Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Model of Nazareth

Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Family and in honor of this, I have pasted below an excerpt from Pope Paul VI's address in Nazareth (which can be found in today's Office of Readings), dated January 5, 1964.    His words still ring true.

May the blessings of the Christ child continue to fill your heart with joy.


Pope Paul VI, January 5, 1964 (Nazareth)

"Nazareth is a kind of school where we may begin to discover what Christ’s life was like and even to understand his Gospel. Here we can observe and ponder the simple appeal of the way God’s Son came to be known, profound yet full of hidden meaning. And gradually we may even learn to imitate him.

Here we can learn to realise who Christ really is. And here we can sense and take account of the conditions and circumstances that surrounded and affected his life on earth: the places, the tenor of the times, the culture, the language, religious customs, in brief, everything which Jesus used to make himself known to the world. Here everything speaks to us, everything has meaning. Here we can learn the importance of spiritual discipline for all who wish to follow Christ and to live by the teachings of his Gospel.

How I would like to return to my childhood and attend the simple yet profound school that is Nazareth! How wonderful to be close to Mary, learning again the lesson of the true meaning of life, learning again God’s truths. But here we are only on pilgrimage. Time presses and I must set aside my desire to stay and carry on my education in the Gospel, for that education is never finished. But I cannot leave without recalling, briefly and in passing; some thoughts I take with me from Nazareth.

First, we learn from its silence. If only we could once again appreciate its great value. We need this wonderful state of mind, beset as we are by the cacophony of strident protests and conflicting claims so characteristic of these turbulent times. The silence of Nazareth should teach us how to meditate in peace and quiet, to reflect on the deeply spiritual, and to be open to the voice of God’s inner wisdom and the counsel of his true teachers. Nazareth can teach us the value of study and preparation, of meditation, of a well-ordered personal spiritual life, and of silent prayer that is known only to God.

Second, we learn about family life. May Nazareth serve as a model of what the family should be. May it show us the family’s holy and enduring character and exemplify its basic function in society: a community of love and sharing, beautiful for the problems it poses and the rewards it brings, in sum, the perfect setting for rearing children – and for this there is no substitute. 

Finally, in Nazareth, the home of a craftsman’s son, we learn about work and the discipline it entails. I would especially like to recognise its value – demanding yet redeeming – and to give it proper respect. I would remind everyone that work has its own dignity. On the other hand, it is not an end in itself. Its value and free character, however, derive not only from its place in the economic system, as they say, but rather from the purpose it serves. 

In closing, may I express my deep regard for people everywhere who work for a living. To them I would point out their great model, Christ their brother, our Lord and God, who is their prophet in every cause that promotes their well being."

Monday, November 30, 2015


Advent is a time of waiting and preparing: part silence and anticipation, part activity and action.  This year, as we prepare to celebrate the coming of the Christ child, I would like to share with you some nuggets gleaned from Mother Mary Francis's book "Come, Lord Jesus, Meditations on the Art of Waiting".  Mother was the abbess of the Poor Clare Monastery in Roswell, New Mexico.  Her reflections sear the heart and stir one's mind to ask with great sincerity, am I preparing for Christ as I ought?  

May God bless each one of us with light, peace, and generosity as we journey to Bethlehem.

Monday, the First Week of Advent: What are the "dark corners" in my life that keep me from God?  What needs to be emptied?  What are the escapes or habits that hinder a generous response to God's will in my life?
Do I rush out to meet God, to serve Him with a generous heart?


Sunday, August 9, 2015

To lead, to govern, to remain at peace...

"No one can be in the lead who is unwilling to remain in the background, and no one can govern with safety who does not know how to obey.  No one is truly happy who is aware of an unclean conscience."

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Twenty

Friday, August 7, 2015

Cultivating interior solitude...

"It is also easier to stay at home alone than to watch what you say when you go out so as not to offend. Therefore, those who intend to lead the interior life and have the grace of devotion must, with our Lord, go away from the crowd.  Unless you like solitude, it is not safe for you to appear in public."

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Twenty

Remain silent and avoid speaking too much

"One person has said: "As often as I have been among others, I have returned less a man."  We know this from experience when we talk too long.  It is easier to remain silent than not to say too much when we speak."

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Twenty

Monday, August 3, 2015

Meditation versus gossip...

"If you will withdraw from unnecessary talk and useless running about and listening to the latest gossip, you will find the time to occupy yourself with devout meditation.  The greatest Saints avoided the company of worldly people as much as possible, for they preferred to be alone with God."

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Twenty

Sunday, August 2, 2015

On the love of solitude and silence

"Seek a convenient time to search your own conscience, meditating on the benefits of God.  Restrain curiosity; read only those things that will move you to contrition rather than give you distraction."

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Twenty

Saturday, August 1, 2015

On the reward of being prepared...

"In St. Luke's Gospel we read: "Blessed is that servant if his Master finds him (watching) when He arrives home.  Truly I tell you, He will put him in charge of all his property."  (Lk 12:43, 44)

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Nineteen

Thursday, July 30, 2015

"Let us prepare ourselves for the appointed time…"

"But if it be delayed, we can be sure that we were neither ready nor prepared for that glory, which will be revealed to us in God's time.  Let us then prepare ourselves better for the appointed time."

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Nineteen

...and times we need to live more devoutly

"In this way, we ought to prepare ourselves at holy seasons, living more devoutly and performing our duties more exactly as if we were soon to go before God to receive the reward of our labors."

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Nineteen

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Our practices have "seasons" too...

"As the principal feasts occur we must renew our pious practices according to the spirit of the feast, fervently asking the Saints to help us.  As the liturgical year unfolds, we should make our resolutions as if we were then to leave this world for the everlasting feast in heaven."

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Nineteen

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Our size does not fit all...

"The same pious practices are not practical for all; for one suits one person, while another suits someone else.  Different exercises are required for different times, some being more applicable for holy days, others for ordinary days.  Also, we need one kind in time of temptation and another in time of peace and quiet; one when we have devotion, another when devotion is absent."

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Nineteen

Monday, July 27, 2015

On surrendering your will...

"Personal penitential practices are best done in private and not openly for others to see.  Do not be more inclined to the devotions of your own choosing than to those that are of religious obligation.  When you have faithfully fulfilled your obligation, then if there is time left, you may perform those devotions according to your inspiration."

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Nineteen

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Arm yourself with humility...

"Arm yourself with humility and charity so as to ward off attacks of the devil.  Refrain from gluttony and it will be easier for you to restrain carnal desires.  Never be idle: read, write, meditate, pray, or work for the good of the community.  As for bodily mortification, practice these with discretion; for what is profitable for one may harm another."

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Nineteen

Saturday, July 25, 2015

On checking your progress...

"If you cannot recollect yourself all the time, you should do so at intervals; for instance, in the morning you should make your resolution for the day, and then in the evening check up on yourself to see what your conduct has been during the day--how you have kept your resolution, what have been your thoughts, words, and actions.  For in any of these ways you may have offended God and your neighbor more often than you think."

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Nineteen

Friday, July 24, 2015

On making a firm resolution...

"Nevertheless, we must have a resolve about something definite, particularly concerning those things which are our greatest hindrances.   We should carefully search and put in order both our interior and exterior, for both are necessary to our spiritual progress."

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Nineteen

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The danger of laziness

"If for the sake of charity a pious practice is omitted, it may be recovered later; but if omitted through laziness or our own negligence, it is not a small fault and will prove harmful.  Although we try our best, some failures will be unavoidable."

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Nineteen

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Choose God's grace...

"The resolution of devout persons depends more on the grace of God than on their own wisdom. For human beings propose, but God disposes, nor is the course of their life as they would have it."(Jer 10:23)."

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Nineteen

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Make up your mind...

"Let us then make up our minds to do the best we can; even so our good intention may be hindered in various ways, such as the omission of a good exercise for a slight reason.  It is seldom that such willful omission can be recovered without spiritual loss."

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Nineteen

Monday, July 20, 2015

Climb to the heights...

"As our intention is, so will our progress be, and we have need of great diligence if we want to advance.  For if those whose purpose is to do good often fall short or it, what shall the person do who seldom, if ever, makes such a resolution?

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Nineteen

Saturday, July 18, 2015

On making a fresh start, again and again!

"Every day renew your dedication to God, arousing fervent devotion in your heart as if it were the first day of your turning back to God.  Pray to Him, saying, "Help me, Lord Jesus, to persevere in my good resolutions and in Your holy service till death.  Help me to begin this day well, for up to now I have done nothing."

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Nineteen

Friday, July 17, 2015

Our inner and outer lives should be pure...

"The life of a good religious should be distinguished by virtue, being inwardly as one appears outwardly, for He Who sees the heart is God, Whom we should always reverence.  We should walk in His Presence as pure as the Angels."

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Nineteen

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Do not fall off in fervor...

"How sad it is that through our own negligence and wasting of time we have fallen so quickly from our first fervor, and are even tired of life itself!  God grant that the desire to advance in virtue be not dormant in you, who so often have had the examples of the Saints before you!"

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Eighteen

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

On the fervent holy religious of old...

"The history of their deeds bears witness to their holiness and perfection by which they were able to subdue the world and trample it beneath their feet.  Nowadays, those who can keep the rule and maintain patience in what they have undertaken are thought the world of."

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Eighteen

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The grace of obedience...

"How fervent were the religious when their institutions were founded! What devotion in prayer, what zeal for virtue and what strict discipline was maintained!  Reverence and obedience under the rule of the Superior prospered!"

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Eighteen

Monday, July 13, 2015

More on holy souls...

"This is why they grew spiritually every day, gaining great grace from God.  They were given as an example to all who desire to be holy; how much more, therefore, should they inspire us to advance spiritually than the number of the lukewarm influence us to grow lax."

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Eighteen

Sunday, July 12, 2015

They were strangers to the world...

"They were strangers to the world, but to God they were dear and intimate friends.  In the world's eyes and in their own they were despised as nothing; but in the eyes of God and His Saints they were beloved and precious indeed.  True humility, simple obedience, charity, patience--in fact all the virtues shone forth in them."

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Eighteen

Saturday, July 11, 2015

…but inwardly they were filled with grace...

"They abandoned riches, honors, friends and families; they wanted nothing of this world, scarcely even taking what was necessary for the body.  Outwardly they were in need, but inwardly they were filled with grace and spiritual consolation."

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Eighteen

Friday, July 10, 2015

Forgetting oneself for God

"They worked by day and they prayed by night.  Their time was always profitably spent, for even in their physical labors they turned their minds to God and considered the time in His service all too short. Often they forgot the need for food, so consoling were their contemplations."

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Eighteen

Thursday, July 9, 2015

The zeal of the Desert Fathers...

"How strict and mortified was the life our Fathers led in the wilderness!  How many grievous temptations they endured and violent assaults of the devil!  How fervently they prayed daily to God, imposing rigid fasts on themselves!  What ardent zeal to advance in the spiritual life!  What relentless war they waged against all sin and with what pure and wholehearted intention did they aspire toward God!"

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Eighteen

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Rejecting honors and pleasures now...

"Consider the many and grievous trials endured by the Apostles, Martyrs, Confessors, Virgins, and indeed all the Saints who followed in the footsteps of our Lord!  In order to possess everlasting life they rejected honors and all the pleasures of this life."

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Eighteen

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

More on holy souls...

"These friends of Christ served Him amid all sorts of tribulations: hunger and thirst, heat and cold, labor and weariness, in vigils and fasts, holy meditations and prayers and in persecutions and insults."

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Eighteen

Monday, July 6, 2015

On the example of the Holy Fathers...

"Look at the shining examples of our ancient Fathers and the Saints, in whom true perfection and religion flourished and then you will see how little we do by comparison.  How can we even compare our life with theirs!"

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Eighteen

Sunday, July 5, 2015

You are meant to be tried as gold in a furnace...

"It is good, therefore, often to remember that you entered religious life to serve and not to be served, and that you are called to suffer and to work, not to waste your time in idleness and gossip.  In religious life you are meant to be tried as gold in a furnace and you will not last long unless with all your heart you are ready to humble yourself for the love of God."

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Seventeen

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Dying to self-love

"Receiving the habit and the tonsure is but little help; it is the reforming of your life and the dying to self-love that makes the true religious.  If you seek anything in religious life other than God and the good of your soul, you will find nothing but trouble and grief and you will not persevere there in peace unless you strive to be the least and subject to all."

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Seventeen

Friday, July 3, 2015

Consider yourself an exile and pilgrim...

"If you wish to remain steadfast in grace and to grow in virtue, consider yourself an exile and a pilgrim in this world.  You must rejoice to be considered a fool and a contemptuous person for the love of God."

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Seventeen

Thursday, July 2, 2015

On the religious life…but it also applies to all our lives...

"If you want to get along with others, it is necessary to curb your own will in many things.  It is not easy to live in a monastery or a congregation, to remain there without complaint or reproof and to persevere in your vocation."

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Seventeen

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

On adversity...

"Adversity is the best test of virtue.  The occasions of sin do not weaken anyone; on the contrary, they show that person's true worth."

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Sixteen

We must bear one another's burdens...

"God wills us to learn to bear one another's burdens.  No one is without faults, no one without a cross, no one self-sufficient and no one wise enough all alone.  Therefore, we must support, comfort and assist one another in all charity."  

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Sixteen

Monday, June 29, 2015

A good perspective...

"If everyone was perfect, what would we have to endure for the love of God?"

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Sixteen

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Why are we easy on ourselves but hard on others?

"We want to have others strictly reprimanded for their offenses, but we will not be reprimanded ourselves.  We are inclined to think the other person has too much liberty, but we ourselves will not put up with any restraint.  There must be rules for everyone else, but we must be given free rein.  It is seldom that we consider our neighbor equally with ourselves."

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Sixteen

Friday, June 26, 2015

The plank in our own eye...

"Learn how to be patient in enduring the faults of others, remembering that you yourself have many which others have to put up with.  If you cannot make yourself be what you would like, how can you expect another to be as you would like?  We wish to see perfection in others, but do not correct our own faults."

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Sixteen

Place all in God's hands...

"If once or twice you have warned someone and that person does not comply, do not contend further with such a one, but leave all in the hands of God, that His will be done and that He be glorified in all His servants, for He knows well how to turn evil into good."

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Sixteen

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

On bearing with the defects of others...

"There will always be defects in ourselves or others which we cannot correct. These we must simply tolerate until God in His goodness sees fit to change things.  After all, this may be the best possible way to prove our patience, without which our good qualities are not worth much.

Nevertheless, you must pray earnestly that God in His mercy will help you bear these impediments with patience."

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Sixteen

On true charity...

"True charity is not self-seeking, but goes all the way for the honor and glory of God.  Those who are charitable envy no one, nor do they seek their own pleasure, but desire above all things to find their joy in God.
How well they know that no good begins in humans and so they refer all to God, from Whom all things come and in Whom all the Saints find their eternal blessedness.  If they had only a spark of real charity, they would know in their souls that all earthly things are vain."

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Fifteen

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Discerning between charity and self-love...

"Those who love God much do much, and those do a deed well who perform it for the common good and not to please themselves.  Often what appears to be charity is really done for carnal motives--self-love, the hope of reward or some personal advantage seldom being absent."

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Fifteen

Monday, June 22, 2015

Do everything with love...

"Without charity the outward deed is worthless; but whatever is done out of charity, no matter how small and insignificant, is profitable in the eyes of God, Who looks not so much at what we do, as to the love with which we do it."

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Fifteen

Sunday, June 21, 2015


"Never is evil to be done for any worldly gain nor for love of any human being. But there are times when a good deed may be deferred for the benefit of one who is in need, or can be changed to a better deed.  In that way the good planned is not undone, but rather is transformed into something better."

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Fifteen

Saturday, June 20, 2015

On humble obedience to Christ...

"An old habit is not easily overcome, and people are reluctant to be led beyond their own views.  If you cling more to your own reason or will rather than to humble obedience of Jesus Christ, you will only with difficulty become an enlightened person.  For it is the will of God that we be perfectly subject to Him, rising above our own reason and will by an ardent love."

Imitation of Christ, Book One, Chapter Fourteen