The ultimate purpose of our life is
to grow to know, love and to follow in the footsteps of Jesus who said that He
is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Jesus is the real purpose of our existence.
He gives meaning to all that happens in our lives—our joys and sorrows,
successes and failures our life and death. Our Lady is always close to Jesus.
The saints emphasize that Our Lady is the short-cut to the heart of God. The
following are ten short suggestions how we can grow daily in Friendship with
Jesus and Mary His Mother so as to be happy in this life as well as the life to
AVOID SIN. The mortal enemy to friendship with God is
the reality of sin, especially MORTAL SIN. In one of the meditations in the Spiritual
Exercises Saint Ignatius says that we should be ready to die before giving in
to mortal sin. The motto of Saint
Dominic Savio before his first Communion was Death before sin. Saint Maria
Goretti actually did give up her life rather than give in to a sin against the
virtue of purity. MARTYRS. Unanimously, the martyrs chose death over sin or
denying Christ. The Church is already being persecuted and we could be called
to the glory of martyrdom. May God’s grace in us triumph!
KNOW GOD. We cannot love God if we do not know
Him. Best way? Reading, meditating on
the Word of God. Saint Jerome stated:
“Ignorance of the Word of God is ignorance of Christ.” Use the method of Lectio Divina that Pope
Benedict suggested in one of his documents on the word of God: Lectio (read),
meditacio (meditate and think deeply about God) contemplacio (imagine that you
are with God). Oracio (talk to God) accio (put into practice what you have
learned. As a result of living out this method of prayer that we call Lectio Divina,
the end result will be “transformacio”—transformation. As Saint Paul says: “It is no longer I who
lives but it is Christ who lives in me.”
LIVES OF THE SAINTS. Get into the habit of reading the lives of
the saints. The saints were God’s friends, confidants as well as God’s
heroes. We believe in the Communion of
Saints. The Catechism teaches us that the saints can help us in many ways, but
especially two: 1) power of intercession—they can pray for us as well as
present our prayers to God. 2) Examples to imitate—They were like as born in sin and sinners, but through the help
of God’s grace they overcame human weakness and lived lives of heroic virtue as
we are all called to do! Saint Ignatius
of Loyola received many graces on his path of conversion by reading the lives
of the saints.
LIVE IN GOD’S PRESENCE. A secret of many saints in growing in
Friendship with Jesus is the daily effort to live in God’s presence. We must
become more keenly aware of the fact of God’s omnipresence—He is everywhere in
the universe. Saint Paul reminds us of this as he quotes the Greek poet: “in Him we live and move and have our
being.” Brother Lawrence insisted that
striving to live constantly in the Presence of God is a sure way to holiness. Saint Teresa of Avila affirmed this truth by
asserting that we sin because forget about the presence of God.
WWJD/WWMD. Related to living in the presence of God
is a daily effort to imitate Christ and
His Mother Mary. One of the most famous
books every written was the IMITATION OF CHRIST by Thomas Kempis. Our daily
aspiration and yearning should be to imitate both Jesus and Mary. The youth used to wear a wrist-band with the
four letters WWJD---- meaning, “What would Jesus do???” A great question let us accept the challenge.
WWMD—Let us add to it what would Mary
do? May we always have both Jesus and
Mary before our eyes as our models!
SACRIFICE-PENITENTIAL LIFE. Even though it goes against the grain of the
flesh and our fallen human nature we should try to live a penitential
life-style. If we really love Jesus then
we should be willing to sacrifice ourselves for love of Him and the salvation
of immortal souls; read the lives of the saints as our models and examples.
Jesus Himself reminds us: “Whoever
wishes to be my follower must deny himself, take up His cross and follow me.”
If you are not in the habit if practice penance start with something that is
small and build on it! Athletes start small, build up their wind and will-power
and keep adding more. We are all called to be athletes for Christ, to run the
race and receive the merited crown which is the eternal glory of heaven. A life
of ease, leisure and laziness does not harmonize with the following of Christ!
Upon entering a Carmelite cell there is a cross without the corpus on it. Why?
Because the Carmelite nun is called to mount the cross and live a life of
denial for love of her mystical spouse, Jesus the Lord.
BE MERCIFUL AND LEARN TO FORGIVE. It
is impossible to live in this life without being hurt or wounded by others.
There are two reactions to being hurt by others: revenge and bitterness or
forgiveness and mercy. If we want to be pleasing to Jesus and Mary, best to
choose the hard path of mercy and forgiveness
Jesus challenges us: “Be merciful
as your heavenly Father is merciful.”
The English poet Alexander Pope reiterates the same theme: “To err is
human, to forgive is divine.” A key
element in forgiveness is to do it right away. The Word of God reminds us: “Do
not let the sun go down on your anger.” This is especially pertinent for
husbands and wives in the married life.
SEEK TO SERVE OTHERS. Do not seek to be served; rather, seek out
opportunities to be of service and to serve others. Saint Paul once again
reminds us: “There is more joy in giving than in receiving.” The Blessed Mother
Teresa of Calcutta, the Foundress of the Missionaries of Charity encourages us
to do the same in a challenging short statement: “Give until it hurts!” Of course looking up at Jesus on the cross
and contemplating His wounds is the most sublime example of giving; He gave all
even up to the last drop of His Precious Blood for love of you and for love of
me! Either we choose a Christocentric life of service or an egocentric life of
self-glorification. Once a Protestant Pastor chimed in with these words: “It is
either theology or meology!!!” Read Mt 25:31-46—in this powerful passage you
have the Corporal works of mercy listed. Which one of these Corporal works of
mercy do you think God is challenging you to live out right now???
THANKSGIVING. One of the most pleasing sentiments that can
flow from the human heart is that of thanksgiving. The Psalmist commands us
frequently: “Give thanks to the Lord for
He is good; His mercy endures forever.” At the Last Supper Jesus took bread and
gave thanks. Actually the Greek word
“Eucharist” means “thanksgiving.” How
much Jesus suffered after healing ten lepers and only one came back to render
Him thanksgiving.(Lk. 17:1-9) Shakespeare in Macbeth offers his words of wisdom
on ingratitude: “More painful than a serpent’s tooth is that of an ungrateful
child.” The famous medieval writer
Meister Eckhart puts it succinctly: “If the only prayer we ever did were that
of thanksgiving to God that would be sufficient.” Therefore it is not surprising that Saint Ignatius
of Loyola stated that the essence of sin is ingratitude. May God fill our
hearts with an overflowing expression of gratitude.
10. WALK WITH MARY, TALK
TO MARY, IMITATE MARY AND LOVE MARY!!! In the prayers we say to conclude the
most Holy Rosary, the Hail Holy Queen, we pray:
“Hail Holy Queen, mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness and our
hope…” In the midst of the trials, afflictions, uncertainties and insecurities
of life, immersed in times of moral confusion and political upheaval, submerged
in times of war, suffering and constant bloodshed, we must lift up our eyes
with great hope and trust toward the STAR OF THE SEA. This beautiful image and poem penned by the
mellifluous Doctor, Saint Bernard, encourages us to trust that Our Lady is
there for us to help us through the storms of life and make it safely to
heaven. Therefore, as a pilgrim on your journey to heaven do not walk alone.
Walk with Mary, talk to Mary, imitate Mary and love Mary. Indeed she will be
your life, your sweetness and your hope.”