The heart of the Christian life is all about deeper surrender to Jesus Christ. Its not as easy as it sounds. There is more to this than just saying Jesus I surrender to you. Every facet of our life needs to be submitted to the Lord. When I think of all the grace I have received and I am so disappointed at how much of myself I still need to give over to the Lord but each day we must all look at what we have not yet surrendered to God and work to give Him everything.

Below I have listed things that have really helped me along the way. As each of these things we incorporated into my life I saw more and more progress against certain sins, faults, attitudes and failings. I hope they will help you as well.

  1. The Charismatic Renewal. The renewal, at its heart, is all about total surrender to God. In the renewal you learn to use all your faculties to praise and submit to God. There is so much freedom and surrender in using your bodies to praise God. In many ways it is incomprehensible to worldly minds.
  2. The Preparation for Total Consecration by St. Louis De Montfort. I first said these prayers as a freshman in high school and I have renewed them many times since. It is a great and profound way to give yourself to Christ.
  3. Memorizing Scripture. Many battles for deeper surrender will take place in the mind. Why not fill your head with the Word of God so that it will be fruitful soil for God’s Word made flesh?
  4. The Brown Scapular. I have no way of proving this but I truly believe that besides mass and confession the brown scapular has been the single most efficacious spiritual tool in my life. I believe there were many sins in my life that I would still be slave too if I had never clothed myself in Our Lady‘s garment.
  5. Obedience to a schedule. Time must be surrendered to God as well. Pray hard and then make a schedule and submit yourself to that schedule each day in hopes of surrendering your time more fully to God. It doesn’t necessarily need to be forever but it does need to be for a good period of time.
  6. Fasting. Fasting is pretty much extremely beneficial to any spiritual endeavor.

Give yourselves fully to the Lord. Surrender to Him. Be Saints!

Sometimes its good to review even the most simple things. St. John Vianney gives us these clear definitions of the capital sins. Reading them prayerfully might help us to discover some ways we are not following the Lord in our life.

First he defines Sin as “a thought, a word, an action contrary to the law of God.”

Next he defines each of the Capital Sins:

  • Pride is an untrue opinion of ourselves, and untrue idea of what we are not.
  • Avarice is an inordinate love of the goods of this world.
  • Lust is the love of pleasures that are contrary to purity.
  • Envy is a sadness which we feel on account of the good that happens to our neighbor.
  • Gluttony is an inordinate love of eating and drinking.
  • Anger is an emotion of the soul which leads us violently to repel whatever hurts or displeases us.
  • Sloth is a kind of cowardice and disgust which makes us neglect and omit our duties rather than do violence to ourselves.

These are simple definitions but read prayerfully and reflectively you may shed light on sin in your life that you haven’t previously identified.

Loosen us O’ Lord form the bonds of our sins…

During this time of year don’t forget to consider spiritual resolutions along with all your other goals for the year. Here are some you may want to consider:

  1. Weekly confession.
  2. Daily Examination of Conscience.
  3. Daily time for silence and listening.
  4. A strong commitment to fighting those sins you confess over and over again.
  5. Enter the Pro-Life Battle in someway.
  6. Pray for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.
  7. Pick one Saint and get to know him better than you ever have.
  8. Fast once a week for spiritual and intercessory benefit.
  9. Pick a Virtue to pray and strive for.
  10. Prayerfully surrender your entire self to Christ each and every day this year.

Make this the year you give your all to strive for Sainthood.

The year of the Lord’s favor… Isaiah 61:2

Lessons from the Nativity

January 4, 2011

There is great benefit in the spiritual life for those who spend time meditating on the Nativity. We can learn several lessons from those present at the birth of the Christ child. Radical Catholics would do well to take the time to place themselves inside this beautiful scene and learn from our Lord and His Holy Family.

The following are some brief reflections to help you enter into the mystery of the Nativity:

The Silence of Joseph: Once again we learn about the importance of silence. Joseph’s silence throughout the Gospel should remind us of its importance in attaining the degree of holiness meant for us. Joseph had to protect Mary and Jesus from the powers of evil. It was important for him to be a man of silence in order to hear the command of the Lord. If we want to hear God we must be people of great silence.

The Full Surrender of Mary: While Mary’s original Fiat didn’t take place during the Nativity we can’t help but see it in this mystery. We learn the lesson that when we say yes to the God we come closer to His son. We need to live our life as a constant “Yes” in full surrender as Mary did.

The Humility of Baby Jesus: How could anyone read the story of Christ’s Nativity and not realize the importance of Humility? Our Lord, the King of the universe came as a baby. Without humility we will never grow. Learn from Baby Jesus and humble yourself and God will raise you up.

The Shepherds Poverty: Shepherds were poor people and the Angel came to them to announce the good news of the birth of our Lord. The angel did not go to kings or wise men but to poor shepherds. We can only assume that if we strive for poverty of spirit God will endow us with the riches of His grace. We must come to the Lord as poor beggars for His mercy.

The Wise Men’s Conversion: The Gospel of Matthew tells us they “departed by another way.” Isn’t this the same for every true encounter we have with Christ? When we encounter our Lord we experience conversion and we change the direction we are going. We do not go the same way we came. We go a different way. The Wise men remind us of the conversion we all seek when go to the Lord.

Let us make a manger in our heart for the Lord Jesus that he may come into us and teach us His way.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.  Matthew 2:14

I am sad to say that I have fallen in love with Jesus hundreds of times. I have gone through different times in my life where I have been away form the Lord. This is usually due to some sin in my life and if that is not the case it is due to sloth, Luke warmness or complacency. Each and every time I find myself away from the Lord I turn to these steps below to remind me of the God who loves me.

  • Step 1 Find a quiet comfortable place where you can spend 20 to 30 minutes uninterrupted.
  • Step 2 Say the following prayer, “Jesus, send me your Holy Spirit. Work in my heart as I try to know you. Draw me O King…”
  • Step 3 Read the Gospel for 10 to 15 minutes. Read them in order and try to keep your thoughts about the reading simple. When you make it to the end of the 4th gospel start over and continue.
  • Step 4 After your 10 to 15 minute reading say this prayer to yourself, “Jesus, draw me to you. Speak to me.”
  • Step 5 Spend just 10 to 15 minutes in silence. Listening. Waiting.

Continue these 5 steps everyday…

The Lord Jesus is constantly drawing us to himself. If we open ourselves to His beautiful life in the Gospels and surrender to Him in powerful silence He will slowly melt our hearts of stone and hold us in loving embrace. Inside of that loving embrace we will have no choice but to fall head over heels with the one whom we were created for.

To fall in love with God is the greatest of romances… St. Augustine

Today is the feast of St. Francis of Assisi. I have always looked to him as the model of Radical Catholic Living. Francis lived his entire life striving to surrender more fully to his God. He had such an amazing personal relationship with Jesus and he was willing to do anything Jesus asked of him. He was never satisfied he always wanted to do more for his God. At the end of his life after all his amazing acts of devotion and works of charity he was still unsatisfied and he turned to his brothers calling them on saying, “Brothers let us rise for until now we have done very little…”

On this great feast let blessed Francis remind us what it means to live a life radically faithful to Jesus Christ.

Francis is a perfect example of Radical Catholic Living. The following are just some of the things we can learn from him:

Humility: Francis was a man of deep humility. When he was mistaken for a gardener by one of the Popes secretaries rather than protest he just went right into the garden to work.

Penance and Mortification: Francis was willing to do anything to get sin out of his life so that nothing stood between he and his Savior.

Prayer: Above all else Francis was a man of deep prayer. Sometimes Francis would stop in the middle of a walk and he would be caught up in prayer for hours and hours. When he and St. Clare were praying together in a Church the town thought that the Church was on fire because it was glowing form the glory of the Lord surrounding them.

Devotion to Holy Scripture: Francis had an incredible reverence for Holy Scripture. His Brothers would pick up paper on the ground in case a word of Holy Scripture could be found on it.

Most High, Glorious God,
enlighten the darkness of our minds.
Give us a right faith, a firm hope and a perfect charity,
so that we may always and in all things act according to Your Holy Will. Amen

My God and My All!

St. Francis of Assisi Pray for us!

Jesus I trust in you…

August 23, 2010

Last weekend was extremely stressful. A bunch of personal issues and work being ridiculously busy and stressful made it a “perfect storm” of tension. At one point I had to take a time out and say “hold on now, I haven’t even invited Jesus into this situation. So I sat back and I just began to pray the prayer, “Jesus I trust in you.” I immediately calmed down and felt ready for whatever else was coming my way. Or so I thought…

It was Sunday afternoon when I was reciting this prayer. That night at about 11:30pm my wife woke me out of a sound sleep with the words, “I think I’m having contractions.” I thought to myself, “the baby wasn’t supposed to come for another 2 months.” I immediately started to panic in my mind. My wife and the baby’s well being, work, money, etc. were all filling my head. I was very upset.

It was almost like I thought because I said, “Jesus I trust in you” that meant that the turmoil would end. I thought it was like a magic formula. I say this and everything calms down. Obviously I was wrong.

At about 2:00am when the baby was born and he and my wife were safe I started thinking about the whole attitude I had. Jesus I thrust in you isn’t just a phrase. It isn’t just a mantra it’s a prayer and like all prayers you cant just say them with your mouth. We pray with our mouths but also with our minds and hearts. While my mouth was saying, “Jesus I trust in you” my heart and mind were saying, “Jesus I trust in you as long as…” You can fill that final part of the sentence with anything you want but it will always be bad.

It was a perfect example of not fully surrendering to God. I trusted Jesus to a point and then I abandoned Him. It turned out to be a great examination of conscience for me.

We all need to fully surrender to the Lord. There should be no point in our heart where we would abandon that trust.

Jesus, I trust in you

We must learn to live with a disposition of constantly calling on the Lord to come into our lives. Every situation, every conversation, every problem, every journey, every minute and every second come Lord Jesus. Come into my life more fully. Lord Jesus I want all of you. Come in in your glory. Ask the Lord to come into your life so much that you do it without thinking. This request will become deeper than words. It will become an attitude and a disposition. Come Lord Jesus!

The Following is one of my favorite prayers from St. Symeon. This prayer and other like it can be found in The Lion Roars Prayer Book available from the Franciscan University book store. http://bookstore.franciscan.edu/ePOS/form=item.html&item=2801889584272&store=421

 

COME! By Saint Symeon The New Theologian 

 

Come, O true light! Come, O eternal life! Come, O hidden mystery! Come, O indescribable treasure! Come, O ineffable thing! Come, O inconceivable person! Come, O endless delight! Come, O unsetting light! Come, O true and fervent expectation of all those who will be saved! Come, O rising of those who lie down! Come, O resurrection of the dead! Come, O powerful one, who always creates and re-creates and transforms by your will alone! Come, O invisible and totally intangible and untouchable! Come, O you who always remain immobile and at each moment move all, and come to us, who lie in Hades, you who are above all heavens. Come, O desirable and legendary name, which is completely impossible for us to express what you are or to know your nature. Come, O eternal joy! Come, O unwithering wreath! Come, O purple of the great king our God! Come, O crystalline cincture, studded with precious stones! Come, O inaccessible sandal! Come, O Royal robe and truly imperial right hand! Come, you whom my wretched soul has desired and does desire! Come, you who alone go to the lonely for as you see I am lonely! Come, you who have separated me from everything and made me solitary in this world! Come, you who have become yourself desire in me, who have made me desire you, the absolutely inaccessible one! Come, O my breath and life! Come, O consolation of my humble soul! Come, O my joy, my glory, and my endless delight! I thank you that you have become one spirit with me, without confusion, without mutation, without transformation, you the God of all; and that you have become everything for me, inexpressible and perfectly gratuitous nourishment, which ever flows to the lips of my soul and gushes out into the fountain of my heart, dazzling garment which burns the demons, purification which bathes me with these imperishable and holy tears that your presence brings to those whom you visit. I give you thanks that for me you have become unsetting light and non-declining sun; for you who fill the universe with your glory have nowhere to hide yourself. No, you have never hidden yourself from anyone but we are the ones who always hide from you, by refusing to go to you; but then, where would you hide, you who nowhere find the place of your repose? Why would you hide, you who do not turn away from a single creature, who do not reject a single one? Today, then, O Master, come pitch your tent with me; until the end, make your home and live continually, inseparably within me, your slave, O most-kind one, that I also may find myself again in you, at my departure from this world and after my departure may I reign with you, O God who are above everything. O Master, stay and do not leave me alone, so that my enemies, arriving unexpectedly, they who are always seeking to devour my soul, may find you living within me and that they may take flight, in defeat, powerless against me, seeing you, O more powerful than everything, installed interiorly in the home of my poor soul. Yea, O Master, just as you remembered me, when I was in the world and, in the midst of my ignorance, you chose me and separated me from this world and set me before your glorious face, so now keep me interiorly, by your dwelling within me, forever upright, resolute; that by perpetually seeing you, I, the corpse, may live; that by possessing you, I, the beggar, may always be rich, richer than kings; that by eating you and by drinking you, by putting you on at each moment, I go from delight to delight in inexpressible blessings; for it is You, who are all good and all glory and all delight and it is to you, holy, consubstantial, and life-creating Trinity that the glory belongs, you whom all faithful venerate, confess, adore, and serve in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

There are many sins that take place solely in our mind:

  • Entertaining thoughts of envy
  • Entertaining impure thoughts
  • Entertaining thoughts of Pride
  • Etc..

There are also many dispositions that our mind can have that are detrimental to the spiritual life:

  • Always living in fantasy (What you wish your life was like)
  • Constant thoughts of the past
  • Loud and distracted
  • Etc..

Most sin begins in the mind. It is a battle field to be won if we are to be successful in the interior life.

Human beings by nature think. You are always thinking about something. When we do not have control of our mind then we are usually bombarded with temptations and thoughts of sin. This ruins our silence and cultivates a barren desert that kills the grace we receive.

One of the best ways to take control of your mind is through the memorization of scripture. I guess the thought is that we fill our mind with holy things and it pushes out the bad. Scripture transforms our minds and makes them fertal ground to receive the grace God gives and prune the weeds of sin and selfishness. Memorizing scripture is like pouring poison on the vermin of sin in our mind. It also is extremely helpful in spiritual warfare. Remember that Christ answered Satan’s temptations with scripture. The evil one will fear a mind that is filled with God’s Holy Word. If you are struggling with bad or inappropriate memories memorizing scripture can be one of the most effective ways to rid yourself of those memories.

Try to conquer your mind today through the memorization of God’s Holy Word. When your mind is filled with scripture your mind is then filled with Jesus. Start by memorizing a verse each week. If you are really struggling with a particular sin then try to find a scripture verse that corresponds to that and memorize it.

Regardless of how you decide to go about it try to memorize scripture often. You will slowly transform your mind into a living bible. Radical Catholics live in Sacred Scripture!

God’s Word is a light to the mind and a fire to the will so that a person may know and love the Lord. To the interior person who lives by the spirit, it is bread and water, but a bread sweeter than any honey from the comb, and water more delicious than milk or wine. St. Lawrence

Every word and deed should be ratified by the testimony of Holy Scripture, to confirm those who do good and to shame those who do evil. St. Basil the Great

Living a Radical Catholic Life is all about constant watchfulness and renewal. We need to strive to live each moment totally for Jesus Christ. We can slowly claim every second of our lives for Christ but it takes a spirit of constant watchfulness.

There are two devotions in particular that I consider totally essential to winning this battle to live fully for Jesus Christ, the Hourly Examination and the Spiritual Communion.

The hourly examination of conscience was practiced by many saints because of its effectiveness in fighting against sin. Each hour you need to train yourself to take an account of your conduct during the last hour. At the beginning it helps to set a reminder. For example I had a reminder on my phone set for each hour. At the beginning of each hour I would take just a few minutes to take an account of my sins and failings. This gives us a great look at the sins that plague our life. It even helps to spend a day writing these sins down. We have to be methodical about ridding our life of sin. The hourly examination helps us greatly with this. The hourly examination can be easily accomplished by a quick review of the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes and finally an act of contrition.

The Spiritual Communion is a way to invite Jesus into your heart when you can’t receive Holy Communion. Often through out our day we need to invite Jesus into our heart. It is a source of constant renewal. It also is a major grace in the life of someone who is struggling with serious sin. We should constantly invite Jesus in to our heart. Each time He will claim more of us for himself until we are totally His. St. Alphonsus Ligouri was a great proponent of the Spiritual Communion. The following prayer was written by him and should be used often through out each day.

My Jesus, I believe that Thou art present in the Blessed Sacrament. I love Thee above all things and I desire Thee in my soul. Since I cannot now receive Thee sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. As though thou wert already there, I embrace Thee and unite myself wholly to Thee; permit not that I should ever be separated from Thee.

The Hourly Examination and Spiritual Communion taken together become a powerful devotion resulting in the slow but sure conquering of sin and total surrender to Jesus. They are essential tools in our battle for total surrender.