Saturday, 29 March 2014

True Signs of a Vocation

Once again, these two chapters are from Father Doyle's book, "Vocations."

"A vocation, therefore, speaking generally, is not the mysterious thing some people imagine it to be, but simply the choice God makes of one for a certain kind of life."

“A person is known to have a true vocation to enter a particular career in life,” writes Father C. Coppens, S.J.,“ if he feels sincerely convinced, as far as he can judge with God’s grace, that such a career is the best for him to attain the end for which God places him on earth, and is found fit by his talents, habits and circumstances, to enter on that career with a fair prospect of succeeding in the same.”

 "Pere Poulain, S.J., the great French ascetical writer, adds: “In order to judge whether we have a vocation that is inspired by God, it is not usually sufficient to satisfy ourselves that we have a persistent attraction for it. This mark is not certain unless a natural condition is fulfilled, namely, that we have certain physical, moral and intellectual qualities also.”

"A vocation to the religious state supposes, then, not only a supernatural inclination or desire to embrace it, but an aptitude or fitness for its duties. God cannot act inconsistently."

 "If He really wishes one to follow Him, He must give him the means of doing so, and hence if real obstacles stand in the way, e.g., serious infirmities, an old parent to support, etc., such a one is not called to enter religion."

  "God at times inspires a person to do something which He does not really wish or intend to be carried out. Thus David longed to build the Temple of the Lord; Abraham was told to sacrifice his son, merely to test their obedience and willingness; for, says St. Teresa, “God is sometimes more pleased with the desire to do a thing than with its actual accomplishment.”

   "St. Francis de Sales regards “a firm and decided will to serve God” as the best and most certain sign of a true vocation, for the Divine Teacher had once said, “If you wish… come, follow Me.”  He writes: “A genuine vocation is simply a firm and constant will desirous of serving God, in the manner and in the place to which He calls me… I do not say this wish should be exempt from all repugnance, difficulty or distaste.  Hence a vocation must not be considered false because he who feels himself called to the religious state  no longer experiences the same sensible feeling which he had at first and that he even feels a repugnance and such a coldness that he thinks all is lost. It is enough that his will persevere in the resolution of not abandoning its first design."

  "In order to know whether God wills one to be a religious, there is no need to wait till He Himself speaks to us, or until He sends an angel from heaven to signify His will; nor is there any need to have revelations on the subject, but the first movement of the inspiration must be responded to, and then one need not be troubled if disgust or coldness supervene.”


3.  Signs of a Vocation

 "The following is a list of some of the ordinary indications of a vocation, taken principally from the works of Father Gautrelet, S.J., and the Retreat Manual.  No one need expect to have all these marks, but if some of them at least are not perceived, the person may safely say he has no vocation":-

1.      A desire to have a religious vocation, together with the conviction that God is calling you. This desire is generally most strongly felt when the soul is calm, after Holy Communion, and in time of retreat.

2.      A growing attraction for prayer and holy things in  general, together with a longing for a hidden life and a desire to be more closely united to God.

3.      To have a hatred of the world, a conviction of its hollowness and insufficiency to satisfy the soul.  This feeling is generally strongest in the midst of worldly amusement.

4.      A fear of sin, into which it is easy to fall, and a longing to escape from the dangers and temptations of the world.

5.      It is sometimes the sign of a vocation when a person fears that God may call them; when he prays not to have it and cannot banish the thought from his mind.  If the vocation is sound, it will soon give place to an attraction, through Father Lehmkulhl says: “One need not have a natural inclination for the religious life; on the contrary, a divine vocation is compatible with a natural repugnance for the state.”

6.      To have zeal for souls. To realize something of the value of an immortal soul, and to desire to co-operate in their salvation.

7.      To desire to devote our whole life to obtain the conversion of one dear to us.

8.      To desire to atone for our own sins or those of others, and to fly from the temptations which we feel too weak to resist.

9.      An attraction for the state of virginity.

10.  The happiness which the thought of religious life brings, its spiritual helps, its peace, merit and reward.

11.  A longing to sacrifice oneself and abandon all for the love of Jesus Christ, and to suffer for His sake.

12.  A willingness in one not having any dowry, or much education, to be received in any capacity, is a proof of a real vocation.


Sunday, 23 March 2014

"Come, Follow Me."

"Vocations," a book written by Father William Doyle, is a great read for anyone considering a vocation. I will post chapters of the books a few times a week. Please enjoy!

1.  “Come, Follow Me.”

      “GOOD MASTER, what good shall I do that I may have life everlasting?”  It was the eager question of one whom fortune had blessed with the wealth of this world, but who realised that life eternal was a far more precious treasure.  He had come to the Divine Teacher, seeking what he must yet do to make secure the great prize for which he was striving.  He was young and wealthy, a ruler in the land, one whose life had been without stain or blemish.

      “The Commandments? – All these I have kept from my youth,” he had said; “Good Master, what is yet wanting to me?”


      Jesus looked on him with love, for such a soul was dear to His Sacred Heart. “ If thou wilt be perfect,” comes the answer, “go sell what thou hast and give to the poor, and come, follow Me.”


      There was a painful pause: nature and grace were struggling for the mastery; the invitation had been given, the road to perfection pointed out. There was only one sacrifice needed to make him a true disciple, but it was a big one, too great for him who lately seemed so generous.  He hesitates, wavers, and then sadly turns away, with the words “Come, follow Me,” ringing in his ears, for love of his “great possessions” had wrapped itself round his heart – a Vocation had been offered and refused. “What a cloud of misgivings,” says Father Faber, “must hang over the memory of him whom Jesus invited to follow Him.  Is he looking now in heaven upon that Face from whose mild beauty he so sadly turned away on earth?”


      Nearly two thousand years have passed since then, but unceasingly that same Voice has been whispering in the ears of many a lad and maiden, “One thing is yet wanting to you – come, follow Me.”  Some have heard that voice with joy and gladness of heart, and have risen up at the Master’s call; others have stop their ears, or turned away in fear from the side of Him Who beckoned to them, while not a few have stood and listened, wondering what it meant, asking themselves could such an invitation be for them, till Jesus of Nazareth passed by and they were left behind for ever.


      To these, chiefly, is this simple explanation of a Vocation offered, in the hope that they may recognise the workings of grace within their souls, or be moved to beg that they may one day be sharers in this crowning gift of God’s eternal love.



2.  What is a Vocation?
      “How do I know whether I have a vocation or not?” How often this question has risen to the lips of many a young boy or girl, who has come to realise that life has a purpose, only to be brushed aside with an uneasy “I am sure I have not,” or a secret prayer that they might be saved from such a fate! How little they know the happiness they are throwing away in turning from God’s invitation, for such a question, and such a feeling, is often the sign of a genuine vocation.

      In the first place, a vocation, or “a call to the Priesthood or the Religious Life,” in contradistinction to the general invitation, held out to all men, to a life of perfection even in the world, is a free gift of God bestowed on those whom He selects: “You have not chosen Me,” he said to His Disciples, “but I have chosen you,” and the Evangelist tells us that “Christ called unto Him whom He willed.” Often that invitation is extended to those whom we would least expect. Magdalene, steeped to the lips in iniquity, became the spouse of the Immaculate; Matthew, surrounded by his ill-gotten gains; Saul, “breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the Christians,” each heard that summons, for a sinful life in the past, St. Thomas teaches, is no impediment to a vocation.


      But though this gift is of surpassing value and a mark of very special affection on His part, God will not force its acceptance on the soul, leaving it free to correspond with the grace or reject it. Some day the Divine Hunter draws near the prey which He has marked out for the shafts of his love; timidly, as if fearing to force the free will, He whispers a word. If the soul turns away, Jesus often withdraws forever, for He only wants willing volunteers in His service. But if the startled soul listens, even though dreading lest that Voice speak again, and shrinking from what It seems to lead her to, grace is free to do its work and bring her captive to the Hunter’s feet.


      Unconsciously, in that first encounter, she has been deeply wounded with a longing for some unknown, as yet untasted, happiness. Almost imperceptibly a craving for a nobler life has taken possession of the heart; prayer and self denial, the thought of sacrifice, bring a new sweetness; the blazing light of earthly pleasures, once so dazzling, seems to die away; the joys, the amusements, of the world no longer attract or satisfy; their emptiness serves only to weary and disgust the more, while through it all the thirst for that undefinable “something” tortures the soul.


        “Sweet and tender Lord!” exclaims the Blessed Henry Suso, “from the days of my childhood my mind has sought for something with burning thirst, but what it is I have not as yet fully understood. Lord, I have pursued it many a year, but I never could grasp it, for I know not what it is, and yet it is something that attracts my heart and soul, without which I can never attain true rest. Lord, I sought it in the first days of my childhood in creatures, but the more I sought it in them the less I found it, for every image that presented itself to my sight, before I wholly tried it, or gave myself quietly to it, warned me away thus: ‘I am not what thou seekest.’ Now my heart rages after it, for my heart would so gladly possess it.  Alas! I have so constantly to experience what it is not! But what it is, Lord, I am not as yet clear.  Tell me, Beloved Lord, what it is indeed, and what is its nature, that so secretly agitates me.”


        Even in the midst of worldly pleasure and excitement there is an aching void aching void in the heart. “How useless it all is! –how hollow! –how unsatisfying!  Is this what my life is to be always? Was I made only for this?”


        Slowly one comes to understand the excellence and advantage of evangelical perfection, the indescribable charm of virginity, and the nobleness of a life devoted wholly to the service of God and the salvation of souls.  Louder and stronger has grown the faint whisper, “Come, follow Me,” till at last, with an intense feeling of joy and gratitude, or even at times, a natural repugnance and fear of its responsibilities, the weary soul realises that “The Master is here and calls for thee” –that she has got a Vocation.


Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Joy through Weakness

 We all have those days when we get discouraged. When we first begin to practice the virtue of humility, we begin to see how weak we are on our own and can get disheartened. But there must be a solution to all this sorrow. The solution is confidence in God.

Our weakness actually gives God glory! When we admit how weak we are, we have to pair our realization with the fact that God’s strength can lift us out of these weaknesses. Even the occasions that we fall and sin, if we get back up and ask God for help, how much glory we give Him! Our Lord once told Sister Josepha Menendez that when a soul sins, then humbles himself in the presence of God, that soul gives more glory to God than if he hadn’t sinned at all. So do not dwell on how weak you are, dwell on how great God is!

This discouragement can also interfere with our God given talents. If we think we’re so miserable, how are we supposed to think of the good in us? Do we just dismiss them? No, we attribute them to God. We are nothing on our own, but with God we are His talented creatures. God created us to reflect Him, so let us do so! Let us proclaim the goodness and gifts of God on high!


Therefore, place your trust in God. A good practice St. Francis de Sales taught was, during the day, imagine yourself in a scene with Jesus. It could be in the manger at Bethlehem, the Garden of Gethsemane, even Mount Calvary.  Place yourself trustfully in His presence, rest your mind, and ask for all the graces your soul is in need of. This practice gives strength to the soul and glory to God. Ask Him to teach you to be humble and to become the saint He made you to be! Always remember, Jesus fell three times while He carried his cross so He could merit the strength you would need to get up, once, twice, even three times when you fall from weakness. God bless you all!

Thursday, 13 March 2014

"Who am I to Judge?" - A Video Response

I found a very good video on Youtube and thought I would post it in response to Pope Francis' words, "Who am I to judge?"

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Meditation

A great practice that has been somewhat lost in our society is the practice of meditation. With meditation comes silence, a great enemy in our society. Meditation is the threshold from this earth to the world of eternity, to the knowledge of God, to the graces we need. St. Francis de Sales in “Introduction to the Devout life,” a book I greatly recommend, gives us a method to meditation.

First, kneel down in a quiet room, place yourself in the presence of God, meditating on His infinite goodness and almighty power. Then, think of your utter nothingness, comparing yourself to God, and how even though you are so weak, God still wants to draw you to His heart.

After this process, you can move on to meditation. You can meditate on a scene from Jesus’ life, a Bible quote, anything that moves your soul to the things of God. If you lose interest in the topic, move on to another until you find something that interests your soul. You can do this for 15-30 minutes.

Once your meditation is completed, make resolutions for your daily life that relate to your meditation. But instead of making empty resolutions like you make at New Years, be firm in your resolutions and ask God for the strength. Also, ask for the intercession of Our Blessed Mother and the Angels and Saints, and they will definitely help you.

St. Francis de Sales finally suggests finishing the meditation with an Our Father, a Hail Mary, and a Thanksgiving prayer. Your thanksgiving prayer could go like this if you wish:

“I offer the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary to the Eternal Father, the Eternal Son, and the Eternal Holy Ghost, one God, my beloved Mother Mary, and all the holy angels and saint, especially my patron saints and my guardian angel, in thanksgiving for all the graces that God has given me in this meditation.”

You can add on to this prayer, such as not only offering the hearts of Jesus and 
Mary, but the Holy Face of Jesus, the Precious Blood of Jesus by which you were saved and the like. But let not your prayers be only words. If you think you need to spend your thanksgiving in silence, so be it! God will guide you and help you to perfect this holy time.


And so, to those that meditate and begin to meditate hereon, I wish you all of God’s blessings and inspirations. Meditation truly elevates the soul and reveals to it truths and consolations that it may not have found outside of meditation. God bless and Our Lady protect you all!

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

The Beginning of Lent

Today begins the season of Lent. Catholics often think of Lent as a very sad, hard time. But Lent is not only sorrowful, but a time of great compassion and reparation. In these next few days, Our Lord reveals to us His infinite love, His unending mercy, and His tender care towards us. 


During Lent, Our Lord shows us that we are certainly not alone on this earth and that anything we ever have to suffer, He has suffered as well. Have you been abandoned by your friends? Jesus was betrayed by Judas for you. Have you been overwhelmed with stress and discouragement? Jesus cried and shed blood in the Garden of Gethsemane. Have you been accused wrongly, abused, pushed over the limit? Jesus did all this for you! And just to prove that He would do more if he could, after He died, the soldiers pierced His heart and Jesus shed the last drops of blood in His body for you. How could we ever feel lonely when we have such a Friend!


Every moment in Lent Christ is calling you, telling you to turn from your ways and live a holy life. What more could He do to prove His love? I found it very eye opening to read "The Corporal Passion of Jesus," an article written by a doctor, who analysed the Passion from a medical point of view. You begin to really see what Our Lord did for us. Please read it here: http://www.toolan.com/liz/passion.html. The saints also had many things to say about the Passion: 


"He who desires", says St. Bonaventure, "to go on advancing from virtue to virtue, from grace to grace, should meditate continually on the Passion of Jesus." And he adds that "there is no practice more profitable for the entire sanctification of the soul than the frequent meditation of the sufferings of Jesus Christ."
St. Augustine said that a single tear shed at the remembrance of the Passion of Jesus is worth more than a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, or a year of fasting on bread and water.
"The holy sufferings of Jesus is a sea of sorrows, but it is also a sea of love. Ask the Lord to teach you to fish in this sea. Immerse yourself in it, and, no matter how deeply you go, you will never reach the bottom. Allow yourself to be penetrated with love and sorrow. In this way you will make the sufferings of the gentle Jesus your own. Fish for the pearls of the virtues of Jesus. This holy fishing is done without words." - St. Paul of the Cross

"In the passion of our blessed Saviour, six things chiefly are to be meditated upon. First, the bitterness of his sorrow, that we may compassionate with him.  Secondly, the greatness of our sins, which were the cause of his torments, that we may abhor them. Thirdly, the greatness of the benefit, that we may be grateful for it. Fourthly, the excellency of the divine charity and bounty therein manifested, that we may love him more fervently. Fifthly, the conveniency of the mystery, that we may be drawn to admiration of it. Lastly, the multiplicity of virtues of our blessed Saviour which did shine in this stupendous mystery, that we may partly imitate and partly admire them; wherefore, in the midst of these meditations, let us sometimes compassionate with our blessed Saviour in the extremity of his sorrows; extreme indeed, both by reason of the tenderness of his body, as also, for the great affection he bore unto our souls."
"He did suffer them without any manner of consolation, as we shall speak hereafter in its proper place. Sometimes let us stir up in ourselves compunction for our sins, which were the cause of his great sufferings. Sometimes let us kindle in our souls an ardent affection, considering his great affection towards us, which upon the cross he declared and manifested to the whole world. And the benefit which he bestowed upon us in his passion, because he bought us with the inestimable price of his precious blood, of which only, we reap the benefit and commodity." - St. Peter of Alcantara
"The death and passion of Our Lord is the sweetest and most constraining motive that can animate our hearts in this mortal life... so, in the glory of heaven above, next to the Divine goodness known and considered in itself, Our Saviour's death shall most powerfully ravish the blessed spirits in the loving of God." - St. Francis de Sales

So let us spend these next days making many sacrifices and acts of repentance and reparation. We must die to ourselves if we want to resurrect with Christ. May God pour forth torrents of hope and compassion in your soul this Lent, for what a great time of grace it is!


The Passion of the Christ is a classic to watch in Lent. Please watch:


Sunday, 2 March 2014

The Wonder of Sanctifying Grace

When we think of the words sanctifying grace, we often just think of the written definition in our catechism book. After learning it is God’s grace dwelling within our soul, most of the time it ends there. I would like to share with you some great thoughts about sanctifying grace that I have found in the book, “He Dwells in Your Soul,” by Bede Jarrett.

God’s Nearness towards Us – When we are in sanctifying grace, God is in the core of our being. Of course He is everywhere, but He is especially present within our souls when we are in the state of grace. The book says that, “In my prayers, in my troubles, in my temptations, I have to turn to God, not without, but within; not to someone above or beneath me, supporting me, but right at the core of my being.” So this union between our souls and God is like the union in the Holy Eucharist. The union between our souls and Our Lord in Holy Communion is a great blessing and is the greatest union we can have with Him on earth, but when our souls are in the state of grace, the Blessed Trinity is constantly, at every moment, dwelling in our souls. He is our closest friend, watching and protecting us. Who shall we fear when we have the almighty God within our soul?

Grace gives Us Faith – On our own, we have an intellect and reason. With this intellect we can prove that God exists. But with sanctifying grace, we are given the gift of Faith. Faith gives us the ability to accept the truths of God, because God said them, who can neither deceive nor be deceived. The books states that, “I do not deduce by faith what God is like, but I know what He is like from His description of Himself.” In Romans, Chapter 8 Verse 16, it speaks of Faith, “For the Spirit Himself giveth testimony to our spirit that we are the sons of God.”

Faith leads to Love – When we have knowledge of that which is good, we begin to love it. Faith leads us to something even greater – love. When a souls returns love to God, he enters friendship with Him. Friendship is not what we can get out of the other person, but what we can give because we love. In God loving us, who dwells within our soul with an infinite love, He gives us all that we need, not because He needs us, but because He loves us and desires to reflect His infinite goodness through us.

A Foretaste of Heaven – The only difference between our souls now when we are in sanctifying grace and in heaven is merely accidental. It is as if a veil is lifted from something we have always possessed. The book states that, “When I step outside the confessional after due repentance and the absolution of the priest, I am in a state of grace. At once, then, this blessed union takes effect. Within me is the Holy Spirit, dwelling there – sent, given. As the object of knowledge, He can be experienced by me in a personal and familiar way. I can know Him even as I am known. As the object of love, He becomes my friend, stooping to my level, lifting me to His. At once, then, although still in a merely rudimentary way, the glories of my ultimate reward can dawn upon me. Even upon earth, I have already crossed the threshold of Heaven.”


What a great privilege God has given to us, to dwell within our souls! Let us contemplate this mystery, and become more aware of His loving presence every day. God bless you all and Our Lady protect!