The aim of all sacraments

“The mass is long”, you say, and I add: “Because your love is short.” – St Josemaria, The Way

The holy  Mass brings us face to face with one of the central mysteries of our faith, because it is the gift of the Blessed Trinity to the Church. It is because of this that we can consider Mass as the centre and the source of a Christian’s spiritual life.

It is the aim of all the sacrements (cf St thomas, St. Th. III, q.65 a.3). The life of grace, into which we are brought by baptism, and which is increased and strengthened by confirmation, grows to its fullness in the Mass. “When we participate in the Eucharist,” writes St Cyril of Jerusalem, “we are made spiritual by the divinizing action of the Holy Spirit, who not only makes us share in Christ’s life, as in baptism, but makes us entirely Christ-like, incorporating us into the fullness of Christ Jesus” (Catechisis, 22,3).

This pouring out of the Holy Spirit unites us to Christ  and makes us acknowledge that we are children of God. The Paraclete, who is Love, teaches us to saturate our life with the virtue of charity. Thus consummati in unum: “made one with Christ” (John 17:23), we can be among men what the Eucharist is for us, in the words of St Augustine: “a sign of unity, a bond of love” (In Ioannis Evangelium tractatus, 26,13).

– St Josemaria, Christ is Passing

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How can we know God?

Jesus revealed to his disciples the great mystery of our faith – the triune nature of God and the inseparable union of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Jesus’ mission is to reveal the glory of God to us – a Trinity of persons – God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – and to unite us with God in a community of love. The ultimate end, the purpose for which God created us, is the entry of God’s creatures into the perfect unity of the blessed Trinity.

The Jews understood God as Creator and Father of all that he made (Deuteronomy 32:6) and they understood the nation of Israel as God’s firstborn son (Exodus 4:22). Jesus reveals the Father in a unheard of sense. He is eternally Father by his relationship to his only Son, who, reciprocally, is Son only in relation to his Father (see Matthew 11:27). The Spirit, likewise, is inseparably one with the Father and the Son.

The mission of Jesus and of the Holy Spirit are the same. That is why Jesus tells his disciples that the Spirit will reveal the glory of the Father and the Son and will speak what is true. Before his Passover, Jesus revealed the Holy Spirit as the “Paraclete” and Helper who will be with Jesus’ disciples to teach and guide them “into all truth” (John 14:17,26; 16:13). In baptism we are called to share in the life of the Holy Trinity here on earth in faith and after death in eternal light.

Clement of Alexandria, a third century chuch father, wrote: “What an astonishing mystery! There is one Father of the universe, one Logos (Word) of the universe, and also one Holy Spirit, everywhere one and the same; there is also one virgin become mother, and I should like to call her ‘Church’.”

How can we personally know the Father and his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ? It is the Holy Spirit who reveals the Father and the Son to us and who gives us the gift of faith to know and understand the truth of God’s word. Through the Holy Spirit, we proclaim our ancient faith in the saving death and resurrection of Jesus Christ until he comes again. The Lord gives us his Holy Spirit as our divine Teacher and Helper that we may grow in the knowledge and wisdom of God. Do you seek the wisdom that comes from above and do you willingly obey God’s word?

Jesus’ departure and ascension into heaven was both an end and a beginning for his disciples. While it was the end of Jesus’ physical presence with his beloved disciples, it marked the beginning of Jesus’ presence with them in a new way. Jesus promised that he would be with them always to the end of time. He assured them of his power – a power which overcame sin and death. Now as the glorified and risen Lord and Saviour, ascended to the right hand of the Father in heaven, Jesus promised to give them the power of his Holy Spirit, which we see fulfilled ten days later on the Feast of Pentecost (Luke 24:49 and Acts 2:1-4). When the Lord Jesus departed physically from the apostles, they were not left alone or powerless. Jesus assured of his presence and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus’ last words to his apostles point to his saving mission and to their mission to be witnesses of his saving death and his glorious resurrection and to proclaim the good news of salvation to all the world. Their task is to proclaim the good news of salvation, not only to the people of Israel, but to all the nations. God’s love and gift of salvation is not just for a few, or for a nation, but it is for the whole world – for all who will accept it. The gospel is the power of God, the power to forgive sins, to heal, to deliver from evil and oppression, and to restore life. Do you believe in the power of the gospel?

– Don Schwager

Work of the Holy Spirit

Just as the Holy Spirit dwelt in the most holy soul of Christ in order to bring it to God, so He abides in our souls for the same purpose. In Jesus He found a completely docile will, one that He could control perfectly, whereas in us He often meets resistance, the fruit of human weakness; therefore, He desists from the work of our sanctification because He will not do violence to our liberty. He, the Spirit of love, waits for us to cooperate lovingly in His work, yielding our soul to His sanctifying action freely and ardently. In order to become saints, we must concur in the work of the Holy Spirit; but since effective concurrence is impossible without an understanding of the promoter’s actions, it is necessary for us to learn how the divine Paraclete, the promoter of our sanctification, works in us.

We must realize that the Holy Spirit is ever active in our souls, from the earliest stages of the spiritual life and even from its very beginning, although at that time in a more hidden and imperceptible way. However, His very precious action was there, and it consisted especially in the preparing and encouraging of our first attempts to acquire perfection. By giving us grace, without which we could have done nothing to attain sanctity, the Holy Spirit inaugurated His work in us: He elevated us to the supernatural state. Grace comes from God; it is a gift from all three Persons of the Blessed Trinity: a gift created by the Father, merited by the Son in consequence of His Incarnation, Passion, and death, and diffused in our souls by the Holy Spirit. But it is to the latter, to the Spirit of love, that the work of our sanctification is attributed in a very special manner. When we were baptized, we were justified “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”; nevertheless, Sacred Scripture particularly attributes this work of regeneration and divine filiation to the Holy Spirit. Jesus Himself pointed out to us that Baptism is a rebirth “of … the Holy Spirit” (Jn 3:5), and St. Paul stated: “For in one Spirit were we all baptized” and “the Spirit Himself giveth testimony to our spirit, that we are the sons of God” (1 Cor 12:13; Rom 8:16). Therefore, it is the Holy Spirit who has prepared and disposed our souls for the supernatural life by pouring forth grace in us.

– Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D, Divine Intimacy

 

 

Embark upon the narrow road that leads on to life!

Our heart now needs to distinguish and adore each one of the divine Persons. The soul is, as it were, making a discovery in the supernatural life, like a little child opening his eyes to the world about him. The soul spends time lovingly with the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and readily submits to the work of the life-giving Paraclete, who gives himself to us with no merit on our part, bestowing his gifts and the supernatural virtues!

We have run ‘like the deer, longing for flowing streams’; thirsting, our lips parched and dry. We want to drink at this source of living water. All day long, without doing anything strange, we move in this abundant, clear spring of fresh waters that leap up to eternal life. Words are not needed, because the tongue cannot express itself. The intellect grows calm. One does not reason; one looks! And the soul breaks out once more into song, a new song, because it feels and knows it is under the loving gaze of God, all day long.

I am not talking about extraordinary situations. These are, they may very well be, ordinary happenings within our soul: a loving craziness which, without any fuss or extravagance, teaches us how to suffer and how to live, because God grants us his wisdom. What calm, what peace is ours once we have embarked upon ‘the narrow road that leads on to life’!

– St Josemaria, Friends of God