Category Archives: Modern Wisdom

Short written pieces by modern writers that add color and depth in my journey to God.

The New Evangelization

I spent last night and this morning browsing the Internet for Catholic bloggers and vloggers.  What I found was humbling: teenagers evangelizing through YouTube (i.e. “SheisCatholic” and “RebornPureAdmin”) a hip-hop rapping Catholic Priest counter-messaging a hip-hop rapping Protestant; and a website dedicated to the online exploration and discussion of the world’s religions.

There is a lot more out there.  Bishop John Wester gave an address to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops about the new media for the new evangelization.  This “new evangelization” refers to a pastoral letter by Pope John Paul II entitled “Novo Millennio Ineunte.”  The clergy and lay people are called to use new media for pastoral work.  The pastoral letter is quite long.  So, I couldn’t find any mention of using new ways to evangelize until the middle of the letter.  The beginning read like a president’s or governor’s “state of the union” address.  Then, at section #29 in the pastoral letter, Blessed John Paul II gives his call to action: “I therefore earnestly exhort the Pastors of the particular Churches, with the help of all sectors of God’s People, confidently to plan the stages of the journey ahead, harmonizing the choices of each diocesan community with those of neighbouring Churches and of the universal Church.”  But, “…it must be translated into pastoral initiatives adapted to the circumstances of each community.”  Before he became Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Ratzinger gave specific guidance on the new evangelization before Blessed John Paul II’s letter.  I would do well to follow Cardinal Ratzinger’s guidance.

Where do I fit in this “new evangelization”?  How can help give glory to God using new media?  How do I avoid the temptation of fame and all its traps?

At this point, I still don’t have a game plan to my website.  A plan may or may not be necessary to join in the new evangelization, but I will continue to use KeenforGod as an instrument for journaling, reflection on Scripture, and a means to capture my spiritual growth.  I pray that one day God will see me as worthy instrument to evangelize His love.  For now, I need to grow in discipline, grow in the Virtues (especially in Temperence and Fortitude).

I don’t know how I can avoid the temptation of fame, but I trust in God.  I need to reach out in prayer to ask Him to humble me, and help me be aware of my pride.  My beloved wife will be of great help, too.  She will definitely know when I’m walking down the wrong path.  She is strong in the Virtue of Temperence.  I can depend on the Holy Spirit to use her to correct me.

Dear Heavenly Father, please help me continue to walk on this path, if it is Your Will.  I humbly ask this through Your only Son, Christ Our Lord.  Amen.

Teach Us to Pray: Journaling

“Teach Us to Pray: Journaling,” by Father James Martin, S.J.

Many Catholics keep a journal to record the fruits of their prayer.  This is a surprisingly useful spiritual practice, since as time passes we naturally tend to forget what God has revealed to us.  After all, even the disciples were prone to forgeting what Jesus had done — often right in front of them.

This forgetting may stem from plain old laziness, or more likely from a fear of responding to what we’ve learned in our spiritual lives.  (If we remember what God has revealed to us, we might have to change!)  Keeping a written record reminds us of God’s activity in our lives; and by looking backward we can gain confidence in the future.

Writing a journal also has a distinguished history in the lives of the saints, from St. Augustine to Blessed John XXIII to Servant of God Dorothy Day.  Day once wrote (in her journal) that a journal helps us see how various problems “evaporate” over time.

Today this form of writing is often referred to as “journaling.”  This means that the writing itself is a form of prayer.  It includes such practices as writing a letter to God, imagining a conversation between you and God, listing those things for which you are grateful, or starting with a question like “What do you want me to do for you?” and then writing an answer in God’s voice.  So the next time you find yourself stuck in prayer, pick up a paper and pen.  Or fire up your computer and start typing.

James Martin, S.J., is author of Between Heaven and Mirth [link], The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything [link], and My Life with the Saints [link].

Prayer before Confession after a Long Absence

I confess, Lord, it’s been awhile,
and I feel ashamed.
My guilt just seemed to get in the way,
and now I’ve put this off for too long.
Why do I let myself stay so far from you
when I know in my heart
that you have never left?
I am afraid, Lord, that if I reveal myself to you,
show you who I’ve become,
you will not recognize me as your own.
So I beg, look upon me
as you would look upon your Son, Jesus,
that you might see and love in me
what you see and love in Christ.
Then when I rise up and go to you,
I shall be overwhelmed with love
when I see you running to me
with your arms wide open. Amen.
— Diana Macalintal

Living on Love

Therese of Lisieux (1873 – 1897), “The Little Flower of Jesus,” entered a Carmelite convent at the age of fifteen. Pope John Paul II declared her a Doctor of the Church in 1997. Therese is one of the four saints I count on as friends when I pray. My petition to God was granted because of her intercession. The following is from her book, Poetry.

Living on Love is not setting up one’s tent
At the top of Tabor.
It’s climbing Calvary with Jesus,
It’s looking at the Cross as a treasure!…
In Heaven I am to live on joy.
Then trials would have fled forever.
But in exile, in suffering I want
To live on Love.

“Living on Love, what strange folly!”
The world says to me, “Ah! stop your singing,
Don’t waste your perfumes, your life.
Learn to use them well…”
Loving you, Jesus, is such a fruitful loss!…
All my perfumes are yours forever.
I want to sing on leaving this world:
“I’m dying of Love!”

Dying of Love is what I hope for,
When I shall see my bonds broken,
My God will be my Great Reward.
I don’t desire to possess other goods.
I want to be on fire with his Love.
I want to see Him, to unite myself to Him forever.
That is my Heaven… that is my destiny:
Living on Love!

Learning to Give My Life Away

The author of the following essay is Wendy Cichanski Caduff. She is a pastoral candidate and a campus minister at Christ Church Newman Center in St. Cloud, Minnesota.

[quote]A stroll through a cemetery always reminds me how fleeting this life is. I read the names of those who have gone before me that have been etched in stone and then do the math to figure out how long they lived. I marvel at some of the markers going back to the 1800s, feel sadness at the short lives of others, and quietly hope they all knew some measure of happiness. I wonder: What was their life like? What did they live for?

[quote]In today’s Gospel, Jesus asks us what we could give in exchange for our lives. There are some words of warning: we must take care not to trade our lives for the things of this world or live our lives being ashamed of Christ. But there are also words of advice here, with Jesus teaching us clearly that discipleship involves denying of the self, taking up the cross, and following him.

[quote]With Lent looming just ahead, we will begin our annual journey toward the cross. Honestly, I’m not always sure what it means for me to take up my cross. I think the expression can be misused whenever something difficult comes into our life. But I am learning more about the process of denying the self. It seems that the whole of the spiritual journey involves a giving away of the self. Day by day, in almost every situation, we have the opportunity to put others before ourselves. My selfish self resists that. But in the slow process of maturing and growing toward wholeness, I am learning to give my life away. How are you giving away yours?

Creative Love in Action

The following is an excerpt from Monika Hellwig’s The Eucharist and the Hunger of the World. Monika Hellwig (1929-2005) was a professor at Georgetown University for many years and the mother of three adopted children.

[quote]Good news is created by what we are and how we relate to others. It is communicated by our total lifestyle and our concerns. It is communicated by the real difference that we make in the situation. The words that may be spoken have very little to do with the communication of the good news. To say, “Cheer up, Jesus loves you,” is very different from listening to someone with interest who has not often before been taken seriously. To say “God will provide” is sheer nonsense when spoken by a well-fed person to those who are hungry and watch their children go hungry without being able to do anything about it.

To preach that the salvation of God has come into the world in the person of Jesus, the one and only thing that is necessary is that a community lives the new life of the Resurrection should touch the lives of the hungry of the world with authentic and generous compassion, drawing on the bread of life that is Jesus, to become themselves bread of life for the needy with their whole heart and their whole mind and their whole substance. Such a community need not even go to the ends of the earth, for in our times the ends of the earth come to us all the time in our newspapers, our mailboxes, our television screens….

To identify with the oppressed concretely in even one respect and follow through with effective action requires all the resources of a generous and selfless community because it leads into involvement with the whole highly resistant network of sin and selfishness. But where there is action of creative love, there the good news is preached that salvation has come into the world, and that there is an alternative to desperate self-assertion and self-defense at the expense of others — that there is possibility of human community.[/quote]

Expect a Miracle

Father Richard M. Gula, SS, has been involved with ministerial formation and seminary education for many years, and is a popular lecturer and workshop presenter for pastoral ministers.

[quote]”Expect a miracle” read the bumper sticker on the car in front of me as I made my way through the tollbooth at the Golden Gate Bridge. I wondered, “Would the owner of that car even recognize a miracle if it fell on his lap?” I reached out with my toll, ready for the toll-taker to take it. “Go on through,” she said, “the driver in front of you paid your fare.” Miracles happen to those who have eyes to see.

In today’s Gospel the disciples are still coming to faith. They cannot see the Giver of life in and through the five loaves that fed five thousand or the seven that fed four thousand. For them, bread is bread, nothing more. In his exasperation Jesus says, in effect, “Cannot bread be more than it seems? You have eyes. Can’t you look into the moments of grace and see the hand of God?”

The greatest obstacle to faith is a flat imagination., believing that what you see is what you get and nothing more. Seeing in one dimension is not seeing in the eyes of faith. God’s activity is not one more instance alongside others. God’s action is in the depths of whatever fills our day. Every moment, if given a chance, can speak to us of God. We live in an enchanted world where grace is everywhere.

When we see every event of our lives against the divine horizon of a world drenched with grace, we can expect a miracle.[/quote]