We are not just material beings, but spiritual persons with a need for meaning, purpose, and fulfillment that transcends the visible confines of this world. This longing for transcendence is a longing for truth, goodness, and beauty. Truth, goodness, and beauty are called the transcendentals of being, because they are aspects of being. Everything in existence has these transcendentals to some extent. God, of course, as the source of all truth, goodness, and beauty, has these transcendentals to an infinite degree. Oftentimes, He draws us to Himself primarily through one of these transcendentals. St. Augustine, who was drawn to beauty in all its creaturely forms, found the ultimate beauty he was seeking in God, his creator, the beauty “ever ancient, ever new.”―Sister Gabriella Yi, O.P.

Bishop Lopes: A Pledged Troth. A pastoral letter on Amoris Laetitia.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Relatio post post disceptationem

The Synod of Bishops: confused, intense, messy, illuminating, humbling, frustrating, unsettling, invigorating, instructive... .

The Synod, it has been said, was called to find new ways to express the mercy of God. Unfortunately, to some that seems to have meant a change in the Church's teaching with regards to divorce and remarriage, homosexual unions, etc. The media ran wild with the Relatio (Mid Term RPD); most bishops decried the RPD's content. The reports from the working groups were published, reports which cast a very different light on the proceedings. Manipulations were exposed; the Kasperian agenda was quashed, at least for the time being.

Without intending nor pretending to think I know better than the Synod Fathers, perhaps the Synod Fathers could have paid better attention to a simple maxim that, unless this blogger has been grossly misinformed, could have read as follows:

Speak the hard truth with soft words of mercy.
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life?"—St. Matthew 16:24-26.
1. The "hard truth": the path to heaven is not easy.
Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.—St. Matthew 7:13-14.
2. If we trust in Jesus, the burden is light, for He is with us always.
Jesus declared, “I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will. All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”—St. Matthew 11:25-30.
3. Christ has entered into the human condition and He gives meaning to suffering.
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed.—Isaiah 53:5
The five wounds in the flesh of Jesus open a place for us in the Body of Christ; our suffering opens in us a place for God. Suffering creates an opening for God to work in us, through us. Do we go looking for suffering? No. Suffering will find us, and when it does we should quickly turn to the Lord in prayer and ask for strength. Christ, Who enters into our wounds, transforms us. If we trust Jesus with our wounds, our wounds are the opportunity in which we may rise with Him to newness of life.
The Beatitudes reveal the ways God touches us in our brokenness. The Beatitudes reveal real avenues of grace by which we are made holy by God. The Beatitudes reveal our wounds, wounds that the Master enters into. A wound creates in us a space for God to act in and through us, hence we are blessed because the wound is a sign that the obstacle to God’s grace has been removed so that we may become a vehicle of God’s blessing to others and may participate in the Divine life. Cooperate, then, with God’s grace. In so doing, the mind and heart is disposed to God Who by grace guides us toward Himself through the avenues, for example, presented in the Beatitudes.
4. And, "soft words", i.e., gentle but firm counsel that proposes the path of life.
Having a bad day? bad month? bad year? bad life? Offer up your sufferings to God and ask God for the grace to endure.
Fecisti nos ad te et inquietum est cor nostrum donec requiescat in te. You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.—Confessions, St. Augustine. 
Never give up. Never give in to despair. Do not take the easy route. Take up your cross and, if you are living in sin, leave your life of sin behind. Fear not and trust in the Lord.
Jesus looked up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again.”—St. John 8:10-11.
You are not alone. Your fellow Catholics are here for you, to pray with you and offer you support. Ask people to pray for you. Don't be surprised, in your need for relief, if God gives you a sign that demands much from you.
Those whom I love, I reprove and chasten; so be zealous and repent.—Revelation 3:19.
Besides this, we have had earthly fathers to discipline us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time at their pleasure, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant; later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.—Hebrews 12:9-11.
We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.—Romans 8:28.
5. The Synod has reminded me to stay close to Jesus, to pray and to embrace His commandments and know real joy, real hope, real forgiveness and real love. The Synod has reminded me to go to confession and know the freedom and joy of God's mercy.
He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me does not keep my words; and the word which you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.—St. John 14:21-24.
6. If one has doubt as to the victory of mercy, one need only go to Mass and (re)discover Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist. Jesus was crucified for our sins; He gives Himself to us in each and every Mass. Alleluia! If one desires a real, intimate communion with Jesus Christ, then attend Mass and ask God for the faith to meet Jesus. Once you ask for that grace, then listen and be patient.

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