Monday, 3 September 2007

Fr. Jim Carney´s EIGHT-DAY RETREAT FOR RELIGIOUS

EIGHT-DAY RETREAT FOR RELIGIOUS
by
Rev. James Guadalupe Carney, S.J.

The following are excerpts from Fr. Carney’s notes for giving retreats, the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, to members of women’s religious congregations, apparently written in 1966. The priest’s theology of the Mass, sacraments, Church, and Trinity is mainstream, traditional--but by no means dry or bookish or abstract. This theology and spirituality enkindled the fire of love and hope and courage in his heart, which he enthusiastically shares with his listeners.

Father James (Guadalupe) Carney had worked in Honduras for 18 years as a Jesuit (member of the Missouri Province). His defense of human rights and his support of the farmers' organizing efforts resulted in his deportation in 1979. In 1983 he returned to Honduras as a chaplain to an armed revolutionary column; shortly before doing so, he left the Society of Jesus in order to avoid implicating the order in the action he was about to take. His intention was to ask for readmission later.
The group was captured by the Honduran army, and Father Carney disappeared. The Honduran military suggested that he had starved to death in the mountains.

3 SAMPLE EXCERPTS FROM HIS RETREAT NOTES

“We must make sure our abandonment is practical by living in the present moment with its little crosses, not just theoretical, dream-world abandonment to some future big crosses, martyrdom, etc. We must conform our wills in the little humiliations, e.g., resulting from forgetfulness, or of spilling soup on clothes, or being misunderstood by our neighbor, etc...”

“The horrible injustices in the world are the greatest sins of today and of these past centuries. God gave the riches of the world for all people, and there are enough riches in the world for all; but they are so unjustly distributed, as the popes have said, that now there is a small class of those who control and use the riches of the world, while the great mass of people live in poverty and misery.”

“Then I found Christ. I didn’t understand it, but I tried to deny myself and live for Him. I gave up the world to be a religious and give myself to Christ. I left the pleasures of the world. I began to die to myself. And lo--I began to find peace and real happiness and real satisfaction. I found a new life, and I am one of the few men I’ve met who can say he is happy. ‘To live is Christ,’ I testify.”

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PREFACE

Father James (Guadalupe) Carney had worked in Honduras for 18 years as a Jesuit (member of the Missouri Province). His defense of human rights and his support of the farmers' organizing efforts resulted in his deportation in 1979. In 1983 he returned to Honduras as a chaplain to an armed revolutionary column; shortly before doing so, he left the Society of Jesus in order to avoid implicating the order in the action he was about to take. His intention was to ask for readmission later.
The group was captured by the Honduran army, and Father Carney disappeared. The Honduran military suggested that he had starved to death in the mountains.

Five years later, a former sergeant of the Honduran army, Florencio Caballero, told The New York Times (June 5, 1988) that he personally had interrogated Carney and that the priest had been tortured, executed and perhaps thrown from a helicopter.
The Honduran daily, La Tribuna, on Jan. 20, 2002, had a full-page article reporting that Lucas Aguilera, a leader of the Christian Democrat Party, stated that he saw Fr. Carney alive in a military jail in Nueva Palestina in 1983, after Fr. Carney had been captured.

The CIA has stated that it cannot rule out the possibility that Father Carney was captured and killed by the Honduran military. In recent years thousands of pages of “declassified” documents have been released by the U.S. government, but about half the material is blacked out.

For more information about Father Carney and the investigation of his disappearance, please contact:
Father Joe Mulligan, SJ
Managua, Nicaragua
Email: mull@ibw.com.ni

The following are excerpts from Fr. Carney’s notes for giving retreats, the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, to members of women’s religious congregations, apparently written in 1966. The priest’s theology of the Mass, sacraments, Church, and Trinity is mainstream, traditional--but by no means dry or bookish or abstract. This theology and spirituality enkindled the fire of love and hope and courage in his heart, which he enthusiastically shares with his listeners.

Being open to the workings of the Spirit in the church and the world, Fr. Carney´s understanding of Christ and of the Christian´s responsibility in society developed over the years since 1966, as can be seen in his autobiography, To Be a Revolutionary (HarperCollins, 1985), completed just before his disappearance in 1983. The book can be purchased for $9.00 (including postage) from the Communication Center #1, 214 South Meramec Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63105. The check, payable to Communication Center #1, should be sent with the order. The book is also listed on www.Amazon.com

For Jim Carney in these retreat notes, the Holy Spirit is always the “Holy Spirit of Love”; Christ is almost always the Body of Christ, the Church, the people; the Eucharist is Christ’s Body given to us as food to nourish and strengthen us to be His Body in the world. We can feel Jim’s love of God and commitment to Christ, the foundation of his strong commitment to the poor and to social justice (themes which he develops in these notes after establishing the theological groundwork).
Readers who are mainly interested in Fr. Carney’s message of social justice may wish to go directly to the section called “Hidden Life” which begins on p. 6 or “Apostles Today” on p. 9. However, in order to know Jim Carney as a person, it is important to read the first pages of his retreat notes, in which he gives testimony to his profound Christian faith.
He probably never imagined that his notes would be published one day, but we (his relatives and friends) feel that he would not object to our desire to share his spirituality with others.

In 1978 Jim wrote some reflections on building the Kingdom of God on earth, the role of the Church in that task, and methods of developing Christian Base Communities for that purpose in Honduras. We present this 8-page document after these Notes for giving the Spiritual Exercises.

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Preface in his notes:

Come, O Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of thy faithful, and enkindle in them the fire of Thy divine Love.
Send forth Thy Holy Spirit, O Father, and our hearts shall be remade, and Thou shall renew the face of the earth.
Let us pray: O Father, who by the light of Thy Holy Spirit didst instruct the hearts of Thy faithful, grant us, by Thy same Holy Spirit, a love and relish of what is right and just, and a constant enjoyment of His Divine comforts; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Act of Abandonment (after Brother Charles of Jesus Foucauld), recited together rhythmically:
--Father, I abandon myself into Your hands;
do with me as You will.
–For whatever You do, I thank You.
I am ready for all, I accept all.
–Let only Your will be done in me, as in all your creatures,
and I’ll ask nothing else, my Lord.
–Into Your hands I commend my soul;
I give it to You, Lord, with the love of my heart.
–For I love you, my God, and so need to give,
To surrender myself into Your hands with a trust beyond all measure,
–Because You are my Father.


FIRST DAY
Abandonment to Divine Providence

...How can I abandon myself into the hands of my loving Father, as a little child, unless I am prepared to accept all His providence has planned for me, even to being crucified with Christ?
...In the infinite resources of His power and wisdom He easily finds a way to get good out of evil. From my own experience I know how God has even gotten good out of my sins--to make me humble. Look at how humble Peter became after his terrible sin of denying Christ.
...But besides detachment from creatures, and a great faith, and a great trust in God, the most important ingredient in abandonment to divine providence is a great love of God. For it is the property of love to unite the person intimately with the beloved. Love of God unites my will with the divine good-pleasure. And also love alone can elevate us to the height of virtue needed for the perfect detachment and deep faith and confidence required for abandonment, for this requires a real death to self. For this only a love “strong as death” suffices. It is love that makes us forget self, give all to the beloved without counting the cost, without reserve. It wants only to please the well-beloved.
“The love of Jesus Christ,” says St. Alphonsus, “makes us indifferent to everything. We desire nothing that is pleasing to ourselves, everything that is pleasing to God. We are just as well satisfied to be employed in small things as in great, to have what is disagreeable as what is pleasant: it is enough for us that we are pleasing God, and all is well.”

God’s world plan, then, is called divine providence. Abandonment to God’s providence is an attitude of general and tranquil expectation before the event, and once God’s will of good-pleasure has been declared, a loving, confident and filial submission. But we must make sure our abandonment is practical by living in the present moment with its little crosses, not just theoretical, dream-world abandonment to some future big crosses, martyrdom, etc. We must conform our wills in the little humiliations, e.g., resulting from forgetfulness, or of spilling soup on clothes, or being misunderstood by our neighbor, etc...
Just as God is hidden in the Holy Eucharist as Sacrament, so too He is present, though hidden, by His will and loving Providence, in the Sacrament of the Present Moment.


Grace

The same Holy Spirit of Love which unites Father and Son-Jesus lives in me, unites me to God–Rom 5,5; 1 John 3,1: really children of God, Family of God–we are brothers and sisters with the same Holy Spirit of Love in each of us to help us love one another.
You know that Jesus was completely guided by the Holy Spirit of Love. The Holy Spirit wants to live this same life of love in me, reproduce Christ in me, make me like Christ by guiding my life too. So I can say with St. Paul: “I live, now not I, but Christ lives in me.” It is by Christ’s Holy Spirit in me, trying to direct each and every free choice that I make, that Christ lives in me.

Sin

Now we have to see how free creatures ruin God’s beautiful plan of love, reject our Father’s invitations to love.
... Jesus came as Light of the world. St. John tells us that Jesus, the Light, made the appalling discovery that people loved darkness more than the Light because their works were evil. Jesus Himself said: “They have hated with open eyes both Me and My Father.”
How did Jesus respond to this rejection by the world of His truth and His love? He had a twin reaction: those curses, indignation against cities, against the Pharisees, the hypocrites, the scribes: “Woe to you, brood of vipers.” And the rich: “Woe to you, rich, you have your consolation in this world.”
But at the very same time Jesus has another reaction, that of compassion. This comes out when he speaks over the city of Jerusalem in the 19th chapter of Luke....
Yet when He spoke these words of indignation, there were tears streaming down His cheeks, the gospel tells us. Indignation, yes, but also a compassion unto tears fulfilling the prophet’s words: “In the very midst of Thy anger, thou wilt remember mercy.”

...Jesus gave many more examples of how our sins and imperfections affect His Sacred Heart. Let’s just look, lastly, at the beautiful parable of the prodigal son. [Here Fr. Carney describes the experience of both sons.]
... The elder son is a common enough type. Typical of many religious, I’m afraid. He is the conformist. He does what he is supposed to do, puts in his time on the job. And yet, when he speaks, he reveals himself inwardly as jealous, bitter, and ignorant–altogether unfilial, not like a son at all.
Beneath his cloak of conformity, there was sin. The essential thing was missing. This boy had no heart, no love, no joy, no gratitude–none of the things that his father was looking for. Yet his father speaks to him in some of the most beautiful words in the New Testament, which are also a rebuke: “My son, thou art always at my side. And everything that I have is already thine.”
... To close the meditation on sin, St. Ignatius says we should kneel before the crucifix.... This is my God on the cross before me. Here He is. And in His sight I am to ask myself three questions: “What have I done for Christ? What am I doing for Christ? What shall I do for Christ?


SECOND DAY
Chastity (for nuns)
...
You are married, you know, yes you, you married Jesus Christ the day you took your vows.... And with your whole heart you handed yourself over to Jesus [here Fr. Carney crossed out Jesus and pencilled in “the whole Christ, Head and members, and to the Church.”] You wanted to give Him your whole heart....

THIRD DAY
Incarnation

Jesus was entirely directed by the Holy Spirit of Love in him. He had complete single-mindedness, simplicity. We have to be like Christ. This singleness of purpose-- “return all to the father”--gave unity and integrity to Christ’s life; His life was all-of- a-piece. For Christ, from the beginning to the end , there was a work, a mission to be accomplished, a way to be walked, and Christ was always on the way “to the Father.” He said in the beginning: “… behold I come…to do Thy will, O God.” Right up to His last breath: “Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit. It is consummated; I have accomplished my purpose.”
From this great driving purpose in Christ’s life, there flowed His great energy. Where there is lack of purpose, there is lack of energy, and boredom comes. Where singleness of purpose exists, it is exemplified by energy that drives one forward. Look at the life of any saint–your own founder, for instance. This is the secret of sanctity--the desire, the ideal, the singleness of purpose that drives one on to self-sacrifice: “ to go to the Father with Christ, through Christ, in Christ.”

And from this singleness of purpose and resultant energy there flows a cheerfulness, which was so characteristic of Christ and of the first Christians. And also a great peace of soul: I am in Christ and with Christ, and through Christ in his Holy Spirit of Love I’m going to the Father. “What can separate me from the love of Christ?”
This is Christ’s gospel: the “good news,”which we have to tell to all people. The angel said to the shepherds, “ I bring you news of great joy…”
Jesus didn’t become man and it’s over; He is still becoming man. But now risen, He develops His identity with human nature until only at the Parousia will He be fully man. We are now His fulfillment, pleroma, building up, developing the whole Church.

Acts 9,3-6; Mt 25,40; 1Cor.12,12-27; Eph.1,22-23; Jn.15,1;6,57-58;17,21-26.
Explain all these texts with them reading them, stressing not only oneness with Christ, having His life through his Holy Spirit of Love, but stress our union with each other. The body has many different members according to the graces the Holy Spirit gives each. Each cell is different, but all necessary. When you criticize a person for being ignorant or something, you are criticizing Divine Providence who made him that way.
The only supernatural life I live is the universal life of the whole Mystical Body and organism. What goes on in me is part of the whole, just as what goes on in an organ like the stomach is part of the whole organism. Seeing God in all things means principally seeing Him in my brothers and sisters--seeing Christ in all people, accepting all persons as they are, accepting divine Providence in them. And whatever I do or think of them, I do or think about Christ. They are Christ prolonged, a part of Christ.

1 Cor 12,26: “If one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members share its joy.” [v. 27: “You, then, are the body of Christ. Every one of you is a member of it.”]
Seeing Christ in all people = finding God in all things. How is Christ in all people? How is He in me? By His Holy Spirit, directing my free choices. I am Christ to a certain degree. A saint is all Christ as much as he/she can be, completely directed by His Holy Spirit: “I live, now not I, but Christ in me.” So what there is of Christ in me, the grace in me, is lovable; the same goes for all people.

Christ’s Holy Spirit is working in all, even in those who are sinners, trying to convert them–even in pagans who don’t know Christ, trying to convert them. I can’t judge who is a live member of the Mystical Body and who is a child of Satan, so I must assume all people are in the state of grace. At least God wants all to be. And so I love all people as my brothers and sisters.
The Mystical Body started out small, grew, and will grow--till it reaches the full stature of the complete Christ....

Hidden Life

Let us meditate on the baby that Mary gave to the world, lying on dirty straw in a feedbox in a dirty cave used as a stable for dirty sheep. The poor ignorant shepherds are still kneeling there with us, when the baby Jesus begins to cry.
And so, let us begin this meditation with the contemplation which St. Augustine tells us was his favorite contemplation. When the baby cries Mary picks him up and begins to nurse him. Yes, sitting there on some dirty straw on the dirt floor of the cave, right in front of us all without any shame at all. Only for Americans is it a little strange or shocking to watch a mother nurse a baby at her breast. For 9/10 of the world it is the most natural and beautiful everyday sight. So we continue to kneel there with the poor shepherds.

The beautiful scene and the Holy Spirit of love living in us should help us to understand this wonderfully contradictory scene which He in His Divine Providence planned to teach us many lessons. This little baby is the infinite God, the infinite Majesty, all-powerful —here helpless? This baby so poor that he is born in a dirty cave is the King of the Universe. These dirty, ignorant, poor shepherds and farmers are His friends, His court? This young 15-year-old girl in bare feet, sitting on the floor is His immaculate mother, the queen of all hearts? This creature living from her very body -- her creator? Contemplate the scene as much as you can.
Let us learn more deeply this lesson Christ insists on teaching us in every phase of His whole life, namely that His way is the way of poverty and humility. And He is the way, the truth and the life. Open to Philippians 2,5-11. Our way is Christ; we must take up our cross and follow Him, obedient unto death or crucifixion.

The second scene teaches us the way of Christ, of poverty and humility in His hidden life of 30 years. Let's visit their tiny house in Nazareth when Jesus is about twelve, Mary would be a beautiful, fully developed woman of 28, and Joseph about 35. There we are at Nazareth, a tiny village lost in the hills of Palestine, a colony of the Roman Empire. The people here are real hillbillies, ignorant, simple, honest, dirty, joyful, loving, poor, dirt poor. They live in small cottages like the adobe houses of the Mexicans with dirt floors. Usually one room which the family shares with the pig, the chickens, and the dog. That's the way almost all of the villages in the poor countries of the world are still today. And that's the way the little village in Palestine was.

I never knew about Jesus, Mary and Joseph really till I went to Latin America and saw and lived the kind of poor life that about 80% of the world still live, the life of the masses of people which has hardly changed since the time of Christ You know that 2/3 of the world today is hungry, never getting enough to eat. And we religious? Jesus, Mary and Joseph were of this mass of poor; Jesus chose to be one of the masses of poor of the world, not of the middle or upper classes which lived in the big cities in his day too, the tiny class of well-to-do surrounded by the great mass of people living in poverty, insecure about tomorrow's meals.
We religious are the only ones who freely choose, like Christ, to be poor—poor with Christ poor. But 80% of the world is actually poor like Christ was actually poor, while we with the vow of poverty to imitate Christ not only in poverty of spirit but to be really, actually poor with him, we are of the 20% who are secure materially, who do not have to worry about where our food will come from tomorrow. We live often enough in palace-like buildings in many high schools and colleges. We are working with the middle class and upper class of the Catholics in general, while Jesus gave as a sign to the disciples of St. John the Baptist that he was the Christ the fact that "the poor have the gospel preached to them."

That's Christ's way. He went to the poor and lived as one of them, one of the masses, not one of the privileged class to whom the poor have to more or less bow down. Every one is supposed to bow down to us religious and respect us because we have a habit on; we expect special treatment and special privileges. That is not Christ's way. There wouldn't be any communism in the world today, if the priests and religious had really gone to the poor, been poor like Christ. Pope Pius XI said it: "the greatest scandal of the 19th century was the loss of the masses of working people to the church."
Poverty of spirit, detachment from earthly goods, is indeed the most important thing in our vow of poverty and without it, the vow isn't worth anything; but for me poverty of spirit is for all Christians, while the evangelical counsel of poverty means actual poverty like God was: "if you would be perfect go sell what you have and give it to the poor, and come follow me"; but following God means that "foxes have their dens and birds have their nests but the Son of Man does not have anywhere to lay his head."

It was in France when I was a soldier in World War II that I learned about poverty and misery, and I had to do something to help the masses of poor: my vocation was born. There was also my priest worker month in Colombia with banana workers. I think each one has to overcome his or her bourgeois background as best he can to imitate Christ poor.

I've never seen pictures of Jesus, Mary, or Joseph that I like, that are realistic. They show Joseph as an old man, Mary dressed as a queen in a house with marble pillars, Jesus a chubby little baby playing with birds. Let's face the facts about this also. Let's see Mary first in Nazareth, 28 years old, beautiful, but poor, in a one-room house, sweeping the dirt floor early every morning. She goes out twice a day to hunt for firewood. See her splitting a log with an axe, as I have seen all kinds of women in Latin America doing in this twentieth century still, and see Mary carrying on her back, bent over, the dirty pile of firewood which she needs for cooking.
She is dressed prettily? Like a peasant girl with bare feet rather. See her kneel in the dirt and build the fire with the wood in their crude stone stove. Take a look at her hands after chopping and starting the fire. That is one of my favorite contemplations: comparing the hands of Mary, or of Joseph, or of Jesus with my hands or with a nun's hands. Joseph, Mary, and Jesus are the way. Who in the world follows their way? I've now met thousands of girls, who live like Mary lived, not too many in the States-- but there are poor in the U.S. too-- but in Latin America, Africa, and all of Asia where just about all women are as poor and primitive as Mary.

Now contemplate Jesus at 12 or at 25, after Joseph dies and Jesus is the support of Mary. A worker, carpenter with ancient tools which carpenters today would laugh at. See him haggling with a man from the next village who is bringing him some of the freshly cut pine logs on mules. See Jesus, God, with the axe trying to smooth the rough logs into boards. Look at God's hands: dirty, calluses—like the hands of the laborers in the coalmines today or the hands of a farmer today. Jesus, one of the masses, a poor working man.
And look at the color of his skin. It's not lily white, but dark: Jesus, Mary and Joseph are dark skinned like practically all the people in North Africa and the Middle East. I've seen lots of people from there while in Marseilles in the war. Jesus and Mary had dark skin like Mexicans. Let's face it: many Americans would be prejudiced against Jesus, wouldn't even let him in their house-- dark skin, poor, dirty finger nails, poorly dressed workingman, one of the masses of the lower class, the proletariat. Poverty and humility personified: contemplate Jesus. He's the way that's the truth and the life.

And 30 years the Word incarnate spends like that, and only three in conquering the world. What a lesson on the apostolate about the value of the hidden life of poverty and humility, hidden work done out of obedience. We may well learn on judgement day who the greatest saviors of souls were: a cloistered nun, a school teacher, a housewife, a street cleaner, a farmer-- all can save souls just by offering their hidden sacrifices to the Father along with Jesus, in the Holy Spirit of love. St. Therese, saint of missions, saved as many souls as Xavier. As a fellow Carmelite said often: "It's love alone that counts." And "a straw picked off the floor for love of Jesus can do more for souls than an hour of prayer or a sermon." It's grace that converts sinners, and grace is a gift of God won by prayer, by sacrifices, by the Holy Spirit of love-- accepting whatever the divine providence sends at each minute, obedience to God's will made known through our superiors that builds up the mystical body.

The world needs apostles, priests, sisters who will preach Christ because without hearing about Christ and His way how can they accept Him? But the hearing isn't all: they need grace to accept God and His way, which is won by the hidden love of humble souls.
So contemplate these two scenes of Mary nursing her baby, seated on the dirt floor of the cave in Bethlehem, and in Nazareth chopping wood and sweeping the dirt floor of her one-room house—and deepen your love for the poor, for the masses of the lower classes in the world and learn to love the way of Jesus and Mary, the way of the hidden life of obedience, poverty and humility.


FOURTH DAY
Jesus Makes Apostles

...The Father sent Jesus to earth to unite all people who would believe in Him into one Mystical Body with the Son of God, Jesus, as Head, and all the adopted children, His chosen people of the New Testament, His family, as the members, with the Holy Spirit of Love as the soul of this Mystical Body of Christ, giving all a share in the same life, uniting all in His Love.

Apostles Today

[Fr. Carney attributed the Protestant reformation in the 16th century largely to the failures of the clergy to live the gospel.] The majority of the priests and bishops of all these past centuries have lived separated from the people, the masses, in a class apart, often of the aristocratic class, but often enough merely making money by their spiritual services. The priest is in his sacristy, and if any one wants his help he knows where he can find him, and let the rest of the world go by. The cassock for sure, and often the nun’s habit of the Middle Ages, separates them from the masses of people, and makes them unapproachable.
A kid is sent to the seminary at the age of 14 and is separated from the masses,
grows to maturity in that hot-house atmosphere of a seminary, and then no wonder he doesn’t understand people’s problems, no wonder his sermons don’t touch the real life of his parishioners. The Latin made the Mass and Sacraments unintelligible.
The corruption of the priests and nuns in Luther’s time, their seeking a soft, often an impure life, the privileges they enjoyed, their seeking after money and honor and high society--all this is what principally caused the Protestant revolt or reform. Then came the materialistic, anticlerical masonry which led to the modern secularism that dominates the U.S. today--all because the priests and nuns were not one with the masses, but lived in their unchristlike, luxurious, respectable sacristies and convents.

As you can see, I’m as anti-clerical, as much against those kind of priests and nuns, as any Protestant, or modern American pagan, or any communist. Communism too, in my opinion, is largely a reaction against the failure of priests and nuns to be really involved in this everyday world of the masses. “The greatest scandal of the 19th century,”said Pius XI, “was the loss of the working classes to the Church.” And he said, “Priests, go to the poor.” The same holds for the nuns.
Only today, because God allowed Protestantism and masonry and communism to wake us up, to shake us up, to scare us, we are becoming more socially conscious, more interested in the masses of people and the social problems of the world. The horrible injustices in the world are the greatest sins of today and of these past centuries. God gave the riches of the world for all people, and there are enough riches in the world for all; but they are so unjustly distributed, as the popes have said, that now there is a small class of those who control and use the riches of the world, while the great mass of people live in poverty and misery.

Let’s contemplate a modern scene--one of these mansions in the outskirts of the city, or the new college of the nuns, and then contemplate these shacks in which so many poor people live. Compare our meals with the family I knew in Colombia, who many days could only buy one cabbage for 5 people for 3 meals. The mother boiled the cabbage in the morning and they drank the cabbage water for breakfast. She reboiled it and they drank more cabbage water for lunch. At night the mother and her four children feasted on the cabbage. [Penciled in in longhand: “That woman is Christ. And we would condemn her if she tries to get a man?”]
Let’s face the facts. Pius XII in 1951 wrote: “From the Epistle of St. Paul to Philemon up to the social teaching of the popes of the 19th and 20th century, the Church insists on the necessity of a more just distribution of the riches of the world, which God has given for all. And the Church denounces the social situation, which is completely contrary to nature, in which there is a small group of privileged and extremely rich families surrounded by an enormous mass of the impoverished.”

This is true about the whole world, including the U.S., but principally in the underdeveloped countries, like Latin America. In Colombia for example, which isn’t the worst, 5% of the people receive 41% of the yearly income, and 4% of the people own 64% of the land. El Salvador, in Central America, is worse. At least it used to be that 14 families owned about 70% of the land.
We’re apostles? To whom? Only 17% of the world is Catholic. Jesus gave this order to us; it’s the call of the king: “Go and preach the gospel to all people, baptizing them.” About 95% of the priests and nuns of the world are working with that 17%, while 5% are apostles to the 83% of the world which is non-Catholic. And even among the 17% who are Catholic, look at the injustice, the unfair distribution of opportunities for Mass, the Sacraments and Catholic education. In the U.S there is 1 priest for 800 Catholics. In Latin America, where 1/3 of the Catholics of the world live, there is only one priest for every 5000. In Honduras there is only 1 for every 12,000 Catholics. My experience: Mass once a year for many.

Seventy percent are illiterate, 70% live in concubinage without receiving the sacrament of matrimony, 1/3 of the Hondurans get to make their first communion. Is that just? The riches of Christianity are concentrated in the rich countries. A Honduran has just as much right to receive first communion and a little religious instruction as an American. Jesus said that the good shepherd leaves the 99 saved sheep to look for the 1 lost sheep. We could say that more or less we have 99% of the priests and nuns with the 1% that are already saved, and 1% looking for the 99% of the world who are lost sheep. This for me is a greater injustice than the unjust distribution of material goods in the world, namely, the unjust distribution of the spiritual goods, of the Christian riches in the world.
Imagine a large family. Two of the sons strike it rich. The father, mother, and the other 7 kids are dirt poor. The 2 rich sons live with their wives and children in mansions, have 3 cars apiece--the parents and 7 brothers and sisters live all 9 in a filthy, crumbling 2- room tenement. They are practically starving to death. The 2 rich sons send their poor family a nice basket of food each Christmas, and with this salve their consciences. What would you say about the 2--are they sinning? A clear mortal sin.

Well, look at the world family, the children of God who therefore are all brothers and sisters, members of the one Family of God, Father of us all. As the popes point out, a few members of the Family of God are extravagantly rich, while the great number of their own brothers and sisters of the Family of God are living in misery. And not only do they not love their neighbor, their brothers and sisters, as themselves, but they actually cheat them out of what they owe them. Many of the rich became rich precisely by robbing the food, the just salary they owed to a brother or sister who worked for them. This is injustice--a mortal sin of injustice.
I worked as a priest-worker among the banana workers in Colombia. I earned 13 pesos a day ($1.30 U.S.), and had to pay 10 pesos a day for food for me alone. How does one of those workers feed his woman and 5 to 10 kids? The owner was rich, a congressman, and he was trying to squelch the labor union. He called me and all those who helped the labor unions communist sympathizers. And he went to Mass every Sunday and had his daughters in the nuns’ rich convent school. It is Catholics like him who are the cause of communism.

Jesus said, “As long as you didn’t do it to one of these my least brothers and sisters, you didn’t do it to me. Depart from me ye cursed. You robbed me of food, and a decent home for my family, and a chance to give an education to my children,” says Jesus. All children of God are members of Christ’s body; they are Christ.
So what is the cause of the great social problems in the world, of Communism, of 2/3 of the world being hungry, of more than ½ of the world being illiterate even today, for example? The cause is injustice, the unequal, unjust distribution of the riches of the world. God gave the world plenty of land and food, for example, for all. This population explosion scare is in large part false because we could, for example, put all the people of the world ... in the state of Texas, and they would not be as crowded as rich Japan, or rich Holland. And you know that the U.S. produces too much food, which they can’t sell or even give away, and is paying about $1 million a day just to store surplus wheat.
We need a revolution in the world. The Popes have said it. We must remake the social order, they say, which basically would mean that by peaceful revolution, by laws, and by the rich sacrificing their superfluous possessions, by the rich nations helping the poorer ones, we have to bring about a more just distribution of the riches of the world. And this isn’t in charity. This is strict social justice which is a sin to neglect doing.

And that doesn’t mean just the members of government have this duty to change the very social structures of the world. The popes have all said that under social justice, all men and women have the duty to do all they can to bring about this reconstruction of the social order so that justice and charity reign in the world, and not injustice, and class hatred, and race hatred, and international hatred. And if anyone fails to do what he can, he sins against social justice.
For instance, not voting for the best candidate who will foment this Christian revolution. For instance, a worker not joining his labor union. For instance, a Catholic opposing racial integration. The bishops of the U.S. have said that to treat the Negro as equal is a serious duty not only of charity, of love of your neighbor, but also of strict justice. The Negro has the right to be treated as equal--it is due to him as a human being, as a brother or sister of Christ and of us.

For instance, a Catholic teacher not teaching the social doctrine of the Church to her students could sin mortally against social justice. She, you, have a serious duty to make your students socially conscious. First of all your duty is to learn yourself as thoroughly as you can what the Church teaches about the social problems; yes, under pain of sin, in so far as you need that knowledge for your apostolate. Pope John XXIII in Mater et Magistra says: “We again affirm above all that the social doctrine of the Church is an integral part of the Christian conception of life.” Meaning that you aren’t really a Christian if you aren’t living this part of Christ’s message also.
Let me give you another example of what happens in some convents and seminaries even. The workers in the convent, or in the school (and this includes the lay teachers many times), or in the Church, or seminary, don’t receive a just wage, which means, enough for them to give their families a decent living. The superior uses the excuse that these employees are working for the Church, for Christ, and therefore should make more sacrifices than other workers. The superior would be angry if a teacher quit in order to work in a public school where she could earn enough to support her sick mother. Besides, the superior orders that the employees can take home to their poor families the leftover food that the community couldn’t eat.

Isn’t that nice charity? She (or he), the superior, is robbing the poor janitor. She owes him money really, a just salary, and instead she (or he) gives him a handout. This isn’t charity. The most basic charity, of love of your neighbor as yourself, is to give him his due, not cheat him. This can be a mortal sin, not only one of injustice, but also a second one of scandal.
Open to James 5, 1-4: cheating, and a rich man just with money in the bank instead of using it for the common good, is condemned. He has to use his superfluous possessions for the common good ... in strict social justice, under pain of sin. You have to teach this to your students, to their parents, and to your rich friends. I put the principal blame, as I told you, for the social problems of the world today on the priests and religious who weren’t and aren’t socially conscious, who didn’t teach the Church’s social doctrine to the past generations of Catholics, and who didn’t go to the poor themselves. The poor haven’t had the gospel preached to them. There are many good exceptions, but in general, the religious have catered to the middle and upper classes of Catholics, especially in education.

Our vow of poverty is to make us witnesses to Christ, to give testimony, to show the world Christ’s way, to make us like Christ. And we meditate on how Christ’s way is that of poverty and humility--not security and honors, as most priests and bishops and religious have. Doesn’t it scandalize you, for instance, to see a picture of the Pope, St. Peter today, carried by men through the crowds on a luxurious throne, with a bejeweled crown on his head and people kissing his jeweled ring? That’s like Christ, or like St. Peter? All non-Catholics are scandalized by those things. That’s not giving testimony of Christ poor, of Christ as one of the masses.

You sisters are so necessary in the world, in the Mystical Body--to help build up our Body--“to make up in your flesh what was lacking to the sufferings of Christ,” as St. Paul said. Namely, to be Christ today to the modern world, to preach the gospel today, to show Christ’s Way to the world today, the Way of poverty and humility, to be nailed to the cross with Christ for the salvation of today’s world. Jesus did all this 20 centuries ago and wants to continue showing the world His Way through us, His members, His Body, His apostles of today.
Never be discouraged, Sisters , if you are abandoned to God’s providence, obedient, loving your fellow Sisters and all people; then you are building up our Mystical Body, then Christ’s Spirit is loving through you, and showing Christ to the world. Even the Sister who spends all day in administrative duty, or behind a desk typing, or studying, she too is an apostle if she is doing God’s will, she too is helping build Christ’s Mystical Body on earth--by the hidden life of love directed by Jesus’ Holy Spirit of Love in her.

But my plea in this talk is that you not only be docile, and do what you’re told. That can be laziness, or ignorance about what obedience really means. It means love. And the “charity of Christ, His Holy Spirit, urges us on,” as St. Paul said. We have to use initiative. We have to insist on being poor and showing our poverty to the world. We have to use initiative in going to the poor, in teaching the social doctrine of Christ to all. We have to use our initiative in organizing social works to help a little in changing the social order in the world. The nun should be...loving, loving without fear, with initiative, with tenderness--showing it, not hiding it. Love the poor especially, but love the rich also. They can do more to change the world for Christ, for justice.
The priests’ and nuns’ principal efforts today, the Popes have said, is to form lay apostles. As Christ did. He spent most of His time forming 12 poor, ignorant workers into His apostles, His bishops. Those 12 went out and spread the message, using the same system of forming other leaders, other apostles, lay and ordained, including deacons and deaconesses, to handle the distribution of charity especially. Reread parts of Cardinal Suenens’ tremendous book again today, The Nun in the World. If each Sister would form 5 lay apostles, only that in her life, the Church would spread like wildfire. We must, then, spend most of our time and effort in this, forming lay apostles, training them in the social doctrine of the Church, in the spiritual life, organizing them in team apostolates. Going into the apostolic work with them, being one of them, visiting their homes. Visit the homes of all your students. The nuns, adapted to the modern age, can change this world for Christ.

Tell about Laurita Missionaries in Honduras giving 15-day missions, going on mule, organizing radio schools, co-op directors. We have to be socially conscious, which means nothing more than living the doctrine of the Mystical Body. Open to 1 Cor 12,12-14 and 26-27.

The Two Standards

The devil’s strategy is to make us attached to possessions, to riches of some kind, and from these attachments to make us seek honors and to be esteemed by people; and from there he leads us to pride, to want our own way, even to the extent of preferring our will to God’s, which of course leads to all kinds of sins, especially to faults against charity and love of all people. ...This leads to a self-centered, selfish life.


FIFTH DAY

Contemplative in Action

What kind of a marriage, or what kind of love is it, without an intimate communication, sharing of ideas between the lovers, the spouses? This holds even more so for your love affair with your Spouse, Jesus, for it is a spiritual union between you. So your life of union with your Spouse is almost entirely your life of prayer. To advance in the spiritual life means to advance in loving union with your Beloved, and this means advancing in your prayer life.
... A mystic is one who has advanced in prayer and union with God to the point where God has taken over....

In the beginning this self-surrender, this self-sacrifice, our prayer, is active.... But as we grow in love, in self-sacrifice out of love of Jesus, as we grow in docility to the inspirations of Jesus’ Spirit in us, our prayer becomes more passive, less our work and more the Holy Spirit’s work. We become more and more of a contemplative.
... We have to be contemplatives. But the big problem seems to be that we are so busy, so involved in our apostolic work for souls, so much “about our Father’s business,” that we can’t concentrate on the quiet, contemplative life. We are apostles, and we have to be. Christ called us to that.

But what I especially want to recall to you is that just as Jesus was an active apostle, more active than us, and Mary was too, and St. Peter, and St. John, and St. Francis Xavier, and St. Teresa of Avila, and your own foundress was an active apostle, they were also mystics, contemplatives. But they were contemplatives in action. That is what every apostle has to learn to be.
Everything I’ve said about desiring and working at being a contemplative is true. And we have our set times for spiritual exercises every day to foment this in quiet. But that’s not enough. We are also apostles, and the prayer of an apostle is what St. Ignatius would call “contemplation in action” or, better, “finding God in all things.” We must learn to contemplate God in all things, in all events in every moment of our day.


Last Supper--THE FAMILY MEAL

We come from, are created by God; God adopts us to be sons and daughters, giving us His life and His Holy Spirit of Love which unites us to Christ as Head and to each other as members of one Mystical Body of Christ. And united to Christ we will return to the Father to be happy with Him forever. So now Christ is starting His great Passover of death, resurrection, and ascension to His Father. He will go to prepare a place for us; He says, “Don’t be sad.”

Open to Jn 16: 5-7.
“And having loved His own, He loved them to the end.” Who are His own? They are the members of His mystical body, His brothers and sisters, us, in the Family of God, the family of all God’s sons and daughters. And what does a good family often do to foment their union and their love? They have a family reunion.
I remember some of the big events in my family back home. They are some of my fondest memories. When one of my brothers or sisters graduated, or on the anniversary of my parents’ marriage, or when one of my sisters married, or at my ordination, the whole family came together from all parts, for a big joyful family reunion. And what is always the central, most joyful point of a family reunion? It is when they gather around the table for the big family meal, and eat together. Talk, songs, jokes, joy, union: more united in love. And this is what should happen in homes every day as the members gather to eat together. And this is how Jesus usually described heaven, a glorious banquet meal where the family of God’s sons and daughters are united around their Father in perfect happiness.

So what did Jesus do before beginning His Passover, through death, to the Father? He had his last Passover meal with His brothers and sisters, His apostles. United in love, giving as the example of how to love your brothers and sisters, that is by humbly serving them, Jesus first washes the filthy, rough, calloused feet of His brothers. Read the whole of this most beautiful account of the Last Supper in chapters 13-17 of St. John sometime tomorrow. Then they eat together, Christ even dipping the bread in sauce and giving it to His brothers, as the gospel tells us. And they converse together in great love and union.

Jesus’ own Body is the food without which we won’t stay alive spiritually, because without this food we won’t be strong.
“Take and eat, this is My Body” and “This is the chalice of My Blood, of the New Testament, which will be shed for you unto the remission of sins.” Thus Jesus says the first Mass, the central act of true religion. He offers His sacrifice in a mystical way by mystically separating His Body and His Blood and offering it to His Father, as the following day He will actually offer His Blood separated from His Body by shedding It on the Cross.
And to continue this sacrifice down through the ages, He gives the apostles the power to do the same and even orders them to do it: “Do this same thing in memory of Me,” thus instituting the Sacrament of the priesthood. Then with His own hands He gives them their First Holy Communion. “Take and eat.” Communion is an essential part of the Mass always. The Mass is a meal; it is the meal of the Family of God. It is the Passover Meal of the New Testament. God’s children have a family reunion to be with their Father and adore and thank Him and to eat together in order to have greater union of love. That’s why it’s called Holy Com-union, i.e. union con, or union with Christ our elder brother, the Head, and with one another--building up the Mystical Body in union of love. “Take and eat, this is My Body.” Those who eat this Body become the Body of Christ, become Christ: “ I live now not I…”

This is the love story of Christ for His Church, His Spouse, His Body, and for each of His brothers and sisters, us, me. He wanted to be with us, to remain with us, to help us, to encourage us, to woo us, to give us Himself, unite Himself to us, to give us His divine Life, to give us His Holy Spirit of Love more and more.

If you were married and really loved your human husband, you would live only for him, do anything for him; and just to be with him would be all you would want. But then to have the love act of matrimony with him, uniting even your bodies in love, would be the ultimate happiness, ecstasy, in married life.
Well, you are now married to Jesus. If you really loved Him, you would feel like that towards Him. To visit and be with Him in the Blessed Sacrament would be your greatest pleasure; but then to have the love act, Holy Communion, uniting even your bodies in love, receiving His Body, would be ecstasy, your fondest desires fulfilled. Your pleasure too would be to do anything for Him, just to please Him. Your only reason for doing anything and everything therefore is: just to please Jesus, because Jesus would like me to do it, because Jesus would prefer me to choose this rather than that. Why? I want only to please Him because I love Him, that’s all.

Reflection on the Mass (every day Fr. Carney presented a meditation on the Mass):

Offering this sacramental sacrifice to our Father in the Holy Spirit of Love is the most efficacious apostolate there is. It does more to convert sinners and to sanctify those who are already children of God than other means. Preaching and teaching religion and our good works of loving our neighbor are necessary for their sanctification. But it is really grace, as we know, that converts, that moves a person’s mind and will, and which sanctifies.
And grace is won for our brothers and sisters principally by the redeeming sacrifice of Christ, of the whole Christ, the Mass. My self-sacrifice offered in the Mass with Christ’s self-sacrifice helps the growth and perfection of the Mystical Body. For as St. Paul said, “I fill up in my body what is wanting to the sufferings of Christ.” ... And all day long we live the Mass, loving God and our neighbor, sacrificing ourself in the Holy Spirit of Love to help the growth of the Mystical Body.



SIXTH DAY
Last Supper–Union in Love

Let us now meditate on the beautiful words of Christ during the Last Supper on love of one another. That is the purpose of Holy Communion, you know, to unite us more one to another in love. And if one receives Holy Communion and doesn’t work at loving all people, even his enemies (and even the unlikeable sister or brother), he is a hypocrite; and it would be better not to receive our Lord until he first does what Jesus says in Mt. 5,23-24 (I read it). The whole of our Christian religion can be summed up in love. (I read Mt. 22, 34-40)
But Jesus put it in a new way. Let’s open to the Last Supper now. This is Jesus’ last will and testament before dying. This is the law of the New Testament. Open to
John 13, 34-35: “...as I have loved you,” that is, we must imitate Christ’s Way. Love implies imitation and union, becoming one with the beloved. This is not only true of love for Jesus, but also, for example, of love for the poor. I say you don’t really love the poor if you don’t try to be one of them. Jesus loved us and became one of us, became man, and one of the masses of poor workingmen. That’s the example, it seems to me, He invites religious to follow, if we want to imitate Him. That’s what we meditate on in the Third Degree of Humility.

Let me tell you about one of my favorite saints who isn’t canonized yet, Charles de Foucauld, who after being a soldier, and a famous scientist-explorer--fallen away from the Church, living with a mistress--he was converted, became a Trappist asking for the poorest, hardest monastery in the world, and is sent to North Africa. The Superior of the monastery one day sent him to take food to a poor Arab family in town. He saw real poverty, he said, and so he left the Trappists to imitate Christ, the poor workingman of Nazareth.
He became a priest, worked with his own hands to earn his living, went to live alone among pagan Arabs in the desert, where they finally martyred him in 1916. About 6 different religious congregations and secular institutes have been founded following his rules and ideas. Charles de Foucauld had only one motive in life--to be Jesus’ friend more and more.

This had 2 consequences: poverty and fraternal charity in imitation of the hidden life of Jesus of Nazareth, the worker. He knew that there is no real love of the poor unless you are their “friend” and “brother.” You can’t be superior to them in any way. And so to love them as friends you share their life, their insecurity, their poverty, their work.
This is the apostolate of the Little Brothers and Sisters of Jesus and the other Secular Institutes following his ideas. Foucauld wrote: “I cannot conceive of love that feels no constraining need of resembling, of becoming You, my Jesus, and especially sharing all the hurts and pains, all the difficulties, all the hardships of life. I don’t judge other types of religious, Lord; they also are your servants, and my brothers, and I must just love them; but it is impossible for me myself to understand how one can love You and not seek to resemble You, and not feel the need of sharing every cross."

But let’s go on with Jesus’ beautiful last testament. Open to John 14,15-20 and 14,21-23 and 15,9-17. And read the rest of these chapters 13-17. There are the two themes: love and union. And, of course, they are one; union is by love. Read Jesus’ way of explaining His Mystical Body in Ch. 15: “ I am the vine, you are the branches.” Read Jesus’ beautiful sacerdotal prayer in Ch. 17, (20-26): “That they may be one, Father, as You in Me, and I in You, so also may they be one in Us.” I’ll also ask you to read today St. John’s First Epistle. It is all about love of one another.

Reflection on the Mass:

Family Meal
Today let’s recall during the Mass what we have just been meditating on, namely that the Mass is a meal. It’s the banquet meal of the Family of God. It is a family reunion of all the children of God united to the Son of God, to offer the eucharistic, sacramental sacrifice to our Father in the Holy Spirit of Love. And, then, as fruit of this sacrifice, the Family eats the Victim together. We eat the Body of our elder Brother, Jesus, in order to become more and more His Body, His Mystical Body.
You recall Jesus’ words: “Unless a man eat my flesh, he shall not have life in him.” Of course Jesus meant the supernatural life of grace: he shall not have God’s, Christ’s life in him. Jesus went on to say: “The Father is the source of life. As I live by the Father, so he who eats Me, will live by Me” (Jn.6).

...In holy Communion, Jesus Himself comes and we receive more of His Life, more of his Holy Spirit of Love, so that we are more united not only to Him but to each other in the same Holy Spirit of Love. Communion means union-with, union with Christ and with our other brothers and sisters forming the Body of Christ-- all in and by means of the Holy Spirit of Love, Christ’s Spirit which vivifies the Body of Christ.
So Holy Communion is the sacrament of love. Jesus, in a loving desire to be united to us, becomes our food and our life, and wants as a result that we really live His life then, which is a life of love of all our brothers and sisters. We must always remember what Jesus said: “as long as you did it to one of these, My least brothers and sisters, you did it to Me.” So the family of God comes together to eat together in union of love in order to increase this life of Christ on earth, this union of love of Christ’s brothers and sisters in His Holy Spirit of Love.
But Holy Communion is part of the Mass. It is the victim that we eat. In the Mass we give the greatest gift possible to our Father--we give Him His beloved Son Jesus. And in return our Father gives us the greatest gift He can possibly give us--He gives us His beloved Son Jesus to eat, to receive, to have and to hold, as our Spouse. Jesus said “he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him.”

The Paschal Mystery

Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My Commandments. This is My Command….” Each one has to ratify the alliance, the New Testament in Christ’s blood. Each one is free to accept Christ’s Way or not, uniting themselves to Christ, eating Christ, living the Paschal mystery in their own life. For Christ’s Way is that of the Passover from death to a new life.
We have to die to self, to live Christ’s life. We have to imitate Christ, even to being obedient unto death, to the death of the cross. We have to be crucified, carry the cross daily after Christ, as He told us, if we would be His followers. Here’s the Passover Mystery as Jesus described it: “Whoever would find his life, must lose it; and whoever loses his life for My sake, will find it.” And, “Whoever does not take up his cross daily and follow Me is not worthy of Me.”

This Passover mystery, death to resurrection, is the law of the universe. We have all kinds of examples of it all around us. Night comes on, day dies, darkness--but a new day is born, light again. We lie down and sleep, tired, dead tired--but wake up with new life and vigor. Rain comes and the world is sad and dismal--but it passes when the sun comes out and the flowers bloom better than ever. All plants are a continuous rotation of the paschal mystery. A fruit from the plant falls in the ground. It dies, but its seed takes root, and a new plant, new life springs up and gives fruit.
As Jesus said, applying this to us, “unless a seed fall in the earth and die, it will not bear fruit.” Then we have the seasons of the year. The leaves die, the trees are bare in winter, the earth sleeps--but Spring comes and new life springs up, new color, new promise. Etc. Etc. The law of life. And we can’t escape it; this has to be the law of our life too. It is only by dying to self that we will live in Christ and have true life and happiness. So many refuse to believe this, won’t embrace the cross. Let’s understand this passover mystery so well that we won’t be fighting against this law of life, but we’ll give ourselves over to mortification and self-sacrifice in order even here on earth to live this new life of Love in Christ.

In my own life I learned this law. I was a soldier in the Second World War, was a Catholic, but didn’t really understand about this Paschal mystery and its necessity. I saw such misery in the war, such suffering, such poverty. All my buddies only had one thought--to seek pleasure, usually sexual pleasure. Communism, materialism was spreading. I began to ask myself if there could be a God who would permit such misery in people, not only material misery, but worse, this spiritual misery, this ignorance.
Then I found Christ. I didn’t understand it, but I tried to deny myself and live for Him. I gave up the world to be a religious and give myself to Christ. I left the pleasures of the world. I began to die to myself. And lo--I began to find peace and real happiness and real satisfaction. I found a new life, and I am one of the few men I’ve met who can say he is happy. “To live is Christ,” I testify.

Christ by His Passover, not only by His death, but by His Passover saved the world. The bible tells us that by His death He redeemed us from sin. He conquered death and sin; but St. Paul tells us, it was by His resurrection that He won us the new life. It was His Passover from death to resurrection and ascension to His Father that saved the world.
And Christ not only redeemed humanity, He also redeemed the whole of creation, including the material universe. When Jesus returns to earth at His second coming, at the Parousia, the end of the world doesn’t mean the world is wiped out, but rather Holy Scripture teaches us that the world will be changed, recreated, restored, renewed, a new creation wherein death and suffering will be wiped out.
Our bodies too will rise, glorious, if we remain God’s children, to also share in Christ’s glory. Christ had His Passover meal at the Last Supper, we have ours every day at Mass, and Heaven is described as one big banquet of the Family of God celebrating the marriage of the Lamb of God and His spouse, the Church, us, His Mystical Body united to Him, built up to the fullness of its perfection, including all the elect that God chose from all eternity in His mysterious plan which we called the Mystery of Christ.

Open again to Eph.1,7-10 and 1, 22-23, and 1 Cor. 15, 20-28, and Apoc. 19, 7 and 9. When it comes our turn to die, we too will have our Passover through earthly death to a new life, probably in Purgatory first. But it is only at the Parousia where the whole world and we too have our great Passover, the great resurrection Day. We too should look forward to this like the early Christians did with great eagerness and joy, and say with the closing words of the Bible: “Come, Lord Jesus, come--Maranatha!”

Agony in Garden and Capture

Open to Matt. 26, 45-50: Jesus betrayed by one of His spouses, one of His specially chosen intimate friends. Jesus even now calls him: “Friend.” But Judas rejects Jesus’ mercy. How sad! O what a wound this caused in the Sacred Heart! Jesus is captured by the soldiers, tied up tight, pushed, pulled away out of the Garden of Olives. His friends all flee.
So contemplating Jesus, first in His agony, and then captured, tied up and pushed along, I want to grieve with Him, feel what His Sacred Heart is feeling. I want to be in compassion with Him. I want to hate myself and my sins that caused this. But also I want to be strengthened for the future, to carry out my promises to Jesus, my retreat resolutions. Seeing that Jesus goes through all this suffering for me, I’ll go through anything for Him.


SEVENTH DAY

Trial & scourging

See Him with His hands tied behind His back, and a rope around His waist so that a soldier can grab this rope and pull Him along, like a lamb with a rope around his neck being led to the slaughter. But Jesus goes willingly; for this He came into the world, to live the Paschal Mystery, to pass over through this suffering and death to a new, risen life which He would share with us.
But his divinity is hidden, His humanity seems weak now. We want to be in compassion with Him, suffer with Him, feel grief-stricken with Him, our Spouse. He is dragged before Annas who had said, sealing His death, that it is better that this one man should die for the people, so that the Romans don’t punish all of them for following this man who wants to set Himself up as the King of the Jews.

And then Jesus is slapped in the face. Then the same night dragged to Caiaphas and the illegal Sanhedrin trial. More false witness testify against Him. We won’t go through all the details of the trials and condemnation of Jesus, the Christ. You can read the whole Passion account in one of the gospels sometime today.
But let’s open to Mt. 26, 62-68. And while this is going on, Peter is denying he even knows this Jesus of Nazareth. “You too were one of them,” says a servant maid. “I swear I don’t even know the guy,” says Peter. And St. Luke records that Jesus, being led out to pass the remainder of the night in prison, just looks at Peter. Oh, we want to make this meditation with the Sacred Heart also. Meditate on what the Sacred Heart felt, after what He had just been through inside at the trial, when he looked at His beloved Peter, who was also rejecting Him in front of the whole world. And that look made a saint of Peter. He went out and wept bitterly, and became a humble man.

The next morning the Sanhedrin formally decrees He must die for blaspheming, claiming to be the Messiah, the promised Christ. How can this man be the Christ, our King, why He’s just a dirty workingman from the hills? His people, God’s chosen people, reject their Christ. They take Him before Pilate, the Roman governor who ruled this Roman colony of Palestine.... Pilate asks Jesus if He is King of the Jews. “For this came I into the world. But My Kingdom is not of this world.”
Hear once again the call of the King to you to follow Him, to share this apparently foolish kind of life of His, of poverty and humility, to be humiliated like Jesus was, to not reject Him even though the whole world reject Him.
A great mass of the crowd who had come to Jerusalem for the Passover feast, the yearly memorial sacrifice-meal of the Paschal lamb, gathers in the plaza in front of Pilate’s palace. Thousands of Jews along with all the Sanhedrin, the leaders. And Pilate shouts out to them, “Whom should I set free? Whom do you choose, Jesus who is called the Christ, or Barabbas?” “Barabbas.” “And what shall I do with Jesus?” “Crucify Him,” they yell, stirred up by the Sanhedrin. “Crucify Him!” “Shall I crucify your King?” “We have no king but Caesar. Away with Jesus, crucify Him.” And Pilate gives in; he doesn’t want a riot on his hands. He orders Jesus scourged.

This is a horrible ordeal. This scourging is for me the worst part of Christ’s physical sufferings. It is what really killed Him. He lost so much blood and was so weakened and close to death that afterwards He couldn’t even carry the cross up the short hill to Calvary, and died within 3 hours. And the ignominy of the scourging was almost as bad as the physical suffering. Robbers, murderers were scourged. But now let us see our loving God treated as the very scum of the earth.
The soldiers took Him to their basement barracks area. They stripped Jesus naked, stark naked, and made dirty jokes about His nudity. They tied Him to a pillar and a big soldier begins to lash His whole back from head to foot with the huge leather whip that usually had pieces of metal or of bone in the tips of its various sections. The heavy leather whip swung by a big man could crush the bones of the victim, while the bits of metal dug into the flesh, ripping it open.

The Jews had a law limiting the strokes to 39, but the Romans had no such limit. A scourging always preceded a crucifixion to weaken the criminal so he would die quickly on the cross. And it seems something must have inspired in these pagan mercenary soldiers a special hatred against Jesus, so that they hit Him more cruelly than ordinarily, for after the scourging why did they voluntarily carry out the crowning with thorns?
So in order to really hate sin, and to really feel sorry for Jesus, to be in compassion with Him, and desire to suffer something for Him in reparation, I think it is good to really try to picture the scourging in all its horrible reality, hear the blows, the dirty words and curses of the soldiers. You sisters don’t know how soldiers talk, I do. I was one.

See Jesus tied there, stark naked. See Him. Watch the first blow turn His whole back a livid red color. The next terrible stroke leaves little holes in His skin from the bits of metal. Hear the horrible thud of the next stroke. Hear Jesus groan. See Him writhe in pain. You think He could keep His body still? Stroke after stroke rip into His flesh, His sacred flesh. And soon bits of flesh are torn away, cling to the whip. The blood spurts out, runs down His naked legs to the floor. Soon Jesus is standing in a pool of His own blood. His back is torn wide open. Still they lash Him mercilessly, now hitting even against the exposed bones of His back. This is what the prophet David meant when he wrote, “They have numbered all my bones.”
I always then picture the soldiers turning Jesus over. His ripped-open back can take no more. So they turn Him around and start to beat the front of His naked body, from His face right on down to His feet, but especially concentrating on beating His naked genital organs till they are just a bloody mass. You can imagine what horrible pain this was in Jesus....You won’t be able to picture it as cruel as it really was. The prophet David wrote, “I am a worm, and no man, the reproach of men.”

Look at Jesus after they finally give up beating Him. He is probably unconscious. He is practically dead. They cut the ropes that bind His wrists to the pillar, and His unconscious Body slides down the pillar to lie in the pool of His own blood. “A worm and no man.” The prophet also wrote, the Christ’s lament, “My people, what have I done to you? What more could I give you?” O Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!
We’re not finished yet. There are two more scenes you have to face. Have the courage to recall them as vividly as you can. They really happened. It’s the gospel truth, all this, right from the gospel. When Jesus regains consciousness, they put His tunic around Him and I’ll read to you from St. Matthew what they did: Matt. 27, 27-30. Have the courage to relive that scene in your meditation, and you’ll understand why St. Ignatius says Christ’s Standard, His way is to lead us from poverty to humiliations, to real humility. It will be easier to accept a little humiliation that we receive, when this sight of Jesus spit on, mocked as a King touches our hard hearts. Don’t be afraid to cry over Christ’s sufferings.

You think Mary didn’t cry at this next scene which the gospel makes us picture. She was present amid that throng of thousands in front of Pilate’s judgement seat when they brought Jesus out--St. John says and he knows, he was there with Mary--when they drag Jesus out with nothing more than the filthy purple cloak to cover His naked, ripped-open, bloody Body, and with the crown of thorns on His head. He can hardly stand on His own two feet. The blood from the thorns runs down into His eyes.
Pilate shouts out for the thousands to hear, “Behold the man.” But look at Him, your Spouse, before that mob. “He is a worm and no man, the reproach of men.” Imagine that sword piercing the immaculate heart of Mary as she sees that, and hears the thousands yell, “Away with Him, crucify Him!” Imagine the Sacred Heart of Jesus. What is His Heart feeling now? What does you heart feel? St. Ignatius says we should look at Christ now, look at your Spouse in that condition, your Beloved--the worm. And ask yourself three questions. What have I done for Christ? What am I doing for Christ? What will I do for Christ?

Crucifixion

....Pilate washes his hands, but down through history people only know of Pilate as the one having this innocent blood on his hands....
Imagine how the heart of Mary is pierced by each blow of the hammer as they nail first one hand, then the other, then the feet to the wood. And see Jesus writhing with pain, but silent, except when He says, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
... Before Jesus dies He suffers His greatest moments of agony, and is again tempted to despair like in the Garden of Olives. Even His Father abandons Him, and He cries out: “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?”
... Then Jesus with His last breath sighs: “It is consummated.” All is fulfilled. “Father, into Thy hands I commend My Spirit.”

Resurrection

... Death without Resurrection is horrible, failure. Goal of life is not death, but resurrection.
Christ conquered death and suffering, for us. We, members of His Mystical Body, share in His life. We need have no fear of cross, suffering, death. Christ as Head has already conquered. And in Mystical Body is continually conquering. We by being united as Christ’s Body are already dead to sin and risen with Christ to a new life.
... See the importance of Resurrection--center, main dogma of religion, more important than cross. Christianity is a religion of joy, hope, love. Sad Christian is not real Christian.

Reflection on the Mass:

What is the central mystery of Christianity? The central mystery of Christianity is the Paschal Mystery, and it is also the central mystery of all life. And today let’s try to understand that that is what the Mass is, in a sacramental way—the Paschal Mystery. Paschal means Pass-over and the Paschal Mystery means that life comes from death. The Paschal Mystery, of course, is Christ’s. His Passover is the 3 big events by which He saved us, i.e. His death, which started at the Last Supper when He made the formal offering of His sacrifice, His Resurrection with a new glorious life, and His Ascension to His Father.


EIGHTH DAY

Apparitions to Women

Well, my dear sisters, as the monkey said after he caught his tail in the lawnmower: “It won’t be long now.” This is the last day of retreat.
... Look at how Jesus comforted His mother.... But there were other women in Christ’s life, intimate friends of His, who the gospels tell us had left all to follow Him, and share His life, and help Him spread the gospel, the good news of His Kingdom. You are like these women.... They were with Mary at the foot of the Cross, sharing in all of Jesus’sufferings, even when the brave apostles were hidden away in a room out of fear.


END OF EXCERPTS FROM RETREAT NOTES

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1 comment:

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