Mary has requested that the daily message be given each day to the world. It is read nightly at the prayer service from her Image Building in Clearwater, Florida, U.S.A. This is according to her request. All attempts will be made to publish this daily message to the world at 11 p.m. Eastern time, U.S.A.

We acknowledge that the final authority regarding these messages rests
with the Holy See of Rome.

I appear my children on this former bank building in Florida, Our Lady Clothed with the Sun.

August 12, 2003

August 13th Holy Spirit Novena
Scripture selection is Day 2 Period II.
The Novena Rosary Mysteries for August 13th are the Sorrowful.



Schedule for August 13, 2003

4:00 a.m. - Mass

4:37 a.m. - Daily Messages from August 11, 1998 to August 18, 1998

6:07 a.m. - Morning Offering & Prayer for Union with Jesus

6:12 a.m. - Mary's Message

6:18 a.m. - Song from Jesus

6:20 a.m. - 6:20 prayers led by Father Carter
                 Holy Spirit Novena
                 Shepherds of Christ Prayer Manual

7:24 a.m. - Special Messages from Jesus given to Father Carter 
                    and Songs from Jesus

8:42 a.m. - Newsletter 1999 Issue 4 (God With Us)

10:11 a.m. - Live Rosary from October 13, 1996

11:33 a.m. - The Spirituality of Fatima read by Father Carter & Rita Ring

12:15 p.m. - Morning Offering

12:20 p.m. - Glorious Rosary Aves

12:51 p.m. - Morning Offering

12:55 p.m. - Song: Your Presence Pervades My Soul

1:00 p.m. - Mass

1:37 p.m. - Songs

                    August 13th live broadcast

6:20 p.m. - 6:20 prayers led by Father Carter
                 Holy Spirit Novena
                 Shepherds of Christ Prayer Manual



We need funds.

Shepherds of Christ Ministries
P.O. Box 193
Morrow, OH 45152



A Prayer for Intimacy with the Lamb
the Bridegroom of the soul

    Oh Lamb of God, Who take away the sins of the world, come and act on my soul most intimately. I surrender myself, as I ask for the grace to let go, to just be as I exist in You and You act most intimately on my soul. You are the Initiator. I am the soul waiting Your favors as You act in me. I love You. I adore You. I worship You. Come and possess my soul with Your Divine Grace, as I experience You most intimately.


Go Shopping on the Web and

get your Blue Books today


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China, Indiana




Come August 13th

Rita Ring will be there

There will be a Mass in China
on August 12th at 12 noon (China time)

August 13th at 12 noon 

and on August 14th at 9:30.

Make a retreat


Live talk and rosary with Rita Ring

on August 13th.

This will be broadcast live
to the world on the internet.
A Catholic priest will be
listening and discerning





We have made a major upgrade to the
Shepherds of Christ Sacred Heart Radio from
the Hearts of Jesus and Mary. It will
allow more listeners with better sound quality.
The upgrade should also greatly reduce
connection and buffering problems. To use
the new radio, you must upgrade your
media player. For help to do this click here.


August 12, 2003

Jesus speaks:         Sometimes you feel burdened by others

                            actions. My child I am with you. Satan

                            wants you stopped. Focus on the 13th

                            and your mission during these days of 


                                I have given to the Shepherds of Christ the

                            Virgin Mary Building/Building of the Two 

                            Hearts. I want you to carry out this message

                            to the far ends of this earth. I want

                            you to circulate this image picture

                            to the far ends of the earth.


From Today's Mass

Deuteronomy 31: 1-8

Moses went and spoke to all Israel as follows, ‘Today, I am one hundred and twenty years old, and can no longer act as leader. Yahweh has told me, “You shall not cross this Jordan.” Yahweh your God himself will lead you across, he himself will destroy and dispossess these nations confronting you; Joshua too will lead you across, as Yahweh has said. Yahweh will treat them as he has treated Sihon and Og the Amorite kings and their country—he destroyed them. Yahweh will put them at your mercy, and you will deal with them exactly as prescribed by the commandments which I have laid down for you. Be strong, stand firm, have no fear, do not be afraid of them, for Yahweh your God is going with you; he will not fail you or desert you.’ Moses then summoned Joshua and, in the presence of all Israel, said to him, ‘Be strong, stand firm; you will be the one to go with this people into the country which Yahweh has sworn to their ancestors that he would give them; you are to be the one who puts them into possession of it. Yahweh himself will lead you; he will be with you; he will not fail you or desert you. Have no fear, do not be alarmed.’


Deuteronomy 32: 3-4ab, 7, 8, 9, 12

For I shall proclaim the name of Yahweh. 
Oh, tell the greatness of our God! 

He is the Rock, his work is perfect, 
for all his ways are equitable. 
A trustworthy God who does no wrong, 
he is the Honest, the Upright One!

Think back on the days of old, 
think over the years, down the ages. 
Question your father, 
    let him explain to you, 
your elders, and let them tell you!
When the Most High gave the nations 
    each their heritage, 
when he partitioned out the human race, 
he assigned the boundaries of nations 
according to the number 
    of the children of God,
but Yahweh’s portion was his people, 
Jacob was to be the measure 
    of his inheritance.

Yahweh alone is his guide; 
no alien god for him!


August 12, 2003 message continues

Messenger:             The priest at Mass made reference to good

                            leaders, but good leaders lead with humility.

                            Also he said the parable of the little sheep

                            tells us everyone is important in God's eyes.

                            Little ones are important. God died for all.

                            He wants leaders with humility.

                                He talked about Jesus and how He loves

                            us and wants us to love Him.

Jesus speaks:        I must address this issue, it is baggage,

                            enslavement. A person can live their whole

                            life long enslaved to their own thoughts. They

                            live in a world of thoughts that point an

                            ugly picture. They see others around them

                            always condemning them. It is a horrible

                            existence. It can come from an early life with

                            condemning, criticizing parents, but it is

                            carried on (and it can be for a lifetime) 

                            in their own minds. They pick new people

                            in authority to be their angry condemning

                            parents "so to speak", they are still like

                            the little child being criticized, they are self-

                            conscious most of the time making themselves

                            the innocent child and projecting the angry

                            parent role on those over them, living a life

                            of condemnation in their thoughts. If asked to

                            write about their thoughts, they could fill pages

                            with all the things those around them and in

                            authority have done to them. They are tense,

                            ready to survive the terrible scenario they have

                            rehearsed in their head.

                                Some people do not live in the truth. Then

                            they will go to others above the leader and

                            dump their story on them placing innocent

                            leaders in their self-inflicted persecution

                            which only exists in their mind.

                                Some times it reaches such momentum

                            they come running accusing the leader and

                            the person in charge and the puzzled berated

                            leader says I didn't even have anything to

                            do with them, they were a volunteer, helping,

                            I was in another state, I never talked to them,

                            I don't even know what they are talking about.

                                Some people just live trapped in their minds,

                            victims of a persecuted childhood and they

                            keep silently projecting their problems on

                            someone. They need another person to project

                            their sordid thoughts on.

                                My Mother served purely. When one is

                            trapped in their thoughts they come to serve

                            with baggage. They may work industriously to

                            get "in" and then when they are "in" they begin

                            working out their baggage on others. Like

                            blind men they do not see that sadness inside,

                            constant trauma and victimization is there

                            because of their own drama they play over

                            and over again in their own head. To have them

                            around as a volunteer or worker may be good

                            for a short time then they take advantage of

                            the connection.

                                It is a sad story, but a young woman of

                            40 came from a home where she was criticized

                            and abused. Rather than praying for grace

                            to heal and move on positively promoting

                            My Kingdom, she lived entrapped in her

                            mind, ready to burst, because she saw

                            herself the tense little child that was not

                            safe at home, ready to be abused and hurt

                            by others. She saw others criticizing her, she

                            had developed a bad habit of being angry

                            most of the time and striking out at others,

                            making teasing hurting remarks, breaking

                            down happy times by rubbing in the

                            good deed others did. She was like a porcupine,

                            whenever she touched anyone she pricked

                            them. She smiled and said something nice,

                            when the person moved an inch toward her

                            she stuck them with her pointy pricks. Around

                            her was disharmony always. She lived locked

                            in a horror of her own thoughts. Her whole

                            life was lived to make others accept her and

                            say she was okay, then she thought she would

                            finally be at peace and loved by all.

                                Her whole world was disharmony, she created

                            it playing some adult games that came from

                            her survival modes from childhood.

                                The devil works in people's minds. They are

                            very unproductive workers, they are enslaved

                            with thoughts of themselves and how they have

                            been mistreated and then they play bitterness

                            out on innocent people around and over them.

                                They can be free if they pray for the grace

                            to recognize the enslavement they have created

                            in their own minds by their unhealthy faults.

                            They live in a world of watching the actions of

                            those around them, very closely, and taking

                            everything others do as a personal attack

                            on themselves, but they are crafty in

                            not showing what is going on inside --

                            their whole life is lived in games of manipulation,

                            of acting from these sordid thoughts --

                                They have given their power away -- to be self

                            supporting, the master of their actions -- they

                            let others around them control their moods

                            and if others aren't around them they figure

                            some innocent party "connected" to them in

                            some way as their victimizer so they can play

                            the old familiar role of victim, persecuted,

                            hurt and it could be "you" that did it, if

                            you become "connected" to them in anyway.

                                Oh the evil ways of the devil. He works

                            in the minds, he tries to get people to give

                            in, they see themselves as victims, they have

                            a mind of thoughts -- sizing up and analyzing

                            the actions of others. It is a horrible existence

                            inside their head and their actions reflect

                            the world of enslavement that goes on in their

                            own minds.

                                Purity, people who are free act freely. They

                            don't make up things in their minds. They

                            see the job, they do it.

                                Some are always operating doing things to

                            later work out their ugly thoughts on those they

                            are interacting with.

                                It is like this story. A lady came into an

                            institution that could not afford any more

                            paid workers. She volunteered, she worked

                            like the most diligent worker, sub-consciously

                            to worked so some day she could let that

                            facade down and be her bitter self

                            pinning her victimization on the institution.

                                People move into places and set up

                            shop. They are the same wherever they go. A

                            man was several hours late much of the

                            time. He would set up appointments

                            and show up 5 hours later, he thought

                            nothing of it.

                                Everybody there would be disturbed because

                            he made specific plans, but made them wait,

                            and wait.

                                He really had no respect for the others. His

                            habitual behavior had angered many people over

                            a lifetime. He made arrangements with one

                            person and then when shopping, stayed up

                            late the night before and "had to sleep",

                            he did the long awaited thing he had been

                            putting off just when he was supposed to

                            meet someone.

                                People that hurt others and are not

                            respectful of other's time make very

                            poor partners, servants, workers.

                            They have a time problem. They have never

                            punched a time clock and when dealing

                            with others they leave a trail of angry people

                            because they innocently never admit they did

                            anything wrong.

                                A person having a married relationship with

                            them would find it hard to stay married.

                                They choose a life-style where they

                            are not held accountable for time and

                            continue the same game over and over

                            again. Alcoholic parents can teach children

                            this irresponsible behavior because they

                            loose track of time and do not show up

                            for the child's ballgame, parent-teacher

                            nights at school etc.

                                They make plans and then the child

                            waits and waits and dad or mom doesn't

                            show up.

                                The child may do this to people his life

                            long, in an attempt to rectify all the times

                            he was disappointed and had to wait, he does

                            it to others. He says he did nothing and others

                            are left hurt and frustrated because the

                            truth was not spoken.

                                There are so many games people play, why

                            do something at the same time when you are

                            supposed to be with the superior, then play

                            out your game as the offended party.

                                Some people want to control, they bring

                            others along, "the more the merrier they

                            think" when it is to the detriment of

                            others and against God's will.

                                It's like moving people around like

                            Chess players to work out your own


                                Prayer and sacrifice is the only way

                            to live to not take advantage of others.

                            You can live in the truth and not play

                            sick games of manipulation.



Luke 1: 46-55

                    The Magnificat

And Mary said:

My soul proclaims
    the greatness of the Lord
and my spirit rejoices
    in God my Saviour;
because he has looked upon
    the humiliation of his servant.
Yes, from now onwards
    all generations will call me blessed,
for the Almighty
    has done great things for me.
Holy is his name,
and his faithful love extends age after age
    to those who fear him.
He has used the power of his arm,
he has routed the arrogant of heart.
He has pulled down princes
    from their thrones
        and raised high the lowly.
He has filled the starving with good things,
    sent the rich away empty.
He has come to the help
    of Israel his servant,
        mindful of his faithful love
—according to the promise
    he made to our ancestors—
of his mercy to Abraham
    and to his descendants for ever.


August 12, 2003 message continues

Messenger:         Many people don't really work together because

                                they really don't want to change, they

                                can't get too close because they violate

                                others holding onto their sordid ways.

                            People in religious communities should be filled 

                                with a desire to let go of destructive ways

                                of behavior -- to serve --

                                they should be so filled with love for

                                    God they do not want attachments

                                    that lead them away from God.

                            Some people live their whole lives thinking

                                derogatorily of themselves, because

                                they tell themselves others think this

                                way about them and then they are self-

                                conscious and act clumsy around

                                others because they don't love themselves.

                            Every person must not lie about their faults and

                                try to live to be more perfected.

                            Every person would profit from My letters

                                of love.

                            I give letters of love to be circulated to My

                                hurt children.

                            The Three loves - Love God, Love One Another, Love of Self

                                2 People thought this way at the same time


            A) He didn't act like he                    B) Today is a beautiful day.
                     liked me, he made a                        I think I will pray
                    negative comment,                            the rosary.
                    he tried to be nice, but                    Look at the beautiful
                    down deep he didn't                        flowers.
                    like me --                                        My son likes apple
                                                                            pie I think I will
                    my boss is always                             surprise him with
                     making me look bad --                      one after dinner.
                                                                          Carol my granddaughter is
                    Nobody really likes me --                    always so sweet, I will
                      I feel awful inside.                             write her a letter and
                                                                                       say hi.
                                                                        I know that my boss likes
                                                                            my work.


                        Would you like to live in

                            head A or head B.

                        The choice is yours.

                        You choose your own thoughts -- no body else

                            does. If the devil is tempting you to

                            think negatively, just don't give in.

                        You can have power over him --

                            silence satan

                            CHOOSE LIFE


Excerpt from Response to God’s Love




                                            Our incorporation into the mystery of Christ at baptism initiates us into a life that God intends to develop into full maturity. Our life in Christ as guided by the Spirit is not a static given, a life that is received in baptism and then simply clung to. It is not a life that we are merely to avoid losing through serious sin. Rather, it is our task to develop this life through a process of evolutionary growth. God has truly placed us in a situation of becoming. Our personal uniqueness is meant to gradually unfold into its full stature in Christ as we increasingly fulfill God's will in deepening faith, hope, and love.

       For each individual, the process of becoming is intertwined with God's plan of growth for all creation. To understand the individual Christian's situation as one of process, of becoming, it is obviously helpful, then, to realize that he or she is part of a larger picture of becoming. Consequently, let us consider three aspects—the world, the Church, and the individual Christian—all of which are in a state of becoming.

       The swirling pace of today's rapidly changing world is unavoidably evident. If we were tempted to think all this change might be an illusion, however, there are statistics to assure us that today's world is indeed undergoing change—or process—at a phenomenal rate. Some of these statistics include the following: Before the year 1500, Europe published 1000 books per year; by 1950, the rate had swelled to 120,000 per year; by the mid-1960s the overall world figure was 1000 titles per day. This affords us some idea of the vast knowledge explosion that has characterized our times and, indeed, is one of the most important influences in our fast-changing society. The following is another statistic: A period of 5000 years elapsed between the first shoeing of a horse by a blacksmith and the first guiding by an engineer of a different kind of horse—the iron horse, or locomotive; only 170 years elapsed, however, between that first locomotive engineer and the first jet pilot who shattered the sound barrier. These are a few of the numerous statistics that could be cited to demonstrate that our world is in rapid process.

       The Church herself attests to a world in a state of profound becoming. Vatican II has stated: "Today, the human race is passing through a new stage of its history. Profound and rapid changes are spreading by degrees around the whole world" (The Church in the Modern World, No. 4); and, "Thus, the human race has passed from a rather static concept of reality to a more dynamic, evolutionary one" (No. 5).

       God has called mankind to collaborate with him in the unfolding of creation. The fact that God has placed a creative urge deep within mankind is evidenced by the myriad achievements of the human race in the areas of science and technology, the humanities, art and culture, government, and so forth. Men and women constantly surpass themselves in what they are capable of achieving. Not too many years ago, landing a man on the moon was not even considered a serious possibility; now, however, it is just as possible as a jet flight to Paris. Contemporary mankind's capacity to develop the material world and other aspects of the temporal order is such that it staggers the imagination and makes one almost dizzy in an attempt to keep abreast of the latest advances.

       This evolutionary process of the world, and the human capacity to increase its almost torrid pace, cannot be questioned. The fact that this capacity is a God-given talent likewise cannot be questioned. What can be questioned, however, is whether contemporary men and women will properly use this gift and thereby assist the temporal order to evolve to the authentic good of all mankind.

       Today's Christian must take inspiration from the following words of Scripture:

       Jesus replied, "Scripture has it:
              'Not on bread alone is man to live
       but on every utterance that comes
              from the mouth of God.' "
                                             —Mt 4:4

Jesus reminds us that we must keep material progress in proper perspective. The material universe is a gift from God that is intended to serve men and women in the quest for their temporal and eternal destiny, a destiny that is centered in mankind's spiritual nature. To say this is not to falsely dichotomize humanity or to deny the bodily dimension; it is merely to insist that the total person is meant to be controlled by his or her spirit and, from this spiritual nature, is actuated to be—and to become—what the Creator has designed.

       Human history is replete with examples of how men and women have, at times, abused material progress. An ungodly desire for the material has been the cause of unjust wars, murders, thefts, cheating in business, and the destruction of families by greed. The list could be extended, of course, but one final observation is sufficient, namely, that men and women have often allowed the inordinate desire for material gain to quench their innate desire for spiritual values. As often as men and women have done so, they have sold their souls for swine husks.

       Christians can be a force in properly shaping the temporal order in its state of becoming. By carrying Christian principles into the marketplace, Christians can help correctly direct the material world in its evolution. Christians cannot afford to be thwarted by temptations such as, "What's the use? What difference does it make what I do or don't do?" The contemporary examples of certain groups or individuals who have had a profound influence on society by bringing to light injustices and deficiencies in the present structure of things have become legion. What is more, the efforts of these groups and/or individuals in actually achieving a change for the better is also a matter of record. Likewise, each Christian, in some way or another, can also be effective if he or she is willing to pay the price. The fact that his or her influence may often remain a very hidden one does not make it less effective.

       The Christian, in fact, has a duty to help properly shape the temporal order in its process of becoming. The Christian also has a duty to witness to the ultimate point of destiny toward which this process is evolving—the omega point who is Jesus himself, the center and culmination of all human history. Through the Christian's proper encounter with the world in process, he or she is supposed to be a reminder, as Christ himself was, of the world's ultimate outcome in its evolutionary thrust. This final point of the world's development will be the entrance of the temporal order into the eternal age of things; the world will be swept up by Christ in his second coming and will remain, for all eternity, in the transformation that it will receive at this parousia.

       In giving this particular kind of witness to the world in process, the committed Christian is a reminder, however silent, that, despite mankind's greatest genius, the secular order cannot develop into a Utopia on earth. People have so often had the false expectation that a secular city can be established that will amount to a heaven on earth. So long as people persist in such unrealistic expectations, they will be disappointed. It is interesting to speculate whether those who are living today, surrounded by the material comforts and advantages of an incredibly advanced technological age, are really any happier than those who had lived in ages when these material advantages were absent. If present material progress has not brought men and women closer to God and to one another, then it surely has not made them authentically happier. Yes, the temporal order is surely meant to evolve for the sake of our greater happiness; however, the temporal order can only evolve properly and thus achieve its true purpose, if it refuses to be closed in upon itself in an attitude of absolute autonomy. Rather, the temporal order can only achieve its true purpose if it opens up in evolutionary process to its God and to the God-intended completion of its evolution that is in the eternal order of things.

       As we turn our attention to the Church, we again encounter the reality of becoming. In the post-Vatican II Church, we are all well aware of a Church that is in process, a Church that is reaching out toward that which is yet to be achieved, toward that more perfect realization of the ideal that Jesus has delineated for it. The Church is a mustard seed that is meant to gradually evolve into that full stature which Christ intends: "He proposed still another parable: 'The reign of God is like a mustard seed which someone took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest seed of all, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants' " (Mt. 13:31-32).

       The concept of the Church as a pilgrim Church is closely allied with the idea of the Church in the process of becoming. The pilgrim Church is the fulfillment of God's people from Old Testament times. Under the leadership of Moses, the Jewish people traveled through the desert toward the Promised Land. The journey was, however, not always a smooth one; there were sufferings, both physical and spiritual, as well as numerous infidelities against God—which, occasionally, were extremely flagrant violations of his covenant law. Good prevailed, however, sufficiently for the promised goal to be achieved.

       God's people of New Testament times are also on the way; their Promised Land is the heavenly Jerusalem. The distance thus far traveled, however, presents a mixed picture. There has been a dark and ugly aspect of the Church's history; there have been jealousies, for example, as well as power politics in high places, and material greed; disloyal popes, bishops, and priests; laity who have, in numerous ways, betrayed the name of Jesus in the marketplace; apathy and a lack of concern for the world's problems.

       This evil dimension of the Church's history would be tragically disheartening if there were not a brighter side, but, through the grace of God, the good in the Church has been more powerful than the evil. There have been numerous martyrs who are definite proof that Jesus' love for an individual, and that individual's love for Him, can take such deep possession of the person that death, even a death that might be exacted through the most horrendous torments, can be deemed a privilege and even eagerly embraced as the passageway to complete and eternal union with Christ. There have also been many men and women of all vocations who wholeheartedly dedicated themselves to Christ and lovingly gave themselves in service to mankind. It is true that the good they accomplished was supported by both Christ's love and others' love for them, yet it was not always easy. Disappointments, misunderstandings, periods of agonizing suffering—these were also indelibly woven into the accounts of their lives.

       The Church cannot content herself with the good that her members have accomplished. The Church is still in the process of becoming; she is still a participant in an ongoing pilgrimage. Her members must have a spirit of openness, a venturesome attitude; they can never afford to settle down in a posture of self-satisfaction. There is still so much good yet to be accomplished. But how is it to be accomplished?

       We cannot be sure of all the future possibilities for achieving the work that Jesus has entrusted to the Church. Not too long ago, for example, how many would have thought that the principle of collegiality would today be such a dynamic element in the Church? That it is so is evidenced in many ways—through synods of bishops; priests' senates; diocesan councils composed of laity, religious, and priests; parish councils; and a more democratic process at work in religious orders and congregations. This is not to say that the principle of collegiality is being implemented in a perfect way; however, it is apparent that, relatively speaking, the Church has made giant strides toward the ideal. As for projecting into the future, however, we must be aware that there may be completely new experiences for which the Spirit is preparing us. We cannot, therefore, harbor a too static view of the Church. We should not think that the more unchangeable the Church is, the better she serves her purpose. There are both unchangeable and changeable dimensions of the Church. While we loyally hold true to the unchangeable aspects, we must at the same time give proper attention to the changeable dimensions. To do otherwise would actually be to refuse to be open to the Spirit in a proper fullness. A Church in the process of becoming—a pilgrim Church—must, then, balance her concern for both the changeless and the changing aspects of her existence. Only in this way can she be both stable and flexible enough to properly serve her own members and the entire human race.

       In discussing both the world and the Church in a process of becoming, much has already been said about the individual Christian's state of becoming, because the Christian's life is inevitably caught up in the world's and the Church's existence. It is well, at this point, to more directly consider the individual Christian as a person who is in the process of growth, of becoming more what God destines him or her to be.

       We are meant to be in a continuing process of becoming through a deeper radicalization of faith, hope, and love. True, one dimension of the grace-life is the fact that it is a stable given. It is not, however, a static given. We have to thrust toward that which is yet to be achieved. We are meant to be in a process of becoming the "more."

       Full maturity in Christ is not suddenly achieved. Even after a relative maturity is attained, this maturity can always take deeper root. This gradual achievement in spiritual maturity can be viewed as a process of self-encounter, a process whereby we gain the proper, graced self-control amid many struggles. It is a becoming through an encounter with the true self, through a gradual achievement of that self-identity and uniqueness that God intends. This becoming is achieved through a path of progress that is not always perfectly upward: there is the reaching out for good, but also the succumbing to evil; there is the discovery of strengths and talents, but also the painful awareness of weaknesses and limitations. There are, in short, successes and failures. There is joy—sometimes intense joy—over what is achieved in personal growth; however, there are also periods of discouragement—sometimes moments of near despair—because further growth seems impossible. All this happens because the process of becoming has inherent within it a constant newness that is linked to a certain sameness. We are always the same persons, but always different persons, too.

       Moreover, the process of becoming through a proper encounter with the true self takes place not in a vacuum, but rather, within the framework of an encounter with the material world, with human persons, and with God. The encounter with the material world—and, indeed, with the entire temporal order—is meant to be characterized by a correct use of creation, by periodic renunciation, and by a spirit of creativity. The correct use of material things enables the person to grow by respecting the fact that the bodily aspect of his or her being has situated him or her in a material world that is meant to serve the person's needs. The fact that persons are in part material beings means that one aspect of God's plan for men and women intends that they grow, that is to say, that they become, through the proper encounter with, or use of, the material.

       As long as men and women are on this earth, there will always be in them both a sinful tendency and a thrust toward good, and, consequently, they do not always properly relate to the material. For an individual to achieve a correct use of material things and other temporal values, he or she must periodically renounce them. At times, becoming means not becoming in a certain way, not encountering this thing or this value.

       Also, the material and temporal order offers wide possibilities for individual creative instincts. By shaping the raw stuff of creation through the various uses of one's creative forces, a person can become that which he or she was not. The imprint of one's creative image where it did not previously exist is a reflection of a certain development, or becoming, within the individual person.

       As significant as the encounter with the material world may be, however, it is obviously not as important as the encounter with human persons. God intends that so much of our spiritual growth occur as a result of our proper encounter with others. So much of our growth toward mature personhood occurs in the give-and-take of personal encounter. Until rather recent years, spiritual teaching placed a great emphasis upon the correct performance of certain practices. That appeal, however, did not always properly emphasize the fact that those practices were important only to the extent that they deepened the Christian's personal relationship with God and his or her fellow men and women.

       The selflessness that is required for authentic relationship to the other readily points out why encounter with persons is such an important contributing factor to true becoming. The Christian life is primarily a going out of ourselves to God and to human persons. This transcendence of self is not always easily achieved, however, precisely because it involves a process of overcoming the strong thrust of selfishness. Although going out of self to God is obviously the primordial relationship for the Christian, it is interesting to note that, through the words of Scripture, God tells us that our relationship to our neighbor is the criterion by which we are to judge our love for him:

              If anyone says, "My love is fixed on God,"
              yet hates his brother,
              he is a liar.
              One who has no love for the brother
                     he has seen
              cannot love the God he has not seen.
                                                               —1 Jn 4:20

       Going out to others, serving them, being for them, and loving them is a dynamic process. There is no set pattern that can perfectly serve all this. Surely there are certain established Christian principles and truths that govern our encountering and serving others; however, these truths have a certain flexibility built into them so that they can be assimilated to meet the particular situations of unique individuals. Our encounters with others—whether it be a case of relating to a partner in marriage or to a friend or to those who are recipients of our service or whatever—give proof to each of us, according to his or her own experience, that there can be no question of a static pattern of behavior to govern personal relationships. There is always the new, the unexpected, the surprising, or the significant change in behavior that must be considered along with the more stable elements that comprise personal encounter. Becoming by going out to the other truly is a dynamic process.

       If an individual person grows toward Christian maturity through a proper encounter with material creation and other facets of the temporal order, as well as through encounters with others, individuals must especially grow, or become, through an encounter with God. Growth through encounters with both material creation and other persons is rooted in our maturing through the relationship with the great source of all becoming—namely, God himself. He himself is infinite being, and he constantly wants to communicate himself to us so that, drawing from his infinite source of life, we might become more what we are meant to be—more of what he desires that we become.

       God draws us on to greater fulfillment according to the pattern of Christ's example and teaching. There is no other way according to which we progress to spiritual maturity. There is no Christian perfection that we can acquire, no possible development of our Christian personalities unless it occurs through Christ Jesus. The Spirit, however, does not superimpose this pattern of Christ upon us in an artificial way. The Spirit does not shape us according to the image of Christ without deep concern for our uniqueness; we are all different, and the Spirit supremely respects this fact. Furthermore, if the Spirit is of such an attitude, so must we be; we must not box ourselves in, all trying to fit into the exact same mold and maintaining that this is necessary because we must all follow the same Christ. The pattern of Christ is the creation of an infinitely wise God. He has arranged that the one pattern of Christ is also a pattern that has as many possibilities for unique assimilation as there are individual persons.

       We all follow the one and same Christ and we must all have an attitude of complete openness, of expectancy concerning the unpredictable, an attitude that will allow the Spirit to lead us according to his way of forming us in the image of Christ. At times we might have a too minutely preconceived idea of how we will become in Christ and we are, therefore, somewhat rigid about the whole process. Although the following of Christ is basically the same for all, how can we be sure what particular path of imitation—mapped out in rather complete detail—the Spirit has prepared for each of us? We can certainly be tempted to think that we know with considerable certainty the way in which our becoming in Christ should logically evolve. We must learn, however, to balance an attitude of stability that is rooted in a certain way of life, a certain way of following Christ, with a spiritual freedom that makes us really open to what the Spirit wants of us, however surprising, novel, or unusual this may seem.

end of excerpt from Response to God's Love






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August 12, 2003
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