Sunday, November 13, 2016

Transformation in Christ : Self-Knowledge


Von Hildebrand (VH) 3rd chapter from Transformation into Christ. This chapter reviews that knowledge of our shortcomings and faith is needed to grow in our relationship with God.

Self-knowledge is the prerequisite to our inner reformation

"So long as a man is ignorant of his defects and of their real nature, all his endeavor(be it ever so laudable) to overcome those defects will end in failure. The final accomplishment of our transformation-total uprooting of our vices, the leveling of hills and filling up of valleys-requires a thorough knowledge of our defects. The radical extirpation of a defect of character requires an interior knowledge of that defect."

So from what I understand from VH is if we want to fully transform ourselves spirituality we need to better understand weaknesses.

Natural self-knowledge does not help moral progress

"While true self-knowledge is an important instrument of sanctification, there is also such a thing as a spurious and sterile kind of self-knowledge which is apt to ensnare us into an attitude of egotism far worse than the natural one. Thus analyze our character in the manner of mere spectators we pursue a false and sterile self-knowledge. We experience ourselves as we would a character in a novel, without in any way feeling responsible for his defects. Amoral frame of reference we are necessity precluded consideration of true consideration of a true significance of our person. First, we are denied the capacity to understand, completely a person as such. Free being capable of rational behavior for which it's relationship with God and the world of his values are basic and constitutive. Secondly, we are even less able to take an adequate view of our own person in regard to the fact that it is our own since our method of Analysis debars is from experiencing responsibility for that persons conduct. The type of self-knowledge  is not rooted in any willingness to change. Such a neutrality of outlook being completely out of tune with the subject treated, precludes the exploration of the depths of personality and makes adequate self-knowledge impossible. The obsession with neutral approach brings in its train  a general disfiguration of what we pretend to describe faithfully. That neutral way of looking on things prevents us to a shadow counterpart of the real situation, devoid of the latter' inherent gravity."

  I believe what VH is pointing out , is that we can not look at ourselves in a filtered manner, where we try to water down our faults by comparing or judging ourselves with supposedly far weaker spiritual people , plus it's hard to truly look into ourselves and truly know where we are in our attitude and behavior.

Fruitful self-knowledge calls us to a confirmation with God

"The only fruitful self-knowledge, and the only true one, is that which grows out of man's self-confrontation with God.  Only in recognition of our metaphysical situation, only in awareness of our destiny and our vocation that we become truly cognizant of ourselves. Only the light of God and His challenge to us can open our eyes to all our shortcomings and deficiencies, impressing upon us the discrepancy between what we ought to be and what we are. We take an interest in what we are because we are because we are determined to become new men in Christ.  Here is no place for idle curiosity, nor for the egoistic fixation on oneself as a paramount theme.  It is for the sake of God that we would become better men; and because we would become so we inquire about our present state and condition."

 It is only through grace of God that we can see where we need to improve and how we can be attentive on our spirituality and progress of being like God.

Readiness to change renders self-knowledge fruitful

"For, referring all truth to God Who is the prime source and the epitome of Truth as such,we shall derive happiness from the knowledge of any important truth, however painful its content may be, since by the very fact of its possession we progress one step nearer towards God. We shall then experience self-knowledge as a first step towards the goal of our transformation, in that it indicates the foe we must fight most urgently.  We must appreciate it as a great gift of grace from God when He opens our eyes to the actual danger, and shows us where the battle has to be fought.  Obedience appears to us as a great and glorious thing; hence, we may believe ourselves in procession of the real willingness to obey.  We feel our heart aflame, with the splendid and touching beauty of humility and so we indulge in the fictitious belief that we are actually humble. "

In order for us to move closer to being like Christ , we need to have the knowledge to be obedient to God and His commandments, and of course the teachings of the church.  This requires grace from God to be humble in doing this , it's the only way that can help us avoid the dangers of falling and moving away from Christ.

Faith protects us from the despair that self-knowledge can sometimes bring

"Still, can we avoid becoming a prey to despondency, when we peer into the dark abysses of our failures? Will not our zeal abate, our vigor be paralyzed, when we see how remote we still are from our goal.  The true Christian, however, who lives by the Faith, will not be driven to such utter despair by self-knowledge, nor collapse under the weight of his own sins when sending their import and magnitude. In defiance of all his sins and all the darkness in him, he will say with St. Thomas Aquinas: "O Loving Pelican,Lord Jesus, wash me clean in Thy blood." He knows that he can accomplish nothing through his own power but everything in Christ. True self-knowledge is an ineluctable necessity for him who desires to be transformed in Christ.  Obedience to his spiritual director or his religious superior, above all, destined to guide him towards the acquisition of genuine self-knowledge and the freedom implied therein. In order to obtain a faithful portrait of himself he needs help of others. That is why he cannot dispense with the more objective vision of a spiritual director , of a religious superior, of any friend of great wisdom and piety."

We can not get too frustrated by our failures of moving closer to Christ, in fact St. John of the cross notes our spirituality progresses is like a ladder in where we can move up and down, the key is we keep moving, we can never or should give up moving or transform into Christ , no matter how many times we full into sin.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Transformation In Christ: Contrition

This is to continue from Von Hildebrand (VH) from "Transform into Christ" book on chapter two called "Contrition"

This chapter goes over in details what being contrite is with God and how we can be truly sorry for our sins.

"Confrontation of our own selves with God renders us conscious of our unworthiness and sinfulness.  Without this basic revocation of our offenses against God there can be no genuine surrender to Him. "  What VH is pointing out is we need to know that we are sinful.

Bad conscience is not the same as continue

"There exists a kind of bad conscience without being really penitent.  He is aware of acting badly and awareness disturbs his peace and deprives him of inner harmony." This is to point out we could have weak conscience  and want no conflict, like an ostrich putting his head in the sand.

Contrition requires a repudiation of our past sins

"True penitence means a definite revulsion from ones sins.  It means a disavowed of the past, a relinquishment of one's former position with its implications of sinning. Contrition implies that we not only deplore the sin we have committed but condemn it expressly, denouncing as it were. " VH points out we need to be truly ashamed of what we did was wrong when we sin.

Contrition involves our surrender to God's mercy

"Christian penitence, there is always present a positive relation to God , grafted on the negation of sin. Confiding in God's mercy which will open to us the path of reconciliation.
True penitence makes appeal to God's mercy, and solitcits from Him forgiveness of sin. Penitence by itself is unable to abolish the guilt." It states here even though we recognize we offended God this doesn't conclude we are automatically forgiven by default.

Christians contrition yearns for reconciliation with God

"While the hope of reconciliation with God and His for forgiveness of our guilt is not, properly speaking, an element of contrition. True penitence also implies a longing, for reconciliation with God, and a desire to  walk once more in the paths. Nor is man able to obtain reconciliation by his own force it can be achieved by God alone." We all seek for forgiveness of our sins , but we need to search how to be forgiven and once again we are not forgiven by default.

Contrition also renounces future sins

"Never less, penitence implies more than condemnation sins committed and the gesture of their renunciation.
The renunciation of sin even for regard to the future. Being blind to the necessity excepting for responsibility of their past misdeeds and claiming as it were a prescription  in regard to moral wrongs  they have not contained to a conscious with a relationship with of moral values not grasped of inexorable demand with emanates from the world."  We need to be accountable for our sins, period.

Contrition contributed to a change of heart

"Yet, while penitence in such as incapable of actually securing absolution from sin, it does posses (as it does) an objective efficacy on inward change, which is specific to it which has to substitute. Subjectively, however concerning the penitents own, state of conscious, that is to say he must be dominated by the feeling that without the abolition of his guilt even his change of heart as such would lack reality, and that all his desire for becoming another man would remain ineffectual unless his guilt be taken away first by the blood of Christ."  This states that because we are sorry for our sin and look for forgiveness, that in some way looking to change but need to follow through with it and recognize that it's through Jesus dying on the cross gives us the ability to reconciled.

Contrition involves the yearning for sanctification

"True penitence involves, furthermore, a burning desire not only for forgiveness of the guilt of sin but for purification and sanctification,as well as the belief in their accomplishment by the grace of God.  The prayer for pardon and for purification, and the resolve never again to separate ourselves from God in the future proceed therefrom. There also exists a passive forms of penitence which includes hope for God's mercy and pardon, but not for purification and sanctification. In his false humility, this kind of penitent considers himself so hopelessly sinful that he dismisses the belief in his emendation as presumptuous. It would seem to him that he can do no better than commend himself, in all his sinfulness, to the mercy of God,and endure all the misery of sin with patience.  For Luther knows no purification and sanctification but merely an on-imputation of our sins for the sake of Christ. This generates no resolution to begin a new life in Christ.
He who is filled with true penitence will not only say to God: "Turn away Thy face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities, " but continue thus:" Create a clean heart in me, O God: and Renee a right spirit within my bowels....Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation, and strengthen me with a perfect spirit." The true Christian, though mindful of the fact that left to himself he would fall again and again, also knows that in Baptism he has received from Christ a supernatural principle of holy life, and that through God's grace he shall and can become a new man. Contrition does not paralyze the Christian, nor does it deprive him of fortitude. In his act of penitence he will contemplate, not so much his own weakness as the merciful arms of God that are extended to receive him into His holiness. Contrition alone may thus melt our hearts so as to enable us to receive and preserve the imprint of a basic new orientation towards God. From contrition thus experienced there will arise in him the genuine and heroic determination to become a new man. He forms the resolution, cleansed of all illusions and conceived in holy sobriety, never again separate himself from God."  This is a big reflection on how we can not only look for forgiveness but praying for mercy is good, however we can't excuse ourselves for looking for formal forgiveness just because we feel we sin all the time it may seem impossible to be formally forgiven and that it's sufficient to trust God's mercy and assume you will be forgiven, this is not real penitence

Contrition is a form of radical self-surrender

"True penitence is that of radical self-surrender.  He surrenders himself in humble charity. "

Contrition awakens our soul in its depths

"Contrition causes us to withdraw from our peripheral interests and concentrate on the depths. It is in contrition that we respond to the infinite holiness of our absolute Lord, the eternal Judge. It imparts to the soul of man a unique character of beauty. For it is in contrition that the new fundamental attitude of a humble and reverent charity becomes dominant and manifest, that man abandons the fortress of pride and self-sovereignty." Recognizing our sin creates us to be more charitable.

"Persons who, while leading a correct life and avoiding all transgressions in the strict sense of the term, never come to achieve that full surrender to God which (in a humanity tainted with original sin) is possible in contrition alone. Such persons are anxious to keep God's commandments but they never discover the immense, unbridgeable abyss that separates the holiness of God from our sinfulness. Full self-surrender and the renunciation of all self-assertion(however hidden); the spiritual position of standing naked before God and throwing oneself altogether upon His mercy."  It is noted here that even if we are good following or observe the Ten Commandments, just like the rich man (Mark 10:17) we need to take the next step and full surrender ourselves and this can only be done by accepting our weaknesses and then knowing God is truly merciful.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Transformation In Christ - Readiness to Change Part 2

We continue on the first chapter " Readiness to
Change " by Von Hildebrand.

Natural readiness to change diminishes with age. "Only a love of change for its own sake, but as aspiration towards higher values: an eagerness for education, for enriching and ennobling oneself. Person enlivened by the virtual rhythm of youth, and you will find in him a certain forcefulness and daring which facilitate that aspiration towards higher things. When men become older and, within the framework of natural tendencies their characters and peculiarities undergo a process of solidification , the natural mobility. We can no longer expect them to revise their mentality and to re-educate themselves, for they are already cast in a rigid mold. The natural readiness to change is gone, its place is taken by the attitude of a person conscious of his maturity. The readiness to change, the qa like receptiveness towards Christ will tend not to vanish but to increase as man grows into a state of maturity.  This progress towards simplicity, which is part of the spirituals significance of advantage in age, I slimmed to a consolidation in Christ. Attainment of full maturity also implies eternal youth in a supernatural sense.  It implies that the readiness to change, the determination to become a new man and the unconditional willingness to crucify the old self should increase. "

 I believe here, VH is pointing out that the hungriness or drive to change is generally when we are younger where through our quest for knowledge and more importantly the truth. However, as for an older person, who is more settled in doesn't have the drive for change.  In other words you can't teach an old dog new tricks.

"Enhance our alert readiness to change towards greater proximity to God, so that His features may be engraved upon our souls. And this is equivalent to becoming more and more free from ourselves: ridding ourselves of everything which, though it be rooted in our nature.  Our readiness to put off our nature in order to put on Christ, constitutes the standard criterion of our religious progress.  When being privileged by God and drawn nearer to Him, we must ask ourselves: do we possess this readiness to change? And how far do we posses it?  Unless we can answer that question favorably, we are not in the right religious condition.  If I am really intent on becoming another man I will not claim the right to determine the limits between what can, and what cannot.  The readiness must be present, on our part, to be changed and shaped to an indefinite degree at the hands of God , wherever he chooses to intervene by the agency of our spiritual director or of religious superior."

Here VH goes further that it's a tall task to want to change as a new person , especially to be Christ like if we are not already.  It's because as a younger person can challenge themselves to improve knowing we have time to grow, however time is not something we control. However, as stated above, we need to progress, to be more committed to being close to God not by our word (prayer, attending mass), but also by action (being a good example to other, serving, charitable, etc).  The only real way we can try to do this, is to be coached by someone who is spirituality strong.

Spiritual continuity is consistent with readiness to change.  "There is no contradiction between the Christians readiness to change and the principle of moral continuity.  We remain aware of the ultimate unity of all truth and all values in God. We must keep in view and continue to recognize whatever valid truth we have seized.  The man who is prey to discontinuity accords an illegitimate priority to what happens to be present in his consciousness.  He neglects more important and more valid impressions for the sake of present ones.  He fails to preserve his contract with basic general truths and values beyond the range of mere present interest.  Continuity,then, consists in the twofold capacity to maintain our comprehension of basic truths, experience all things against a background of these truths, and to maintain particular aspects of great validity as against new ones which happen to be less substantial.  The selfsame motive which impels which impels the person with continuity to cling imperturbably to truth will equally commit him to be ready accept every new truth.  It implies, therefore, that the higher value should take precedence of the lower one.  In granting priority to a higher value, once it presents itself, we give proof of continuity."

I believe here that VH is noting that in order to make that extra step, to truly follow our Lord and transform, there has to be some kind of base in our spirituality, and so what we have absorbed from how we were raised or learned in the past,  must be kept and continued.

Continuity actually presupposes readiness to change.  "Continuity is a prime condition of spiritual growth, and even more of a transformation in Christ.  Only we must always remain changeable in the sense of remaining, upon each level securely attained, susceptible of ascent towards yet higher levels along the path of transformation in Christ. This requires our capacity to discern whether the new impression is really a more valid and relevant one. On the basis of continuity alone shall we able wisely and fruitfully to confront the new thing with the old so as to avoid falling back from a higher level to a lower one."

We must not at any time feel conformable at the state we are in our relationship with God or spirituality, we must always look to improve, or even at time get back if we have fallen down.

Readiness to change preserves true individuality.  "Now the readiness to change, as discussed here, refers in the first place to all the negative and ultimately spurious tendencies in our nature which oppose a barrier to our control by Christ. No denial of the person's particular nature as willed by God is implied in this transformation.  Best illustrated by the example of the saints. He no longer lives but Christ lives in him."

Lets face it , one way or another, we are not willing to let it be in "God's hands", we don't want to loose our personal control.  As noted, the saints let God in themselves, we all have to do the same also.

True vs. false individuality. "We have already seen, the uniqueness of every person is something to be carefully distinguished from what is commonly subsumed under the term individuality.  This so- called individuality originates from various factors, such as the experiences a man has undergone, the wounds that have been inflicted upon him; the environment in which he has lived, the education he has received.  The postulate of a readiness to change does not refer to individuality.  The essence of every human person supposes a unique and incommensurable task; it is destined to unfold and to operate in a direction inalienably proper to it."

This term "individuality" is used in other area's, such as for married people living so called married live, because they struggle to choose to love each other fully, it's a hard "task".  Same is our relationship with God because we were at times exposed to being #1, have our rights, everything should be about us, especially now the culture we live in.

False self-appraisers hinder readiness to change. "Two dangers which are naturally apt to arise.  People of certain type characterized by a proclivity towards spiritual depression. Such a person leaves unused the talents committed by Gods call.  People of this kind, when speaking of themselves, even are wont to deny the virtues they naturally posses; such is their lack of confidence.  They are bent on lowering their stature as much as possible.  The inverse type of deviation is exemplified by the man who, while not lacking a certain Elam, refuses to take account of his limitations and is thus driven to magnify his stature artificially. Zeal is nourished at heart by pride. He misjudges the limitations of the natural talents which God has lent him. These attitudes, that of undue depression, and that of forced zeal, to put it briefly, are reprehensible.  The supernatural readiness to change steers clear of both these dangers.  While he is conscious of his wretchedness, he will not sink into resignation; for he possess a supernatural zeal for perfection.  The state of fluidity in relation to Christ, and readiness to leave behind everything, particularly one's own self."

It's clear that at times, we don't feel worthy being as Christians, then we don't feel we can be more active in our spirituality, thus believing we can't bring others closer to Christ, or even our selves. St Paul has made this clear, through our weaknesses, God grace is sufficient.  Also, look who Jesus choose to be his Apostles, fishermen, tax collector and a traitor.  No matter what our status is, God can see in our hearts and use it for his will.

Fidelity to error in not a virtue. "Adherence to errors is a bad thing. Fidelity is but a manifestation of that continuity by virtue of which we pay consideration to the immutability and the eternal significance of truth and of the world of values. There is only one fidelity to which we are absolutely committed: that is, fidelity towards God."

Again, we must be committed to God , no matter how much we sin.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Transformation In Christ - Readiness to Change Part 1

Welcome, starting first chapter review of Transformation in Christ, but Von Hildebrand. I have quoted parts of key area's that struck me and group them together, then done my narrative reflection, I will refer the author as VH.

It starts with that all Christians "yearning to become a new man in Christ, and in inner readiness to put off the old man".  Keep in mind book is written in the 1940's so there is no political correctness, just simply Von Hildebrand that all of us is one way or another looking to deepen our spirituality and relationship with God.  He goes further "morally aspiring men are conscious of the necessity of purposeful self-education" and "revelation of the Old Testament alone suffices to make believer aware of man's metaphysical situation".  So we all need to study our faith closer and just reading the Old Testament, itself gives us the awareness of how we can improve our relationship with God. "Within him lives a deep yearning for the Redeemer, who by divine force will take the guilt of sin and bridge the gulf that separates the human race from God".

God calls us to change. "The New Testament, however, reveals to us a call which far transcends that yearning.  Though we receive this new life in Baptism as a free gift of God, it may not flourish unless we cooperate.  A strong desire must fill us to become different beings to mortify our old selves and re-arises as new men in Christ. Our surrender to Christ implies a readiness to let Him fully  transform us, without setting any limit to the modification of our nature under His influence."  These sentences gathered together from several paragraphs indicate that even though we have been given a gift of new life, we must retain it continuously and always looking to improve our faith.

Readiness to change vs natural optimism. "The difference between the Christians and the natural idealist is obvious . The idealist is suffused with optimism concerning human nature as such.  He overlooks our impotence to erase a moral guilt. It prevents him from understanding even the necessity of basic renewal, let alone the full presence of such virtue - holiness." For today in our time , this is more noticeable, from education to media, idealism has taken a whole new outlook and has stepped up to put all our ideals above God's, from claiming a woman has a right to her own body to try to eliminate Gun violence by reducing gun control.  I'm not a gun activist, but I can clearly see controlling or restricting is not going to eliminate violence, especially terrorism, but we first have to crush the evil we allow, like divorce, contraception, abortion to truly combat violence.

"He has in mind a relative change only; an evolution immanent to nature.  The objective is not to be reborn : to become radically another man he merely want to perfect himself within the framework of his disposition. A second point if difference closely connected with this . The idealist readiness to change is aimed at certain details or aspects only, never at his character as a whole, the Christian, however, is intent on becoming another main in all things. We must submit to supernatural transformation, by the new principle of supernatural life conveyed to him by Baptism..  Thirdly, the man of natural moral endeavor will always stick to the firm ground of nature." VH is challenging Christians to be above what the secular world, in this case the media for most part so we can elevate ourselves closer to God's level, we cannot onlky depend on the nature around us, the immediate environment no matter how perfect it seems, it is really a mirage, kind of like the movie "Matrix"

"Not all posses the radical readiness of change. For a transformation in Christ, is not actually possessed by all Catholic believers. Its is, rather, a distinctive trait of those who have grasped the full import of the Call, and without reserve have decided upon an imitation of Christ.  Many religious Catholics whose readiness to change is merely a conditional one. They lack the will and the readiness to become a new man all in all. They prefer to evade the act of metanoia; a true conversion of the heart. Their conscience permits them to remain entrenched in their self-assertion. For example, they do not feel obligation of loving their enemies. They maintain as self evident their claim to the world's respect, they dread being looked upon fools of Christ and anxious to stand justified in the eyes of the world." It is clear here that VH is pointing out to truly transform ourselves to follow God is not a selective process, there are no conditions we can choose to follow God, we are either all in or not.  This is challenging, but God certainly gives us the opportunity and time to do this.  It is not something all can do at a immediate pace,

Transformation in Christ requires unqualified readiness to change. "readiness to become another man and having heard the call ' Follow me', to do so , he is not required literally to relinquish everything in the sense of evangelical counsels: this would be in answer to another, more particular call. Readiness to change, taken in this sense, is the first prerequisite for the transformation in Christ. We must be determined not to entrench ourselves in our nature. We must fully experience the bliss of flying into Christs arms, who will transform us by His light beyond any measure we might ourselves intend." It's here VH gives us sense of relief in terms of a calling, as not everyone is called to be directly servants of God like the clergy, but we do need to be above what the World promotes today as how we should live, but more importantly , what kind of relationship we have with God.

Moral progress requires unqualified readiness to change. "Merely the condition for embarking on our journey towards our supernatural goal. It also constitutes the permanent basis for continual progress on our road. Until we have reached the safe harbor of the status finales, souls will rest unchangeably in the boundless bliss of communion with God. Discourses for Mixed Congregations, Cardinal Newman points out the danger inherent in believing oneself to have attained a satisfactory degree of spiritual progress-now matter how high a degree it actually is, example of the saints teaches us that spiritual progress implies no hardening of the fluidity.  In his earthly life the Christians must never let the process of dying unto himself and rising again in Christ come to a standstill: he should always preserve that inner fluidity which is an ultimate expression of the situation implied in the status viae.
The necessity of what is here described as readiness to change applies by no means only to him who has gone through a conversion and even to such as have never definitely and gravely trespassed against God's commandments.  They, too must be willing to rise above their nature and hold themselves ready for coinage by the spirit of Christ." It is here that VH is declaring our relationship with God cannot be static, it must always be evolve, even if there appears to be setbacks.  We can never accept that our spirituality has reached a plateau, including being so called spiritual high. Until we reach heaven, as St. Paul stated, its until we finish the race.

Supernatural readiness to change vs malleability. "State if fluidity as such, general disposition to change in no matter what direction. The change implied in the continual process of dying unto ourselves, being reformed by Christ. Rather it involves a firm standing in the face of all mundane influences, a character of impermeability in regard to them. That fluidity in our relationship with Christ is anything but a state characterized by a continuous flow of change in the sense that the charge as such be credited wit a value of its own".   I struggled with this part, malleability is defined as capable of being shaped, pressed and formed.  So it appears VH is pointing out that with all the forming we have gone through in our life, that is things we experienced in life through repetitive tasks,  we can't apply that same method in our relationship with God.

Man is called to the unchageableness of God. "As Christians we give our worship not to change to the Unchangeable God.  Christians we direct our lives towards the moment in which there will be change no longer. We deny our love to the heaving rhythm of life.  Nor can we be intoxicated by any communion with Nature in a pantheistic sense.  For we do not believe ourselves to be part of Nature.  The blissful message of the Gospel that we are called to participate in the eternal unchangeableness of God." It is here we must keep hold of the core values of our faith in God, they cannot be changed and be caught up some of the pleasures or materialistic things we experience, I guess good example is having my Starbuck coffee time and just sitting outside and enjoying the nature, feel all is alright and I'm not going to anyway interfere with my pleasant moment, even if someone else is in need of help.  It's here we put ourselves above serving our neighbor to enjoy that moment, and thus not being good Christians.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Transformation in Christ Series Recollection: Intro

I have been reading the book "Transformation in Christ" by Dietrich Von Hildebrand.  Not sure how I had this book, don't recall purchasing it, and my wife doesn't recall getting it.  So I assume I got it from my Father's place who passed away several years.  I started to read it, it's a very rich and challenging book to read.  The language is advanced for a person like me, but when catching some of the things that Von Hildebrand points out on how we need to transform in Christ, it's really moving and spiritual, It's intellectual, but in some of his writing, just plain simple and is clear in getting his message across.

Von Hildebrand was a theologian of the Catholic Church, he is not canonized saint but one Saint for sure has read and admired his writing, which was St. John Paul II, in addition Pope Benedict XII and Pope Pius has pointed out some of his writings.  He was also from Germany and was one of the Catholic writers who criticized Hitler before his time in power in Germany, because of that, he had to flee from Germany and temporary moved to different countries around Europe.  However, when Germany  was in process taking over each of the countries he had stayed in, he then eventually fled to United States and became a professor  at Jesuit University in New York area.  After he retired from teaching, he wrote some other books.  This particular book was written after World War II.  Von Hildebrand wife;  Alice, is also has a PhD, and so you can image the discussions they had during dinner time.

The book covers the following topics: Readiness to Change, Contrition, Self-Knowledge, True Consciousness, True Simplicity, Recollection and Contemplation, Humility, Confidence in God, Striving for Perfection, True Freedom, Blessed are they who hunger for Justice, Holy Patience, Blessed are the peacemakers, Holy Meekness, Holy Mercy, Holy Sorrow, Holy Sobriety, and True Surrender of Self.

My goal is to go over each of these subjucts that are pointed out in this book in the simplist manner as possible.

Also, EWTN also have a summary of his book "Transformation in Christ"

Will start with "Readiness to Change" by next week

Thursday, January 21, 2016

So much for being of good cheer

For some reason today on my way to work while ofdaying the rosary and reflecting on one of the mysteries I had challenged myself to be patient and keep a smile to any coworker for what ever reason today at my job.  Not sure why I thought I could do it of all days but looking back it must be after having a good workout in the gym and being relaxed after spending some time in the spa.

Maybe I figured with some materialistically concept I could improve spiritually.  We are of course called to be charitable and patience with other's.  Its one of the cardinal virtues, which is the virtue of Fortitude which is noted on the CC 1808:70
' In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.'

Also as noted a virtue is to do good and more specifically the theological virtue directly ties what I was trying to do today. CC 1822
'Charity is the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God.'

Well it turned out that I was totally reversed in my behaviours of being charitable of my coworkers or neighbor and of being "good cheer". In fact I was rude for most part, simply I let my pride take over especially in a embarrassing argument of me complaining doing reduntant work on an issue which was resolved without my knowledge.  I had completely missed that window of oppurtuniuty to be heroic.

What happened, well looking back, I didn't do much praying as I should and was more dependent on taking the challenge as doing something I could conquer for myself instead of just simply looking to improve my relationship with God through my neighbor.  However I hope through this reflection I can just try again knowing God is for sure patient and charitable with me.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Are we sleeping in our faith , are we alert to Gods presence

Today's reading is about Samuel sleeping and hearing God call to him. (1 SM 3:1-10).

How often we sleep with our actions or behaviours toward God in our relationship to him.  Are we too tired to listen or pray to God?   Instead of responding to God's will or going to him with our concerns, are we like Samuel and going to other people for consolation or affirmation; or worst yet going to materialistic vices such as being totally junked up with social networking, or leaning to media for relief or distraction from our problems?  We know God is there for us in the Eucharist or present via adoration or in a chapel where he is in a tabernacle its here where we can say like Samuel when he realized God was reaching out to him; "Speak Lord, for your servant is listening".

Do we go to him for our needs like the apostles did in Mk 1:29.  It makes me chuckle a little bit that Peter would ask Jesus to cure his mother-in-law, one could only imagine that Peter was respecting his wife or he had a really god relationship with her, but the point is he wasn't afraid to ask the Lord for help, it's during these moments that Peter and rest of the apostles that they are fully awake of the Lords relationship with them.

However what happens during the Garden of Gethsemane, the apostles fall a sleep (Mat 26:40)  It's here the apostles decide their comfort is more important than our Lord, Jesus even points out that they would lead to temptations and qoutes "The spirit is willing , but the flesh is weak", and so we know from here because Peter is a asleep and not attentive, that he does everything wrong such as slashing the guards ear to denying Jesus in a matter of hours.

So let us reflect on how important we shouldn't be sleeping in our faith by lack of prayer, good works, doing our daily tasks well, going to mass , etc. Let's not only depend of the comforts of the world. Otherwise just like Peter in a short time we can sin and loose that relationship with God, but also knowing we can make that only temporary because God loves us and is willing to take us back no matter what.


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

How can we really love as Christians

How do we as Christians be truly Christians or even Legionaries. We do the following:

We must love God with our whole heart and with our whole soul and with our whole mind; and our neighbour as ourself (Mt 22:37-39),

However as the Legion handbook notes:

It has fallen on many ears that are determined to be deaf. It would be evidence of this gravely incorrect point of view to regard the legionary standards as a sort of sanctity, intended for chosen souls only. For these standards are only elementary Christian ones. It is not easy to see how one can descend much below them and at the same time claim to be rendering to our neighbour the active love which is enjoined by the Great Precept, and which is part of the very love of God; so much so, that if it be omitted, the Christian idea is mutilated. “We must be saved together. We must come to God together. What would God say to us if some of us came to Him without the others?” (Péguy)
That love must lavish itself on our fellow-men without distinction, individually and corporately, not as a mere emotion but in the form of duty, service, self-sacrifice. The legionary must be an attractive embodiment of this true  pd201

In summary we must rely on each other, but to do that we need to first love God, then we can love one another.

Today's scripture readings is about love, and what love should be; that we should learn how to love one another and love God.  Its was St. John calls perfect love.

God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.  In this is love brought to perfection among us,
that we have confidence on the day of judgement
because as he is, so are we in this world.
There is no fear in love,
but perfect love drives out fear
because fear has to do with punishment,
and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love.
1 jn 4:17-18
So love is contrasted with fear (1 Jn 4:18), and the antidote to fear is prayer. Our Lord Jesus Christ teaches us that love increases through a relationship with God. Prayer is a conversation with God, with us doing most of the listening and God doing most of the speaking.
What do we fear of? In this case going to hell out of punishment of not obeying God's commands most likely, at least that is my fear sometimes.  St. John point’s out that we can't focus on fear which then will limit us to just doing things to avoid punishment and then just get by with the minimum. For example, it's like going to school and getting C's and D's just so we can graduate, but if we really care about furthering ourselves for the future and please our parents, then we go for better grades.  Similar is with our relationship with God. 
However, there has to be some fear in order to start loving, just like a child fears there parents out of respect of not doing everything it pleases to avoid punishment.  
Example: Like a child eating all the cookies from the cookie jar knowing that it was told by the parents to not eat cookies without permission otherwise there will punishment; and so the child respects the parents and later on it learns to love by sacrificing itself to not give in on eating the cookies from the jar even knowing it could get away with it.  
There can't be this love where we have no fear of offending others and just think about our needs only and not be considerate to those around close to us, in other words taking advantage of the situation and loving to gratify yourself knowing that person will stand for your "so called" weaknesses" and not hold yourself accountable. 
In so many ways this would be all of us with God. We sin but know he will always love us, and will forgive us no matter what, which is true. However, what if we don't have that moment to ask for forgiveness, the time passes, what then. Well we are not with God no more.

“Take away from love the fullness of self surrender, the completeness of personal commitment, and what remains will be a total denial and negation of it.” 
“Love consists of a commitment which limits one's freedom - it is a giving of the self, and to give oneself means just that: to limit one's freedom on behalf of another.”
John Paul II, Love and Responsibility

Friday, January 1, 2016

The year of fear or not

Is this now the year of fear - 2016? Or have we left it behind - 2015

Today is the first day of 2016.  We leave a year with so many incidents of killings from terrorists, war , plane accidents; Paris shootings (twice), San Bernardino, Russian and Malaysia planes shot-down through terrorist bomb or missile from war, the list goes on.

We live in fear of someone coming in any time and shoot us, we live in doubt through our economy because the amount of debt we have accrued.

We live in fear of loosing some through suicide because of social media and online bullying

We live in fear of loosing now the sacrament of marriage or what the institution of marriage is which helps protect the core families we did have; but now put our social society in doubt now through civilly allowing homosexual marriages.  It's only matter of time the church will be pressured to marry or recognize these false unions.

We live in fear of now how are politicians take advantage of all what has been mentioned above and string us  like guitar strings and causing smoke screens, but not realizing the real needs we need from our government leaders; which is simply to be like St. Thomas Moore, serve the people justly.

I can't imagine if I was a person with no faith what we be going through my mind reflecting these fears, but since I'm a follower of Christ, I recall what he has said:

Mathew 6:25

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat [or drink], or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they?o 27Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?* 28Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. 29But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them. 30* If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ 32All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33But seek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness,* and all these things will be given you besides. 34Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil."

An then also from John

"Do not love the world or the things of the world.
If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
For all that is in the world,
sensual lust, enticement for the eyes, and a pretentious life,
is not from the Father but is from the world.
Yet the world and its enticement are passing away.
But whoever does the will of God remains forever."

We must redirect our selves past the physical nature of ourselves; like loosing our body or spouse and children bodies, our homes, our cars, belongings, money, etc.

We can't be fixated on these things, we can do what we can to take care of our bodies and well being of those near us, protect ourselves, increase our security for the future of our family needs.  We can't however depend soley on them, we must look to better protect our souls first and those around us who we care about; we do this by example by being charitable, pray, patience and loving.   If we are able to accomplish this , then all the fears above wouldn't then overtake us and would be secondary.

In short, we need to trust God's will and be present in the day, we will have plenty of times we will fail, but plenty of times to restart.  Only can we do this by constant prayer and serving those around us.  So this is no ordinary New Years resolution; we were attempt to do it and give up and forget about it, but this is a resolution we need to make every day.