Saturday, October 20, 2012

Sunday 29B: "let us hold fast to our confession of faith" through more generous expressions of devotional love

Many families endure the phenomenon of the child or family member who seems to come around only at mealtime, or for laundry or other physical necessities. Some see their children come home unexpectedly after college while facing unavailability of work. This certainly satisfies need for physical sustenance and, although a limited opportunity for interrelationships, is ultimately not enough to satisfy the need for human flourishing.

Why? Because relationships are about love and love is about growth and growth is about not being satisfied with the minimum. Love is about more, not less. In other words, love is generous.

So sooner or later something has to give: eventually persons drift out of relationships because the minimalistic approach is tolerated until it becomes merely an inconvenience to be avoided or the truth is faced and steps are taken to address the dysfunction and matters begin to improve as persons become more generous with their time.

It is true that the Church is a family, the family of God, and the Sacrifice of the Mass is a "meal", though a sacrificial one, and the Mass is the one essential thing: Christ present in Word proclaimed and really, truly and substantially in the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

But it is not the only thing.

In the Gospel the Apostles make demands upon Jesus: "Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you." Their relationship is tending toward the physical, the utilitarian, much like the family member, perhaps a son or daughter, whose actions tend to reduce the relationship with family members to the satisfaction of physical needs only.

Faith is about what God does for us. Faith begins with God's initiative take on our behalf in Jesus Christ who suffered, died and rose again. But it is also about what we do for God: "grace builds on nature". So God redirects our attention to the choices we make, to the way in which our lives are lived in preparation, in readiness for the grace we desire: “Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.”

Thus, if we desire to have Him moving in our lives we must take the first step so that grace can build on nature: we attend Mass weekly in obedience to the Commandments but more so that we may grow in our relationship.

Holy Mass, although the greatest and necessary gift, remains a kind of "minimum" if considered only in isolation, as the "one thing we have to do every week for our Faith".  Yes, it is in conformity with His command but always while at the same time seeking to grow in our capacity to please God in other ways.

More is needed.

Saint Francis de Sales counsels us: ""Every one of us needs half an hour of prayer each day, except when we are busy; then we need an hour."

1.Daily prayer.
2.Scripture reading / study of teachings (CCC)
3. Service of others in order to see and love Christ in them (family, co-workers, the other in distressing disguise)
4. Seeking more than the minimum: personal prayer through visits to the Blessed Sacrament, daily Mass, stations during Lent, special liturgies such as Corpus Christi procession and May devotions.
5.Regular confession, especially in case of mortal sin before receiving the Eucharist.

“… let us hold fast to our confession … ” with Sunday Mass as the source of our spiritual life throughout the week and the summit toward which all our activities tend (Vatican II, Sacrosanctum Concilium)

“So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.”

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