Saturday, 29 March 2014

LENT 2014 * Joy of the Gospel Series * seven

Prayer of Intercession
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven.

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:

Pope Francis In His Own Words,
Joy of the Gospel:

The missionary power of intercessory prayer

281. One form of prayer moves us particularly to take up the task of evangelization and to seek the good of others: it is the prayer of intercession. Let us peer for a moment into the heart of Saint Paul, to see what his prayer was like. It was full of people: “…I constantly pray with you in every one of my prayers for all of you… because I hold you in my heart” (Phil 1:4, 7). Here we see that intercessory prayer does not divert us from true contemplation, since authentic contemplation always has a place for others.

282. This attitude becomes a prayer of gratitude to God for others. 
  • “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you” (Rom 1:8). It is constant thankfulness: 
  • “I give thanks to God always for you because of the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus” (1 Cor 1:4)
  • “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you” (Phil 1:3)

Far from being suspicious, negative and despairing, it is a Spiritual gaze born of deep faith which acknowledges what God is doing in the lives of others. At the same time, it is the gratitude which flows from a heart attentive to others. When evangelizers rise from prayer, their hearts are more open; freed of self-absorption, they are desirous of doing good and sharing their lives with others.

283. The great men and women of God were great intercessors. Intercession is like a “leaven” in the heart of the Trinity. It is a way of penetrating the Father’s heart and discovering new dimensions which can shed light on concrete situations and change them. We can say that God’s heart is touched by our intercession, yet in reality he is always there first. What our intercession achieves is that his power, his love and his faithfulness are shown ever more clearly in the midst of the people.

Reflection On St Paul's Prayer of Intercession In Colossians

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven.

  • Prayer of Intercessions begins with praise and thanksgiving, filled with great joy
  • Thankful praise that recognizes that faith is a gift and work of grace
  • Joy that comes from seeing others come into faith in Jesus
 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.

  • These are the graces we ask that others will experience
  • Knowledge of the calling God has for these now come into faith
  • Continuing growth in spiritual wisdom for daily living - not of this world's thinking - but a wisdom come from God's revelation
  • Spiritual discernment to recognize God's truth from the errors of this generation
  • That they see their generous good works contributing to building of the Kingdom of justice and peace in this world
 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 

  • Faith will face many challenges, therefore we pray that others will have
  • Unshakable conviction in Jesus as Lord and Savior
  • Faith that will be able to endure attacks from all sides
  • Patience and a joyfulness that inspires others
 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

  • Because we know that the real enemy is the Deceiver, the Evil One
  • We pray for others to be protected and delivered from Satan's deceits 
  • Confidence that Jesus Christ, the King, has won the victory over sin and death - that they too share this victory
  • That they never loose trust in God's loving mercy should they falter

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

LENT 2014 * Joy of the Gospel Series * six

If you love Me, you will keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive Him because it doesn't see Him or know Him. But you do know Him, because He remains with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I am coming to you. John 14:15

Pope Francis In His Own Words,
Joy of the Gospel:

The mysterious working of the risen Christ and his Spirit

275. In the second chapter, we reflected on that lack of deep Spirituality which turns into pessimism, fatalism, and mistrust. Some people do not commit themselves to mission because they think that nothing will change and that it is useless to make the effort. They think: “Why should I deny myself my comforts and pleasures if I won’t see any significant result?” This attitude makes it impossible to be a missionary. It is only a malicious excuse for remaining caught up in comfort, laziness, vague dissatisfaction and empty selfishness. It is a self-destructive attitude, for “man cannot live without hope: life would become meaningless and unbearable”. If we think that things are not going to change, we need to recall that Jesus Christ has triumphed over sin and death and is now almighty. 

Jesus Christ truly lives. Put another way, “ if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain” (1 Cor 15:14). The Gospel tells us that when the first disciples went forth to preach, “the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message” (Mk 16:20). The same thing happens today. We are invited to discover this, to experience it. Christ, risen and glorified, is the wellspring of our hope, and he will not deprive us of the help we need to carry out the mission which he has entrusted to us.

* Remember, when we pray, Christ is not far off in some distant heaven, "I am with you." That is why the first step in our preparation for prayer is to <consciously enter the presence of Jesus>

276. Christ’s resurrection is not an event of the past; it contains a vital power which has permeated this world. Where all seems to be dead, signs of the resurrection suddenly spring up. It is an irresistible force. Often it seems that God does not exist: all around us we see persistent injustice, evil, indifference and cruelty. But it is also true that in the midst of darkness something new always springs to life and sooner or later produces fruit. On razed land life breaks through, stubbornly yet invincibly. However dark things are, goodness always re-emerges and spreads. Each day in our world beauty is born anew, it rises transformed through the storms of history. Values always tend to reappear under new guises, and human beings have arisen time after time from situations that seemed doomed. Such is the power of the resurrection, and all who evangelize are instruments of that power.

* Take a moment to consider your own outlook on things. Many see the Church in decline. What kinds of evidence is purposed for this pessimism?

277. At the same time, new difficulties are constantly surfacing: experiences of failure and the human weaknesses which bring so much pain. We all know from experience that sometimes a task does not bring the satisfaction we seek, results are few and changes are slow, and we are tempted to grow weary. Yet lowering our arms momentarily out of weariness is not the same as lowering them for good, overcome by chronic discontent and by a listlessness that parches the soul. It also happens that our hearts can tire of the struggle because in the end we are caught up in ourselves, in a careerism which thirsts for recognition, applause, rewards and status. In this case we do not lower our arms, but we no longer grasp what we seek, the resurrection is not there. In cases like these, the Gospel, the most beautiful message that this world can offer, is buried under a pile of excuses.

* Consider for a moment the quality of your own heart, are you discouraged and loosing hope?
* Name the reasons for your loosing hope.
* Or are you optimistic, why?

278. Faith also means believing in God, believing that he truly loves us, that he is alive, that he is mysteriously capable of intervening, that he does not abandon us and that he brings good out of evil by his power and his infinite creativity. It means believing that he marches triumphantly in history with those who “are called and chosen and faithful” (Rev 17:14). Let us believe the Gospel when it tells us that the kingdom of God is already present in this world and is growing, here and there, and in different ways: like the small seed which grows into a great tree (cf. Mt 13:31-32), like the measure of leaven that makes the dough rise (cf. Mt 13:33) and like the good seed that grows amid the weeds (cf. Mt 13, 24-30) and can always pleasantly surprise us. The kingdom is here, it returns, it struggles to flourish anew. Christ’s resurrection everywhere calls forth seeds of that new world; even if they are cut back, they grow again, for the resurrection is already secretly woven into the fabric of this history, for Jesus did not rise in vain. May we never remain on the sidelines of this march of living hope!

In the Canyons of the City
279. Because we do not always see these seeds growing, we need an interior certainty, a conviction that God is able to act in every situation, even amid apparent setbacks: “We have this treasure in earthen vessels” (2 Cor 4:7). This certainty is often called “a sense of mystery”. It involves knowing with certitude that all those who entrust themselves to God in love will bear good fruit (cf. Jn 15:5). This fruitfulness is often invisible, elusive and unquantifiable. We can know quite well that our lives will be fruitful, without claiming to know how, or where, or when. We may be sure that none of our acts of love will be lost, nor any of our acts of sincere concern for others. 

  • No single act of love for God will be lost, 
  • no generous effort is meaningless, 
  • no painful endurance is wasted. 

All of these encircle our world like a vital force. Sometimes it seems that our work is fruitless, but mission is not like a business transaction or investment, or even a humanitarian activity. It is not a show where we count how many people come as a result of our publicity; it is something much deeper, which escapes all measurement. It may be that the Lord uses our sacrifices to shower blessings in another part of the world which we will never visit. The Holy Spirit works as he wills, when he wills and where he wills; we entrust ourselves without pretending to see striking results. We know only that our commitment is necessary. Let us learn to rest in the tenderness of the arms of the Father amid our creative and generous commitment. Let us keep marching forward; let us give him everything, allowing him to make our efforts bear fruit in his good time.

* How to measure success - there is the world's standards, wealth, power, prestige etc. Then there is the Cross of Christ.
* Why is the Cross our first measure of success?

280. Keeping our missionary fervour alive calls for firm trust in the Holy Spirit, for it is he who “helps us in our weakness” (Rom 8:26). But this generous trust has to be nourished, and so we need to invoke the Spirit constantly. He can heal whatever causes us to flag in the missionary endeavour. It is true that this trust in the unseen can cause us to feel disoriented: it is like being plunged into the deep and not knowing what we will find. I myself have frequently experienced this. Yet there is no greater freedom than that of allowing oneself to be guided by the Holy Spirit, renouncing the attempt to plan and control everything to the last detail, and instead letting him enlighten, guide and direct us, leading us wherever he wills. The Holy Spirit knows well what is needed in every time and place. This is what it means to be mysteriously fruitful!


Jesus my Lord, I confess to you and to all the world / my need for your presence in my life. / I am alone and in darkness without you. / I am influenced and controlled by the many forces that surround me. / Even though I struggle against them,/ it is sin that so easily dominates my life. / Who can save me but you alone, / my Lord and my God. / Deliver me from the Evil One. / Touch my life with that power which flows from your Resurrection. / Cause your Holy Spirit to be born in me anew. / Prince of Peace and Lord of Glory / reign now in my heart. / Baptize me with your Holy Spirit and Fire. / Raise me up to a New Life in you.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

LENT 2014 * Joy of the Gospel Series * five

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 Blessed are they who mourn,
for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the land.

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the clean of heart,
for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Pope Francis In His Own Words,
Joy of the Gospel:

271. It is true that in our dealings with the world, we are told to give reasons for our hope, but not as an enemy who critiques and condemns. We are told quite clearly: 
  • “do so with gentleness and reverence” (1 Pet 3:15) and 
  • “if possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all” (Rom 12:18)
  • We are also told to overcome “evil with good” (Rom 12:21) and to 
  • “work for the good of all” (Gal 6:10). 

Far from trying to appear better than others, we should “in humility count others better” than ourselves (Phil 2:3). The Lord’s apostles themselves enjoyed “favour with all the people” (Acts 2:47; 4:21, 33; 5:13). Clearly Jesus does not want us to be grandees who look down upon others, but men and women of the people. This is not an idea of the Pope, or one pastoral option among others; they are injunctions contained in the word of God which are so clear, direct and convincing that they need no interpretations which might diminish their power to challenge us. Let us live them sine glossa, without commentaries. By so doing we will know the missionary joy of sharing life with God’s faithful people as we strive to light a fire in the heart of the world.

It comes down to attitude. A "Holier-than-thou" attitude is quickly picked up by people and turns off any receptivity they have to what is being said. 
* The topic of religion is unpopular because it often ends in acrimonious debate.
* Showing how things can change for the better, with one's self as an example, can start a dialogue. 

272. Loving others is a Spiritual force drawing us to union with God; indeed, one who does not love others 
  • “walks in the darkness” (1 Jn 2:11), 
  • “remains in death” (1 Jn 3:14) 
  • “does not know God” (1 Jn 4:8)

Benedict XVI has said that “closing our eyes to our neighbour also blinds us to God”, and that love is, in the end, the only light which “can always illuminate a world grown dim and give us the courage needed to keep living and working”. 

  • When we live out a Spirituality of drawing nearer to others and seeking their welfare, our hearts are opened wide to the Lord’s greatest and most beautiful gifts. 
  • Whenever we encounter another person in love, we learn something new about God. 
  • Whenever our eyes are opened to acknowledge the other, we grow in the light of faith and knowledge of God. 
  • If we want to advance in the Spiritual life, then, we must constantly be missionaries. 
The work of evangelization enriches the mind and the heart; it opens up Spiritual horizons; it makes us more and more sensitive to the workings of the Holy Spirit, and it takes us beyond our limited Spiritual constructs. A committed missionary knows the joy of being a spring which spills over and refreshes others. 
Only the person who feels happiness in seeking the good of others, in desiring their happiness, can be a missionary. 
This openness of the heart is a source of joy, since “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). We do not live better when we flee, hide, refuse to share, stop giving and lock ourselves up in our own comforts. Such a life is nothing less than slow suicide. Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter, Deus Caritas Est (25 December 2005), 16: AAS 98 (2006), 230. 210 Ibid., 39: AAS 98 (2006), 250. 204 

* Make a list of the ways you are engaged in the world that make a difference.

273. My mission of being in the heart of the people is not just a part of my life or a badge I can take off; it is not an “extra” or just another moment in life. Instead, it is something I cannot uproot from my being without destroying my very self. I am a mission on this earth; that is the reason why I am here in this world. We have to regard ourselves as sealed, even branded, by this mission of bringing light, blessing, enlivening, raising up, healing and freeing. All around us we begin to see nurses with soul, teachers with soul, politicians with soul, people who have chosen deep down to be with others and for others. But once we separate our work from our private lives, everything turns grey and we will always be seeking recognition or asserting our needs. We stop being a people.

* Those engaged in special service often wear a uniform. As they put on their uniform, their true identity is made evident, both to themselves as well as others. Symbolism is an important part of how we communicate. Often today, we see outward religious symbolism being suppressed. 
“…… let your light shine before others, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Mtt. 5:16
* Let it be known, in who's name you are acting.

274. If we are to share our lives with others and generously give of ourselves, we also have to realize that every person is worthy of our giving. Not for their physical appearance, their abilities, their language, their way of thinking, or for any satisfaction that we might receive, but rather because they are God’s handiwork, his creation. God created that person in his image, and he or she reflects something of God’s glory. Every human being is the object of God’s infinite tenderness, and he himself is present in their lives. Jesus offered his precious blood on the cross 205 for that person. Appearances notwithstanding, every person is immensely holy and deserves our love. Consequently, if I can help at least one person to have a better life, that already justifies the offering of my life. It is a wonderful thing to be God’s faithful people. We achieve fulfillment when we break down walls and our heart is filled with faces and names!

* The link below is a video of Father Robert Barron delivering the keynote talk at the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress. He laid out seven keys to the New Evangelization. This is a must see in conjunction with these reflections. 

Fr. Robert Barron On 7 Keys to New Evangelization

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

LENT 2014 * Joy of the Gospel Series * four

One Flock, One Shepherd
I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” John 10:14-18

The approach we are using for this Lenten series is to take Pope Francis’ words, and rather than read them through quickly, to take them and ponder them prayerfully; asking the Spirit to shed new light, new depth to their meaning, and so enlighten our minds to the full meaning of evangelization in the Church today.

Pope Francis In His Own Words,
Joy of the Gospel:

The Spiritual savour of being a people

268. The word of God also invites us to recognise that we are a people: “Once you were no people but now you are God’s people” (1 Pet 2:10). To be evangelizers of souls, we need to develop a Spiritual taste for being close to people’s lives and to discover that this is itself a source of greater joy. Mission is at once a passion for Jesus and a passion for his people. When we stand before Jesus crucified, we see the depth of his love which exalts and sustains us, but at the same time, unless we are blind, we begin to realize that Jesus’ gaze, burning with love, expands to embrace all his people. We realize once more that he wants to make use of us to draw closer to his beloved people. He takes us from the midst of his people and he sends us to his people; without this sense of belonging we cannot understand our deepest identity.


Through whose eyes do you observe the world's people. It would be hard to list all of the different groupings that separate people into different identities; gender, race, nationality, culture, ethnicity, wealth, age, social status, just to mention a few, and of coarse, religion. 

But to God, we are all His people to whom he has given life and the destiny of eternal life in His presence. As Good Shepherd, Jesus sees himself as sent by the Father to reveal to the world this divine plan - to gather all people into the one family of God. Not one single person is to be left out.

The work has begun but Jesus points out, I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. Pope Francis wants us as evangelizers to have this same mind that is in Christ. 
  • Unity does not mean uniformity
  • Everyone is a brother or sister
  • Sin divides, mercy and compassion unite.
* As you prayer and reflect, ask for this; "the mind of Christ, the Good Shepherd" to be instilled in you.
* Evangelism begins the heart - MY HEART.
* Consider how "pre-judgment" may have worked its way into your view of others. 
* Pray for the gift of discernment, that you may distinguish the working of the "Good Spirit", in your heart and in the hearts of others, from that of the "Deceiver", who is lying and corrupting the hearts of God's children. ("If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." John 8:32)

269. Jesus himself is the model of this method of evangelization which brings us to the very heart of his people. How good it is for us to contemplate the closeness which he shows to everyone! If he speaks to someone, he looks into their eyes with deep love and concern: 
  • “Jesus, looking upon him, loved him” (Mk 10:21). 
  • We see how accessible he is, as he draws near the blind man (cf. Mk 10:46-52) 
  • and eats and drinks with sinners (cf. Mk 2:16) without worrying about being thought a glutton and a drunkard himself (cf. Mt 11:19). 
  • We see his sensitivity in allowing a sinful woman to anoint his feet (cf. Lk 7:36-50) and in receiving Nicodemus by night (cf. Jn 3:1-15). 

Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is nothing else than the culmination of the way he lived his entire life. Moved by his example, we want to 
  • enter fully into the fabric of society, sharing the lives of all, 
  • listening to their concerns, 
  • helping them materially and Spiritually in their needs, 
  • rejoicing with those who rejoice, weeping with those who weep; 
arm in arm with others, we are committed to building a new world. But we do so not from a sense of obligation, not as a burdensome duty, but as the result of
 a personal decision which brings us joy and gives meaning to our lives.

The Cross of Jesus was not some miscalculation on his part, of the political corruption of his opponents. The Cross of Christ was warfare. It was his deliberate act of entering fully into the world, deceived and corrupted by "Evil", - to confront the Author of lies and to bring Truth to light at the very cost of his life - vindicated by his resurrection.

  • Recall these words: No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13
  • Consider the measure of your own heart.

 270. Sometimes we are tempted to be that kind of Christian who keeps the Lord’s wounds at arm’s length. Yet Jesus wants us to touch human misery, to touch the suffering flesh of others. He hopes that we will stop looking for those personal or communal niches which shelter us from the maelstrom of human misfortune and instead enter into the reality of other people’s lives and know the power of tenderness. Whenever we do so, our lives become wonderfully complicated and we experience intensely what it is to be a people, to be part of a people.


In order to evangelize, one must be prepared to confront the cross, in all the ways it presents itself - your personal crosses as well as the crosses of others. To be a disciple/evangelist of Christ will not be a walk-in-the-park. In Matthew Chp.10. Jesus makes clear the challenge.
  • “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. 

  • Do not worry about what to say or how to say it ... for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 

  • What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs.
  • Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.


I must lie down in the midst of lions
hungry for human prey.
Their teeth are spears and arrows;
their tongue, a sharpened sword.

They have set a trap for my feet;
my soul is bowed down;
They have dug a pit before me.
May they fall into it themselves!

My heart is steadfast, God,
my heart is steadfast.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

LENT 2014 * Joy of the Gospel Series * three

The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?” They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?” “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”

So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon. Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter).

The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.” Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip. When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.” Jesus said, “You believed because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

Pope Francis In His Own Words,
Joy of the Gospel:

265. Jesus’ whole life, his way of dealing with the poor, his actions, his integrity, his simple daily acts of generosity, and finally his complete self-giving, is precious and reveals the mystery of his divine life. Whenever we encounter this anew, we become convinced that it is exactly what others need, even though they may not recognize it: “What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you” (Acts 17:23)

Sometimes we lose our enthusiasm for mission because we forget that the Gospel responds to our deepest needs, since we were created for what the Gospel offers us: 
  • friendship with Jesus and 
  • love of our brothers and sisters. 

If we succeed in expressing adequately and with beauty the essential content of the Gospel, surely this message will speak to the deepest yearnings of people’s hearts: “The missionary is convinced that, through the working of the Spirit, there already exists in individuals and peoples an expectation, even if an unconscious one, 
  • of knowing the truth about God, 
  • about man, and 
  • about how we are to be set free from sin and death. 

The missionary’s enthusiasm in proclaiming Christ comes from the conviction that he is responding to that expectation” 

Enthusiasm for evangelization is based on this conviction. 
  • We have a treasure of life and love which cannot deceive, and 
  • a message which cannot mislead or disappoint. 

It penetrates to the depths of our hearts, sustaining and ennobling us. It is a truth which is never out of date because it reaches that part of us which nothing else can reach. Our infinite sadness can only be cured by an infinite love.


  • Do you think of yourself as inadequate to evangelize because you lack the learning, speaking skills, worldly sophistication, education, and other such qualifications you think necessary?
  • Consider these words of St. Paul: 
And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power. 1 Cor. 2:1-5
  •  "... demonstration of the Spirit’s power ..." No doubt, St. Paul would site his conversion experience as such a demonstration of the Spirit's power. Do you have a story to tell of your own coming into a strong personal faith? Do you talk about it with others? 

Pope Francis In His Own Words,
Joy of the Gospel:

266. But this conviction has to be sustained by our own constantly renewed experience of savouring Christ’s friendship and his message. It is impossible to persevere in a fervent evangelization unless we are convinced from personal experience that 
  • it is not the same thing to have known Jesus as not to have known him, 
  • not the same thing to walk with him as to walk blindly, 
  • not the same thing to hear his word as not to know it, and 
  • not the same thing to contemplate him, to worship him, to find our peace in him, as not to. 
  • not the same thing to try to build the world with his Gospel as to try to do so by our own lights. 

We know well that with Jesus life becomes richer and that with him it is easier to find meaning in everything. This is why we evangelize. A true missionary, who never ceases to be a disciple, 
  • knows that Jesus walks with him, speaks to him, breathes with him, works with him. 
  • He senses Jesus alive with him in the midst of the missionary enterprise. 

Unless we see him present at the heart of our missionary commitment, our enthusiasm soon wanes and we are no longer sure of what it is that we are handing on; we lack vigour and passion. A person who is not convinced, enthusiastic, certain and in love, will convince nobody.


A disciple is a student, one who is studying under a teacher. In ancient times, student-disciples would attach themselves to a particular teacher and literally follow them around, live with them, spend their whole time with them, as their teacher would impart to them his teaching. So it was with disciples of Jesus. That is why he says they must leave everything behind and follow him. Pope Francis reminds us that a true evangelist is a real and true disciple of Jesus. "... knows that Jesus walks with him, speaks to him, breathes with him, works with him."

  • Do you have a real, definable spiritual life ... if so, how is it structured?
  • You can go to any university and study the history of religion, the bible, Christianity, yet have no personal faith in Christ. What Pope Francis challenges here is - are you a disciple of Christ or merely a seeker of information.
  • Sit down a write out a description of your discipleship. 

Jesus my Lord, I confess to you and to all the world / my need for your presence in my life. / I am alone and in darkness without you. / I am influenced and controlled by the many forces that surround me. / Even though I struggle against them,/ it is sin that so easily dominates my life. / Who can save me but you alone, / my Lord and my God. / Deliver me from the Evil One. / Touch my life with that power which flows from your Resurrection. / Cause your Holy Spirit to be born in me anew. / Prince of Peace and Lord of Glory / reign now in my heart. / Baptize me with your Holy Spirit and Fire. / Raise me up to a New Life in you.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

LENT 2014 * Joy of the Gospel Series * two


Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him. He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:14-21

Pope Francis In His Own Words,
Joy of the Gospel:

262. Spirit-filled evangelizers are evangelizers who pray and work. Mystical notions without a solid social and missionary outreach are of no help to evangelization, nor are dissertations or social or pastoral practices which lack a Spirituality which can change hearts.  What is needed is the ability to cultivate an interior space which can give a Christian meaning to commitment and activity.

Without ---
  • prolonged moments of adoration, 
  • of prayerful encounter with the word, 
  • of sincere conversation with the Lord, 
--- our work easily becomes meaningless; we lose energy as a result of weariness and difficulties, and our fervour dies out. The Church urgently needs the deep breath of prayer, .... even so, “we must reject the temptation to offer a privatized and individualistic Spirituality.

Do you have *a time* and *a place* and *a passage of scripture* and *a desire for His presence* picked out each day for prayer?

264. The primary reason for evangelizing is the love of Jesus which we have received, the experience of salvation which urges us to ever greater love of him. What kind of love would not feel the need to speak of the beloved, to point him out, to make him known? 
  • If we do not feel an intense desire to share this love, we need to pray insistently that he will once more touch our hearts. 
  • We need to implore his grace daily, asking him to open our cold hearts and shake up our lukewarm and superficial existence. 
  • How much good it does us when he once more touches our lives and impels us to share his new life! What then happens is that “we speak of what we have seen and heard” (1 Jn 1:3). 
The best incentive for sharing the Gospel comes from 
  • contemplating it with love, 
  • lingering over its pages and 
  • reading it with the heart. 
If we approach it in this way, its beauty will amaze and constantly excite us. But if this is to come about, we need to recover a contemplative Spirit which can help us to realize ever anew that we have been entrusted with a treasure which makes us more human and helps us to lead a new life. There is nothing more precious which we can give to others.


For more information on praying with scripture go to pages: Praying On A Passage of Scripture.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

LENT 2014 * Joy of the Gospel Series * one

For this Lent I thought I would focus on Pope Francis' document, The Joy of the Gospel, with particular focus on chapter five -
 Spirit-filled Evangelizers.

To be the voice and image of the gospel for all to hear is central to the vocation of every baptized person. On Easter Sunday we will all stand and renewal our baptismal commitment and our acceptance of this vocation. Lent is a time to prepare for that Easter day by examining the present character our commitment - to discover what may be lacking in the Christian Life we are living, and where we need to have rekindle the "Fire of the Spirit"  in our hearts. 

We often hear accounts of persons disregarding their own safety and rush into harms way to save another. When asked why they did such an act of bravery, they are at a loss for words of explanation. Something from within compelled and empowered them to act. 

Pope Francis tells us that, "that something from within", that motivates the evangelist, is the Spirit. For what human heart alone would have the courage to confront the enormous challenges facing the evangelist, which Pope Francis has articulated for us in chapter two of his document.

As we examine our response to the challenge of the gospel throughout these Lenten days, we are not to become dishearten by the inadequacies we discover within ourselves, rather we prayerfully seek to have the "Fire of the Spirit" rekindle in our hearts. The following will be our prayer that we will carry throughout these reflections
Jesus my Lord, I confess to you and to all the world / my need for your presence in my life. / I am alone and in darkness without you. / I am influenced and controlled by the many forces that surround me. / Even though I struggle against them,/ it is sin that so easily dominates my life. / Who can save me but you alone, / my Lord and my God. / Deliver me from the Evil One. / Touch my life with that power which flows from your Resurrection. / Cause your Holy Spirit to be born in me anew. / Prince of Peace and Lord of Glory / reign now in my heart. / Baptize me with your Holy Spirit and Fire. / Raise me up to a New Life in you.


In The Words of Pope Francis
Spirit-filled evangelizers means evangelizers fearlessly open to the working of the Holy Spirit
  • The Holy Spirit grants the courage to proclaim the newness of the Gospel with boldness (parrhesía) in every time and place, even when it meets with opposition. [Parrhesía - meaning literally "to speak everything" and by extension "to speak freely," "to speak boldly," or "boldness." It implies not only freedom of speech, but the obligation to speak the truth for the common good, even at personal risk.]
  • Let us call upon him today, firmly rooted in prayer, for without prayer all our activity risks being fruitless and our message empty. 

  • Jesus wants evangelizers who proclaim the good news not only with words, but above all by a life transfigured by God’s presence.
For Reflection and Prayer
 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matt: 5:14

In today's culture, speaking openly about religion and one's beliefs is very unpopular - it is a private matter and should remain so. People who talk about their faith make others uncomfortable, and are unpopular. 
  • Are you inclined to agree?
  • Consider these words of St. Peter: "But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope (and Joy) that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect," 1 Pt. 3:15
  • When was the last time you spoke of your your faith as your motive for your actions?
  • Acts of kindness, even small ones, are words-in-action. Do you look for opportunities to evangelize by deeds, large or small?
  • Do you pray each day for the inspiration and the guidance of the Spirit to point out to you- when and where, and how you may evangelize this day?
+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + 
Whenever we say that something is  “Spirited”, it usually refers to some interior impulse which encourages, motivates, nourishes and gives meaning to our individual and communal activity. Spirit-filled evangelization is not the same as a set of tasks dutifully carried out despite one’s own personal inclinations and wishes. 
  • How I long to find the right words to stir up enthusiasm for a new chapter of evangelization full of [fervour] - [joy] - [generosity] - [courage] - [boundless love and attraction]! 
  • Yet I realize that no words of encouragement will be enough unless the fire of the Holy Spirit burns in our hearts.
  • A Spirit-filled evangelization is one guided by the Holy Spirit, for he is the soul of the Church called to proclaim the Gospel. 
Before offering some Spiritual motivations and suggestions, I once more invoke the Holy Spirit. I implore him to come and renew the Church, to stir and impel her to go forth boldly to evangelize all peoples.

For Reflection and Prayer
 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matt: 5:11
  • Are you up for the job? Are you ready? How am I doing?
How bright is your light? Check and see.

Pope Francis points out that our Christian life must be "... deeply rooted in Prayer." Included in that way of prayer is the Prayer of Examine. This approach to prayer guides us through an examination of how we have lived out our Christian life that day. Without this self awareness Pope Francis points out, "... all our activity risks being fruitless and our message empty". I strongly recommend this form of prayer be incorporated into your daily prayer practice.

Here is a link to the Ignatian Spirituality Site and a description of the Prayer of Examine and how to pray it. (LINK HERE)

Featured Videos

Featured Videos.