Notes On A Recollection

Fr. Robert Manansala, OFM talked about SPIRITUALITY AND THE SPIRITUALITY OF THE PASCHAL MYSTERY in a recollection given to the Catholic Women’s League (CWL). Below are edited notes that he discussed during the retreat.

“The only real sadness, the only real failure, the only great tragedy in life, is not to become a saint.” – Leon Bloy

The Filipino Catholic laity are called to be saints. They are sent forth as heroes.This is the Pastoral Exhortation of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines for the 2014 Year of the Laity.

“And finally, we ask you to stand up for Jesus not only in religious activities but in your private and public life. Speak up for Jesus and his Church in public discussions. Do not be afraid to be identified as Catholic Christians. You have been called to be saints; you are sent forth as heroes. Take courage. Choose to be brave!”(Filipino Catholic Laity)

Karl Rahner: Holiness – “…participation in the intimate union between Father and Son, led by the Spirit.”

Cardinal William Baum: “The danger… is to know about Jesus without knowing Him, to talk about Jesus but not to Him, to listen to experts speak of Him without letting Him speak about Himself. A deep, personal, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ is the foundation of holiness.”

HOLINESS is sharing in the life of God who alone is holy. It is having or receiving a deep, personal, intimate and transformative relationship with God and living the consequences, implications and challenges of the same in one’s life and circumstances in the Church and in the world.

ChristifidelisLaici 16: HOLINESS
“Life according to the Spirit, whose fruit is holiness (cf. Rom 6:22; Gal 5:22), stirs up every baptized person and requires each to follow and imitate Jesus Christ, in embracing the Beatitudes, in listening and meditating on the Word of God, in conscious and active participation in the liturgical and sacramental life of the Church, in personal prayer, in family or in community, in the hunger and thirst for justice, in the practice of the commandment of love in all circumstances of life and service to the brethren, especially the least, the poor and the suffering.”

“The Year of Faith…is a summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to theLord, the one Saviour of the world. In the mystery of his death and resurrection, God has revealed in its fullness the Love that saves and calls us to conversion of life through the forgiveness of sins (cf. Acts 5:31) (PortaFidei)) (PortaFidei).

The “door of faith” (Acts 14:27) is always open for us, ushering us into the life of communion with Godand offering entry into his Church.It is possible to cross that threshold when the word of God is proclaimedand the heart allows itself to be shaped by transforming grace. To enter through that door is to set out on a journeythat lasts a lifetime. It begins with baptism (cf. Rom 6:4), through which we can address God as Father, and it ends with the passage through death to eternal life, fruit of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, whose will it was, by the gift of the Holy Spirit, to draw those who believe in him into his own glory (cf. Jn 17:22). {PortaFidei}

“The Church as a whole and all her Pastors, like Christ, must set out to lead people out of the desert, towards the place of life, towards friendship with the Son of God, towards the One who gives us life, and life in abundance.” (PortaFidei)

After the promises, we say: “This is our Faith, this is the faith of the Church…”

Faith not a list of dogma check-off points, but a passage, a relationship with a PERSON (GOD/JESUS), with three DIVINE PERSONS. We are baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

We echo the challenge of Pope Francis: “We want to challenge “the baptized whose lives do not reflect the demands of Baptism,” who lack a meaningful relationship to the Church and no longer experience the consolation born of faith. The Church, in her maternal concern, tries to help them experience a conversion which will restore the joy of faith to their hearts and inspire a commitment to the Gospel.” (EvangeliiGaudium, 15) (Filipino Catholic Laity: Called to be Saints…)

We turn to God. Not just turning/returning to a right and holy life or path but turning/returning to God and having or renewing a personal, deep and intimate loving relationship with the Lord.
“I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since “no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord.” The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms.” – The Joy of the Gospel

“Now is the time to say to Jesus: “Lord, I have let myself be deceived; in a thousand ways I have shunned your love, yet here I am once more, to renew my covenant with you. I need you. Save me once again, Lord, take me once more into your redeeming embrace.” How good it feels to come back to him whenever we are lost! Let me say this once more: God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy. Christ, who told us to forgive one another “seventy times seven” (Mt 18:22) has given us his example: he has forgiven us seventy times seven. Time and time again he bears us on his shoulders.”

No one can strip us of the dignity bestowed upon us by this boundless and unfailing love. With a tenderness, which never disappoints, but is always capable of restoring our joy, he makes it possible for us to lift up our heads and to start anew. Let us not flee from the resurrection of Jesus, let us never give up, come what will. May nothing inspire more than his life, which impels us onwards!

The paschal Mystery is the mystery of how we, after undergoing some kind of death, receive new life and new spirit. Jesus, in both his teaching and in his life showed us a clear paradigm for how this should happen.

“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it
remains a single grain; but if it dies it yields a rich harvest” (John 12:24)

There are TWO KINDS OF DEATH: (1) Terminal death – a death that ends life and ends all possibilities. (2) Paschal death – a death, while ending one kind of life, opens the person undergoing it to receive a deeper and richer form of life.

Opposite that, there are TWO KINDS OF LIFE:
(1) Resuscitated life – when one is restored to one’s former life and health, as in the case with someone who has been clinically dead and is brought back to life.
(2) Resurrected life – not a restoration of one’s old life but the reception of a radically new life.

At the resurrection of Jesus, the disciples are given the new life of Christ, but only some time after, at Pentecost, are they given the spirit for the new life they are already living. We live by both life and spirit and our peace of soul depends upon having a happy synthesis between the two.

The Paschal mystery is a process of transformation within which we are given both new life and new spirit. It begins with suffering and death, moves on to the reception of new life, spends some time grieving the old and adjusting to the new, and finally, only after the old life has been truly let go of, is new spirit given for the life we are already living.

In simple terms:
(1) “Name your deaths.”
(2) “Claim your births.”
(3) “Grieve what you have lost and adjust to the new reality.”
(4) “Do not cling to the old, let it ascend and give you its blessing.”
(5) “Accept the spirit of the life that you are in fact living.”

We undergo the various deaths of our lives:
(1) The Death of our Youth.
(2) The Death of our Wholeness.
(3) The Death of our Dreams.
(4) The Death of our Honeymoons.
(5) The Death of a certain Idea of God and Church

We face many deaths within our lives and the choice is ours as to whether those deaths will be terminal (snuffing out life and spirit) or whether they will be paschal (opening us new life and new spirit). Grieving is the key to the latter. Good grieving, however, consists not just in letting the old go but also in letting it bless us.