Jesus said: “I have come to cast fire on the earth; I am not at peace until that fire is blazing.” (Lk. 12:49) Right now, that fire should be burning in your heart. That is the fire of the Holy Spirit. A bonfire to be kept ablaze must be fed constantly. Wood, leaves, brush, old papers must be constantly cast into the fire. If not, the fire extinguishes and soon, there is only a pile of ashes.
As a result of the social and spiritual milieu in which we live, how easy it is for the fire of the Holy Spirit, the Fire of Divine Love to wane, decline, diminish and extinguish. Too many Catholics today are like smoldering wicks, smoldering embers that have lost their fire, lost their zeal, lost their enthusiasm, lost their joy for living. As T.S. Elliot penned poetically: “They will go out not with a bang, but with a whimper!”
A SERIOUS WARNING. The last Book of the Bible, the Book of Revelation/Apocalypse warns us: “You have lost your first love.” (Rev. 2:4) And, “You are neither hot nor cold, I wish you were, but you are lukewarm; so I will vomit you out of my mouth.” (Rev. 3:16) Startling or even shocking as these words sound, they come from the Holy Spirit who is the Author of all of Sacred Scripture. May God save us from mediocrity!
A FERVENT PRAYER. Let us make a heartfelt and fervent prayer from the depths of our heart that the fire of God’s love will never extinguish in our soul. However, if it has, let us beg the Holy Spirit to rekindle that fire. Then let us pray for the grace to ignite many fires—the fire of God’s love—wherever we go, with whoever we might meet, in whatever circumstances that God places us!
JUMP-STARTS TO SET OUR HEARTS ABLAZE. This being the case, let us use all the tools, all the means that God has placed in our path to jump-start the flame of God’s love in our heart. May we follow in the footsteps of the Master Jesus who said: “I have come to cast fire on the earth, and I am not at peace until that fire be enkindled.” (Lk. 12:49) Here are the Big Ten Jump-starters!
1. REIGNITE THE FLAME. Go to Confession! If we have lost God’s grace through Mortal sin, then God’s fire has been extinguished in us. No discouragement on your part; rather, trust God! Like the Prodigal Son (Lk. 15:11-32) get up and return to the loving embrace of the Father through a good Sacramental Confession. The loving arms of the Father are wide-open to receive you. He patiently awaits your return!
2. CONSECRATION TO MARY AND THE SCAPULAR. At the crack of dawn upon awaking every morning consecrate your whole being, your day, and all of your activities to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and kiss your Scapular. Paintings depict the Immaculate Heart of Mary with fire flowing out from her heart—the fire of love, the fire of the Holy Spirit.
3. SHORT ASPIRATIONS IN THE DAY. During the course of the day lift up your heart in short prayers, like arrows piercing the heavens, and pray: “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I love you; save souls!” Whenever the short fiery dart occurs to you, shoot it up to heaven as an act of love. Keep the fire aflame!
4. RECOGNIZE YOUR DIGNITY. Through Baptism our lives were radically transformed: we became Temples of the Holy Spirit. Among the many beautiful, mystical and poetic titles for the Holy Spirit in the Sequence of the Holy Spirit is that of “The Sweet Guest of the soul”. As Pope Saint Leo the Great reminds us in his Christmas homily: “Christians, recognize your dignity!” Through a constant awareness of my dignity and destiny— I am a Temple of Holy Spirit and Heaven is my destiny—the fire leaps up incessantly!
5. HEAVEN: RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER. The virtue of hope casts gasoline on the interior flame. With my feet on the earth and my spiritual eyes lifted on high, towards Heaven that awaits me, God’s fiery flame declines not. Life is short, like the lily of the field that rises in the morning and withers and dies as the sun hides its face. If I carry my cross patiently and with love, Heaven awaits me.
6. EXTINGUISH THE FIRE OF GOD’S JUSTICE BY THE FIRE OF YOUR LOVE—PURGATORY! Frequent prayers, sacrifices, alms-giving and acts of love offered for the souls in Purgatory can mitigate the Fire of God’s Justice that purifies the souls in Purgatory. That is to say, the fire of your charity can result in these souls arriving sooner at their final destiny—Heaven. Then their prayers from heaven will serve to ignite and inflame you constantly with God’s fiery love!
7. FIERY LOVE FOR GOD AND MY NEIGHBOR. The fire of love that burns in my heart towards a God I do not see, must rush forth impetuously towards my neighbor whom I do see and who is created in the image and likeness of God. “I was hungry, thirsty, naked, a foreigner, sick and in prison, and you tended to my needs!” (Mt. 25:31-46) Every time that you serve Jesus in either the Corporal or Spiritual Works of Mercy, the fire of God’s love ignites and burns brightly in you. Read the lives of the saints as models!
8. THE HOLY HOUR: THE HOUR OF POWER, THE HOUR OF FIRE! If you come in, out of an icy winter night and sit before the hearth where a fire is blazing, you thaw out. The flames shooting from the brick hearth dry up your moist and soggy winter clothes. In a similar fashion, it is easy for worldliness and mundane values to permeate our inner being with a moist, soggy indifference. It is precisely the Holy Hour, the Hour of Power, the Hour of Fire that sets our minds, our hearts, and our wills aflame. In the Tabernacle lives the Lord of Lords and King of Kings in all of His Majesty, fire, and power! Pope Saint John Paul II stated that the Tabernacle is the living heartbeat of the Church. May His fiery Heart set our hearts on fire!
9. SPIRITUAL READING/LECTIO DIVINA. For us to cast fiery darts into the minds and hearts of others, it is necessary to have firm convictions in our mind that translate into actions. All too many are sluggish, lethargic, anemic, and half asleep in their spiritual life; they lack the fire of motivation that is sparked and ignited by solid spiritual reading. Consult your spiritual director or regular confessor on your choice of reading. May the choice help you to put on the mind of Christ, in the words of the fiery Apostle Saint Paul. Then you will be able to say: “I have the mind of Christ.” (1 Cor. 2:16)
10. HOLY COMMUNION AND FIRE. When possible, receive Holy Communion. In a very real sense Holy Communion results in a Spiritual Heart transplant. You truly receive the Total Christ—Jesus’ Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. This means that you receive the Sacred Heart of Jesus. If you contemplate any image of the most Sacred Heart of Jesus you will see that a blazing fire rushes forth. He suffers so much, as He said to Saint Margaret Mary Alaqoque: “Behold the Heart that loves so much and receives only coldness, indifference, and ingratitude.” If your reception of Holy Communion is indeed fervent, then Jesus’ Heart takes your heart and floods it with the fire of His love that you can then share with the whole world!
“ I have come to cast fire on the earth, and I am not at peace until that fire be enkindled.” (Lk. 12:49) Starting now, may you be that fiery arrow launched and shot out into a cold and indifferent world. May your fire start to ignite the world on fire!