Monday, 27 February 2017

Allocutio - Evangelization - Love through Prayer

Allocutio for Our Lady of Victories Legion of Mary Presidium - 27 February 2017

Last week, I shared about love being the underlying intention and energy of our evangelizing works. So... would you consider yourself as a person filled with love that flows out to others?

For me, I struggle very much to be love to others. The words I know will hurt but I still say them in my anger. The words I know will comfort but I do not say because I am afraid of that person’s reaction. The forgiveness I refuse the one who has caused me so much pain and I choose instead to hold my anger. The patience I refuse the inconsiderate driver taking advantage of me. And Jesus said, “Love your enemies.” HOW? Even to love the seemingly harmless people may at times be a challenge when I am tired, when I have a whole load of things to finish and I have no time, when I am too caught up with my own life to be available to others. 

How can I love more? Is it by trying even harder? By downplaying my anger and hurt, my need for rest and for time to finish my duties?

I would like to suggest that we love by first allowing ourselves to be loved. By we ourselves encountering love; encountering God. We are blessed with people who love us, however small or great the deed. God is loving us through these people. However, the fast pace of most of our lives do not allow us time to pause, recognise and savour how loved we are. The love passes us by, unnoticed, unreceived. 

We can also come to the direct experience of God’s love for us in our prayers, when we contemplate the Gospel passages, when we receive a healing, when we witness a miracle, a difficult situation turns for the better. When we have a God-experience, the usual emotion is great joy. But like the high of a retreat, it tends to fizzle away after awhile and life resumes its normal momentum. 

The truth is... We cannot give from an emptiness. To love in our apostolate work, we need first to be filled with love. This does not happen naturally. Time and effort are required for us to receive love. And we do this through prayer. A deepening personal relationship with Jesus. And you might have heard this many times over and are already a praying person. But allow me to highlight its importance once again. 

I am referring to conversational prayers, where we sit before Jesus as we are, in our anger, joys, tears, unforgiveness, excitement. And we tell Him all about us in all honesty, scold if we need to, complain, cry, smile from ear to ear, say a thousand 'thank yous'. And then listen to His soft promptings in our hearts, noticing what He is trying to say to us. Experiencing Him loving us in our pain, persuading us in our stubbornness, loving us in our rejections, forgiving us in our failures. In prayer, the Holy Spirit also reveals to us how we are loved or unloved, leading us to savour the love, allowing it to move our hearts and guide us to share this love also with others. And towards the un-love we experience, we can seek the grace to forgive and be consoled by a God who loves us infinitely. 

The fruit of prayer is that it positively affects our interactions with people. The love we receive shows up in the way we are with one another. Love is always self-giving and cannot wait to pour itself out to those around. Prayer does not change our situations or the unlovable person we find so hard to love. It changes us. Our hearts. If we do not notice our interactions with people becoming more life-giving over time, we might like to examine the quality of our prayer life. 

We are told several times in the Gospel that “Mary pondered these things in her heart.” Mary was always connected with God. Always pondering, to hold in her heart her experiences, not yet fully understanding them but allowing God to slowly reveal Himself. A sense of attentiveness to what God might be saying, leading, calling forth. The Collect prayer at Mass last week read, "... that, always pondering spiritual things, we may carry out in both word and deed that which is pleasing to you." From what are we doing the apostolate work that we are doing, if not from prayer and a deepening personal relationship with Jesus? This is the starting point.

Prayer is also what is asked of us during this season of Lent. Prayer in which we allow God to move our hearts to where they need to be so that we can become true vessels of love to those we are called to evangelize. Let us deepen our prayer life this Lent.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Allocutio - Evangelization - Intention of Love

Allocutio for the Legion of Mary meeting - 20 February 2017


One big aspect of being a Legionary is the apostolate work we do, which is actually evangelization.

Fr Bede McGregor, O.P gave this definition of evangelization at the 2012 International Eucharistic Congress. 
He said:
"Evangelization is facilitating an authentic meeting of another person with Jesus Christ…"

“Authentic”. There are many imitation goods circulating in the markets in our time. You might have watched the online video. We can even use plastic to make something that looks and feels so much like a real cabbage. But however similar it is, it is not real. And how do we tell? By the substance. What is beneath the superficial that the eye cannot see.

I would like to suggest that it is also possible to facilitate imitation meetings of people with Jesus through the work that we do in His Name. Acts we may perform that look charitable, kind, loving. But the substance beneath the surface might not actually be charity, kindness and love. It may be obligation, self-glorification, even Christian duty and the list goes on.

The truth is… Imitation meetings with Jesus cannot allow a person to truly encounter Him. And that is not evangelisation.

Since God is love, authentic encounters with Jesus is the encounter with love itself. When we love and the person experiences this love, he is experiencing God, even though he may not be aware it is God. I was working in a women's shelter, and there were moments a girl was crying because of family problems. I can be beside her and place my hand on her back to comfort her. But I can do that while thinking about something else actually or just telling myself that she is crying, I am a staff here, and so I should do something to comfort her. In my heart, I am not with her in her pain, I am not loving her by my presence, and she will not experience love. 

The work we do becomes only the router for us to transmit the signal of love. And only then can the person come to know Jesus and the compassionate love of God. John Powell wrote, “Unselfish human love is the sacramental introduction to the God of love.”

And this is our call and purpose of our Legionary work. We work as part of a larger reality of Church, to continue Jesus’ mission of spreading the Good News of God’s infinite love for His people. Our apostolate work is not just to make a suffering person feel better, to offer help to one who is not coping optimally, etc. These are different expressions of our one underlying mission to continue the mission of Jesus.

And this was what Mary did, especially by being herself the vessel that brought Jesus into our world. She gave Love to us. We are familiar with the story of the Annunciation. Her ‘yes’ was needed for the incarnation, for God to love us through Jesus. Similarly, our ‘yes’ is needed for the continued incarnation of God through our apostolate work. Not just an imitation incarnation but that deep within us as we are performing each work, we love. In what we say, we love. In what we hold ourselves back from saying or doing, we love. That love becomes the energy at the foundation of all we think, say and do.

I would like to invite us in this week, in all our daily routines and the additional we may do as our Legionary apostolate work, that we pay extra attention to our very subtle intentions. May we be more conscious to love as Jesus loves us. Amen.