Polished with hammer and chisel strokes

"The soul, if it wants to reign with Christ in eternal glory, must be polished with hammer and chisel strokes, which the divine Artificer uses to prepare the stones, that is, the chosen souls. What are these hammer and chisel strokes? Darkness, my sister, fears, temptations, sadness of spirit and spiritual fears, which reek like a sickness, and bodily discomfort."

- St Padre Pio, LETTERS 

Offerings of the faithful at Mass

 St. Cyprian, martyred in Africa in 258, chided those who came to Mass and received the Eucharist but made no offering of their own: “You are wealthy and rich, and do you think that you celebrate the Lord’s Supper, not at all considering the offering? Who comes to the Lord’s Supper without a sacrifice, and yet take part of the sacrifice which the poor man has offered? Consider in the Gospel the widow… ”

St. Augustine was impressed by a fifth-century procession of gifts in Rome in which the faithful brought from their own homes things from their kitchen tables.

Augustine called this an “admirable exchange” — for their gifts God gave back Jesus. The prayer over the gifts from the sixth day in the octave of Christmas uses Augustine’s language: “Lord, receive our gifts in this wonderful exchange: from all you have given us we bring you these gifts, and in return, you give us yourself.”

Real cause of wars - the inside story

"1 What causes wars, and what causes fightings among you? Is it not your passions that are at war in your members? 2 You desire and do not have; so you kill. And you covet * and cannot obtain; so you fight and wage war. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions." 

- James 4:1-3

Confession, according to the Fathers

"Confess your sins in church, and do not go up to your prayer with an evil conscience. This is the way of life…. On the Lord’s Day gather together, break bread, and give thanks, after confessing your transgressions so that your sacrifice may be pure." – The Didache, A.D. 70-90

"Just as a man is enlightened by the Holy Spirit when he is baptized by a priest, so he who confesses his sins with a repentant heart obtains their remission from the priest." – St. Athanasius of Alexandria (d. 180)

"It is necessary to confess our sins to those to whom the dispensation of God’s mysteries [i.e. the Sacraments] is entrusted [i.e. priests]. Those doing penance of old are found to have done it before the saints. It is written in the Gospel that they confessed their sins to John the Baptist [Matt 3:6]; but in Acts they confessed to the Apostles, by whom also all were baptized [Acts 19:18]." – St. Basil The Great (d. 379)

"Regarding confession, some flee from this work as being an exposure of themselves, or they put it off from day to day. I presume they are more mindful of modesty than of salvation, like those who contract a disease in the more shameful parts of the body and shun making themselves known to the physicians; and thus they perish along with their own bashfulness." – Tertullian A.D. 200

"In addition to these kinds of forgiveness of sins, albeit hard and laborious: the remission of sins through penance…when he [the sinner] does not shrink from declaring his sin to a priest of the Lord and from seeking medicine." – Origen (A.D. 244)

"But the impenitent spurn and despise all these warnings; before their sins are expiated, before they have made a confession of their crime, before their conscience has been purged in the ceremony and at the hand of the priest…they do violence to his body and blood, and with their hands and mouth they sin against the Lord more than when they denied him." – St. Cyprian of Carthage (A.D. 250)

"There have been those who would say that no penance is available for certain sins; and they have been excluded from the Church and have been made heretics. Holy Mother Church is not rendered powerless by any kind of sin." – St. Augustine (d. 430)

"Just as in the Old Testament the priest makes the leper clean or unclean, so in the New Testament the bishop and presbyter [i.e. priest] binds or looses not those who are innocent or guilty, but by reason of their office, when they have heard various kinds of sins, they know who is to be bound and who loosed." – St. Jerome (d. 420)

"It seemed likewise impossible for sins to be forgiven through penance; yet Christ granted even this to his Apostles, and by His Apostles it has been transmitted to the offices of priest." – St. Ambrose (d. 397)

"Priests have received a power which God has given neither to angels nor to archangels. It was said to them: “Whatsoever you shall bind upon earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever you shall loose, shall be loosed” [Matt 18:18]. Temporal rulers have indeed the power of binding; but they can bind only the body. Priests, however, can bind with a bond which pertains to the soul itself, and transcends the very heavens…Whatever priests do here on earth, God will confirm in heaven, just as the master ratifies the decision of his servants. Did He not give them all the powers of heaven?" – St. John Chrysostom (d. 407)

(Compiled by William Hemsworth
https://epicpew.com/confession-and-the-early-church-10-quotes-that-show-the-real-practice/)

To console, because we have been consoled

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, a gentle Father and the God of all consolation, who comforts us in all our sorrows, SO THAT WE CAN OFFER OTHERS, IN THEIR SORROWS, THE CONSOLATION THAT WE HAVE RECEIVED FROM GOD OURSELVES.

"Indeed, as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so, through Christ, does our consolation overflow."
2 Corinthians 1:3-5

The Holy Spirit - Like Sunshine

 The titles given to the Holy Spirit must surely stir the soul of anyone who hears them, and make him realise that they speak of nothing less than the supreme Being. Is he not called the Spirit of God, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, the steadfast Spirit, the guiding Spirit? But his principal and most personal title is the Holy Spirit.

  To the Spirit all creatures turn in their need for sanctification; all living things seek him according to their ability. His breath empowers each to achieve its own natural end.
  The Spirit is the source of holiness, a spiritual light, and he offers his own light to every mind to help it in its search for truth. By nature the Spirit is beyond the reach of our mind, but we can know him by his goodness. The power of the Spirit fills the whole universe, but he gives himself only to those who are worthy, acting in each according to the measure of his faith.
  Simple in himself, the Spirit is manifold in his mighty works. The whole of his being is present to each individual; the whole of his being is present everywhere. Though shared in by many, he remains unchanged; his self giving is no loss to himself. Like the sunshine, which permeates all the atmosphere, spreading over land and sea, and yet is enjoyed by each person as though it were for him alone, so the Spirit pours forth his grace in full measure, sufficient for all, and yet is present as though exclusively to everyone who can receive him. To all creatures that share in him he gives a delight limited only by their own nature, not by his ability to give.
  The Spirit raises our hearts to heaven, guides the steps of the weak, and brings to perfection those who are making progress. He enlightens those who have been cleansed from every stain of sin and makes them spiritual by communion with himself.
  As clear, transparent substances become very bright when sunlight falls on them and shine with a new radiance, so also souls in whom the Spirit shines become spiritual themselves and a source of grace for others.
  From the Spirit comes foreknowledge of the future, understanding of the mysteries of faith, insight into the hidden meaning of Scripture, and other special gifts. Through the Spirit we become citizens of heaven, we enter into eternal happiness, and abide in God. Through the Spirit we acquire a likeness to God; indeed, we attain what is beyond our most sublime aspirations – we become God.

-- From the treatise On the Holy Spirit by Saint Basil the Great, bishop

選讀聖巴西略主教《聖神論》

(聖神的化工)

  

誰聽到聖神的許多名字,一定會滿心雀躍,並深深瞭解,這些名稱所指的只能是至高的神明。因為他被稱為天主之神,真理之神,是由父所發的;正直之神,領導之神。「聖神」是他固有的、特殊的名稱。

   

急需聖化的萬物都投奔聖神;一切度聖善生活的人都尋求他,藉他的噓氣,而振作精神並得到扶助,如此,使他們達到適於其本性的固有目的。

   

聖神是聖德的泉源,燭照理性的光明,他把他自己的光明賜給每一個有理性的人,幫助他追求真理。

   

他就本性而論是不可接近的,但是我們由於他的仁慈,而能認識他。他以大能充滿一切,可是只有那當得起的人才能分享他。然而分享的多少各有不同;他依照人信德的大小分施他的能力。

   

他的本質是單純的,能力卻是多方面的:是整個的他臨在於每人身上,整個的他處處都在。他被分開,卻不受損害。他被眾人分享,他卻仍然完整無缺。好像日光,它的溫煦嘉惠某人,好像只有他一個人受惠;但它也普照大地和海洋,散發在空氣之中。

   

聖神也是如此臨在於那能接納他的每一個人身上;他施放的聖寵為所有的人是足夠的,而且是全部的,但每人卻覺得這聖寵只賜給他一個人。他們分沾聖神,是依照他們本性接受的能力,而不是依照聖神賜與的能力。

   

聖神使人心高舉,領導軟弱的人,使進步的人達到成全。他光照那些洗淨一切罪汙的人,並藉著與他的共融,使他們成為屬神的人。

   

如同清潔而透明的物體,受到光線的照射便分外光明燦爛,而從自身放射出另一道光芒;同樣,擁有聖神的人靈,為聖神所光照,他們本身也成了屬神的,並把聖寵分施給別的人。

   

這聖寵使他們能預見未來,領悟奧跡,洞察隱微,接受屬神的恩惠,存想天上的事,與天神共舞。因此,他們將有無盡的歡樂,永遠居住在天主內,並與天主相似。的確,人所能希冀的,沒有比這恩寵更崇高的了:人竟成了天主!


The Holy Spirit - Living Water

  The water I shall give him will become in him a fountain of living water, welling up into eternal life. This is a new kind of water, a living, leaping water, welling up for those who are worthy. But why did Christ call the grace of the Spirit water? Because all things are dependent on water; plants and animals have their origin in water. Water comes down from heaven as rain, and although it is always the same in itself, it produces many different effects, one in the palm tree, another in the vine, and so on throughout the whole of creation. It does not come down, now as one thing, now as another, but while remaining essentially the same, it adapts itself to the needs of every creature that receives it.

  In the same way the Holy Spirit, whose nature is always the same, simple and indivisible, apportions grace to each man as he wills. Like a dry tree which puts forth shoots when watered, the soul bears the fruit of holiness when repentance has made it worthy of receiving the Holy Spirit. Although the Spirit never changes, the effects of his action, by the will of God and in the name of Christ, are both many and marvellous.
  The Spirit makes one man a teacher of divine truth, inspires another to prophesy, gives another the power of casting out devils, enables another to interpret holy Scripture. The Spirit strengthens one man’s self-control, shows another how to help the poor, teaches another to fast and lead a life of asceticism, makes another oblivious to the needs of the body, trains another for martyrdom. His action is different in different people, but the Spirit himself is always the same. In each person, Scripture says, the Spirit reveals his presence in a particular way for the common good.
  The Spirit comes gently and makes himself known by his fragrance. He is not felt as a burden, for he is light, very light. Rays of light and knowledge stream before him as he approaches. The Spirit comes with the tenderness of a true friend and protector to save, to heal, to teach, to counsel, to strengthen, to console. The Spirit comes to enlighten the mind first of the one who receives him, and then, through him, the minds of others as well.
  As light strikes the eyes of a man who comes out of darkness into the sunshine and enables him to see clearly things he could not discern before, so light floods the soul of the man counted worthy of receiving the Holy Spirit and enables him to see things beyond the range of human vision, things hitherto undreamed of.

-From the Instructions to Catechumens by St Cyril of Jerusalem

選讀耶路撒冷主教聖濟利祿要理書 

(聖神的活水)

  

「我所賜的水,將在他內成為湧流到永生的泉源。」這是一種新水,使人生活且湧流不止,湧流到那當得起的人身上。聖神的恩惠、為什麼被稱為水呢?因為萬物都靠水而生存;水產生植物和生命;水以雨的形狀從天降下;雖然它常常以一種形式降下,卻產生多重的效果:水在棕櫚樹上產生的效果是一種,在葡萄樹上則是另一種,如此它在萬物中產生不同方式的效果。水存上的方式本質上常是一樣。雨降下時並不改變,不是每一次採取不同的形狀。然而它適應那接它的事物的本性,而成為適於它們的形狀。天主聖神也是這樣。他是一位,是單純的一個性體,和不可分的,但是他按他所願意的,分施聖寵給每一個人。就如枯槁的樹木得到水分,便會發芽滋長;同樣,有罪的靈魂,由於作補贖,而適於接受聖神,便會結出義德的果實。雖然聖神是單純的,只有一位,但是由於天主的旨意並因基督之名,就能產生許多的美德。

   

他用這個人的口舌,使他為智慧服務;他以預言光照那個人靈魂;他把驅魔的能力賜給這一個人;他又把詮釋聖經的聖寵賜給其他的人。他加強這個人的自製能力,他教導那個人有關施捨的事;他教給這個人守齋和克苦,教給那個人輕視肉體的利益,教給另一個捨生致命。他在不同的人身上有不同的行動,他自己卻始終不變,如同聖經所載:「聖神顯示在每個人身上,是為了使罪人得益。」

   

他接近我們時是溫良的,他的臨在散發芬芳,他的軛是極輕的。光明和知識閃爍發光,正預報他的來臨。他懷著真實保護者的心腸而來,因為他來,是為了拯救、治療、教誨、勸告、堅強、安慰並光照人的心靈:首先是那些接納他者的心靈;然後,藉著他、也使其他人的心靈同樣受益。

   

一個人先前處於黑暗中,忽然看到太陽,眼睛便得見光明,便看清楚從前所看不見的:同樣,那適於領受聖神的人,心靈得蒙光照,便會以超人的方式洞見他以前所不瞭解的事理。

Song 36 from the GITANJALI

Song 36 from the GITANJALI

By Rabindranath Tagore (1861 - 1941)


This is my prayer to thee, my lord -
strike, strike at the root of penury in my heart.
Give me the strength lightly
to bear my joys and sorrows.
Give me the strength
to make my love fruitful in service.
Give me the strength
never to disown the poor
or bend my knees before insolent might.
Give me the strength to raise my mind
high above daily trifles.
And give me the strength
to surrender my strength
to thy will with love.

St Thomas Aquinas' Prayer for an Orderly Life

O merciful God, grant that I may desire ardently, search prudently, recognize truly, and bring to perfect completion whatever is pleasing to You for the praise and glory of Your name.

Put my life in order, O my God.

Grant that I may know what You require me to do.

Bestow upon me the power to accomplish Your will, as is necessary and fitting for the salvation of my soul.

Grant to me, O Lord my God, that I may not falter in times of prosperity or adversity, so that I may not be exalted in the former, nor dejected in the latter.

May I not rejoice in anything unless it leads me to You; may I not be saddened by
anything unless it turns me from You.

May I desire to please no one, nor fear to displease anyone, but You.

May all transitory things, O Lord, be worthless to me and may all things eternal be ever cherished by me.

May any joy without You be burdensome for me and may I not desire anything else
besides You.

May all work, O Lord, delight me when done for Your sake and may all repose not
centered in You be ever wearisome for me.

Grant unto me, my God, that I may direct my heart to You and that in my failures I may  ever feel remorse for my sins and never lose the resolve to change.

O Lord my God, make me submissive without protest, poor without discouragement,
chaste without regret, patient without complaint, humble without posturing, cheerful
without frivolity, mature without gloom, and quick-witted without flippancy.

O Lord my God, let me fear You without losing hope, be truthful without guile, do good works without presumption, rebuke my neighbor without haughtiness, and—without hypocrisy—strengthen him by word and example.

Give to me, O Lord God, a watchful heart, which no capricious thought can lure away from You.
Give to me a noble heart, which no unworthy desire can debase.
Give to me a resolute heart, which no evil intention can divert.
Give to me a stalwart heart, which no tribulation can overcome.
Give to me a temperate heart, which no violent passion can enslave.
Give to me, O Lord my God, understanding of You, diligence in seeking You, wisdom in finding You, discourse ever pleasing to You, perseverance in waiting for You, and
confidence in finally embracing You.

Grant that with Your hardships I may be burdened in reparation here, that Your benefits I may use in gratitude upon the way, that in Your joys I may delight by glorifying You in the Kingdom of Heaven.


https://aleteia.org/2020/01/28/put-your-life-in-order-with-this-prayer-by-st-thomas-aquinas/?utm_medium=aleteia_en&utm_campaign=english_page&utm_source=Facebook#Echobox=1580191543

You Who live and reign, God, world without end. Amen.

LETTER TO DIOGNETUS (Christians in the world)


The Christians in the world 
"Christians are indistinguishable from other men either by nationality, language or customs. They do not inhabit separate cities of their own, or speak a strange dialect, or follow some outlandish way of life. Their teaching is not based upon reveries inspired by the curiosity of men. Unlike some other people, they champion no purely human doctrine. With regard to dress, food and manner of life in general, they follow the customs of whatever city they happen to be living in, whether it is Greek or foreign. 

And yet there is something extraordinary about their lives. They live in their own countries as though they were only passing through. They play their full role as citizens, but labor under all the disabilities of aliens. Any country can be their homeland, but for them their homeland, wherever it may be, is a foreign country. Like others, they marry and have children, but they do not expose them. They share their meals, but not their wives.  

They live in the flesh, but they are not governed by the desires of the flesh. They pass their days upon earth, but they are citizens of heaven. Obedient to the laws, they yet live on a level that transcends the law. Christians love all men, but all men persecute them. Condemned because they are not understood, they are put to death, but raised to life again. They live in poverty, but enrich many; they are totally destitute, but possess an abundance of everything. They suffer dishonor, but that is their glory. They are defamed, but vindicated. A blessing is their answer to abuse, deference their response to insult. For the good they do they receive the punishment of malefactors, but even then they, rejoice, as though receiving the gift of life. They are attacked by the Jews as aliens, they are persecuted by the Greeks, yet no one can explain the reason for this hatred. 

To speak in general terms, we may say that the Christian is to the world what the soul is to the body. As the soul is present in every part of the body, while remaining distinct from it, so Christians are found in all the cities of the world, but cannot be identified with the world. As the visible body contains the invisible soul, so Christians are seen living in the world, but their religious life remains unseen. The body hates the soul and wars against it, not because of any injury the soul has done it, but because of the restriction the soul places on its pleasures. Similarly, the world hates the Christians, not because they have done it any wrong, but because they are opposed to its enjoyments. 

Christians love those who hate them just as the soul loves the body and all its members despite the body's hatred. It is by the soul, enclosed within the body, that the body is held together, and similarly, it is by the Christians, detained in the world as in a prison, that the world is held together. The soul, though immortal, has a mortal dwelling place; and Christians also live for a time amidst perishable things, while awaiting the freedom from change and decay that will be theirs in heaven. As the soul benefits from the deprivation of food and drink, so Christians flourish under persecution. Such is the Christian’s lofty and divinely appointed function, from which he is not permitted to excuse himself. 
From a letter to Diognetus (Nn. 5-6; Funk, 397-401)  
  
Prayer 
Father of all holiness,
guide our hearts to you.
Keep in the light of your truth
all those you have freed from the darkness of unbelief.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. 
Prepared by the Spiritual Theology Department
of the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross
  

God is forever young

Your years last from generation to generation:
in the beginning you founded the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
They will pass away but you will remain;
all will grow old, like clothing,
and like a cloak you will change them, and they will be changed.
But you are always the same,
your years will never run out.
-- Psalm 102:25-27

St Catherine: I tasted and I saw

From the dialogue On Divine Providence by Saint Catherine of Siena, virgin and doctor
I tasted and I saw

     Eternal God, eternal Trinity, you have made the blood of Christ so precious through his sharing in your divine nature. You are a mystery as deep as the sea; the more I search, the more I find, and the more I find the more I search for you. But I can never be satisfied; what I receive will ever leave me desiring more. When you fill my soul I have an even greater hunger, and I grow more famished for your light. I desire above all to see you, the true light, as you really are.

     I have tasted and seen the depth of your mystery and the beauty of your creation with the light of my understanding. I have clothed myself with your likeness and have seen what I shall be. Eternal Father, you have given me a share in your power and the wisdom that Christ claims as his own, and your Holy Spirit has given me the desire to love you. You are my Creator, eternal Trinity, and I am your creature. You have made of me a new creation in the blood of your Son, and I know that you are moved with love at the beauty of your creation, for you have enlightened me.

     Eternal Trinity, Godhead, mystery deep as the sea, you could give me no greater gift than the gift of yourself. For you are a fire ever burning and never consumed, which itself consumes all the selfish love that fills my being. Yes, you are a fire that takes away the coldness, illuminates the mind with its light and causes me to know your truth. By this light, reflected as it were in a mirror, I recognise that you are the highest good, one we can neither comprehend nor fathom. And I know that you are beauty and wisdom itself. The food of angels, you gave yourself to man in the fire of your love.

     You are the garment which covers our nakedness, and in our hunger you are a satisfying food, for you are sweetness and in you there is no taste of bitterness, O triune God!

聖加大利納的對話論天主的上智
(我品嘗了,也看到了)
                 
永恆的天主,永恆的聖三!你使你唯一聖子的寶血與你的天主性結合,而珍貴無比。永恆的聖三!你好像深邃的海洋:我在這裡越尋找,找到的就越多;我找到的越多,也就越尋找你。你充滿我的靈魂,但似乎總不能使我滿足,因為在你的深淵裡,當你充滿我的靈魂時,我卻更覺饑餓,更渴望你,企盼在你的光明內看到你–真正的光明。

永恆的聖三!我以理智之光,並在你的光明內嚐到了,也看到了你深淵的無際,和你所造的萬物的美麗。因此我在你內注視我自己時,便看到我是你的肖像。永恆的聖父,因為你使我分享你的德能和智慧,這智慧原是你的唯一聖子專有的。聖父,那發自你、並發自你聖子的聖神,賜給我意志,使我能愛你。

永恆的聖三!你是造物主,我是受造物;我蒙你光照而認識了:你藉你唯一聖子的血再造了我,你竟然愛上了你所造的萬物的美麗。

深淵啊!永恆的聖三!天主深邃的海洋!你能給我比你本身更大的恩惠嗎?你是常燃不熄的火,你以你的愛火焚毀我的私愛。你是驅除一切寒冷的火,你以你的光明照耀人心,你藉這光明使我認識你的真理。

我在信德中──在這面光明之鏡裡認識你:你是至善,超越諸善的善,賜與幸福的善,超越一切觀念和判斷的善。你是超越一切美的美,超越一切智慧的智慧,因為你就是智慧本身;你是天使們的神糧,你因愛火熊熊而把自己賜給人類。
你是遮蓋我赤裸的衣服,你以甘飴養育饑餓者,因為你是甜蜜的,毫無苦味,永恆的聖三啊!

Faith illustrated

{1} Once all villagers decided to pray for rain. On the day of prayer all the people gathered, but only one boy came with an umbrella.
That's FAITH.

{2} When you throw babies in the air, they laugh because they know you will catch them.
That's TRUST.

{3} Every night we go to bed without any assurance of being alive the next morning, but still we set the alarms to wake up.
That's HOPE.

{4} We plan big things for tomorrow in spite of zero knowledge of the future.
That's CONFIDENCE.

{5} We see the world suffering, but still we get married and have children.
That's LOVE.

{6} On an old man's shirt was written a sentence I am not 80 years old; I am sweet 16 with 64 years of experience.'
That's ATTITUDE.

- John Mangun

Confession: prayer, discernment, formation

(Rome Reports) The pope met with dozens of present and future priests who participated in a course about confession. He reminded them that one becomes a good confessor by learning from life lessons. He shared three tips with them on how to do so:

- That they cultivate prayer to be friends of God. In this way, they will realize that they too are sinners, and will not deal harshly with penitents.
- That they be "men of discernment", and not apply the same prescription to everyone.
- That confession is a moment of formation. Give people advice that brings them closer to God.

POPE FRANCIS
"The confessor, in fact, is called daily to go to the peripheries of evil and sin - this is an ugly periphery! - and his work represents a true pastoral priority."

Before leaving, the pope asked them to always be available to listen to confessions. Do not be  priests who "only confess” on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays ", but rather every time someone asks for it, whenever it may be.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GA7JclzpLKs