Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

8/12/2014 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

As I reflect on the Gospel, I am made mindful once again of my proclivity to such fickle behavior. Without the grace of God, I can all too easily become blinded by my own sinful pride. I can all too easily begin to live like one who had once believed in Him - instead of one who DOES believe in Him. This happens when we grow apart from His living presence. This happens when we do not pray. Yesterday's relationship with the Lord is not sufficient for today. Yesterday's prayer cannot keep me in the presence of the Lord. I need to cultivate an ongoing relationship with the Lord if I hope to see clearly with the eyes of living faith. I need to regularly and continually talk to Him.

It is there, in the emptied place, in the stillness of the eternal now, where we prepare a room for the King of all hearts. And, in that encounter, we soon find the longing of our heart fulfilled. Grace is freely given, lavished in fact, upon those who learn to live in God and live as though God lives in them. That way of life is where living faith is born.  That way of life walks along the path of prayer.

It is there, in the emptied place, in the stillness of the eternal now, where we prepare a room for the King of all hearts. And, in that encounter, we soon find the longing of our heart fulfilled. Grace is freely given, lavished in fact, upon those who learn to live in God and live as though God lives in them. That way of life is where living faith is born. That way of life walks along the path of prayer.

Highlights

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

8/12/2014 (1 year ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: living faith, prayer, hope, evangelization, way of life, Christian living, acts of faith, acts of hope, Catholic acction, Christian action, Deacon Keith Fournier


CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - In the Gospels we are regularly presented with the behavior of the Pharisees as a warning. It unveils what we can so easily slip into, if we take our eyes off of who Jesus is and who we are called to become as we live our lives in Him.

There is a line from one of those encounters in the Gospel of St Matthew which leaps off the page every time I read it, and sears my heart every time I proclaim or hear it. "But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him." (Mt. 12:14)

The response of Jesus is found in the next verse. It is the response which should come to characterize the pattern in our lives when we face hostility from those who should rejoice in our effort to serve the Lord - but do not. Sometimes, they begin to openly oppose us: "When Jesus became aware of this, he departed. Many crowds followed him, and he cured all of them." (Matt 12:15)

Jesus continued to do what the Father had sent Him to do. We are invited to follow his example. He will always give us the grace to do so.

St Josemaria Escriva called this kind of difficulty, "opposition from the good." The lives of the Saints reveal that among the scars left from wounds borne for fidelity, it is those caused by this kind of "opposition from the good" which can leave the deepest mark in and on a Christian.

They can also become the most fruitful when embraced in the love of the Savior and offered back to Him in love. 

As I have aged, I have come to understand this truth more and more. I certainly bear many scars. They have become my tutors. Many have been caused by this kind of "opposition from the good."

Those who "conspired against him, how to destroy him" were blinded by their own human pride. Yet, we find Love Incarnate, Jesus Christ, forgiving them from the Altar of the Cross. Further, we find that in the mystery of God's Loving plan they actually participate in the redemptive mission of Jesus.

So, what can we learn from them to apply in our own lives? We should examine ourselves today and ask ourselves how we are doing. Where is the sin of pride rearing its ugly head in our own lives? 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church warns us, "Hatred of God comes from pride. It is contrary to love of God, whose goodness it denies, and whom it presumes to curse as the one who forbids sins and inflicts punishments." (CCC#2094)

What had happened to these men? After all, some of them had once listened to His teaching and extolled His wonderful works. Some had once believed in Him. Now, they counsel together to destroy Him. How could such a thing happen?

Gradually.

Can it happen to you and me?

Yes.

As I reflect on the Gospel, I am made mindful once again of my proclivity to such fickle behavior. Without the grace of God, I can all too easily become blinded by my own sinful pride. I can all too easily begin to live like one who had once believed in Him - instead of one who DOES believe in Him. This happens when we grow apart from His living presence. This happens when we do not pray.

Yesterday's relationship with the Lord is not sufficient for today. Yesterday's prayer cannot keep me in the presence of the Lord. I need to cultivate an ongoing relationship with the Lord if I hope to see clearly with the eyes of living faith. I need to regularly and continually talk to Him.

For the Christian, this means learning to live in prayer. Prayer is about an ongoing encounter with the Lord which changes us. It is about living in Him and welcoming Him to live in us. Prayer helps us to see ourselves clearly and to recognize our own need for repentance.

Prayer draws us into an experience of transforming grace. Often, even well intended folks can pit prayer against action, as if they were in opposition. This is absolutely false. The Christian who acts without prayer, does not understand either prayer or authentic Christian action.

Olivier Clement, a lay orthodox theologian, explains in his excellent resource book entitled The Roots of Christian Mysticism, Texts from Patristic Era with Commentary that prayer is not something we do but Some - One we encounter. "It is Some-One who comes to us in the sovereign freedom of His love. Grace does not come to order. We can only prepare ourselves to receive it, making ourselves attentive to the possibility of a meeting."

We need to pray every day, throughout the whole day, to stay in touch with this Some-One.

Otherwise, our capacity to exercise our freedom rightly, to choose what it good and what is true, begins to suffer. We can become influenced once again by what the Apostle Paul called the "law of sin and death" (Romans 7:35) and begin to view the world, ourselves, and the Lord, in a distorted manner. 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that "In man, true freedom is an "outstanding manifestation of the divine image". (CCC #212)  Our choices not only change the world around us but they change us. What we choose either humanizes us further or leads us, ultimately, into slavery.

Saint Gregory in one of his homilies cited in the Catechism opines, "Now, human life is always subject to change: it needs to be born ever anew. But here birth does not come about by a foreign intervention, as is the case with bodily beings, it is the result of a free choice. Thus we are in a certain way our own parents, creating ourselves as we will, by our decisions."

The Catechism explains that "The more one does what is good, the freer one becomes. There is no true freedom except in the service of what is good and just. The choice to disobey and do evil is an abuse of freedom and leads to "the slavery of sin." (CCC #1734) It also cites the Apostle Paul's use of that phrase. (Romans 6:17) That same Apostle reminds us that "it was for freedom that Christ set us free". (Gal. 5:1)

We can move from being men and women walking in the freedom of the truth which comes through living faith to becoming ones who had once believed in Him all too easily. All it takes is succumbing to sinful pride. We become spiritually blinded, lose our freedom and fail to recognize the Lord in our own lives. In fact, we can end up "conspiring to destroy Him"; at least figuratively.

Olivier Clement's invitation to "prepare ourselves for the possibility of a meeting" requires that we learn to silence the clamor of the age, stop the ever accelerating pace of the futile quests that so often occupy our hearts, and live in the eternal now by surrendering ourselves - and even our best aspirations- to the One who created us -and now re-creates us- in His Son Jesus Christ.

It is there, in the emptied place, in the stillness of the eternal now, where we prepare a room for the King of all hearts. And, in that encounter, we soon find the longing of our heart fulfilled. Grace is freely given, lavished in fact, upon those who learn to live in God and live as though God lives in them. That way of life is where living faith is born.  That way of life walks along the path of prayer.

-----

Deacon Keith Fournier is Founder and Chairman of Common Good Foundation and Common Good Alliance. A married Roman Catholic Deacon of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, he and his wife Laurine have five grown children and six grandchildren, He serves as the Director of Adult Faith Formation at St. Stephen, Martyr Parish in Chesapeake, VA. He is also a human rights lawyer and public policy advocate.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for July 2015
Universal:
That political responsibility may be lived at all levels as a high form of charity.
Evangelization: That, amid social inequalities, Latin American Christians may bear witness to love for the poor and contribute to a more fraternal society.



Comments


More Living Faith

Quest for God is modern world's biggest challenge, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI says Watch

Image of The Ratzinger Schuelerkreis will gather Sept. 28-30 to discuss the theme set them by their former professor.

By Andrea Gagliarducci, CNA/EWTN News

Benedict XVI considers the quest for God to be contemporary society's foremost challenge, according to one of the emeritus Pope's former students, who has organized the annual meeting of Ratzinger's students to discuss that very topic. Vatican City (CNA/EWTN ... continue reading


Changing your HEART, not just behavior is a vital part of conversion process, Pope Francis says Watch

Image of

By Elise Harris, CNA/EWTN News

In his Sunday Angelus address Pope Francis said that merely obeying the rules isn't enough to make us holy, but that if we truly want to serve God our conversion has to be deeper, changing the heart. Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) - "It's not exterior things which ... continue reading


Pilgrimage with Pope Francis - THIRD STATION - St. Joachim, patron of fathers

Image of St. Joachim, pray for us!

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Welcome to the third station on our virtual pilgrimage to Philadelphia with Pope Francis ahead of the World Meeting of Families. Let us pray! About St. JoachimBy tradition Joachim and Anne are considered to be the names of the parents of Mary, the Mother of God. After ... continue reading


Priest to lead pilgrims on 104 mile walk to see Pope Francis in Philly - Here's how you too can make a pilgrimage Watch

Image of Pilgrims in Scotland make a Good Friday trek burdened with crosses. Many Catholics around the world still make pilgrimages, even if they are the work of just a day.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An intrepid group of about 20 pilgrims will be making the 104 mile walk from Baltimore to Philadelphia to attend Mass with Pope Francis. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "Remember, our Lord walked to all of his appointments," Fr. John J. Lombardi told Catholic ... continue reading


Atheists force portrait of Jesus out of Kansas public school Watch

Image of The portrait of Jesus that has been on display at the school since the 1950s.

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Local residents in Chanute, Kansas expressed anger after the atheist group Freedom From Religion Foundation successfully filed a petition for the removal of a portrait of Jesus Christ, which had been hanging for over 60 years in a Kansas public school.   ... continue reading


Pilgrimage with Pope Francis - SECOND STATION - St. Francis patron saint of animals and ecology

Image of Welcome to the virtual shrine to St. Francis.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Welcome to the second station on our virtual pilgrimage to Philadelphia with Pope Francis ahead of the World Meeting of Families. Let us pray! About St. FrancisSaint Francis was born to a wealthy cloth merchant in Assisi, Italy. Raised in a wealthy home, the young ... continue reading


Philadelphia prison inmates design chair for Pope Francis, and hope he will pray with them - Victims want their voices heard too Watch

Image of An inmate proudly shares the seal made for Pope Francis' seat.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis will meet with prison inmates during his visit to Philadelphia. In anticipation of this arrival, inmates have built him a special chair to use. His visit will bring hope to inmates and their families as he shares the restorative message of Christ with ... continue reading


Pope Francis declares parents tasked with teaching their children how to pray Watch

Image of

By Ann Schneible, CNA/EWTN News

On Wednesday, Pope Francis continued his weekly catechesis on the family, saying that parents have the responsibility to teach their children to pray. Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) - Delivering his address to pilgrims and visitors, gathered under the hot sun for ... continue reading


Before TWO MILLION pilgrims arrive, Philly vendors plan to cash in with kistch Watch

Image of Enterprising vendors are hoping to earn some toasty profits when Pope Francis arrives in Philadelphia.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The arrival of Pope Francis and some two million pilgrims in Philadelphia next month is expected to bring a windfall to most of the businesses in the city which can remain open during the visit. Businesses will have a single weekend to entice pilgrims to visit their ... continue reading


No school days for working children

Image of

By Tony Magliano

It's that time again when adults take off to celebrate Labor Day, and kids head back to the adventures a new school year. But for millions of children worldwide the adventures of a new school year remain but a dream. Sadly, these children will never learn to read or ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Thessalonians 4:13-18
13 We want you to be quite certain, brothers, about ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 96:1, 3, 4-5, 11-12, 13
1 Sing a new song to Yahweh! Sing to Yahweh, all the ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 4:16-30
16 He came to Nazara, where he had been brought up, ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for August 31st, 2015 Image

St. Raymond Nonnatus
August 31: Raymond was born at Portella, Catalonia, Spain. He was delivered ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter