Fr. Rudolf V. D'Souza - "The healing of the man born blind". March 2014
Fr. Rudolf V. D'Souza - "The healing of the man born blind". March 2014
Fourth Sunday of Lent 2017. Sunday Homily from Father Rudy.
Annunciation of the Blessed Lord 2017
Living Flame Channel Announcement & Third Friday of Lent 2017
Father Rudy's Reflection on Third Thursday of Lent 2017: Luke 11: 14-23
The seven deadly vices are normally the strong roots of our wrongly acquired experiences of the external senses and spiritual faculties, deeply embedded in the will. Initially when every sense experience is enjoyed and accepted with attachment without upward orientation towards God, it resides in the spirit/will like a person getting addicted to drugs. Repeated sense experience naturally gets rooted in the will and becomes stronger over years like a drug addict who cannot live without drugs. These roots when they give out fresh shoots and fruits become vices. These vices if not surrendered to God in prayer can be gradually detrimental to growth in spiritual life. The fruits of such roots are as follows.
It is too great an admiration of oneself. Pride has seven evil consequences: boasting, love of publicity, hypocrisy, hardheadedness, discord, quarreling and disobedience. When all these seven evil inclinations grow in our dealings with God and neighbour, we must understand that our prayer is no prayer but a prolonged practice of pride. The devil balloons our pride to make us lose eventually to our own egoism. Authentic prayer requires humility. Any form of pride in life and prayer must be overcome first of all through personal efforts. When pride becomes part of our life it cannot be overcome by our own efforts. Therefore, in the higher stages of prayer the Lord Himself will purify us through spiritual trials or through physical trials. Pride is the enemy of any progress in prayer. If the ultimate goal of prayer is total surrender to God, there ought to be daily surrender on our part of all our actions, thoughts and also an on-going surrender in our relationship with God. In our pride when we do not listen to the Spirit who invites us to discern the purpose and goal of prayer we greatly neglect the primary task of overcoming evil. St. Paul’s words to the Galatians are apt here: “let the Spirit direct your lives, and you will not satisfy the desires of the human nature. For what our human nature wants is opposed to what the Spirit wants, and what the Spirit wants, is opposed to what our human nature wants. These two are enemies, and this means that you cannot do what you want to do. If the Spirit leads you, then you are not subject to the law” (Gal 5:16-18).
When the Lord takes initiative in prayer we ought to be passive. It is in passive prayer that the Lord strengthens our will to overcome this unwanted tendency to pride. He through his grace introduces us to profound humility.
This is a vice that leads us to be greedy and upset at every point. This nature of being upset interferes greatly during prayer. Eventually avarice ends up in other related dangers to the soul: fraud, perjury, dishonesty, perfidy, and harshness in dealing with others. When avarice reaches its culminating point we have no way out than to surrender to our own convictions and decisions. Eventually even prayer is practiced to feed our avarice. Everything we do will be justified during prayer and we can find ourselves ever more comfortable in living with all the above mentioned consequences of avarice. What is the outcome? We would rather leave prayer than rectify our own avarice-filled soul. Perhaps we even continue to pray to program and plan the way of our actions leading to avaricious behavior.
Avarice leads us to desire and covet things we should not. This behavior can extend to all the six goods: natural, temporal, sensory, moral, spiritual and supernatural. We must be reminded of the Lord’s command “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God”.
Envy starts demanding “why shouldn’t I have everything that others have?” We are envious of another’s goods and jealous of our own. These thoughts pester us mainly during prayer. Beware! If not checked these thoughts and questions can lead us to come to concrete action so as to obtain everything that others have. Prayer is made into a path of getting even with others. That is why Paul in his letter to the Corinthians said: “Love is not jealous or envious”. When we are envious there cannot be genuine and authentic prayer. Deeply rooted jealousy can lead us to lose health both physical and spiritual. Precious hours can be simply lost thinking about the success of others and becoming destructively jealous when unable to obtain what the others have through unsuccessful attempts.
It is a disorientated love that seeks not the other but personal individualistic pleasure and satisfaction in everything we do. Lust excludes all personal consideration for the sake of sensate experience. Lust leads to exploitation of oneself and others or things for our own glory, satisfaction and pleasure. Finally lust leads to the development of hedonistic mentality. Even our prayer becomes a means to self-gratification and never to improve the quality of our life and to suffer. Whenever sufferings come we become sad. Prayer is practiced only to obtain satisfaction and pleasure. Is this prayer? The Lord will answer them “they have their reward already”.
Any physical feeling felt during prayer under the guise of spirituality cannot be dismissed as something dangerous. Yet aiming at only feelings, satisfaction and pleasure in prayer is to be shunned. God experience cannot be identified with sense experience. “Some people are so delicate that when gratification is received from the spirit or from prayer, they immediately experience a lust which so inebriates them and caresses their sense that they become as it were engulfed in the delight and satisfaction of that vice; and this experience will endure passively with the other. Sometimes these individuals become aware that certain impure and rebellious acts have taken place” (NightI,4,v) Therefore, the sensory part of our being must be reformed throughpassivity during prayer without expecting any tangible result. This is an active effort at overcoming the elements of lust in our prayer. When we are totally helpless to do so, we need to expect God to intervene.
The pleasure-seeking attitude in life and prayer cannot help us to become partners with God. The desire for pleasure is a good thing in life. Life would be sapless without it. What is dangerous is inordinate craving for it. Jesus advocates a life that is simple. He is conscious of the dangers of riches and money. Therefore lustful attitude in prayer and outside of prayer must be overcome.
Anger is a strong feeling that comes when one is wronged or insulted or when one sees cruelty or injustice either real or imaginary. It is a vice when one becomes angry at every thing and everybody in every circumstance. Anger has such consequences as emotional cruelty, psychological pain, rage, assaults, the viciousness of tongue, insulting, abusing, cursing and swearing to inflict damage, and many other terrible combinations of hatred, including class conflict, dissention and party spirit. All these elements are detrimental to prayer. We need to discern well in prayer whether we are still a prey to these offshoots of anger. If not, we need to seek a suitable remedy to overcome this deadly sin. In order to grow in healthy relationship with God and neighbour, anger should be done away with. Jesus says “you have heard it said ‘you shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgement’. But I say to you, whoever says to his brother ‘you fool’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna. Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” (Mt 5.21-24). The tendency to anger can extend very easily to prayer and instead of praying in a friendly manner with God our anger will lead us to negative consequences. Ultimately if we are the victims of anger, we will almost certainly be angry that prayer has produced no results in our life.
This flows from the disorderly animal appetite, the obsession with food and drink to the point of living to eat, rather than eating to live. This can harm prayer. If this tendency for food and drink is not overcome the roots of this tendency to gluttony could also extend to our spiritual life. The practice of prayer can become a substitute to material gluttony. We can become slaves to a certain type of method or the way we say our prayers and become gluttonous creatures craving for satisfaction, pleasure and gratification during prayer and crave for attention and appreciation outside of prayer. We need to discern well why such a tendency has crept into our prayer life. The genuine attitude in prayer ought to be to become aware of growing in inner freedom for God’s personal design or plan for me. If our prayer aims at only fulfilment of our odd desires, then it is no prayer at all. It is nothing less than an attempt to feed our gluttony that has taken on a spiritual garb.
Sloth is laziness or idleness. It is the bosom companion of covetousness, and is seen as the failure of the will to work purposefully and constructively for God. It is a mean sin that could not care less about others when there is no obvious and immediate personal gratification. The only antidote for this sickening attitude is perseverance, the willingness and effort to remain aware of others and open minded towards them, even and especially when there is nothing to be gained for self. Perseverance is the way by which the selfish laziness of the will is overcome through persistent acts of charity towards others and acts of devotion towards God without expectation of anything material or spiritual. We are to detach ourselves from the cravings of the animal soul for sensual satisfaction, even of a devotional, pious nature. This can be done by attaching ourselves to God and His goodness towards us as the source of our deepest fulfillment in prayer