Le blog de la Bergerie                         Sharing the faith . . . in English . . . et en français!
There is an erratic wind with pockets of chaos blowing over Iraq right now just as there are some
of us fighting for peace and others marching for peace and many more sending a vertical avalanche
of petitions to God, begging him for the courage and discernment needed in working out practical
solutions of peace in the Middle East. Stormy weather ahead. Too many clouds of conflicting
interests are obscuring the view. But hope prevails, especially the hope grounded in faith,
and help will come in an unexpected manner.
There is a steady rumbling going on in the French presidential campaign and it is creating crevasses on the political landscapes. I wonder if we are in the eerie moment just before the earthquake. But the truth is, the top three candidates form an interesting triumvirate (Sarko/Sego/Bayo) each one of them worthy and capable in their own way, dedicated to implementing their own agenda. True leadership implies diplomatic skills which are not to be confused with demagogy. No need to run for high grounds yet, there are still a few weeks to go and the picture will get clearer as we get closer.
Everybody has an agenda and mine is to share my faith. How quickly and clearly you can assess someone's agenda is the first crucial element in forming a judgment on them. The second one being able to measure their honesty and integrity, to see how consistent they are between what they say and what they do. As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, anyone interested can find out what it is about, the doctrines and dogma are in the public domain and should you want to contact them, the address of every church (and every school and every diocese office) is in the yellow pages. Access to scriptures nowadays is universal, in prints or in downloads. Same thing for access to encyclicals, to the writings of the Fathers of the Church and to the books and prayers of every Saint. Of course, it's a different story with secret societies whose membership is hidden and whose goals and directives are only known to a limited few... and to think that so many of our political leaders and media stars belong to one specific dangerous shadowy society actively working against the Christian worldview, that is one scary thought, more alarming that any hurricane gathering strength off shores.
On the local level, there is quite an interesting buzz around town about next week's lecture at St. Dominic. It is all about what happened that one specific Saturday, 2000 years ago, and whether it was a glorious descent or a painful (and unorthodox) moment... I certainly plan to go, hoping that it will be a bright and shining evening as any teaching moment should be for the faithful (and not just another slugger-fest of agitated theologians).
Storms and rumblings and under-the-radar deception but, nonetheless, reasons to hope and even some excitement in the air: that is what I see from my petite window. And how do I get to see this? Oh! That is easy.
Because, for THE NEWS, I listen to the radio in the morning and I check various newspapers on line, in English and in French, representing an interesting range of agenda. I receive daily emails from Zenit.org and I have other favorite sources of mine usually of a spiritual, sociological and philosophical bend. That's one way to get an idea of what's going on in the world and that is not even the most useful one. I call this looking at the global forest.
THE CLOUDS: For a more direct assessment of the weather, I look out my window and check out the clouds in the sky and that's enough to answers the "Umbrella or Sandals?" question. But that is still clinging to the physical and superficial level of things and that is not enough. Looking out the window to see which way are the leaves in the trees gently blowing is not the whole picture.
THE FAITH: So the most profound and reliable understanding of what is truly going on usually comes while listening to the readings and the psalm and the homily (since that is one moment where I am most open to God's voice) and through the daily prayers of the Body of Christ in the Liturgy of the Hours. The exercise of praying is designed on one hand to refine and train our hearts to go beyond our senses and on the other hand to open up the channels of communications with the Divine and to keep them open since they can so easily get clogged up with our selfishness, laziness and timidity (to name only the first three). The exercise of reading and listening to the Living Word gives us access to the wisdom of the Church and the discernment of the Spirit which are the building blocks of a Christian world view, the view that allows us to see both the tree and the forest and the visible and invisible links between them.
To prep myself for the upcoming weather,
I called on one friend of mine and he reminded me how important it is
to exercise my soul every day and he gave me a few practical and useful hints:
- before work:
offer your efforts and your fatigue for the expiation of sins,
yours and the world's;
- before meals:
always be grateful for what you are going to eat;
- during meals:
if you find yourself absent-mindedly stuffing food in your mouth, stop and turn to God,
beg him to forgive you,
thank him for showing you how easily you can get suck in to worldly pleasures;
- in difficult times:
recognize that God's ways are different from your wishes and accept them, in tender submission;
- in moments of temptation:
turn immediately to Christ and cry out for help!
Saint Catherine herself used to say when faced with temptation: I put my trust in you, Jesus, and not in my own will;
- while walking:
associate every step to the Lord's walk on this earth including his climb on Mount Calvary;
- when bad thoughts arise in your heart:
plead our Lord to answer your prayer and deliver you from the torments of temptation so that your heart and mind
will become a temple worthy of the Spirit.
Note that there is not a moment, day or night, when on this earth there is not a multitude of pious souls sending to God their fervent supplications and petitions, which is why it will be very useful to unite your prayers to them, so you can join in to the great symphony of praise, where even the smallest voices are welcomed with mercy.
(Catholic Hours of Ars: prayers of a servant of God)
Pray for us, Saint Jean Vianney, help us weather the storms!
|See same prayer in French here: "Petits exercices de piété pendant la journée"|