God Speaks

This reflection was given by a sister, to sisters and guests gathered for a Holy Hour event this past week. The reflection was meant to illustrate the importance of Sacred Scripture, and as a means of prayer and relationship with the Lord. The first section comes from Jeff Cavins’ blog post, “The Bible is Inspired by God“. The second part from the prayer of the sister who gave the reflection.

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Pope Leo XIII said, “Scripture is a Letter written by our Heavenly Father” to his children for the purpose of revealing himself to them.

The Catholic Church teaches that divine revelation comes to us through three channels: the Bible, Tradition, and the Magisterium (the bishops of the Church). Dei Verbum (DV), the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, states these three channels “are so linked and joined together that one cannot stand without the others” (DV 10).

While all three are infallible, that is to say incapable of error, only the Bible is divinely inspired. What do the words “inspired,” and “inspiration” mean? The term “inspired” comes from the Greek word, theopneustos, which means “God breathed” (Theos, “God,” pneo, “to breathe”).

Keeping in mind that breath is what gives life to words, we can more easily understand why the Bible is called God’s word. It is God’s breath that has filled human words with divine meaning. God, who is the primary cause of every thought and every sentence of Scripture, has transformed the common words found in the Bible into uncommon words by the fact that he is its author. Just as Jesus Christ came clothed in human flesh and was in every way made like men, so does the word of God come to us clothed in human words. The holy comes clothed in the common. This is why St. Jerome could say, “Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ” (CCC 133). Pope Pius XII said in Divino Afflante Spiritu, On Promoting Biblical Studies, “For as the substantial Word of God became like to men in all things, ‘except sin,’ so the words of God, expressed in human language, are made like to human speech in every respect, except error” (Divino Afflante Spiritu, 37).

Not only are the Scriptures inspired, but they are written to inspire you. The question one needs to address is: “How will the Bible inspire you?” Jesus asked his followers, “Who do men say that the Son of Man is?” Since Jesus is the word made flesh, it is fair to ask, “what do you say about the Bible?” What is your response?

The Church teaches in Dei Verbum, “The obedience of faith is to be given to God who reveals, an obedience by which man commits his whole self freely to God, offering the full submission of intellect and will to God who reveals and freely assenting to the truth revealed by Him” (DV, 5).

By our response, the world will know whether we believe that God’s Word is inspired or expired.

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If today you hear [H]is voice, harden not your hearts” (Psalm 95).

Yesterday’s Gospel acclamation is one of those tunes that I often have stuck in my head after Mass. The melody I have embedded in memory, and its words and meaning I have been taking to prayer.

Just yesterday the Church celebrated the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. There is an older Portuguese woman who attends the daily Mass at the Newman House (the Catholic Campus Ministry house at Virginia Tech), and most of the time she prays Evening Prayer with Father David and I. Yesterday at Mass, Father David asked us to be seated before the final blessing, so that Irma could share some words with us. Turns out, Irma is a lay member of the discalced Carmelites, and has been professed for 12 years. She gave a brief presentation about the history of Carmel and her order, and the gift of contemplative prayer. I loved that Irma began by recounting the account from the first book of Kings about Elijah on Mt. Carmel, who basically challenges the false prophets of Baal to a prophet’s duel to see whose God is real by seeing which offering was consumed by fire. Irma smiled ear to ear and described it as “one of the most dramatic accounts in the Old Testament”. I don’t know if she has ever been to that mountain, but she loves that place and everything it stands for. To her, that holy mountain is a part of her story. The account of Elijah from 1 Kings is a part of her history. The faithfulness of God revealed on that mountain is a part of her heart. She is a woman inspired.

I think as women we are in a unique position to be inspired. Our femininity, our genius—that receptivity, sensitivity, generosity and maternity—these are gifts which prepare us well to love Jesus, and specifically in prayer with His Word. I think being a sister in this community places each of us in a position to be inspired and to receive life. Our commitments call us to daily Mass, where we hear God’s Living Word. We are meant to pray every day, and encouraged to return regularly to the Liturgy of the Hours. When we read, pray and go on retreat together, we do so with Sacred Scripture. I think that a large part of our apostolate in loving the Young Church is sharing with the young people our love of Sacred Scripture, by helping them to know Jesus better and to be transformed by His Truth.

The Lord has already spoken His Word, but He desires to speak it to you anew. “If today you hear [H]is voice, harden not your hearts”.The prerequisite for the Lord to truly speak to you is a softened, open heart. The prerequisite for the Lord to speak to you is that you are listening.

By entering into the Word of God, listening to God in Scripture and taking what we hear to prayer, this is how our hearts can be changed.

As long as the words of the Bible stay on the page in front of us, they don’t have to change our behavior. That’s easier. Reading the words of scripture daily is a good start toward allowing them to transform us, but it’s only getting part of the way there. Truly meditating on Scripture means taking it into our hearts, letting it take root there and allowing it to change us from the inside. It means allowing God’s breath to give us life. It means allowing God through His Word to be a part of our story, our history, our hearts.

What has the Lord revealed to you in His Word, lately? With what kind of heart do you approach Sacred Scripture in your daily prayer? How do you enter into the Word of God?

I’ll end this reflection with three different simple, short prayers I use to approach Sacred Scripture:

Come Holy Spirit, inspire me.

Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.

Jesus, help me to know you better, that I might love you all the more and serve you well.

July Reflection

I love summer! By day there’s frisbee, swimming, hiking, picnics, beaches, and bicycles and by night it’s s’mores, citronella-filled tiki torches, and lightening bugs. And I especially love traveling for vacation, camps, and service trips. It’s a season of excitement, fun, and gusto, which I often enjoy experiencing through little expeditions and adventures.

In the midst of adventures I’ve found myself thirsty on an island without a way off for several hours, knee deep in anaerobic marsh mud, and boating through a swamp with alligators. Adventures have risks (and often leave me with a good story) but life begins when you go outside yourself with a sense of intentionality and purpose.

Bigger adventures have trained me to look for littler ones as well, such as introducing myself to a stranger after Mass or being curious enough to learn the about the history and culture of a new place I’m visiting. Adventures express hope for a new encounter and counteract my tendency to pass the hours and days with passivity and boredom.

Ultimately the best adventure we can embark upon is our relationship with God. We don’t have to travel to the ends of the earth to let our heart, mind, and soul encounter His goodness and beauty. This summer, I pray that our activity makes room for a purpose greater than ourselves and that through seeking we are further transformed by grace, the very life of God dwelling in our souls.

Sincerely in Christ,

Tiffany Lambert

Directress, Women Youth Apostles

June Reflection

Today I had an atypical experience of heading to daily Mass on my own. While presently in Northern Virginia, my consecrated sisters had work commitments which prevented our usual morning common life of prayer. I chose to attend a noon Mass, and while the resulting late start to the morning was nice, I also had a “to do” list that needed doing and was unfortunately preoccupying my thoughts on my way into the church.

So when Father announced that this Mass would be a little different from the typical Tuesday of the seventh week of Easter in honor of a married couple in the parish who was celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary, I’ll admit my very first thought was about the inconvenience. Would this add 10 or 15 or 20 minutes to the Mass?

Then a grace prompted me to pay close attention to the prayers of the Mass. I’d never been to a vow renewal Mass before, actually. This could be interesting. And the words were beautiful. I was struck with a realization: This is Easter joy, and this is Church! What better way or time to celebrate union than as the Body of Christ, in the Easter season.

My next realization was that my “to do” list wasn’t all too unrelated to the experience of this Mass. A lot of my time has been spent recently planning for ministry and a particular focus has been on how to have honest conversations with young people about vocation. While of course I want young people to engage more with and be open to consecrated life, I ultimately want young people to see God calls them to sacrificial love in any vocation, and to help them see this in married life, too.

In Father’s homily today, he said to the honored couple, “Your union says that love is possible. Love that is unconditional. That commitment is possible. You bear a special witness of Christ’s love for the Church.” I prayed, Lord, this is what I long for young people to know. This love that comes from you.

The closing blessing contained the words “May God bless you with joy…May He be always with you in good times and in bad…May the Holy Spirit always fill you with His love.” These words were not specifically addressed to the honored couple, but to the entirety of the congregation, the Church, the Bride of Christ. That we are His bride is something He said Himself.
I pray that Jesus would remind each of us in some way of His love and His promises. I pray also that we would recommit our own love to Him and to those He has called us to in our vocations, communities and apostolates; That we would recognize our special witness of Christ’s love for the Church.
May God bless each of you with joy, may He always be with you in good times and in bad, and may the Holy Spirit always fill you with His love.

Sincerely in Christ,
Krysti Patient
Assistant Director, Women Youth Apostles

May Reflection

Alleluia! He is Risen! Last Saturday we gathered with family, friends, and supporters at our 3rd Spring Tea. Moments like this prompt reflection on the work God is doing in and through our community and it was beautiful to see the grace of the Resurrection continuing in our midst today.

The Resurrection was communicated to the disciples in surprising and life-giving ways. Jesus conquered sin. Jesus conquered death. Jesus conquered hell. And instead of the pageantry of a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, He sought people out personally, intentionally, and quietly. When I glimpse the awe-inspiring magnitude of the Resurrection, my instinct is to throw a party with fanfare and celebration.

But Jesus came to pour the grace of the Resurrection into hearts and souls, so He appears to women at the tomb, disciples leaving Jerusalem, and apostles in the Upper Room. It is very powerful to encounter Christ and hear a call to share the Good News. But to discover Jesus is doing a similar work in another’s heart is a double blessing because you are able to rest in the assurance that it is His work and not something you are manufacturing.

The joyful power of God’s work imparting new life in ways we could not have generated on our own is something Women Youth Apostles continues to experience in the growth of our community, the work of our ministry, and the renewed support of our family, friends and benefactors. May we all continue to bring the light, joy, and power of the Resurrection in new, hidden, and personal ways to a world in need, and through this may we find ourselves in deeper awe of the mystery of God’s plan of loving goodness!

Sincerely in Christ,
Tiffany Lambert
Directress, Women Youth Apostles

April Reflection

Recently, I took part in a training course on ‘Listening to Understand’. The participants were mostly campus ministry staff, but not entirely, so the approach was not overtly faith-based. In an early group discussion about the concept of respect, I offered the truth of the inherent dignity of the human person which should afford all with a right to be heard and understood, even loved. A woman with no ministry background responded, “that’s… beautiful” with tears in her eyes, elaborating that she had never heard that before. She ached for that truth.

Last month I was with one of seven Alternative Spring Break trips from Virginia Tech’s Catholic Campus Ministry. My group spent time in DC with the Little Sisters of the Poor caring for the elderly poor, and in Alderson, WV with the Alderson Hospitality House ministering to the families of women incarcerated in the federal prison down the road. There was a common thread between each ministry- hospitality. Incidentally our group spent a lot of our evening reflection time diving into our faith and hospitality, into care for the other.

It was clear that the elderly we spent time with in DC knew the truth of their human dignity, thanks to the care of the Little Sisters. One of the sisters referred to a resident with the words, “She is God’s special one.” It was a privilege to offer our own care in our short time with them, and to see the college women on my trip offer this care generously and authentically in the form of conversation over lunch or ice cream or coffee, games, piano playing, wheelchair pushing and arts and crafts.
In Alderson at the Hospitality House, the families we spent time with knew this truth because they hold onto it for their loved ones which the world often forgets or condemns. But they also seemed to ache for affirmation of the truth they believed for their sisters, mothers and wives. It was a joy to look around at the tables at dinner to see my students spread out to sit with each family and the room was filled with laughter and life. This joy was a manifestation of the goodness of these family visits, too easily overshadowed by the hardship of the situation. One of the House’s directors, to a family member leaving for visitation at the prison for the first time, left his work to offer some final words of encouragement. “Enjoy your visit! Have fun!”

My prayer these past weeks has been for the Lord Jesus to show me this joy. I have prayed with such gratitude in my prayer for the hospitality and care others have shown me. I have also prayed that the Lord Jesus would show me the loneliness, vulnerability and fear in those around me and in my ministry; to show me where hearts ache for the truth of their worth, for love. And I have prayed that the Lord Jesus would use me to heal some of that, to provide care in a spirit of joy and hospitality, especially to young people in my ministry. I have prayed that the college women I served with on our ASB trip would desire the same and offer joyful service in their daily lives as they did on spring break.

I pray that in these remaining weeks of Lent that you ache for the joy of Easter, and that this ache would manifest itself in care for those around you who need it. I pray that we would all share this truth of our human dignity which is beautiful and good, especially with those who have never heard it or do not believe it. This is a truth which Jesus came to die for and redeem.
Sincerely in Christ,

Krysti Patient
Assistant Director, Women Youth Apostles

January Reflection

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! The Christmas Season ends with two beautiful celebrations – the Epiphany when we recall the visit of the Magi and the Baptism of the Lord. Both point to how the Lord can be both manifest and hidden at different moments in our lives.

 At the Epiphany, God intervened in the lives of the Magi with clear and direct signs. The star “that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was” (Matt 2:9). You may have had a particular moment when you clearly knew God’s presence and intervention in your life. Through an extraordinary set of circumstances and as clearly manifest as the words before you now, you knew that God was real and was working for your good. These moments of great grace are gifts we should cherish and recall with love.

 On the other hand, through his Baptism, Jesus allows himself to be completely identified with sinful humanity. He enters into this act of repentance, not because he has sinned, but because he has come to redeem us. Sometimes Jesus’ humility almost allows his divinity to be hidden from sight, seeming to leave us searching with no other guide than the interior light of faith.

 As we enter into 2019, I pray that we are able to both follow God’s clear manifestations with deepened wonder and to continue searching in moments when the Light of the World appears to be buried in the depths of our limited world.

Sincerely in Christ,

Tiffany Lambert

Directress, Women Youth Apostles

 

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