Freedom and Self-Discipline

For the first time in my life, I did not carry any books to read on my journey. There were works to be completed as I was going to visit different communities. On the way back home, I was stuck! So many hours of travel…and no company to talk to, no book to read, no Ipod to listen to! How long to do the self-talk! My mind was driving me crazy…with an uncontrolled flood of unnecessary and wasteful thoughts. I was strongly regretting my decision of not carrying any books to pass the time.
In the meantime, a voice from within whispered, “You are fed up with hearing the sounds…why don’t you listen to the SILENCE for a change? Enough watching the sights and focusing on the invisible SPACE between!” And behold…a new world began to emerge altogether! The deeper I dived, the stronger it pulled me in. My mind had gone blank! And here in this space, I was merging into the heart of the cosmos…no more me-thou, but one! The experience of being complete…being fulfilled…being peaceful…and being filled with bliss! Indeed it was causeless happiness at an experiential level! Here I found ‘the missing rib’…the single solution to all the problems, whatsoever! And then, the rest of the journey was in complete grace!
In the global village which we live in today all distance is set at zero. But at the same time freedom is the main concept we have to understand well. It is the absence of undue restriction and an opportunity to exercise one’s rights and powers. It may refer to freedom of conscience, religion, education, speech and political freedom.
The Emmy Award-winning Hispanic actor, Ricardo Montalban of the last century, affirms the natural affinity between freedom and discipline. He says, “Only through self-discipline can we achieve true freedom”. And he uses the analogy of water and a cup: “pour water into a cup, and you can drink. Without the cup, the water would splash all over. The cup is discipline.” Freedom is not the right to do as a person pleases, but the liberty to do as he ought. Freedom is best when it is reasonably restrained and rationally made use of.
As we celebrate the Blessed Virgin Mary’s Assumption, she gives us the message of total liberation through her “Magnificat” both on a personal as well social level. As St. Ambrose once said in referring to this wonderful prayer, “Let Mary’s soul be in us to glorify the Lord; let her spirit be in us that we may rejoice in God our Savior.”
Fr. Soosai Rathinam

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Moved by the Spirit, Urged into Action

In February 1896, Don Guanella wrote an article for the magazine “La Divina Provvidenza”, entitled “The Catholic Vision”. I quote some of his lines:

“In the past, the world was coming toward us; now it turns its back on us. In the past it was enough for us to stay inside our Churches and offices; now we must move outward, getting out of our sacristies if we don’t want to run the risk of finding ourselves guilty of being locked in dishonorable isolation. To us indeed now these words of the Gospel are addressed: “Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the towns and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame” (Luke 14:21).

Some may object: “We have our pulpits, our confessionals; let people come to us where we live and where we carry out our assignments”.

If they don’t come, if the voice of the bell instead of attracting them seems to chase them away, should we remain indifferent in front of such deplorable desertion, simply shaking the dust from our feet and throwing them the harsh words of Jeremiah: “Those who want to get lost, Let them get lost”.

Did it perhaps happen that the world moved first towards Jesus or is it true the other way around? Were Rome and Athens asking the apostles Peter and Paul for the Gospel? Let us imagine that in our place there are Saint Francis de Sales or St. Francis Xavier; after spending an hour of adoration, after practicing severe self-discipline and celebrating the holy mass with angelic devotion, how would they spend the rest of their day? Would they remain comfortably seated, observing the dangerous storms that afflict humankind, noticing only from which direction the wind blows, simply being content at counting how many boats are sinking, without providing any rescue to those in danger, without throwing the ropes to them and extending their helping hands?

Someone may say; “How could a few isolated individuals, cope with such a huge task? How? Bring together your human resources, join forces and orient them all toward the common goal.

We promote collaboration to develop sciences, to manage business, to dig channels, to populate newly discovered areas. Shouldn’t we join efforts likewise to populate heaven, to bring God to human hearts which are made to love and bless Him eternally? May the Lord help us!”

In these lines written more than a century ago, Don Guanella shared something of the passion for the Church’s evangelizing mission that burned within his heart and that urged him into action without hesitation or fear, neither counting the cost, nor being intimidated by the risks. What our founder felt, experienced and boldly proposed sounds so much in tune with the call of the Spirit to the Church of our time, an appeal that has been continually re-echoed and broadcasted by the pastoral ministry of Pope Benedict XVI.

The wind of the New Evangelization that has blown throughout the duration of our 19th General Chapter, is now urging us to welcome the inspirations felt and the decisions made during that assembly allowing ourselves to be continually set on fire for the beautiful mission entrusted to us, Servants of God’s Love among his poor.

Let us simply cherish in our hearts and translate into attitudes and pastoral decisions the prophetic reminders of our Saint.

  • Ours is a time of difficulties and challenges, as well as of graces and unique opportunities.
  • It’s time again for us to be evangelized and converted anew to the Lord, fascinated by the everlasting beauty of the Gospel. It’s a time to overcome fears, to put aside timidity and mere human calculations, to fight laziness, to reject temptations of mediocrity and selfishness.
  • It’s a time to go out not only of our sacristies and offices, but most of all, our “comfort zone,” individualistic habits, and self-centeredness.
  • It’s a time to take new fresh, bolder steps to be more visible and present to the poor and the marginalized with the heart, mind and hands of Jesus, to become their closest friends, companions, joyful and humble servants.
  • It’s a time to deepen our love for the Church, our mother, our home and our family. Time to insert more and more clearly our life and ministry in the living body of the Local Church which we are called to beautify and enrich with our specific vocation and charism.
  • It’s time to feel the urgency to reach out and touch the lives of many brethren who are not yet in the sheepfold, who got lost, who have never been home with the God whom we call our Father.
  • It’s time to evangelize together, making our fraternal communion the first and most credible sign of our mission.
  • It’s time to let our consecrated lifestyle speak louder than our words.
  • It’s time to help and challenge one another to throw away what is futile, worldly, un-Christian and focus instead on the essential of our public commitment.
  • And the essential is; “In Omnibus Charitas”; “To make Charity the heart of the world!”

 

Fr. Luigi