How lovely are the feet of those who worship the Lord in Spirit and in Truth and who live out their lives in that spiritual experience of being lifted by faith and conversion to the fullness of a true worship and love of God. The Gospel manifests in every dimension all that is needed in our life of discipleship; as, for example, the Beatitudes which are based on a conviction and certitude of a real poverty, a real simplicity and a true intention of giving us a freedom in our relationship with our Father and a filial intimacy with the Lord Himself.
For in living them, the fruits of the Spirit flow forth from the very heart of Jesus. Our communion in the Spirit of Christ brings us to that tremendous challenge to be holy as the Lord our God is holy. This is the Good News, the proclamation of true joy, the reaching to the salvation which God has wrought for us. It enables us to live our lives in the work of the Kingdom, and become like Christ in our daily lives, sensitive to the calls which God has given to us, especially the call to discipleship in its radical living of the Gospels, to the meekness and humility of the heart of Christ and to the fullness of peace in the midst of a world filled with terrible threats of war.
We are called to witness the fullness of the heart, soul, mind, strength and Spirit of Christ. The truth of our spirituality will be demonstrated in its capacity to transform those who are living it. This transformation is essentially a metanoia, a change of heart which brings them to be able to ask: "What has changed when one becomes a disciple?
Those who ask this question want to witness a change in our way of life, in our actions, in the way we live and in our reaching out to the needs of others. Persons have a right to expect that if we are disciples of the Lord and of Our Lady that we have become living signs. The condition for this is certainly a long hard work at oneself which empowers a disciple of Jesus and Mary to truly witness that Jesus has come and made all things new.
It is not enough to take just one aspect of the Gospel, but we must take the fullness of that discipleship as Jesus reveals it in the Gospels.
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This is what we must live in order to bring forth the fruitfulness which Jesus has placed there. When I went to Rome it was indicated to me that there are at least new groups in the Church asking for various expressions of approval from the Holy See.
There are new Secular Institutes and in between them can be found all sorts of associations and movements like the Focalarini, laymen who work at jobs and live in community; these are encouraged and simple approved. This is a deep current that is present. Rome, itself, it very interested in this development. There are expressions of new dimensions of man's solidarity, the interweaving of lives, and the necessity of working in teams.
All of these are consciously felt and are indications of strength proper to man in our day. They tend to influence the form of spiritual life that we ourselves in the Society of Our Lady have seen in emptying ourselves, yet forming relationship with all of the vocations. In past centuries, this proliferation of movements has not been present.
The interdependence of persons in various vocations has never been so complex and widespread; and yet, that is what we are asking the Church to approve.
This is a lived realization and it is a part of our revival of the communio koinonia values of Christianity as was found in the early Church. Suddenly we have become aware that we can give new values to the Church and those values are which Jesus has placed there in discipleship. The present day spirit has also brought forth, as the Society shows, a renewed interest in the teaching of the Mystical Body of Christ.
When we see the various vocations working together in ecclesial teams, we see the functioning of the whole body of Christ and the witness of the Church very present. The whole Church is again showing a keen sensitivity toward her very essence: a communion in Christ, a presence to the Father and a receptivity in the Spirit. The entire Church is becoming sensitive to the ways that this mystery of the Trinity is actually being manifested in all creation.
My hope is that through the Spiritual Directory of Our Lady's Society we may become aware of the realization of certain values in the Gospels and the Church concerning discipleship. These were actually incarnated in the early Church and we must again render them tangible in the Church today in order that in living them we may bring forth the fullness of the community of the Trinity made visible.
We have in the Society, as you know, a shared life which is modest but very real. We have a fraternal communion which bases itself on graced friendship and a prayer life which actually is the very prayer life of Christ Himself. These are vital links by which we come to be a true society in the Church. Another witness of the Gospels is community made visible in the mission of the world, to other Christians, and to those that know nothing of this Church. We put ourselves in teams and ready ourselves with spiritual values and different gifts to actually bring forth a Trinitarian Marian witness.
This witness embraces a living faith dialogue with each other on our teams, mutual correction of one another in the practice of our vocation, and an examination of the path that we trace in such a way that we become aware of the true discipleship which we are called to live.
We find that it is a spirituality which witnesses the greatness of relationship and oneness with God and which He desires to have with us. Many times in our own particular work we have an awareness of the atheism which surrounds us today and which is establishing its errors in the work and roots of contemporary life. We do not isolate ourselves from it, but rather, firmly convinced, we unite together and reach out to our brothers and sisters who are caught in deception so that they can see that it is good for us to live together in Christ.
Seeing this unanimity and fidelity to the discipleship in the Gospels, they realize that the Lord can draw all to Himself, for He says, "And I - once I am lifted up from the earth-will draw all men to myself. We are aware also that there are many trials that lie in wait for us at one time or another; that there are afflictions and weariness, questions and rejections.
We need others to become real witnesses to the Lord. As brothers and sisters in community we can easily come to support each other, because we know that perhaps tomorrow we may be the ones that will need that support. We want to have a faithful and true manifestation of the Church and loving obedience to the hierarchy. There is, however, a danger in our littleness that we could go off and find ourselves in communities of little teams that really don't reach to the Church, but simply give a security for our own needs.
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We must, therefore, realize that in our ecclesial teams we are actualizing the mystery of the Church without reducing it to shreds or over burdening it. We want to be of service to the Church and we truly consider it a privilege to serve whole heatedly in the universal communion of God's people as the Body of Christ. We want to be sure that the Society is freed from the temptation of closing in on itself. Rather, we pray that the fullness of the life of Jesus Himself will be opened out as the early Church was opened out to the then known world.
We are open to the whole of the world and the universe in the name of a spirituality that is truly faithful to the Holy Spirit Himself in His work of the Church now and in the future. Love of the Church should certainly be characteristic of our spirituality of discipleship as it is with Jesus and Mary. Therefore, in our discipleship we strive for this mark.
We simply say of ourselves, in the words of St.
Paul, "Do not extinguish the Spirit. Do not undervalue the gift of prophesy. Test everything and what is good, keep. Down through the centuries whenever there has been a need for a new thrust in the history of man, in the life of the Church, in the work of the Kingdom and in all other realities, Our Heavenly Father has given us Christ. In His divine plan for the salvation, redemption, and sanctification of mankind, the Father has brought forth from His spiritual gifts the fruitfulness He has given to us through Christ. He has always followed the same pattern.
He has chosen great saints to illuminate for us certain mysteries of Jesus' life. The prayer and labor of Jesus were exemplified in the life of St. Benedict, in the 6th century. He saw the conditions of Rome, saw the futility of trying to change them, and went up to a cave in Subiaco. In the mountains just outside of Rome he built up the Benedictine monastic community.
His sister, St. Scholastica, began a community of women, similarly dedicated to prayer and the sanctification of even the simplest manual labor. He then infused the monastic life back into the Church and everything in the Christian world, through this spiritual transfusion, became Benedictine: the art, the music, the literature, and the culture. Francis and Clare did the same in the 13th century when the Church was being choked with riches. With the poverty of Jesus, Francis and Clare brought the necessary transfusion to the Church spiritually so that Christ could continue the work of the Father in fulfilling the destiny that He had given to the Church.
Ignatius Loyola used the holy name of Jesus when he wanted to stem the tide of the so-called Protestant Reformation. Dominic used the preaching of Our Lord to stem heresy. Alphonsus Liguori shared the redemption of Our Lord to bring forth a renewal of faith in the 18th century.
Each one of the saints brought the fruitfulness of some aspect of the life of Our Lord Jesus Christ vividly before the eyes of men. These saints moved the world, transformed it by the power of Christ. In the present day, the Paschal Mystery of Jesus is the aspect which our Father desires us to live and wants to be released to meet the needs of the people of today: the birth, life, and sufferings, the death and burial, the resurrection and the ascension of the Lord Jesus is the fruit which the Father desires to share with us so that we may be His people and He may be our God, and that He may heal us.
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As disciples beginning our study of St. Matthew's gospel, we see ourselves as the anawim of the Lord. In the gospel Jesus teaches us the spirit of anawah, a humble sense of human powerlessness. Matthew's gospel speaks of this when Jesus says, "Without me, you can do nothing. Raised up by divine vocation from the midst of the people of God are various ministries that are to be lived out in the spirit of anawah. They are to be carefully fostered and cultivated by all: disciples who are priests, deacons, religious and laity.
By their prayers and by their active works, they all play an indispensable role in the rooting, strengthening and expanding, of the Kingdom of Christ. As disciples, our friendship with God is so sure of His love that we become very fearless and courageous; we lay bare our souls before Him, certain that He will understand whatever misery, whatever trials and whatever sufferings drain our strength.
Yet we are always sustained by one thought, that God is our friend and that He will not abandon us. Time and again as disciples, we are stripped of human support. We feel powerlessness in our creature- hood, we taste anguish within our suffering and oppression, we are cut off from friendship and many times cruelly treated.
We taste all of the weaknesses of life and yet in all of this we are to have a complete trust in God. As we enter into our discipleship and come to the mystery of the Church, we see the very foundation which our Lord has placed in His Church. By our preaching of the goodness of our Father, we come into the work of the Kingdom, which for centuries had been promised in the Scriptures.
Jesus tells us Himself, "Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand.