Friday, August 6, 2021

Centrality of Jesus Christ by Msgr. Fernando Ocariz

Objective of Formation: Identification with Christ. “Formation does not consist in acquiring information or filling ourselves with ideas. The objective of formation is identification with Jesus Christ.”

Everything to focus clearly on the Person of Christ: ponder like Mary all that refers to him. “We are see everything focus more clearly on his Person. With this desire to put yourselves more deeply into the Gospel, .. when speaking about the Christian life with your friends, you will transmit more brightly the marvelous news of God’s love for each person… I ask our Lady to teach us to keep and ponder in our heart, as she did, all that refers to Jesus (see Lk 2:19), so that we tread and help others to tread—each person where God is calling them—along paths of contemplation.”

Ask: Is Jesus the center of my life? In what way is Jesus the center of my spiritual life? Not only my life, but the center of my work, of my fraternity, my apostolic work…

Experience the love of Jesus Christ Crucified. “We can always be joyful even in our concerns and sufferings because the foundation of our joy is Jesus Christ…Each time we look at the Crucified, we experience the greatness of the love of Christ for us.”  

Who am I to Jesus Christ? “Who am I to Jesus Christ. I am someone loved immensely by Jesus Christ, object of his infinite and omnipotent love.”

Alignment with the Love of Jesus Christ not with ideas or spirit. “I would like to focus on some aspects of the centrality of Jesus Christ. In the first place, it is important that we see that our fidelity is fidelity to Jesus Christ. Fidelity to … norms, indications, even to the Law of God, we have to see them not as alignment with some ideas not even with a spirit, but with a love: the love of Jesus Christ. We do all our obligations for the love of Jesus Christ.”

Rooted in Jesus’ love for me singularly. “We are faithful to an idea and ideals only because they are a way to be faithful to Jesus Christ, who has given his life for us. St. Josemaria loved to comment: He loved me and gave his life for me. We have to be very rooted in the conviction that Jesus really has loved me and has given himself for me. He did not give himself to humanity in general but to each one singularly. [Pointing to each one] God loves you, you, you and me.”

Love like Christ and see Christ in others. “Also, very important to the centrality of Jesus is [love of others]: love one another as I have loved you. And how does Jesus love? We have to see Jesus in the others. Centered on Christ even in relationship with others. The same in apostolic work. Do all for Christ…See Jesus in each person and in each moment… Seeing the Lord in others helps us to forgive, to serve.”

Contemplate Christ: everything Jesus did has transcendental value. “Let us be contemplative souls. Let us think about Christ: let us look at Him and get to know Him a bit better every day…Everything Christ did has a transcendental value; it shows us the nature of God. Jesus makes it possible for us to know who God is and how God is. And who is God? God is Love.”

Encounter him in everything. Ask what impedes this. “We want to encounter Jesus continually at work, in our rest, in family life, in prayer and in all places. But perhaps we are distracted on our way…Many things make us lose sight of the goal of encountering the Lord in our concrete work, at rest, in family life. What takes away our speed in hurrying to meet our Lord?”

Shortest route: Mary and St. Joseph. “The shortest way to make Jesus the center of our lives is to go to Mary and St. Joseph.” asking them for help to know and love Jesus Christ more each day.”

Download the one-page evangelization flyer here.  

Saturday, June 19, 2021

God's call to evangelize society through media


Teachings of St. Josemaria on the duty of influencing public opinion

"Go and make disciples of all nations...teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." (Mt 28:19-20)

Greatest enemy and dominant passion

The greatest enemy of God in the world is ignorance.

No son or daughter of Holy Church can live in peace, without feeling concern for the depersonalized masses…You have to be eager to make them happy.  

Our dominant passion is to give doctrine, the doctrine of Jesus...We want to lead people to Christ… May we have compassion on people eager for doctrine, truth and freedom. Filled with apostolic zeal for souls all over the world, we have to carry out the great charitable work of giving them the bread of good wheat—the bread of doctrine which Jesus will multiply in our hands.

Christians who work in media give doctrine, not to a small group of persons (as when you give a formation talk or a lecture), but like our Lord you preach to the multitude, in the open air.

Extraordinary importance of media

In former times, it was unthinkable that the written, spoken and visual word could be transmitted so quickly. Even less could we have foreseen such a worldwide and uniform influence as that imposed everywhere by media…That is why media is so extraordinarily important.

The people in media are educators, playing the role of teachers, often in a hidden or impersonal way. Millions of men and women surrender, almost unconditionally, their minds and even their consciences to them. Society sees them—rightly or wrongly—as having a doctrinal, scientific and even moral authority.

Because of the great good or harm they can do, I pray particularly every day for people who have this service as their profession.

To sleep in our social duty is suicidal

 “The Kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat.”  (Mt 13:24-25)

If weeds appear, it is because men have failed to respond…

The current situation is a sign of the tremendous failure on the part of the laity in their task of consecrating the world. It’s a sin of comfort-seeking, of suicidal absenteeism.

Each and every one to lead the media to God

The media in itself is good…When we think of these new developments [in communication], we can only have admiration and goodwill, with a desire to contribute all of us to lead to God, to return to our Lord this portion of creation.

It is good that people try to direct the media in such a way as to achieve greater freedom, to give the good doctrine of Christ, and to propose good solutions to the problems of mankind.

You have to give clear ideas on all temporal issues, on every aspect of human life: the family, civil society, the professions, entertainment, sport, science, education, art, fashion…

From all the professions, one can exert an influence on the media. On seeing the surpassing importance of this apostolate, your apostolic zeal will suggest to each one what way you can help.

God’s truth has to reach everywhere through publications, movies, radio, and TV [and other media]…And this task is yours.

You may be quite sure that, as this apostolate spreads sound doctrine through all the channels, the great problems of public opinion will be solved.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

CBCP Pastoral Statement on the Year “Amoris Laetitia Family” starting March 19, 2021

Key points:

To celebrate the fifth anniversary of Amoris Laetitia, the Holy Father has called for a Year “Amoris Laetitia Family” (19 March 2021-26 June 2022). See its website here:


Goals of Pope Francis’s Year of Amoris Laetitia Family


1.      Experience the Gospel of the family as a joy

2.      Proclaim the sacrament of marriage is a gift, with power to transform human love.

3.      Families to become active agents of the family apostolate: “an effort at evangelization and catechesis inside the family”

4.      Make young people aware of the importance of formation in the truth of love and in the gift of self

Proposals of Vatican Dicastery on Family on how to Walk with Families this year:

1. Programs for marriage preparation

2. Formation of spouses to be aware of gift and grace of matrimony

3. Formation of parents on educating and understanding children under current challenges

4. Discussion on the beauty and challenges of family life. Society to recognize value of the family.  Networks of families that help struggling families.

5. Accompany couples in crisis, form them in resilience, see challenges as opportunities to grow in love.

6. Formation on how to fruitfully collaborate with families.

7. Promote a missionary vocation in families. Time in the family for formation in evangelization and missionary initiatives

8. Care of the elderly 

9. Young to discuss family, marriage, chastity, openness to life, the use of social media, poverty, and respect for creation (cf. AL 40). Spark young people’s enthusiasm to commit to great ideals. Children to be aware of Amoris Laetitia Family.

10. Prepare  X World Meeting of Families with catechesis and training

11. Initiatives to accompany wounded families

12. In-depth study of Amoris Laetitia – to be aware of concrete opportunities

Family Agenda of  Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCPII) of 1992 (30 Year Anniversary)

- in harmony with above proposals 


·       A continuing education for Filipino families in accordance with Catechesi Tradendæ and Familiaris Consortio

·       Family Life seminars like Pre-Cana, Pro-Life, Marriage Encounters

·       Spirituality of Marriage with Filipino Elements

·       Teams to promote effective care and counseling of families

·       Families as countersign to antilife culture

·       Pro-life spirituality of the family

·       Programs for those in broken homes and families

·       School and family cooperation for formation in Christian values

·       Prevent exploitation of women and children

·       Formation of Filipino family in Christian values; Care after Marriage

·       Attention to homosexual individuals 


Saturday, January 9, 2021

Jesus as Father in the Bible and in St. Josemaria

A friend just referred me to this post of Bishop Pablo David, where he uses the explanation of a devotee of Jesus the Black Nazarene to explain a common way of referring to Jesus as "Nuestro Padre." The explanation is that Jesus is a priest and we call priests "Father." 

I've been thinking of this issue too, since many children and many Filipino Catholics call Christ "Papa Jesus". 

There are two theological sources that I know that calls Jesus "Father." 

First, the Bible itself. Since it is God the Holy Spirit himself who speaks through the biblical words, it is interesting to note that God calls the child who is born (and this can only be Jesus) "everlasting Father" in Isaiah 9:6. This article tries to explain Isaiah's use of the word Father in terms of Jesus' divinity. 

Second, St. Josemaria calls Jesus "Father" in this quote from his Way of the Cross

Before you start working, place a crucifix on your desk or beside the tools you work with. From time to time glance at it... When tiredness creeps in, your eyes will go towards Jesus, and you will find new strength to continue with your task.

For that crucifix is more than a picture of someone you love —parents, children, wife, sweetheart... He is everything: your Father, your Brother, your Friend, your God, the very Love of your loves. (bold and italics added) 

To explain these two sources, we have to look at the meaning of the word Father. Clearly, they are not confusing God the Father and God the Son. But they are using a broader meaning of the word "father".

St. Paul calls himself the "father" of those whom he has evangelized (1 Cor 4:15). This verse is usually used by Catholics to defend the use of the word "Father" to refer to Catholic priests. It is truly an integral part of Catholic doctrine that there are people who are "spiritual fathers". 

As in the case of St. Joseph, father is a term that is applied to someone who is the lead educator and protector; someone who engenders a person's way of life; the founder of an institution and a family

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Peter Kreeft's Recommended Reading List


St. Augustine – Confessions (NB: Dr. Kreeft stresses to make sure it’s the Frank Sheed translation)
Sheldon Vanauken – A Severe Mercy


Dostoevsky – The Brothers Karamazov
C.S. Lewis – Till We Have Faces


Robert Bolt – A Man For All Seasons
Thorton Wilder – Our Town


J.R.R. Tolkien – The Lord of the Rings
C.S. Lewis – Chronicles of Narnia

Supernatural Fantasy:

C.S. Lewis – The Great Divorce
C.S. Lewis – Screwtape Letters

Science Fiction:

Walter M. Miller Jr. – A Canticle for Leibowitz
Aldous Huxley – Brave New World


Brother Lawrence – The Practice of the Presence of God
St. Therese of Lisieux – The Story of a Soul


Blaise Pascal – Pensees
C.S. Lewis – The Problem of Pain

Classical Philosophy:

Plato – Apology of Socrates
Ancius Boethius – The Consolation of Philosophy

Popular Philosophy:

G.K. Chesterton – St. Thomas Aquinas
G.K.Chesterton – Orthodoxy


G.K. Chesterton – The Everlasting Man
Warren Carroll – Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Conquest of Darkness


C.S. Lewis – Mere Christianity
St. Thomas Aquinas – Summa Theologica (NB: Dr. Kreeft recommends using a book that provides commentary to help break open this massive work. Check out his own A Summa of the Summa as a starting point!)


G.K. Chesterton – Lepanto
T.S. Elliot – The Waste Land

Taken from

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

New study: Epidemic of depression has roots in digital addiction

Image result for free images looking at cellphone

We now have an epidemic of depression. The epidemic is clearly seen in the US, but it is also here now in the Philippines based on several feedback from educators and from psychiatrists.

What brought this about?

Recent research published this month by the scientific journal, NeuroRegulation, has confirmed the suspicion of educators: the heaviest smartphone users exhibited the highest degree of depression, anxiety and loneliness. The term for this is "phoneliness". 

The reason is that digital addiction shows similar patterns as drug addiction. The alerts, bells and pings form a constant dopamine stimulus that keeps us wanting to stay connected with our smartphones. "The behavioral addiction of smartphone use begins forming neurological connections in the brain in ways similar to how opioid addiction is experienced by people taking Oxycontin for pain relief— gradually," explained Erik Peper, Professor of  Health Education.

The researchers said that tech addiction to social media and the like has a negative effect on nurturing actual social connections -- relationship with family, friends, colleagues, classmates, etc. 

As reported by Forbes, "Loneliness, the researchers believe, stems from the absence of body language and other social cues normally associated with face-to-face communication.  The issue is that visual signals can't be interpreted when people use texting as form of communication. 

"The researchers also pointed out that these same students also repeatedly multitasked while studying, eating, attending class, or while engaged watching other forms of media. This incessant level of activity, they explain, doesn’t allow you to physically or mentally decompress and relax."

The research also gave practical tips to overcome this addiction:

  • recognize that tech companies are manipulating us to be addicted to their products by using push notifications, bells, alerts. 
  • turn off push notifications
  • answer texts and emails only on certain moments of the day
  • stay more connected with people rather than with the digital world
Below are some tips found in the following articles that can help people overcome tech addiction and also prevent children from falling into this addiction which is now at the root of a new world of depression:

  • Replace the habit. For example, read a highly recommended book, do a project, talk to a someone, before touching the phone. 
  • Set time limits. 
  • Put order in your life. Have clear priorities. Being with God, family, doing homework or professional work, reading books should be priority. 
  • Place the phone at a distance so you don't keep on touching it. 
  • Use apps that can help control phone use, such as Breakfree, AppDetox
  • Get help from someone, a friend or family member. 
  • Remember that technology is your tool not your master. 
Lastly, don't ever forget Harvard University's longest study which extolled warm face-to-face relationships as the key to human happiness. Their stunning five-word conclusion is: "Happiness is love. Full stop."

Friday, April 27, 2018


A summary using excerpts from the Pope's own words of his latest document on the call to holiness in today's world published 9 April 2018. The full text is found here

REJOICE AND BE GLAD” (Mt 5:12), Jesus tells those humiliated for his sake.The Lord asks everything of us, and in return he offers us true life, the happiness for which we were created. He wants us to be saints and not to settle for a bland and mediocre existence. The Lord has chosen each of us "to be holy and blameless in love." (Eph 1:4)  


Saints who Encourage and Accompany us. The Bible invites us to realize that “a great cloud of witnesses” (Heb 12:1) impels us to advance constantly towards the goal. These witnesses may include our own mothers, grandmothers or other loved ones. 

The Saints “Next Door”. Let us be spurred on by the signs of holiness the Lord shows us through the humblest of people: those parents who raise their children with immense love, men and women who work hard to support their families.
On the last day of the world, we will find out about those souls to whom we owe the decisive turning points in our personal lives.

The Lord Calls. Lord addresses to each of us, the call that he also addresses, personally, to you: “Be holy, for I am holy”.
The important thing is that each believer discern his or her own path, that they bring out the very best of themselves, the most personal gifts that God has placed in their hearts…to give our all and to embrace that unique plan that God willed for each of us from eternity.

For You Too. We are all called to be holy by living our lives with love and by bearing witness in everything we do, wherever we find ourselves.
Are you married? Be holy by loving and caring for your husband or wife, as Christ does for the Church. Do you work for a living? Be holy by laboring with integrity and skill in the service of your brothers and sisters. Are you a parent or grandparent? Be holy by patiently teaching the little ones how to follow Jesus. Are you in a position of authority? Be holy by working for the common good and renouncing personal gain.
Let everything be open to God; turn to him in every situation
When you feel the temptation to dwell on your own weakness, raise your eyes to Christ crucified and say: “Lord, I am a poor sinner, but you can work the miracle of making me a little bit better”.
In the Church, holy yet made up of sinners, you will find everything you need to grow towards holiness. The Lord has bestowed on the Church the gifts of scripture, the sacraments, holy places, living communities, the witness of the saints.
This holiness to which the Lord calls you will grow through small gestures. Here is an example: a woman goes shopping, she meets a neighbor and they begin to speak, and the gossip starts. But she says in her heart: “No, I will not speak badly of anyone”. This is a step forward in holiness. Later, at home, one of her children wants to talk to her about his hopes and dreams, and even though she is tired, she sits down and listens with patience and love. That is another sacrifice that brings holiness. Later she experiences some anxiety, but recalling the love of the Virgin Mary, she takes her rosary and prays with faith. Yet another path of holiness. Later still, she goes out onto the street, encounters a poor person and stops to say a kind word to him.
The Lord calls us anew to a conversion…Choose to live the present moment, filling it to the brim with love.

Your Mission in Christ. At its core, holiness is experiencing, in union with Christ, the mysteries of his life, uniting ourselves to the Lord’s death and resurrection, reproducing in our own lives various aspects of Jesus’ earthly life: his hidden life, his life in community, his closeness to the outcast, his poverty and other ways in which he showed his self-sacrificing love.
The contemplation of these mysteries, as St. Ignatius of Loyola pointed out, leads us to incarnate them in our choices and attitudes. Holiness is nothing other than charity lived to the full…we model our whole life on his.

Activity That Sanctifies. Your personal mission is inseparable from the building of that kingdom: “Strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness”. It involves a commitment to build with him that kingdom of love, justice and universal peace.
It is not healthy to love silence while fleeing interaction with others… We are called to be contemplatives even in the midst of action, and to grow in holiness by responsibly and generously carrying out our proper mission.
Life does not have a mission, but is a mission. Realize the need to stop this rat race…to recover the personal space needed to carry on a heartfelt dialogue with God…Finding that space may prove painful but it is always fruitful. We tend to absolutize our free time….every moment can be an expression of self-sacrificing love in the Lord’s eyes.

More Alive, More Human. Do not be afraid of holiness. It will take away none of your energy, vitality or joy. By holiness, you are faithful to your deepest self. We understand the profound truth that God, and not man, is the true Master. To the extent that each Christian grows in holiness, he or she will bear greater fruit for our world. Do not be afraid to set your sights higher, to allow yourself to be loved and liberated by God.
Holiness does not make you less human, since it is an encounter between your weakness and the power of God’s grace: “the only great tragedy in life, is not to become a saint

In neither case is one really concerned about Jesus Christ or others.

Contemporary Gnosticism. The only interest is a certain experience or a set of ideas and bits of information. With this, one is imprisoned in his or her own thoughts and feelings.
But it is clear that a people’s perfection is measured by the depth of their charity. But by Gnosticism we become incapable of touching Christ’s suffering flesh in others. Even when someone’s life appears completely wrecked, even when we see it devastated by vices or addictions, God is present there. We can and must try to find the Lord in every human life.
It is wrong to think that because we know something, or are able to explain it in certain terms, we are already saints. What we think we know should always motivate us to respond more fully to God’s love. St. Francis said: I am pleased that you teach sacred theology…provided that you do not extinguish the spirit of prayer and devotion during study.
True Christian wisdom can never be separated from mercy towards our neighbor: The greatest possible wisdom is to share fruitfully what we have to give…There are activities that, united to contemplation, do not prevent the latter, but rather facilitate it, such as works of mercy.

Contemporary Pelagianism. The power that the gnostics attributed to the intellect, others now began to attribute to the human will, to personal effort. The human will took the place of mystery and grace. It forgets that everything “depends not on human will or exertion, but on God who shows mercy” (Rom 9:16) and that “he first loved us”.
A will lacking humility. Pelagians ultimately trust only in their own powers and feel superior to others because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style. Do what you can and to ask for what you cannot. The lack of a heartfelt and prayerful acknowledgment of our limitations prevents grace from working: acknowledge our concrete and limited situation.
In order to be blameless, as God would have us, we need to live humbly in his presence…walk in union with him, recognizing his constant love in our lives. We need to lose our fear before that presence which can only be for our good.
An often overlooked Church teaching. We are justified not by our own works or efforts, but by the grace of the Lord, who always takes the initiative. God pours into us the very source of all his gifts. The faithful glory in God alone, for they realize that they lack true justice and are justified only through faith in Christ.
All cooperation with grace is a prior gift of that same grace. The desire to be cleansed comes about in us through the outpouring and working of the Holy Spirit
Live in joyful gratitude for this completely unmerited gift…The saints avoided putting trust in their own works…this truth should affect the way we live, for it flows from the heart of the Gospel and demands that we not only accept it intellectually but also make it a source of contagious joy
We realize that our earthly life and our natural abilities are his gift.  We must first belong to God, offering ourselves to him who was there first
Entrust to him our abilities, our efforts, our struggle against evil and our creativity, so that his free gift may grow and develop within us:
Charity alone makes growth in the life of grace possible, for “if I do not have love, I am nothing”
New pelagians. Don’t be excessively concerned about somethings. Let yourselves be led by the Spirit in the way of love. Being passionate about communicating the beauty and the joy of the Gospel and seeking out the lost among the immense crowds that thirst for Christ.
The summation of the Law. Keep reminding ourselves that there is a hierarchy of virtues that bids us seek what is essential. The primacy belongs to the theological virtues, which have God as their object and motive. At the centre is charity. The one who loves another has fulfilled the law… for love is the fulfilment of the law.  “For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’”
Amid the thicket of precepts and prescriptions, Jesus clears a way to seeing two faces: the Father and our brother. Better yet, one face alone: the face of God reflected in so many other faces. For in every one of our brothers and sisters, especially the least, the most vulnerable, the defenceless and those in need, God’s very image is found.

The Beatitudes are like a Christian’s identity card: a portrait of the Master, which we are called to reflect in our daily lives.

Going Against the Flow. The Beatitudes run counter to the way things are usually done in our world. We can only practise them if the Holy Spirit fills us with his power and frees us from our weakness. Let us allow his words to unsettle us, to challenge us and to demand a real change in the way we live.
1. Poor in spirit. See where we find our security in life. Remember the parable of the rich fool: so self-satisfied that we leave no room for God’s word. We miss out on the greatest treasure of all.  To those who have a poor heart, there the Lord can enter with his perennial newness.
We have to be indifferent in our attitude to all created things. Live a plain and austere life.
2. Meek. This world from the beginning has been a place of conflict: reign of pride and vanity, where each person thinks he or she has the right to dominate others.
Jesus is humble, and mounted on a donkey. Christ says: “Learn from me; for I am gentle and humble of heart. Regard the faults and limitations of others with tenderness and meekness, without an air of superiority.
Perfect charity consists in putting up with others’ mistakes, and not being scandalized by their faults. Try to correct them, but “with a spirit of meekness”, since “you too could be tempted”.
Trust in God alone.
3. Those who mourn.  The worldly person ignores problems of sickness or sorrow in the family or all around him; he averts his gaze. He disregards painful situations, cover them up or hide them.
A person who sees things as they truly are and sympathizes with pain and sorrow is capable of touching life’s depths and finding authentic happiness. We should be consoled, not by the world but by Jesus, unafraid to share in the suffering of others.
Meaning of life is in coming to the aid of those who suffer, understanding their anguish and bringing relief. Not afraid to draw near, even to touch their wounds.
4. Hunger and thirst for righteousness.  Hunger and thirst are intense experiences, since they involve basic needs and our instinct for survival.  Those who desire justice will be satisfied: Justice will come. We can cooperate to make that possible.
Be just in decisions; it is expressed in pursuit of justice for the poor and the weak. Also faithfulness to God’s will in every aspect of our life, shown especially in justice towards those who are most vulnerable: “Seek justice, correct oppression; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow.”
5. Merciful. Two aspects: giving, helping and serving others and forgiveness and understanding. In everything, do to others as you would have them do to you.  When confronted by situations that make moral judgments less assured and decision difficult: Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. The yardstick we use for understanding and forgiving others will measure the forgiveness we receive.
6. Pure in heart. Hearts that are simple, pure and undefiled, admits nothing that might harm, weaken or endanger love. Keep a heart free of all that tarnishes love.
Our heart is in our real intentions, the things we truly seek and desire, apart from all appearances. Flee from deceit, God sees in secret.
Commitment to our brothers and sisters that comes from the heart: if I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have no love, I gain nothing. To the extent that truth and love prevail, we will then be able to see “face to face”.
7. Peacemakers. We ourselves are often a cause of conflict or at least of misunderstanding. The world of gossip, inhabited by negative and destructive people, does not bring peace. Such people are really the enemies of peace.
Build peace and friendship in society. Work for peace. Embrace even those who are a bit odd, troublesome or difficult, demanding, different, beaten down by life or simply uninterested.
We must face conflict head on, resolve it and make it a link in the chain of a new process.
8. Persecuted for righteousness’ sake. The Christian path goes against the flow. We challenge society by the way we live: thirst for power and worldly interests often stands in our way. Also forms of social organization, production and consumption make it more difficult to offer this gift of self. The cross remains the source of our growth and sanctification.
This does not refer to the kind of persecution we might bring upon ourselves by our mistreatment of others. The saints are not odd and aloof, unbearable: they enjoyed favor “with all the people.
Accept daily the path of the Gospel, even though it may cause us problems.

The Great Criterion. Jesus expands on the Beatitude that calls the merciful blessed.. This is the clear criterion on which we will be judged: “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me”. St. John Paul II: “If we truly start out anew from the contemplation of Christ, we must learn to see him especially in the faces of those with whom he himself wished to be identified”. Holiness cannot be understood or lived apart from these demands, for mercy is “the beating heart of the Gospel.” This involves a constant and healthy unease: the goal has to be the restoration of just social and economic systems.
Ideologies striking at the heart of the Gospel. Two harmful errors:
1) Separate these Gospel demands from their personal relationship with the Lord, from their interior union with him, from openness to his grace. Luminous mysticism of the saints: mental prayer, the love of God and the reading of the Gospel
2) Suspect the social engagement of others, ignore injustice in a world
Wrong to see migrants a secondary issue compared to the “grave” bioethical questions: the only proper attitude is to stand in the shoes of those brothers and sisters of ours who risk their lives to offer a future to their children. All guests who knocked at the monastery door be welcomed “like Christ.” The poor and pilgrims were to be met with “the greatest care and solicitude
The worship most acceptable to God. The primacy belongs to our relationship with God. Ultimate criterion on which our lives will be judged is what we have done for others. Prayer is most precious, for it nourishes a daily commitment to love. Best way to discern if our prayer is authentic is to judge to what extent our life is being transformed in the light of mercy.
Mercy: a criterion for ascertaining who his true children are. St. Thomas: mercy, whereby we supply others’ defects, is a sacrifice more acceptable to him, as conducing more directly to our neighbor’s well-being. We are called to be single-minded and tenacious in their practice of the works of mercy. God depends on us to love the world and to show how much he loves it.
Hedonism and consumerism can prove our downfall, for when we are obsessed with our own pleasure. Cultivate a certain simplicity of life, resisting the feverish demands of a consumer society. Christianity is meant above all to be put into practice
I recommend rereading these great biblical texts frequently, referring back to them, praying with them, trying to embody them

These are five great expressions of love for God and neighbor

Perseverance, Patience and Meekness. Find solid grounding in God who loves and sustains us: “If God is for us, who is against us? Overcome evil with good: not to seek revenge; recognize and combat our aggressive and selfish inclinations, and not let them take root.
Always cling to the anchor of prayer, which puts us back in God’s hands and the source of our peace.
Do not ignore the eighth commandment, which forbids bearing false witness or lying, and ruthlessly vilify others. Do not waste energy complaining about the failings of others
Saints consider others better than themselves: Always prefer to be taught by all, rather than to desire teaching even the least of all. Desire that they be given precedence over you in all things. Prefer to praise the others.
Humility can only take root in the heart through humiliations. Ask for the grace of humility in prayer: “Lord, when humiliations come, help me to know that I am following in your footsteps”.
Trust in God’s mercy: “Mankind will not have peace until it turns with trust to my mercy

Joy and a Sense of Humour. The saints are joyful and full of good humour: the necessary result of the love of charity is joy; since every lover rejoices at being united to the beloved.
Time of Jesus is a revelation of joy. “Shout and sing for joy!” Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he.”
When hard times come: we are infinitely loved.
“Remove vexation [annoyance and worry] from your mind.”
Consumerism only bloats the heart. It can offer occasional and passing pleasures, but not joy.
There is more happiness in giving than in receiving.  
Fraternal love makes us capable of rejoicing in the good of others: “Rejoice with those who rejoice”
If we focus primarily on our own needs, we condemn ourselves to a joyless existence

Boldness and Passion. Holiness is also parrhesía: it is boldness, an impulse to evangelize and to leave a mark in this world. Jesus: “Do not be afraid” “I am with you always, to the end of the world” He bids us spend our lives in his service. Look at Jesus. His deep compassion reached out to others. It did not make him hesitant, timid or self-conscious.
We are constantly tempted to flee to a safe haven. It can have many names: individualism, spiritualism, living in a little world, addiction, intransigence, the rejection of new ideas and approaches, dogmatism, nostalgia, pessimism, hiding behind rules and regulations.
Church needs passionate missionaries, enthusiastic about sharing true life: let us ask for the apostolic courage to share the Gospel to others.

In Community. Growth in holiness is a journey in community, side by side with others. You are living with others in order to be fashioned and tried.
The common life, whether in the family, the parish, the religious community or any other, is made up of small everyday things. Jesus asked his disciples to pay attention to details, little details of love: missing sheep, offering two small coins, spare oil for lamps. St. Therese: Instead of the beautiful strains of music I heard only [poor invalid's] occasional complaints: rays of truth which so surpassed the dark brilliance of earthly feasts that I could not believe my happiness.
Our path to holiness can only make us identify all the more with Jesus’ prayer “that all may be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you”.

In Constant Prayer. Holiness consists in a habitual openness to the transcendent, expressed in prayer and adoration. The saints are distinguished by a spirit of prayer and a need for communion with God: they long for God, losing themselves in praise and contemplation of the Lord.
Endeavour to remain always in the presence of God. Try to be continuous in prayer do anything, always go to God and attach your heart to him. For this to happen, some moments spent alone with God are also necessary. For all of us, for “we all have need of this silence, filled with the presence of him who is adored”.
In that silence, we can discern, in the light of the Spirit, the paths of holiness to which the Lord is calling us. It is essential to spend time with the Master, to listen to his words, and to learn from him always. Unless we listen, all our words will be nothing but useless chatter.
Contemplation of the face of Jesus, died and risen, restores our humanity, even when it has been broken by the troubles of this life or marred by sin. We must not domesticate [tame] the power of the face of Christ. Gazing on the face of Christ, you feel unable to let yourself be healed and transformed, then enter into the Lord’s heart, into his wounds, for that is the abode of divine mercy.
Prayer of intercession has particular value, for it is an act of trust in God and, at the same time, an expression of love for our neighbor: our prayer will be all the more pleasing to God and more effective for our growth in holiness if, through intercession, we attempt to practise the twofold commandment that Jesus left us.
Worship him, at times in quiet wonder, and praise him in festive song: “As soon as I believed that there was a God, I understood that I could do nothing other than to live for him.
Love pauses, contemplates the mystery [God’s affection and closeness], and enjoys it in silence
Prayerful reading of God’s word, goes to the very heart and identity of Christian life.
In the Eucharist, the one true God receives the greatest worship the world can give him, for it is Christ himself who is offered

The Christian life is a constant battle. We need strength and courage to withstand the temptations of the devil and to proclaim the Gospel. This battle is sweet, for it allows us to rejoice each time the Lord triumphs in our lives.

Combat and Vigilance. We battle against the world and a worldly mentality, struggle against our human weaknesses and proclivities (be they laziness, lust, envy, jealousy or any others)
A constant struggle against the devil: He is present in the very first pages of the Scriptures, which end with God’s victory over the devil. A more exact translation of “evil” in the Our Father would be “the evil one”. He poisons us with the venom of hatred, desolation, envy and vice. When we let down our guard, he takes advantage of it to destroy our lives, our families and our communities. “Like a roaring lion, he prowls around, looking for someone to devour.
Alert and trustful. We can count on the powerful weapons that the Lord has given us: faith-filled prayer, meditation on the word of God, the celebration of Mass, Eucharistic adoration, sacramental Reconciliation, works of charity, community life, missionary outreach.
Along this journey, the cultivation of all that is good, progress in the spiritual life and growth in love are the best counterbalance to evil. Those who choose to remain neutral, who are satisfied with little, who renounce the ideal of giving themselves generously to the Lord, will never hold out.
Spiritual corruption. The path of holiness demands that we keep “our lamps lit” (Lk 12:35) and be attentive. “Abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thess 5:22). “Keep awake” (Mt 24:42; Mk 13:35). “Let us not fall asleep” (1 Thess 5:6). Those who think they commit no grievous sins against God’s law can fall into a state of dull lethargy. Since they see nothing serious to reproach themselves with, they fail to realize that their spiritual life has gradually turned lukewarm. They end up weakened and corrupted.
Spiritual corruption is worse than the fall of a sinner, for it is a comfortable and self-satisfied form of blindness. Everything then appears acceptable: deception, slander, egotism and other subtle forms of self-centredness,

An urgent need. Contemporary life offers immense possibilities for action and distraction, and the world presents all of them as valid and good.
Always in the light of the Lord. Discernment is a means of spiritual combat for helping us to follow the Lord more faithfully. We need it at all times, to help us recognize God’s timetable, lest we fail to heed the promptings of his grace and disregard his invitation to grow
Greatness of spirit is manifested in simple everyday realities. It involves striving untrammelled [unrestricted] for all that is great, better and more beautiful, while at the same time being concerned for the little things, for each day’s responsibilities and commitments. For this reason, I ask all Christians not to omit, in dialogue with the Lord, a sincere daily “examination of conscience”.
A supernatural gift. We should always remember that discernment is a grace: a glimpse of that unique and mysterious plan that God has for each of us. It has to do with the meaning of my life before the Father who knows and loves me, with the real purpose of my life, which nobody knows better than he. The Father readily reveals himself to the lowly (cf. Mt 11:25).
We cannot do without the silence of prolonged prayer, which enables us better to perceive God’s language, to interpret the real meaning of the inspirations we believe we have received, to calm our anxieties and to see the whole of our existence afresh in his own light.
Speak, Lord. Readiness to listen: to the Lord and to others, and to reality itself, which always challenges us in new ways.  Set aside our own partial or insufficient ideas, our usual habits and ways of seeing things. Attitude of listening entails obedience to the Gospel as the ultimate standard, but also to the Magisterium that guards it. It is not a matter of applying rules or repeating what was done in the past.
The logic of gift and of the cross. An essential condition for progress in discernment is a growing understanding of God’s patience and his timetable, which are never our own. Recognize how we can better accomplish the mission entrusted to us at our baptism. This entails a readiness to make sacrifices, even to sacrificing everything. For happiness is a paradox. “This is our logic”, says Saint Bonaventure, pointing to the cross.
When, in God’s presence, we examine our life’s journey, no areas can be off limits. In all aspects of life we can continue to grow and offer something greater to God, even in those areas we find most difficult. We need, though, to ask the Holy Spirit to liberate us and to expel the fear that makes us ban him from certain parts of our lives. God asks everything of us, yet he also gives everything to us.
Discernment is the process of leaving ourselves behind in order to approach the mystery of God. 
Our converse with Mary consoles, frees and sanctifies us. All we need do is whisper, time and time again: “Hail Mary…”
May the Church devote herself anew to promoting the desire for holiness.