We must always strive toward conversion to the love of Jesus, which changes life and makes of the Christian a witness of the Love of God. The Church expects this witness of Christian life and the Holy Spirit helps us to live the coherence of the Gospel.
The Holy Spirit leads us to live in holiness. Every moment in our lives has a meaning that can draw us to grow in holiness and do God’s will. Whether we collaborate with God’s grace or not depends on us, because we have free will.
God provides for us in each and every moment of our lives. Each and every day, each and every moment is a gift from God. If each and every day and each and every moment is a gift from God, He also offers us the graces to fulfill it so that we may experience Him and attain the goal of salvation. St. Paul says: “My grace is enough for you…” (2 Cor 12:9).
God never commands the impossible and His grace is always sufficient for us. God makes it possible for every one of us to fulfill our daily tasks with love and generosity.
The tasks entrusted to us in each moment, both big and small alike, in the ordinary routine of our lives are an expression of God’s will for us. Thus, live in the present moment and carry out your tasks and offer them up to the Lord for love of God. In such a way, we accept the grace of God and His will for us and cooperate with the grace of God for the present moment.
By trusting and abandoning ourselves to Him, we will experience His amazing divine Providence and this will help us to advance in our spiritual life, as our will becomes more and more aligned with the will of God.
When we are aware of God’s grace in the present moment, it helps us to understand more clearly how we should live from day to day trusting in God and in a spirit of self-abandonment.
Most people don’t trust God anymore because of many reasons, but ironically, they trust totally their GPS. Sometimes your GPS can lead you to the wrong direction, but Jesus never leads you on the wrong path. Jesus brings you to the truth.
(to be continued)
About the author: Sister Theofila is the Prioress of the Daughters of Carmel, located in Saint Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park. Visit Daughters of Carmel website for more information. Sister Theofila gave this conference during a Charismatic Renewal event.
During his talk in Rome for the 50th anniversary of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR) in Rome last June 2017 Pope Francis said, “You have received a great gift from the Lord. You were born of the will of the Spirit as “a current of grace in the Church and for the Church.”
The Church is like a great orchestra, where every instrument is different from another and the voices are also different, but all are necessary for the harmony of the music. And as a whole Church, have only one head, only one Lord: The Lord Jesus. And we can say this with the strength that the Holy Spirit has given us, because no one can say “Jesus is the Lord” without the Holy Spirit.
What is the first gift of the Holy Spirit? The gift of Himself, who is love and makes you enamored of Jesus. And this love changes life. Because of this, it is said that we are “to be born again to life in the Spirit.” Jesus said this to Nicodemus. As Christians, we have received the great gift of the diversity of charisms,a diversity that leads to the harmony of the Holy Spirit, to the service of the Church.
Grace is a word that bears the weight of multiple meanings, both in English and in Greek (charis, gratia). Grace is at once the fruits of God’s acting upon us and a free supernatural gift of God to help us attain eternal life. Grace empowers our intellects and wills to understand God’s will and obey it, yet at the same time it leaves us free to resist if we choose.
St. Thomas Aquinas taught that grace heals the soul by helping us recognize the good while empowering us to desire the good, do the good, persevere in the good and reach glory.
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “Grace is a participation in the life of God. It introduces us into the intimacy of Trinitarian life: by Baptism the Christian participates in the grace of Christ, the Head of his Body. As an” adopted son” he can henceforth call God ‘Father,” in union with the only Son. He receives the life of the Spirit who breathes charity into him and who forms the Church (1997).
As God’s children, we all receive grace abundantly in our lives. We can choose not to collaborate with God’s grace , and we can ignore it, never knowing that every moment in life is a grace.
Now you are here because you want to respond to God’s grace. There’s no coincidence in our lives. Everything is in God’s plan. God has a wonderful plan for each of us. He wants us to have a happy life, the genuine happiness can be only found in God.
Outside of God there is no genuine happiness. Sometimes, you think you are happy due to your wealth, your position as a leader, and so on. But if you want to be honest with yourself, neither your wealth, job, nor your hobbies will not make you happy inside. Perhaps in your appearance you look happy, but on the contrary, you realize in the depth of your heart there is still emptiness or unhappiness.
God gives us His actual grace to do many things, but we don’t realize it. The grace that God pours out upon us is like the sun. It depends on our receiving it. If we want to get a suntan, we have to leave our houses and go to the beach. If we stay inside, we will never get a suntan.
It’s only a metaphor, but it’s the same thing with grace from God. He always gives it to us even though we are sinners. But we need to cooperate with the Holy Spirit to receive God’s grace.
(to be continued)
Copyright 2018, Sister Theofila
About the author: Sister Theofila is the Prioress of the Daughters of Carmel, located in Saint Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park. Visit Daughters of Carmel website for more information. Sister Theophila gave this conference during a Charismatic Renewal event.
NOTE:Click on the triangle to listen to Father Robert’s Homily on 5/12/18 on confidence in God –and Mothers Day as he discusses “Seasons of the Heart” by John Welch, O. Carm., Bob Marley, Lauryn Hill, and his past.
During Holy Week, my mother, who is in her late seventies, had her sixth ischemic attack, her worse one yet. This time, rather than simply forgetting a conversation just five minutes beforehand, she could not recognize anyone in the family, not even my father.
Everyone thought that this would be her last battle. But one morning, she came to – repeating the words, “Everything is nothing, except God.” Saint John of the Cross, with his doctrine ‘nada, nada, nada’ (nothing, nothing, nothing) must have been teaching her spirit.
As Mother’s Day approaches, after having almost lost my mother to an instant emptying of all her memories, I contemplate what these words mean for my own motherhood.
Mothers cannot help but cling to their children. How can we not?
My clearest memories are of those first moments after my children were born – the smell of their foreheads mixed with that of the hospital bed, the size of their toes next to my thumb nail, and the way each of them instinctively tightened their grip around my pinky, when I applied the slightest pressure against their small palms.
As I embraced each of them, with all their fingers wrapped around one of mine, I wanted the moment to last forever. But of course, it couldn’t.
I spent most of my motherhood believing that I was learning to let go of my children, but instead, I was finding ways to hold on to them as tightly as they held on to me when they were newborns.
Almost twenty years ago, my husband and I flew from Philadelphia to San Francisco on a one-way ticket. He had a new job, but that was it. We had no long-term housing, and all our belongings, except for what we carried in our suitcases – were in storage.
It felt liberating to finally leave what was then the crack-ridden streets of Philadelphia and the limited education options of an urban neighborhood that had just been red-lined – for the dreams and possibilities that were open to my husband and my children in California.
I knew I was walking away from a Pennsylvania teaching credential – something that required $30,000 in student loans and included seven years of being a tenured middle-school and high school teacher. I also turned down a teaching position in a Main Line Philadelphia private school. I thought that I was letting go of my own dreams – so that my husband and children could follow theirs.
It took me a long time to realize it, but what I was really doing was holding on even tighter, replacing the ambitions and expectations I had for myself – upon them. In those moments when I would see that anyone in my family might fall short, I did everything in my power to fill the gap – often times at great personal expense.
Of course, none of this was helpful to anyone.
For “whether it be a strong wire rope or a slender and delicate thread that holds the bird, it matters not, if it really holds it fast; for, until the cord be broken the bird cannot fly,” writes Saint John of the Cross.
Because ‘Everything is nothing, except God’ – then the best way to be a mother, or for that matter, for anyone to grow in holiness, is to let go of everyone and everything – except God.
How do we do this?
On the day of His resurrection, Jesus tells Mary Magdala, “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to my God and your God” (John 20:17).
Our Lady is a Mother who knew how to let go of her son, even through the terror of witnessing His crucifixion, so that God the Father could complete His work in Him, with Him, and through Him.
I’ve always wondered why, although our Lady was present as one among those who “devoted themselves with one accord to prayer” (Acts 1:14) after Jesus’ Ascension, she is not present with the disciples in any of the gospel accounts of His Easter resurrection. Where was she?
She must have been alone, pondering in her heart.
The most important conversations I have had with my children have been hidden behind closed doors. I picture Our Lady in a room with a closed door, being greeted with love beyond all-telling, by Jesus in His glorified state, on the day of His resurrection. Their encounter is one of immense joy and intimacy, one deserving of a mother who gave her son over completely to the will of God the Father.
But she kept all these things in her heart.
I have always been ambitious for myself, my husband, and my children, but I know now that this is a clinging to straws.
As a mother, I have to be ambitious to be well-pleasing to God – and that’s it.
Happy Mother’s Day to all of you beautiful women who have and are raising children! May God grant you the grace to be ambitious to be well-pleasing to Him in your motherhood!
About the author:Teresa Linda is the Formation Director of the Santa Clara, CA Order of Secular Discalced Carmelites (OCDS). She has four children, ages 15-26, has been married for 28 years, and is a community college English professor.
The Life of prayer in the Purgative Way, is the first water that St. Teresa talks about in The Life. There are four waters, and the Purgative Way is the first water. She explains the analogy of the well, where we are doing all the work; this is the Purgative Way form of prayer that she talks about in The Life, Chapters 11 to 13. For growth in the art of prayer, two things are necessary: desire it and have determined determination. Never give it up.
A Benedictine Father once said so well, ‘Until we are convinced that prayer is the best use of our time, we will never find time for prayer.’ There’s always going to be something to do. There’s no end to being busy, and until we are convinced that prayer is the best use of our time, we will never find time for it.
In the Purgative Way, especially as it develops in the Third Mansion, prayer mostly looks like, practically speaking as a basic and firm anchoring into the Liturgical life of the Church. In more common terms, you’ve got to have your Magnificat; without it, you’re disoriented. The prayer books, the prayer life of the Church and the daily readings anchor you.
In beginning, you develop a unique cultivation of sacred Scripture, and are starting to actually open the Bible, read it for ourselves, and explore what it might mean. Knowing the Word of Jesus is the foundation of a prayer life that is coming to know the heart of Jesus.
Also, the beginner in the first three mansions cultivates ordinary love and prayer through a personal relationship with Jesus. This teaching is from Father Datius, an Indian Carmelite father who has since gone to the Lord. He died recently but gave a lot of retreats. He says this about cultivating ordinary love and prayer, and a personal relationship with Jesus.
‘We start at reading the areas in sacred Scripture’ – meditating in the areas of Scripture which speaks to us directly in God’s love for us in a personal way. ‘Meditate,’ which means reflect calmly; that’s what meditation is with Christians, and it’s different than Buddhists. ‘Reflect calmly on God’s loving presence in our life.’ Throughout each stage of our life, God’s love was always there.
Reflect on that. You can even use the rosary to do it as your vehicle. ‘See how God has been as a provident provider and lover in every phase of your personal history.’ He’s always been there, always providing, always bringing you out a bind, picking you up on your feet again, and wiping off the dust from a fall.
‘Meditate on God’s mediated love, the way He’s come to you through the means of various people in your life, which have been God’s love in disguise.’
Also, a person can journal, begin to write about their spiritual life, and start to learn better about how God is working in their life by writing it out. Sometimes, God can speak to us in our hearts as we write. We can also be developing gospel friendships and being careful about the company that we keep because whether it’s good company, it rubs off and if it’s bad company, it also rubs off.
This stage of prayer in the Third Mansion is what’s called an Affective Prayer, and as Saint Teresa would call it, the Prayer of Simplicity. Affective Prayer means a prayer of the heart is beginning to start. This means love, praise, thanksgiving, adoration, the sentiments of repentance and surrender; an intercession that is empathetic, that has empathy for those you are praying for. You really like praying for others from the heart and feeling where their needs are, suffering with them, and rejoicing with them.
St. John of the Cross refers to this Prayer of Simplicity as Active or Acquired Contemplation. It’s a prayer that can be taught and involves our effort. It is not yet infused supernaturally, and doesn’t yet have the more the direct inflow of God’s spirit.
God alone can take us beyond this form of prayer into Prayer of Recollection, or what St. John of the Cross calls, Initial Contemplation, which starts in the Fourth Mansion. The transition from natural prayer to the more supernatural prayer, a deeper communion with the Holy Spirit, begins in this fourth stage.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be world without end. Amen
SOURCE: Teresa 5, Copyright 2018, Father Robert Barcelos, OCD
OUR MISSION is to build a Carmelite foundation for souls to bring unity, peace, beauty, and the divine mercy of the Word to the world for the healing of humanity.