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Bible Reflections View Comments

Change Is the One Constant in Life
By Diane M. Houdek
Source: Bringing Home the Word
Published: Sunday, November 18, 2012
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Psychologists tell us that the stress from positive events can have exactly the same effect on our bodies as the stress from negative events. We sometimes overlook this fact and then wonder why we find ourselves getting sick at a time when everything seems to be going well.

Cardinal John Henry Newman once said, “To be human is to change. To be perfect is to have changed often.” Our lives are filled with change, and many of those changes involve endings and death, whether actual physical death or the death of something important to us, part of our lives, the way we define who we are and what we hold dear. No matter how many times we experience changes large and small, they still can startle us. And yet everything we know in our world changes.

All creation moves and changes constantly. The seasons change according to a natural cycle each year. As the earth circles the sun and rotates on its axis, different areas are closer to or farther away from the sun. The changing levels of light and heat affect all growing things, ourselves included. From earlest times, people have noted the changing seasons and arranged their lives accordingly. Even in our increasingly contained and technological lifestyle, we can never completely escape the changing seasons.

So it is with our faith. It’s easy to hear Jesus’s words as the prediction of some cataclysmic end of the world. But the image Jesus uses suggests that the portents will be much more in line with the natural changes of our everyday lives. He talks about the spring buds on the fig tree as a sign that summer and its fruitfulness are near at hand.

As long as we can accept that change is natural, we don’t need to live in fear. The French have a saying that translates to, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” For us, what stays the same is the core of our faith, the belief that God is the “stillpoint of the turning world.”

Today’s reading from the book of Daniel makes an interesting observation: “The wise shall shine brightly like the splendor of the firmament, and those who lead the many to justice shall be like the stars forever.” We know, as the original biblical author did not, that this image is truer than he might have imagined. The light of the stars comes from such a great distance that the star itself may have burned out long before its light ever reaches the earth.

The good that we do lives on long after the short span of our mortal lives has ended. We add to the light that brightens our world and brings people closer to Christ who is the true light. Jesus reminds us that we don’t know when the world will end. In fact, we don’t even know the day or the hour when our own lives will end. But we do know that end they will, at least in their present form.

If we’re working each day to do our part to reveal the presence of the kingdom of God in our midst, then what we’re doing today is likely to be little different than what we’d be doing if it were the last day of our lives. As we become more flexible, more willing the move with the inevitable changes of life, we come closer to understanding that end as just another change to bring us closer to divine perfection.


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Alphonsus Liguori: 
		<p>Moral theology, Vatican II said, should be more thoroughly nourished by Scripture, and show the nobility of the Christian vocation of the faithful and their obligation to bring forth fruit in charity for the life of the world. Alphonsus, declared patron of moral theologians by Pius XII in 1950, would rejoice in that statement.</p>
		<p>In his day, Alphonsus fought for the liberation of moral theology from the rigidity of Jansenism. His moral theology, which went through 60 editions in the century following him, concentrated on the practical and concrete problems of pastors and confessors. If a certain legalism and minimalism crept into moral theology, it should not be attributed to this model of moderation and gentleness.</p>
		<p>At the University of Naples he received, at the age of 16, a doctorate in both canon and civil law by acclamation, but she oon gave up the practice of law for apostolic activity. He was ordained a priest and concentrated his pastoral efforts on popular (parish) missions, hearing confessions, forming Christian groups. </p>
		<p>He founded the Redemptorist congregation in 1732. It was an association of priests and brothers living a common life, dedicated to the imitation of Christ, and working mainly in popular missions for peasants in rural areas. Almost as an omen of what was to come later, he found himself deserted, after a while, by all his original companions except one lay brother. But the congregation managed to survive and was formally approved 17 years later, though its troubles were not over. </p>
		<p>Alphonsus’ great pastoral reforms were in the pulpit and confessional—replacing the pompous oratory of the time with simplicity, and the rigorism of Jansenism with kindness. His great fame as a writer has somewhat eclipsed the fact that for 26 years he traveled up and down the Kingdom of Naples, preaching popular missions. </p>
		<p>He was made bishop (after trying to reject the honor) at 66 and at once instituted a thorough reform of his diocese. </p>
		<p>His greatest sorrow came toward the end of his life. The Redemptorists, precariously continuing after the suppression of the Jesuits in 1773, had difficulty in getting their Rule approved by the Kingdom of Naples. Alphonsus acceded to the condition that they possess no property in common, but a royal official, with the connivance of a high Redemptorist official, changed the Rule substantially. Alphonsus, old, crippled and with very bad sight, signed the document, unaware that he had been betrayed. The Redemptorists in the Papal States then put themselves under the pope, who withdrew those in Naples from the jurisdiction of Alphonsus. It was only after his death that the branches were united. </p>
		<p>At 71 he was afflicted with rheumatic pains which left incurable bending of his neck; until it was straightened a little, the pressure of his chin caused a raw wound on his chest. He suffered a final 18 months of “dark night” scruples, fears, temptations against every article of faith and every virtue, interspersed with intervals of light and relief, when ecstasies were frequent. </p>
		<p>Alphonsus is best known for his moral theology, but he also wrote well in the field of spiritual and dogmatic theology. His <i>Glories of Mary</i> is one of the great works on that subject, and his book <i>Visits to the Blessed Sacrament</i> went through 40 editions in his lifetime, greatly influencing the practice of this devotion in the Church.</p>
American Catholic Blog Those who want to participate more fully in salvation history are comforted by the fact that Jesus wants to walk with us in our suffering and wants to break bread to give us strength on our way.

 
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