Posted by: Thomas Richard | March 24, 2011

Digital Spirituality

For the past weeks I’ve been getting to know my computer like never before. Many, many hours I’ve been sitting here at work, first to revise the web site (www.renewthechurch.com), and more recently to reformat my books on spirituality and prayer for the new e-readers, the Amazon Kindle and the Barnes and Noble Nook. Why? Glad you asked.

The world is in a dangerous position, more so than I’ve ever seen. And I remember the drills in elementary school, hiding under our desks, in preparation for possible nuclear attack! But this is different – a different and deeper danger, reaching down into the soul of America where we are now most vulnerable. America hardly knows who she is anymore. A profound moral confusion has crept in among us, and into many, many of us. Right and wrong have intermixed and blended. Reality and fantasy, truth and lies – the polar opposites that used to be fundamental to defining the character of men and women, have found a deadly compromise. We have become as a nation weak and shallow, and dangerously vulnerable to what is most dangerous and lethal: the lie.

So for some years I thought that our greatest need was truth – the Gospel truth of sin and salvation, forgiveness, righteousness and holiness. But I come to believe now that it is not doctrinal accuracy that we need the most, nor the teaching of Christian morality, nor the meaning of the sacraments. Yes, Catholics are poorly catechized on these important matters, and they are important! But I have come to believe that prior to substantive knowledge, prior to right education, something else must be in place or it is all building on sand. We need to meet Christ; we need to encounter Him, and be encountered by Him. We need to come face to face, so to speak, with the supernatural and eternal that alone unmasks the falsity and hypocrisy and duplicity now so common and unremarkable. We need to find God and be transformed, lest we will never break the hold the world has on us.

So, back to my wrestling with website design, html code, .gif and .mobi and .prc and formats that e-book readers can work with. Maybe if I can get my two humble little books on prayer and Catholic spirituality out there, persons can be helped to pray and to grow in prayer – and there, in the silence and solitude of prayer, maybe persons can seek the One who seeks to be found. Until we meet Him, doctrine remains on the surface, morality remains law, sacramental grace remains much squandered and mostly lost.

We need to discover prayer, the holy communion of prayer. We need to touch Him and be healed. We need to be converted, and renewed, and consecrated and sent. The world needs a holy Church, as darkness needs light. And the darkness seems to be growing.

Thomas


Responses

  1. Dear Thomas,

    How truly your concluding words ring out, even in our noisy world!

    “We need to discover prayer, the holy communion of prayer. We need to touch Him and be healed. We need to be converted, and renewed, and consecrated and sent. The world needs a holy Church, as darkness needs light. And the darkness seems to be growing.”

    Thank you again for speaking words we need to hear; words that echo His Word of Truth. As we celebrate today’s Feast of the Incarnation, may we enter the hidden stillness of Mary and Jesus. She who is a true icon of the Church, shows us how to be humble as He is humble and to serve as He serves, and always, prayerfully, to say “Yes”, no matter how dark it gets.

  2. Thomas,
    You are so right. It is people like you that are helping more and more people understand and I am one of them. I have a greater understanding of how to read and understand scripture since attending your class on Sundays’. I just downloaded ” The Interior Liturgy of the Our Father” into my Kindle and look forward to reading it.
    Thank you and Debra for your contributions.

    Fran Forcione

  3. Dear Thomas,

    I agree wholeheartedly with your words: “But I come to believe now that it is not doctrinal accuracy that we need the most, nor the teaching of Christian morality, nor the meaning of the sacraments. Yes, Catholics are poorly catechized on these important matters, and they are important! But I have come to believe that prior to substantive knowledge, prior to right education, something else must be in place or it is all building on sand. We need to meet Christ; we need to encounter Him, and be encountered by Him. We need to come face to face, so to speak, with the supernatural and eternal that alone unmasks the falsity and hypocrisy and duplicity now so common and unremarkable. We need to find God and be transformed, lest we will never break the hold the world has on us.”

    This is so very true. Throughout the history of Christianity, starting with Mary and Joseph, the saints have stressed the importance of a personal relationship with Jesus. To this day our most recent saints, martyrs and Popes have stressed this need eloquently and with great intensity.

    Yet for some reason, it is not realized in many Catholics. Furthermore, it is a truth that the Catholic Church has always held, yet it is not recognized by many Protestants. To this day I encounter Protestants who believe that Catholics do not have a personal relationship with Jesus, in spite of our most intimate communion with him in the Eucharist.

    Most recently, I was giving a presentation at a Baptist church on the nature and effect of hearing loss. During their hospitable dinner, they passed out brochures detailing their international ministry. One of the articles mentioned that they ministered where there were already Catholic missionaries, but they taught the people about having a personal relationship with Jesus. I said nothing, but moved on with my presentation.

    It was not a presentation on religion and yet I began with a beautiful prayer thanking God for the Gift of Hearing. Within the prayer (author unknown), it speaks beautifully of interior listening:

    “We rejoice that You have given us a third ear,
    The ear of the heart, the ear of the soul,
    With which we may listen to silent sound,
    To the silent music of Your Divine Heart . . .
    For your powerful yet gentle Word, Jesus,
    Whose Good News cleanses our ears,
    We are especially thankful.

    With listening hearts and grateful prayers
    We adore You, Divine Master.”

    I do not know whether or not those parishioners realized that I was Catholic, but they liked the prayer. I know that the woman who invited me to speak and the pastor were aware of that fact. I hope that when the question arises that they will know that at least one Catholic values a personal relationship with Jesus to the point of posting the prayer in her office. And that they may be open to the possibilty that it is more widespread in the Catholic faith than they realized.

    I have had many similar experiences and those who have that perception of Catholics are always surprised to find out that I am one of “those Catholics”. (A Catholic knowing scripture also surprises them.)

    Now, it is certainly possible that many Catholics do not internalize that communion with Jesus, that they do not carry it with them and share it with those they encounter in their daily lives. I recognize acutely that such an intimate communion is given to us through grace and not by our own personal merits, so I do not fault those Catholics who have yet to come to that realization.

    But, the necessity of that relationship with Christ is, and has always been, the center of our faith. If we look at the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, it cannot be expressed more clearly—we recognize that Jesus loves us deeply and personally and that he LONGS for our love in return. And that in order to truly love Him, we must love others as He has loved us.

    It is a devotion that we can share with Protestants. As Fr. Benedict Groeschel pointed out in one of his books, Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus can be a bridge between Protestants and Catholics, so that eventually all may be one.

    This has been a very long post, so I will stop here.

    As always, I pray that Christ will reign in the hearts of all,
    Monica

    • Dear Monica,

      Thank you for your words. It was a blessing to read of your sharing God’s Love with others as you did in your presentation. Though your presentation was not on religion, in speaking of the gift of hearing, you spoke of the Giver Himself. Would that all our words to others would be given as “His gift”!

      Many Christians, Catholics as well as non Catholics seem to know “about Jesus” more than they “know Jesus”! In Church history we learn that Jesus revealed to St. Margaret Mary that He received only “coldness” from some, and most hurt came from those consecrated to Him. What a sad thought that we can take Jesus into a cold heart! Thomas’ final words on prayer give us a way to grow warmer rather than colder:

      “…We need to discover prayer, the holy communion of prayer. We need to touch Him and be healed. We need to be converted, and renewed, and consecrated and sent. The world needs a holy Church, as darkness needs light…”

      We pray with Jesus that all may be one, yet, on our journey, we can also by His Grace, do, as you have done, Monica: share God’s Love. We can be witnesses of His love by loving others. We begin, as you did, with prayer. We listen with our our minds and hearts, for He speaks to us in the warm welcome and the silence He finds there.

      Jesus continually invites us, if we are willing to keep listening with that “third ear” your prayer mentioned. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who seeks us. The Sacred Heart is, as Fr. Groeschel suggested, a “bridge” for us. (St. Catherine of Siena writes a similar truth in her “Dialogues”). May God so transform us that we may be intimately united to Jesus to form that bridge with Him. May He truly reign in our hearts and in the hearts of all.

      • Thank you, Deborah, for your thoughtful reply. I’m glad you mentioned what Jesus told St. Margaret. I left those details out, because the post was getting too long. Here are some quotes from Jesus to her, for those unfamiliar with Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus:

        “Behold this Heart, Which has loved men so much, that It has spared nothing, even to exhausting and consuming Itself, in order to testify to them Its love; and in return I receive from the greater number nothing but ingratitude by reason of their irreverence and sacrileges …”

        “My Divine Heart so ardently loves men that, unable to contain within itself any longer the flames of its burning love, it needs must spread them with your assistance, and thus it will show itself that all men may be enriched with its most precious treasures…”

        I know that many people are skeptical about apparitions, but even those who rely solely on the Bible cannot conclude that those words are inconsistent with what Jesus us taught us in the gospel.

        Of course, it takes us a step further to remind us that Jesus is present to everyone and that He longs for our love today, just as he longed for the love of all of his disciples while He walked this earth.

        He still says, “Come to Me,” “Watch with Me”, “Be not Afraid”, “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age” to each of us.

        Your sister in Christ,
        Monica

  4. Dear Thomas,

    I hope you don’t mind my posting twice in a row, but speaking of digital spirituality, I ran across this video on YouTube. I was prompted to look up the song, “Come To the Water” and found this beautiful video. It expresses beautifully, the need and the rewards of having a personal relationship with Jesus. It also includes many images of the Eucharist as well as beautiful images of Jesus: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Isve04xCYyY

    I hope you will post it.

    Blessings to all,
    Monica

    • Hello Monica,

      Thank you for posting this beautiful expression of faith. Music is such a powerful medium – and when combined with art, and Scripture, much is possible. The music reminds me of Franciscan University!

      Praise be to the Lord for the gifts He shares with His people.

      Thomas


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