Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Disciples Without Discipline?

We are half way through the holy season of Lent, and I find myself just about ready to begin! Where does the time go? I know I waste a great deal of time "playing" on my computer. When my eyes begin to blur from staring at the screen, I will finally decide to log off and go pray. Often I am so tired by then because it is well after my bedtime that my night prayers are not said with the devotion our Lord deserves. What is lacking? Discipline.

I am ashamed to admit that I have fallen prey to the same spirit that permeates our secular world. It is an attitude that also seems to inflict many Christian. We want to be disciples without discipline. We want the love without the very justice that evidences that love. We want the blessings without requiring very much on our part.

We want good feelings all the time, and anything that interferes with these feelings is rejected. Sacrifice--out. Confession--out. Fasting--out. Almsgiving--only if we like the priest. The book of James in the Bible may be downplayed by some protestant congregations, but it seems to be completely forgotten by many Catholics.

Faith without works is dead, our Lord reminds us through the Letter of James. In the readings for today's Mass our Lord tells us that He comes, not to abolish but to fulfill the Law. And not only that, but are not to ignore any part of the Law if we want to be great in the Kingdom of God.

Notice, those who ignore even the smallest part of the Law will still be in the Kingdom. Salvation is through the Passion and Resurrection of Christ. Heaven is not gained by our perceived perfection, but by the Perfect Love of Christ Jesus. But we MUST work, pray, study, adore, serve, fast, give and love.

Regular Mass attendance is absolutely necessary. Where else can we go to get inspired by God's word and nourished by the Blessed Eucharist at the same time? Nowhere. Also, I am not a bit shy about telling people that they ought to pray a Rosary every day of their lives. Most parishes offer extra devotions during Lent such as penance services, Stations of the Cross, other types of prayer services, scripture studies, etc. Check the bulletin or call the parish office.

Finally, please go to Confession. Has it been years? Don't worry. Jesus will accept you and forgive you. Actually, He never stopped. Are you afraid that Father will yell at you? Well... I suppose it could happen, but most often the priest's heart is really touched when someone returns to this Sacrament. I always feel blessed and humbled when anyone comes to Confession, no matter how long (or how short!!!) it has been.

Well, I better get off this computer. I have prayers I want to say, and my heart can't wait a minute longer!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Saint Frances of Rome

Patroness of Automobiles, Motorists and Taxi Drivers

God not only tested the patience of Frances with respect to her material wealth, but he also tested her especially through long and serious illnesses which she had to undergo. And yet no one ever observed in her a tendency toward impatience. She never exhibited any displeasure when she complied with an order, no matter how foolish. With peace of soul, she always reconciled herself to the will of God, and gave him thanks for all that happened. God had not chosen her to be holy merely for her own advantage. Rather the gifts he conferred upon her were to be for the spiritual and physical advantage of her neighbor. For this reason he made her so lovable that anyone with whom she spoke would immediately feel captivated by love for her and ready to help her in everything she wanted. She seemed able to subdue the passions of every type of person with a single word and lead them to do whatever she asked. For this reason people flocked to Frances from all directions, as to a safe refuge. No one left her without being consoled, although she openly rebuked them for their sins and fearlessly reproved them for what was evil and displeasing to God. Many different diseases were rampant in Rome. Fatal diseases and plagues were everywhere, but the saint ignored the risk of contagion and displayed the deepest kindness toward the poor and the needy. Her empathy would first bring them to atone for their sins. Then she would help them by her eager care, and urge them lovingly to accept their trials, however, difficult, from the hand of God. She would encourage them to endure their sufferings for love of Christ, since he had previously endured so much for them. For thirty years Frances continued this service to the sick and the stranger. During epidemics like this it was not only difficult to find doctors to care for the body but even priests to provide remedies for the soul. She herself would seek them out and bring them to those who were disposed to receive the sacraments of penance and the Eucharist.
- from the Life of Saint Frances of Rome by a contemporary