Thursday, February 14, 2013

Devotion for today: faith is genuine only if crowned by charity

Two thoughts for today: I recently had a great conversation with a friend who was so exasperated in her efforts to bring a relative into a full understanding of our faith.  “He just kept saying that I had no proof; that for all I know the Bible was created by a bunch of men who told a good story in able to control a lot of people. I just don’t know what to say to that.” We all have encountered this type of opposition at some time in our lives. There are people who intellectually dismiss Christianity by such arguments. What is missing in their lives, of course, is a personal encounter with Christ as He lives in Divine Mercy. When Christ in His mercy steps into your life, pulls you from the depths of despair, heals the broken pieces of your heart and gives you the strength and courage to go  on living, you do not need an intellectual understanding of Christ or proof that He is God. He is God. He is God in you. He is God in His Church. He is God of the universe, and when you encounter Him as the Almighty God who saw fit to create you and place you in His plan for the salvation of the world, Sacred Scripture stops being a nice holy book you place on a shelf and becomes the collection of love letters God wrote specifically for you. Today is Valentine’s Day. Why not take time to open a few of these beautiful healing and caressing letters and let the words sink into your heart. When they do, take their message and share it with those who need your love. That is faith crowned in charity.

Thought number two: I couldn’t help but cry a bit as I watched the Pope’s last public Mass yesterday on EWTN. The wonderful “Papa” to us all has given his children a legacy of hope, inspiration and sound Catholic teaching. As we complete his Lenten message by reflecting on part 4, the final part, let us offer a prayer to God in thanksgiving for the gift of this fine man.

Scripture for reflection: 1 Corinthians 13:13
And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

Revelation 22:20
 The one who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.”
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

4. Priority of faith, primacy of charity

Like any gift of God, faith and charity have their origin in the action of one and the same Holy Spirit (cf. 1 Cor 13), the Spirit within us that cries out “Abba, Father” (Gal 4:6), and makes us say: “Jesus is Lord!” (1 Cor 12:3) and “Maranatha!” (1 Cor 16:22; Rev 22:20).

Faith, as gift and response, causes us to know the truth of Christ as Love incarnate and crucified, as full and perfect obedience to the Father’s will and infinite divine mercy towards neighbor;

Faith implants in hearts and minds the firm conviction that only this Love is able to conquer evil and death.

Faith invites us to look towards the future with the virtue of hope, in the confident expectation that the victory of Christ’s love will come to its fullness.

 For its part, charity ushers us into the love of God manifested in Christ and joins us in a personal and existential way to the total and unconditional self-giving of Jesus to the Father and to his brothers and sisters. By filling our hearts with his love, the Holy Spirit makes us sharers in Jesus’ filial devotion to God and fraternal devotion to every man (cf. Rom 5:5).

The relationship between these two virtues resembles that between the two fundamental sacraments of the Church: Baptism and Eucharist. Baptism (sacramentum fidei) precedes the Eucharist (sacramentum caritatis), but is ordered to it, the Eucharist being the fullness of the Christian journey. In a similar way, faith precedes charity, but. Everything begins from the humble acceptance of faith (“knowing that one is loved by God”), but has to arrive at the truth of charity (“knowing how to love God and neighbor”), which remains for ever, as the fulfillment of all the virtues (cf. 1 Cor 13:13).

Dear brothers and sisters, in this season of Lent, as we prepare to celebrate the event of the Cross and Resurrection – in which the love of God redeemed the world and shone its light upon history – I express my wish that all of you may spend this precious time rekindling your faith in Jesus Christ, so as to enter with him into the dynamic of love for the Father and for every brother and sister that we encounter in our lives. For this intention, I raise my prayer to God, and I invoke the Lord’s blessing upon each individual and upon every community!

He Knows My Name by Maranatha Singers

I have a Maker
He formed my heart
Before even time began
My life was in his hands 

He knows my name
He knows my every thought
He sees each tear that falls
and He hears me when I call 
I have a Father
He calls me His own
He’ll never leave me
No matter where I go 

He knows my name
He knows my every thought
He sees each tear that falls
and He hears me when I call

(please disable commercial which precedes this  beautiful song)

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