Saturday, June 24, 2017

Ocean of Love

     “The Divine Heart is an ocean full of all good things, wherein poor souls can cast all their needs; it is an ocean full of joy to drown all our sadness, an ocean of humility to drown our folly, and ocean of mercy to those in distress, and ocean of love in which to submerge our poverty.”                                                                                                             Saint Margaret Mary

     Jesus Christ, true God and true man -- the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, has a human heart! He loves each and every one of us, as no human person ever has or will. He loves us so much that He became man, lived on this earth, suffered a cruel death, and allowed His heart to be pierced.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Power, Wisdom and Love

    “By our belief in the Holy Trinity we acknowledge in one single God, Power, Wisdom and Love, and these three are one. Now surely, I do see what an immense effect such a doctrine must have upon life.  It is no mere question for theologians, but one that concerns every living soul. Whatever is allowed by God’s power must be guided by His wisdom and urged on by His love. All that happens to me in life, the little worries and the great anxieties, the crisis and the daily annoyances, the sorrow and the joys, the harms that reach me through the sins of others, the great cries of history, the huge and devastating wars, the partings and loves and the whole cycle of human experiences are permitted by Power which is itself wise and loving. These three Persons determine my life, and since I walk by faith, I must surely grow very patient in my attitude through life. For how can I complain or criticize God’s Providence, since it comes under the triple influence of Power, Wisdom and Love? Under the guidance, then, of this mystery, I can walk through the valley of death or the more perilous borders of sin without loss of courage or hopelessness. Nothing can make me afraid. How these are separate, but one, I do not know, nor can I reconcile in my concrete experience the claims of each. It is always a mystery, but a mystery in which I believe. Whatever Power allows on earth is designed in Wisdom and attuned by Love.”           
                                                                                Father Bede Jarrett

     As I read and pondered the words of Father Jarrett, I shook my head in awe, wonder and gratitude for the wisdom he has bequeathed to us!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Mounted on Hope

  “No one had a more concrete, practical knowledge of her nothingness than Mary; she understood well that her whole being, natural as well as supernatural, would be annihilated if God did not sustain her every moment. She knew that whatever she had, in no way belonged to her, but came from God, and was the pure gift of His liberality. Her great mission and the marvelous privileges which she had received from the Most High did not prevent her from seeing and feeling her ‘lowliness.’ But far from disconcerting or discouraging her in any way – as the realization of our nothingness and weakness often does to us – her humility served as a starting point from which she darted to God with stronger hope. The greater the higher her soul became, the higher her soul mounted in hope. That is why, being really poor in spirit, she did not trust her own resources, ability, or merits, but put all her confidence in God alone.”                                                                                                                             Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen

     As I read this passage from Fr. Gabriel, it became apparent to me that I am not poor in spirit. I felt a deep sting as this realization struck my heart!

      On some level, I believe that I was growing toward this virtue. I have been making a conscious effort to depend upon God – on His help and assistance. But as I looked at my life, my hopes and desires, it was clear that I do not put my hope and trust in God, but in myself and my abilities.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Follow the Peaceful Spirit

     “A peaceful spirit with oneself and others is one of the greatest gifts of God. Follow that spirit and all His inspirations: He will work wonders in your neighbor and yourself. When one has learned how to remain in peace in one’s soul, God holds His divine school in the soul where He teaches everything without noise of words to attentive, peaceful and docile souls in such a way that directors have nothing to say but: Listen to the voice of God’s Spirit, or better still – follow faithfully the interior impulse of His grace.”          
                                                                                Father Jean-Pierre de Cassade, S.J.

     We are all searching and longing for peace . . .. peace in our hearts, within our families, in our lives and the world. But often, peace seems elusive or unattainable. When experienced, it seems to slip through our hands like grains of sand and fade like dust blown into the wind. Peace just doesn’t seem to be something we can readily hold onto!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Follow His Footprints

     How often in our lives we experience unjust treatment?

     We enter into dialogue with a friend, family member or stranger, and suddenly and quite unexpectedly, we are berated, criticized, and put down!

     We are taken aback, quite frankly, by their words and behavior, and want to lash out in retaliation. We want to unleash upon them the verbal whipping we have just received. It seems right. It seems just. It appears to be the appropriate thing to do. After all, who do they think they are?  We deserve better treatment than that. What were they thinking to have treated us in this way?

     This was the scenario that played within my mind recently during an event in my life. I did not snap back, but became quiet instead. Although I believed my treatment to be unjust, I was trying my best to get passed my feelings, because I wasn’t really sure what had precipitated the negative behavior. I asked God for insight, as I went about my day.

     As I prayed the scriptures that evening, a reading from the first letter of St. Peter, penetrated deeply within my mind and soul. “If you are patient when you suffer for doing what is good, this is a grace before God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in His footsteps. He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth” (1Peter 2:20b-22).

    “Sweet Jesus, when situations like this happen, are You telling me to just accept it? Unlike You who are sinless, I am a sinner, and so I am not always blameless. What are You telling me to do?” Being uncertain, I continued to ask for guidance.

     “When He was insulted, He returned no insult; when He suffered, He did not threaten; instead, He handed Himself over to the one who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23).

     “Wow! I thought. It’s becoming clearer to me. You don’t want me to return insult or injury. Don’t fight evil with evil, but hand myself and the situation over to God, the only One who judges justly. I don’t know what is going on with the other person. I don’t know where this is coming from, but You do.”

     “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24).

    “Lord Jesus, are You asking me to bear this sin of ‘the other,’ to help free them from this sin? Are You asking me to offer it up to You so that both of us will be healed?”

     As these revelations sunk into my head and heart, I felt challenged! I had read these scriptures many time before and had never seen them in this light. I couldn’t wrap my mind around what exactly God was expecting of me. I realized that I would not only need time, to help me understand, but an abundance of God’s grace, wrapped in a huge container of humility.

     For the next several days, thoughts about God’s message to me, ruminated in my mind. I wanted to fully grasp the meaning so I could move toward making it a practice in my life.

     I knew that God did not want me to be a doormat, or allow any type of abuse in my life. This wasn’t what I had experienced. It appeared to be more of a reaction that had been directed toward me – like displaced anger. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I recalled times when I myself had been short or curt with people when I felt burdened, tired or weary. These were the instances that I believed God was talking about.

     “Okay. That makes sense,” I thought. I then recalled moments in the past when I had experienced this type of criticism or harsh words and played out instances when I “reacted” with words of retaliation, and times when I “responded” with either silence or compassion. The times when I reacted seemed to fuel the fire that was being thrust upon me. But when I responded instead, it seemed to either diffuse the situation or at least not make it any worse. Also, when I responded, if I happened to lose my peace, I regained it sooner. My thoughts stayed clearer, and I was able to see if I was at fault in this situation, or if someone else was just having a bad day. It allowed me to reframe from taking it personally, so it didn’t sting quite as much.

     As I pondered these situations, I remembered that there were also times, when a verbal response was necessary. Sometimes it was spoken as the situation was unfolding, while other times, after the fire had cooled. But the words were always prayed about, thought about and spoken with love and courage.

     “Lord, this is a hard lesson! When situations like this happen, it is fierce and quick! It is so easy just to react! But you are calling me to be like Your Son – to die to what I feel like doing and love as You do.” I felt burdened. I knew God would not ask me to do something without giving me the help I needed to accomplish it! I needed to have an easy plan to be able to change my behavior. “Spell it out clearly Lord,” I prayed.

     As I pondered the scripture, once again, three things stood out: “this is a grace before God,” “to this you have been called that you should follow in Christ’s footsteps,” and “He handed Himself over to the One who judges justly.” These passages were key. I needed to call upon God and depend upon His grace, imitate Christ’s example and then hand the situation over to God, expecting Him to lead me and guide me.

     God is such a good and patient teacher. He teaches us lessons and then allows lots of situations in our lives to occur to help us to practice. Sometimes we pass with flying colors, while other times we fail miserably. Either way, God will not give up on us. The challenge for us is not to give up on ourselves! We must trust in the Lord and His strength.

     We know that it is God and not us, when an awkward situation is resolved pleasantly and we can walk away with a smile on our face. This is a gift of God’s grace and what He can do through us when we cooperate and follow His lead.

     Look for the footprints of Christ. He will never lead you astray!

Monday, May 1, 2017

It is the Lord

     “There is not a moment in which God does not present Himself under the cover of some pain to be endured, of some consolation to be enjoyed, or of some duty to be performed. All that takes place within us, around us, or through us, contains and conceals His divine action. It is really and truly there present, but invisibly present, that we are always surprised and do not recognize His operation until it has ceased. If we could lift the veil, and if we were attentive and watchful God would continually reveal Himself to us, and we should see His divine action in everything that happened to us, and rejoice in it. At each successive occurrence, we should exclaim: ‘It is the Lord,’ and we should accept every fresh circumstance as a gift from God. We should look upon creatures as feeble tools in the hands of an able workman, and should discover easily that nothing was wanting to us, and that the constant providence of God disposed Him to bestow upon us every moment whatever we        required.”                                                                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                Jean-Pierre de Caussade

     Recognizing God and His actions, always present in our lives, is very difficult for us. We expect or imagine just how He will show His face and often miss Him, because He comes in ways much different than we desired.

     Our plans, ideas and expectations of life, are etched so deeply in stone by our own hand, that when something appears other than we planned, we fail to see God’s hand in it.

Friday, April 21, 2017

My Blog and I

     “There is much emphasis on notoriety and fame in our society. Our newspapers and television keep giving us the message: What counts is to be known, praised, and admired, whether you are a writer, an actor, a musician, or a politician.    
     “Still, real greatness if often hidden, humble, simple, and unobtrusive. It is not easy to trust ourselves and our actions without public affirmation. We must have strong self-confidence combined with deep humility. Some of the greatest works of art and the most important works of peace were created by people who had no need for the limelight. They knew that what they were doing was their call, and they did it with great patience, perseverance and love.”  
                                                                                                        Henri Nouwen

     Today, April 21, 2017, Avia Joy is three years old! But before a word was written, or a story told, she was in the mind of God. She was His gift to me!