By Raoul Plus, S.J.
We cannot always be thinking of God, nor is it necessary. We can be constantly united with God without the constant thought of Him. The union of our will with the will of God is the sole form of union that is really requisite.
Wherein, then, lies the utility of the exercise of the presence of God enjoined by all the masters of the spiritual life? We will now explain.
It is necessary to have an absolutely sure intention in all our actions, so that the generous fulfillment of our daily duties may be directed toward the highest supernatural ideal. Thus, our life, apart from moments of prayer, will be a prayerful life.
It is clear that the habit of giving an upward glance to God at the moment of action is a great assistance in aiding us to behave always with a pure intention and in freeing us from our natural impulses and fancies, so, that, retaining our self-mastery, or rather, God becoming the sole Master, all our movements become dependent upon the Holy Spirit.
We see in the Gospel that whenever our Lord was about to undertake some important step, He always paused for a moment to raise His eyes to Heaven, and only after this moment of recollection did He take up the work He had to do. “He lifted up His eyes to Heaven” is a phrase that recurs with significant frequency. And doubtless, when there was no outward sign of this prayer, there was the inward offering.
The ideal is the same for us. The constant subjection of self to the guidance of the Holy Spirit is made easier from the fact of His presence in the soul, where He is asked explicitly to preside over all our doings. It is impossible to put the spirit of recollection into generous practice unless there is also a deeply rooted spirit of self-renunciation. We shall not submit wholeheartedly to the invisible Guest unless He is kept in close proximity to us. The death of self cannot take place unless the spirit of life is already installed, unless it moves upon the face of the waters.
Man will not consent to drive away the money-changers from the temple of his soul until he realizes that it is a Holy of Holies — not a house of traffic, but in very truth the house of God.
We thus reach two striking conclusions:
1. There cannot be entire dependence upon the Holy Spirit’s guidance, which is the true meaning of living in Christ, without complete self-renunciation.
2. There cannot be complete self-renunciation without the constant underlying spirit of faith, without the habit of interior silence, a silence where God is dwelling.
Many do not see the connection between thoughts about the King and the service of the King; between the interior silence, which seems to consist in immobility, and the continual detachment, which is the essence of supreme activity.
If we look closer, it will be seen that there is a strong, close, unbreakable link between the two. Find a recollected person, and he will be detached; seek one who is detached, and he will be recollected. To have found the one is to have discovered the other. The truth of this may be estimated by the ease with which the one or the other of these two types can be found.
Anyone who tries, on a given day, to practice either recollection or detachment cannot ignore the fact that he is doing a double stroke of work.
The habit of self-renunciation requires constant recollection
If the soul, to become fully Christlike, ought to live in entire dependence upon the Holy Spirit, and if it is not possible to live in complete dependence upon the Holy Spirit unless the whole life is recollected, it is evident that recollection, in the sense that has been explained, constitutes one of the most precious virtues that can be acquired.
Father Pergmayer affirms, “The shortest road to gain perfect love is to have God always present; sin is driven away, and the soul has no time to think of anything else or to complain and murmur. . . . The practice of the presence of God leads sooner or later to perfection.”
Not to try to live in interior silence is equivalent to giving up the effort to lead a truly Christian life. The Christian life is a life of faith, lived in the invisible for what is invisible. Anyone who is not in constant contact with the invisible world runs the risk of remaining always on the threshold of a true Christian life.
To quote the words of Father Gratry:
We must give up living in the outer and more superficial enclosure of the soul; we should go within and penetrate into its deepest recesses. And when we have arrived at this point, we must still go further in, until we reach the center, which is no longer self, but God. There is the Master. . . and there it is that it may be vouchsafed us to abide with Him for a whole day. Now, once we have been permitted to pass a day with Him, we shall desire to follow Him everywhere like His Apostles, His disciples, and His servants. Yea, Lord, when I have the privilege of spending the entire day with Thee, I shall wish to follow Thee always.
Solitude is the stronghold of the strong. Strength is an active virtue, and our power of keeping silence marks the level of our capacity for action. “Without this interior cell, we would be incapable of doing great things, either for ourselves or for others.”
The weak and unstable dislike to be alone. The majority of people look to amusement to save them from exerting themselves. They lose themselves in what is nought so that self may not be lost in what is all. It was in the midst of the silence of the night that almighty God came to earth.
Silence [writes Father Faber] has ever been, as it were, the luxury of great holiness. . . . So it is the first life which He, the eternally silent spoken Word of the Father, chooses for Himself. All His afterlife was colored by it. In His childhood, He let speech seem to come slowly to Him, as if He were acquiring it like others, so that under this disguise He might prolong His silence, delaying thus even his colloquies with Mary. Mary also herself, and Joseph, caught from Him, as by a heavenly contagion, a beautiful taciturnity. In His eighteen years of hidden life, silence still prevailed in the holy house of Nazareth. Words, infrequent and brief, trembled in the air, like music which was too sweet for one strain to efface another, while the first still vibrated in the listening ear.
In the three years’ ministry, which was given up to talking and teaching, He spoke as a silent man would speak, or like a God making revelations. Then, in His Passion, when He had to teach by His beautiful way of suffering, silence came back again, just as an old habit returns at death, and became once more a characteristic feature of His life.
We think so much of appearances that we are unable to appreciate anything that does not appeal to the senses. Silence is the source whence springs effectual effort. The jet of water is forced silently to bore its way through the stone before it is able to burst forth bubbling into song.
It must be well understood that when silence is recommended, it is interior silence that is meant, which should be imposed upon the senses and imagination to avoid the liability of being taken out of ourselves in spite of ourselves at every moment. If the oven door is perpetually kept open, to adopt the simile used by St. Teresa, the heat will escape. It takes a long while to raise the temperature, but a second is sufficient for it to run down. A crack in the wall will let in the icy outer air, and the whole process has to be begun again.
An excellent method of preserving interior silence is to keep exterior silence. This is the reason for the cloister and the grill. But even in the world, each one of us can make his own solitude, a boundary beyond which nothing can force its way unperceived.
It is not noise in itself that is the difficulty, but noise that is pointless; it is not every conversation, but useless conversations; not all kinds of occupation, but aimless occupations. In point of fact, everything that does not serve some good purpose is harmful. It is foolish, nay, more, it is a betrayal to devote to a useless objective powers that can be given to what is essential.
There are two ways of separating ourselves from almighty God, quite different from one other but both disastrous, although for different reasons: mortal sin and voluntary distractions — mortal sin, which objectively breaks off our union with God, and voluntary distractions, which subjectively interrupt or hinder our union from being as close as it ought to be. We should speak only when it is preferable not to keep silence. The Gospel does not say merely that we shall have to give an account of every evil word, but of every idle thought.
We must speed up our lives, as modern people express it, and get rid of everything that lessens the output; the spiritual life, more than anything else, requires this speeding up, for it is the most important.
The interest the majority of people take in things of no account — the noises in the street, the behavior of passersby, the flagrant empty-headedness of the daily papers, whether intentional or unintentional — is almost incredible. What a joy it would be if suddenly, by some unexpected good fortune, everything in the world that does not serve some good purpose were to come to an end; if those who have nothing to say were to keep silence, this life would be a paradise!
The cloister is what it is because there men and women learn how to keep silence. They do not always succeed, but at least they are learning, and that is a great thing. Elsewhere it is a lesson that is not even learned. Yet speech is a great art, and conversation a valuable pastime, perhaps the most precious in existence, but good use is not abuse. It is customary on the anniversary of the Armistice to keep a two minutes’ silence: this silence is in memory of the victory of the Allied troops. If the world would learn how to keep silence, this practice of recollection would lead to many victories.
“If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man.”
“And let every man be swift to hear, but slow to speak.”
Our usual habit is to behave in an exactly contrary manner. Everyone talks; no one listens, least of all to Him who most deserves to be heard: the interior Master. There are few perfect souls because there are few lovers of silence. Silence is the equal of perfection, not in all, but in a great many instances.
Put it to the test — it is worth the trouble — and the result will be a revelation.
Editor’s note: This article is adapted from a chapter in Fr. Plus’ How to Pray Always, which is available from Sophia Institute Press.
Source: em>http://catholicexchange.com/interior-silence?mc_cid=e6dc1d5ab3&mc_eid=9d05a73963. January 19, 2016, “The Necessary Practice of Interior Silence”.
5 Tips for Running Meetings People Willingly Attend
By Cameron Herold
Author of the book “Meetings Suck” and Founder of COO Alliance
“A meeting is an event where minutes are taken and hours wasted.” – Capt. James T. Kirk, Star Trek
When was the last time you left a meeting feeling inspired and thinking, “That was an awesome meeting!” Or better yet, when was the last time you watched other people in the room leave inspired about the awesome meeting? Was it yesterday? Last week? Last month? Last year? Maybe it was never. Sadly, it’s far more likely that you’ve walked out of most meetings thinking, “What a waste of my time.” But I have a secret to share with you — your meetings don’t have to suck.
In fact, if done right, your meetings hold the potential to drive alignment within the business; give direction; generate energy, focus, and creativity; and inspire your people to elevate the business to the next level. But when a meeting is run poorly, which happens often, then none of that is possible.
Here are a few tips to ensure your meetings are productive:
Maximize time by creating an agenda.
Creating an agenda in advance gives you the distinct advantage of maximizing your time. When you include how long each item is up for discussion, this helps you realize whether you’ve allocated too much or too little time for certain subjects. This gives you flexibility to adjust and split topics into separate groups before the meeting begins, instead of trying to navigate this on the fly.
Only include essential employees.
Creating your agenda in advance also forces you to think critically about who you’re inviting. Often I see leaders show up for a meeting only to realize they’ve invited too many people or the wrong ones. I firmly believe it’s vital only to invite individuals for the portion of the agenda for which they’re needed to maximize everyone’s time.
Start meetings on time.
Punctuality is not so much a virtue, which suggests it’s in some way above and beyond what’s required. Rather, it reflects a larger philosophy of showing respect. “Sorry, I’m late” translates in business as “Screw you, I don’t respect you.”
Know your role.
Every meeting must include five key roles — the moderator, the parking lot, the timekeeper, the participants and the closer. Each of these five roles is crucial to running successful meetings. Taking the time to assign each of the roles at the beginning of each meeting will make your meetings more efficient and effective. Learn more about these roles and how they shape meetings in my book Meetings Suck: Turning One of the Most Loathed Elements of Business into One of the Most Valuable.
So what should you do when you have quieter, more reserved people in a meeting? The best thing you can do as the leader is first to hold your ideas back until the end. Too often, leaders offer their ideas first. But people don’t become confident, or grow as leaders, by listening to what you have to say. Instead, you need to encourage the members of the team to offer their ideas first, especially those less inclined to speak up. Once you’ve called on the junior and quieter types, then move on to the more talkative types and then the senior staff. Plus, if a good idea emerges, then the team has solved the problem on its own, which builds confidence and unity too.
The day has come to elevate your meetings and your role in them, and to use meetings as a tool to take your company and your career to the next level.
We have work to do — let’s get started.
Source: Internet July 20, 2016. Entrepreneur:5 Tips for Running Meetings People Willingly Attend. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/278814. Contributed by PV Beley, BCBP Greenhills.
Pope Francis Gives 2 Verbs of Mercy at General Audience
September 21, 2016, Pope at Jubilee Audience. Pope Francis has given faithful the two verbs of mercy, stressing that for fulfillment in life, we are called to forgive and give.
During this morning’s General Audience in St. Peter’s Square, while reflecting on Luke’s Gospel (6: 36-38) on mercy which inspired the Jubilee Year’s motto: ‘Be merciful as your father is merciful,’ Francis stressed this is “not a slogan for effect, but a life commitment.” He recalled that in the Sermon on the Mount, which opens with the Beatitudes, the Lord teaches that perfection consists in love, and reminded those present that St. Luke explicitly explains that perfection is the merciful love: ‘to be perfect means to be merciful.’
“A person who is not merciful is perfect?” the Pope asked. “No!” “A person who is not merciful is good? No!” he continued, clarifying that goodness and perfection are always rooted in mercy.
Realistic for Us?
“Of course, God is perfect.” the Pope said, noting that even if we humans are not capable of reaching absolute perfection, our being merciful is all that God expects from us. “He urges us to be as He is, full of love, compassion, mercy.” He continued, “But I wonder: Are the words of Jesus realistic? Is it really possible to love as God loves and be merciful like Him?”
The Jesuit Pope noted that if we look at the history of salvation, we see that the whole revelation of God is a ceaseless and untiring love for mankind, and that Jesus’ death on the Cross is the culmination of the love story between God and man. Francis admitted that only God can accomplish a love so great, and that, “It is clear that, compared to this love that has no measure, our love will always be at fault.”
“But when Jesus calls us to be merciful as the Father,” Francis continued, “He does not think the amount! He asks his disciples to become sign, channels, witnesses of his mercy.” Jesus, the Pope explained, wishes that His Church is a sacrament of God’s mercy in the world, at any time and for all mankind. “Every Christian, therefore, is called to be a witness of mercy, and this happens in the path of holiness,” Francis said, urging: “Think of how many saints have become merciful, for they are left to fill the heart of the divine mercy.”
2 Verbs of Mercy
The Pope then said that we do ought to ask ourselves: ‘What it means for the disciples to be merciful?’ He responded that Jesus has already given us the answer, that lies in living out two verbs: forgiving and giving.
Mercy is expressed, first of all, in the forgiveness: “Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.”(v. 37) “Jesus does not intend to pervert the course of human justice, however, He reminded His disciples that to have fraternal relations, one must suspend judgments and sentences. Forgiveness,” he noted, “is the pillar that holds up the life of the Christian community, because it shows the gratuitousness with which God has loved us first.”
“The Christian must forgive! But why? Why he was forgiven. All of us who are here today, in the square, we have been forgiven. None of us, in life, had no need of God’s forgiveness. And because we have been forgiven, we must forgive.” Judging and condemning the brother who sins, the Pope said, is wrong. “Not because I do not want to recognize sin, but because in condemning the sinner, the bond of fraternity with him breaks. We have the power to condemn our erring brother, [but] we are not above him: we have rather a duty to recover the dignity of a child of the Father and accompany him on his journey of conversion.”
The Pope then discussed how Jesus has given us a second pillar: ‘giving.’ Francis reminded them of Jesus’ advice: “For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you. (v. 38)”
Noting how God gives far beyond our merits, Francis noted that He will be even more generous to those on earth who were generous to others. “Jesus does not say what will happen to those who do not donate, but the image of the “measure” is a warning: with the measure that we take, we can determine how we will be judged…” Merciful love, Pope Francis underscored, is the only way forward.
“We must forgive, be merciful, live our life in love. This love enables Jesus’ disciples not to lose the identity received from Him, and to recognize themselves as sons of the same Father. But do not forget this: mercy and blessing; forgiveness and gift. In this way, the heart enlarges, it widens in love. Instead selfishness, anger, make the little heart, which hardens like a stone.”
“What do you prefer?” Pope Francis concluded asking. “A heart of stone and a heart full of love? If you prefer a heart full of love, be merciful!”
On ZENIT’s Web page: https://zenit.org/articles/pope-francis-gives-2-verbs-of-mercy-at-general-audience/
Full text of general audience: https://zenit.org/articles/general-audience-be-perfect-merciful-as-your-heavenly-father-is-perfect-merciful/
What does it mean to be a LIVE Catholic? It means we are not afraid to live life abundantly! To drink in the beauty of life, family, friends and the world. We are not afraid to explore the wonders of Christ. We have Hope! Hope for a better life in Christ, and most importantly the Hope of being with Christ on the “other side.” Whether we are new Catholics, “Reverts”, members of the life-long faithful, or those just considering Catholicism, we all can live life in the joy of Christ.
Too many Catholics think religion is dour, depressing – what grandmothers and old men do. They have the impression that to be a saint is to be boring and painful. Long hours on their knees wearing hairshirts. But holiness is not about hairshirts – it is about union with God. An aliveness we can not only dream about but actually attain. A great adventure waiting for us that we only have to open ourselves to. And yes, this means YOU TOO!
Saints are truly the most joyful people around. We may not know many – if any – but when you meet one you can sense it immediately. They radiate love, goodness and truth. Sure it is not all fun and games. Life is not like that. But the joy in Christ we experience here on earth is but a taste of the joy to come.
True Catholics don’t spend their time complaining about how unfair the Church is, or how they are not getting their fair share, or how so-and-so said an unthinking word. True Catholics realize that it is all about their relationship with Christ, not about rules. The rules are there to give us a framework to build on, to go beyond. A starting point.
True Catholics are alive in the Faith. They take a journey every day with Christ. They never stop learning. They are never afraid Christ will abandon them. They suffer hardships, pain and disappointments with faith and trust that the Lord will give them the strength and help to persevere. To get to this point – joy in the Lord amidst life’s struggles – is itself a journey. We have so much to learn and experience. There is a depth to Catholicism that is unfathomable to us. We could spend our entire lives with our nose in book after book, website after website, and never even scratch the surface of the knowledge of Christ held within the Church.
In another way though, knowledge of Christ is profoundly simple. Even small children and the uneducated understand it, and in many ways, better than anyone. They have a deep understanding of who God is and what he wants from our lives. Simple people have far less in their way to Christ than we may have.
To live as a Catholic, to be an alive Catholic, means to not let the world surround us, choke us, smother us with falsehoods. We have to grow in knowledge and holiness. We need to take advantage of the depth and beauty of Catholicism and what the Church has to offer us. We have to not be suspicious, to not always be looking for the “catch.” Of course, we cannot ignore problems when they happen, in the Church or in life, but we cannot let them spoil our joy. We cannot allow problems to penetrate and sour our relationship with the Church and with Christ.
We also need to let our joy spread. An alive Catholic opens his or her heart to the world. They have compassion for those in the world – be it a starving child, or a person whose heart is a stone. We need to let the Holy Spirit flow through us to spread the Kingdom of Christ. We need to do this even when confronted by hostile territory and the “snakes” of the world. Our mission is to be in Christ and spread Christ in spite of problems or problem people – like family, or co-workers, or even other Catholics.
The most important thing I can possibly say to you is that YOU, with God’s grace, can do this. You too can be a Live Catholic. Someone who radiates joy and has a deep relationship with God. If you trust God, open your heart to him, and seek him with all your heart you will find him.
By Marcy K.
Originally titled: Pentecost: The Difference that the Spirit Makes
By Marcellino D’Ambrosio, Ph.D.
Somehow many Catholics have missed the good news about Pentecost. OK, we Catholics celebrate the feast every year and mention it in Confirmation class, but lots of us evidently didn’t “get it.”
Because if we “got it,” we’d be different . . . bold instead of timid, energetic instead of anemic, fascinated instead of bored. Compare the apostles before and after Pentecost and you’ll see the difference the Spirit makes.
The gospel is Good News not just because we’re going to heaven, but because we’ve been empowered to become new people, here and now. Vatican II insisted that each of us is called to the heights of holiness (Lumen Gentium, chapter V). Not by will-power, mind you. But by Holy Spirit power. Holiness consists in faith, hope, and especially divine love. These are “virtues,” literally “powers,” given by the Spirit. To top it off, the Spirit gives us seven further gifts which perfect faith, hope, and love, making it possible for us to live a supernatural, charismatic life. Some think this is only for the chosen few, “the mystics.” Thomas Aquinas taught to the contrary that the gifts of Isaiah 11:1-3 (wisdom, knowledge, understanding, counsel, piety, fortitude, and fear of the Lord) are standard equipment given in baptism, that all are called to be “mystics.”
Vatican II also taught that every Christian has a vocation to serve. We need power for this too. And so the Spirit distributes other gifts, called “charisms.” These, teaches St. Thomas, are not so much for our own sanctification as for service to others. There is no exhaustive list of charisms, though St. Paul mentions a few (I Corinthians 12:7-10, Romans 12:6-8) ranging from tongues to Christian marriage (1 Corinthians7: 7). Charisms are not doled out by the pastors; but are given directly by the Spirit through baptism and confirmation, even sometimes outside of the sacraments (Acts 10:44-48).
Do I sound Pentecostal? That’s because I belong to the largest Pentecostal Church in the world. Correcting the mistaken notion that the charisms were just for the apostolic church, Vatican II had this to say: “Allotting His gifts ‘to everyone according as he will’ (1 Cor. 12:11), He [the Holy Spirit] distributes special graces among the faithful of every rank. . . . These charismatic gifts, whether they be the most outstanding or the more simple and widely diffused, are to be received with thanksgiving and consolation, for they are exceedingly suitable and useful for the needs of the Church” (LG12).
Powerful gifts, freely given to all. Sounds like a recipe for chaos. But the Lord also imparted to the apostles and their successors a unifying charism of headship. The role of the ordained is not to do everything themselves. Rather, they are to discern, shepherd, and coordinate the charisms of the laity so that they mature and work together for the greater glory of God (LG 30).
So what if you, like me, did not quite “get it” when you were confirmed? I’ve got good news for you. You actually did get the Spirit and his gifts. Have you ever received a new credit card with a sticker saying “Must call to activate before using?” The Spirit and his gifts are the same way. You have to call in and activate them. Do it today and every day, and especially every time you attend Mass. Because every sacramental celebration is a New Pentecost where the Spirit and his gifts are poured out anew (CCC 739, 1106).
That’s why the Christian Life is an adventure. There will always be new surprises of the Spirit!
Source: Catholic Exchange, June 2, 2017: http://catholicexchange.com/pentecost-difference-spirit-makes?mc_cid=d40f4cd676&mc_eid=9d05a73963
In a recent interview with Vox’s Ezra Klein, journalist and author Ta-Nehisi Coates argued that serious thinkers and writers should get off Twitter. It wasn’t a critique of the 140-character medium or even the quality of the social media discourse in the age of fake news. It was a call to get beyond the noise. For Coates, generating good ideas and quality work products requires something all too rare in modern life: quiet.
He’s in good company. Author JK Rowling, biographer Walter Isaacson, and psychiatrist Carl Jung have all had disciplined practices for managing the information flow and cultivating periods of deep silence. Ray Dalio, Bill George, California Governor Jerry Brown, and Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan have also described structured periods of silence as important factors in their success.
Recent studies are showing that taking time for silence restores the nervous system, helps sustain energy, and conditions our minds to be more adaptive and responsive to the complex environments in which so many of us now live, work, and lead. Duke Medical School’s Imke Kirste recently found that silence is associated with the development of new cells in the hippocampus, the key brain region associated with learning and memory. Physician Luciano Bernardi found that two-minutes of silence inserted between musical pieces proved more stabilizing to cardiovascular and respiratory systems than even the music categorized as “relaxing.” And a 2013 study in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, based on a survey of 43,000 workers, concluded that the disadvantages of noise and distraction associated with open office plans outweighed anticipated, but still unproven, benefits like increasing morale and productivity boosts from unplanned interactions.
But cultivating silence isn’t just about getting respite from the distractions of office chatter or tweets. Real sustained silence, the kind that facilitates clear and creative thinking, quiets inner chatter as well as outer. This kind of silence is about resting the mental reflexes that habitually protect a reputation or promote a point of view. It’s about taking a temporary break from one of life’s most basic responsibilities: Having to think of what to say.
Cultivating silence, as Hal Gregersen writes in a recent HBR article, “increase[s] your chances of encountering novel ideas and information and discerning weak signals.” When we’re constantly fixated on the verbal agenda—what to say next, what to write next, what to tweet next—it’s tough to make room for truly different perspectives or radically new ideas. It’s hard to drop into deeper modes of listening and attention. And it’s in those deeper modes of attention that truly novel ideas are found.
Even incredibly busy people can cultivate periods of sustained quiet time. Here are four practical ideas:
1) Punctuate meetings with five minutes of quiet time. If you’re able to close the office door, retreat to a park bench, or find another quiet hideaway, it’s possible to hit reset by engaging in a silent practice of meditation or reflection.
2) Take a silent afternoon in nature. You need not be a rugged outdoors type to ditch the phone and go for a simple two-or-three-hour jaunt in nature. In our own experience and those of many of our clients, immersion in nature can be the clearest option for improving creative thinking capacities. Henry David Thoreau went to the woods for a reason.
3) Go on a media fast. Turn off your email for several hours or even a full day, or try “fasting” from news and entertainment. While there may still be plenty of noise around—family, conversation, city sounds—you can enjoy real benefits by resting the parts of your mind associated with unending work obligations and tracking social media or current events.
4) Take the plunge and try a meditation retreat: Even a short retreat is arguably the most straightforward way to turn toward deeper listening and awaken intuition. The journalist Andrew Sullivan recently described his experience at a silent retreat as “the ultimate detox.” As he put it: “My breathing slowed. My brain settled…It was if my brain were moving away from the abstract and the distant toward the tangible and the near.”
The world is getting louder. But silence is still accessible—it just takes commitment and creativity to cultivate it.
Source: March 17, 2017. https://hbr.org/2017/03/the-busier-you-are-the-more-you-need-quiet-time
Living the joy of integrityThe Joy of Integrity, A Pastoral Exhortation on Integrity, was issued by the CBCP in July 2014. The issue of integrity and honesty is fundamental to BCBP values, culture and advocacy so we are sharing excerpts from this document for your enlightenment and reflection. — Editor“Blessed the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in his commands” (Ps. 112:1)
OUR beloved People of God:
The BEAUTY OF INTEGRITY of persons, of community, and of all creation manifests the glory and wisdom of God! It is an integrity that requires honesty and consistency, surely, as the word ordinarily means. But even honesty and consistency are not valuable in themselves; they point beyond to a truthful reality as reference and center; they are as attractive only as the beauty of the truth they refer to. When integrity attracts, it radiates not merely consistency but also cohesion, fittingness, a wholeness that shines forth identity and ultimately its source and creator, God.
We, your pastors humbly recognize our struggle to be integrable in our service to the Church as teachers of the faith, shepherds of the flock and stewards of the temporal goods entrusted to our care.
We are not blind and deaf to the corruption of Philippine society. We see corruption in public life, in personal lives, corruption of the environment and corruption of souls. As we continue to take a prophetic denunciation of this social cancer called corruption, we wish to invite you to give a long reflective gaze at the beauty of integrity believing that we can overcome evil by the power of good (Rom. 12:21).
As Vatican II concluded, Venerable Pope Paul VI asserted, “This world in which we live needs beauty in order not to sink into despair. Beauty, like truth, brings joy to the human heart, and is that precious fruit which resists the erosion of time, which unites generations and enables them to be one in admiration.” More than ever, our world needs the beauty of integrity to “encourage the human spirit to rediscover its path, to raise its eyes to the horizon, to dream of a life worthy of its vocation.”
Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, allow us, your bishops, to envision and to outline briefly the … spirituality of integrity and its multidimensional pastoral applications, in the hope of inspiring us all in this Year of the Laity to be radiant in the integrity of our holiness, of being God’s own.
As both gift and task, individual and collective integrity is a product of prayer and discernment. In 2010, in the midst of the political turmoil being experienced by the country, we your bishops called not for direct and immediate political action, but for “circles of discernment.” These circles of discernment were meant not only to assess the larger realities in our country but also to encourage all Filipinos of goodwill to reflect on how they too have been responsible for the situation. As we move from “circles of discernment” to “circles of integrity,” we also realize that integrity has both personal and communal components.
Circles of Integrity
PERSONAL INTEGRITY. The key to social transformation and the building of a more just society is the fostering of integrity in every individual. “Authentic social changes are effective and lasting only to the extent that they are based on resolute changes in personal conduct.” A life of personal integrity, a moral upright life attests to the beauty of our vocation as children of God. We are fortunate to have ordinary Filipino citizens manifesting this kind of personal integrity, even in the most difficult of circumstances. Last year’s Typhoon Yolanda saw countless Filipinos give their time and resources, no matter how meager, for the relief efforts. This kind of generosity and heroism, often unrecognized, clearly demonstrates inner integrity.
INTEGRITY IN THE FAMILY. A privileged arena in which Christian integrity is manifested is in family life. Integrity is first learned within the family. One cannot underestimate the influence of family attitudes, practices, and values on the formation of one’s character. When children see their parents keeping promises and being faithful to one another, they learn to become trustworthy and responsible in their relationships. Let Paul’s words guide us: “Show yourself as a model of good deeds in every respect, with integrity in your teaching” (cfr. Titus 2:7).
The Church in the Philippines has been buoyed by the efforts of family-oriented groups that strive to promote integrity in marriage and family, while promoting a wider societal commitment. Our numerous charismatic organizations, marriage encounter groups, parish renewal experience chapters, and similar movements have been at the forefront of the Church’s various efforts to promote the Kingdom. We recall the many family life groups that rallied to the defense of life in the recent Reproductive Health Bill debates. If the family is truly the basic institution in the country, our Church, most especially through its committed lay groups, should continue championing family integrity.
INTEGRITY IN WORK AND POLITICS. “Better to be poor and walk in integrity than rich and crooked in one’s ways” (Proverbs 28:6). From the private circles of self and family, our “circles of integrity” must widen to encompass the crucial areas of societal life, especially in the economy, politics, social communications, arts & sciences and technology. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has reminded us that the economy needs a “people-centered” ethics in order to function correctly. Fostering integrity in the workplace is important and necessary, not simply for reasons of efficiency or morale but because it transforms work itself from being mere physical labor to becoming an activity that contributes to full human development. The burgeoning movement for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is commendable for the promotion of a truly just business and economic environment in the Philippines.
Integrity is especially needed in political leadership and participation. Corruption in politics distorts the role of political leaders and their relationship with constituents. The Second Plenary Council challenges the laity to participate in politics for “the pursuit of the common good” and “the promotion of justice,” paying particular attention to the service of the poor. It cannot be excluded that there are and there should be outstanding Catholic politicians who prove that it is possible to be unassailable public servants. In their own quiet ways, cooperatives, social entrepreneurs, individual and communal “whistleblowers,” election watchdog groups, and countless other individuals and organizations all strive to enhance integrity in political and economic life.
INTEGRITY IN THE CHURCH. Priestly formation has been geared towards producing ordained servant-leaders configured to Jesus Christ, the Eternal High Priest. Though the Church, then and now, has been tainted by the scandals of a few clergy, we are inspired by bishops, priests, and religious who have authentically witnessed a life of integrity in preaching the gospel as lived truth in their lives breaking bread in the Eucharist as they share in the sacrifice of those who suffer, and stewarding the resources of the Church as they reach out to the poor in their communities. We realize that formation to integrity is an ongoing process. And it is our hope that we learn from lay people who have been shining examples of integrity.
INTEGRITY OF CREATION. Finally, in the widest circle of our natural environment, we are called to be stewards of integrity caring for God’s creation. God created the natural world in an integral way. Every being is connected and dependent on other beings in an ordered system established by God. When this integrity of creation is violated, all life is threatened. Pollution affects our supply of clean air and drinking water. Over-fishing and improper land use diminish our capacity to catch and grow our food. Indiscriminate logging and mining lead to deadly flash floods and landslides. We need to recover our place in the integral system of creation as responsible users and stewards. Only in this way can all enjoy the beauty and bounty of God’s creation today and tomorrow.
The work of preserving creation’s integrity should be shared by all, and is perhaps the most all-encompassing “CIRCLES OF INTEGRITY” we are called to participate in.
Building a culture of integrity
To build a Culture of Integrity and to radiate its beauty, we need to foster values, build structures, and present role models that can teach, support, and exemplify integrity lived out in the real world.
1) We need to honor persons who have shown honesty, selflessness, courage, and fairness for the sake of others, even when seriously tempted to act selfishly: the taxi driver who returns money left behind, strangers who risk their lives to help others during natural disasters, government workers who refuse to be bribed, the election volunteer who vigilantly guards the ballot box. Their stories can inspire and teach others that a life of integrity is neither impossible nor foolish but is our true calling as citizens and as members of one human family.
2) We need to foster a spirit of solidarity among our people to replace the clannish, exclusive mentality, and “kanya-kanya” attitudes that prevent the formation of true communities of mutual help. We need to be responsible for one another, particularly for the welfare of the least of our brothers and sisters, not only during natural disasters but also each day of our journey as a pilgrim people.
3) We need to ground all our efforts at building a culture of integrity on Love. “No legislation, no system of rules or negotiation will ever succeed in persuading peoples to live in unity and peace; no line of reasoning will ever be able to surpass the appeal of love.” Love is “a force capable of inspiring new ways of approaching the problems of today’s world, of profoundly renewing structures, social organizations, legal systems from within.”
As we previously emphasized for the Year of the Laity, “The renewal of our country thus demands of us all, and especially of you, our lay faithful, a return to truthfulness and the fostering of the sense of the common good…. We must seek the truth, speak the truth, do the truth… and to do so ‘in love,’ that is, in solidarity with and service of others.” When we cultivate the integrity of our holiness, relying on the abundant grace of God, we give a powerful testimony to the Author of Integrity, whose joy is to lead all humanity and creation to the fullness and wholeness of God. We join Pope Francis in observing that, “the Church…does not grow through proselytism; it grows through attraction, through witness.”
May the humble and radiant witness of our Mother Mary, along with the prayerful support of Saints Lorenzo Ruiz and Pedro Calungsod, keep us united to each other and committed to our life of integrity in love!
For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, July 8, 2014
(SGD)+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS, D.D.
Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan
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