Building Virtues, Following Christ, and Reconciliation – By Fr. John Taberner (PART I)

On Sunday the 22nd, we had a reconciliation service at the Lagos Resource Center in VI. The session included talks by Fr. John Taberner, spiritual guidance, and confession. Below are the notes from Fr. John’s talks:

As we celebrated the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, our first topic was about the Mystery of the Trinity. Catholics recognize the Trinity in many ways; by the sign of the cross (one of the most ancient professions of our faith), in Baptism, and in Absolution, both of which are done in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Our religion has established an authentic and lively relationship with God. The Trinity is a community of persons and love. It is a key dogma of the church and if we follow the path revealed to us, we would gain a deeper understanding of this mystery. The Trinity is also recognized in the Creed, which is a simple yet very demanding prayer. When we accept that God is creator, we begin to further understand who we are. When God creates, He keeps everything in His view. We need to give glory to God by offering everything up to Him.

Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son who became one of us. We are called to enter the divine life and live a supernatural life by entering with Jesus through the actions of the Holy Spirit. What does it mean to be a Christian? It means to follow Jesus Christ without any condition. Luke 9: 57-62 shows the perfect example of three people who wanted to follow Jesus but with conditions. The Samaritan woman, Nicodemus, all these people were concerned about wealth, their families, and friends. We need to have the resolution and determination to follow Him till the end. As Jesus said, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

What is holiness? Holiness is the perfection of charity. We need to follow Jesus with love. And not just following one thing, but following Jesus doing many things. Some of these include:

Prayer: We need to talk to Him. Christian prayer is a process of meeting God’s love. Prayer helps us to live our lives in a more intense and higher plane. We are encouraged to find time every day to pray and to pray at different times of the day. This might be a struggle for many of us but as Fr. Taberner kept saying, following Jesus could be an added complication in our lives, albeit a blessed complication. To pray is to know Jesus better. We are also encouraged to spend time in front of the Blessed Sacrament regularly. Prayer is a process. There will be periods of aridity, but we should never give up. If we don’t pray, we distance ourselves from God and miss the blessed opportunity of getting to know Him on a more intimate level.

The Sacraments: Receiving the sacraments is an important indicator that we want to follow God. In addition, we need to always be in a state of grace. The main hindrance to this is sin. We need to reject whatever separates us from God. The two sacraments we can receive multiple times are the sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist. This adds to why these two sacraments are very important. We should try not to delay confession. If possible, we should go for confession as soon as we find ourselves in sin.

Living the virtues heroically: It is not enough to be eager about following Jesus. We need to learn HOW to follow Him. Fr. Taberner highlighted the importance of formation in our daily lives to point us in the right direction while following Jesus. Formation involves us being open to the Holy Spirit to form/shape/change our lives to what God wants. We need to be very alert, and know that the devil knows the Catechism and the Bible by heart and can attempt to use them against us. We need to be prepared to defend ourselves and our faith in the midst of temptation. One of the best ways of formation is through spiritual direction.

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