Tag Archives: lent

Seeing God as God – for health of soul

In contemplating all Christ endured throughout His earthly life, suffering, and death – to satisfy His Father’s will that an immense debt be paid for our offenses – it came at great difficulty to His humanity.

Christine Valentine-Owsik

Modern news accounts depict people acting on perceived need, in wanting to convert their biological sex, circumvent God’s plan for marriage, flout civil and moral laws, even reconfigure the reality of who they are and their innate abilities. But if they’d seek simple truth – of God, their place before Him, and purpose within His plan – they could enjoy order of soul, which is at the heart of happiness.

In approaching His Passion and death, Christ kept His Father’s plan as His focus. Through all the physical and emotional ravages of His Passion, Christ had no other pleasure than to do His Father’s will for love of us. Our life, too, is a spiritual mountain, which we – in imitation of Christ – must ascend similarly, to rest in complete union with God.

St. John of the Cross, in his great work The Ascent of Mount Carmel, says: “If a pleasure is not for the glory of God, let it be renounced and rejected. Strive to prefer not that which is easiest, but that which is most difficult….not that which is most delectable, but that which is most unpleasing … not that which gives most pleasure, but that which gives least …” In short, St. John of the Cross advises we live a life of detachment “for Christ’s sake.” And then he promises “deep union with Christ will be yours.”

Many of today’s studies on emotional and mental health problems show that people suffer from the inability to face blunt reality, accept life’s difficulties, and adopt a mature and selfless plan for coping. Such skills aren’t found in an app, chatroom, or podcast. They’re garnered through the tough exercise of earnestly making one’s way, muscling through adversity, processing disappointment, and persevering anew with the daily grace and companionship of God.

In short, keeping friendship with God and knowing our place before Him simplifies many things, and brings great comfort of soul.

Some of life’s most difficult trials – also part of God’s plan – we come to realize are blessings and catalysts for interior growth. In our youth we envision mostly the fun – of independence, marriage, growing families, stature, financial autonomy, vacations, and adventures. Then we turn an unforeseen corner into sobering new territory.

Our parents age and need increased attention from us as their advocates. Our kids grow up and move great distances away. Our companies and careers present odd detours and changes we never envisioned. Our physical prowess becomes compromised. Certain friends and colleagues show their true colors. But for many of us, our friendship and reliance on God deepens as we realize our limits and dependence. His words and fortification take on a never-before-realized meaning – as if for the first time.

We finally mature, and see Christ as our most trusted Friend, whom we gratefully serve and wouldn’t trade for this world.

CHRISTINE VALENTINE-OWSIK  is Legatus magazine’s Editor.

Lent grooms us for Heaven

I recently heard a Catholic say, “We have enough problems these days – why do we need Lent to suffer even more?” He was serious.

Christine Valentine-Owsi

Today, suffering in any form is disdained and seen as unnecessary and unsophisticated. Even in Church circles, there’s the greatest emphasis on mercy, yet scant notice of God’s justice.

Well, not so fast.

St. Ambrose, 4th-century bishop and doctor of the Church who fought early heresies and faith errors, said: “God is displeased not only with the sinner, but also with him who does not punish sin. For if there were more to punish sin, there would be less sin.”

But today it’s fashionable to let things ride, dispense from penalty, even blame the victim instead of the perpetrator.

This is why modernity has become the perfect breeding ground for liberalism, where ‘freedom of choice’ eclipses right and wrong. Liberalism actually denies natural law – which God has inscribed in our hearts. When crime isn’t consistently punished, or parents won’t oppose kids’ sinful choices, or depravity is rewarded … voila! … we get an amoral society without respect for anyone. Especially for God.

Secular liberals exhibit vapid intolerance for any person or scenario which contradicts their credo. Yet their act-outs – like bullying in public those they dislike; demanding the ‘right’ to eliminate preborn or newborn infants; parading unnatural sexual behavior; even intimidating Christians into a sort of public square practical atheism – are lauded as forward-thinking. Many Catholics unwittingly play into this, and recoil at defending God’s law for fear of losing comrades or comfort.

But Christ Himself gave us the key to lasting friendship with Him: “If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mat 16:24). He asks for our voluntary self-denial in doing His will, in surrendering what we naturally like – our comfort zones – in order to please Him. The very things He requires of us will separate the sheep from the goats. Our own final judgment by Christ won’t be politically correct, but it will be eternally just.

Catholic teaching says that omission of punishment of sin is a participation in its guilt. God forgives sin, but we must redress offenses to Him before we can be admitted to Heaven. Further, our own mortification before Him shows our willingness to surrender our most precious possession – our self-will.

It is for this purpose that we have the gift of Lent. Our sins – those confessed already – must be expiated before God, easier done now. We each owe a personal debt that’s incomplete in satisfaction. In addition, we must re-orient our interior and exterior demeanor to be properly mortified for Heaven.

The late Servant of God Fr. John Hardon, S.J. explained it this way.

“Only mortified persons are willing to love God in the patient endurance of whatever crosses He sends them. If we are willing to mortify (“cause death to”) our self-will in this world, we shall gain eternal life in the world to come. On these terms, only mortified people will enter Heaven.”

CHRISTINE VALENTINE-OWSIK  is Legatus magazine’s Editor.

Harnessing the will atunes appetite to Godly delights

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said: “Lent is a time of conversion and penance and a favorable time to rediscover faith in God as the criterion of our life, and the life of the church.” Rediscovering, as in growing in our faith, is a life-long journey. Each year, our dear Catholic Church gives us this opportunity during the Lenten season.

It is the customary work of sacrificing, that of giving something up during the Lenten season, that strengthens and disciplines our will so that we are not slaves to pleasure, whether it be material or otherwise. Sacrifice and prayer are key to building good habits, better known as virtues. Good habits are built and developed by disciplining the will. Denying yourself unsinful pleasures (such as not having your favorite pasta dish), will help discipline your will so when the time comes to combat temptations of sinful pleasures you will have the courage and spiritual strength to potentially make the right choice.

Lent is the perfect time for disciplining our will. Most would agree that at times, though we know right from wrong, we use our God-given free will to choose the wrong or evil that we did not intend. St. Paul the Apostle provides an excellent example illustrating this point in Romans 7:19 when he says: “For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want.” Read the rest of Romans 7 for more. St. Paul, one of the most brilliant Scripture writers, humbly acknowledges the power of the human will.

Blessed John Duns Scotus (14th c.) writes that of the two faculties, he places primacy on a person’s free will over his intellect. This scholarly Franciscan friar, teacher at both Oxford and Cambridge, known as the “Subtle Doctor,” explains that just because one has knowledge of right and wrong, it does not guarantee one’s choosing rightly. Accepting that at times our will reigns over our intellect, it is essential to train and discipline our will in good habits, thus turning them into virtues, which strengthen us to opt for the good.

Our goal for Lent should be to strengthen our prayer life, and engage sacrifice (mortification of our will). Self-denial helps build good habits in making sound choices in this life, clearing the path for our worthiness in the next.

CHEF NEIL FUSCO is founder of Cucina Antica Foods, Corp, a specialty Italian food-products company. Raised on a farm in San Marzano in southern Italy, he learned his family’s production and cooking with the renowned San Marzano tomatoes they’d grown there since the 1800s. His newly released cookbook is May Love Be the Main Ingredient at Your Table (2017), with amusing and heartfelt stories about faith, family, and recipes from his Old World childhood.

 

Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe • Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

2 bunches of broccoli rabe
1 lb. orecchiette
5 tbsps. extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. minced garlic
Large pinch red pepper flakes
1 tsp. salt
Pecorino Romano, grated

Preparation:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add chopped broccoli rabe, cover to return to boil. Once boiling, uncover and let boil for 5 more minutes. Drain broccoli rabe into a colander over a bowl, reserving all water.

In a large sauté pan, combine oil, garlic, and red pepper over medium heat. When browned, add blanched broccoli rabe with ¼ cup of reserved water. Stir to coat.

Cover the pan and cook for 15 to 20 minutes over low heat, stirring occasionally until broccoli rabe becomes creamy. In a separate pot, boil orecchiette in remaining broccoli water. When al dente, drain pasta and add to the broccoli rabe.

Toss and serve with Pecorino Romano cheese.

The state of our soul

I am writing this column on the heels of a very powerful State of the Union address by the president and the season of Lent soon to be upon us. It struck me that in a sense Lent is the spiritual equivalent of the State of the Union address for each of us and the state of our soul. In business, we are accustomed to preparing elaborate annual reports for our shareholders or our banks as a way of showing the health of our company or organization. In her preeminent wisdom, the Church has built into the liturgical year this time for us to examine how we are doing in our spiritual lives.

Tom Monaghan

I have told the story innumerable times of how as a young man, I came up with a set of priorities to help me sort out how I wanted to live my life… I called these my five personal priorities. I first came up with the list when I was a Marine, during a voyage from the Philippines to Japan… as I had plenty of time aboard the ship to reflect on my life and goals. These five priorities are: spiritual, social, mental, physical, and financial. As I look back, approximately 60 years since setting those priorities, I am more convinced than ever of the importance of keeping the spiritual priority at the top of the list.

So, let me encourage you to take this season of Lent and examine how you are living your priorities. It is very easy for us to simply go through the motions and do what we have always done for Lent… Instead, I suggest that each of us take this season as a time to assess how we are really doing in living the priorities we have set for our lives. And let us approach this season with the same vigor and dedication with which the president prepares his State of the Union address or we prepare the annual reports for our companies… because when all is said and done, the only thing that really matters is the state of our souls and souls of those Christ has placed in our lives.

TOM MONAGHAN is Legatus’ founder, chairman, and CEO.

Lenten thoughts on management and mortality

Leo Tolstoy’s classic short story, The Death of Ivan Ilych, opens with a group of lawyers debating the legal niceties of a lawsuit when they learn their friend and colleague, Ivan Ilych, has died. While they’re shocked and saddened by the news, each one secretly feels relief that it is Ivan Ilych and not himself who is dead, and they quickly turn their conversation back to their business affairs.

As the story unfolds and the full circle of Ilych’s family and friends is encountered, we learn that for all of them life goes on and their daily mundane tasks and petty ambitions recapture their attention. After all, it is Ivan Ilych who is dead, not them.

The reader’s first response to their attitude is one of shock at their selfishness, though as the story unfolds it becomes clear that these characters are not, in fact, selfish or heartless by any reasonable standard. Rather, the story’s greatest shock is that of self-recognition when we look into the mirror which Tolstoy holds up. Each of the characters is us, frightened of and seeking to deny our own inevitable deaths. He confronts us with the plainest, yet most difficult truth of all: Death comes for us all, and the world continues on without us. Like any absolute truth, the fact of our own mortality can be depressing. However, it can also be a moment of insight and grace, when we come to a deeper understanding of who we are and how we should live in light of that.

If we are to die and leave this life — and make no mistake, we all will — what do we want to leave behind? Financial security for our families? Perhaps, though inherited wealth can be as much a curse as a blessing. A reputation for shrewdness in business and a keen eye for opportunity? Naturally, though success breeds envy, which in turn produces as many criticisms as it does compliments (and usually many more). A dominant position in the market which guarantees future business growth? For every Apple there is a Kodak, and for every Walmart a Montgomery Ward. In the words of Ecclesiastes, “All is vanity! … A bad business God has given to human beings to be busied with” (1:2, 13).

Despite all our authority in a company, our ability to shape the world in which it operates is vanishingly small. As countless entrepreneurs have been reminded since 2008, often we cannot control or even anticipate events that will bring our best-laid plans to naught. Were it permitted, we should bring our articles of incorporation with us on Ash Wednesday so that the priest might say to them as well, “Remember, O Corporation, that dust thou art, and to dust thou shall return.” And when that inevitably happens, others will mourn publicly, while thinking privately, “It is Lehman Brothers (or Enron or Bethlehem Steel or …) and not me who is dead.”

Given this unpleasant reality, what should we do? If a wise person is one who knows the truth and lives in accordance with it, there is much wisdom to be had in accepting our mortality and managing our businesses in light of it. While we cannot choose our fates, we can choose our principles and adhere to them through good times and bad. And while we cannot control the global marketplace, we can create a corporate culture that reflects our values and an organizational chart to achieve them. A sincere respect for the dignity of our employees, a commitment to serving our customers faithfully, an unflinching demand for financial integrity are not just “best business practices”; they are (or should be) living expressions of our deepest principles.

By living out these principles and requiring others to do so as well, we shape our coworkers for the better and, in a very real sense, live on through them and continue to serve the Lord even after we die. By creating a work environment grounded in dignity, respect, and honesty, we do not guarantee that our individual businesses will flourish or even survive us. In fact, adherence to these principles may even disadvantage us against less scrupulous competitors. Indeed, at times such failure may even be required of us. But as Jesus says, “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit” (John 12:24).

Death comes to every man, woman and business eventually, but for those who believe — and ground their companies in that faith — it is not death but life that has the final word.

LANCE RICHEY is the dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Saint Francis in Fort Wayne, Ind.

The big three of the spiritual life

As business executives, we all have to set priorities for our companies or organizations. A part of this process is recognizing what is core to our success. If this is the case for our businesses, how much more should we practice this principle in our spiritual lives!

Tom Monaghan

We all know that our ultimate goal is to get to heaven and to bring as many people with us as possible; this is the living and spreading of our faith that we talk about in the mission of Legatus.

There are obviously many facets to living our faith, but let me share with you what I call “the big three of the spiritual life.” I have talked about these over the years and have even used them as a challenge at commencement addresses.

The first time I did so was when I was scheduled to speak after Mary Beth Bonacci. If you have ever heard Mary Beth speak with all of her style and energy — and I had — you know what an unenviable task it is. I thought, “What can I say to these young men and women that will keep their attention and make an impact?”

And then it came to me. I threw out the notes I had prepared and decided to issue them a challenge to attend daily Mass, to pray the rosary every day, and to get to Confession at least once a month.

I asked those graduates to commit themselves to these three things for the rest of their lives. Well, the message was so well received that day that I have used it several times since. I pray that those young people have kept their commitment. It’s not complicated, but it is a challenge. In the context of Legatus, I don’t think it’s coincidental that we find all three of these elements present at our monthly chapter meetings — rosary, Reconciliation and Mass. Over the years, these three things have become the foundation for my spiritual life, and for this, I am grateful.

So as we begin this Lent, instead of giving something up (or in addition to your fasting), let me issue this challenge to you: Try daily Mass, praying the rosary every day, and monthly Confession and see how it goes. I guarantee you will not regret it.

TOM MONAGHAN is Legatus’ founder and chairman.

Lent: Time to remember our freedom, dignity and destiny

The season of Lent is a six-week preparation to celebrate the Triduum, which commemorates the event of our salvation — the Eucharist, cross and resurrection. The first two Sundays of this holy season introduce us to these themes.

Fr. Dennis Cooney

The first Sunday of Lent presents us with one of the three gospel accounts of the Lord’s trial and tribulation in the desert. The Catechism explains that “Jesus’ temptation reveals the way in which the Son of God is Messiah, contrary to the way Satan proposes to him and the way men wish to attribute to him. This is why Christ vanquished the Tempter for us: ‘For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sinning.’ By the solemn 40 days of Lent, the Church unites herself each year to the mystery of Jesus in the desert” (#540).

In the gospels of Matthew and Luke, the devil tempts Our Lord with three false plans to save mankind without the cross by becoming a bread king, a comfort-providing miracle worker, or a world conqueror of ruthless power and control. Jesus knows that it is only by the obedience, humility, and love of the cross that fallen humanity can be saved and redeemed. And so Jesus defeats the devil’s lies.

These three demonic temptations correspond to three daily idolatry temptations that we face in our earthly journey to heaven. We are constantly tempted to put our material goods and pleasure before our obedience to God (the first temptation). We are also inclined to think that if God loves us, he will strengthen us in the trials of a fallen world, so that we may pick up our cross and follow him (the second temptation). Finally, we are constantly tempted to fight the evils of the world with the tools of the devil himself, namely absolute, ruthless power and control, instead of rendering unto the Lord absolute fidelity to his commandments in a loving, obedient abandonment to the Lord’s Divine Providence (the third temptation).

Lent reminds us of the true nature and dignity of our created freedom. God has made us free not so that we might do whatever we choose to do according to our momentary whims and will, but so that we might give our hearts and souls to the goodness, truth and beauty that is the essence of the Lord’s creation — and to the love that is the essence of the Divine Being, that is the Blessed Trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

When we pick up our personal crosses and follow the Lord, strengthened by the sacraments and the true bread from Heaven, the Eucharist, we discover our true dignity and destiny.

That glorious dignity is revealed to us in the Transfiguration, the Gospel of the second Sunday of Lent. “Jesus took Peter, James, and John, his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, ‘Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him’” (Mt 17:1-6).

We were not called out of nothingness so that we might live a brief life of “three score and 10 years” in this transient world. We have been redeemed by the cross and resurrection for eternal life, light and love, in the totality of our being as body and soul, in the transfigured and transformed new heaven and new earth with the communion of saints in the land of the Trinity.

This glorious dignity and destiny is the gift of God’s grace. To live our lives in obedience to this grace is the challenge that the holy season of Lent calls us to live every day of our lives until the Lord calls us home to the new and eternal Jerusalem.

FATHER DENNIS COONEY is the chaplain of Legatus’ Naples Chapter and pastor of St. Raphael Parish in Lehigh Acres, Fla.

Let’s make this a merciful Lent

We’ve entered that special time of the liturgical year when we, as followers of Christ, seek to experience an intense spiritual renewal. It should be a time of grace and conversion for each of us.

Fr. Robert Rippy

Medieval Europeans saw Lent as a time for prolonged prayer, severe bodily discipline and generous almsgiving. From this history, we can see the origins of our three traditional Lenten practices — prayer, penance and almsgiving. While these practices need to be maintained, we also need to focus on repentance and baptism.

Lent helps us and catechumens to be better disposed to celebrate the great paschal mystery. The Rite of Election, the scrutinies, and catechesis lead catechumens to the sacraments of initiation. As followers Jesus, we need to listen more intently to the Word of God and devote ourselves to prayer to prepare ourselves, through a spirit of repentance, to renew our baptismal promises at Easter.

A good way for us to listen intently to the Word of God is to attend daily Mass during Lent. The first readings allow us to reflect on God’s covenant with his people, his promise and gift of the Suffering Servant, and his call to repentance and conversion. The Gospel readings help us to reflect on the major events in Jesus’ life and ministry — his temptation and his transfiguration. After reflecting on the readings, we must ask ourselves: “How am I going to apply them to my life?”

In grade school the good sisters used to make sure that we were giving up something for Lent. They also reminded us that it had to be something that we liked. As a child, I wanted to give up Brussels sprouts (I hate them), but was reminded that wasn’t a good idea. We must look into ourselves to understand what foods, drinks, habits, etc., are controlling us. Therein lies the problem. We should be controlling these things and not vice versa. During Lent we need to rid ourselves of things that pull us away from God rather than bringing us closer to Him, but don’t set the bar so high that at the end of Lent we lament not achieving our goal.

Lastly, during this Jubilee Year of Mercy, we are given a wonderful opportunity to grow closer to the Lord, experience his mercy, and put mercy into action. How many of us remember the corporal and spiritual works of mercy? Corporal: feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick, visiting the imprisoned, burying the dead. Spiritual: admonishing the sinner, instructing the ignorant, counseling the doubtful, comforting the sorrowful, bearing wrongs patiently, forgiving all injuries, praying for the living and the dead. Just think for a moment how you can put these works of mercy into practice in your daily life!

As Catholic businessmen and women, would it be appropriate to incorporate the spiritual works of mercy into your everyday business life? Ask yourselves: Do I instruct the ignorant? Counsel the doubtful? Bear wrongs patiently and forgive all injuries? The corporal works of mercy give each of us the opportunity to practice almsgiving by feeding the hungry and giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, and providing shelter to the homeless. Let’s find new ways to improve our spiritual lives this Lent. Many graces can come to us if we but open our minds and hearts to the Lord.

Let us keep before our eyes the words of the prophet Isaiah: “All who are thirsty, why spend your money for what is not bread; come to the water! You who have no money, heed me, and you shall eat well. Come, receive grain and eat; you shall delight in rich fare. Come, without paying and without cost, come to me heedfully. Drink wine and milk! … So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it” (Isa 55:1-3, 11). May your Lent be fruitful and may you experience the great mercy of our God!

FATHER ROBERT RIPPY  is the rector of the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington, Va., and chaplain of Legatus’ Northern Virginia Chapter.

Mercy and the problem with evil

One of the most pressing questions confronting anyone searching for truth is why, if an all-knowing, all-powerful God exists, does he allow great evil — or any evil — to exist.

novecosky

Patrick Novecosky

Volumes have been written about the problem of evil. The answer is simple, yet complex. The simple answer is one word: love. God gave us the incredible gift of free will—the ability to freely choose him or to freely reject him. He loves us that much. He could have pre-programmed us to adore him, but that’s not what love is.

The answer is complex because God’s gift of free will has incredible consequences. One of them is great evil like the Holocaust of World War II or the abortion holocaust of our day — nearly 60 million American babies murdered since Roe v. Wade in 1973. Free will gave us men like Hitler, Mao, and Stalin — and atrocities like those committed by ISIS.

When confronted by such evil, we cry to God, begging him to stop evil dead in its tracks. The way I look at it, He gives us two responses. “I did stop it — at the Cross.” Christ’s death and resurrection stopped evil dead. Satan is one day closer to his end now than he was yesterday. The second response is the tougher one: “You do something about it.” Faithful Christians are called to be leaven in the world. We’re called to break the cycle of hatred and revenge. We’re called to help Jesus stop evil dead. We’re called to end evil regimes by force if necessary. But most of all, we’re called to mercy.

Jesus told St. Faustina in the 1930s that she was to prepare the world for his final coming. He also told her that this is the time of great mercy. So it’s no surprise that Pope St. John Paul II called the day he canonized her the greatest day of his life. And it’s no surprise that Pope Francis is following in the footsteps of his predecessors by calling a Jubilee Year of Mercy.

Lent is a great time to start flexing our “mercy muscles.” This jubilee year has a twofold call: Confession and pilgrimage. During Lent, let’s focus on forgiveness. Start by going to Confession a few times — maybe every other week. Then listen. Ask God to show you where you can forgive, where you can heal broken or rocky relationships. Ask him to show you where you need to forgive yourself. Then watch evil begin to flee because Satan hates humility.

PATRICK NOVECOSKY is Legatus magazine’s editor-in-chief.

The resurrection calls us to bring others to Jesus

FR. JONATHAN WALLIS: It’s hard to proclaim Christ to our hostile culture . . .

Fr. Jonathan Wallis

Fr. Jonathan Wallis

Alleluia, the Lord is risen! He is risen indeed, Alleluia! With the Lord Jesus Christ’s resurrection, the world is changed. Sin and death are conquered and the gift of eternal life is offered to us.

Heaven is now our true end. It’s this end that informs every decision and action in our lives. We live, not within the horizon of this world, but within the horizon of eternity. Within the person of Jesus, time and eternity meet. Divinity and humanity are definitively joined; neither nature is confused with the other, but united in Christ so as to show us God’s human face and to lead us to the Father.

Daily life plays a particularly important role in our journey home. The resurrection changes the way we live in the world. How we live matters. With every decision, we have the opportunity to take small steps that lead us closer and closer to our true home

Lent calls us to repentance and conversion of life. For 40 days, we dedicate ourselves to prayer, fasting and almsgiving. We are more attentive to the ways we have sinned and make a firm resolution to keep Jesus at the center of our lives. Easter offers us the opportunity to focus on how we will proclaim and live out the joy of the resurrection. We do so primarily within ourselves, within our families and with those we interact with.

Christian life requires that we have a deep, personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Nothing can take the place of our own reception of the sacraments, reflection upon sacred scripture, praying the rosary, spending time before the Blessed Sacrament and meditating on the lives of the saints. At the exact same time, we are also called to share the life of Christ within our families, friends, colleagues, employer, employees, and all we meet.

These two demands are not to be placed in opposition but, like the union of God and man in Christ, lived out in a way that one spills over into the other. The fruit of contemplation is shared with our neighbor; the forgiveness we receive through the sacrament of Penance leads to greater charity at home; our reception of the Eucharist invites us to take greater care of the poor and needy.

Integrating the interior and exterior aspects of following and proclaiming Jesus helps to avoid the trap of turning our faith into an individualist endeavor on the one hand, or reducing our public proclamation of the resurrection to social activism on the other. Christians always function as members of Christ’s body. Each has a particular call they must carry out within the broader functioning of the whole.

This idea is beautifully described by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in his encyclical Spe Salvi. He focuses on the particular hope that Jesus offers to the world and how we might reflect that hope in our lives. “Our lives are involved with one another, through innumerable interactions they are linked together. No one lives alone. No one sins alone. No one is saved alone. The lives of others continually spill over into mine: in what I think, say, do and achieve. And conversely, my life spills over into that of others: for better and for worse” (#48).

Care for ourselves and our neighbor is united in Jesus. Unity with Christ begins now. Heaven is our goal, but we decide in our daily routine whether or not we will walk toward that goal or away from it. We decide if we are going to live in isolation or are going to lead others to Jesus.

Following Christ is never easy. Proclaiming him in the midst of a culture that is more and more hostile to him is challenging. However, we never have to go it alone. The Church teaches and guides us, the saints intercede for us, and the life of grace we receive in the sacraments strengthens us to live ever more fully the joy of the resurrection.

Easter offers us the opportunity to meet our risen Lord. It offers us the opportunity to meet Jesus Christ, triumphant over sin and death. In the joy of the resurrection, the meaning and goal of our life is revealed. From the encounter with Jesus, we are able to proclaim him to the world. We see ourselves not in terms of isolated individuals doing the best we can in a very dark and dangerous world. Instead, we are united one with another. We have a responsibility for our brothers and sisters. United with them, let us proclaim that Jesus is the true hope and destiny of every person.

FR. JONATHAN WALLIS is the associate director of formation at Holy Trinity Seminary in Irvine, Texas, and chaplain of Legatus’ Fort Worth Chapter.