Monthly Archives: January 2014

20140127 Sacraments sanctify souls 聖事聖化人靈

Frequent Confession and frequent Communion were recommended by St. Francis de Sales.

Frequent Confession

Regarding frequent Confession, the saint wrote, “Make your confession humbly and devoutly every week, and always, if you can, before receiving Holy Communion, even although your conscience is not burdened with mortal sin; for in confession you do not only receive absolution for your venial sins, but you also receive great strength to help you in avoiding them henceforth, clearer light to discover your failings, and abundant grace to make up whatever loss you have incurred through those faults. You exercise the virtues of humility, obedience, simplicity and love, and by this one act of confession you practice more virtue than in any other.”

Penance is the Sacrament of Christ’s Precious Blood. Our Lord said to St. Faustina  “Daughter, when you go to confession, to this fountain of my mercy, the blood and water which came forth from my heart always flows down upon your soul and ennobles it…Tell souls that from this fount of mercy souls draw graces solely with the vessel of trust. If their trust is great, there is no limit to my generosity.”

The remission of sin and the imparting of grace are the fruits of the Sacrament of Penance. Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen wrote, “The Blood of Christ is, in this sense, not only a remedy for the past, but also a preservative and a strengthening help for the future. The soul which plunges into it, as into a healthful bath, draws from it new vigor and sees the strength of its passions extinguished little by little”

Father Gabriel pointed out that if a person has only venial sins to confess, it is profitable to pay attention to deliberate faults first, then on those which are semi-deliberate. It is a good practice to tell the priest not only the sins themselves, but also the motives behind them. Although confession of motives is not required for the validity of the Sacrament of Penance, it is very beneficial to spiritual growth. For it exposes the root of the sin and enables the soul to exercise humility.

In Confession, we should strive to be sorry for our sins out of love for God. Father Gabriel wrote, “The more perfect the contrition, the more effectively will the absolution erase not only the sin but also the temporal punishment which it has incurred. The Blood of Jesus will purify, renew, and enrich the heart of the penitent with fortitude, charity, and grace, in the measure of his contrition.”

Frequent Communion

Frequent Confession prepares us to derive abundant fruits from frequent Communion. Regarding frequent Communion, St. Francis de Sales pointed out that we receive Communion often in order to learn to love God, to be cleansed from imperfections, to be set free from trouble, to be comforted in affliction, and to be strengthened in weakness. We receive the Blessed Sacrament that we may learn to receive it better.

When we receive Holy Communion, we receive the whole Jesus. This physical union with Christ is directed to our spiritual union with him. Father Gabriel wrote, “In addition to the physical presence of Jesus, and because of this presence, each Communion brings me a new increase of grace and charity, but even this increase will be in proportion to my capacity for receiving it. If my heart is closed by selfishness and pride, if it is bound by attachment to creatures, or is too much engrossed by worldly affections and affairs, it will be unable to make room for an increase of divine love, and Jesus will be, so to speak, forced to lessen the outpouring of his charity and to diminish his gifts.”

聖方濟.沙雷主張,要勤辦告解和勤領聖體。

 

勤辦告解

 

對於勤辦告解聖事,聖人寫道:「要每星期熱心地、謙遜地辦告解。即使你感到靈魂沒有大罪,仍嘗試在領聖體前向神父告罪,因為這樣除了連小罪也被赦免外,自己可以細察自己的弱點,洞悉跌倒的原因,並能從聖事中得到聖寵的力量,徹底改過自新;兼且同時遜守謙遜之德,實踐聽命、真樸及愛德。可見從辦告解中,比其他善行,我們在同一時間內,修守著多種德行。」

 

告解是基督寶血的聖事;祂對聖傅天娜說:「我的女兒,當你辦告解聖事的時候,從我聖心湧出的血和水,變作洗濯和提昇你靈恩寵的泉源… 告訴人靈們,從這慈悲的泉源,靈魂只有用信賴的器皿取得恩寵;若他們信賴強大,我的慷慨也是無界限的。」

 

赦罪及蒙恩是告解聖事的善果。佳播.達連神父曾這樣寫著:「此刻,基督寶血不止於治療過往的罪,亦為保持和未來而給予堅強的助力。就如一個人的靈魂,沐浴在基督的寶血內,靈魂變得健康,充滿活力,並見到情慾的力量續漸退減。」

 

佳播.達連神父又指出,若只有小罪要告明,我們應先注意那些故意犯的小罪,然後才注意那些是不全是故意犯的。我們告罪時可把犯罪的動機也清楚告明;雖然教會並沒有規定我們這樣做,但這能讓神父聽罪的同時,也看清楚這些罪的罪根,好能給予我們合宜的神修指導,幫助我們靈修的增進。告明犯罪的動機對修謙德也大有裨益。

 

辦告解聖事時,我們要因愛天主而真心懺悔己罪。佳播.達連神父指出:「懺悔愈完善,罪之暫罰的赦免也愈大。按照懺悔的程度,耶穌寶血會以剛毅、愛德和聖寵,把悔罪者的心靈淨化、更新與及充盈。」

 

勤領聖體

 

勤辦告解聖事幫助我們從勤領聖體,獲得豐盛的恩寵。聖方濟.沙雷說明,善領聖體促使我們學習如何去愛天主,嫉惡向善,內心平安,在憂苦中得到慰藉,在軟弱中得到力量。勤領聖體幫助我們練習更妥善地領聖體。

 

我們領聖體時,實在是領受整個的耶穌。這個身體的結合引向我們與祂心靈的結合;佳播.達連神父指出:藉著耶穌聖體在我們身體內的臨在,每一次的領聖體都為我們帶來新增的恩寵和愛德;不過,這增加是依照我們接受的能力。如果我們的心被傲慢自私所關閉、被對俗物的繫戀所朿縛、或被世事俗愛所占有,心靈便不能有空間來讓聖愛有所增加,主耶穌便被迫減少傾注的愛和恩惠。

 

 

20140120 Listen to the Word of God 聆聽天主聖言

St. Francis wrote, “Our Lord receives our words of prayer according to the way in which we receive His words in teaching.” “Listening” is an important element in the spiritual life, and spiritual readings provide us the opportunity of listening to the Word of God.

What to read?

Among spiritual readings, Holy Scripture, especially the New Testament, holds the first place. St. Jerome said, “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” Reading Scripture helps us to encounter Jesus Christ and to learn about His life and teachings.     Lives of the saints are very helpful to our spiritual life, as are writings of the saints such as: the Rule of St. Benedict, the Letters of St. Ignatius of Antioch, City of God and Confessions of St. Augustine, the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis, and Virtue and Christian Refinement by St. John Bosco.     The spiritual classics also include: The Conferences of St. John Cassian; Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena, The Ladder by St. John Climacus; the Ascent of Mount Carmel, Dark Night of the Soul, and Living Flame of Love by St. John of the Cross; and Twelve Steps to Holiness and Salvation, The Passion and the Death of Jesus Christ, and The Glories of Mary by St. Alphonsus Ligouri.     There are also: Way of Perfection and Autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila, Spiritual Conferences of St. Vincent de Paul, An Introduction to the Devout Life and Treatise on the Love of God by St. Francis de Sales, True Devotion to Mary by St. Louis de Montfort, Sermons of the Cure of Ars (St. John Vianney), Story of a Soul by St. Therese of Lisieux, Journal of a Soul by Blessed John XXIII, Divine Mercy in My Soul by St. Faustina Kowalska, and The Way by St. Josemaria Escriva.     It is a good practice to spend 15 minutes each day in spiritual reading. In the first half of the 15 minutes read a page from Holy Scriptures. I warmly recommend the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible. In the second half of the 15 minutes read from a spiritual book.

Inspirations

St. Francis de Sales defined “inspirations” as “all drawings, feelings, interior reproaches, lights, and intuitions with which God moves us by His fatherly love and care; awakening, exciting, urging, and attracting us to goodness, to heavenly love, to good resolutions; in short, to whatever tends to our eternal welfare.”     The saint explained, “In contracting a marriage, the bride must be a party to three separate acts: first, the bridegroom is proposed to her; second, she entertains the proposal; and third, she gives her consent.     “Just so, when God intends to perform some act of love in us, by us, and with us, He first suggests it by His inspiration; second, we receive that inspiration; and third, we consent to it: for, as we fall into sin by three steps: temptation, delectation, and consent, so there are three steps whereby we ascend to virtue: inspiration, as opposed to temptation; delectation in God’s inspiration, as opposed to that of temptation; and consent to the one instead of to the other.”     During the course of our day, God might give us holy inspirations during spiritual reading, prayer, or work. It is important for us to consent to those inspirations and strive to put them into practice.     However, St. Francis de Sales also cautioned that, “before consenting to inspirations which have respect to important or extraordinary things, guard against self-deception, by consulting your spiritual guide, and let him examine whether the inspiration be real or no.”     “Stop to consider, ponder, and relish the truths that make greater appeal to you, in order to fix them in your mind, therefrom to elicit acts and affections,” said St. John Eudes.

聖方濟.沙雷寫道:「我們的主會按我們如何聆聽祂的話,來接受我們的禱告。」「聆聽」是靈修的要素,閱讀聖書是聆聽天主說話的最佳途徑。

 

閱讀些什麼?

 

芸芸聖書中,首推當然是「聖經」—— 特別是「新約」。聖師業樂認為「對聖經無知就是對基督無知。」閱讀「聖經」就是與基督相遇,學習有關祂的生平和訓導。

 

閱讀聖人傳記和聖人的著作有助我們的靈修;知名的有:「聖本篤會規」、聖依納爵.安底約的牧函、聖奧斯定的「天主城」和「懺悔錄」、聖依納爵.羅耀拉的「神操」、多默.耿稗思的「師主篇」、聖若望.鮑思高的「聖德精煉」、聖若望.加西央的「隱修生活規律」、聖嘉琳的「嘉琳對話」、聖若望.克利馬古的「天國梯階」、聖十字.若望的「上加爾默羅山」、「靈魂的黑夜」及「愛的活火」。

 

此外還有,如聖女大德蘭的「純全的道路」和她的自傳、聖文生的「遣使會會規」、聖方濟各.撒肋爵的「虔敬生活論」和「論天主之愛」、聖雅風的「成聖與得救的十二步」、「耶穌基督的苦難聖死」及「瑪利亞的光榮」、聖類斯.蒙福的「孝愛真諦」、聖若翰.維雅奈的講道、聖女小德蘭的「靈心」、真福教宗若望二十三世的「靈修日記」、聖傅天娜的「神聖慈悲在我靈」,與及聖施禮華的「道」。

 

每天抽十五分鐘閱讀靈修書籍是良好的習慣:首先細讀一頁聖經,後來從一本靈修書籍閱讀。

 

默感

 

聖方濟.沙雷聲明,『默感』是指「內心的吸引、感動、譴責和悔悟,又指天主因其無限慈愛,藉其所賜的景福,在我們心中所啟發的智慧之光,衪藉着這種光,提示我們,走向聖德的坦途,激發我們,邁入愛德的大海,鼓勵我們,實踐所立的善志,總而言之,它要領導我們止於至善。」

 

聖人解釋:相若於完整的婚約,新娘必要完合三個步驟 —— 首先,新郎求婚,其次是新娘答允慎重考慮,最後是新娘完全予以同意。天主首先在我們之內種下善行的意願,然後我們答允慎重考慮,最後我們完全予以同意。不過,犯罪三步曲似乎與此相似:誘惑、喜愛、同意。

 

天主每天在我們閱讀聖書或祈禱時,又或在工作時,祂都給我們默感,我們必要認同這些默感,並以實際行動呼應。不過,聖人還是提醒我們:「遇有影響重要或深遠的默感時,在認同前,要小心醒覺,別只是一時的謬覺,變了自我蒙騙,最好還是請教神師,讓神師界定是否來自天主的默感。」

 

聖若望.歐德說:「靜止下來沉思一下,反覆思量那最能感染你的真理,把這些真理銘刻於心,好能發出熱情和愛慕。」

20140113 Pray with the Church 與教會一起祈禱

St. Francis de Sales referred to the Sacrament of the Eucharist as the Sun of all spiritual exercises, the centre of the Christian religion, the heart of devotion, and the soul of piety.     He encouraged the faithful to strive to attend Mass daily, and said if one was unavoidably prevented from participating in the Mass, he should at least join in it spiritually.

Spiritual Communion

This prayer of St. Gertrude the Great can be said daily to unite oneself spiritually to all the Masses celebrated throughout the world: “Eternal Father, I offer You the most precious blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the holy souls in purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal Church, for those in my own home and in my family. Amen.”     If we cannot receive Holy Communion sacramentally, we can made an act of spiritual communion using the favourite prayer of St. Josemaria Escriva: “I wish, Lord, to receive You with the purity, humility, and devotion with which Your most holy mother received You, with the spirit and fervour of the saints.”     He said, “What a source there is in spiritual communion! Practise it frequently and you’ll have greater presence of God and closer union with Him in all your actions.”     St. Josemaria wrote, “Keep struggling, so that the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar really becomes the centre and the root of your interior life, and so your whole day will turn into an act of worship, an extension of the Mass you have attended and a preparation for the next.     “Your whole day will then be an act of worship that overflows in aspirations, visits to the Blessed Sacrament, and the offering up of your professional work and your family life.”     Just as having an appetite for food is an indication of physical health, so our desire for Holy Communion is an indication of spiritual health. St. Josemaria wrote, “The Mass is long,’ you say, and I reply: ‘Because your love is short.'”     “Many Christians take their time and have leisure enough in their social life (no hurry here). They are leisurely, too, in their professional activities, at table and recreation (no hurry here either).     “But isn’t it strange how those same Christians find themselves in such a rush and want to hurry the priest, in their anxiety to shorten the time devoted to the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Altar?”

Liturgy of the Hours  

At the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Church triumphant (heaven), the Church suffering (purgatory), and the Church militant (earth) are united in prayer, grace, and charity. The spirit of communion is also expressed beautifully in other official prayers and public devotions of the Church.     The praying of the Liturgy of the Hours (Divine Office) helps to sanctify the different seasons of the year, the different days of the month, and the different hours of the day. It is a prayer that units clergy, religious, and faithful in the name of the Church to listen to the Word of God and to intercede for all people.     The daily recitation of Night Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours is a beautiful practice that I warmly recommend to all the faithful and families.     Regarding the Divine Office, St. Josemaria wrote, “A priest who was saying the Divine Office prepared himself for prayer in this way: ‘I will follow the rule of saying, when I start: “I want to pray as the saints pray,” and then I will invite my Guardian Angel to sing the Lord’s praises with me.'”     Try this in your own vocal prayer, and also as a way of increasing your presence of God in your work.”

聖方濟.沙雷把聖體聖事看做神修的朝陽、基督宗教的中樞、敬禮的中心,和維持熱心生活的靈魂。他極力鼓勵信友參與每天的彌撒聖祭,假如環境不許可,至少可用心靈參與。

 

神領聖體

 

聖大潔如的禱文,可以幫助我們心靈上參與每日普世舉行的聖祭:「永生之父,我把祢至聖之子耶穌的寶血,聯同今天普世舉行的彌撒聖祭,奉獻給祢,為煉獄中的聖靈魂,為世界各地的罪人,為普世教會內的罪人,為我家庭及家族中所有的罪人。亞孟。」

 

假如我們不能親領聖體,至少可以參照聖施禮華建議的禱文來神領聖體:「主,我願以祢至聖母親般的純潔、謙遜及熱切,偕同諸聖的心神與熱誠領受祢。」聖人說:「神領聖體的力量無可比擬。神領聖體多次,你會更覺到天主的臨在,並在一切行為與天主更緊密結合。」

 

聖施禮華神父道:「繼續努力吧,好使祭台上的聖祭,變成你內在生命的中心和根基,讓你整天都變成敬拜的一天——是參與的彌撒的延續和下一台彌撒的準備。你的整天會成為敬拜的行為,並流露出善志、朝拜聖體、並奉獻你的工作和家庭生活。」

 

正如進食的胃口是身體健康的指標,我們對聖體的渴求也是靈魂健康的指標。聖施禮華續寫道:「假如你投訴彌撒太冗長的話,我會說因為你的愛太短。」聖人觀察到「很多基督徒的社交及休閒生活,十分寫意,絕無半點緊迫,他們在工作、聚餐、娛樂時,均從容不迫;但在參與彌撒時,卻又冀望神父快點結束這至聖的祭獻。」

 

日課經

舉行彌撒時,天堂上的勝利教會、煉獄中的受苦教會、旅途間的在世教會,在祈禱、恩寵及愛德中共融;而這美好的相通精神,在教會內的公開祈禱和敬禮,亦表露無遺。「時辰頌禱禮」或「日課經」的祈禱,聖化了年中不同的時令、月中不同的日子、每天不同的時分;這祈禱是以教會之名,把聖職人員、修道者,與及眾信友聯合在一起,聆聽聖言和為所有人祈禱。我極力推薦教友及教友家庭,每天都誦唸「時辰頌禱禮」內的夜禱,那是很美好的習慣。

 

有關「時辰頌禱禮」,聖施禮華寫道:「一位神父,準備誦唸『日課經』時,這樣準備自己:『我開始時會照例說:『我願意想像聖人一樣祈禱』,接着,我會邀請我的護守天使與我一起詠唱讚頌主。』你在作口禱時也這樣作,並會同樣的方法在你的工作中增強對天主臨在的體驗。」

 

 

20140106 ‘Lift up your heart’ 舉心向上

In Chapter XII of the Second Part of An Introduction to the Devout Life, St. Francis de Sales explained one of the most important means for spiritual growth.     He wrote, “Strive as often as possible through the day to place yourself in God’s presence by some one of the methods already suggested. Consider what God does, and what you are doing; you will see His eyes ever fixed upon you in love incomparable.”     The four methods suggested by the saint for placing oneself in the presence of God are: first, realizing that God’s presence is universal; second, calling to mind that God is very specially present in our heart and mind; third, dwelling upon the thought of Christ looking down upon all people from heaven; fourth, picturing Jesus at our side.

Spiritual retreat

St. Francis wrote, “When St. Catherine of Siena was deprived by her parents of any place or time for prayer and meditation, Our Lord inspired her with the thought of making a little interior oratory in her mind, into which she could retire in heart, and so enjoy a holy solitude amid her outward duties. And henceforward, when the world assaulted her, she was able to be indifferent, because, so she said, she could retire within her secret oratory, and find comfort with her Heavenly Bridegroom.”     Having a spiritual retreat during the day is like having a drink on a journey. “When a pilgrim pauses an instant to take a draught of wine, which refreshes his lips and revives his heart, his onward journey is nowise hindered by the brief delay, but rather it is shortened and lightened, and he brings it all the sooner to a happy end, pausing but to advance the better.”

Ejaculatory prayer

One simple way to pray during the day is with ejaculatory prayer. Pope John Paul II, in addressing the psalms, said that ancient monks used parts of the psalms as brief prayers “to release a special ‘energy’ of the Holy Spirit.”     He added that this use of the psalms is known as “ejaculatory prayer,” which could be “let fly” like flaming arrows against temptations.     Some examples of ejaculatory prayers are: “My God and my all!” “My God, I love you!” “My Jesus, mercy!” “Jesus, I trust in you!” “Mother of God, remember me,” and “Jesus, Mary, I love you! Save souls!”     Our Lord taught Sister Consolata Betrone (1903-1946) the beautiful prayer: “Jesus, Mary, I love you! Save souls!” Our Lord said to her, “Tell me, what more beautiful prayer do you want to offer Me? ‘Jesus, Mary, I love you! Save souls!’ Love and souls! What more beautiful prayer could you desire?”     “Jesus, Mary, I love you! Save souls!’ encompasses everything, the souls in purgatory and the souls in the Church Militant; the innocent soul and the guilty soul; the dying, the atheist, etc.”     “Do not lose time; remember that every act of love is a soul. Of all the gifts, the best gift you can offer Me is a day full of love. I desire an uninterrupted ‘Jesus, Mary, I love you! Save souls!’ from when you get up in the morning till when you go to bed at night.”     Our aspirations to God during the day need not be confined to words. Prayer can be raising our mind to God without words. St. Francis encouraged the faithful to pray to God in their own words, and to see God through daily events, things and people.     The Norms for Indulgences states: “A partial indulgence is granted to the Christian faithful who, while performing their duties and enduring the difficulties of life, raise their minds in humble trust to God and make, at least mentally, some pious invocation.”

聖方濟.沙雷的「導向熱心生活」,當中第二部份的第十二章,解釋使靈修進步其中一個重要的方法。他寫道:「每天設法多次把自己置身於天主面前,思考著此刻天主怎樣做,自己此刻又怎樣做,你會覺到祂那無可比擬的愛的目光,從未離開過。」

 

聖人建議有四種方法把自己置身於天主面前:首先,要明白天主是無所不在的宇宙主宰,其次,提醒自己,天主特別臨在我們的內心,再想到基督每刻都從天堂看守著我們,最後,想著耶穌正在我們的身旁。

 

內心退省

 

聖方濟寫著:「聖女嘉大利納被父母剝奪祈禱和默想的地方與時間。耶穌啟發她,要她在靈魂深處設一個小堂,好讓她盡外在的本份時,內心仍可退居獨處。後來,當她受到世俗的攻擊時,她都處之泰然,因為她可以退入內心隱密的小堂,尋找那天上新郎的安慰。」

 

每天的內心退省,猶如旅途的甘露。聖方濟解釋:當朝聖者稍許停下來,淺酌醇釀,頓時乾唇灼舌得到滋潤,疲心累體為之一振,再能輕鬆前進;雖謂時間上似有延誤,實質輕心快步,卻又能抵上稍誤的時差。小休為的是邁進!

 

熱心短禱

 

為能日間忙裡祈禱,簡短的禱文最是有用。真福教宗若望保祿二世談到有關「聖詠」,他說:「昔日隱修士們以聖詠作口頭簡短的頌禱,祈能釋放『聖神的特別能量』。」他補充說:「這些短禱,就如疾飛的火箭,打退誘惑。」

 

短禱計有:「我的天主!我的所有!」,「我的天主,我愛慕祢!」、「我的耶穌,矜憐我吧!」、「耶穌,我信賴祢!」、「天主之母,請記得我。」、「耶穌、瑪利亞,我愛您!求您拯救眾靈!」等等。

 

耶穌教導高素略.白彤修女短禱「耶穌、瑪利亞,我愛您!求您拯救眾靈!」,並對她說:「告訴我,妳向我誦禱的,有什麼比這經文更美麗?『耶穌、瑪利亞,我愛您!求您拯救眾靈!』內裡包含了『愛』和『靈魂』!還有什麼更美麗的經文妳想要的呢?」

「『耶穌、瑪利亞,我愛您!求您拯救眾靈!』包含了一切:煉獄裡的靈魂、世途中教會的靈魂、潔淨的靈魂和帶罪的靈魂;臨終者、無神論者,等等… 不要費時失事,每一個發的愛德,都能救靈。妳能奉獻給我所有獻禮中,最能鍾悅我者,莫過於充滿愛的一天。我希望妳無間斷地誦唸『耶穌、瑪利亞,我愛您!求您拯救眾靈!』—— 從晨起暮休。」

我們發的善情並不規限於唸經誦文,默默地把心神向天主提昇已是很好的祈禱。聖方濟鼓勵信眾用自己的說話,由衷地與天主交談,並設法從每天的事與人,看到天主。

 

教會有關「大赦」頒令:「信眾克盡己職、承擔生活困難的同時,在謙卑信賴中將思想舉向天主,且至少在心中作熱心祈求,可得限大赦。」