FaithWorks! is Fr Dwight Longenecker's free, weekly newsletter on the practice of practical Catholicism

FaithWorks! - 4 - October 9, 2012

Welcome to the fourth edition of FaithWorks! This newsletter continues my series Finding Forgiveness and the third installment on prayer: Listening to God. Check out the right sidebar for books that will help strengthen your faith, Points to Ponder and practical reminders for sharing and living your Catholic faith.

Jesus Christ is our brother and our friend, but we sometimes forget that he is also the King of Kings and Lord of Time, the Alpha and the Omega and the Judge of all. The image of Christ Pantocrator reminds us of Jesus Christ's royal stature. We can only have a proper relationship with Jesus Christ when we open our hearts and minds to the fullness of his glory as well as the fullness of his humility and humanity. So we come to him as our Lord and King with repentant hearts, but as our Shepherd and Friend--knowing that his mercy is everlasting.

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Finding Forgiveness - 3

When Jesus forgave the paralyzed man who was lowered through the roof the man picked up his bed and went home. This is a sign that forgiveness of sins is not simply letting us get by with the things we've done wrong. Instead, finding forgiveness means finding wholeness and completion.

A person who is truly forgiven is able to leave the paralysis that sin brings to their life and step out on a new path. Therefore finding forgiveness is not only concerned with being forgiven of the bad things we've done or being healed of the bad things that have been done to us. Finding forgiveness also involves facing all the things we've left undone.

These are called 'sins of omission'. Too often we think the only thing which is sinful is that which makes us feel guilty or ashamed. We want to be forgiven for all those bad things we've done, and if we can only find forgiveness for those we think we'll be okay. But this is too small an understanding of sin.

When we begin to face all the good things that we have left undone the weight of our sin becomes even greater than we thought! Sin is actually defined as 'falling short of the glory of God'. We need to find forgiveness not only for what we've done, but for all the things we've left undone--all the ways in which we have not reached the target--all the ways we have fallen short of the glory of God.

Finding forgiveness for the things we've left undone includes a prayer asking for God's grace to strengthen us to step up, like the paralyzed man and step out on a new way of life. Suddenly the paralyzed man could move and walk and run. In the same way, once we have found forgiveness for the things we have left undone we are also given new power to do what we should do.

This grace--this new power--does not come instantly. Instead it comes as we step out and obey God's commandments. St Benedict says we "Run in the path of God's commandments, our hearts overflowing with an inexpressible delight of love!" This is the end point of finding forgiveness--that in being forgiven we also find a new power in Christ to run in the way of God's commandments.
Listening to God

Do you think people are crazy is they say that God speaks to them? They might be, but I always give them the benefit of the doubt. I want to discover what God has said to them.It is possible for us to listen to the voice of God, but it is difficult. The world around us is so busy and noisy. It's not easy to find a quiet place and really learn how to listen to God. Nevertheless, I believe it is possible not only to listen carefully, but know that it is God speaking to us, and not just us talking to ourselves.

We need first to find a way to listen to God. The best way is to start with a set form of prayer in a set place at a set time. An old priest was once asked how long he prays. He answered, "Two minutes. But it takes me twenty minutes to get there." What he meant was that his twenty minutes of saying the Divine Office and reciting his set prayers was his way to get tuned in to God in order to really speak to God and then listen to his voice.

Once we have spent time 'tuning in' to God and 'tuning out' from the noise and worry of the world we need to sit still and pay attention. God's voice will probably not come as an audible voice that we hear with our ears. Instead he will speak to us in our minds. Perhaps a word of Scripture will keep popping up in our mind, or we will hear again the words and music of a psalm or hymn and this will be the Holy Spirit communicating with us. When we get more skillful we can ask God questions and the answer will come within our heart and mind. We will just 'know' what the answer is.

How do we test the spirit so that we don't make mistakes? It's not that difficuilt. If what we think is God's voice tells us to do anything contrary to the clear teachings of Scripture and the church, then it's not God's voice. God will not, for example, tell you to leave your husband or wife for another person! If the 'word of the Lord' goes against church teaching it is not God speaking. Secondly, the Word of the Lord is for you--not for someone else. If someone says to me, "Father, the Lord has told me that you should do thus and such." I reply, "If you don't mind, I'll wait till he informs me of the same!" Thirdly, if what we think is God's voice tells us to take a certain action we should first consult with others who are 'tuned in' to God. We should consult with others in the church--especially those to whom we owe obedience. If they counsel against what we think the Lord has said we should think twice.

Click to buy
Catholicism Pure and Simple

Catholicism Pure and Simple is a straghtforward and readable introduction to the Catholic faith.
 
Starting with arguments for God and going through to explain the Scriptures, Sacraments, the Church and the life of prayer, this is a perfect book for confirmation candidates, RCIA members, and anyone who wants a basic refresher course in their faith.
 

“Father Dwight Longenecker does for Catholicism what C. S. Lewis did for "mere Christianity". 

 

-- Joseph Pearce, Author, C.S.Lewis and the Catholic Church.

 

 

"I loved Fr. Longenecker's incisive, witty style... he gets into the heads of readers and helps them discover the eternal treasures of the Catholic Church.”

 

 -- Ronda Chervin Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy, Holy Apostles College and Seminary


Points to Ponder

  • It is difficult to believe because it is difficult to obey
  • You must be a whole saint or no saint at all! --St Therese
  • The things that hurt, instruct.
  • Be victorious, but do not conquer

Remember the Spiritual Works of Mercy
 

  • Admonish sinners
  • Instruct the ignorant 
  • Counsel the doubtful 
  • Comfort the sorrowful 
  • Bear wrongs patiently 
  • Forgive injuries 
  • Pray for the living and the dead


Click to Buy
Listen My Son
St Benedict for Fathers

Listen My Son is a book of daily readings for parents. Including the whole Rule of St Benedict, Fr Longenecker has written a daily commentary which applies the timeless wisdom of St Benedict to the task of modern parenting. 

"Thank you Father for this great book! We've used it day by day to be reminded of our calling as Catholic parents."

"A practical, wise and beautiful book..."

"The wisdom of the ages applied to everyday family life..."


Learn More

 

The FaithWorks! Newsletter is part of my Finding Faith initiative for the year of faith. It includes the production of a radio program called More Christianity, the publication of my books, the daily updates on my blog and my work speaking and leading reatreats. There is some income from some of these enterprises to help cover expenses, but there is never enough. If you would like to donate to the Finding Faith project please click on the Donate button. Many thanks and God Bless you!
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