Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Words from Fr. Ed (from October 9th, 2011)

 “The feast is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy to come.”

     If you are reading this you are probably going to Mass every Sunday. “The feast is ready”, you have been invited, and you have said ‘Yes’ to Our Lord. This ‘Yes’ that you have said by being committed to Sunday Mass is no small thing. Jesus said in the Gospel of John, “I am the living bread come down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” (Jn 6:51) Receiving Jesus every week is no less than eternal life.

     “The week”, if we look at the creation story, is see a symbol of all creation. We read in the first few chapters of Genesis that God prepared a creation for humanity. Within the gift of humanity, we see man and woman. We even see the aspect of rest, Sabbath, where God, resting from His works calls to humanity to rest in Him. He is our rest, and this, not just once per week, but for all eternity.

     Holy Communion, the Body and Blood of Christ, is rest for our souls. As I quoted Augustine last week, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” Why? Because “God is love” and we were made for love. Does not human love give us some tremendous sense of rest, of peace, even exhilaration? When we love we achieve the purpose of our existence. In a sense, we have arrived at our goal. There is at least a subconscious sense of ultimate accomplishment.
     One thing I love about manual labor, such as gardening, is that we can see the result of our work. Spiritual work as a priest can be less tangible or concrete in a physical sense. But the spiritual work that we are all called to is more permanent than any gardening. In fact, it is a return to the Garden of Paradise, or even better, an entry into the New Paradise of the New Jerusalem. We are elevated by the Redemption wrought in Christ Jesus. That’s why we can sing at the Easter Vigil, “O happy fault of Adam…”
     This Sunday, let yourself rest in Him. Be at peace. You have received Jesus, the summit of all our desires, the healing for all our wounds, the satisfaction for all our sins.

Saturday, October 15th: Feast of St. Teresa of Avila

     I cannot help but comment on this mother of mine, St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582). We just celebrated the Feast of St. Therese of Lisieux (1873-1897), otherwise known as the Little Flower. Thus we call St. Teresa the ‘Great Teresa’ to distinguish between these two Discalced Carmelites. St. Teresa was the foundress of the great renewal of the Carmelite Order, which began in 1214 on Mt. Carmel in Israel by crusaders who wanted to remain in the Holy Land and lead lives of prayer. They were hermits gathered around a common chapel.
     When these brothers migrated to Europe, they soon lost their eremitical (related to hermits) roots. Gathering in larger monasteries of both men and women, they began to mitigate, soften, the primitive rule of life for hermits that they had originally inherited. St. Teresa felt the impulse to return to a more austere form of life with greater solitude and silence included in their day, so she founded new and smaller Carmelite monasteries of women, and with the help of St. John of the Cross, friaries of priests and brothers.
     St. Teresa was primarily a woman of prayer. Her writings on the mystical life have earned her the title, “Doctor of the Church”, one of only three women given that designation along with St. Catherine of Sienna and St. Therese of Lisieux. Her works are priceless to read, beginning with the Way of Perfection, a treatise on the evolution of her first monastery along with a commentary on the Our Father. I include the passage that I use the most when teaching Christian meditation, of which she was a master:

Let us now return to our vocal prayer, so that we may learn to pray in such a way that, without our understanding how, God may give us everything at once: if we do this, as I have said, we shall pray as we ought. As you know, the first things must be examination of conscience, confession of sin and the signing of yourself with the Cross. Then, daughter, as you are alone, you must look for a companion— and who could be a better Companion than the very Master Who taught you the prayer that you are about to say? Imagine that this Lord Himself is at your side and see how lovingly and how humbly He is teaching you— and, believe me, you should stay with so good a Friend for as long as you can before you leave Him. If you become accustomed to having Him at your side, and if He sees that you love Him to be there and are always trying to please Him, you will never be able, as we put it, to send Him away, nor will He ever fail you. He will help you in all your trials and you will have Him everywhere. Do you think it is a small thing to have such a Friend as that beside you? (Chapter 26, found at

I close with this beautiful poem of St. Teresa:
Nada te Turbe
(Let Nothing Disturb You)
Let nothing disturb you,
nothing frighten you,
all things are passing;
God never changes.
Patience wins all things;
whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.

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