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Turn to Jesus (Article)

A Transforming Encounter with God
Letter from Fr Álvaro Corcuera, LC, for the feast of Christ the King 2011.

Cristo Rey
"Since prayer is what leads us to become ever more likened to Christ, I would like to reflect on this topic with you. Our personal life is a reflection of our prayer life."

November 21, 2011. Fr Álvaro Corcuera, LC, general director of the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi, sent the following letter to all Regnum Christi members and friends on the occasion of the feast of Christ the King.

The letter can be read in pdf format here.


Rome, November 20, 2011

To all the members and friends of Regnum Christi 
on the solemnity of Christ the King

Very dear friends in Christ:

It is always a pleasure to address you, dear members and friends of Regnum Christi, above all to thank you for the witness of your generous self-giving, prayers, and many gestures of support. This day, so beloved by all of the Church and the family of the Movement, gives me the opportunity to share some reflections that can help us to continue living our Christian and apostolic vocation as God expects us to.

We know that the Movement is a work of the heart of Christ. He is the one who has personally invited us to be witnesses of his love and to extend his Kingdom among our brothers and sisters. Today we look to him, thanking him for all his blessings, for all the good he does through each one of you. How it motivates and consoles us to contemplate Christ, the true universal King, whose immense love is always stronger than all forms of evil in the world. As with the first disciples, he assures us of his real presence among us until the end of time. He is, truly, the culmination of all our aspirations, the one who fully reveals the dignity of each man in God’s eyes, and the one who assures us of the definitive triumph of his love.

His kingdom is very different to those of this world. Christ presents himself to us as the true King of peace, meek and humble of heart. He exercises his sovereignty from the throne of the Cross. With his humility, he fills us with peace and asks us to imitate his meek and humble heart. We fix our gaze on him to clothe ourselves in his own feelings, to let ourselves be imbued with his love for all men and women. We want to learn from his example of serving our brothers and sisters as the sure way to one day reign with him.

Since prayer is what leads us to become ever more likened to Christ, I would like to reflect on this topic with you. Our personal life is a reflection of our prayer life. Pope Benedict XVI is currently offering a series of catecheses on prayer. In them, he gives us very valuable teachings, but above all, he opens his heart to us, since it is there, in union with God, that he finds the light and strength to guide the Church. We are also called to make prayer not just a means of spiritual growth and sanctification, but a vital need, something we really cannot live without.

1. A transformative encounter with God

Christian prayer is above all an encounter with Christ in which we contemplate his love for us. Our effort is necessary to dispose ourselves properly to enter into his presence, but we know that the protagonist of prayer is God and our part is to remain in an attitude of listening and openness. St. Augustine expressed it with these beautiful words: “Prayer is the meeting of God’s thirst with man’s thirst. God thirsts for man to thirst for Him” (St. Augustine, De diversis quaestionibus octoginta tribus 64, 4).

This encounter with Christ, if we are open and well disposed, transforms us in the depths of our being. Prayer changes our way of seeing, thinking, and acting. In prayer, God gives us a new heart able to love, forgive, give itself. And he does this because prayer, as an encounter with Christ, allows us to touch his heart and little by little, lets him make it more like his (cf. Mt. 11:29). It enables us to know and take on his feelings (cf. Phil. 2:5), but it also wipes away our tears (cf. Is. 25:8). That is the most mysterious transformation: where he touches our heart, he heals it, frees it, gives it wings, making it like his own.

In this special period through which we are living, God invites us to live very close to him, to let him be the one who heals the wounds on our souls, who consoles us and continues showing us his loving plan for the Movement and each one of us: holiness. In his homily at the canonization ceremony a few weeks ago, the Pope said that the most outstanding trait of the three new saints was that they let themselves be transformed by God’s love and become a reflection of that love for their brothers and sisters until they could say, like St. Paul, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). The Holy Father said, “They let themselves be transformed by divine charity, molding their lives by it. In different situations and with different charisms, they loved the Lord with all their heart and their neighbor as themselves” (Homily, October 23, 2011).

This transformation is not principally the result of a personal decision or effort, but of our openness to grace in prayer and the sacraments. Being in touch with the passionate love of God also leads us to live for Christ and for the salvation of souls with authentic passion.

When we pray, our enthusiasm for the mission grows. For St. Paul, preaching Christ was the dream that marked his whole life. Enthusiasm is not a superficial or fleeting sentiment, but the deep and convinced attitude of the one who knows what he has in his hands: a treasure we cannot keep for ourselves.

2. Humility and trust

Humility is the door that allows us to enter into God’s presence. We know that God is pleased with humble souls and grants them his grace. Humility helps us live in the truth and frees us from self-love, the main obstacle to contemplating God. When we turn to him with humility in prayer, we let God act in us and we can do all things with Him.

Humility helps us put our trust in God and abandon our restlessness and difficulties into his hands. The Pope said in one of his audiences, “Turning to the Lord in prayer always implies an act of trust, with the awareness of entrusting oneself to a God who is good, rich in love and fidelity. […] Under the Lord’s guidance, we must be sure that those are the right paths for us, that He is guiding us, that He is always close to us, and that we will lack for nothing” (Audience, October 5, 2011).

Thus, humility and trust are like the keys that allow us to enter into that dynamism of transforming contact with the heart of Jesus in prayer. Before him, everything that is not of him falls away and frees us from the danger of individualism. If humility is the truth with which we see ourselves, the truth is what God sees in each one of us: that authentic vision is a result of prayer because it is a participation in his divine vision. But this sincerity does not lead to discouragement, because we discover that what God asks of us is to trust, to cast our nets (cf. Mt. 5:5), and to prepare ourselves and others to meet Jesus (cf. Mk. 2:3-12).

When prayer is humble, it is also grateful. Christ himself gives us evidence of that when he addresses his Father, saying, “I thank you, Father, because you always listen to me” (Jn. 11:41), “Thank you, Father, for you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned, but you have revealed them to the simple” (Mt. 11:25). Gratitude helps us recognize God’s action in our life and his interventions in the small or big events. For grateful souls, God’s gifts do not go unnoticed, and that is why they communicate peace and joy, even in the midst of life’s darkness and trials.  Gratitude opens the way to hope and makes us feel God’s presence more closely, “since in reality, He is not far off. You are the one who makes Him be far off. Love Him and He will come close to you: love Him and He will dwell in you” (St. Augustine, Sermon 21:3-4).

3. Supplication and intercession

We frequently turn to prayer to present our needs or our brothers’ needs to God. When facing a special trial, a painful situation, or the daily difficulties of living our Christian vocation faithfully, we know that in prayer we will find the peace of soul and the light we need to show us the way. True prayer teaches us to recognize God’s loving plan for us in the midst of these unexpected situations. That prayer and openness do not usually give us an intellectual understanding or a rational conviction that brings tranquility, but rather allow a certainty of faith to emerge: God has chosen the cross as a means of Redemption, and he associates us to that dynamic in ways that are often mysterious. He enables us to see the meaning of suffering, like Christ, who loved us to the end. Contemplating Christ crucified leaves us speechless and fills us with love and gratitude.

In the Our Father, we find the model to present our petitions to God. When we turn to him with purity of intention, seeking to please him in the fulfillment of his will to establish his Kingdom, we learn to lift up our heart and pray as we ought. We discover that his ways are not our ways, and that his ways are much better. He knows better than us what we need: when we pray trustfully for our needs, we dispose ourselves better to receive the gifts that he, as a good Father, wishes to give us.

God is moved when we pray for others. The best help we can offer others is to pray for them to bring them closer to God. In his preparation for the Assisi meeting, Pope Benedict reminded us that the Christian’s best contribution to peace on earth is prayer. Before so many situations that upset us and make us suffer because they are contrary to God’s plan, the most important thing is prayer. That is where we learn to enter into the heart of God and see problems with his eyes. We learn to see the evil in the world with the redeeming heart of Christ, who came not to judge or condemn but to save.

4. Prayer and peace

On the other hand, prayer also allows the Holy Spirit to grant us his fruits, the ones St. Paul reminds us of in his letter to the Galatians. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23). Today we contemplate Christ the King of the universe, but, as Benedict XVI recently reminded us, he is “a meek king who reigns with humility and meekness […], He is the king of peace, thanks to the power of God, which is the power of goodness, the power of love. He is a king who makes the horses and chariots of war disappear, who breaks the bows of war; a king who makes peace on the cross, uniting heaven and earth and building a bridge of brotherhood among all men” (Audience, October 26, 2011). Those conflicts and wars also nest within the heart: there as well—through contemplation and constant dialogue—the Lord brings peace and comfort. Thus, in the measure that we ourselves have peace in our heart, we will be “instruments of peace” for our brothers and sisters, as St. Francis of Assisi prayed.

Dear friends, I wanted to reflect with you and go over some topics that you surely already know or live, but that help us go to the essential of the apostle’s life and which, for that reason, are worth going over and examining within that same dialogue with Christ. May he himself make these ideas fruitful in your soul and continue making the Movement a united family in Christ, a family in which we are filled with trust knowing that we have Mary as our Mother and that we can take refuge in her motherly protection.

Know that you always have my prayers for you. Sincerely yours in Christ and in the Movement,

Fr. Alvaro Corcuera, L.C.



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