A Reflection on a Reflection

Zenit posted this reflection by Pope Benedict, and it really spoke to me. So, I’m putting it out there, along with my own commentary, 🙂 so that our shepherd can feed you spiritually, as well. 🙂

Pope Leads Roman Priests in Scripture Reflection

 Considers Vocation, Lack of Catechesis, Truth and Charity

 VATICAN CITY, FEB. 24, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI on Thursday met with priests of his diocese and led them in “lectio divina,” offering a spontaneous Scripture reflection.  Following a reading from the Letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians, the Pope gave an extensive off-the-cuff commentary on the passage.

The Apostle says: “I … beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

The Holy Father reflected on the vocation to the priesthood.  [I think it is quite interesting that the Holy Father picked this passage.  See, for me, this passage has always spoken to me of my vocation, to be an intercessor, and in a particular way, to be an intercessor for priests.]

The first call we receive is that of baptism, the Pope explained, the second is the vocation to be pastors at the service of Christ. “The great ill of the Church in Europe and the West today is the lack of priestly vocations. Yet, the Lord calls always, what is lacking are ears to listen. We listened to the Lord’s voice and must remain attentive when that voice is addressed to others. We must help to ensure the voice is heard so that the call will be accepted.”  [I think this lack of hearing is not reserved to men discerning a vocation to the priesthood, but everyone, especially in this age where we barely take the time to reflect on the sound bites which are sent our way – much less a message which actually requires pondering.  How can we possibly hear God if we are surrounding ourselves with a cacophony of meaningless noise?  I think as a coping mechanism, we have created what I call the “Junk Filter.”  My junk filter is usually running on High; meaning that very little gets through, and most of what does gets immediately trashed and forgotten as “irrelevant data.”  This extends not only to that which I hear, but also to that which I read – to the extent that often I find myself not “reading” at all, but scanning through text to see if anything might jump out that might have significance for me.  The problem with all of this is that there is much of value which I am missing.  And, worst of all, the voice of God could get caught in my junk filter without my being aware of it.]

According to St. Paul, the primary virtue that must accompany vocation is humility. This is the virtue of the followers of Christ Who, “being equal to God, humbled Himself, accepting the status of servant, and obeying even unto the cross. This was the Son’s journey of humility, which we must imitate. … The opposite of humility is pride, the root of all sin. Pride means arrogance, which above all seeks power and appearance. … It has no intention of pleasing God; rather of pleasing itself, of being accepted, even venerated, by others. The ‘self’ becomes the centre of the world; the prideful self which knows everything. Being Christian means overcoming this original temptation, which is also the nucleus of original sin: being like God, but without God.”

By contrast “humility is, above all, truth, … recognition that I am a thought of God in the construction of His world, that I am irreplaceable as I am, in my smallness, and that only in this way am I great. … Let us learn this realism; not seeking appearance, but seeking to please God and to accomplish what He has thought out for us, and thus also accepting others. … Acceptance of self and acceptance of others go together. Only by accepting myself as part of the great divine tapestry can I also accept others, who with me form part of the great symphony of the Church and Creation.” In this way, likewise, we learn to accept our position within the Church, knowing that “my small service is great in the eyes of God.”  [This is a hard lesson to learn even within my own vocation.  See, just because God has made an individual extremely important in my life (so that I – in my self-absorption – might occasionally remember to do that to which I have been called), this does not mean that I am equally important in that other’s life.  And the truth is:  I shouldn’t expect this.  God gave me this person so that I might support him in prayer, because he needs this.  I am to be a spiritual warrior, in a sense, so that he can do what it is that God is calling him to do.  And so, while I am struggling myself with trying to create some distance from the secular cacophony so that I might better hear God, I need to remember that he, and others, also need that same distance.  However hard it might be when normal channels of communication are severed between friends for the sake creating this opportunity for inner solitude.  It is precisely in this dynamic that I can learn more fully what it means to love, which I think is why God gave me this vocation in the first place.  Because this other person is such a central part of my day and my prayers, I assume for myself a similar status.  Aren’t I important, too?  Of course I am!  But wait, isn’t that a distinct lack of humility?  Why, yes, it is.  And further, it’s an insufficient expression of love.  For what is love but giving your life in some way for another person?  I should only be seeking to give and not to receive.  I am only being asked to give of my time and my prayers.  Any friendship which we might have is a gratuitous gift from God.  True love in Christ is to always want what is best for the other.  Obviously, the opportunity to grow closer to Christ is what is best for the other.  And so I must not mourn the seeming separation that the fasting from technological communication causes, but rejoice in the fact that a deeper bond is being made with our Lord.  The reality is that as each of us individually becomes more closely united with our Lord, we are more closely united to each other – because we are part of the same body which is Him.  Sometimes, I just need to hash this all out on paper (or cyberpaper, as the case may be), in order to see what it is which God wishes me to see.  And I think that in the end, He’s trying to tell me that humility and obedience to His will ultimately leads to an increase in love.  Following my inclinations will only frustrate that after which I am seeking.]

Immature faith

Lack of humility destroys the unity of Christ’s Body. Yet at the same time, unity cannot develop without knowledge. “One great problem facing the Church today is the lack of knowledge of the faith, ‘religious illiteracy,'” the Pope said. “With such illiteracy we cannot grow. … Therefore we must reappropriate the contents of the faith, not as a packet of dogmas and commandments, but as a unique reality revealed in its all its profoundness and beauty. We must do everything possible for catechetical renewal in order for the faith to be known, God to be known, Christ to be known, the truth to be known, and for unity in the truth to grow.”

We cannot, Benedict XVI warned, live in “a childhood of faith.” Many adults have never gone beyond the first catechesis, meaning that “they cannot – as adults, with competence and conviction – explain and elucidate the philosophy of the faith, its great wisdom and rationality” in order to illuminate the minds of others. To do this they need an “adult faith.” This does not mean, as has been understood in recent decades, a faith detached from the Magisterium of the Church. When we abandon the Magisterium, the result is dependency “on the opinions of the world, on the dictatorship of the communications media.” By contrast, true emancipation consists in freeing ourselves of these opinions, the freedom of the children of God. “We must pray to the Lord intensely, that He may help us emancipate ourselves in this sense, to be free in this sense, with a truly adult faith, … capable of helping others achieve true perfection … in communion with Christ.”

Truth

The Pope went on: “Today the concept of truth is viewed with suspicion, because truth is identified with violence. Over history there have, unfortunately, been episodes when people sought to defend the truth with violence. But they are two contrasting realities. Truth cannot be imposed with means other than itself! Truth can only come with its own light. Yet, we need truth. … Without truth we are blind in the world, we have no path to follow. The great gift of Christ was that He enabled us to see the face of God.”

“Where there is truth, there is charity,” the Pope concluded. “This, thanks be to God, can be seen in all centuries, despite many sad events. The fruits of charity have always been present in Christianity, just as they are today. We see it in the martyrs, we see it in so many nuns, monks, and priests who humbly serve the poor and the sick. They are the presence of Christ’s charity and a great sign that the truth is here.”  [Perhaps what is needed is to view it not so much as being a spiritual warrior, but as being a spiritual servant.  For it certainly isn’t through any action of mine that my prayers have efficacy, but through the fact that God allows me to participate in this way so as to be a conduit for His grace.  It is His mercy which allows for my participation, not for the good of the person or people for whom I pray, but for the conversion of my own heart to be conformed to His.]

“Doing” Lent

Lenten Cross

I’m still trying to think of a daily thing to “give up.”

I have committed to reading Scripture daily (although I recognize that I should have *already* been doing this) and writing a prayer daily to/for Erwin and Lindsay for their upcoming wedding.

I will pray a rosary at least once a week.

In general, I’m working on cleaning the house and making it more hospitable to guests; hopefully, with the goal of having my parents over for dinner one night during Lent.

I know a lot of people are “unplugging” for Lent, but for me, the internet is one of the main ways in which I am connected to people, and I don’t think that isolation is what God is asking of me at this point. So while spending more time in prayer is on the list of things to focus on, I may actually be online *more*, especially for things like updating my blog with some insights or meditations that strike me as I am attempting to grow closer to God.

In trying to grow closer to God, I am reading “The Introduction to the Devout Life,” by St. Francis De Sales, “The Catechism of the Catholic Church,” and a few daily devotional guides to Lent (including the new one based on the teachings of Mother Teresa). This is in addition to my usual pile of religious/spiritual reading. 🙂

Above all, I think this Lent I am going to try to listen more to what the Lord is asking of me each day and during this time in particular, rather than try to “do Lent” on my own. 🙂

Falling in Love

The Pope’s message presented the vocation as a response to divine love.

“We are loved by God even ‘before’ we come into existence,” the Holy Father stated. “Moved solely by his unconditional love, he created us ‘not … out of existing things,’ to bring us into full communion with Him. […]

“The profound truth of our existence is thus contained in this surprising mystery: every creature, and in particular every human person, is the fruit of God’s thought and an act of his love, a love that is boundless, faithful and everlasting. The discovery of this reality is what truly and profoundly changes our lives.”

The Bishop of Rome quoted at length St. Augustine’s expression of his discovery of God, “supreme beauty and supreme love.”

“[…] You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace,” the Holy Father quoted.

“With these images,” he reflected, “the Saint of Hippo seeks to describe the ineffable mystery of his encounter with God, with God’s love that transforms all of life. It is a love that is limitless and that precedes us, sustains us and calls us along the path of life, a love rooted in an absolutely free gift of God.”

“Every specific vocation is in fact born of the initiative of God,” Benedict continued. “It is a gift of the Love of God! He is the One who takes the ‘first step,’ and not because he has found something good in us, but because of the presence of his own love ‘poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.'”

Yet, the Holy Father said, “the appealing beauty of this divine love, which precedes and accompanies us, needs to be proclaimed ever anew, especially to younger generations.”

“This divine love,” he said, “is the hidden impulse, the motivation which never fails, even in the most difficult circumstances.”

If you get a chance today read Psalms 139.
God bless!

H/T to Steve

MiChart: Go Live!

The first few days of Go Live were quite exciting for the MiChart crew! We wore our magical MiChart polo shirt to signify that we were Credentialed Trainers (and were *still* mistaken for Super Users, even though they had bright orange/yellow T-shirts). We deployed to various places around the Health System, ready and willing to field whatever problems might arise!

I was originally scheduled to be in the Command Center with Noel, as Carolyn was out, and arrived at Domino’s Farms early at 5:30 am.

A couple hours in, and Irene re-deployed me to the MPB, where Peds did not have any CTs or Super Users for the entire building. It was a good thing that I went, as their templates were messed up and we needed to fix things so that they could schedule RV appointments at the conclusion of clinic. It was fun to be in Peds Multispecialty again and I enjoyed working with the people there.

Cori, one of the Administrative Assistants, showed me how very dedicated they were to being green, as she jumped into a recycling bin to squish down the paper, so that we could fit more in:
We are DEDICATED to being green!  :)

I was in Peds for a day and a half, and then was recalled back to the Command Center, as Noel was getting swamped with Remedy tickets.

The Command Center was a blast! People (like Kevin, here) had placed caution tape up on the entrances to their offices and cubes:
Caution tape in the Command Center!

For the first few days, we had yummy meals catered to us! They usually came in themes: Chinese, Mexican, etc. They fed us breakfast, lunch, dinner and midnight snack, and there were snackies and drinks available throughout. This meant that you ate as you worked. 🙂 We knew it was going to be hard-core when they told us the location of the laundry facilities in the building, told us of the availability of showers, and that there was 2 hotel rooms nearby reserved for our use.

We even had Zombie Cake!
Mmmm...  Zombie Cake!

There was a night pantry, well-stocked for the late nights on the job:
The Late Night Pantry!
The bison toys, canned meat and blankie were special touches, as well as:

5 Hour Energy Drinks! A whole CASE of them!
A whole box of 5 hour energy!

And the DAMMIT DOLL!
Dammit Doll!
This thing is perhaps the most awesome of all! 🙂