel of Prayer”.

This special series of posts focuses of  Baptism In the Holy Spirit
 and guides one, through a process of prayer, to seek this experience 
 or to renew of one’s  personal experience of the Gift of the Holy Spirit.


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