On Belonging to Christ and Becoming Fire | Homily to L’Alto Catholic Institute Leadership Retreat


3 short stories to start things off:

  1. I have long been intrigued by a story from the days of the Fathers of the desert. A young monk –- one might almost say, a seminarian – who is discouraged, approaches one of the venerable elders, and laments that despite all his efforts at holiness – fasting, hours of prayer, following the rules of the community, and so on – he has made no progress, but is overcome with a sense of desolation and fruitlessness.  Not only is he not advancing in holiness, but he is slipping further into sin. The old monk looked at him, stretched out his hands, and flames shot out of his fingers. He said: “You must become fire.””
  2. A woman who has a positive reaction to the witness of a Christian woman, and leads the Christian woman to reflect that the encounter “was sufficient proof for me that we really don’t fully know what we carry, not only for people outside the Christian community, but even among us.”
  3. Yesterday, I was at Starbucks doing work when a man began what clearly a meeting with someone totally new to the Gospel.


Jesus, what do I carry that needs to be thrown away, cut off, or plucked out?
Jesus, what do I carry that needs to be cultivated?
Jesus, what are you doing in me? What are you doing in those around me?

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