The better the preparation the better the results! This principle can be applied in almost any activity or enterprise. Sports, academics, business, and even more important the spiritual life—the more time, energy and effort we expend, the better the results.
Olympic athletes start their preparation three to four years before the actual games; serious students burn the night oil to the point of exhaustion to pass tests so as to enter into Law School, Medical School or an Ivy League College, and millionaires are not born like leaves hanging from pear trees, but they work hard to rake in their surplus.
SPIRITUAL ATHLETES. Our time, energy, initiative and courage should far supersede those who are interested in natural enterprises that culminate in fame, money and power, but like dust, is blown away by the wind. Why? For the simple reason that we should love God with our whole heart, mind, soul and strength and love what God loves—the salvation of immortal souls! Indeed Jesus shed His Precious Blood on the cross on Calvary to save immortal souls from eternal perdition.
Therefore, let us make a concerted effort of mind, heart, body and will to live out these holy days of Holy Week that culminates in the victory of Easter and the deluge of grace available for us on Mercy Sunday.
Let us prepare! Following are ten short practical suggestions to make this preparation culminate in a deluge of graces for those who have magnanimity—generosity of heart, mind and soul:
- SILENCE: God did not speak to the prophet Elijah in the earthquake, thunder or lightning, but rather in the gentle breeze. Unless we cultivate interior recollection through silence, it will be literally impossible to hear the voice of God in the inner recesses of our soul. Then we can say with the young Samuel in the temple: “Speak O Lord for your servant listens!”
- WORD OF GOD: The Word of God is a lamp for our steps and light for all of our paths. Suggested Biblical readings: Mt. 26-28; Mk. 14-16; Lk. 22-24; Jn. 18-21. These passages contain the very heart of the Bible, the very core and center and heart of the Gospels—the Paschal Mystery. That is to say that in these twelve chapters we encounter the Passion, suffering, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus the Lord!
- MERCY: “Be merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful.” Take these words of your merciful Savior to heart! Rewind the film of your life. Is there any person that you have not fully forgiven? Is there coldness and callousness in your heart? Are you clinging on to any resentments in your heart against any person in the world? Now is the time to come to terms with this and forgive. If you forgive then you are setting the captives free. That captive is you! Bitterness, resentment, and lack of forgiveness enslave us interiorly, produce sadness and depression of heart and paralyze spiritual growth! Shakespeare put it concisely: “To err is human, to forgive is divine.”
- LOVE AFFAIR: Fall in love with Jesus again, but in a deeper and more profound way. Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen expresses the primary reason for the failure and fall of Judas Iscariot. A superficial perusing of the Gospel concludes with GREED. Why? The Evangelist John highlights Judas stealing from the purse. Albeit the veracity of this assertion, Sheen plumbs the depths of the problem. Sheen asserts that the fundamental reason for the debacle of Judas was that he FELL OUT OF LOVE with Jesus! He lost his fervor; the passion of Christ was extinguished; fiery love was transformed into smoldering embers and eventually cold ashes! Maybe our love has grown cold? The Book of Apocalypse utters the stern reproach: “You have lost your first love….” Why not beg the Holy Spirit, the fire of Divine love, to ignite in your hearts a fiery passion for Jesus and all that refers to His honor and glory and right now!
- NO TO MATERIALISM AND CONSUMERISM: A constant temptation that knocks frequently at the door of our hearts is the desire to have, buy and possess to the point that our possessions end up by possessing us! Ponder the poignant words of the modern psychologist and writer Erich Fromm: “If you are what you have and lose what you have, then who are you?” Pope John Paul II and the Dogmatic Constitution Gaudiem Spes remind us: “Being is more important than having and that doing flows from being.” Profound insights!
- GIVE UNTIL IT HURTS: This is an immortal saying of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Why not live this to the max? Give generously of your time, talents, and treasures. Why not give Mary your heart and she will give your heart to Jesus? We become our true self not so much by receiving things and gifts from others, but by becoming ourselves a living gift to others. St. Paul encourages us with these words: “There is more joy in giving than in receiving.”
- RENEW YOUR BAPTISMAL VOWS AND COMMITMENT: We who were baptized as infants did not explicitly take on these vows and commitments but they were made for us by our parents and godparents. In the Easter Vigil Mass, the Baptismal ceremony is one of the highlights of this splendid and sublime Mass in which we celebrate Jesus’ glorious resurrection from the dead! Why not renew our own commitment to renounce sin, selfishness, the devil’s pomps and lies and at the same time make a firm decision to strive to become a saint. Jesus commands it: “Be holy as your heavenly Father is holy.”
- HOLY COMMUNION: All the most extraordinary graces and blessings are contained in the MOST HOLY EUCHARIST! Jesus complained to Saint Faustina saying that many people treat Him in the Eucharist as if He were a mere object! How horrendous the sad reality that Jesus is treated as a mere object! One Holy Communion is worth more than the whole created universe. Why? For the simple reason that Holy Communion is truly and substantially God Himself, Jesus Himself in His BODY, BLOOD, SOUL, AND DIVINITY. Every time you approach to receive Holy Communion, “The Bread of the angels” receive it as if it were your first, last and only Holy Communion. If done, you will make huge strides on the highway to holiness.
- JESUS CRUCIFIED: Spend some time in silent contemplation before Jesus hanging on the cross. Meditate upon this profound truth of faith. Jesus died for the sins of all of humanity. Jesus died for my sins. Of even greater importance, Jesus died of love for all of humanity. Jesus suffered on the cross pouring forth all the drops of His Precious Blood for you and for me. He would have suffered and died on the cross for you if you were the only person in the created universe! How precious you are in the eyes of God.
- MARY, MOTHER OF MERCY OUR LIFE , SWEETNESS AND OUR HOPE: At all times the Blessed Virgin Mary should be dear to us and close to our heart. Especially so should this be the case in Holy Week, and Easter. Nobody ever suffered more than the Blessed Mother on earth, with the exception of Jesus Himself. However, nobody experienced such overflowing joy as did the Blessed Virgin Mary upon experiencing Jesus rise from the tomb and triumph over sin, evil, hell, the devil and all death. Why not, in these holy days of Holy Week, the Easter Triduum, and Easter itself, beg for the grace to contemplate Jesus through the eyes and heart of Mary? She will lead us into the very Sacred Heart of the crucified and Risen Lord.
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