Please take some time to review the Awakening the Domestic Church website. This apostolate is being coordinated by Dcn Darrell Wentworth of the New Creation Community in Virginia Beach.
Here are 25 ways in which true disciples can nurture and deepen their intimate personal relationship (communion) with Jesus:
- Foster an abiding desire for Jesus in your life, especially through a commitment to daily prayer
- Prepare for Sunday Mass by spending time in lectio divina with the upcoming Sunday Gospel reading, focusing on the person and the teaching of Jesus
- See the priest at Mass as truly in persona Christi (in the person of Christ), and the congregation as the Body of Christ
- Make a truly heartfelt thanksgiving to our Lord after receiving Jesus in Holy Communion (like this, but in your own words)
- If you don’t get to daily Mass, make a prayerful spiritual communion each day
- Spend time in prayerful Eucharistic Adoration whenever possible
- Read from the Gospels frequently
- Contemplate the Face of Christ in the Gospels
- Read a spiritually inspiring commentary on the Gospels (I highly recommend The Better Part by Fr John Bartunek LC)
- Use a good Christ-centered prayer book during your prayer time, such as Praying with Our Lord Jesus Christ by Fr Benedict Groeschel CFR
- Pray and meditate on the Litanies of Jesus (Sacred Heart, Precious Blood, Holy Name, Face of Christ)
- Pray and meditate on the Titles of Jesus
- Cultivate a true friendship with Jesus (cf. Jn 15:12-17)
- Engage in frequent colloquies with Jesus (colloquies are short periods of talking with Jesus as one friend would talk to another)
- Practice the presence of Jesus in your heart throughout the day
- Occasionally allow yourself to burst forth in brief spontaneous exclamations of praise to Jesus
- Read the five best books on Jesus:
- Read other books that have an especially good section exploring the person of Jesus:
- Meditate on the Mysteries of Jesus as you pray the rosary (this book will help)
- Delve more deeply into the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
- Read/study Church teaching on Jesus and on the Holy Eucharist, noting especially the teaching on the Real Presence of Jesus
- Be sure to focus on Jesus as you pray the Divine Mercy chaplet (prayers like this and this will help)
- Remember to consciously and intentionally unite your sufferings to those of Jesus, and then offer them to the Father
- In your nightly examen, look especially for those times when Jesus was present to you or at work in you
- Strive to allow Jesus to know you (cf. Mt 7:23 & Lk 13:27)
Feel free to add more in the Comment Box.
In order to help their members grow in their ability to live out their Community’s founding charism (“Receptivity and Commitment to the Person and Culture of the Holy Spirit, particularly in Covenant Love”), The City of the Lord Community is promoting a unique and intriguing program: The Bucket [Spiritual] Exercise Workout Program. Read the details here.
The front page of the website of the Alleluia Community currently carries an essay written by a couple in the Community. It’s thought-provoking, so I posted it here for future reference, since it will eventually be replaced by something else on the Alleluia webpage.
By Jonathan and Sharon Cosper
The Holy Spirit has been exhorting the two of us to deepen in simplicity. A word we have been repeatedly receiving in our prayer time over the past few months has been: “You are close. If you want to come closer, you must become simpler. You have too many things that keep you from hearing My voice and seeing My face.”
And this is the picture that one of us received to go along with it: Jesus is standing on one side of a large room with me on the other. All of my things, whatever they may be (physical, emotional, social), are lined up single-filed between Him and me. The more I have, the further I am from Him.
We believe we are being asked two questions: What are we willing to give up in order to come closer to the Lord? What are we willing to give up in order to hear and see the Lord? And then there is encouragement, because once we have given up enough, we will be able to reach out and touch Him and then, eventually, we will be embraced.
The following is taken from a prophecy that was given at a conference in the early days of community:
“In order to be able to hear Me, you simply must be willing to give up everything. My plan cannot succeed through a mixture of your desires and My word to you. You must give up everything. I know what this means to you. For those of you who are young, it means laying down before me the choices for your very life. For those of you who are older, it means laying before me the entire life you have built over the years.”
Jesus says to Martha, “You are anxious and worried about many things” (Luke 10:41). Jesus never says these many things are sin, but maybe they do or can keep us from becoming closer to Him. The nature of many things in itself lends to distraction and divided attention. It seems He is not bringing her correction but encouraging her to become simpler, as her sister Mary is. He continues, “There is need of only one thing” (42). He never says Martha does not have the “one thing,” just that she has many. We can love and serve the Lord, even if we have those many things, but Jesus says, “Mary has chosen the better part” (42). It is better to put aside the many things of this world so that we can fully focus on the Lord, hear His voice, see His face, and sit at His feet as Mary did.
As we have studied intentional simplicity and observed the many examples of people who live it, we have found it to be tied directly to abandonment, stewardship, and generosity.
We have to be willing to abandon all our things, whatever they may be (physical, emotional, social) to the Lord. This means relinquishing or renouncing any interest, claim, privilege, or right we believe we have to any of those things with the intent to never again resume or reassert it. It is no longer our “thing” but the Lord’s. This way, it can no longer exist as a distraction and burden and should therefore cause us no anxiety or worry.
This passage is from the book On Living Simply by John Chrysostom:
“The art of being poor in spirit is to distinguish between use and ownership. A person who owns something — or regards himself as owner — believes he has the sole right to determine how that thing is used. He may use it himself or authorize another person to use it. But this sense of ownership is a terrible snare, because it prevents a person’s soul from marching onward to God. The person who wishes to move toward God must free himself from all sense of ownership. He must regard all things as loans from God, even the things which he himself owns. A loan is to be used for a period, and then paid back. This is precisely how we should regard our houses and fields, clothes and furniture; they are loans which God grants us for our short span on earth, to be repaid at the moment of death. To be poor in spirit does not mean to be destitute, lacking in even the basic comforts and necessities. It means to regard nothing as your own, and everything you have as a temporary loan.”
If we do this and believe fully that we are giving up our ownership of these things, we will then develop a mindset of stewardship. We will feel a responsibility to take care of all these things that the Lord has loaned to us.
And then, of those things that the Lord calls us to be generous with, we will give freely and eagerly. Jesus says, “Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up … for the sake of the kingdom of God who will not receive an overabundant return in this present age and eternal life in the age to come” (Luke 18:29). Our heart will be open and excited to give of all the things we have.
The Alleluia Rule of Life states that we will be faithful to a monthly budget and living within our means. One of the Ten Words is “Owe no man.” Living by these rules will give us the ability to be generous with what we have, while avoiding giving what we really do not have, and foster a life of Christian simplicity.
If we abandon our things to the Lord, He is free to use them as He pleases. He will see us as His stewards ready to serve Him to the best of our ability. When He calls us to be generous and give up any of these things, then we will do it freely and without reserve as the poor widow gave of her two coins (Mark 12:41-44). Through these choices we draw close enough to be embraced by Him.
A quote from The Interior Castle by Teresa of Avila helps the two of us keep an eternal perspective and focus on simplicity:
“Above all else, help me always to remember that I have only one soul, that I have only one short life that must be lived by me alone, that I have only one death to die, and that there is only one glory that is eternal. If I do this, as you have promised, there will be many things I will not care about at all.”
What things are we holding on to? Who is the owner of our vineyard?
Jonathon and Sharon Cosper have been underway members of the Alleluia Community since April 2011. They are both second-generation members and alumni of Alleluia Community School. Jonathon is an accountant/controller and Sharon is an occupational therapist. They have been married for four years, have two daughters and attend St. Mary on the Hill Catholic Church in Augusta, Georgia.
Devotion in a married woman is most praiseworthy, but she must never forget that she is a housewife. Sometimes she must leave God at the altar, to serve Him in her housekeeping.
(St Frances of Rome)
A few months ago, on the Roman Catholic Spiritual Direction website blog, Fr John Bartunek LC responded to an inquiry concerning married women growing in spirituality/holiness. His response, along with many of the Comments from readers (which can be found at the end of the article), offered quite a few suggestions. Perhaps this topic might interest some women in our Community, or provide them with resources to suggest to their daughters or daughters-in-law.
July is here, and we’re now out of the month dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. However, if you didn’t encounter anything during June that gave you a deeper appreciation for the Heart of our Savior, give a listen to this talk by Fr Scott McCaig CC given back in 2010. He passionately explains the relevance of the Heart of Christ to our growth in holiness, and to our efforts at evangelization.
You’ll find a link to Fr Bartunek’s retreat guides on our right sidebar. I highly recommend them. They provide the resources for you to make a little retreat at home, or to use occasionally for inspiration. The topic for Retreat Guide #7 is the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Now still more to magnify this sovereign well-beloved, the soul goes ever seeking his face: that is, with an attention more and more careful and fervent, she keeps noting every particular of the beauties and perfections which are in him, making a continual progress in this sweet searching out of motives, which may perpetually urge her to a greater complacency in the incomprehensible goodness which she loves. So David in many of his heavenly psalms recites one by one the works and wonders of God, and the sacred spouse ranges, in her divine canticles, as a well-ranked army, all the perfections of her beloved, one after another, to provoke her soul to most holy complacency, thereby more highly to magnify his excellence, and also to subject all other spirits to the love of her beloved so dear.
The Saint then describes how our deeper love of God will increase within us the desire to praise him:
…this desire of praising God which holy benevolence excites in our hearts is insatiable, for the soul that is touched with it would wish to have infinite praises to bestow upon her well-beloved, because she finds his perfections more than infinite: so that, finding herself to fall far short of being able to satisfy her desire, she makes extreme efforts of affection to praise at least in some measure this goodness all worthy of praise, and these efforts of benevolence are marvellously augmented by complacency: for in proportion as the soul finds God good, relishing more and more his sweetness, and taking complacency in his infinite goodness, she would also raise higher the benedictions and praises she gives him. And again, as the soul grows warm in praising the incomprehensible sweetness of God, she enlarges and dilates the complacency she takes in him, and by this enlargement she more strongly excites herself to his praise. So that the affection of complacency and that of praise, by these reciprocal movements and mutual inclinations, advance one another with great and continual increase.
Please don’t miss this tremendous meditation that Dom Mark posted a few days ago. I’ve already added it to my prayer arsenal.
We must consider how to rouse one another to love and good works.
Father didn’t refer to this verse at all in his homily, but it really grabbed my attention that evening, and I’ve been allowing it to steep in my heart for the past few days.
I appreciate the use of the word “rouse.” The RSV uses “stir up” and the KJV uses “provoke.”
My reflection on this verse has led me first of all to personal repentance. I am not always open to being ‘roused’ by someone else. I’ll surely hear the Holy Spirit rousing me when necessary, right?…Wrong! I’m already doing plenty of loving and good works, so they should be rousing those who are really slacking, right?…Wrong! Those attitudes indicate an immaturity regarding community relationships. I need to be more receptive.
I’ve also been led to a thankfulness for those who have the courage to do the rousing. I appreciate their willingness to respond to the Holy Spirit in this way. This rousing is a charismatic gift (a type of exhortation, or possibly even prophecy), and I should be grateful that someone is exercising that gift to build up the Body of Christ. When I have been roused by a sister or brother, I should express my gratitude to them.
If I have been roused to some deeper love or good work, and it has produced good fruit in some tangible way, I should be eager to give testimony. I need to recall these instances to build my own faith, and share them to help build the faith of others.
This Scripture verse encourages us to “consider HOW to rouse one another…” Perhaps this is something that could be discussed or taught in a Community setting.
I’d enjoy hearing your ideas on this topic. Feel free to leave a Comment to this post.