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Weekly message
from Fr. Chris

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bundles

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July 14th, 2024

Dear SPA Family,
I’m going to visit my homeland in September. Now, therewill be the nightmare of packing before the trip. Deciding what to take and what to leave. Shopping, packing, and making decisions confuse the joy of the upcoming travels. Probably, it will turn out during the trip that taking the most ‘necessary things’ are not the most necessary, and some of them will not be used at all.
We all can look at our entire life through the prism of these experiences. We accumulate many things in life, it seems to us that they are necessary for life. Gathering, packing, and then carrying them around so engages us that we forget about the very life that escapes us between our fingers. Some act as if tying and carrying bundles contain the essence of life. However, sooner or later it turns out that our life has escaped, and there are still bundles that once obscured the joy of life, and today have little value for us.
Once upon a time, a knight decided to set off on a long journey. He wanted to defend the oppressed as well as gain fame. He took a sword and heavy armor in case he met enemies. He took with a large container of essential oil to protect against the scorching sun. He also took some wood to make a fire at night. His bags also included a tent, bedding, food for him and his horse. Overloaded, he left his city. After a few days of travel, he was crossing the old bridge, and when he was halfway across the bridge, it collapsed, unable to bear the weight. The loaded knight fell into the river and drowned. Noble goals, good intentions are stuck in the prose of material life.
Christ shows the most essential goal of human life: building the Kingdom of God, in which we find our salvation. Christ reminded us more than once that His Kingdom was not of this world. This Kingdom is realized in material reality, but its spiritual fullness will take its final shape in eternity. We people, being by nature physical and spiritual beings, experience tensions between these two spheres. If our physical sphere prevails, then we become burdened with material values, like the knight. Consequently, the bridge leading to God breaks down and we may drown in material values.
This is extremely dangerous for those whom Christ calls in a special way to proclaim the kingdom of God. Christ reminds His apostles to take nothing for the journey, no food, no sack, no money in their belts. Sandals and one attire are enough. This is enough to effectively preach the Gospel. Saint Francis of Assisi gave all his wealth to the poor, and he himself lived off begging. He threw away all unnecessary bundles and relied entirely on God. And that’s why, he was the happiest man who ever lived, even death did not disturb his joy, he simply called it his sister.
No matter where and how we live, we can learn a lot from Saint Francis. Let’s not tie up too many bundles for ourselves, which may drive us into a spiral of mad pursuit of material values and obscure the charm of life. Let’s take with us as much as is necessary, remembering that we will also leave these ‘necessary bundles’ at the gate of death, and God will only look at the gift of love in our hands.
Have a blessed week. Fr. Chris

jealousy acts deceitfully

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July 6th, 2024

Dear SPA Family,
The ancient Greeks valued the beauty of the human body and cared about physical fitness. They began the Olympic Games. Olympic winners were honored as heroes. Their statues were placed in public squares. These statues were often salt in the eyes of envious competitors. One of them, under the cover of night, decided to destroy the statue of the winner with which he competed and lost. With great difficulty he moved the statue, which fell to the ground and crushed the unfortunate jealous. He was killed by envy and jealousy, which he nurtured in his heart and then put him into action.
And one more, contemporary example. Marian came from Poland a few years ago to the United States. He was an agile and wise man, full of initiative. Upon his arrival, he met his compatriot Janusz. They celebrated the meeting very cheerfully. In the first days, Janusz helped Marian take his first steps in a new land. Marian found himself in the new environment very quickly, he soon established his own company, which prospered very well. And that was the reason for the end of friendship. Janusz couldn’t reconcile the fact that his friend was on his feet so quickly, he was consumed by envy. He was swamped by envy which, like poison, kills friendship and takes away inner peace.
Christ came to his hometown of Nazareth, and according to the Jewish custom, he went to the temple on the Sabbath where, after reading a passage from the Scriptures, he began to teach. Everyone was astounded by His wisdom and by what they had heard so much about Him. But they were not willing to accept either Jesus or His teachings. Why did this happen? There can be many reasons for this attitude of Christ’s compatriots. Perhaps one of them was jealousy and envy. Is He better than us? His brothers and sisters and his mother live here. He is one of us, so why does He magnify Himself? Jealousy and envy prevented them from accepting Christ. Because of their envy, they missed the grace of a saving God.
We are reluctant to admit feelings of jealousy and envy. We recognize that jealousy and envy are wrong. However, as all evil, jealousy acts deceitfully, in order to expose them, it is worth asking ourselves a few questions: Can we enjoy the success of our neighbor? Do I see good in my neighbor? Are we able to praise them? Does a critical attitude towards our neighbor dominate our attitude? Are we happy when my neighbor bears misfortune? Are we trying to find fault in our neighbor’s success where there isn’t any? Are we changing the conversation when it begins to mention about our neighbor’s success?
There are many such and similar questions. And a sincere answer to them will also be the answer to how much we’ve managed to overcome the feeling of jealousy and envy. Envy and jealousy not only destroy inner peace but also create a split between people and can lead to a failure to meet the saving God.
Have a blessed week. Fr. Chris Ciastoń Copy

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