A Rule of Life
Baptism is the beginning of the path of life for a Christian. Anyone who travels along this path needs a directional signpost. One needs a little rule of life. One needs food for the journey, which is the Word of God.
- Sign of the Cross
- Daily Gospel Reading
- Praying with Mary
- Eucharist as spiritual food
- Participating in the mission of the Church
- The Sacrament of Reconciliation
- Taking time out to stand before God humbly and courageously
Baptism is the beginning of the path of life for a Christian. Anyone who travels along this path needs a directional signpost. One needs a little rule of life. One needs food for the journey, which is the Word of God; and the way for touching God, the sacraments. Listening and experiencing, however, takes time. This is not always easy. There are responsibilities and daily worries. But this regimen will not hinder. It will help each person – in his or her own situation – to do what God asks.
Sign of the Cross
The day starts with the sign of the cross. This is so simple and yet the gesture is a prayer, amply unique and valuable. We enter into that stream of life and love, which links the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.
We also place ourselves in the sign of Jesus’ cross, the source of our salvation that never ceases to flow. We can stand in the heart of Jesus’ sacrifice. We first sign ourselves with the vertical dimension of the cross thus showing that we want to live vertically in covenant with God. But also horizontally, connected with the people and the world. And we are able to face the day with confidence: “For those who love God, all things work together for good.” (Romans 8, 28).
If we make the sign of the cross in union with Mary, then we set the right tone for our praise and our availability. As Ambrose said: “That each may have Mary’s heart to praise the Lord; and that each may have Mary’s spirit to glorify God.”
Daily Gospel Reading
In each Eucharist, the Church reads to us from the Holy Scriptures. Not everyone has the opportunity to attend daily mass; but everyone can read the Scriptures for a few minutes each day.
So we get our nourishment and our strength: placing ourselves under the Word each day, letting our hearts be touched; and so we are connected in some mysterious way with all of our brothers and sisters around the world. We are one great universal family, especially if we read the Gospel of the mass of the day. After all, that message resonates across our planet.
Of course theology is important for understanding the scriptures; but the key words used by the Gospel, are very common words such as: love, forgiveness, prayer, and sharing. … Those words do not require great study. They ask for faith and courage.
Praying with Mary
Even more so than Paul and the other saints, Mary is someone who can testify: “… I live, but not I, it is Christ who lives in me.” (see Galatians. 2.20). Indeed, Mary knows what it means to live in communion of the Holy Trinity: she is the daughter of the Father, the mother of the Son, and the bride of the Spirit.
In all stages of her life, Mary said her “yes.” “No one better than Mary can give us more help to look at Christ … it is the sad look of a woman, when she stands on Golgotha, under the cross. It is the radiant look on Easter morning, filled with the joy of the Risen One, and the passionate look at the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. “(Acts 1:14).
(John Paul II, Apostolic Letter “Rosarium Virginis Maria – The Rosary of the Virgin Mary”, No. 10, 2002.). To pray the Rosary is exactly that, it is following the way of faith in Jesus Christ just as Mary did.”
In the first chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, the angel says: “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your bride. The child born of her is of the Holy Spirit.” (Mt 1,20) In the last chapter of the Gospel of John we read: “When Jesus saw his mother, and the beloved disciple, he said: ‘Woman behold your son;’ and then to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother.’ From that hour, the disciple took her into his own home. ” (John 19:26 to 27). Can it clearer?
Eucharist as spiritual food
When we celebrate the Eucharist, it is always a privileged moment. All of our joys and sorrows, all our lives we offer to God. In addition, we are fed with divine enrichment, in order to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.
During the Eucharist we open ourselves completely to what God wants to tell us and to give us. We open our ears and our mouths to God, who gives us his Word and the Body and Blood of his Son. At the offertory we offer with the host and the chalice, all of our ability to love as well as our impotence. Christ takes them with him and brings them to the Father. Every time, we are therefore more and more like Christ.
After the Eucharist, our task is not finished. We have to translate everything into our daily lives. It’s exactly what the priest tells us in the dismissal blessing: “Go in peace.” It’s the end of the Mass. It is also the beginning of our mission.
Participating in the mission of the Church
Many Christians are therefore looking for food for their faith in instruction and encouragement to live as a Christian. They take care of their souls.
But there is also concern for the other. A true Christian is not focused on just himself or herself. The Christian breaks out of the closed circle around self and goes out to others. The true Christian is a missionary.
That missionary dimension is when people called out to a charitable or social service, to spiritual guidance from others or to Biblical formation, liturgy and catechesis. The one does that in the parish, the other in the diocese; another at international level. The consignment may be something simple.
The call to mission is not to activism, but a calling to help build the community from out of Christ’s love for every human being. Let us not be afraid to humbly share, with others, our joy of being Christians. The forms of that mission may be different, but there is one element that we cannot avoid: the mission of prayer. To that we all are invited.
A place – a small Cenacle – is needed so that Christians can meet together. Those small groups that we can call “Cenacle Groups” or “Cenacle cells” are deeply inspired by the first Cenacle, where the apostles, united with Mary, waited for the Holy Spirit that the Lord had promised them.
As Christians support one another in their faith and in their service to the people, we grow as a Christian community.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation
The sacrament of reconciliation is a sacrament of healing. Our sins make wounds in our hearts that bleed. Confession is the blood transfusion, which is essential for blood loss and anemia. Penance heals the wounds and strengthens us in our weaknesses.
The Father is always on guard; as Jesus says in the parable of the “lost’ son,” or better yet the “merciful Father.” He also waits for us, if we are still far away and think of no return. He will embrace us and hold a feast, when we come back.
The sacrament of reconciliation goes far beyond the psychological assistance of a psychologist or psychiatrist. We are taken to peace, deep down in our souls. Our guilt is taken away, something only God can. The grace of confession is more than just the comforting words of a priest; it is a real boost. Confession’s grace gives us the strength and the energy to continue living: not just good advice, insight, and encouragement.
These two sacraments – Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation – we can receive regularly. The other sacraments – baptism, confirmation, marriage – we often see only as strong times in our lives. We must not forget to celebrate their anniversaries, like the day of a wedding. The grace of the sacraments, however, is given to us day after day to live on, as this also applies to the priesthood.
Incidentally, all the sacraments – including the Sacrament of the Sick – give us strength.
Central to all the sacraments, of course, is the Eucharist. It covers all the sacraments and is the culmination and source of every Christian community. If we have the opportunity, also throughout the week to go to the Eucharist, our union with Christ and with the community around grows all the stronger.
Taking time out to stand before God humbly and courageously
More and more Christians are seeking a longer time for deepening and spiritual rest. As Christians we need to return to the source: to be rooted in God (ad intra – going inside) so that we can again be sent out by God (ad extra – going outside). The Cenacle-retreat directs us toward the Pentecost experience. Following the Lord’s instructions, the Apostles, after Ascension, returned to Jerusalem to the Cenacle: “….John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized by the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 1:5)
The Holy Spirit came upon them and made the anxious and uncertain apostles into dauntless witnesses for Christ. This outpouring of the Spirit is not just a distant event from the past. In continually new ways the Holy Spirit renews individuals, groups, and communities in the Church. This experience can take many forms, from a session of spiritual formation to a few days of silence – with or without direction. At all times we are courageously asking the question: “Am I truly living the way that God expects of me.”
This question is the main question: our joy and our happiness depend on it. It demands a special attentiveness. This is way we direct our prayer to the Holy Spirit.
Sometimes this calls for a radical conversion in our lives. We can be certain, however, that even if God asks difficult things of us, God never asks the impossible. Nor does God ever ask us to make decisions that go against our state in life, as, for example, our family responsibilities.
This big step in our lives means giving an answer to the question: “Who is Jesus Christ really for me? Is he the way, the truth, and the life?” Our answer depends on the orientation and commitment expressed in our lives.
Finally, God has called us out of nothingness and has given us life and existence. Jesus Christ came to set us free and to enable us to love as he loved.
Jesus Christ himself has come to us to invite us to a life of communion with him. He wanted to tell all people that he came “that they might have life and life in abundance.” (John 10:10).
If we really appreciate the confidence he has placed in us, why wouldn’t we “Yes!” And say it in union with Mary.