id quod volo

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Lenten Reflection - Saturday, 5th Week of Lent

God's Everlasting Covenant Rests On Unconditional Love

"I will make with them a covenant of peace; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them" - Ez 37:26

When God makes a covenant with us, God says, "I will love you with an everlasting love. I will be faithful to you, even when you run away from me, reject me, or betray me." In our society we don't speak much about covenants; we speak about contracts. When we make a contract with a person, we say, "I will fulfill my part as long as you fulfill yours. When you don't live up to your promises, I no longer have to live up to mine." Contracts are often broken because the partners are unwilling or unable to be faithful to their terms.

God did not make a contract with us; God forged a covenant with us, one that is rooted in God's faithfulness more than ours. Regardless of our infidelity, God keeps God's promise of everlasting love. And God wants our relationships with one another to reflect that covenant. That is why marriage, friendship, and life in community are all ways to give visibility to God's faithfulness in our lives together.

"O Faithful One, help me to be faithful to all my commitments."

Inspired by Henri Nouwen

Fr. Tri Dinh, SJ
Suggested reflection format

Friday, March 30, 2007

Lenten Reflection - Friday, 5th Week of Lent

Our Calling to Give and Receive Consolation

"In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears." - Psalm 18:6

Consolation is a beautiful word. It means "to be" (con-) "with the lonely one" (solus). To offer consolation is one of the most important ways to care, to love. In silence, God is with Jesus lonely and forsaken on the cross. The Risen Jesus offers consolation to followers who grieve his death.

Life is so full of pain, sadness, and loneliness that we often wonder what we can do to alleviate the immense suffering we see. We can and must offer consolation. We can and must console the young adult who is confused and depressed, the mother who lost her child, the person with AIDS, the family whose house flooded, the soldier who is wounded, the teenager who contemplates suicide, the old man who wonders why he should stay alive.

To console does not mean to take away the pain but rather to be there and say, "You are not alone, I am with you. Together we can carry the burden. Don't be afraid. I am here." That is consolation. We all need to give it as well as to receive it. That is God's great gift in Jesus, who is God-with-us-in-suffering. That is our calling.

"Lord, who do you call me to console today?"

inspired by Henri Nouwen

Fr. Tri Dinh, SJ
Suggested reflection format

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

via dolorosa

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

9th International Youth Forum

Witnessing to Christ in the world of work
9th International Youth Forum

organised by
The Pontifical Council for the Laity
Rocca di Papa (Rome), 27 March - 1 April 2007

* * *

Tuesday 27 March
Arrival of participants and dinner (Free evening)

Wednesday 28 March
Theme of the day:

8:30 a.m. Prayer
8:45 a.m. - Opening Address (Archbishop Stanis»aw Ry»ko, PCL President)
- Presentation of the programme (Msgr Francis Kohn, Head of PCL Youth Section)
- Introduction to the theme of the day
9:30 a.m. Lecture: Transformations in the world of work in an age of globalisation
(Prof. Giancarlo Rovati, lecturer in Sociology, Sacro Cuore Catholic University of Milan)
10:15 a.m. Break
10:45 a.m. - Some young people from around the world tell about their experiences
- Open discussion
12:30 p.m. Lunch
3:00 p.m. - Lecture: Mobility, >precarity= and unemployment
(Prof. Michele Tiraboschi, lecturer in Labour Law, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia)
- Open discussion
4:30 p.m. Break
5:00 p.m. - Panel discussion: Work in a changing world
- The >new professionals= and the creativity and initiative of young people
- Creating new business ideas
- The frustrations, demands and expectations of young people in poor neighbourhoods
- Facing unemployment and crisis situations in professional life
- Open discussion
7:00 p.m. Holy Mass (Bishop Josef Clemens, PCL Secretary)
8:00 p.m. Dinner
9:00 p.m. Presentation of countries, movements, associations and communities

Thursday 29 March
A day of pilgrimage and encounter in Rome

8:00 a.m. Coaches leave for the Basilica of Saint-Paul-Outside-the-Walls
9:00 a.m. - Prayer
- Visit to the basilica in language groups
10:30 a.m. - Holy Mass (Cardinal Ivan Dias, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples)
- Prayer at the Apostle's tomb
12:30 p.m. Packed lunch
1:30 p.m. Departure for Saint Peter's Basilica
2:30 p.m. - Visit to the basilica in language groups
- Prayer at the tomb of John Paul II
4:30 p.m. Coach tour of Rome and return to the Forum headquarters
8:00 p.m. Dinner

Friday 30 March
Theme of the day:

8:30 a.m. Prayer
8:45 a.m. - Introduction to the theme of the day
- Lecture: Work as a Vocation: Drawing on the Catholic Social Tradition 25 Years after “Laborem exercens” (Prof. Michael J. Naughton, Professor of Catholic Studies and Theology, University of St. Thomas, Saint Paul, USA)
- Open discussion
10:30 a.m. Break
11:00 a.m. - Panel discussion: Work at the service of the person and the person's growth
- Using our talents in the choice and exercise of our profession
- Work as a place for human relations and solidarity
- Work, free time, consumerism and use of money
- Open discussion
1:00 p.m. Lunch
3:00 p.m. Working groups: The significance of work for young people today
4:30 p.m. Break
5:00 p.m. Synthesis of working groups
6:30 p.m. Holy Mass (Cardinal Renato Martino, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People)
7:30 p.m. Dinner
8:45 p.m. Prayer vigil

Saturday 31 March
Theme of the day:

8:00 a.m. Holy Mass (Archbishop Stanis»aw Ry»ko, PCL President)
9:00 a.m. - Introduction to the theme of the day
- Panel discussion: Christian witness in the workplace
- Pastoral ministry of workers today
- The role of Catholic associations
- Christians in trade unions
10:15 a.m. Break
10:45 a.m. Lecture: “Ora et labora”: joining our professional life with our Christian life
(Most Rev. Gregor Maria Hanke osb, Bishop of Eichstätt, Germany)
11:30 a.m. - Personal experiences: In search of the Aspirituality of work@
- a young worker
- a young professional
- a young entrepreneur
- Open discussion
1:00 p.m. Lunch
3:00 p.m. Working groups: Young people, witnesses to Christ in the world of work: experiences and suggestions
4:30 p.m. Break
5:00 p.m. Synthesis of working groups
6:00 p.m. Forum conclusions (Archbishop Stanis»aw Ry»ko, PCL President)
7:30 p.m. Dinner
8:45 p.m. Festive evening

Sunday 1 April (Palm Sunday)
Rome diocesan celebration of the 22nd World Youth Day with the Holy Father

7:30 a.m. Coaches leave for Saint Peter's Square
10:00 a.m. Palm Sunday Mass presided by the Holy Father
12:30 p.m. Lunch and departure

Monday, March 26, 2007

What if she had said No?

The question may strike you as irreverent. How dare I suggest that the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Heaven, Co-Redemptrix of mankind, could have left us in the lurch like that? But what if she had?

Could she have said No? You might say that of course she couldn’t, she was far too holy — but you would be guilty of demeaning and dangerous sentimentality. It is demeaning because it turns Our Lady from a free human being into a sanctified automaton. The whole glory of the Annunciation is that Mary, the second Eve, could have said No to God but she said Yes instead. That is what we celebrate, that is what we praise her for; and rightly so.

This sentimental view is dangerous too. If we believe that the most important decision in the history of the world was in fact inevitable, that it couldn’t have been otherwise, then that means it was effortless. Now we have a marvellous excuse for laziness. Next time we’re faced with a tough moral decision, we needn’t worry about doing what is right. Just drift, and God will make sure that whatever choice we make is the right one. If God really wants us to do something he’ll sweep us off his feet the way he did Mary, and if he chooses not to, it’s hardly our fault, is it?

So Mary could have said No to Gabriel. What if she had? He couldn’t just go and ask someone else, like some sort of charity collector. With all the genealogies and prophecies in the Bible, there was only one candidate. It’s an alarming thought. Ultimately, of course, God would have done something: the history of salvation is the history of him never abandoning his people however pig-headed they were. But God has chosen to work through human history. If the first attempt at redemption took four thousand years to prepare, from the Fall to the Annunciation, how many tens of thousands of years would the next attempt have taken?

Even if the world sometimes makes us feel like cogs in a machine, each of us is unique and each of us is here for a purpose: just because it isn’t as spectacular a purpose as Mary’s, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. When we fail to seek our vocation, or put off fulfilling some part of it, we try to justify ourselves by saying that someone else will do it better, that God will provide, that it doesn’t really matter. But we are lying. However small a part I have to play, the story of the Annunciation tells me it is my part and no-one else can do it.

Faced with the enormity of her choice, how was Mary able to decide? If she said No, unredeemed generations would toil on under the burden of sin. If she said Yes, she herself would suffer, and so would her Son; but both would be glorified. Millions of people not yet born would have Heaven open to them; but millions of others would suffer oppression and death in her son’s name. The stakes were almost infinite.

You might say that Mary didn’t worry about all this, just obeyed God; but I don’t believe it. What God wanted was not Mary’s unthinking obedience but her full and informed consent as the representative of the entire human race. The two greatest miracles of the Annunciation are these: that God gave Mary the wisdom to know the consequences of her decision, and that he gave her the grace not to be overwhelmed by that knowledge.

When we come to an important decision in our lives, we can easily find our minds clouded by the possible consequences, or, even more, by partial knowledge of them. How can we ever move, when there is so much good and evil whichever way we go? The Annunciation gives us the answer. God’s grace will give us the strength to move, even if the fate of the whole world is hanging in the balance. After all, God does not demand that our decisions should be the correct ones (assuming that there even is such a thing), only that they should be rightly made.

There is one more truth that the Annunciation teaches us, and it is so appalling that I can think of nothing uplifting to say about it that will take the sting away: perhaps it is best forgotten, because it tells us more about God than we are able to understand. The Almighty Father creates heaven and earth, the sun and all the stars; but when he really wants something done, he comes, the Omnipotent and Omniscient, to one of his poor, weak creatures — and he asks.

And, day by day, he keeps on asking us.

• • •
See the original article: Universalis

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Lenten Reflection - Sunday, 5th Week of Lent

God in Jesus Keeps Promises

"I will put my spirit in you that you may live, and I will settle you upon your land; thus you shall know that I am the LORD. I have promised, and I will do it, says the LORD" - Ezekiel 37:14 "And Jesus wept. So the Jews said, 'See how he loved him.'" – John 11:35-36

The shortest line in the New Testament, "And Jesus wept" reveals the humanity and depth of Jesus' love for his friend Lazarus. He comes "late" to console and to save. "Late" because God's timing and manner of acting in the world is not determined by our schedule. God's ways are not our ways. But Jesus keeps his promise. In God's mysterious time and fashion, Jesus acts decisively. He suffers with, raises Lazarus to new life, and consoles.

It is not just for Lazarus whom Jesus weeps, he weeps for us. He grieves with us who grieves and shed tears with us who cry. Yet, in solidarity with those who suffer, Jesus acts. The loneliness that comes from being alone is met; the loss of meaning from suffering gains new insight and purpose; new hope arises mysteriously from despair. God in Jesus suffers for us and with us. God keeps promises.

"For what do you mourn and weep? Invite Jesus to walk with you."

Fr. Tri Dinh, SJ
Suggested reflection format

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Lenten Reflection - Saturday, 4th Week of Lent

Living Without Prejudices Is Difficult

"Nicodemus ... asked, "Our law does not judge people without first giving them a hearing to find out what they are doing, does it?" - John 7:51

One of the hardest spiritual tasks is to live without prejudices. Sometimes we aren't even aware how deeply rooted our prejudices are. We may think that we relate to people who are different than we are in color, religion, sexual orientation, or lifestyle as equals, but in concrete circumstances our spontaneous thought, uncensored words, and knee-jerk reactions often reveal that our prejudices are still there.

Strangers, people different from us, stir up fear, discomfort, suspicion, and hostility. They make us lose our sense of security just by being "other." Only when we fully claim that God loves us in an unconditional way and look at "those other persons" as equally loved can we begin to discover that the great variety in humanity is an expression of the immense richness of God's heart. Then the need to prejudge people can gradually disappear. Then we grow in seeing and loving as God sees and loves.

"Lord, make known to me my prejudices and help me to overcome them."

adapted from Henri Nouwen

Fr. Tri Dinh, SJ
Suggested reflection format

God in the Streets of New York City

Friday, March 23, 2007

Lenten Reflection - Friday, 4th Week of Lent

Accepting Our Brokenness - And Living It

"The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord rescues them from them all. He keeps all their bones; not one of them will be broken." - Psalm 34:18-20

Jesus was broken on the cross. He endured his suffering and death not as an evil to avoid at all costs but as a mission to embrace. We too are broken. We live with broken bodies, broken hearts, broken minds, or broken spirits. We suffer from broken relationships. Countries suffer from broken relations.

How can we live our brokenness? Jesus invited us to embrace our brokenness as he embraced the cross and live it as part of our mission. He asks us not to reject our brokenness as a curse from God that reminds us of our sinfulness but to accept it and put it under God's blessing for our purification and sanctification. Rather, we are invited to a deeper intimacy with Jesus on the Cross who suffers with and for us. In his wounds, our are healed. Our brokenness can become a gateway to new life.

"What helps you accept your condition as sinful and flawed -- yet redeemed and called to contribute in your own special ways?"

adapted from Henri Nouwen

Fr. Tri Dinh, SJ
Suggested reflection format

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Lenten Reflection - Thursday, 4th Week of Lent

Life-giving Experiences Point to God

"You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that testify on my behalf. Yet you refuse to come to me to have life." - John 5:39-40

We are hungry for life-giving experiences. We seek them unceasingly. We often make these experiences the goal of our striving. Yet, they are not the end. They themselves are not life. They are the means to fullness of life.

In the biblical view, life is, first and foremost, life with someone, life in relation to the other, in relation to God, to those whom we love, and to those who love us. Eternal life – fullness of life – is union with God. Life-giving experiences allow us to come into contact with God; they take us into God's presence. Through them, we encounter Jesus. As we grow in relationship with Jesus, we have fuller life.

We are often caught up in the excitement, emotions, and thrills of life engendering experiences. Yet the invitation remains: "Come, encounter the One who is life."

"Lord Jesus, how are you inviting me to deeper relationship through life-giving experiences of today?"

Fr. Tri Dinh, SJ
Suggested reflection format

Tâm tình sau Khóa Cura Personalis tại Trung Tây - 1

Thach thought that I'd take a few minutes to share with you my take on the workshop and how I perceive our group, NS, will go forward thanks to the so many "eye opener" revelations that I think we all received from CP.

NguonSong has seen and been through its own rollercoaster ride lifecycle, probably much like many other local groups in Donghanh over the years. Our group has been sitting at the bottom of the plateau with the fewest active members ever the last couple of years and has not been able to find any momentum to get over the hump. The timing of this CP workshop was just impeccable! One big surprise that Jesus pulled for us this time was that almost everyone of our currently active members went to the workshop, seven, unlike in the past where only one or two persons would participate in any Vung or Phongtrao activities, if any at all. Back then, whoever that was sent away on a mission would have an unsurmountable task of delivering the message back to the group and often times, the message and what could have been a new liveblood for the group was quickly drown out from a lack of enthusiam and response. There is no convincing to be done this time however! We all went and each one of us got recharged with new hope and spirit, a new way of looking at oneself, our own group, and DongHanh as a big family.

During the one hour on Saturday night our group was allowed to sit together to discern, it became so vividly clear that our mission and caring we've been sharing all these years suddenly got a huge boost of energy and are now about to enter a new chapter. We all agreed that a refreshing change was long overdue for the group and what could have been better to bring about that positive change than a slew of breath-catching presentations and workshops that cha Tri and the "Big brothers and sisters" with a generous heart put together for Trungtay. I personally have to admit that eventhough Ban Phuc Vu crammed way too much materials into a two-day weekend, the information presented was so fundamental and vital that I am not sure if cha Tri could afford not to, considering how difficult it is to organize such a gathering like this on a regional scale. Much information might have been passed up but I am sure that each one of us was able to pick up a certain part of the workshop well, and with these little parts multiplied by seven of us that went, we may have accomplished more as a group than we think.

We set some new goals for our group going forward that night. We walked away from the camp with a renewed sense of hope and faith. We have everyone at the camp, ourselves, and Jesus to thank for, for allowing us a rare opportunity to be with one another and with Him on this life long journey.


Mot vai chia se voi chi KA : tu*` nhieu^` nam qua , va^’n dde danh thi gio rieng cho ba?n tha^n de lo cho suc khoe hay mot vai nhu cau ca^`n thie^’t nhu doc sach, tim cho minh 5, 10 phut tha^.t tha?nh tho?i la dieu em da khong lam .. Ve doi song cua nhom, ban than em co mot^. so^’ vai uu* tu* ma hau nhu khong tim duoc cau tra loi tu nhieu nam qua : khong tim` duoc mot suc manh thieng lieng de den^’ voi*’ nhom’ tuy luon nha^.n duoc*. su* nang^ do~ tinh than^` qua nhung~ bien^’ cua ACE trong nhom. Va nhieu nguoi trong nhom dda~ roi*` nhom’ hoac khong den^’ sinh hoat thuo*`ng xuyen^.
Qua khoa CP:
Ve^` ca’ nhan, em nhan^. ra duoc dieu can thiet phai cham soc chinh minh ve tam linh va suc khoe de co duoc binh an, binh tam va co su sang khoai’ va nang luc dem chia se cho nhung nguoi Chua gui den trong doi song sinh hoat hang ngay`. Co quye^’t ta^m la`m phut hoi^` tam^ va cho.n cho minh` hang` tua^`n mot^. thay do^?i nho de tu luye^.n nha^n duc*.
Ve^` nhom’, moi mot ca nhan phai duoc lon len trong doi song duc tin va phai giup nhau va nang do nhau de cung tang truong chu*’ khong chi? dung*` lai o* nhung*~ nang^ do*~ kho’ khan trong doi*` song^’ hang ngay. Va cung~ thay duoc*. su* ca^`n thie^’t phai? quan tam de^’n tieng^’ noi’ cua Chua den^’ qua nhung~ bien co^ do’. Tu*` do, truong* thanh` hon* ve doi* song^’ duc*’ tin. Vo*’i nhung hoc hoi mo*’i ve^` nghe^ thua^.t lang nghe, chia se, hy tu.i em se de^~ dang` giup’ nhau hon*. Can^` de y dden nhu ca^`u cua? nhau nhieu^` ho*n. Nhung~ die^`u ca^`n thie^’t cho do*`i so^ng ta^m linh cua? moi^~ nhom vien: cau^` nguyen, phu’t hoi^` can^` duoc nhac nho* trong nhom’ thuo*`ng xuye^n ho*n.



Dear Nhom,
I just wanted to let you know that I am doing great. As a wife, a mother of two young ones and a full time student (I quitted my job to go back to school), I truly understand how busy and hectic life is...for all of us. Although I'm not active in St.Polycarp group anymore, I'm with ya in spirit. I'm very happy that Nhom "bat dau lai" - truly I am :).

It's very hard, and I know that 101%. There are lots of temptations, lots of attachments that pull us back. Every single time, I planned to go hop Nhom, (fellowship with Nhom Agape, Austin) I always had excuses not to go and those excuses at the time seemed very legitimate. My baby had not finished eating yet, the house chores were not done yet… I have an exam the next day…I needed to study, do the laundry… maybe I’ll just go to the next fellowship. "Next time" came and "next time" went, I still haven't gone to any fellowship meeting yet. One big excuse I thought of is "your call is to be a Mom - why don't you fulfill that call first then other things can come later...." ...... the list of my excuses can go on and on for pages. It's an horrendous ordeal to DETACH from my attachments.

I just came back from the Cura Personalis training last weekend. I took Bao An (Grace) with me this time. We were exhausted - both of us. Grace was very much distressed on the last day because we were all staying up very late and waking up very early (you know how it goes when you’re on a retreat/workshop). Grace acted up on the last day. She had eczema on her neck, her right eye swelled-up and was red. She was constipated, had running nose, cough...etc...... I was very exhausted physically and emotionally. I kept my composure on the outside, but I rumble against God within…"why did You call us here, and then not help us - I didn't learn much - I don't think I want to come back"… I hear more rumbling… "You called us here, how come Grace's condition got worse, her eczema was almost healed before we left" and "Did you really want us here? Or did I make a wrong choice".

On the last day of CP training, I could not concentrate during mass. The kids cried and disturbed other people, so I told Minh, my husband, who had come to join us for mass that morning, to take us home (Minh and Vinh came to pick us up). I thought to myself, at least now I could go home and rest ........ ...... but......... ..... something else happened … Usually it only takes 3 1/2 hours to get home from Denton to Austin but that evening it took us 7 1/2 hours. The kids were crying in the back of the car. Minh was all tensed up because traffic was so bad. I could probably get home faster on foot. Minh tried to find an alternate route. We rushed and cut through some back roads to bypass the traffic area, but it didn't matter. It didn't matter which road we took, they were all congested. Minh was tensed and I could very much felt that too. Although we didn't say a word to each other, we both felt the tension from one another….And the kid's crying just added more fuel to the fire. I wanted to EXPLODE. I wanted so badly to scream and blame. I felt so bad for Grace because I took her with me and she was in so much distressed. It didn’t matter how hard I tried to calm her, she did not stop crying. Her crying and Vinh’s screaming….I just could not handle it anymore..... ....The rumble from within came again..... "What do You want me to do? and where are YOU?" ...... I could not stand it anymore. I turned away and looked thru our car's window. I saw horses grazing in the farm pasture… the breeze - you know how it is when wind gently blow in the field… it makes waves in the grass…the clear blue sky…the yellow wild flowers in the field look beautiful under the sunset...... .....It's magnificent. ......... .

Although I felt I didn't have a "turning point" (or shall we called them...”graces”) through this CP training as I had with my past retreats, I felt that there was still a message for me…. Amidst the chaos, He is there - just turn to Him. I thank God so much for his allowing me to see the beauty of nature, feel HIS presence amidst the frustration, and feel HIS strength to help me keep my composure. I felt HIS strong message for me.... I don't know for certain whether I had interpreted it correctly or not, but I felt that life is going to be just the way it is (it's not gonna change overnight) with all its issues. I would still have to struggle to manage my time, find time for the family, for my kids, my spiritual growth, and school. There will still be time of chaos, but I know now that if I would pause and turn to HIM to feel His presence - the source of my strength – then I will be able to carry on the call that HE had dreamt for me.

Now, looking back, I pause to think if I had any regrets in taking Grace with me. There were times at the workshop that I felt like I have failed Grace as a mom. Grace didn’t eat or sleep well and her eczema acted up (she is doing a little better now)…. Although I felt horribly and Grace certainly suffered many discomforts, I think it was all worthwhile to take Grace along. I would not have trade anything for a good spiritual foundation for my children. However, I should be more realistic and be better prepared next time. I saw some very spiritual teenagers and young adults. I admired them very much. I wasn't like them at all when I was their age. After talking to some of their parents who were also at the workshop, I found out that some of these teens started their spiritual life when they were just conceived. What a beautiful thing…!

All of us are very concerned for our kids. I'm too. I feel that in order for our kids to be spiritual, I (myself) and Minh have to set an example for our children. And I know that all of you are J Each and everyone of us struggle in one way or another. I'm struggling to di hop Nhom too. There are too many attachments and too many VOICES of distraction in our heads. It's very difficult to discern which is the ONE true voice amidst the chaos. I usually discover that true voice afterward. I now feel peaceful about my decision in taking Grace with me. I just wanted to share with you my weaknesses as well as my blessings so that you know you are not alone. We struggle as we go - and we journey together. J After all, that’s what Dong Hanh is all about right?


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Lenten Reflection - Wednesday, 4th Week of Lent

Our Security Is Rooted In God's Love

"But Zion said, 'The Lord has forsaken me, my Lord has forgotten me.' Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you." - Isaiah 49:14-15

We all long for security. Often, we look for a firm security in success, money, friends, ideas, property, popularity, family, connections, insurance, our own strength or resourcefulness and so on. We may like to think that none of these form the basis of our security, but our actions or feelings may tell us otherwise. When we begin to lose our money, our friends, or our popularity, our anxiety often reveals how deeply our sense of security is rooted in these things.

Ignatian spirituality envisions a life of the spirit in which our security is based not in any created things, good as they may be, but in God, who is love everlasting. Such things are helps in our praise, reverence and service of God, in so far as we do not make them the center of our lives. We probably will never be completely free from belonging to such temporal things, but if we want to live in the world in a truly free way, then we are called to let go of such inordinate attachments. Lent is an invitation for a greater "no" to such things and more whole-hearted "yes" to God's unspeakable love – our true security.

"What did the most recent crisis in your life reveal about the basis for your security? Listen and speak to God about it."

inspired by Henri Nouwen

Fr. Tri Dinh, SJ
Suggested reflection format

Consequences of contraception

interesting blog:

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

9th International Youth Forum

Catholic News Agency

Vatican City, Mar 20, 2007 / 01:19 pm (CNA).-

The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Laity announced the plans for its ninth International Youth Forum, due to be held at Rocca di Papa near Rome from March 28 to April 1 on the theme: "Bearing witness to Christ in the world of work."The forum is expected to be attended by around 300 people between the ages of 20 and 35, all with a solid background of commitment in the Church and in the world of work. They come from around 100 different countries and have various work and ecclesiastical experiences. Also participating will be around 30 guests, including speakers and participants in round table discussions. The characteristics of young people entering the world of work in the various countries ("young people and the world of work today") will be the theme of the first day of the meeting, the communiqué noted. Particular attention will be given to the sociological, economic, and institutional transformations brought about by globalization, and the sometimes dramatic consequences thereof (human mobility, unemployment, frustration). Attention will also turn to creative and innovative capacities and potential, and the emergence of new professions. According to the Pontifical Council, the second day will be dedicated to a pilgrimage in the footsteps of the Apostles Peter and Paul, and to the discovery of the city of Rome which many of the delegates will be visiting for the first time. "The significance of work for human life," especially in the light of the Church's social doctrine, is to be the theme of the third day, the press release continues. On the basis of John Paul II's Encyclical "Laborem exercens," attention will be given to the world of work in its entirety, considered as a world made up of human relationships where individuals have the right to self-realization in the exercise of their profession and where people learn to structure and unify their lives, rather than a machine to generate profit, regulated by competition and competitiveness and nourished by a consumer society." "Announcing the 'Gospel of work' today" is to be the theme of the last day of the forum. Attention will focus on the spirituality of work, the state of pastoral care in the workplace, and the role of Catholic associations in achieving what St. Benedict called 'ora et labora,' the unity of an individual's professional and Christian life.

Bản tin trên Vietcatholic:
Vatican 19/03/07.- Hội Đồng Tòa Thánh về Giáo Dân loan báo chương trình cuộc hội thảo lần thứ 9 của Diễn Đàn Các Bạn Trẻ Thế Giới được tổ chức tại Roma từ ngày 28 tháng 3 đến ngày 1 tháng 4 năm 2007. Chủ đề của diễn đàn năm nay là “Đưa Chứng Tá Chúa Kitô Vào Thế Giới Công Việc” Tham dự cuộc hội thảo lần này, theo dự trù, có chừng 300 người tuổi từ 20 đến 35, từ 100 quốc gia trên thế giới đến. Tất cả đều đã trải qua một quá trình dấn thân nhiều kinh nghiệm với Giáo Hội và với thế giới công việc. Ngoài ra cũng có khoảng 30 khách mời và thuyết trình viên. Thể thức phát biểu ý kiến năm nay là theo nguyên tắc hội nghị bàn tròn.Theo chương trình trong ngày đầu tiên các bạn trẻ sẽ đề cập đến các đặc điểm của các bạn trẻ bước vào thế giới việc làm. Diễn đàn năm nay đặc biệt chú ý đến khía cạnh xã hội, kinh tế và sự thay đổi cơ chế do hiện tượng toàn cầu hóa đưa lại. Đồng thời cũng chú ý tới hậu quả tiêu cực như hiện tượng con người phải di chuyển, nạn thất nghiệp, tình trạng tâm lý thất vọng và phiền não. Diễn đàn cũng đề cập đến hai vấn đề khác nữa. Đó là những khả năng hay năng lực sáng tạo và sự xuất hiện những nghề nghiệp mới. Theo chương trình dự liệu, ngày thứ hai các tham dự viên sẽ được dịp tham quan thành phố Roma và Tòa Thánh Vatican để các bạn trẻ bước đi theo dấu chân của hai thánh Tông Đồ Phêrô và Phaolô.Trong ngày thứ ba các tham dự viên sẽ thảo luận về “Ý nghĩa việc làm đối với đời sống con người” đặc biệt dưới ánh sáng của học thuyết xã hội Công Giáo. Ngày thứ Tư cũng là ngày bế mạc, các tham dự viên sẽ thảo luận đến vấn đề “Loan báo Tin Mừng Nơi Làm Việc Ngày Nay”. Trong tâm chú ý đến linh đạo nơi làm việc, tình hình cung ứng mục vụ nơi làm việc và vai trò của các tổ chức Công Giáo để hoàn thành điều mà thánh Bênêđictô gọi là “Ora et Labora” tức cầu nguyện và lao động. Nói khác đi là hiệp nhất giữa nghề nghiệp cá nhân và đời sống người Kitô Giáo.

Rocca di Papa: (click on map)

On Eucharist: "It Nourishes That Profound Joy in Believers"

PRISON VISIT - Pope Benedict XVI greets young people during a visit to Casal del Marmo Prison for Minors in Rome March 18. The pope celebrated Mass for 49 young detainees, blessed them individually and gave each a rosary. (CNS/Reuters)

Lenten Reflection - Tuesday, 4th Week of Lent

Enough Light To Take The Next Step

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the seas; though it's waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult." - Psalm 46:1-3

Often we want to be able to see into the future. We say, "How will next year be for me? Where will be five or ten years from now?" There are no answers to these questions, because all we see is the present. The past is the present remembering. The future is the present anticipating. We only experience the present moment. By experiencing fully each moment, we are living into the unknown future.

Often pain and hardships overshadow the present and its anticipated future. Yet, we are gifted in the present with just enough light to see the next step: what we have to do in the coming hour or the following day. The art of living is to enjoy what we can see and not to get anxious about what remains in the dark. When we are able to take the next step with the trust that we will have enough light for the step that follows, we can walk through life with joy and be surprised at how far we go. Let us rejoice in the little light we carry and not demand the great beam that would take all shadows away. The spiritual life is taking one step at a time with Jesus - the Light of the World.

"Lord, help me to embrace the gift of the present, give thanks for what I have, and take that next step with You."

inspired by Henri Nouwen

Fr. Tri Dinh, SJ
Suggested reflection format

Monday, March 19, 2007

Feast of Saint Joseph: Living Out God’s Dream in Ordinary Life

"When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home." – Matthew 1:24

Sister M. Madeleva, CSJ writes a revealing statement about Joseph: "Quiet, living on the verge of mystery. He was left with dreams and the work of his hands." Joseph represents the largest part of Jesus' earthly existence: his hidden life. Moreover, as foster father, Joseph greatly shaped Jesus' hidden life, in a small town, in the backcountry of Galilee, in quiet, simple, ordinary, and unspectacular life as a carpenter.

Yet, through this everyday, almost uneventful existence, the invitation to live life fully unfolds. Living fully the common, even mundane moments of our lives takes us into the mystery of God's dream for our life. It involves an openness to dreaming about our unique roles in the mystery of God's liberating and transforming love; it also entails working attentively towards its fulfillment. At times, following these dreams takes much risk and pain; at other times, it draws out of us a faithfulness in the tedious, humdrum tasks of everyday life. Like Joseph and Jesus, we are called to follow God in hidden, simple, ordinary, and unspectacular life.

"Lord Jesus, help me to be faithful and find you in the ordinariness of my life this week."

Fr. Tri Dinh, SJ

Kính nhớ thánh Giuse

Thật đáng ngạc nhiên là ngay tại Giêrusalem không có một đền thờ, không một thánh đường nào được đặc biệt dâng hiến để tưởng nhớ thánh Giuse một cách riêng, ngoại trừ một bàn thờ nhỏ đặt bên cạnh cầu thang dẫn đến nơi kỷ niệm Ðức Mẹ lên trời trong một nguyện đường nhỏ, ẩn khuất.

Tuy đó là điều làm cho ta ngạc nhiên, nhưng lại có thể là điều xứng hợp, có thể là điều mà chính thánh Giuse muốn theo những gì chúng ta hiểu biết về ngài. Con người khiêm nhường âm thầm nuôi nấng, dạy dỗ và bảo vệ Chúa Giêsu, đã sống trọn vẹn đức vâng lời và đã lặng lẽ chu toàn sứ mệnh của mình.

Chúng ta nghe nói rất ít về thánh Giuse, nhưng những gì ghi lại trong Kinh Thánh cũng giúp chúng ta có một khái niệm về tính tình của ngài.

Công chính ... làm những điều chính trực và tốt lành.
Vâng phục Thiên Chúa không ngần ngại ...
Can đảm không sợ sự dị nghị của người đời ...
Nhẫn nhục chịu đựng gian khó, nào là đi BêLem, đi tránh nạn ở Ai Cập ...
Khiêm nhường âm thầm hiện diện và phục vụ

Trong Thánh đường St Paul tại Luân Ðôn có ngôi mộ của kiến trúc sư Sir Christopher Wren, người đã có công xây dựng đền thờ này. Trên ngôi mộ có khắc ghi hàng chữ: "Nếu bạn muốn tìm xem tác phẩm của ông, hãy nhìn chung quanh bạn". Thật là xứng hợp nếu ta dùng lời này để nói về thánh Giuse, vị thánh bổn mạng của Giáo Hội. Hãy nhìn xem Giáo Hội ngày hôm nay, Giáo Hội được chính người cha nuôi của Chúa Giêsu ân cần chăm sóc bảo vệ, để kính nhớ con người công chính, âm thầm và khiêm nhường này.

Nguyện xin thánh Giuse luôn cầu bầu và bảo vệ Giáo Hội.

Lenten Reflection - Monday, 4th Week of Lent

Dear Friends,
My apologizes for the last 2 days. I had no internet access. Tri sj

Joy Is Hidden In Sorrow, Sorrow In Joy

"Sing praises to the Lord, O you his faithful ones, and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger is but for a moment; his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning." - Psalm 30:4-5

Joy is what makes life worth living, but for many joy seems hard to find. They complain that their lives are sorrowful and depressing. What then brings the joy we so much desire? Are some people just lucky, while others have run out of luck? Strange as it may sound, we can choose joy. Two people can be part of the same event, but one may choose to live it quite differently than the other. One may choose to trust that what happened, painful as it may be, holds a promise. The other may choose despair and be destroyed by it. What makes us human is precisely this freedom of choice.

Joy and sorrow are never separated. When our hearts rejoice at a spectacular view, we may miss our friends who cannot see it, and when we are overwhelmed with grief, we may discover what true friendship is all about. Joy is hidden in sorrow and sorrow in joy. If we try to avoid sorrow at all costs, we may never taste joy, and if we are suspicious of ecstasy, agony can never reach us either. C.S. Lewis puts it well: "The pain yesterday is part of the joy today … And the joy today will be part of the pain tomorrow." Joy and sorrow are the parents of our spiritual growth.

"Lord, help me to embrace the joys and the sorrows of today."

adapted from Henri Nouwen

Fr. Tri Dinh, SJ
Suggested reflection format

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Hoang phí!

Chúa Giêsu dùng dụ ngôn trong Phúc Âm hôm nay để kể chuyện về người con hoang đàng.

"Hoang" nghĩa là phí phạm. Người con út xin lấy phần gia tài của mình rồi trẩy đi phương xa tiêu xài hoang phí.

Tuy nhiên, hoang phí không phải là cái tội của anh ta. Tội của anh là xoay lưng lại, là phụ bạc tình yêu của cha. Ðòi lấy phần gia tài của mình chẳng khác nào nguyền rủa cho cha mình chết đi.

Nhưng, nghĩ lại cho cùng về sự hoang phí ...
Chúng ta tự hỏi: ai hoang phí hơn ai?
Có thể nào người cha đã hoang phí hơn người con út chăng?

Khi chia ngay cho đứa con phần tiền của nó, ông đã chẳng "hoang phí" sao?

Ðến khi cậu con lê lết đem cái thân tàn ma dại trở về, ông đã chẳng "hoang phí" tình yêu của mình cho đứa con bội bạc và bất hiếu sao? ... theo cái nhìn của người anh cả. Ðã vậy còn hoang phí giết bê béo, đeo nhẫn qúi và quần áo đẹp cho cậu ta nữa.

Thật là qúa đáng, qúa sức hoang phí! người anh cả lầu bầu phản đối.

Nhưng lạ thay, đó là hình ảnh của Thiên Chúa,
một Thiên Chúa chạy đi tìm kiếm những đứa con tội lỗi và phản bội
để cho đi tình yêu của mình một cách "hoang phí",
để cho đi sự tha thứ một cách "hoang phí"!

Thử hỏi chúng ta, là những người tội lỗi, chẳng mừng rỡ sao được?

Các bạn có thấy phẩm phục trong Thánh Lễ ngày hôm nay là mầu hồng,
tượng trưng cho sự vui mừng?


Let my soul bow in humble adoration before the Body of Christ

Heavenly Father, when Your priest holds up the host and says "the Body of Christ" let my soul bow in humble adoration before the love and humility of Jesus. Let my heart be a pure resting place for Your Son. I desire, dear Father, that the image of Jesus grow brighter in my soul after every Communion. At that tremendous moment God and I are one. My Jesus, so shine in me that together we may glorify the Father by bearing fruit in abundance. Let us go out into the world together and radiate Your love and kindness.

I am a child of God through Baptism and my resemblance to Him has grown stronger through Holy Communion. Somewhere, someplace, there is a Mass being said a Calvary to be present at a Communion to receive, either sacramentally or spiritually an opportunity to be more like Jesus, the privilege of helping my neighbor, a time to say "I thank You, God," a situation to choose Jesus over myself or a chance to make a sacrifice. Truly, the Mass will go on and on until one day the Father will say, as His Son once said, "It is finished." Yes, the Lamb of God shall reign triumphantly with all those who have been washed clean in His Blood.

Mother Angelica
The Mass in My Life

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Tôi muốn nhìn xem thánh nhan Chúa

Tôi rất mong được nhìn xem Thánh Nhan Chúa.
Nhiều bạn bè của tôi đã từng hỏi Thiên Chúa nghĩ gì về chúng ta hôm nay.
Cũng mong được nhìn xem Thiên Chúa.
Nhìn xem từng ngày, từng bước trên giai đoạn đường đời.

Vì khuôn mặt diễn tả niềm vui của kẻ gặp lại bạn thân.
Lòng thông cảm với kẻ bị bệnh hay gặp khó khăn,
Lòng khuyến khích đối với kẻ nản lòng.
Hay bất đồng ý và tức giận đối với những kẻ làm điều sai ác.

Tôi mong được nhìn xem khuôn mặt Chúa khi Ngài nhìn tôi.
Nhưng Thiên Chúa vô hình qúa!
Ðâu có ai thấy Thiên Chúa bao giờ!
Có phải là Thiên Chúa luôn luôn vắng mặt trong lịch sử nhân loại chăng?

"Không phải!". Ðức Mẹ Maria trả lời.
Thiên Chúa có một khuôn mặt bằng xương bằng thịt.
Là khuôn mặt Chúa Giêsu, con của Ðức Mẹ.
Mẹ biết khuôn mặt Thiên Chúa và giữ kỹ trong lòng.
Bao nhiêu kỷ niệm về khuôn mặt đó.
Qua biến cố vui buồn suốt 30 năm sống chung.
Mẹ có thể đọc trong khuôn mặt
những tư tưởng và cảm tình thầm kín nhất của con Mẹ.
Tôi tin chắc rằng sau nhiều năm trời
Chú ý nhìn khuôn mặt Chúa Giêsu.
với lòng đầy tình yêu và kính nể,
trong bất cứ hoàn cảnh bất ngờ nào,
hai người đều phản ứng như nhau:
hai khuôn mặt đã biến thành giống như nhau.
Hai khuôn mặt vui buồn, bình tĩnh hay tức giận luôn luôn giống nhau.

Nếu Chúa Giêsu sống gần tôi và
nếu tôi thương yêu và kính nể Ngài
như Ðức Mẹ đã kính nể Ngài
chắc tôi cũng chú ý, cũng nhìn xem khuôn mặt Chúa hoài:
lúc Ngài nhìn bạn thân của tôi,
cũng như lúc Ngài tiếp xúc với những kẻ tôi không ưa,
lúc nào Ngài nhìn kẻ hèn yếu
cũng như lúc Ngài tiếp xúc với kẻ có địa vị cao, quyền thế lớn,
lúc Ngài nhìn thẳng và nói chuyện với tôi.

Nhưng Ngài có sống gần tôi đâu?
Hay là mối phúc thật:"Phúc cho kẻ có lòng thanh sạch,
vì họ sẽ nhìn xem Thiên Chúa."
Có thể áp dụng cho thế giới ngày nay nữa chăng?
Làm sao tôi khám phá ra khuôn mặt Chúa
trong khuôn mặt anh chị em chung quanh?
Tôi cần bao nhiêu tình yêu và lòng kính nể
mới chú ý và nhìn xem được khuôn mặt này
lòng vui buồn, tình yêu chân thật hay vết thương đau đớn của Thiên Chúa?
Và nếu tôi quan sát khuôn mặt anh chị em
với tình yêu và lòng kính nể này hoài,
liệu khuôn mặt tôi
dần dần cũng biến đổi để nên giống khuôn mặt Chúa chăng?
Mẹ nghĩ sao, thưa Mẹ?

Julian Elizaldé Thành, S.J.
(trích báo Ðồng Hành Tháng 4, 1988)

Friday, March 16, 2007

Lenten Reflection - Friday, 3rd Week of Lent

Being Alone With God

"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength." - Mark 12:30

Hiddenness is an essential quality of the spiritual life. Solitude, silence, ordinary tasks, simply being with people, sleeping, eating, working, playing are facets of life that Jesus lived and invites us to live. It is in hiddenness that we can find a true intimacy with God and a true love for people. Even during his active ministry, Jesus continued to return to hidden places to be alone with God. If we don't have a hidden life with God, our public life for God cannot bear fruit, just as a fruit tree cannot bear fruits unless its roots are grounded in the earth through hiddenness. Like much of in nature which grows in hiddenness and silence, the human spirit grows in hiddenness and silence.

Solitude allows us to be alone with God. There we experience that we belong not to people, not even to those who love us and care for us, but to God and God alone.

"My soul is at rest in God alone, my salvation comes from God." (Psalm 62:2)

"Resolve to spend some time today alone with God."

adapted from Henri Nouwen

Fr. Tri Dinh, SJ
Suggested reflection format

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Lenten Reflection - Thursday, 3rd Week of Lent

Emotional Life May Control Spiritual Life

"O that today you would listen to his voice! Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness, when your ancestors tested me, and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work." - Psalm 95:7-9

Our emotional lives move up and down constantly. Sometimes we experience great mood swings; from excitement to depression, from joy to sorrow, from inner harmony to inner chaos. A little event, a word from someone, a disappointment in work, many things can trigger such mood swings. Mostly we have little control over these changes. It seems that they happen to us rather than being created by us.

So it is important to know that our emotional life is not the same as our spiritual life. Our spiritual life is the life of the Spirit of God within us. As we feel our emotions shift, we must connect our spirits with the Spirit of God and remind ourselves that what we feel is not who we are. We are and remain, whatever our moods, God's beloved children.

Although it is very hard to control our moods, we can gradually overcome them by a well-disciplined spiritual life. This can prevent us from acting out our moods. We might not "feel" like getting up in the morning because we "feel" that life is not worth living, that nobody loves us, and that our work in meaningless. But if we get up anyhow, to spend some time reading the Gospels, praying the Psalms, and thanking God for a new day, our moods may lose their power over us. These spiritual exercises help us to be attentive to and live out of that depth of who we are, beneath the barrage of emotions seem to presently rule us.

"Holy Spirit, help me to achieve the discipline I need for a devout life in the Spirit."

adapted from Henri Nouwen

Fr. Tri Dinh, SJ
Suggested reflection format

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Lenten Reflection - Wednesday, 3rd Week of Lent

God Is For Us, With Us, Within Us

"For what other great nation has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is whenever we call to him? And what other great nation has statutes and ordinances as just as this entire law that I am setting before you today?" - Deuteronomy 4:7-8

God made a covenant with us. The word covenant means "coming together." God wants to come together with us. In many of the stories in the Hebrew Bible, we see that God appears as a God who defends us against our enemies, protects us against dangers, and guides us to freedom. God is God-for-us. With Jesus a new dimension of the covenant is revealed. In Jesus, God is born, grows to maturity, lives, suffers, and dies as we do. God is God-with-us. Finally, when Jesus leaves he promises the Holy Spirit. In the Holy Spirit, God reveals the full depth of the covenant. God wants to be as close to us as our breath. God wants to breathe in us, so that all we say, think, and do is completely inspired by God. God is God-within-us. Thus, God's covenant reveals to us how much God loves us, such that God is for us, with us, within us. Similarly, we are called to be men and women for and with others. We are called to be the face, presence, and love of God.

"Lord, help us to grow in gratitude for the awesome gift of our Christian faith and for our redemption."

adapted from Henri Nouwen

Fr. Tri Dinh, SJ
Suggested reflection format

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Lenten Reflection - Tuesday, 3rd Week of Lent

Forgiveness Is The Way To Freedom

"Then Peter came and said to him, "Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?" Jesus said to him, "Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times." - Matthew 18:21-22

Community is not possible without the willingness to forgive one another "seventy-seven times." Forgiveness is the cement of community life. Forgiveness holds us together though good times and bad times, and it allows us to grow in mutual love.

To forgive another person from the heart is an act of liberation. We set that person free from the negative bonds that exist between us. We say, "I no longer hold your offense against you." But there is more. We also free ourselves from the burden of being the "offended one." As long as we do not forgive those who have wounded us, we continue to carry the offense as a poison, as a heavy weight. The great temptation is to cling in anger to our enemies and then define ourselves as being offended and wounded by them. Forgiveness, therefore, liberates not only the other but also ourselves. It is the way to the freedom of the children of God.

"What are the grudges you are clinging to? What poison is still infecting you?"

adapted from Henri Nouwen

Fr Tri Dinh, SJ
Suggested reflection format

Gethsemane: The Heart of the Redemption

(3rd Week of the Exercises)

... Gethsemane, in Matthew 26:36-46, provides a profoundly revealing insight into Jesus' desire to be with the Father and, at the same time, is very reassuring for us ... Ignatius stresses the value, the sacramentality, of time and place; so the late evening might be a very good time to come to the garden with the Lord and with the three disciples who could not remain awake with him one hour.

I myself feel that the heart of our redemption is really here in the Garden of Olives. We tend to think of Calvary as the central act and Gethsemane as a sort of preliminary to the crucifixion. But it has seemed to me, in my own prayer and reflection, that the decisive moment is actually in the garden. It is there that Jesus said his definitive "yes" to the Father.

Gethsemane was a real struggle; Jesus even said, "If possible, let this chalice pass", which implies that humanly he thought it might still be possible. He hoped, at least, that it would be possible. However, he goes on to say, "Not my will, but yours be done." These are beautiful words of surrender. Yet, if we look at them closely and contemplate them, they seem to imply again that his human will and what he suspected the Father's will to be were different. His love for the Father, his desire to be where the Father was, was not a blind, mechanical, automatic thing. Even he felt revulsion in the face of rejection and death ... and we should not expect to feel any differently. We should not feel guilty that we react as he did. We should not seek to be holler than Jesus himself!

At the same time we see the perfection of the third degree of humility here, not in Jesus enjoying the abasement of Calvary, but precisely in his ability to say to the Father, "Everything in me recoils at the prospect. Yet it is still more important to me to be wherever you are, beloved Father. If Calvary is where you are for me, even though humanly I would love to have it otherwise, let it be." This beautiful realization that we can be at peace with our humanity is for all of us tremendously supportive and encouraging, I think. We can know in a very concrete way that the Lord has been tempted in every way that we are, and yet he was able to say "yes" to the Father even in the face of his human revulsion.

So the third degree, as we said earlier and as we see revealed here in Gethsemane, is not a love for humiliations in themselves. We are not masochists. If we are normal, we have a real revulsion for that sort of thing. But the person with the third degree of humility has a loving desire to be with the Lord wherever he is. If I may use a personal example, I recall when my father was dying in 1973. 1 was in Rochester for the last three weeks of his life. Each evening I would go home with my mother, and the following morning we would return to the hospital. I remember that it struck me very much that, hard as it was for her to see him dying, she was quite restless in the morning until we got back to the hospital. She had to be there at precisely the moment we were allowed to enter. She had no peace if we were late. Yet, after he died, as I heard from her later, she did not go near that hospital, and she did not want to go near it for at least a year or two, even though her own doctor's office was in an annex of the same hospital. She did not love the hospital, but she loved to be where my father was. In fact, if I can judge from her feelings after he was no longer there, she "hated" the hospital because of what it represented in terms of his suffering. Yet, when he was there, she had to be there.

If you can see the paradox in that personal example, I think you have some idea of the meaning of the third degree and of the mystery of Gethsemane. You also realize why I would suggest that this is the heart of the redemption. I feel that, when Jesus left the garden, he left with his crisis resolved. He had said "yes" to the Father, and that "yes" was forever. Calvary, I think, was simply the living out of the definitive "yes" that was given in the garden. It was terribly important, just as our living out of our vows or our marriage commitment or our ordination is also important. But if they really are what they should be, then the crucial "yes" has already been said.

Gethsemane takes flesh in the living out of Calvary. In our daily lives, the retreat "yes" to God takes flesh in all the events that follow from that "yes". But the crucial moment, the moment, we might say, toward which our whole retreat has been directed, is the saying of that "yes" a "yes" that, for us as for Jesus himself, win be strong enough and firm enough to sustain us in the challenge of living it out. It is encouraging to recall, though, that the ability to say "yes" in that way, to love the Lord to that degree, is not something we can achieve for or by ourselves. We can only "beg to be chosen", by the grace of the Lord and with the help of his holy Mother, to love him so deeply. It is his gift. But, as I said earlier, I believe that it is a gift he surely gives to those who sincerely desire it. He is dying has died to give it!

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sinning....

In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard for his godly fear. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered and being made perfect he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him (Heb 4:14 15; 5:7 9).

Fr. Thomas H. Green, SJ -- A Vacation with the Lord, p.132)

Monday, March 12, 2007

Lenten Reflection - Monday, 3rd Week of Lent

Asking for What We Truly Need

"As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God?" - Psalm 42:1-2

We ask God for many things, most of which we do not need, many of which we do not we really want. We are often spiritually lazy: we do not allow ourselves proper time and space to sift through our wants to discover what we truly need.

There is a deep longing in each of us "for the living God," – to experience God's love in real, personal ways. And God will not refuse when asked with trust. Yet, we do not ask for it earnestly. We reason away: "God already loves me, how dare I ask for it? I am not good enough, not deserving enough, not holy enough. Moreover, it seems selfish to ask for it. What if God refuses?" Yet, when we earnestly and consistently ask for it, we risk trusting God with what we truly need. We also actively let go anything that keeps us from experiencing God's personal and deep love for us. Asking for what we truly need makes our hearts tender toward God and free from obstacles that keeps us from God's embrace.

"Lord, help me to risk asking for what I truly need and letting go of whatever that keeps me from you."

Fr Tri Dinh, SJ

Suggested reflection format

Taking Satan Seriously - Interview With Cardinal Georges Cottier (Zenit)

Code: ZE04072901
Date: 2004-07-29

VATICAN CITY, JULY 29, 2004 ( We should take the devil "very seriously," but without losing confidence in the love of God, says the theologian of the Pontifical Household.

Cardinal Georges Cottier gave this interview in the wake of last Saturday's murder of a priest in the cathedral of Santiago, Chile. The killing was linked to Satanism.

Q: In the great mystery of evil, how much does the action of the devil count and how much responsibility does man bear?

Cardinal Cottier: The devil is without a doubt the great seducer because he tries to lead man to sin by presenting evil as good. But the fall is our responsibility, because the conscience has the ability to distinguish what is good and what is evil.

Q: Why does the devil want to induce man to sin?

Cardinal Cottier: Out of envy and jealousy. The devil wants to drag man with him because he himself is a fallen angel. The fall of the first man was preceded by the fall of the angels.

Q: Is it a heresy to affirm that the devil also forms part of God's plan?

Cardinal Cottier: Satan was created by God as a good angel, because God does not create evil. Everything that comes from the creative hand of God is good. If the devil has become evil, it is by his own culpability. It was he who, by using his freedom badly, made himself evil.

Q: Will there ever be redemption for the devil, as some theologians affirm?

Cardinal Cottier: Let's articulate a premise: Man has fallen into sin because the first sinner, namely the devil, dragged him into his abyss of evil. What does this mean in substance?

The rejection of God is, above all, opposition to the Kingdom of God as Providence's plan for the world. This rejection that stems from the freedom of an altogether spiritual creature as the devil, is a total rejection, irremediable and radical, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church also says.

Q: There is no hope, then, that in the end the mercy of God will be able to conquer the devil's hatred?

Cardinal Cottier: The perfect character of the fallen angel's freedom makes his choice definitive. This does not mean putting a limit to God's mercy, which is infinite. The limit is constituted by the use that the devil made of freedom. It is he who impedes God from canceling his sin.

Q: Why did the devil, who is a most intelligent spirit, use his freedom in this way which in any case is always a gift of God?

Cardinal Cottier: Here we are before the mystery. The mystery of evil is first of all the mystery of sin.

We are stricken, justly, with physical evils. But there is a much more radical and sad evil which is the evil of sin. The devil is fixed in his rejection. Moreover, the angel's sin is always more grave than man's.

Man has so many weaknesses in himself that in some way his responsibility may be veiled; the angel, being a most pure spirit, has no excuse when he chooses evil. The angel's sin is a tremendous choice.

Q: It seems impossible that an angel created in God's light could have chosen evil.

Cardinal Cottier: When we speak of a fallen angel due to sin we address a very serious argument and we must therefore treat it with great seriousness.

In man's temptation we have almost a reflection of what was the very sin of the angel. Here is the supreme seduction: to put oneself in God's place. Satan also did not recognize his condition of creature.

Q: Why is the devil called the prince of this world?

Cardinal Cottier: It is an expression of John's Gospel. It means that, when the world forgets God, it is dominated by sin. The devil's action is guided by hatred for God and when we follow his temptations he can cause grave damage. The devil's principal evil is spiritual evil, that of sin. This action touches both the individual and society.

Q: Could not God have impeded all this?

Cardinal Cottier: Yes, but he permitted both the devil and man to have the freedom to act and, at times, to sin. It is a tremendous mystery.

St. Paul says: "Everything contributes to the good of those who love God." That is, when we are with God, even evil contributes to our good.

Q: Isn’t this difficult to accept?

Cardinal Cottier: Let us think of the martyrs, of the extraordinary spiritual good that, in the light of faith, derives from a tragedy such as a martyrdom.

Commenting on Paul, St. Augustine said: "God would not have permitted evil if he had not willed to make of this evil a greater good." There are goods that humanity would not have known if it was not for the presence of sin and evil. It is difficult to affirm this, but it is the truth.

Q: How does the devil act in everyday reality?

Cardinal Cottier: We can understand it from some expressions of John's Gospel, when he says that the devil has been a murderer from the beginning. That is, he is a destroyer and causes death, either in the proper sense or spiritually. This is why he is called the great tempter.

Q: Are we referring to the devil when we say in the Our Father "lead us not into temptation"?

Cardinal Cottier: Yes, we pray to God to resist temptation. It is mistaken to think that every temptation comes from the devil, but the strongest and most subtle, the most spiritual, certainly have his mark. And they are both individual and collective temptations.

The devil acts on human history. His influence is negative. Death, sin and deceit are signs of his presence in the world.

Q: You say that not all temptations come from the devil. On what else must we be on guard?

Cardinal Cottier: Christian Tradition tells us that there are three sources of temptation.

The most terrible, of course, is that of the devil. Then there is the world, society, "others" in John's sense. And finally there is the "flesh," that is, we ourselves.

St. John of the Cross says that of these three temptations the most dangerous is the last, that is, we ourselves. The worst enemy for each one of us is ourself.

Before attributing the temptations to the devil and the world, let us think of ourselves. Here we also find the importance of humility and discernment. The Holy Spirit gives us the gift of discernment and preserves us from the arrogance of placing too much confidence in ourselves.

Q: What is the most correct attitude that the Christian must have before the mystery of the Evil One?

Cardinal Cottier: Not ever to forget that the passion and death of Jesus have triumphed forever over the devil. This is a certainty. St. Paul's says it. Faith is the victory over the father of sin and lies.

This means that the devil, being a creature, does not have infinite power. Despite all his efforts, the devil will never be able to impede the building of the Kingdom of God, which grows despite all the persecutions. The Christian, thanks to fidelity in the faith, conquers evil.

Q: In conclusion...

Cardinal Cottier: We must take the devil very seriously, but we must not think that he is omnipotent. There are people who have an irrational fear of the devil.

Christian confidence, which is nourished with prayer, humility and penance, must be above all confidence in the love of the Father. And this love is stronger than all. We must have the consciousness that the mercy of God is so great as to surmount all obstacles.

© Innovative Media, Inc.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Lenten Reflection - Sunday, 3rd Week of Lent

Spiritual Homecoming Yields More Questions Than Answers

"In those days, in their thirst for water, the people grumbled against Moses, saying, "Why did you ever make us leave Egypt? Was it just to have us die here of thirst with our children and our livestock?" – Exodus 17:3

Our pilgrimage to God and our true selves takes us through the land of uncertainty. Old answers become inadequate before life's present challenges. Even though past ways of looking at ourselves and relating to others are less than freeing, we prefer their familiarity to the present vulnerability of trust. The certainty they offer is safer than facing our fears of abandonment or of the unknown. We are caught in the present between the shackled familiarity of the past and the expansive freedom of a promising future. We do not like living with the tension, with uncertainty.

Between a certain past and a future not yet known lies the present moment. Before we can move forward, we need to acknowledge our dependence on certainty and our fear of trust. In such vulnerability, we discover the birth of hope within – a confidence rooted and grounded in God's goodness and care. We find ourselves thirsting for water that gives fuller life and love. We are invited to walk in our present condition, with its unknowns and pregnant possibilities – to live the present questions in order that deeper questions and deeper trust arise.

"Lord, help me to be vulnerable, to trust you, and understand the present uncertainties in my life."

Fr Tri Dinh, SJ
Suggested reflection format

Dryness in the 2nd Week of the Exercises ...

Sự khô khan trong cầu nguyện ở Tuần 2 Linh Thao có thể là cách Chúa dùng để thanh tẩy khỏi lòng chúng ta tất cả những gì không thuộc về Ngài.

(Fr. Thomas H. Green, SJ - A Vacation with the Lord, p. 101)

Even the dryness can have a different coloring from day to day. That may sound strange, but to those who have experienced it, I think it will be clear enough. And it suggests a general phenomenon that we can note, now that we are well settled into the retreat. There is a certain maturing in prayer that St. Ignatius would expect even within the retreat. For example, beginners will usually find that it is much easier to pray as the days go by, provided they are faithful and generous. They may find that the prayer of the first day or two is a struggle with a thousand distractions, and then they may be surprised later how much easier it is to become quiet. They may find it very heavy at the beginning to spend a whole hour at prayer; later they may be surprised how much easier it is to stay that long and even at times a little bit longer.

On the other hand, experienced retreatants, whose prayer is initially more reflective or affective, may find the first day or two very consoling and then find themselves encountering sustained dryness. The Lord may, and often does, take the retreat as an ideal time to lead us to a deeper level of prayer. In that case, the retreat may not be a time of election, of any big decision, but rather a school of contemplation. In that case, the election, the decision or choice that we make, is simply to say "yes" to God drawing us deeper. He calls us to let go of the security of our insights or of our feelings of his presence and to let him draw us to something new, to a more transforming and less consoling prayer - prayer that is more like surgery than like a birthday party. That in itself is abundant fruit for one retreat.

Whatever is happening, it is all part of putting on the Lord Jesus. Provided I am generous and sincere, I should have somewhere deep within myself a strong sense that he is truly working his will. Even if it is deadly dry, somehow this is a dryness that is burning out of me everything that is not Christ. Painful as it may be, it is the only way to become more one with him. As he learned obedience through suffering, so too, perhaps, must I. Certainly I must! So whatever is happening, it is the Lord. What I need and desire most is the gift of discerning love. Then I can be happy with whatever he is doing, as long as it is the Lord doing it.

I wanted to visit you on my way to Macedonia, and to come back to you from Macedonia and have you send me on my way to Judea. Was I vacillating when I wanted to do this? Do I make my plans like a worldly man, ready to say Yes and No at once? As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been Yes and No. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we preached among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No; but in him it is always Yes. For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why we utter the Amen through him, to the glory of God. (2 Cor 1: 16-20).

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Lenten Reflection - Saturday, 2nd Week of Lent

Spiritual Homecoming Lies Beyond Self-Rejection

"'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son.' But his father ordered his servants, 'Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Take the fattened calf and slaughter it. Then let us celebrate with a feast." – Luke 15:21-23

The spiritual life is essentially a homecoming. It is a coming home to the deepest truth of ourselves as God's Beloved. That we belong to God, regardless. Whether we have wandered afar in search of life or love beyond our spiritual home in the boundless heart of God (like the younger son) or have been lost in fear without ever going away (like the older son), God's unconditional love is offered freely and fully. As the father who runs out of the house to embrace both the errant younger son and the resentful older son home to the banquet, God yearns for us to rejoice in our dignity as Beloved sons and daughters.

Such homecoming involves a most daunting task: allowing ourselves to be seen as we are, without self-condemnation. While we long for such transparency, we harbor secret thoughts, feelings, and fears. We often think, "If people really know what I think or feel, they would run away." Those guarded secrets can lead us to self-rejection, depression, and even suicidal thoughts and actions. They are the loud voices within that clamor "what you have done is beyond God's forgiving love" or "you need to be almost perfect to deserve such love." They prevent us from the grateful recognition that we are pure gift and precious in God's eyes.

Our homecoming involves allowing the inner voice of love beyond self-rejection to take hold of us and gift us with the courage to live as God's Beloved children.

"What keeps you from homecoming? What helps you to realize that you are precious in God's eyes?"

inspired by Henri Nouwen

Fr Tri Dinh, SJ
Suggested reflection format

Friday, March 09, 2007

Lenten Reflection - Friday, 2nd Week of Lent

Jealousy Betrays Our Belovedness

Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his children, because he was the son of his old age; and he had made him a long robe with sleeves. But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably to him. They saw him from a distance, and before he came near to them, they conspired to kill him." - Genesis 37:3-4, 18

Jealousy occurs when a person fears losing a close, self-defining relationship to another, who is often a rival. In the Bible, the older siblings are often jealous of their younger siblings. They resent a younger sibling who seemed more loved by the father. It is true that human parents can show favoritism. Yet, we often project this sentiment into God. We think that there are only a few who are God's Beloved, and those few do not include us.

What is behind this seductive thinking? It limits God's love and heart. It yields to the deep fear that we are not holy enough, good enough, deserving enough. Belovedness has nothing to do with our worthiness, sinfulness, frailties, or conduct. It is rooted in God who is extravagant lover, who loves without condition, limit, or end. When we face our jealousy, we unmask our fear and uncover our Belovedness. We become aware that we are precious in God's eyes, uniquely favored unlike any other person.

Jealousy betrays belief in a God who is too small. Behind jealousy lies our deep longing to become who we already are but afraid to embrace – God's Beloved.

"How do you, Lord, look at me? How do you feel in your heart for me?" - John Eagan SJ

Fr Tri Dinh, SJ
Suggested reflection format

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Peter Faber, the Spiritual Exercises and living the 'Magis'

(from Partners - Chicago Jesuits' magazine)
Fr. Edward W. Schmidt, SJ

Jesuits typically live and work in cities. Not always, of course. And not by design. Retreat centers, in fact, usually want a more remote location. But in the piazzas and at the crossroads of European cities the early Jesuits began their preaching. This reality may reflect a restless energy in the ministry of early Jesuits, a desire to maximize their impact by preaching where crowds gathered. Here one found the rich and the poor, the old and the young, the sinner and the saint, all together. Here one could reach more people in the shortest time. A Jesuit shorthand word that expresses our desire to serve where the need is greatest is magis, which is Latin for “more.” What more can we do to serve God’s people? Where is God’s greater glory? Magis found a natural home in the city. In the US cities where Catholic immigrants from Europe settled, Jesuit churches were usually downtown. There too the high schools and universities grew up. Most Chicago Province Jesuits work in Chicago, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, or Lexington or in surrounding suburbs. Most US Jesuit schools are in major metropolitan areas. (Once, when Bishop Simon Bruté in Indiana wanted to give the Society of Jesus a piece of property at the south bend of the St. Joseph River in Indiana, superiors considered the location “too remote”: no school could be successful there.)

This urban thrust does not, however, reflect the founders’ places of origin. Loyola—ancestral home of St. Ignatius— was a remote castle up a lonely river valley in northern Spain not far from the rocky Atlantic coast. Xavier—where St. Francis was born—was only slightly less remote near a road that crossed the Pyrenees between Spain and France.

Bl. Peter Faber, however, the third founder we honored in the Jesuit Jubilee Year, must take the prize for remote place of origin. His birthplace, Villaret, lies high in an Alpine valley, where the roads disappear into surrounding mountains whose tops merge with the clouds and whose flanks are home to very content sheep.
Peter tended these sheep in his early years, but his active mind wandered far over the mountains. He found a way to attend primary school and in 1525 made his way to the University of Paris, where he met Ignatius and Francis and the other men who were the nucleus of the Society of Jesus. A few years later in Rome, they set the structures and gained papal approval for this new religious order.

The Church needed reform, and the Reformation needed these scholars from Paris with their energy and new ideas. Pope Paul III sent Peter to the Catholic-Protestant dialogues in Germany, and Ignatius sent him to Spain and Portugal, where he introduced the new Society of Jesus. The pope sent him to the Council of Trent, but his years of walking from city to city in service of his mission had worn him out. He died in Rome in 1546 before he could set off for Trent.

We remember Peter especially for his deep spirituality and insight into how God works in our world. One of the great gifts of St. Ignatius to the Church was his Spiritual Exercises, the basis for a retreat in which one strives to find God’s will and to follow it. Peter Faber learned the Spiritual Exercises from Ignatius and became a great director of them. Peter was also gentle: in an era of fierce polemic his quiet voice preserved every person’s dignity.

In 1997 we celebrated some other Jesuit anniversaries. With three other Chicago Jesuits, I visited the places where two Jesuit saints were buried. (One of these was St. Peter Canisius, whom Peter Faber drew to the young Society of Jesus.) And though Villaret is not, as I noted above, really close to anywhere, we were able to visit there without too much detour.
The Jesuits in Geneva phoned down to a woman who keeps the keys to Faber’s baptismal church. We drove the modern roads that breach the ancient mountain valleys. We found her farmhouse, and she led us to the church close by. In English quickly translated from French prayer books, we celebrated the Eucharist in this holy place. Afterwards, the kind woman served us a light lunch and some wicked mountain brew.

I remember the prayer and the fellowship of that day. I remember the roads. But mostly I remember that valley—green, rich, deeply alive. This valley nourished the soul of Peter Faber and sent him forth to learn and to teach and to proclaim God’s love. He brought his raw, gentle mountain strength to the noise and the vibrant clutter of Europe’s cities and taught them what life can mean.

We can find God anywhere, and—more impor-tant—God finds us anywhere. Peter Faber taught this by who he was and by what he did. And if he is, as Jesuit scholar John Padberg argues, “a saint too little known,” he endures like his mountain valley, richly reliable and gently inspiring.

Fr. Edward W. Schmidt, SJ, is the provincial of the Chicago Province of the Society of Jesus.

Lenten Reflection - Thursday, 2nd Week of Lent

Hoping is Loving in the Moment

"Blessed are they who trust in the LORD, whose hope is the LORD." - Jeremiah 17:9-10

Optimism and hope are radically different attitudes. Optimism is the expectation that things – the weather, human relationships, the political situation, wars, and so on – will improve. Hope is the trust that God will fulfill God's promise in a way that leads us to love more deeply and freely. The optimist speaks about changes in the future. The person who hopes lives in the moment and trusts that all of life is in good hands. Optimism is a personality trait; hope is a choice that risks God's goodness. When we hope, we rely on God's faithfulness, even though we cannot envision a foreseeable future of optimism.

Hope is essentially an act of faith rooted in love. It involves radical openness and vulnerability to life in the present moment and waiting with endurance, trusting that uncertainty, loneliness, restlessness, loss, confusion, etc… will lead to greater freedom, to a more genuine love. A love that "bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things" (1 Cor. 13:7).

When we hope, we wait in openness for God's promise to come true, even though we do not know, when, where, or how this might happen. We trust in God's indwelling presence and laboring to bring about good. We love.

"Lord, help me to love more fully today, through moments of hope."

inspired by Henri Nouwen

Fr Tri Dinh, SJ
Suggested reflection format

Chúng ta đáp ứng thế nào?

Khi gặp bất cứ tu sĩ Dòng Tên nào hoặc các anh chị đã ít nhiều sinh hoạt với Đồng Hành, nếu bạn hỏi nhờ tóm tắt linh đạo Inhã, có lẽ câu trả lời sẽ là "Tìm Chúa trong mọi sự".

Nhưng nếu nghe lập lại nhiều lần, lời mời gọi "Tìm Chúa trong mọi sự" có thể trở nên nhàm tai và không còn ảnh hưởng bao nhiêu trên cuộc sống nữa.

Ðương nhiên "Tìm Chúa trong mọi sự" nghĩa là để ý cách Chúa hiện diện và hoạt động trong mọi sự. Chúa có thể hiện diện qua tình thương cảm nhận được trong gia đình, qua bạn bè ... Chúa hiện diện qua các bí tích, trong Thánh Lễ, các nghi thức chúng ta tham dự.

Nhưng Chúa cũng hiện diện nơi những biến cố đơn sơ và thầm kín hơn: như khi cảm thấy vui thích vì được bạn bè gọi điện thoại thăm hỏi trong lúc đang cô đơn buồn nản, hoặc qua một làn gió mát làm sảng khoái tâm hồn, một kỷ niệm đẹp thời thơ ấu được gợi lại ...

Muốn nhận ra Chúa qua các biến cố đó phải biết ý thức, để ý lòng mình. Thánh Inhã có cách cầu nguyện gọi là "Phút hồi tâm". Cách cầu nguyện này giúp để ý đến những biến cố xảy ra trong ngày và ý thức sự hiện diện của Chúa qua các biến cố đó.

Tuy nhiên điều thánh Inhã dạy không phải là chỉ suy niệm những điều đó mà thôi. Nếu chỉ "cảm nếm" - như thánh Inhã thường nói - những niềm vui và ân huệ của Chúa mà thôi thì chưa đủ, còn cần phải đáp ứng bằng việc làm cụ thể. Trong Phúc Âm, các môn đệ không chỉ theo Chúa mà còn được mời gọi đáp ứng nhu cầu của tha nhân nhất là người nghèo, giúp loan báo tin mừng, đem người tội lỗi trở về.

Trong Linh Thao qua bài cầu nguyện "Lời mời gọi của Vua Hằng Sống" người làm linh thao nghe Chúa gọi cách riêng chính mình cộng tác với Ngài trong sứ vụ do Chúa Cha trao phó.

Có nhiều cách đáp ứng. Ðơn giản nhất là yêu mến và phục vụ dưới nhiều hình thức khác nhau. Nhưng cũng có thể là bắt đầu một đời sống cầu nguyện mật thiết với Chúa. Không có "one size fits all", nhưng mỗi người sẽ được mời gọi một cách riêng biệt.

"Tìm Chúa trong mọi sự" không hẳn chỉ là cảm thấy được gần gũi Chúa luôn mà thôi. Các môn đệ đã sống gần Chúa suốt ba năm, nhưng Chúa cho thấy họ còn có sứ mệnh đem tin mừng đi rao giảng đến tận cùng thế giới"

Đương nhiên Chúa chỉ mời gọi và không bao giờ ép buộc. Và lời mời gọi của Ngài thì luôn luôn nhẹ nhàng âm thầm. Có nhiều người đứng trước đau khổ của anh em đã không cầm lòng được và muốn xả thân giúp đỡ. Ðiều họ cảm nhận đó chính là cách Chúa âm thầm mời gọi phục vụ anh chị em.

"Tìm Chúa trong mọi sự" không phải là một lời khuyên tiêu cực, nhưng là một khuyến khích đi tìm Chúa và nghe lời mời gọi của Ngài

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Ðặc Sủng của Ðấng Sáng Lập

Trần Hữu Hạnh, fsf

Đặc sủng là yếu tố chính tạo nên sự khác biệt giữa hội dòng này với hội dòng khác. Đặc sủng chính là sức sống, là nguồn mạch của mọi hoạt động tông đồ của mỗi hội dòng. Một hội dòng mà không sống theo đặc sủng của đấng sáng lập sẽ đánh mất đi căn tính của nó, và như một hệ qủa, mất đi phương hướng của nó. Chìa khóa cho sự phát triển của mỗi hội dòng là trung thành với đặc sủng của đấng sáng lập. Bởi đó, Đức Giáo hoàng Phaolô VI đã kêu gọi các cộng đoàn tu trì phải trung thành với tinh thần, với những ý hướng Phúc âm và gương thánh thiện của đấng sáng lập. Chính ở đây mà các hội dòng tìm thấy nguồn gốc của họ (x. ET 11-12).

Người tu sĩ cần phải biết được căn tính ơn gọi của mình trong Giáo hội. Họ phải giữ gìn, đào sâu và sống với sự trung thành và lòng biết ơn đối với đặc sủng mà đấng sáng lập của họ đã nhận được và truyền lại cho họ. Muốn có đổi mới, chúng ta cần biết chúng ta là ai. Mỗi hội dòng phải ra sức giữ lấy căn tính của mình để khỏi rơi vào tình trạng mập mờ, không xác định được vị trí và nhiệm vụ của mình trong đời sống Giáo hội.

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