Verbum Domini
Father Michael Najim
149 results total, viewing 51 - 60
Atheists typically argue that all things can be explained by nature. Anything apparently supernatural only awaits a more developed science to explain it. God is never needed. An atheist friend of mine holds this position firmly, except for one mystery in his life: his love for his wife. He can list the qualities he admires about the woman he married. He can tell you why he finds her attractive, interesting, and funny. Yet he admits, he might find those qualities in some other woman, perhaps even to a greater degree. Still he would not love that woman the way he loves his wife. With her, there is something extra, something particular, something he can’t explain and can’t find anywhere else. Exploring the mystery of his own love is the closest he’s ever come to the mystery of grace. If he ever does find God, it will probably be because he first found his wife. more
Friendship is the greatest thing on earth. That’s not just my opinion, but also that of Saint Thomas Aquinas: “There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.” Now Aquinas was not given to exaggerations. He chose his words carefully and precisely (he considered it a fault, if not a sin, to say anything other than what you believe). This means that the greatest theologian of the Church, surveying all the goods of the world, weighing the respective value of all created realities, finally settled on true friendship as the highest and most precious. This explains why God, taking on our earthly existence, chose to express his Love in terms of friendship: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn 15:13). There was simply no better way to say it. more
It is a special grace to have faith in someone. When we say we believe in someone else (usually someone we mentor, a dear friend, or even a spouse), we might describe it as a special vision. In a sense, we can see into that person. We see their potential, their virtues, their character. When we are given the grace of faith with regard to another, we see them a little bit like God sees them, though as “through a glass, darkly” (1Cor 13:12). By that special faith, we catch a glimpse of their God-given beauty. On the other hand, when we ourselves are believed in, when someone has a special faith in our regard, it is deeply life-giving. It heals insecurities, opens us to the joys of being loved, and empowers us to love in return. For charity naturally follows upon faith. more
I’ve recently been introduced to the music group Mumford and Sons. These are very talented young men whose music typically takes up Christian themes. In one song, making reference to heaven, we hear, “there will come a time you’ll see ... [when] love will not break your heart.” The singer is directing us to the hopes of the next life, assuring us that love will have its fulfillment. Yet, at the same time, this is a sad thought. For it brings forth a very trying truth about this life. On this side of heaven, it seems, love is destined to break our hearts. Regardless of how long or perfect the love we enjoy, whether it is with friends or family or a spouse, we know that we cannot hold onto it. It will pass from us eventually. In this world, love necessitates heartbreak. Even Jesus weeps at the death of Lazarus. more
We often excuse our sins with the phrase, “I am only human.” Usually that means, “my faults are inevitable, and therefore excusable.” It is an easy way to brush off the burden of our faults, believing that nothing more should be expected. But when our negligence and carelessness hurts someone else, especially someone we love, then we begin to feel the real gravity of our sins, the weight of being “only human.” A drunk driver has no murderous intent. He is not malicious. In his drink, he is only seeking his consolation, his recreation. Sure, it is excessive and imprudent, but he’s only human. It may not be the best thing, but he doesn’t see the harm. That is, until he takes a life, perhaps even that of a beloved passenger. Like the drunk driver we are very good at excusing our selfishness, until we hurt someone we love. more
Loss is tough. It always hurts. We can spend a good deal of time moping around because of the things we’ve either lost or can’t have. Such sorrow is not from God. Rather, such sorrow is often a sign that we are resisting God. Mother Teresa noted that whenever she saw one of her sisters troubled or disturbed, she knew it was because Jesus was asking for something but the sister was saying “no.” Mother Teresa herself often felt the weight of the Lord’s demands. Occasionally, she could be heard saying, “now, he is asking too much.” Of course, she gave anyway, confident that when the Lord prunes it is for the sake of greater growth. The Lord asked much from Mother Teresa and her sisters, but look at all the fruit. Countless souls inspired by their example. Countless others prepared for heaven by their hands. more
Love changes people. I once saw this happen to a college professor. He was known to be an exacting instructor with very little patience for the typical foibles and half-hearted efforts of the average college student. Scheduled to take his class in the fall, I received multiple warnings from my peers. Some encouraged me to switch before the new year began. Others said that I might learn a lot, but that I shouldn’t expect a good grade. I am not sure whether it was negligence or courage, but I took the class anyway. He was one of my best professors. He certainly challenged his students, but his approach was compassionate and attentive (he also had a great sense of humor). When I related these impressions to my friends, they were shocked. We found out later that he had fallen in love and was engaged to be married. more
Have you ever felt scrutinized? Maybe you’ve had the experience with an angry parent, a suspicious employer, or even a jealous spouse. Scrutinized, your actions are watched minutely, your motives guessed at, a litany of questions pick through your past. It’s an awful experience to be suspected. It’s worse still if something is discovered, if something we shamefully guarded within us is then forced out into the open. It can be the most wounding experience, naked and exposed to the fiercest arrows of judgment and ridicule. Yet, the very same experience, if done in the light of love, can be the most healing. For what is sweeter than admitting to the worst truths about ourselves and then discovering that we are loved anyway. more
Mountaintop views are well worth a hike. Slogging up a mountain trail, wrestling with a backpack (usually the size of a small child), surviving on peanuts and Gatorade is all worth it once you get to the top. From up there the various elements of the world seem to come together in harmony. For this reason, spiritual writers often use the term “mountaintop experiences” when referring to privileged moments of prayer. These are moments of clarity and insight where the various strands of life seem to come together. They are moments of profound peace and faith, in which God’s presence is felt tangibly. If a retreat or a season like Lent can be compared to a hike, then these spiritual elevations are like mountaintop views for the soul. more
The hardest part of hard work is getting started. Consider all the snow you’ve been shoveling. The most difficult part is not lifting the shovel. It is getting out the door. The worst part is not the hour you spend clearing the driveway, but rather the few moments it takes to push yourself outside. It is easier to get going if you know someone is already out there. It is easier to start working, if you know someone will be working with you. Perhaps that is why on the first Sunday of Lent we hear about Jesus’ forty-day fast in the desert. Beginning the work of Lent, its helpful to know the Lord is already out there. more
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