Monday, April 06, 2009

Fr. Dick Rieman: A priest gave a mission on suffering and death. Everyone was deeply affected emotionally - and visibly – except one woman up front who smiled through the entire sermon. After wards the priest asked her why she smiled through the whole of it and was visibly unaffected. She answered: “It’s not my parish.”

First Night:
Holiness: All Called

What is astounding: that God actually became man so that man could become God: “Et Verbum caro factum est” (Jn. 1, 14). He became sin (2 Cor. 5, 21); obeyed to death, “even to death on a Cross (Philippians 2, 8), and has risen as He said (Matt 28, 6) to divinize us: “When I am raised up from the earth, I will draw all to myself” (Jn. 12, 32). Therefore, “I live; no not I, Christ lives in me” (Gal 2, 20).

Christ Lives

St. Josemaria Escriva: “Christ is alive. He is not someone who has gone, someone who existed for a time and then passed on, leaving us a wonderful example and a great memory.

“No, Christ is alive. Jesus is the Emmanuel: God with us. His resurrection shows us that God does not abandon his own. He promised he would not: Can a woman forget her baby that is still unweaned, pity no longer the son she bore in her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you (Is. 49, 14-15). And he has kept his promise. His delight is still to be with the sons of men (Prov. 8, 31).”

1) “‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is and who was and who is coming, the Almighty’” (Apocalypse 1, 8)
“I am the alpha and the omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end!” (Apocalypse 22, 13).

2) “All things have been created through and unto him, and he is before all creatures, and in him all things hold together” (Col. 1, 17-19).

3) “For all things are yours… and you are Christ’s and Christ is God’s” (1 Cor. 3, 22-23).

4) “Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish in his sight in love. He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ as his sons according to the purpose of his will” (Ephesians 1, 4-5).

Christ Calls: To Peter and Andrew while fishing: “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Mt. 4, 18).
To James and John fishermen mending their nets: “Immediately, he called them” (Mark 1, 20)
To Matthew: “He saw a man named Matthew sitting in the tex-collector’s place, and said to him, ‘Follow me’” (Mt. 9, 9).

The Rich Young Man: "You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me" (mark 10, 17).

The Danger: We reduce the supernatural vocation directed to each of us in Baptism to an external moralism and religious performances.

The risen Christ is God/man: “He worked with human hands, He thought with a human mind, acted by human choice and loved with a human heart. Born of the Virgin Mary, He has truly been made one of us, like us in all things except sin” (Gaudium et Spes #22).

Therefore, we can deal with Him.


Ruwanda: the Genocide: The Rwandan Genocide was the 1994 mass killing of hundreds of thousands of
Rwanda's Tutsis and Hutu political moderates by Hutus under the Hutu Power ideology. Estimates: the number of victims of the genocide:1,174,000 in 100 days (10,000 murdered every day, 400 every hour, 7 every minute).
Immaculée Ilibagiza: “Left to Tell”
“I spotted Kananga, a young man I’d known since childhood…. I saw Philip, a young man who’d been too shy to look anyone in the eye, but who now seemed completely at home in this group of killers… I recognized dozens of Mataba’s most prominent citizens in the mob, all of whom were in a killing frenzy, ranting and screaming for Tutsi blood. The killers leading the group pushed their way into the pastor’s house, and suddenly the chanting was coming from all directions.
‘Find them, find them, kill them all!’
“My head was spinning; I fell backward onto the ladies. I couldn’t breathe. ‘Dear God, save us…’ I whispered but couldn’t remember the words to any of my prayers. A wave of despair washed over me and I was overwhelmed by fear.
“That’s when the devil first whispered in my ear. ‘Why are you calling on God? Look at all of them out there… hundreds of them looking for you. They are legion, and you are one. You can’t possibly survive – you won’t survive. They’re inside the house, and they’re moving through the rooms. They’re close, almost here. They’re going to find you, rape you, cut you, kill you!.’
“My heart was pounding. What was this voice? I squeezed my eyes shut as tightly as I could to resist the negative thoughts. I grasped the read and white rosary my father had given me, and silently prayed with all my might: “God, in the Bible You said that You can do anything for anybody. Well, I am one of those anybodies, and I need You to do something for me now. Please, God, blind the killers when they reach the pastor’s bedroom – don’t let them find the bathroom door, and don’t let them see us! You saved Daniel in the lions’ den, God. You stopped the lions from ripping him apart… stop these killers from ripping us apart, God! Save us, like You saved Daniel!
“I prayed more intensely than I’d every prayed before, but still the negative energy racked my spirit. The voice of doubt was in my ear again as surely as if Satan himself were sitting on my shoulder. I literally felt the fear pumping through my veins, and my blood was on fire. “You’re going to die, Immaculee!” the voice taunted. You compare yourself to Daniel? How conceited you are… Daniel was pure of heart and loved by God – he was a prophet, a saint! What are you? You are nothing… you deserve suffering and pain… You deserve to die!”
“I clutched my rosary as though it were a lifeline to God. IN my mind and heart I cried out to Him for help: “Yes, I am nothing, but You are forgiving. I am human and I am weak, but please, God, giave me Your forgiveness. Forgive my trespasses… and please send these killers away before they find us!
“My temples poiunded. The dark voice was in my hdead, filling it with fearful, unspeakable images. “Dead bodies are everywhere. Mothers have seen their babies chopped in half, their fetuses ripped from their wombs… and you thnk you should be spared? Mothers prayed for God to spare their babies and He ignored them – why should He save you when innocent babies are being murdered? You are selfish, and you have no shame. Listen, Immaculee… do you hear them? The killers are outside your door – they’re here for you.”
“My head was burning, but I did hear the killers in the hall, screaming, “Kill them! Kill them all!”
“No! God love, I told the voice. He loves me and wouldn’t fill me with fear. He will not abandon me. He will not let me die cowering on a bathroom floor. He will not let me die in shame!
“I struggled to form an image of God in my mind, envisioning two pillars of brilliant white light burning brightly in front of me, like two giant legs. I wrapped my arms around the legs, like a frightened child clinging to its mother. I begged God to fill me with His light and strength, to case out the dark energy from my heart: “I’m holding on to Your legs, God, and I do not doubt that You can save me. I will not let go of You until You have sent the killers away.
The Struggle between, my prayers and the evil whispers that I was sure belonged to the devil raged in my mind. I never stopped praying… and the whispering never relented.
“In the evening, the pastor opened the door and found us all in a sort of trance. I was bathed in sweat, exhausted, clutching my rosary in both hands, and oblivious to my surroundings. I was still mouthing prayer after prayer while staring vacantly at the others. Therese was using one hand to cover her eyes and the other to hold her Bible firmly on top of her head. And young Beata was crouching on her knees, arms in front of her, hands clasped in prayer.

“The pastor called our names, but not one of us heard him. Finally, he shook us to awaken us from our stupor. I looked up at him, blinking, confused, and completely taken aback when he began laughing… “The killers left seven hours ago. I can’t believe you’re al still praying.”
“To me, those seven hours had passed in what seemed like a few minutes, yet I was utterly drained. In all my years of praying, I’d never focused so completely on God, or been so keenly aware of the presence of darkness. I’d seen evil in the eyes of the killers, and had felt evil…

* * * * * * * * *

“When the killers were out of earshot, my thoughts drifted away from God, and the negative energy rushed in. Yet whenever I prayed, I immediately felt His love around me, and the anxiety eased.
“So I resolved to pray during every waking moment, beginning as soon as my eyes opened at 4 or 5 a.m. My first prayer was always to thank God that the pastor’s home had been built so it could shelter us during the genocide. Then I thanked Him for having the architect design the house with an extra bathroom, and for prompting the pastor to buy a wardrobe of exactly the right dimensions to conceal our hiding place.
“After my warm-up devotions of thanks, I began praying my rosary. I prayed many different Catholic prayers on the red and white beads. Sometimes I prayed so intensely that I broke out in a sweat. Hours would pass… when I finished the rosary and my prayers, I’d take a ‘break’ to mediate on some of my favorite Bible passages.
“Because I felt that my faith was under attack, I spent hours contemplating two verses I’d memorized form Mark, which talked the powers of faith. First, there was this one: ‘Therefore I say unto you, what things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them’ (Mark 11, 24)
“Then I would reflect on the other one: ‘For verily I say unto you, that whosever shall say unto this mountain, be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever the saith” (Mark 11, 23)
Even a few minutes not spend in prayer or contemplation of God became an invitation for Satan to stab me with his double-edged knife of doubt and self-pity. Prayer became my armor, and I wrapped it tightly around my heart.”

* * * * * * * * *

“I sat stone-still on that dirty floor for hours on end, contemplating the urity of His energy while the force of His love flowed through me like a sacred river, cleansing my soul and easing my mind. Sometimes I felt as though I were floating above my body, cradled in God’s might palm, safe in His loving hand. IN my mind, I heard myself speaking in exotic languages I’d never heard before – I instinctively knew that I was praising God’s greatness and love.

“During my waking hours AI was in constant communication with God, praying and mediating for 15 to 20 hours every day. I even dreamed of Jesus and the Virgin Mary during the few hours I slept.

In the midst of the genocide, I’d found my salvation. I knew that’s my bond with God would transcend the bathroom, the war, and the holocaust… it was a bond I now knew would transcend life itself.
I lifted my heart to the Lord, and He filled it with His love and forgiveness. Being in that bathroom had become a blessing for which I’d be forever thankful. Even if my parents had perished in the bloodshed outside, I would never be an orphan. I’d been born again in the bathroom and was not the loving daughter of God, my Father.”

St. Josemaria Escriva: “Towards Holiness”

“We started out with the simple and attractive vocal prayers that we learned as children, prayers we want never to abandon. Our prayer, which began so child-like and ingenuous, now opens out into a broad, smooth-flowing stream, for it follows the course of friendship with him who said: ‘I am the way.’
“Asceticism? Mysticism? It doesn’t matter what you call it. Either way, it is a gift of God’s mercy. If you try to mediate, Our Lord will not deny you his assistance. Faith and deeds of faith are what matter: deeds, because, as you have known from the beginning and as I told you clearly at the time, the Lord demands more from us each day. This is already contemplation and union. This is the way many Christians should live, each one forging ahead along his own spiritual path (there are countless paths) in the midst of the cares of the world, even though he may not even realize what is happening to him.
Such prayer and behavior do not take us away from our ordinary activities. In the midst of our noble human zeal they lead us to Our Lord. When men offer up all their cares and occupations to God they make the world divine.”


“What matters is not whether our mental prayer is beautiful, or whether it works, or whether it is enriched by deep thoughts and feelings, but whether it is persevering and faithful. Our first concern, if I may put that way, should be faithfulness in praying, not the quality of our prayer. The quality will come from fidelity. Time spent faithfully every day in mental prayer that is poor, arid, distracted, and relatively short is worth more, and will be infinitely more fruitful for our progress, than long, ardent spells of mental prayer from time to time, when circumstances make it easy. After that first decision to take the prayer life seriously, the first battle we must fight is the battle to be faithful to our times of mental prayer, come what may, according to a definite plan we have established. It is not an easy battle. Knowing how much is at stake, the devil wants at all costs to keep us from being faithful to mental prayer. He knows that a person who is faithful to mental prayer has escaped from him, or at least is sure of escaping in the end. HE therefore does everything he can to prevent us from being faithful.”[3]

[1] Josemaria Escriva “Christ’s Presence in Christians,” Christ is Passing By (Scepter) #102.
[2] “Left to Tell” 72-84; 107
[3] Jacques Philippe, “Time for God,” Scepter (2008) 16-17.

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