The Holy Father’s prayer intention for the month of August 2021 invites us to work for reformation and transformation of the Church in the light of the Gospel. It has to begin with “a reform of ourselves” through spiritual experiences – “an experience of prayer, an experience of charity and an experience of service” inspired by the Holy Spirit. When a person is reformed, then he or she can be fully formed in Christ, and in the life of the Church.
Pope Francis emphasised that the Catholic Church faces difficulties and crises these past few years, but it doesn’t mean that She is declining. In fact, She is alive and living through these crises and challenges! During this time of trials, the Holy Father invites us to discover our own vocation and our own identity as a Church “by discerning God’s will in our daily lives” and “embarking on a transformation” guided by the Holy Spirit. “Reform does not consist in words, but in attitude” to face the challenges and crises – either external or internal – by taking courage in order to reform oneself and the Church, in the light of the Gospel.
In our spiritual journey, we face a never-ending battle between what is good and what is evil – challenges and crises. When we want to do good and to grow in goodness, the “enemy, the devil is on the prowl like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour,” (1 Peter 5: 8). We need to have persistent and consistent attitudes by engaging with the Holy Spirit in our battles between what is good and what is evil. We as Christians, have an obligation to strive for holiness and perfection, by doing good and avoiding evil. We don’t grow in holiness overnight but it is an on-going journey that gradually forms us, shapes us and moulds us. God wants us to be holy, “Be holy, because I am holy,” (Lev 11: 44) and His deepest will is for us to love Him and to love our fellow brothers and sisters.
One of the ways to reform our inner self is to enhance our spiritual life by taking examples from the Saints of the Church, who show us the way to heaven. First, we need to get to know our Patrons or Patronesses through our spiritual reading on the life of the Saints. During my Initiation Year in the seminary, we were given the task of reviewing books on the lives of the Saints. I can proudly say that their lives have inspired and reformed my faith to face the crises and challenges in my life as a seminarian, and now as a priest. Their lives have truly helped me be rooted in prayer, have profound love for the sacraments and to be compassionate to the marginalised.
This month of August, let us discipline ourselves by reading more spiritual books and books about the lives of the Saints. May we then be reformed and transformed through prayer, works of charity and service to others. Let us also strive to educate our children about Christ, and nurture them to grow in faith and to grow closer to Jesus. Let us open to the gifts of the Holy Spirit to work in our hearts “until Christ is fully formed in you,” (Gal 4:19).
Rev. Fr. George Packiasamy