God is real

When you allow yourself to be attentive to God; that is, when you allow yourself to pray; when you cut through all the distractions so that in your heart all things are in their proper places — then your heart can perceive God’s presence and action, and it is clear that He is REAL.

Real in the way that someone or something that you can see or touch right in front of you is real.

Don’t give up on prayer. Seek God. Read His Word, and have a trusted guide to ask questions when needed.

Godspeed my friends!

The Beatitudes 

Matthew 5:1-12
Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: 

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Like Moses, Jesus gives divine teaching from a mountain, while the people wait at the bottom. The 8 “Blessed”s or Beatitudes are the beginning of this teaching, known as the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5-7), just as the 10 Commandments begin the giving of the Mosaic Law.

The meaning of the Sermon, and especially the Beatitudes, are discovered in knowing Christ and following him. It is a higher path, a “deep wisdom” offered by Christ to all those with the eyes to see. 

That these teachings constitute a more exalted way, is evident in the whole of the  Sermon (You heard it said … But I say to you…), and is also seen in Christ’s encounter with the rich young man (Matt 19:16-22). There, the man asks Jesus what he must do to have eternal life. Jesus gives him some of the Commandments. But he also tells him that, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor … and come follow me.”

The Commandments (do not kill, do not steal, honor your father and mother, etc.) are a foundation and the Beatitudes are built upon it. The Commandments are clear: do this, don’t do that. The beatitudes concern inner dispositions who’s implications are not fully understood without great knowledge of the one who teaches them. You know what it is to be poor in spirit by knowing the humility of Christ who took human flesh though he was in the form of God. You know what it is to hunger and thirst for righteousness by knowing how Christ yearned to complete his mission, and saw doing the will of God as his bread. You know what it is to mourn by knowing how Christ wept over the hard spiritual blindness of his people, and over his dead friend Lazarus. And so on, with the rest of the Beatitudes. Through the Word of God, through the Sacraments, and through prayer, we come to know Christ intimately, and understand the deep wisdom that is the way of Christ.

Read Matthew 5:1-12, or even all of chapters 5-7, and ask the Lord to teach you to understand it, and live it. Pray for me, too, and we can strive in this task together.

The Mournful Truth

Proverbs 26:12
Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him. 
This passage gives me hope for myself. I, a foolish man, have come to recognize that I am foolish.
The Lord surely created the human heart a wonder. Painful knowledge of one’s own failings comes with its own consolation: knowing that you’re in a better state than you were before, when you did not know your failings.

In this line, I think that recognition of the painful truth is primarily what Christ meant when he said, “Blessed are those who mourn. They shall be comforted.”

Also, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

The truth, the truth – bringing both joy and pain, sets us solidly on the path to freedom from the chains of the hidden, unacknowledged, and unrecognized fact. And the path is trodden by means of mourning.

To look truth straight in the eyes: this is the vocation of the Christian.
Dear reader, may God grant you self-knowledge, and the eyes to see truth.

In lieu of part 3, here is reflection coming from lectio this morning….

“Far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world.” Galatians 6:14
How can this be? How is it that the cross of Jesus Christ crucifies Paul to the world and the world to Paul? And why should Paul glory in this? First, let’s think about what is included in the phrase, “the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” I submit that here Paul means primarily the cross of Jesus Christ as he himself shares in it – that is, his own suffering in union with the Lord. At the least, it seems to me, this is the connecting idea. Thinking of this, we can better understand how it is that this cross has crucified the world to Paul, and Paul to the world. The cross is that suffering which through the grace of Christ detaches one’s heart from the world, from ‘things,’ freeing it up to attach to God. If this is the effect of the cross, then it is clearly something to be gloried in.
Immediately before this passage Paul says “for even those who receive circumcision do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may glory in your flesh.” For those people Paul here speaks of, that which is worth glorying in is not that which detaches us from the world and attaches us to God, but that which gives an external appearance of belonging to God. Perhaps, Paul seems to suggest, if they kept the law, the external appearance would be inconsequential; but they do not keep the law.
In the passage immediately after our original one, Paul bears this thought out, saying, “for neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.” External appearances of Godliness are not decisive, but internal faith and hope, by which children of God are made, and a new world is made.
This creation of a new world is carried out by God in our current world through the cross of Christ and the grace that flows abundantly from it. In anticipation of his cross and the new creation it would accomplish, Jesus said “Now is the judgment of this world, now shall the ruler of this world be cast out; and I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself” (John 12:32). The world, and all of history, including the personal histories of each individual human being, is changed forever and given meaning by the cross and resurrection of the Son of God. Christ judges the world, casting out it’s ruler, the deceiver and evil one, and making all things new. Suffering and death, which were effects of evil, he has made the entryway into life: “Truly, truly, I say to you,” he says, “unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24). The heart, through suffering, is made to detach itself from fixation on shallow, empty, and passing things – things that have worth only in relation to greater realities, at the top of which is loving communion with our Creator.
God is doing all this for all, and for you in particular. He loves you and each person as if they were the only one in the world. Do you recognize this hidden work of the Cross within you? Do you have the eyes to see? Each person, within their personal history, can accept his grace (free gift) and persevere in it to the end, or can delay and resist until the end. He asks each to believe in Him and become His child, a disciple of Jesus his divine Son. God cannot be outdone in generosity – it is well worth it.