Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Thoughts on caring

Life is a Gift to be Shared
What then is care? The word care finds its origin in the word kara, which means “to lament, to mourn, to participate in suffering, to share in pain.” To care is to cry out with those who are ill, confused, lonely, isolated, and forgotten, and to recognize their pains in our own heart. To care is to enter into the world of those who are only touched by hostile hands, to listen attentively to those whose words are only heard by greedy ears, and to speak gently with those who are used to harsh orders and impatient requests. To care is to be present to those who suffer and to stay present even when nothing can be done to change their situation. To care is to be compassionate and so to form a community of people honestly facing the painful reality of our finite existence. To care is the most human gesture, in which the courageous confession of our common brokenness does not lead to paralysis but to community. When the humble confession of our basic human brokenness forms the ground from which all skillful healing comes forth, then cure can be welcomed not as a property to be claimed, but as a gift to be shared in gratitude.
Henri Nouwen

Monday, June 17, 2019

Thoughts on evil people

Matthew 5:38-42

Friends, today’s Gospel gives Jesus’ teaching about nonresistance to evil people. We are continually wanting God to behave as we would—that is to say, withdrawing his love from those who don’t deserve it and giving his love to those who do deserve it. But this is just not the way God operates.

Why should you pray for someone who is persecuting you? Why shouldn’t you be allowed at least to answer him in kind—an eye for an eye? Because God doesn’t operate that way, and you are being drawn into the divine life. Why should you turn the other cheek to someone who has struck you? Because it’s practical? No, because that’s the way God operates, and you’re being called into the divine life. Why should you go beyond simply loving those who love you? Because that’s the way God operates: he loves the saints and he loves the worst of sinners.

Is any of this easy to do? Of course not. Are we able to get to this state through willing it, through earnest practice? Of course not! That’s why love is referred to as a theological virtue. It is the sheerest participation in the divine life, and it can only come from God.

Robert Barron


Sunday, June 16, 2019

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Thoughts on acceptance

God’s Acceptance of Us is Unlimited
Our true challenge is to return to the center, to the heart, and to find there the gentle voice that speaks to us and affirms us in a way no human voice ever could. The basis of all ministry is the experience of God’s unlimited and unlimiting acceptance of us as beloved children, an acceptance so full, so total and all-embracing, that it sets us free from our compulsion to be seen, praised, and admired and frees us for Christ, who leads us on the road of service.

This experience of God’s acceptance frees us from our needy self and thus creates new space where we can pay selfless attention to others. This new freedom in Christ allows us to move in the world uninhibited by our compulsions and to act creatively even when we are laughed at and rejected, even when our words and actions lead us to death.

Henri Nouwen


Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Thoughts on birthdays

Birthdays need to be celebrated. I think it is more important to celebrate a birthday than a successful exam, a promotion, or a victory. Because to celebrate a birthday means to say to someone: “Thank you for being you.” Celebrating a birthday is exalting life and being glad for it. On a birthday we do not say: “Thanks for what you did, or said, or accomplished.” No, we say: “Thank you for being born and being among us.”
On birthdays we celebrate the present. We do not complain about what happened or speculate about what will happen, but we lift someone up and let everyone say: “We love you.”
Henri Nouwen

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Thoughts on support

While we all need encouragement, sometimes we may rely a bit too much on others. Maybe we’re afraid to join a gym or a support group if we can’t convince someone to go with us. We don’t have to be so afraid. We are enough because God is with us. Just as Gideon’s reinforcements were whittled down, maybe our familiar supports fall away for one reason or another. When we’re left facing our own weakness, there’s nothing else to do but call on God’s strength. Whatever fears we’ve faced in the past, we’ve survived them all. The support we were looking for at the time may not have been there. That doesn’t mean God wasn’t supporting us. After all, we did get through. That same God will always provide what we need—both the internal resources and external assistance—to get through anything he has in mind for us.  
—from the book Fools, Liars, Cheats, and Other Bible Heroes  by Barbara Hosbach

Sunday, June 9, 2019

More thoughts on the Holy Spirit

This fundamental gift of the Holy Spirit—whom Jesus called the “promise of the Father”—was given to the apostles at Pentecost. And in the miraculous events that accompanied the sending of the Holy Spirit, it became quite clear that the saving action of God would compellingly move forward. Those present in the Upper Room were recreated according to the order of grace to share the life of God, who is love. They were able to, as it were, “breathe with God.” This love poured into their hearts by the Holy Spirit is no mere human sentiment but the indwelling presence of the divine. It courses through them as gently and imperceptibly as the air they breathe. The Holy Spirit is the unseen power that fuels the ministry and activity of the apostles and gives them the courage to speak in Jesus’s name.
—from the book Inspired: The Powerful Presence of the Holy Spirit by Fr. Gary Caster

Friday, June 7, 2019

Thoughts on Pentecost

Pentecost is about witnessing. Jesus promises that the Spirit will come to testify, be a witness on his behalf. Jesus also commissions the disciples to be witnesses: are you and I also ready to testify? Pentecost is about being witnessed to, and also about being witnesses. How do we become Christian witnesses?
We do this by attending to how the Spirit witnesses to us, for example through The Spiritual Exercises.  Like those early witnesses to Jesus, the Spirit can awaken our spirit to respond to Jesus. This comes from intimacy with Jesus: in private moments of intimacy, such as the privacy of a quiet White House retreat and in communal moments like participation in the liturgy, where two are three are gathered in Jesus name -- we know that he is present here among us. 
Pentecost challenges us to make space and time for the Spirit in our noisy lives. In this way the Spirit can witnesses to us with many gifts, but we have open ourselves to receive these gifts, discern our gifts in community, gifts of the spirit such as: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Generosity, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self control.
How are you called to be a witness here and now? Today, let us once again invite the Pentecost Spirit into our lives, the Spirit who draws us inward to discernment, the Spirit who compels us outward to be witnesses to Jesus

-Fr. Ted Arroyo, SJ

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Thoughts on celebration

Celebrate in the Present
Celebrating is first of all the full affirmation of our present condition. We say with full consciousness: we are, we are here, we are now, and let it be that way. We can only really celebrate when we are present in the present. If anything has become clear, it is that we have to a large extent lost the capability to live in the present. Many so-called celebrations are not much more than a painful moment between bothersome preparations and boring after-talks. We can only celebrate if there is something present that can be celebrated. We cannot celebrate Christmas when there is nothing new born here and now; we cannot celebrate Easter when no new life becomes visible; we cannot celebrate Pentecost when there is no Spirit whatsoever to celebrate. Celebration is the recognition that something is there and needs to be made visible so that we can all say yes to it.
Henri Nouwen

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Thoughts on joy

Joy is essential to the spiritual life. Whatever we may think of or say about God, when we are not joyful, our thoughts and words cannot bear fruit. Jesus reveals to us God’s love so that his joy may become ours and that our joy may become complete. Joy is the experience of knowing that you are unconditionally loved and that nothing—sickness, failure, emotional distress, oppression, war, or even death—can take that love away.

Joy is not the same as happiness. We can be unhappy about many things, but joy can still be there because it comes from the knowledge of God’s love for us. . . . Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day. It is a choice based on the knowledge that we belong to God and have found in God our refuge and our safety and that nothing, not even death, can take God away from us.
Henri Nouwen