Tag Archives: problems


Following Jesus Christ in word and deed

Do you wish to live in peace with the members of your family, particularly with those who have a right to exercise authority over you? If so, employ the means which a certain pious woman, obliged to live with a person disagreeable in her disposition, relates as follows: I fulfil all my duties with good humour, betraying none of the weariness which they occasion me; I do everything I can to please her; I bear patiently all that I find disagreeable; I ask her opinion upon many things about which I know more than she does.

Do you wish to live in peace with the rest of the world? If so, put into practice this maxim of an influential man, who, having been asked after the [French] Revolution, how he managed to escape the guillotine, replied: I remained humble and preserved silence.

Do you wish to live in peace with your conscience and with God? If so, let your Guardian Angel find you engaged every moment during the day, in one of these four things which formed the rule of life of a holy person: I pray, I work, I try to do what is right, I remain patient.

Do you wish to become a great saint? If so, practise, in addition to the actions which we have just mentioned, the following virtues: Order, the spirit of faith, spiritual combat, and perseverance.

Finally, do you desire that others should be always kind to you? – If so, take pleasure in offering little services, and then you need not fear to ask them. By offering little services you advance a step towards making a friend; by asking a favour you show a mark of confidence which flatters a friend. The result of this interchange of favours is a habit of mutual kindness, and a fear of disobliging in matters of greater importance.

– From: Golden Grains, Eighth Edition, H.M. Gill and Son, Dublin, 1889


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The Tempest

“Jesus had entered into a boat, with his disciples. And behold a storm began to upheave the sea, and the bark, invaded by the waves, seemed on the point of being engulfed. But He slept. ‘Lord,’ cried out the terrified disciples, ‘Lord save us, we perish!’ Jesus said to them: ‘Why are ye fearful, ye men of little faith?’ Then, rising, He commanded the winds and the sea, and immediately there was a great calm.

Lord, save us, we perish!

Alas! that bark, those heaving waves, those raging winds, are they not an image of man here below?

A vivid description of our lives here below

As a bark launched on the waves encounters are thousand perils, and struggles with the storm, so man, on the stormy sea of this life is exposed to all kinds of perils and dangers: temptations, scandals, bad advice, dangerous occasions, human respect [the fear of what people might think or say about oneself]: then there are our passions, like furious winds, tossing our bark, and threatening to upset it, in order to engulf it in the waves of sin.

I have lifted up my eyes towards the holy mountains, from thence comes my help

What are we to do, in the midst of a storm, and amidst all those dangers? – “I have lifted up my eyes towards the holy mountains,’ said David ‘it is thence that help will come to me.’ Just as the pilot keeps his eyes fixed on the star which will guide him to the port, so must we always look to Jesus, and address to Him always our cry of distress, and of confidence: ‘Lord, save us, we perish!’

Lord, save me!

No, Lord, I do not rely on myself; for You have said: ‘Cursed is the man who puts his trust in man.’ Let me then always say to You: ‘Lord, save me!’

– Laverty & Sons (eds), 1905


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The antidote to fear

“‘Do not be afraid.’ These were the reassuring words of Jesus to Peter, James and John as they groveled on the ground at the sight of His transfiguration. They were frightened to find themselves on such intimate terms with divinity.

Our Lord’s words had a much wider range, however, than the disciples’ present moment of confusion. Very soon Jesus would die in disgrace, apparently helpless to defend Himself. The apostles (Judas excepted) would survive this test of their faith, but then they themselves would become the victims of persecution. There would be times when every man’s hand would seem to be set against them. In the end they would be faced with the choice of denying Christ or suffering violent death.

It undoubtedly was with all this in mind that Jesus said, ‘Do not be afraid.’ They had seen His glory. They would remember Tabor. They would know that Jesus was with them through all their trials.

‘Do not be afraid.’ It is the constant remembrance of this admonition which will give serenity to our own lives.

Come to Me, all you who labour and are burdened

God loves us. Unceasingly we have His attention, His whole attention, His concerned attention. There is not a thing which happens to us of which God does not take note. Time and again in the Gospels our Lord tries to inspire our confidence in this loving care which He has for us.

‘Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing?’ He reminds us. ‘And yet not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s leave… Therefore do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.’ Then there is the beautiful parable of the lilies of the field whose raiment exceeds in beauty the robes of Solomon, and Jesus’ conclusion: ‘How much more you, O you of little faith!’

From His quiet invitation, ‘Come to Me, all you who labour and are burdened, and I will give you rest,’ to His majestic, ‘Behold, I am with you all days, even unto the consummation of the world,’ Jesus keeps appealing for our trust.

Situations which test our confidence in God

We might be tempted to think that our Lord has been unduly repetitious in this matter, except for our own experience. Shamefacedly we have to admit that we still forget His assurances, still burn up an untold amount of nervous energy in unprofitable worry.

All of us are faced, and faced frequently, with situations which test our confidence in God. Some of these anxiety-producers are small ones, others are of major proportion. ‘I really should attend that funeral tomorrow, but if I do how shall I get my washing done?’ ‘I have to give a speech at the meeting and I’m frightened to death. What shall I say?’

‘I studied so hard for that exam, and still I flunked it.’ ‘The bills keep piling up. How shall we ever get out of debt?’ ‘If the diagnosis is cancer, how shall I ever bear it? And what will become of my family?’ ‘If I had taken the baby to the doctor sooner, I’m sure she wouldn’t have died.’

Out of all that happens to me God is going to bring good

In these and a million other worries and regrets, there are a few basic facts which we have to keep repeating to ourselves, over and over. God does love me. God does know and God does care what happens to me. Whatever happens to me (my own sins excepted) is God’s permissive will, is part of God’s plan for me and for those who depend on me. Even my mistakes, my well-intentioned mistakes, are a part of His plan.

Out of all that happens to me God is going to bring good; otherwise He would not let it happen. God knows my weaknesses and makes generous allowance for them. All that He asks is that I do my best, however inadequate that best may sometimes seem. When I have done my best, whether the result is success or failure, I can leave it to God to work it into His plan for me. Finally, I can never, never lose when I choose to do God’s will as I see it, no matter what human wisdom may dictate to the contrary.

Inner strength and tranquillity

We must be realistic. Trust in God will not stifle sorrow. It will not eliminate disappointment. It will not still all apprehension. Our emotions are not easily controlled. But trust in God will give us an inner strength and a fundamental tranquillity. Trust in God will keep us from defeatism and despair.”

– Fr Leo J. Trese, 1966



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“Although present adversities seem as though they would tear from the roots the budding plant of our Institute, be assured that on the contrary they will serve to strengthen it, at the same time refining your virtue and augmenting your knowledge.

Take heart, then, and esteem yourself very fortunate to be tried by different temptations, for the test of your faith is more precious than all the wealth of the world.

Do not allow yourself to be troubled or discouraged by contradictions, whatever their nature, but rejoice and hope; find in your trials the source of your confidence, and consider that they are the best pledge of your final perseverance. The sky will not fall for some time yet, nor these fierce attacks overthrow our Institute.

All these things are merely so many venemous insects: the more they strive to trouble us, the less I am troubled; the greater the peril, the less I am concerned, strong as I am in the strength of the Holy Ghost, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
– Ven. Barth. Holzhauser


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“The Eternal Father has designed the crosses of His adopted children from all eternity, as He designed that of His only Son; hence the importance of schooling ourselves to bear them faithfully.

Many souls accept them tranquilly at first, for they are prepared for them by the grace of prayers, and have often desired them in the sweetness of loving fervour.

But, because they are but ill formed in the school of crucified love, listening too readily to nature and the senses, which cry out, as the Jews did to our Saviour, to descend from the cross, they seek, later on, some means of escaping from it.

They bear it unwillingly giving way to interior murmurings which render them unworthy of the favour of heaven, and deprive them of the sweet fruit of this tree of life.

This misfortune is often the result of paying too much attention to our sufferings, and thinking too much of ourselves.

Happy is the crucified soul, who only contemplates his crosses in God, whence they derive their beauty, and whose ears are opened only to the voice of the Beloved, who sends them!”
– St Alphonsus Liguori


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“Many of us tend to feel that we have a positive right to a pain-free and a happy life.”


The image of John the Baptist which emerges from the pages of the Gospels is a somewhat grim one. Living in the wilderness along the Jordan River, subsiding on a diet of locusts and wild honey, clothed in a coarse garment of camel’s hair, he is the very epitome of austerity as he thunders out his call to repentance and charges onward to his martyr’s death in Herod’s dungeon.

John must have possessed an attractive personality beneath his wild exterior because he drew to himself a band of loyal disciples. But he is the complete ascetic, totally detached from the world’s attractions. As such, he is an everlasting rebuke to those of us who might be tempted to place too high a value on the good things in life.


We would hesitate to say so, but many of us do tend to feel that we have a positive right to a pain-free and a happy life. In theory we admit that, as a consequence of original sin and our own personal sins, we have sacrificed any claim to special treatment on God’s part. Yet, when sorrow, sickness or financial stringency comes to us, we are inclined to feel cheated. ‘Why did it happen to me?’ we ask.


It is one of the paradoxes of life that very often the more of God’s natural gifts we possess, the farther we drift away from God. We might expect that having perfect health, plenty of money and success in our undertakings would give us a deep sense of gratitude and would expand our love for God to the bursting point.


Nevertheless, it would be difficult to find instances of persons who have advanced in sanctity as they have grown in wealth. It would be equally difficult to establish any correlation between freedom from sickness and growth in holiness; in fact, the lives of the saints indicate quite the opposite. And, to express it conservatively, persons who have achieved a high degree of success or fame are not necessarily the most prayerful, the most dedicated to the doing of God’s will.


This does not mean that the good things of this world are bad. The temperate use and enjoyment of the world’s resources are quite compatible with our vocation as Christians. But it does seem that the more fortune smiles upon us, the harder we have to labour to keep acute our sense of the spiritual.


There are very few of us who cannot look back on occasions in our lives when we met with some seeming disaster which, from the vantage point of today, we now can see was to our ultimate advantage. At the time we were full of resentment against the workings of Providence; yet now we can see that we are a better person because of the blow which befell us. St Paul was not the first or the last person who had to be knocked to the ground in order to head him toward heaven.


To the great majority of us, misfortune comes only occasionally. But there are other persons for whom suffering seems to be a life-long vocation. Some are afflicted with chronic illness, others are the victims of circumstances which result in continuing frustration or grief. Such sharers in the cross of Christ enjoy a privileged position. Their suffering constitutes a permanent sight draft upon God for limitless grace, wherever and whenever needed.


Whether we are among this favoured minority, or whether our own share of adversity is just average, it is important for us to preserve our sense of proportion. The distance in happiness between the person who knows nothing but misery and the person who has everything – health, wealth, success and love – is infinitesimal when compared to the distance between this world’s highest happiness and the bliss of heaven.


From the viewpoint of the angels and saints, who look upon the face of God and know what real happiness means, we mortals must all look pretty wretched, even at our most prosperous and most hilarious.

Assuming that our life is one long unbroken series of calamities, it still will be better to have lived than not to have lived, for the sake of the joy that is to come.”
– Fr Leo J. Trese, 1966


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“Look at this cross, so much bigger than the man whose body will be stretched to fit it. So much higher than the height of the man who will be lifted up above the earth on it and who, being lifted up, will draw all peoples to himself. Christ receives it with joy because he knows that this is the dead weight that must have crushed humankind had he not lifted it from their backs. This is the dead wood which at his touch is transformed to a living tree. At his touch, the hewn tree takes root again, and the roots thrust down into the earth, and the tree breaks into flower…


Because Christ is to be stretched to the size of the cross, those who love him will grow to the size of it, not only to the size of man’s suffering, which is bigger than man, but to the size of Christ’s love that is bigger than all suffering. Because Christ is to be lifted up on the cross, all those who love him will be lifted up above the world by the world’s sorrow. He, being lifted up, will draw all men to himself.


Because Christ has changed death to life, and suffering to redemption, the suffering of those who love him will be a communion between them. All that hidden daily suffering that seems insignificant will be redeeming the world, it will be healing the wounds of the world. The acceptance of pain, of old age, of the fear of death, and of death will be our gift of Christ’s love to one another; our gift of Christ’s life to one another.


No man’s cross is laid upon him for himself alone, but for the healing of the whole world, for the mutual comforting and sweetening of sorrow, for the giving of joy and supernatural life to one another. For Christ receives our cross that we may receive his. Receiving his cross, the cross of the whole world made his, we receive him. He gives us his hands to take hold of, his power to make it a redeeming thing, a blessed thing, his life to cause it to flower, his heart to enable us to rejoice in accepting our own and one another’s burdens.”
– Caryll Houselander


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