Why the speakroom?

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Photo credit: thespeakroom.org

About a year ago from today, my husband and I were asked to be the godparents of a beautiful blond-haired, blue-eyed baby boy. “We just want you to pray for him,” was all his parents asked of us. Before becoming a godparent, I had not held a baby for over ten years. Yet in the past year, each time I have carried this adorable child in my arms, I have been struck by the combined sense of newness and familiarity of the experience.

I am reminded of those years I held each of my own children in my arms, stayed up for them night after night in times of sickness, and walked through the drug-infested streets of our West Philadelphia neighborhood, ready at any moment to give my life up for theirs. None of my children remember those early, formative years of their lives. I’ll never forget them.

Every now and then, my children will facetiously say, “Mom knows everything.” I would answer back with a small laugh, “I knew all of you before you knew yourselves!” but I would finish the rest of the sentence in the silence of my thoughts. “That’s what has made motherhood so painful.” In raising four children, I have not only had the joy of celebrating their accomplishments, but I have wept often for them, most of the time without their even knowing it.

Parenthood gives a small window into the ways of our Heavenly Father. He allows us, His children, to come to Him with our own wills and to make our own choices. How it must grieve Him to watch and see many of the self-destructive choices we are making. And yet, He in his great love and tenderness for us provides us the gift of His own Son as a means of adoption, transforming our lives, and thus, transforming our world.

Saint Teresa of Avila wrote of post-Reformation Europe, “The world is on fire. Men try to condemn Christ once again. They would raze His Church to the ground. No, my sisters, this is no time to treat with God for things of little importance.”

Shortly before she was gassed in an Auschwitz death-camp, Edith Stein (Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross) wrote, “The world is in flames: the fire can spread even to our house.”

And again, even more recently, during the World Youth Day celebration in Poland, Pope Francis said, “The world is at war, but it’s not a war of religions.”  He was referring to a war for money, limited resources, and power.  Pope Francis later added in his last address to the youth that too many young people are unaware of how dark the world really is, and are therefore unprepared to face the battle.

There are more people dying for their faiths and being forced to leave their homes, particularly in the Middle East and Africa. The United States has spent eight trillion dollars (one trillion = a million millions) on a financial bailout that hasn’t helped those who were most affected by the economic collapse.  The list goes on.

How do we respond to this world on fire? Pope Francis says, “The times are becoming increasingly hard, and only in unity can we find the solution to our problems.”

The speakroom is a space where apparent divisions are erased. Historically, the speakroom is a small room in the monastery where cloistered religious can speak to those in the outside world and where the ways of God can be made known to others: secular and consecrated, young or old, from near or far. Remarkably, the grille where St. John of the Cross and Saint Teresa first spoke still bears the holy presence of these two great saints.

In this modern world of war and divisions, and where people are so isolated in many hidden ways, my hope is that ‘the speakroom’ blog becomes a living, breathing space where anyone who has an open heart, can learn, pray, and walk together through the lens of Carmelite spirituality.

In the face of death and Nazi persecution, Edith Stein’s response to a world on fire is the recognition that “above all the flames, the Cross stands on high and it cannot be burnt. The Cross is the way which leads from earth to heaven. Those who embrace it with faith, love, and hope are taken up right into the heart of the Trinity.”

One by one, we must learn to respond from a place of truth, sacrificial love, forgiveness, and fraternal friendship– the way of the cross – which involves both the crucifixion, and thankfully, the resurrection.

By the end of this year, three of my four children will have left for college. They, like my godson, will have my prayers. But I also hope, as I hope for myself and all the readers of this blog, that my children will look to thespeakroom.org as a place for guidance and strength, slowly come to know the depth and breadth of the love of God, and see with a child’s eyes of faith.

Teresa Linda, ocds

Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: our lives, God’s masterpiece

The Crucifixion by Saint John of the Cross. Photo credit: thespeakroom.org
The Crucifixion by Saint John of the Cross. Photo credit: thespeakroom.org

Where do we get our image of God the Father from?  Our natural father.  Our natural father could have been very militant, a disciplinarian, heavy-handed, short-tempered, or had strong faults.  He could have been verbally abusive without really meaning to do us harm because that was the way he grew up.

But there’s a total correlation between our ability to understand and believe in God as our Father, with our relationship with our own fathers. If our natural father didn’t have a sense of compassion and give affirmation, if he wasn’t attentive to our needs, or wasn’t present to important events – all of this can have a huge capacity and impact on our beliefs about God as our Father.

A significant part of what it means to seek holiness, is to hunger for God so that we can allow His holiness to make us whole. God must undo any damage that was done in our pasts  by giving us a new experience of love, so that we learn what it means to be loved by God the Father.

We have to seek that holiness as the saints, understanding  them as human beings, and not simply as superstars. They were people with real life challenges, just like you and me. Human nature is the same everywhere; it changes very little. Society, culture, technology, the works of our hands – all of that will change. However, we are made of the same substance and human nature of the saints. They are not angels in another form who had special privileges that we don’t have access to. We have access to the same grace of God. We are made up of the same thoughts, the same feelings, and the same types of relationships and potentials as the saints.

Some older hagiographies put the saints on pedestals and make it look like they were able to sail through life with special graces, without really knowing about human suffering and the complexities of what it means to live by faith and not by sight. Yet when we look closely at the lives of the saints through good biographies, we see real life problems and conversions. We must tap into that reality in order for us to know the saints us brothers and sisters in Christ, as companions.

The saints stir us to wonder and bring us back to the one thing that is necessary, and that is, the absolute primacy of God’s love. We are made for this divine love, and this divine love is larger than life. This love enlarges our heart, our mind, our soul, and our strength. God’s love leads us into an endless enlargement of our capacity for His greatness. His love enlarges our lives. St. Paul says that this enlargement, this going from one degree of glory to another, this growth process of becoming more and more united to God, makes us more united to His greatness. We are all made for that greatness and enlargement. We are all meant to live life large, in the love of God.

Saint John Paul the II says, ‘Not all are called to be artists in the specific sense of the term, but as we see in Genesis, all men and women are tasked with crafting their own lives. They are to make of it a work of art, a masterpiece.’   God wants to sanctify you through the Holy Spirit. He wants to make of your life a masterpiece.

Becoming a masterpiece doesn’t mean perfectionism. In other words, to seek the way of perfection does not mean that we must become perfectionists. Perfectionism is a psychological condition that has to do with insecurity because we’re not comfortable with ourselves and are unable to accept ourselves until everything is perfectly ordered. ‘Until everything is right where it has to be, I can’t be at rest. Only when everything is perfect, then I’ll be content and I’ll be able to breathe and accept myself.’ That is dysfunctional and self-defeating.

The way of perfection, as we see in the lives of the apostles and the saints, will inevitably involve falling, and getting back up again. Falling, and getting back up again. This way of perfection involves seeing how God brings good out of everything, and light out of darkness. The end result of the constant struggle and healing, will be a masterpiece. All that is required is the faith and perseverance to let God be God. He is the one who brings about the masterpiece. We just have to be faithful.

Finally, to summarize, spirituality is simply an art of the heart, the art of becoming fully human. Jesus said, “I came that you might have life and have it more abundantly.” St. Teresa of Jesus is one of many, but a very important icon of the beauty that we are called to be transformed by. She is a shining example, inviting us to divine intimacy with God through the sacred humanity of Jesus.

The great St. Paul in his magnificent letter to the Ephesians says, “How rich God is in mercy. With what an excess of love He loved us.” We are His design, His work of art. God has created us in Christ Jesus, pledged to such good actions as He has prepared beforehand. May these good actions and becoming His work of art be the employment of our lives. May we become all that we were each made to be — to truly be love’s canvas. END

May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life.

(SOURCE: Denver Retreat, October 2015)

Copyright 2016, Fr. Robert Barcelos. All Rights Reserved

‘Arm yourselves with the armor of faith and the sword of truth.  Pray for the grace to forgive and to ask for forgiveness – and for the healing of wounded bodies and souls.’

If you liked this post, share it by clicking on one of the social media icons. And if you were inspired or have a prayer request, share that too under the ‘comment’ section!

Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: paradoxical beauty 2

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Cardinal Ratzinger writes, ‘It’s when we have known Him, from the inside out, not only because we have heard others speak about Him, then we will have known the beauty of truth, of the truth that redeems.’ Nothing can bring us into close contact with the beauty of Christ Himself, other than the world of beauty, by faith and light that shines out from the faces of the saints, through whom His own light becomes visible.

Jesus is not only the perfect icon, the window, of God; Jesus is God’s self-portrait. Not only does He fully reveal to us who He is, but He is also a mirror reflecting for us, who we are capable of becoming as beloved in Him. When we’re called to see Him, to contemplate Him, to look into the eyes of God, to behold Him, to behold His beauty, that face is a mirror of who we are called to be–not in the physical, visible way, but in the beauty of who He is as our beloved. In His Sacred Humanity, God wants to bring in each of us the fullness of life in Him, according to who we are, our background, and where we’re at in our life’s journey.

As the wisdom of St. Thérèse expresses, there’s no amount of sin, pain, failure, shame, weakness or littleness in someone’s past, that can disqualify a person from the work of His love. The wisdom of St. Thérèse says that the more weak I am, the more I see myself as imperfect, the more little I am, the more I am suited to the works, the designs of God’s merciful love.

St. Paul writes, ‘When I am weak, I am strong. When I am weak, Christ’s grace comes to be in abundant measure. Therefore, if I am most strong when I am weak, when Christ is closest to me, then I will boast in my weaknesses. I will see my weaknesses as a treasure and blessing, and not as a curse.’ This became a platform for St. Thérèse’s confidence. She says, ‘Lord, You came for sinners, and you’ve allowed me to become aware of my littleness and weakness. I lift myself up into your arms, knowing that everything that You have expressed about who You are and Your mission through the public ministry of Jesus, shows that You came for the weak, the broken, and those who recognize their need for You. I recognize my need for You. Therefore, I have rights to Your heart. Here I am to take You by the heart.’

The saints are God’s work of art in our world… even more than the beauty of all nature, and nature is magnificently beautiful. It is marvelous, how God has designed creation, from the simplest insect, to the workings of our body, to the stars in the cosmos, to the multiplicity of galaxies; creation is amazing. The earth, among all the planets in our solar system, is spectacular! And yet, as St. Teresa says, none of that can be compared to a single immortal soul, made in His image. St. John of the Cross explains that God cares more for that one soul than all the works of His natural creation. He would be willing to give up all of the natural beauty of creation that He has made to save a single soul. That is how important each human being is to Him.

Yet, the paradoxical beauty is that God, in His love, respects our freedom. Love cannot impose itself on anybody. Love cannot be possessive and controlling. Love is respectful of the other person. God is not a tyrant or dictator; He doesn’t want to dominate our lives. He invites us into a relationship of mutual trust. He is not an abusive father; he is tenderly compassionate, understanding, and patient (to be continued).

May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life.

(SOURCE: Denver Retreat, October 2015)

Copyright 2016, Fr. Robert Barcelos. All Rights Reserved

‘Arm yourselves with the armor of faith and the sword of truth. Pray for the grace to forgive and to ask for forgiveness – and for the healing of wounded bodies and souls.’

If you liked this post, share it by clicking on one of the social media icons. And if you were inspired or have a prayer request, share that too under the ‘comment’ section!

Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: paradoxical beauty 1

The Crucifixion by Saint John of the Cross. Photo credit: thespeakroom.org
The Crucifixion by Saint John of the Cross. Photo credit: thespeakroom.org

Sometimes, it takes a leap of faith to be able to believe that our life is important to God, that we are sacred in His eyes, that we are part of the redeeming beauty of Christ, and that God looks upon each of us as his Beloved. Where there is love in you, Jesus sees that love as beautiful to Him. ‘Who we are in Christ’s eyes, is who we are alone,’ as St. Francis says. I don’t have to be preoccupied about what people think about me because if I know that I am right with Him, then that is all that matters. I can divest myself from useless concerns that waste precious time and energy.

Cardinal Ratzinger says, ‘We must learn to see Him.’ To go further, we must learn to see Him in ourselves. That is not meant to be self-centered navel gazing, but in our spiritual life, we must have a deepening knowledge of ourselves. St. Teresa says that knowledge of self is the foundation for the spiritual life. If we never go through this journey of inner healing, there will be a serious insufficiency and handicap as we continue in our life of piety and prayer. And we won’t know what is holding us back, much of it in the emotional, psychological, and relational level. The focus can’t be just spiritual, for our spiritual lives are inter-combined with everything else about who we are.

We must learn to see Him, including learn to see Him in ourselves. Whatever is in us, whatever message, whatever we’ve assumed, and have been conditioned to think, about our past, our present, our future; whatever we’ve adopted, whatever stinking thinking about who we are that we have adopted as truth about our possibilities and potentials – that isn’t coherent, consistent, and in harmony with His gospel, His vision, and with what He says about our lives and who we are – must be thrown out. The lies must be renounced and cast out of our lives because they will hold you back from being free.

Truth sets us free, but lies and ignorance enslave us to a lesser self, a false God. We must have no false Gods before us. We must learn to see Him. Ratzinger continues, ‘If we know Him, not only in words, but if we are struck by the arrow of His paradoxical beauty, then we will truly know Him and know Him not only because we have heard others speak about Him.’

What does he mean by paradoxical beauty? Very simply, the cross.

Only the eyes of faith, someone who knows Jesus inside and out, can see beauty in the cross. Those for whom Jesus has not come to birth in their hearts will ask, ‘How can you find beauty in the cross?’ It seems like a total contradiction to have a symbol of torture that is also a symbol of religion. It makes absolutely no sense to the natural human mind – unless, of course, it has been blessed and enlightened by faith. Paradoxical beauty. What may seem as total failure to someone else, can be seen as the fullness of love and self-giving to another person with faith. That’s beauty.

To lay down your life for your friends is beautiful. But especially so, when God does it for humanity, for sinners. Oftentimes, what brings out what’s most beautiful in us, happens after we’ve passed through some experience of the cross. From the most ugly, most painful experiences, from the ashes, can arise a fire of a new beauty in our lives. This is the redemption of Christ Jesus alive in the world, at work in each of us, bringing about and renewing in all who have faith, the death and resurrection of Christ, the Paschal mystery. That is paradoxical beauty (to be continued).

May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life.

(SOURCE: Denver Retreat, October 2015)

Copyright 2016, Fr. Robert Barcelos. All Rights Reserved

‘Arm yourselves with the armor of faith and the sword of truth.  Pray for the grace to forgive and to ask for forgiveness – and for the healing of wounded bodies and souls.’

If you liked this post, share it by clicking on one of the social media icons. And if you were inspired or have a prayer request, share that too under the ‘comment’ section!

August 9: Feast of Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein)

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Translated from Italian and published

by Carmel of Maria Regina, Eugene OR

According to The Discalced Carmelite Proper Offices Supplement (2012), “Edith Stein was born of a Jewish family at Breslau on October 12, 1891. Through her passionate study of philosophy she searched after the truth and found it in reading the autobiography of Saint Teresa of Jesus. In 1922 she was baptised Catholic and in 1933 she entered the Carmel of Cologne where she took the name of Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. She was gassed and cremated at Auschwitz on August 9, 1942 during the Nazi persecution and died a martyr for the Christian faith after having offered her holocaust for the people of Israel” (157).

Editor’s note:  In honor of yesterday’s Feast Day, here are some selected quotes from a booklet of Edith Stein’s ‘Thoughts’. If you haven’t yet read yesterday’s post by Father Robert Barcelos, ‘holiness means being whole,’ make sure you click on it below.

11. Divine spirit, divine life, divine love means this: he who does the will of God, knows God and loves Him. In fact, at the moment in which we do what God asks, with interior dedication, divine life becomes our life, God is found within ourselves. (Letter 21)

12. The more a person lives recollected in the interior of his soul, the stronger is that radiation which he sheds around him and which draws other souls into his circle. (Letter 21)

14. We have to learn to see others carry the cross and not be able to remove it from them. It is more difficult than to carry our own, but we cannot avoid it. (Letter 45)

20. God leads each one by a particular way; one person arrives more easily and sooner at the goal than another. What we can do, in comparison with what we are given, is always little. But the little we must do: that is, we must pray insistently so that when the way does happen to be indicated, we will be able to follow the grace without resisting. (Letter 56)

114. To belong wholly to God, to give oneself to Him, to His service, for love, this is the vocation, not only of all the elect but of every Christian; whether consecrated or not, man or woman. Everyone is called to follow Christ, and the more each one advances along the way, the more like Christ each one becomes. And since Christ personifies the ideal of human perfection free from every defect and one-sidedness, rich with characteristic traits be they masculine or feminine, free from every earthly limitation, His faithful followers rise ever higher above the confines of nature. (Woman 98)

136. In aridity and emptiness the soul becomes humble. Former pride disappears when a man no longer finds anything that might cause him to look down on others. (Science of the Cross 76)

155. The cross serves as a walking-stick to speed one’s march toward the summit. (Science of the Cross 141)

159. Contemplation is perceived more frequently in the will under the form of love, than in the intellect under the form of knowledge. (Science of the Cross 156)

The desire of our hearts and prayers rise to God for the salvation of all. For those who are called, whether they be Jews or Greeks, we preach Christ Crucified, a scandal to the Jews and foolishness to the pagans. But for those who are called, we preach Christ the power of God and the Wisdom of God  (Divine Office Supplement 159)

Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: holiness means being whole

Painting by Father Robert Barcelos, all rights reserved 2016
Painted by Father Robert Barcelos (Copyright 2016, All Rights Reserved)

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The whole mission of Jesus’s life, His incarnation, and the work of the Church is to enable us to attain to the likeness of God, to become who we are, as being made in the image of God. That process of becoming the best version of ourselves, means that we must become the canvas of God. Let the divine artist paint the beauty of His image in you. That beauty of His image in you is irrepeatable and irreplaceable; there will never be another copy of it again. There are no clones in the economy of God’s salvation. There is only one unique you.

As Matthew Kelly says, ‘Be perfectly yourself.’ That is not meant to be self-centered psychology, or a recipe for self-realization. It is thoroughly Christian, in the sense of knowing who we are as beloved children of God. Because how can we love one another as we love ourselves, if we don’t love ourselves in a healthy way?

One of Dostoevsky’s famous expressions is, ‘Beauty will save the world,’ which is quoted by many people who are not necessarily religious. In his contemplation of beauty, Cardinal Ratzinger explains that people usually forget that Dostoevsky was referring to the redeeming beauty of Christ.

How can we love others if we can’t love ourselves? One of the biggest realizations in my growth as a Christian and as a human being, in my healing and becoming more united to Christ was my realization that I didn’t love myself. Even though I believed in God’s love, there came a point of truth when God helped me to know myself, and to learn that I really didn’t love myself. It took a long time to realize this truth, but it was always subconsciously at work in me. I didn’t really accept myself as I was, and there were very human, natural reasons for that.

My parents divorced before I was two years old. My mother had a very traumatic experience, and it was really challenging for her.  She bore this difficulty while she carried me in her womb, and by the time I was two years old, they separated. (And I don’t blame her for that). Any child of divorce will admit that they subconsciously blame themselves. Likewise, I thought that the divorce was my fault. I wasn’t even two years old, but the belief was ingrained in me. Without my consciously thinking about it, my self-identity was shaped by my belief that I was the one who caused the separation. I was the one to blame. Thoughts like, ‘Had I been good enough, this wouldn’t have happened. Had I been better, my parents would’ve stayed together’ were subconsciously buried in me, but would only come out in certain occasions.

However, these thoughts were a driving force to my broken self-identity. They didn’t keep me from living a happy life, but there was definitely something I was unaware of, that needed to be healed. As a result of this false interpretation of a painful experience, of assuming the blame for my father’s abandonment, I didn’t fully accept myself for who I was.

Human nature is very complicated. As far as I was concerned, there were no issues or problems brought on by my parents’ divorce. However, it all came to light when I realized that I never accepted who I was, because I always thought of who I should be. I didn’t accept the real me. I accepted the ideal me. As a result, because I couldn’t accept myself with all my imperfections and faults, I had a very hard time accepting others with their imperfections and faults. Because I didn’t love myself in the way God loved me, it was a lot harder for me to love my neighbor as God loves them. This lack of reconciliation with myself led to an inability to love others with a greater power of love. For me, knowing this truth, was a very significant part of answering God’s call to holiness.

If we are going to answer God’s call to holiness, He will not only work in our spiritual lives of piety and prayer. No. We are called to be whole, in spirit, soul, and body, and that means the integration and inner unity of our whole humanity – emotionally, physically, psychologically, relationally, and sexually. Our whole identity is to be embraced in God’s redemptive love. Everything about who we is to be redeemed, filled, and encountered by the light of Christ (to be continued).

May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life.

(SOURCE: Denver Retreat, October 2015)

Copyright 2016, Fr. Robert Barcelos. All Rights Reserved

‘Arm yourselves with the armor of faith and the sword of truth.  Pray for the grace to forgive and to ask for forgiveness – and for the healing of wounded bodies and souls.’

If you liked this post, share it by clicking on one of the social media icons. And if you were inspired or have a prayer request, share that too under the ‘comment’ section!

Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: humility is truth

The Crucifixion by Saint John of the Cross. Photo credit: thespeakroom.org
The Crucifixion by Saint John of the Cross. Photo credit: thespeakroom.org

Editor’s note: If you subscribed and did not immediately receive an email indicating that your subscription was complete, please resubscribe below. The link was temporarily broken.  Thank you!

The only thing Jesus required from Peter’s mission of love – was humility, but Peter learns the hard way. Shortly after receiving his new identity, Peter tells Christ, ‘I will never leave you. I will always be there by your side, no matter what happens.’ Peter placed his trust on himself. He did not acknowledge his weakness. However, Jesus responds, ‘Three times, you will deny me.’ Jesus knew, even before Peter fell, that he would fall, but He chose him anyway because He knew that He would bring goodness out of that fall. What was the good? Humility.

Eventually, after betraying Christ three times, Peter comes to know himself at rock bottom; he learns that he is nothing without Christ, and that the gifts he has, do not come from himself, but from Jesus. Left alone, and without Jesus sustaining him, Peter sees clearly how easily everything had slipped through his fingers. Yet Jesus restores him to himself and gives him the opportunity to heal and make reparation for that part of himself that had been hurt by his denial of Christ. When Peter reaffirms his love for Jesus, He elevates him to a new level of love, in his capacity to be Christ for others, that would not have been possible had he not suffered in this way. Only after learning true humility was Peter ready for the mission of mercy. True compassion is not possible without going through the Passion.

According to Saint Teresa, humility is truth; it is knowing who we are in God’s eyes. That truth sets us free to be who we’re truly meant to be, and with God’s help and the Holy Spirit, to be that to the full. As Matthew Kelly says, we have to become the best version of ourselves. To do so, we must go through a great deal of conversion. To become the best version of ourselves, we must go through conversion.

‘It is this crucified and risen Lord who fully reveals man to himself and makes his supreme calling clear’ writes Saint John Paul II in Evangelii Gaudiuum, (The Joy of the Gospel). This was his favorite quote from the Vatican Council, which he was a part of. It is Jesus who fully reveals man to us and makes clear to us our supreme calling.

(to be continued).

May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life.

(SOURCE: Denver Retreat, October 2015)

Copyright 2016, Fr. Robert Barcelos. All Rights Reserved

‘Arm yourselves with the armor of faith and the sword of truth. Pray for the grace to forgive and to ask for forgiveness – and for the healing of wounded bodies and souls.’

If you liked this post, share it by clicking on one of the social media icons. And if you were inspired or have a prayer request, share that too under the ‘comment’ section!

 

Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: who do you say that I am?

Christ at the Column by Gregorio Fernandez (1619, Avila, Spain). Photo credit:thespeakroom.rog
Christ at the Column by Gregorio Fernandez. Avila, Spain (1619). Photo credit: thespeakroom.org

Jesus asks, ‘Who do you say that I am?’ Peter responds, “You are Christ, the son of the living God.’ In your contemplation, plumb the depths and implications of what Christ, Cristos, really means. Who is this anointed? This Y’shua? What does he mean to me? Jesus doesn’t ask, ‘Who do people say that I am? What are they talking about in the streets? What does the media say? What’s the public opinion?’ No. He asks, ‘Who do YOU say that I am?’

Ultimately, our destiny comes down to a decision. ‘Who do I say He is?’ In your answer to that question, how will you respond with your life?’

The person of Christ is unparalleled in history. There will be never anyone like Him, and there was never anyone like Him before He came on earth. He revolutionized human creation and redemption; he revolutionized our destinies.

Jesus Christ wasn’t simply a godly man or a religious figure; he was God made man. Some religions have incarnations of a mystical kind. However, Christ wasn’t just someone to be spoken about in mythological terms; His being is concrete and historical. The mystery of His humanity became an event in a specific time in history, with huge implications, and it only took Him three years to turn the world upside down. What He did is unlike anything else.

What Christ came to offer and invites us into is not just one religion among many; it is not something that we have invented and discovered. It is not just a human idea or philosophy. It’s God’s revelation of our eternal destiny in Him. What Christ has done is something that has been revealed. He invites us into a relationship with Him.

In many of his writings, Saint John Paul II writes about the theme of gazing, of contemplating upon the face of Jesus Christ. He describes the glory shining on the face of the risen Christ, as ‘supremely beautiful.’ During the Transfiguration, John, Peter, and James, and the two great figures of the old covenant, Elijah and Moses, gaze upon His face. We too are invited to do the same, that our lives may be transformed. By the discovery of who God is, we discover who we are.

When Saint Peter exclaims, “You are the Christ,’ Jesus responds, ‘That didn’t come from you.’ Peter did not come to this conclusion on his own. It was a gift from God that was infused in him so that he would have this knowledge, awareness, and epiphany.

After his epiphany of coming to know Jesus, our Lord gives Peter an epiphany of coming to know himself. Jesus says, ‘You are Peter. You’re no longer Simon, son of Jonah.’  Simon means sand;  before Peter’s infused knowledge of Christ, he had very little stability. Only after Peter is able to gaze at Christ with the eyes of faith and know Him, does Jesus change his whole identity. He names him Peter, which means the rock.

And on this rock, Christ has built His Church. From Peter’s human weakness, Christ brings glory out of brokenness  (to be continued).

May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life.

(SOURCE: Denver Retreat, October 2015)

Copyright 2016, Fr. Robert Barcelos. All Rights Reserved

‘Arm yourselves with the armor of faith and the sword of truth.  Pray for the grace to forgive and to ask for forgiveness – and for the healing of wounded bodies and souls.’

 

If you liked this post, share it by clicking on one of the social media icons.  And if you were inspired or have a prayer request, share that too under the ‘comment’ section!