To delight in us, to find joy in us, to see his dream fulfilled in us: this is what God so ardently pursues! In the Incarnation and the Cross, the Word sought us out so that he could delight in us.

How many of us have ever considered that giving joy to God is perhaps the essential aspect of the human and Christian vocation? And yet, without that, what would it mean to say that God loves us and that we love him in return? What is love without mutual joy and enjoyment between persons, at both the human and the divine levels?

Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis, Fire of Mercy, Heart of the Word: Meditations on the Gospel according to Saint Matthew, Chapters 1–25, vol. 3 (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1996–2012), page 37.

 

My notes:  Part of our prayer should be telling God we love Him, and listening for Him to tell us that he loved us first. This mutual love should be a source of joy, for both God and us.

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.… For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. (2 Corinthians 3:18; 4:6)

Here we have in a nutshell the whole dynamic Christian mystery, its origin, its goal, and the means to reach it. The uncreated Light of God has made itself perceptible to our human nature in the Incarnation, and our contemplative act of gazing upon God’s glory on the face of Christ results in our being transformed into what we contemplate, namely, the divine nature.
Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis, Fire of Mercy, Heart of the Word: Meditations on the Gospel according to Saint Matthew, Chapters 1–25, vol. 3 (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1996–2012), page 42.

Divine Love it is that energizes and structures the parables. Only the incarnate Word can thus perfectly mediate eternal and unfathomable mysteries to weak and sinful creatures, provided these open their hearts to receive the gift. For this way of “indirection”, this path to God’s very Heart via humanity’s language of flesh, is nothing other than the path the Savior personally assumed in his sacred Incarnation. The saving event of the Incarnation and the narrative event of the parable go hand in hand, for in both cases it is Love that impels God to empty himself out, to communicate his divine being in the materiality of flesh and words handed over lovingly by a Friend to his friends.

Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis, Fire of Mercy, Heart of the Word: Meditations on the Gospel according to Saint Matthew, Chapters 1–25, vol. 2 (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1996–2012), 259.

 

My notes: First some context to the quote. The author is commenting on Matthew 13:34-35, in which Jesus is explaining why He talks in parables.  Jesus reveals the Kingdom of God in parables, but He (Jesus) had to come here, in the same flesh we have been given (by Him), so that he could talk to us.  God is not some distant being up in “heaven” somewhere. God is Love, and love moves, works, creates, communicates, sanctifies and then even comes here (into that which He has created) to be with the creatures that He has created. God who is Love, is impelled by His very being (love) to the Incarnation.

Jesus closes the distance between God and man; he is at once both the Word and the Presence of God under the veil of flesh. In the person of Jesus and in the event of his Incarnation, we see that “God” means: “He who saves in the flesh out of love.”

Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis, Fire of Mercy, Heart of the Word: Meditations on the Gospel according to Saint Matthew, Chapters 1–25, vol. 1 (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1996–2012), Page 71.

I have a new hobby, astrophotography.
The main focus of this photo is the star Capella, the 3rd brightest star in the northern hemisphere. Capella is the big bright star in the center, just above the tree line. Straight up from Capella is the constellation Perseus. On the lower right of the picture just to the left of the trees, is a cluster of stars in the shape of a question mark ‘?’. This is the constellation Pleiades. There are 2382 stars in this photo (counted using software called DeepSkyStacker).

Capella2_c

The photo details: Nikon D5500, 18mm, 13 seconds, f/3.5, ISO 2500, image size is 6000 x 3610 pixels. The picture was touched up in Photoshop using the standard Curves Layer, adjusting both darkness and contrast. I took this photo on November 7, 2015, 21:34. It was taken at a fair dark sky location, about 1 hour west of the highly light polluted sky of Detroit.

So how do the heavens tell of the glory of God? If we think about the entire universe, estimated to be 300 billion galaxies each with 300 billions stars, we can come to a profound conclusion. God does not create only a “simple” solar system FOR us, He also creates a universe to SHOW us, to shows us His power. A dark sky with 50,000 stars is something we rarely, probably never, get to see, unless we specifically go hunting for it. Our big cities create so much light pollution we may only see 50 stars, perhaps 500 if we live in the far suburbs of a major city.

Think about this, the sensor in my camera is 6000 by 4000 pixels, and it captured photons from Capella, photons that travelled 246,900,000,000,000 miles (246 trillion miles or 405 trillion kilometers) to reach that sensor on my camera. A truly dark sky reveals not only the beauty of nature itself, but the beauty, power and wisdom of the One who created the stars. The heavens show us the glory of God.

Since many Christians, moreover, have lost their eschatological sense, death is surrounded by silence, by anxiety, or by an attempt to relegate it to the ranks of the trivial. For centuries, the Church has taught us to pray that death will not take us by surprise, that we will be given time to prepare for it; now a sudden death is looked upon as a blessing. But not to accept and respect death is not to accept and respect life itself.

Joseph Ratzinger, Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year, ed. Irene Grassl, trans. Mary Frances McCarthy and Lothar Krauth (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1992), page 358.

 

(bold emphasis above added by me)

My notes:   Eschatology is the study/understanding of the four final things: death, judgment, heaven and hell. We should NOT pray for a quick death. We should pray for a death which we have time to prepare for. Before our death we need to repent, ask Jesus for His Divine Mercy, and tell God we love Him (“Jesus I will love you forever!”). Praying direct to the Holy Trinity with a daily “Act of Contrition” is one of the best ways to prepare for the day we die. Another daily prayer to prepare for death is the “Hail Mary”. This is done with an understanding of the last verse: “…pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.” We ask the Mother of Jesus to intercede for us in our final hour of life here on earth, so that we will be prepared to enter into a eternal life with her Son.

Eternal Father,
I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus,
in union with the masses said throughout the world today,
for all the holy souls in purgatory,
for sinners everywhere,
for sinners in the universal church,
those in my own home
and within my family. Amen.

 

St. Gertrude the Great (1256 – ca. 1302) was a German Benedictine, mystic, and theologian. Her feast day is November 16th.

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