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Thorns

Divine grace is God’s influence which operates in order to regenerate, to sanctify, to inspire Christian virtues, and also to strengthen the inner man to overcome temptations and to endure the trials of daily life.

The Spiritual Life in Modern America

We hear in this morning's gospel reading (Matthew 22:35-46) that a certain lawyer tried to trick Christ. The lawyer asked what he must do to  inherit eternal life. Jesus responded that he must love the Lord God with all his heart, mind, and soul; and his neighbor as himself.
The church refers this teaching as the Great Commandment; it is no doubt looked to the impossible commandment as well. But as we learned last week, with God all things are possible; it is achievable, but as always, takes hard work.
 
Loving the Lord God with the totality of our human existence has always stood as a great challenge; perhaps the greatest. Yet because we are commanded by the Lord to do so, the least it requires is effort on our part.
 
Man learns through his senses. The mind however, stands at the center of each person's faculty-centered existence. The brain is how we gather, store, and ultimately process knowledge which is used in our ability to exercise our free will and make decisions. As much as we like to emphasize the heart and soul, the mind must not be suppressed. It plans an active role as well.
 
The heart and soul meanwhile, is at the core of each person's entire being. The heart will always remain the seat of wisdom, and the place where all moral decisions are made. Trying to reconcile our mind with our heart is always a great spiritual exercise.
 
The spiritual life we are all called to develop stands in opposition to that which our American culture promotes. Our culture has seemingly taken a seismic shift recently, and the fall out is stunning. Orthodoxy is a paradox to American culture.
 
 - Our culture promotes say: I want to find myself; Christ says lose yourself.
 
- Our culture says I want to be first; Christ says be last.
 
- Our culture says I want to fulfill myself; Christ says empty yourself.
 
- Our culture says I want to be strong; Christ says be weak.
 
- Our culture says I want to be rich and rule; Christ says be poor and be a servant.
 
- And finally, our culture says I want to live, and Christ says we must first die.
 
Unless we are willing to embrace what our Lord is saying to us, we can love never him with all our heart, all our mind, and all our soul. The task is difficult, but the fruit, union in this world and in the Kingdom with Christ, is a wonderful reward.

- Fr Marc Vranes

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