Trust in Him

Friday, April 30, 2010

The Greatness of God's Goodness (Journal)

In a moment of purest air, the sun rested on the magnificent city of pearl.
Floating in the rays of light were glorious blue angels whose voices were tremors of fluorescent white. Then she could see it clearly… palaces within the city touched with red sun.

(The Pearl City)

My Lord and my God, how can my poor heart understand Your Glory? Even when I sit in the presence of Your Majesty, I am shielded from the immensity of Your Power. Jesus, my Lord, my God, how can I love You? So great was Your love that You came down from heaven so I could come to know You, how can I begin to repay this goodness You have granted me by setting aside Your Power, when I have only my poverty to offer You? That the God of power and might should become incarnate for love of me is enough to strike the angels dumb with awe and cause the saints to prostrate themselves in tears of Adoration. But You did not simply do this, my Lord! You did not stop with this action of love that surpassed even folly and is enough to overwhelm all men with gratitude... no, You did much more.


My Love, You chose to show Your love in a way even more incomprehensible to those unequal to Your goodness. You gave us every drop of Your Blood, You surrendered Yourself utterly into our hands, even Your glory You did not expose, and You allowed us to put You to shame. Oh my God! My tears flow without restraint, because I do not understand. How could You love so much? You have made Yourself vulnerable to our love, and You have dedicated Yourself to redeeming each and every soul as if they, oh my Lord, were of supreme importance! But even this was not the summit of Your love. You did not only, in one complete act of Oblation, redeem us for all time. No, You saw our need... for we are weak and full of sin. You embrace us as Your Children, guide us as your sheep, and love us with the tenderness of a father for his son, and the passion of a man for his bride. My soul cries out: "what love is this!?" I am paralyzed with fear, for the greatness of this is more than the seas and the skies, and what at one time, on the surface, appeared foolish in my eyes... seems to surpass now even foolishness.

I can hardly begin to see how the Lord of all Bliss, the King of perfection, could love this worm so much. And yet, my heart is becoming easy, so entirely have you swooned my imagination that I can not be afraid. You have told me, and shown me, that You love me, and that I am precious to You. My Jesus, You are all I ever shall need. I trust You, and I beg You to accept my humble Adoration! Accept my humble plea, my impoverished wish to give You all. I am Your handmaid Lord, I have given You my heart and You have snatched it away, take pity on my plight, for now I have fallen deeply in love, and cannot rest until I have repaid all the love, stretching out to infinity, which You have given me. Indeed, I look around and see my Beloved in every person, and I breathlessly desire to save each and every one, and bring them with me to Your heart, for I cannot bear to let You be without them. My life is Yours, My Jesus, You have ignited me with the flame of Your heart and filled me with Yourself. No suffering, and no joy, could amount to what You have given me. Neither martyrdom, or long life in service, could nourish my thirst to give back what You have given me. No, I cannot repay You, but You have given me a remedy for this wound. Every small thing, every moment, I offer to You to give You pleasure... and You have promised that You will find infinite pleasure in it, if I do it with a love united to that which You showed for me on the Cross.

Apostolic Church-Bearing Witness

Dear Friends,

God, the Almighty, is full of mysteries that far surpass the imagination. His revelations to man surpass the seas and skies many times over in depth and magnificence. Jesus' coming to earth introduced an unknown sphere of love to mankind... a love that surpasses all hopes and dreams of the immortal human soul. Through His Catholic Church, Jesus has made us a part of His mysteries. He has given us the responsibility to bear witness to the faith, and to be missionaries to those who do not yet know Him. How well do we fulfill the filial responsibility given to us, as heirs to eternity, by the Father? What kind of example do we set for others to see... how do we treat those who are not embraced in the folds of the Church? These are very important questions to ask ourselves, and I am about to explain in depth a few things we should remember as members of a Catholic and Apostolic Church.

We've been given a great privilege to witness to Christ's Church. He allows us, sinful and weak as we are, to uphold His reputation in the Catholic Church. Therefore, our faith must never be weak, nor our beliefs empty. The mysteries of the Church are intense, and if we have not studied them in depth then we are just as in need of instruction as our non-Catholic neighbors. If we do not truly understand our beliefs in the Trinity, Eucharist, intercession of the saints, priestly sacraments, nature of sin and repentance, etc. then we cannot hope to share them with others, or even convince others that we hold these beliefs to be true. We must not insult ourselves with a half-willed surrender to the truth once we have been convinced of it. We must show a saintly sincerity and fortitude in our faith and beg God in prayer often for His strength in our hearts and wisdom in our minds.

Not only are we, who are given the grace of Catholicism, called to dedicate our intellects and wills to its teachings... we are also called to dedicate our actions and daily life to witness the God we profess. None of us are perfect, and God does not expect us to be, but we are called to strive for perfection. The call to holiness and virtue should be apparent in us. Our prayer and attitudes towards others helps us to take care of the spirituality God has given us and grow in our own faith. Our work ethic, purity, and love should reflect that of Our Savior. I am not telling you "to be good." I'm telling you that God has chosen you to be His instrument, and you need to be conscious of the fact that He intends to use you to touch every person you meet in a special way. As the good saint said: "preach the gospel, use words if necessary." The Catholic Church is, however, an apostolic Church. Therefore, we have a responsibility not only to ourselves but to our neighbors. As Catholics, we are called to share Christ's message of peace to people of all races and religions.

First, God calls us to love our neighbor. This is essential to the Holy Doctrines of Christianity, and if we had not imitated Jesus' love of Jew and Gentile alike, the Church would never have grown so great. The beliefs of others are not to be taken lightly! In the book, "The Kingdom and the World," which is a compilation of sermons preached in Westminster Cathedral, the attitude we should have towards agnostics is brilliantly defined: "Those who profess agnosticism are afraid of betrayal of truth and knowledge... this is noble and in keeping with the claim and revelation that Christ will be found to make and to offer... it is these who truly earn our respect." Indeed, I admire those who traverse the terrifying and lonely paths of agnosticism, because to them truth matters more than themselves. Christ offers truth to us, and truth should never be accepted cheaply. We also should have so great a respect for the truth that, once convinced, we are willing to lay our whole existence upon it.

With regard to those of other religions, I would like to point out that they too deserve our respect. The various Christian denominations that have sprung up throughout the world since the early 1500's is as diverse as the people who follow them. From these churches have come many good and holy people, with a deep respect for scripture and sense of God's presence in our lives. They share many of our values, but hold them without the support of grace giving sacraments and the guidance of Christ's shepherds, our priests and ecclesiastics. Within these churches is often found suspicions about the Catholic Church, and misunderstandings of Her teachings, that, if they were true, would cause us to cringe in fear of our own Church. For this reason we must be very understanding, and careful in our explanations when questioned. We should appreciate the patience shown to us, as humble servants of Christ, and pray for their conversion and joyful understanding when the goodness of God's mysteries as seen in Catholicism is made clear to them.

With regard to our own efforts to evangelize, I'd like to quote the above book again: "Be very careful when you explain your faith to others, to say no more than you have the right to say." We should not be arrogant in our faith. Technically, we do not have the right to explain anything related to the Almighty God, but He has made known to us His desire that we should "go out and teach all nations." Do not pretend to know what you do not really know! If you are called to advise a friend, do so with humility, asking God to guide your words, and do not profess to know every solution. Refer, when interpreting the scriptures to them, to the teachings of the Church and Holy Fathers. God has sent His saints to us for a purpose, and we should accept their guidance. And yet, believe even those things you cannot explain courageously. While you speak a few words explaining the faith and morals to another person, let your mind burn with fervent prayers of faith to God.

A Catholic should sympathize even more readily with those belonging to the Jewish Faith. While most other religions are quick to accept that God has finally made Himself known to the world, these still suffer a lonely sense of exile. They await God's coming, and cling to His Old Covenant, bravely facing the rise of Christianity. Indeed, these are our ancestors, and we must pray that they find, with great rejoicing, that God's Kingdom has come, and embrace it wholeheartedly. Following surprisingly close on the topic of Judaism is Islam. Catholics, and other Christians, have a tendency to pushing aside the Muslim Faith as strange and out of the league of missionary endeavors. However, when one examines Islam he will find a deep set faith in God and respect for truth, as well as an almost mind-boggling sense of practicality. We must remember that Muslims strongly believe the faith they profess, and speak to them without condescension, but rather with an eager desire to share with them the magnificent mystery of God's love for man.

In today's world there is a growing sense of emptiness and materialism, that presupposes atheism. Without really knowing it, people are falling further and further into the denial and rejection of truth. But, as a John Paul II said, God calls us to "Be not afraid." After all, we do not have the time to be afraid! We, who find purpose in life and beauty in morality through the gift of our faith, have so much to give to those who are alone and afraid. The earth is in tears, and its people are distressed, but if we hold God in our hearts as our strength then we can give this strength to them. Jesus calls us to be beacons of light in a darkening world and, with Him, the Eternal Light, we shall find many thirsting to be filled. Do not think that you do no good, for it is when people are emptiest that they most readily embrace that which will fill them.

Jesus Christ has loved us with a love surpassing all other things, good and bad combined. He has given us a purpose, and by adopting us as brothers, sisters, sons, and daughters He has put a price on our foreheads that only He can pay. As heirs to Heaven, we are called to be proud of our faith! We are called to spread the good news with all our energy and fervor! We are called, quite simply, to sainthood. Jesus has blessed us, and placed His image upon us, and now He calls us to be an expression of Him to the world. Take this precious responsibility seriously, and be an apostle in word, faith, and deed.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

God Calls

You have not chosen me: but I have chosen you;
and have appointed you, that you should go, and should bring forth fruit;
and your fruit should remain: that whatsoever you shall ask of the Father in my name,
he may give it you.

Jesus Himself chooses the vocation to which He will call a soul. He has known us from the beginning of time, and He knows what will fulfill us, and what work we are created to do. Therefore He offers us each the special grace to perform the task He has set before us. This grace gives us the strength to take up the Cross and serve Him. Because we are all meant to live forever with God in heaven, in perfect love, and it is in our very nature to serve Him... every vocation must focus on Jesus Christ.

The vocation of a religious is specially focused on Jesus in a unique way. She does not seek emotional and mystical experiences, but rather takes up the burdens of trials and darkness for His sake and for the sake of His children. She does not see the results of her labors, nor can she measure the growth of her own holiness. She does not presume that her poor efforts are helpful to the Almighty or to others, but has faith in His mercy and pity and acknowledges that He, Who is so good, will not spurn her efforts but use them for the good of others.

A cloistered religious does not take pride in her prayers and sufferings. To her, everything that happens to her, and everything she does, is of little account. However, she has a faith in Jesus' willingness to share the merits of His death so sincere that it gives her cause to hope that all she does and endures, if united with His sufferings, is of great value for the salvation of others.

The religious does not sip often from the cup of eternal life. Indeed, the holier she becomes the greater trials she seems to endure, and the less consolation she seems to receive. The poverty of a religious does not simply refer to her lack of possessions and worldly luxuries, it infers poverty of the spirit also. St. Therese of the Child Jesus is a very good example of this poverty. She longed to serve God in every way... as teacher, missionary, and martyr... she wanted to die every death for love of Him, so greatly was she moved to folly by this love. But, she realized her poverty of inability to rise to the great heights of saint and missionary. She realized her poverty in her utter helplessness in showing God even a portion of the love she had for Him.

The humility of a religious extends even farther than acknowledging her own sinfulness and helplessness, however. God does not permit her to wallow in her childishness, but rather calls her to great heights of holiness and service. He demands that she trust Him so thoroughly that she is willing even to be great for His sake. The utter abandonment of body and spirit vowed by poverty is a promise to accept what God chooses to give, be it good or bad. This is fitting, for who is a religious to deny the chalice that God puts before her lips, be it bitter or sweet, when it is offered from His own hands, pierced for her salvation?

Indeed, the vocation of a religious is to give God everything. It is a supreme contradiction... for in giving her nothingness and receiving His everything, in the way I have just described, she is given the grace to give back to Him all that He has given to her. The cloister is the summit of a religious' sacrifice, and by thus abandoning herself, and her weakness, into His hands... she lives solely in the faith that He will use her every action, offered in love for Him, to do for others what she cannot. It is a sweet life, rooted in love, that begs the heart of a woman to be joyful in her love of God through all times of happiness and suffering.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Vocation Day at Bethlehem Monastery

Friday, April 23, 2010

Dear Friends,

I have decided to record the events of this trip, knowing how often I have berated myself for not having kept such a record. First, I shall explain that I left Friday 23rd and returned home Tuesday 27th. I traveled by train, and kind benefactors picked me up and took me to and from the stations. It was a very long weekend, but this journal is specifically meant to record the vocation day hosted by the Monastery... which took place on Saturday 24th.

I was, admittedly, very nervous about my first train ride. After attending Mass Friday morning I mounted a train for the first time, and was pleasantly surprised by the cleanliness and comfortable accommodations on the train. I gazed at the sky above the trees for at time, simply enjoying the gentle movement of the train. Then I drew out my rosary and recited the sorrowful mysteries... my heart experienced a pleasant peace. When my rosary was finished I leaned happily back against my chair, eyes closed, and told myself a story about missionaries and Indians (one of my favorites). Then, I spent the remainder of the trip composing a letter to Postulant Sara at the Monastery. The rocking of the train made writing rather difficult, but I was satisfied when I was finished. I then located some scrap paper, (the back of a document I no longer needed), and drew her two pictures: one of the Infant of Prague adored by angels and men; and the other of Mary, flanked on one side by two angels kneeling before an empty cradle and a third angel holding the Infant in his arms, and on the other side by two angels before the empty Cross, the third above still holding the Infant. When the letter was finished I folded it up and awaited the train's arrival in the station.

The woman who drove me from the station to the Monastery told me a story about St. John Vianney that is worth sharing. She told me how the holy priest, on his death bed, burst into tears at his final communion. Those around him questioned his tears, telling him that he had served God well on earth and would now see him in heaven. "But," said the priest, "this is the last time I will ever receive Jesus into my human body." It reminded me that if the angels could be jealous of us, it is because we receive the Lord into our bodies. It reminded me that this is the greatest love which, if we fully understood it, would cause us to die from awe. We must never take the gift of the Eucharist for granted.

My arrival at the Monastery was a joyful one. Today is Mother Clare's Profession Day, a reason for many smiles. I now await the blessing of Compline and a peaceful night at the Monastery.

Saturday April 24, 2010--Poor Clare Vocation Day

Dear Friends,

In Monastic life, the earliest hours of the morning are spent in silence, reading, prayer, and meditation. Finding my way back to my room after breakfast, I picked up a book about Celine, Therese's Sister, and was inspired with some thoughts about the little way.

Sometimes the greatest trials are those we do not ask for... As aspiring saints, we may yearn for martyrdom and trials in which to show our love, and instead receive long life and joy. But even grace and happiness we must offer earnestly for God. He is not a God of suffering and tears... at the end of our trials on earth, when we have been fully purified, our love will be offered in a way that surpasses joy and suffering alike. If we truly love Him, we will offer Him everything, good and bad, as our only way of giving Him pleasure. Humility, faith, simplicity, and fortitude, backed by intense love, are virtues which foster God's Supreme Goodness and Love as first and foremost in our lives. These, the virtues of spiritual childhood, give us the incentive to spend each moment earnestly loving and serving God. If our life is thus His, as are our hearts, then we become a living expression of Christ, accepting both gifts and sacrifices unconditionally. This, my friends, is the way of saints.

How can I begin to describe the rest of today? The many wonderful friends, conversations, experiences, and meditations make it hard for me to decide where to begin. I suppose I must begin, as all things do, with Mass. Father's homily at Mass and talk at Benediction began and ended the day with a very strong call to follow Christ. Father, a priest of only three months, spoke movingly of God's call to every heart to serve Him in some vocation. He spoke of how some are called, in a very special way, to be Christ's alone... and that these chosen few are given a taste of the eternal plan that will be fulfilled in heaven. This deeper union, this call to come away and be alone with Him for the sake of His people, is precious and requires careful discernment and faith filled response. God, like a truly loving Father, tells us to be not afraid, to trust Him, and to follow wherever He leads. For He will bring us safely to the pastures where we will tend His sheep under His watchful eye.

The sisters had organized three presentations to begin the day. Each presentation was conducted VERY well... these Poor Clares know how to communicate their spirituality that is both extremely moving and simply practical. The first talk, given by Mother Vicaress Therese, focused on the vow of enclosure and the hidden apostolate of the Poor Clares. The next talk followed closely on this topic and was given by Postulant Sara. This talk, indeed, was my favorite. She used the Miracle of the Loaves and the Fishes to illustrate how Poor Clares are called to come away with Christ in an intimate manner, and then to minister to others with Him; just as the apostles ministered to the needs of the people by passing out the miraculous bread, so too do Poor Clares use supernatural means to give to those in need far and near. The third and final talk, given by Mother Abbess Clare, focused on the vow of Chastity. She spoke about how the unique vocation to chastity fulfills our need of intimacy with Christ directly, rather than through the person of a spouse. By espousing herself to Christ, a Poor Clare proclaims something beyond the natural vocation of man and woman that lasts into eternity.

I will not relate the events of the rest of the day. Lunch, prayer, and question and answer periods followed with served to make the day very successful. I hope and pray that many were strengthened in their vocations through it.

Monday April 26, 2010

Dear Friends,

I am embarking on a couple days which will, no doubt, prove exhausting. It is a fitting end, I suppose, to such an edifying, peaceful, and joy filled weekend. I failed to record many of my thoughts when they were fresh in my mind, and there is so much about this weekend that I long to tell you. Therefore, this final portion of my journal will be strangely disorganized... simply a series of meditations and things that I have learned.

The life of a Poor Clare is a life of Faith. She rarely sees the good that she does, and in her day to day prayers and sacrifices she is moved only by the faith that God will use her to help others. It is a lonely life... a woman never loses her natural urge to be a wife, and have children, for it is to this purpose that she was created. The silence among sisters and the inability to go and acquire acquaintances leaves the Poor Clare in dire need of finding every need fulfilled in Christ. Thus, Christ becomes her every thought and her constant companion. She lives to speak to Him, sees Him in everything, and desires Him with a desire that will never be fully nourished until she is united to Him in Heaven. Such is the way of a Poor Clare's journey to holiness... and it is a bittersweet journey. For in every suffering and spiritual trial, Christ comes nearer to her.

It takes great courage to answer the call of God. A Poor Clare's interior difficulties, and temptations, are only intensified by the enclosure. The life of penance and prayer is difficult, to say the least, and yet, she has such a deep confidence in Jesus, the promise of Heaven, and His mercy in using her efforts to help others that she is moved to embrace the trials with something of heroism. She clings to this confidence and embraces every cross with joy, never allowing herself to sour with sorrow, but instead showing immeasurable happiness and gratitude for the smallest joy to the greatest suffering, for each bring her closer to the Beloved.

Jesus has decided from the beginning of time who should be set aside to serve Him wholly and entirely... it is a rare vocation, but happy are those who are given the grace to live it! Indeed, while other vocations are just as full of trials and just as fulfilling as that of the enclosure, no other vocation boasts such absorbed intimacy and enhanced spirituality as the vocation to the religious life. For such extraordinary love, and such purpose filling each moment, mirrors the vocation of Christ Himself. For Christ chose to pour our every drop of His Blood for the sake of love! His every energy was used with an intensity of this love surpassing even folly. No person was worthy of this love, nor could any return it so unconditionally, yet Jesus loved even the poorest of them, even the professed sinner received the gift of His Divine Heart. The Poor Clare vocation returns life for life, everything for everything. She gives to God her nothingness, and receives His everything.

Much of my weekend has been absorbed in studying the doctrine of spiritual childhood, which I long to follow completely. The Theresian Doctrine of spiritual childhood both disposes of the responsibilities of prideful arrogance and gains the responsibility of loving God. He is not an easy Lover! One can rely entirely on God's mercy, but if one so much as sips from the cup of this Divine Love he is moved to embrace the most heroic strides at holiness. His love, absorbing him and drowning him in self surrender surpassing folly, moves him to give everything to God and intensifies his desire to be good. The doctrine of spiritual childhood is, therefore, very intricate and borders on the supernatural. It is indeed difficult to serve God, because satisfaction is not readily seen, but if we reach out in humility to the greatness of perfection and utter service, we can have confidence in God's graciousness in surpassing infinitely all that we have given and desired to give Him in His gift of Himself to us.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Interpretation of the Scriptures


The Spirit said to Philip,

“Go and join up with that chariot.”

Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and said,

“Do you understand what you are reading?”

He replied,

“How can I, unless someone instructs me?”


The Catholic Church utilizes both the Bible and Tradition in her teachings, a characteristic that makes her different from other Christian and non-christian churches. As Catholics we are blessed with a guide, a teacher to explain to us what we should believe and why. As humans we are intelligent, with complex minds that need to be cultivated and nurtured so that they can grow maturely. Often our understanding is weak and fragile, and a few doubts pounding on a poor foundation will drive us astray. Thousands of interpretation of any given passage of the Bible mean nothing to us unless we can trust that the person who has interpreted them for us speaks with the mouth of God. Jesus has given us this assurance in His Church, and has sent many wise saints in addition to this to explain our faith to us.

We cannot expect to always understand the scriptures, and we must not be angry with ourselves when we interpret them wrongly. We should approach the scriptures understanding that there is always the mystery, something we don't understand, and then we should pray that God will fill us with His Holy Spirit so that we can, in some small way, come to understand His words. We should always read the Bible prayerfully, and with reverence to what is being spoken. If God is foremost in our minds, and we allow Him to speak to our hearts, we are less likely to miss interpret His words.

God has granted the Church apostles, fathers, doctors, and saints. These wise men and women have written many books explaining how we are to interpret the scripture, and 2,000 years of Catholic Tradition supports them. Christ, who guides His Church from above, has promised that she will not mislead us. Therefore, we must trust her and those who teach us, and seek the truth of God's word in them. The proverbs teach us that if we listen to the words of the wise, and keep the company of knowledgeable men, then we will grow wise and knowledgeable ourselves. Therefore, be careful with your own minds and ask Jesus to place a steady sense of truth in you, so that you may understand the scriptures when you study them and when they are explained to you by others.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Loneliness

I will not leave you orphans, I will come to you.

Of all the trials that one faces in this life, loneliness causes the greatest destitution and despair. As humans, with hearts and intellects, we desire to have an impact on others. We want to know how we are affecting others, and we want them to acknowledge us and our actions. We are also created for love, and humankind is, in general, social and intended to live together. Loneliness shows itself in many ways, and it impacts us most greatly when we are not really alone. When we feel unappreciated, different, or manipulated, we experience a loneliness which resides in the silence of our hearts and festers hurt.

I have not yet met the person who has not, as some point in his life, felt alone in his sufferings. For a mature Christian, this loneliness is a gift... because when Christ needed His friends the most, they were all sleeping. We desire to share His loneliness and bring some comfort to Him in His agony. But most people, even those who offer their sufferings to Jesus for this purpose, become weary with the side effects of this loneliness. Destitution, purposelessness, doubt, and fear often accompany loneliness. Why? Because when we are lonely, we forget those we trust, and why. We tend to forget that we can do good, because we do not feel that we are recognized by anyone, including God. Truly, those who feel alone and in pain are the ones most susceptible to despair.

It is not natural for most to accept their sufferings without complaint, or without seeking a cure. When we become lonely, we seek refuge in work, hobbies, books, writing... all manner of things to get our minds off of the sentimental pain that resides within us. The very wise seek God when they are lonely, but I will not attest to God's efficiency in curing loneliness. It seems that this is one of the trials He offers most often to His saints. However, recognizing God's presence, and not failing to pray often, will definitely gain many graces for the suffering person and ultimately result in great consolation. When you seek company in your sufferings, spill your hearts to Him.. and He will hear you.

When we are lonely, we should admit to ourselves that we are lonely, and then try to live our lives with as much purpose as possible until the loneliness has passed. Meanwhile we must be careful not to let ourselves become confused, mislead, or threatened by this feeling. If we remember that there truly is a God, and truth, and eternity... then even if we feel alone in these beliefs, we will find some comfort in them. Also, the more lonely we become the more we should strive to give to others in Charity, for the times of our greatest empathy are those times when we ourselves feel heartache. If we cannot feel loved, we can love. If we cannot find consolation, we can offer it to others. In thus doing we can find peace with the world and with ourselves in this trial, and become saints through it.

Talking to God


"Ask, and you shall receive. Seek, and you shall find.
For I am the Good Shepherd, and attend to the needs of My sheep"

God knows everything, right? He knows us better than we know ourselves, and He knows what we need even before we know it. Many of us rely on God to nourish the needs of our heart and to take care of our problems, known and unknown. We correctly see Him as the solution... but as the solution to what? It is not uncommon for us to shy away from the truth about ourselves. Sometimes we come to God asking that He will have mercy on us in our sin... but we are in complete confusion concerning what those sins actually are. Other times we have emotional problems, even tangible problems, that we do not thoroughly understand.. and we ask God to fix them.

Jesus tells us to ask, He wants us to pray and ask Him for the things we need. A good and prayerful relationship with God is not shallow. In Catholicism, set prayers are prescribed to guide us in our journey of prayer... but equally important is that we learn how to speak, meditate, and listen to God beyond what is prescribed. For instance, when we pray the rosary we are to say the prayers merely in form, to keep our minds on the prayer, and to time the meditation. But when we say the rosary, we are also to meditate on the mysteries... because the mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary touch some of the greatest and most precious beliefs of our faith and we must grow in belief and understanding of them, allowing God to speak and work in us through them. We are all called to a deeper spiritual life.

Jesus is the way, the truth, and the light... by speaking to Him and seeking His wisdom, our lives are illuminated and we no longer walk in the dark. The journey of discernment is very difficult, and very confusing. In fact, during this time that we are learning how to pray is the time when we need prayer the most. Therefore it is important to be familiar with some ways that we can come to this prayerful relationship with God. Deep, meditative prayer does not come easy for most... but if we take steps to obtain it, God helps us to achieve it.

The first way in which we come to know God is fearlessly believing in Him and performing the prayers prescribed by the Church, particularly in the Mass. This kind of prayer prepares our minds and bodies to consider God and meditate on Him constantly. When we have begun to discipline our lives with this sort of prayer, we can move on to meditative prayer. Do you ever wonder what to think about when you sit in Adoration? Do you ever wonder what to pray about? Practice keeping a prayer journal and write your feelings and troubles in it... or, if you feel you will do better verbally saying these things, do not be afraid to find a place of solitude and talk to God. Put it in words, make your troubles and emotions tangible, not ghosts from which you flee in fear. Do not assume that God knows you love Him, tell Him over and over that you do in your journal or in your conversations. This seals the truth of what you feel concerning Him and yourself.

Through these methods one can come to true holiness and find the life of prayer. There will come a time when you sit and pray in silence, and you do not wonder what to pray about. Jesus is real and present in our prayer, and it is at this time that we can learn to listen to His answers. He speaks to the heart, and the more silence we nurture and the more care we take to lead the life of Christ, the more likely we are to recognize His voice. This advance in prayer is not easy because it brings on holiness. The holier we become, the more we know about ourselves and about sin. This brings fear and tears for many, because the reality is both extremely beautiful and extremely horrible. The closer we come to Christ, the more we realize how much we need Him.

For our sakes, and for God's sake, we should not shy away from prayer and knowledge of self. We should be honest and thorough in our petitions to God. We may ask Him, of course, to heal the unknown wounds... but we should tend to the ones we do know of and point them out to Him. We should tell Him that we love Him, and ask Him for the gifts we feel we need, such as wisdom or strength. Nor should we seek to be silent martyrs where Christ is concerned. While we may keep our troubles hidden from others, we should make them known by Christ and ask Him to either remove them or help us in them. Thus, we do not become proud in our sufferings and receive our guidance from Christ Himself.

My Lord and my God, You are everything to me and I love You.
I need Your guidance, Your light, and Your strength as I make my way in life.
Please help me to know, love, and serve You in the best way possible, and help me to become holy.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Holiness

Be perfect, as God in heaven is perfect.
If I speak with the tongues of men, and of angels, and have not charity,
I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.


God calls every human being to holiness... but what is holiness and how is it obtained? What makes one holy, and how does it affect one's life? These are important questions to ask us, especially as we discern the path we will take to holiness. I will answer these questions as I have answered them in my own discernment in the hope that others will benefit from it.

I have heard holiness defined in many ways... some say it is goodness and righteousness, some say that it denotes worship and service of God... but the most comprehensible definition I've heard is this: holiness is closeness to God. We are called to be holy first and foremost, it is our main responsibility. If we do not constantly strive for holiness in our own lives, we cannot hope to inspire others to holiness. If we are holy then we will first be moved to give God all that is do Him--ourselves and everything that belongs to us--and then we will be moved to act according to His pleasure. Indeed, holiness is a gift from God, and is only obtained from His hands.

Holiness is not easy to cultivate in ourselves. The holier we become, the more we begin to understand our own faults and the immensity of redemption. We begin to see and think with the mind and eyes of God, and often the intensity of reality is difficult to bear. The saints suffered the most spiritual trials, because they understood the evilness of sin. When one is hit with such a painful reality as we see when the veil of ignorance is drawn from our eyes, one is moved to heroic acts in every day life. The saints, our models of holiness, suffered the hardest temptations and agonies in silence, because they were able to understand how minor their troubles were when Jesus died on the cross.

Holiness itself is growth, because one can never be completely holy. One who is holy has access to the Fountain of Wisdom and Knowledge, and drinks there daily. Failings and foolish things in ourselves become more and more apparent to us, and we find more and more objectively exactly what we must fix in ourselves. The person who is growing in holiness will also find himself yearning for virtues that he cannot seem to grasp, and he will be ever striving to obtain them. An interesting thing that one would quickly notice is how substantial the stages of this growth are, because the learning takes place within each moment, new graces flare up often and from seemingly no where. One who is holy lives ever in a rapidly progressing journey, but is the same time at peace.

One of the greatest qualities of holiness is peace. A heart may be torn from temptations, a spirit mourning in loneliness, or a body racked with pain.. and still the person is at peace if he is holy. The reason for this is that God Himself is the peace of one who is close to Him, He is eternal contentedness. It is not a characteristic that is inside of a person, but it is as tangible and accessible as Christ Himself. In holiness a person finds faith, hope, and love. The eternal becomes so real that God, Giver of Peace, is naturally the most important Being to this person, and nothing takes precedence or even seems important in the face of God and His plan. This person is confident in the final victory, and almost desperate in his loving attempts to bring as many souls to God as possible, for God's sake and for love of God's children because they are children of God. To a person who is full of holiness, who embodies the Holy Spirit Himself, everything is turned to good because God is good.

But how is holiness obtained? It is difficult to come by holiness oneself, unless he has been granted an extraordinary soul by the gift of God. One must seek holiness, and pray for it. By striving to do always the will of God, praying regularly, and asking God to make us more holy, we begin on this journey. We should state our willingness to take up the Cross and walk the difficult road to heaven, and ask that God lay His Burden upon us so that we might have the grace to carry it. Such prayers offered for God's sake alone can help us to obtain holiness from His hand, and we can also take measures of our own to improve ourselves. By keeping journals of our thoughts we can examine our shortcomings and strive to correct them in our daily activities. In habitual prayer throughout the day we can keep God in our minds and see how He reveals Himself throughout the day.

Dear Jesus, I ask You now to make me holy. I hope and pray that through a life of serving You, and striving to bring You pleasure, You may find my heart worthy of Your gifts of grace so that I may become closer to You. I love You, and wish to give You everything I have and am. Make me holy and wise for Your sake, do not scorn my humble supplication and poor impoverished efforts.. but show that You love me also, and come to my aid.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Making All Things New


Listen to this beautiful song about Christ and His Mother:
Making All Things New

Some of you will remember a post I wrote sometime ago titled "Heart of My Heart," at the time I had no idea where I had heard that phrase, but now it seems pretty obvious that I must have heard it during the movie of the Passion. This beautiful song really has a powerful impact on me because it shows the beauty of Christ's death... "see, I am making all things new".. through the sorrows and pains of His Passion, He shows us that God can bring even the greatest evils to good. To look upon Christ's face, bruised and torn and ugly from the pain, I see a love in His eyes that to me is more beautiful than anything else in the world. Indeed, in the face of such deep loveliness, no handsomeness or beauty is anything at all. He is the way, the truth, and the light... His touch is life, and His word is heaven. He makes all things new.

The gentle mother of Christ, so full of compassion and yet so strong to bear the pain, has exemplified our part in the sacrifice. If we die with Christ, we shall also live with Him. Let us say with her "I am your servant, your handmaid, and I say yes again." Even when the world seems the darkest, we can raise our eyes to heaven with faith and see light, then go on, strengthened from above. Let us prepare our hearts to give all to Christ, so that He can make it new. Mary, who cried so many tears for Jesus, cries tears for us also. She will stand by our side, and lead us to Him. "You have been freed from the shackles of sin, my child, now is the time..." she calls us gently to go with trust to Christ, who makes all things new.

Easter is a time for looking at what Christ has made new and rejoicing in it. It is a time for seeing that our reality is not the end, and that in God there is a greater and more perfect life that awaits us. We rejoice because Christ has made all things new, and He has cleansed us and redeemed us from all our sins. He has brought joy, peace, and contentment to this valley of tears, and promises that we will be happy with Him forever. The lily that represents purity tells of goodness, and that good will reign forever. Christ, the risen King, will triumph in the highest glory. Let us praise Him, and thank Him, as we meditate on His act of Redemption.

Breathtaking (Pearl City Story)


The sun in the distance sheds its feast of light on the horizon. This is the first day. The only earth in sight is a sea of grayish white. A far away life has begun. Mountains, hills, and valleys all appear as an unreal fantasy. A new reality is present. The miles and miles of smooth, velvety coating is flecked by brilliant reds and bright sea blue. The colors of the rainbow have changed, and have become more pure. Beneath the mists lies a land so beautiful... a beauty so long clouded and unknown. Green hills, golden fields, and glorious trees pass before the eyes like a dream. A light veil separates what has always been known from what has always been hidden. Yes, it is the first day. A new life has drifted in, a life of higher angelic thought and spiritual enhancement, caressed by a pure white blanket of truth. Each breath taken is as simple and sweet as a bluebird's chirp, and the very aura of life bespeaks contentment and joy. In this quiet world apart, come listen to my story of the ravishing beauties of this mid-heaven...

I felt only emptiness and destitution. My heart had been broken, and I had no will left. I lived in a dream, a day time illusion, and my I felt that my life had no longer any purpose within it. Perhaps it should be understood that it is not the exterior trials that break us, but only the state of interior loss that makes life unbearable. For this reason I will not explain the circumstances of my life at that time... just that my mind was full of doubt and unseen tears flowed from my eyes. Sometimes it is hard to tell what goes on within the soul, in the silence of the heart... but rest assured that what one feels is felt by others as well, for this complex life within us is in the image of He to whom there is no restriction of thought. But listen, it is also in this inner life that we can experience the greatest and most moving wonders. It is in this inner life that feelings take root, and thought develops, and purpose hardens in a firm foundation.

It is when we feel most empty that we are most filled, and therefore I will tell you now of what filled my heart. I will not tell how it happened, for truly I do not know... but I know that his eyes were intensely beautiful, and beckoned to me. His smile was small, delicate, and gentle. I did not resist his gaze, if ever I had before; indeed, I felt that this gaze had always been upon me, I just had not seen it. He whispered "Zion" and raised his arm to a distant land... I will not say into the sky, for how could land be in the sky? It rested as firmly there as the continents rest in their clefts and the waters in their basins. The reality of life changed... but I did not feel that it had changed... I was standing where I stood before, just in a different dimension. Perhaps it is best described as standing in the same spot and being another person, for my perception of life had changed, and all around me there was the same world viewed wholly differently. Even the greens and blues, when viewed by my new eyes, would have been black or gray to me a moment ago.

Circling the glade where I was standing were ringlets of tiny golden dancing children. The sky, dark a moment ago, was now bright and the birds, who had been chanting in a dreary noise, sang a lively song. Indeed, they were glorious birds, and they flew to and fro from ivory nests softened with beds of cloud. I lowered my eyes, in what seemed an eternity of slow motion, to my feet. I was standing on an abyss of clear water... what had been hard dirt now became the deepest purity. My breath revolved within me like a fresh scent... and I realized that before I had unconsciously felt that each breath I took was a heavy poison, and inhaled and expelled it like a fox running for its life over briers and thistles. Now I did not breath out, but relished the air within my lungs. Yes, I had been viewing the world through a dirty lens... and now that lens was clear.

Forms were rising before me from the earth to the skies... I watched, and saw that they were precious, like pearls, and coated in a clear smooth liquid. But no, it was not a liquid that coated them, but a material substance which allowed them to be tangibly felt by all who could not perceive them as I did. I reached out to them, and they rested, one in each of my hands. I studied them, and realized that they were the substance of a petition. Indeed, I realized that God personalized each petition, and that these were alive because they were loved and cared about by He who had only to think of something to bring it to life. I gasped in some astonishment as I realized that what I could not see were the angels which raised them to heaven, and that those angels are only tangibly felt by people through these needs, these petitions to the Father. I could not see them before, but now I saw them... how much more was there that I had not seen?

But how long could one remain stationary in the midst of such life? Before I had thought sleep to be a sort of peace, a release from thought and pain... now I realized that true peace is the freedom to live, and be awake without fear. Yes, I was not afraid... my feet and hands had been tied, and I had been moving against a heavier weight than gravity with every move, but now they were freed, and I could move without effort. I walked and I ran without being held back by the tiresome stretching of muscles which I had not noticed before. There was a humming melody around me, and each footstep seemed the step of a perfect dance.

For a moment I began to see that land in the distance come closer... and I saw there a place of rest, and I saw Him sitting in the midst of His children, smiling upon them. But only for a moment... and then the world was as it was, and I saw it again as I lived. The weight of life, of fear, of all that beset me was on me again, and I began to fall. But he who had been gazing upon me took my arm and held me up. My mind, again filled with thoughts and my eyes again blurred by delusion, were comforted by his touch. I looked around me... the blue and green were as they were, and the sky which contained so much was empty. I breathed again the air, but I did not relish the air within me, only its movement as it passed in and out of my lungs. Ah, my hands were still held out to that place I longed to go... but I was not unhappy, and I brought them down again, as I proceeded with my day... knowing now that there was more to life than what I was, and knowing that if I would give my life for beauty, then I would even more give my life for the one who created it.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Saying and Doing


I have done this so that the words of the prophets may be fulfilled.
It is finished.


You will hear it said that to say is not to do... and many will exhort you against making promises that you cannot keep. They will tell you not to deceive yourself and others by pretending to be what you are not. They will tell you that saying you love the poor, or endorse some good charity, means nothing if you do not offer money... and that something is not important to you unless you have sacrificed some of your wealth or energy for that cause. Sometimes the value of words is pushed aside in the midst of this loud world with so many pressing demands for our actions. And yet, those who neglect to value words have chosen a very difficult and roundabout path for themselves.

When we go to Mass and praise God... we are offering worship to Him, and reinforcing our belief in His true presence and our faith in His words. We do not visibly see Christ in the Eucharist, and do not always feel that He has entered into us when we have received Him, and yet we profess to believe that it is truly He whom we receive. We cannot comprehend the words of God, and our reason does not understand what He has revealed to us... and yet we profess to believe in it, and God accepts this profession of faith, though there must always be traces of doubt in our hearts due to imperfect faith. We do not see God present during our prayer, nor do we see the choirs of angels, and yet we worship God and sing with all the angels His high praises. It may seem that our words and our song are falling merely on the ears of our fellows in the Church... yet we still say that we sing to God. When we thus profess through words what our minds and hearts do not naturally believe, we conquer our own hard hearts and wills and allow God's light and wisdom to enter into us.

Many times during prayer we pray in a way that we would not naturally pray to obtain some grace. For instance, I may be a hateful person and pray for Charity, hoping to obtain from God a virtue I do not already have. This is itself an act of Charity, just as to say I believe is an act of faith. When we pray at Mass, we say "Lord, I am not worthy to receive You... but only say the word, and I shall be healed." Perhaps we don't feel any particular guilt, or perhaps we don't really know if we can trust God's Divine Mercy, and yet in spite of ourselves, by saying these words, we have faith and receive God's healing touch. I was once asked why the psalms are recited when so often they do not pertain to our particular states in life... the words of the psalms tell the story of humanity's plight, humanity's needs and wants... they praise God for all He has done, and perpetuate the hand of God in history... they combine the past with the future needs, and thus apply the oblation of Redemption with all the needs of the world... and in doing this, by praying the words of the psalms, we are offering an acceptable prayer to God and a successful prayer for the needs of the world.

Saying what I do not feel, and praying for what I do not have, has always been one of the main resources of my spiritual life. One of the prayers I used often in my preteens went something like this: "Dear Jesus, I love you with my whole heart, mind, and soul... I will do anything for you, and I long to serve you, even to die for you. Help me to love you more, ignite my soul with the fire of your love so I may return your gift of love as my gift to you." At the time, I happen to know there were many other things I loved besides Jesus. I also know that my heart was not ready to serve God alone, to suffer for Him, or even to die for Him. And yet, this prayer is still on my lips, and I know now that God has heard my prayer, and has softened my stony heart at least a little.

Other prayers that I have often said have petitioned for wisdom, love of neighbor, the gift of discernment... I have even prayed for the desire to give all to God. Saying is not doing, but through saying in this manner I have come to do those things which I could not do before. By professing my faith and love for Christ, and asking Him to increase what I did not have, I know that my spiritual life has progressed from what it used to be. We cannot underestimate the value of words, or the value of prayer. If we trust God, we will ask Him for what we need, and we will ask Him to satisfy the needs of others. For those who have little to give, saying IS doing... praying, saying that you wish to help others, and asking God to grant your wish, is helping them. God knows that we can not come by heavenly graces, or the capacity to do good, on our own... and He freely gives them to us, if only we ask.

Religious Optimism

"See, I make all things new."

When reading the lives of the saints, there is an underlying tone, a hidden attitude that all the saints have in common. No matter how bad the situation in their lives may become, nor how dark their spiritual life may become from the attacks of the devil, nor how hopeless the state of the world... they always have a sense of optimism, a keen sense of faith and hope. God is all powerful, and He never leaves His children alone and in need. One who has met Christ knows that there is no way that our tears go unnoticed, or our troubles unacknowledged.

The truth is, there is something greater than what we can see... and the problems that tear the world and drown the people in sorrows will come to an end. God is a compassionate God, so full of love and care that when our trials have ended He brings us to Himself and consoles us. There is nothing He cannot do, and our prayers are never in vain. If we have accepted and embraced the virtues of faith and hope, then we will never despair.

Jesus shows us through His life that every sorrow, every difficulty is repaid a hundredfold by God with good. We can constantly give of ourselves to a broken world and still cling to a never-ending good. Our eyes may burn with pity and sorrow for a brother's final agony, but in our hearts we we know that this pain is repaid with a final good. We may be tired and wonder how much longer we can go on in a life of poverty and work... and at the same time our hearts are full of a life that never burns more dimly, the light of Christ within us. Every thing we do, and every thing we suffer, can be offered to Christ to obtain a greater good than we could imagine. In the midst of a dark and hurting world, the light and goodness of God is ever within our reach, and He is the solution of every one of our problems.

Fulfilling Our Priestly Obligation


"I have made you a priestly nation, a people set apart."

As Catholics we have been granted a great privilege... a privilege of which we could never be worthy. Through the sacraments God imparts His grace, His very self to us, and frees us of all the ugliness that clings to our spirits. Through Him we are free, we are new, we are beautiful, and we are blessed... who could begin to fathom such intense goodness as the goodness that God has given us through His Church? He has promised to guard and protect us, to lead us to places where we will be safe from harm and to flourish upon us the gifts of His creation. He has given us the world and all that is in it... the trees, the animals, and the seasons... and through Baptism He has created in us a clean heart with which we can enjoy this beauty of creation.

But to own the gift, this precious gift, is not free of obligation. Jesus has commissioned His Church to evangelize all nations... to care for the poor and those sick souls so desperately in need of His grace. He calls us to be His children, and to work in His vineyards. This privilege is not without difficulty, and as His sons and daughters we share His cross. We love these people that He has called us to help, and we give our life for them. He calls us to labor tirelessly for the salvation of sinners, and to cling to the threads of hope for those who are all but damned, so that by our hope for them God can reach their hearts and save them.

God has given us every joy, and every gift of love... He has led us to the springs of eternal life, and promises us life with Him. We are filled with wonder and amazement as we see what He has done for us, and the wisdom of His words. He has filled us, therefore, let us be an expression of this fullness of perfection which He has placed within us, and within the grasp of our hands. Let us work in His fields, let us preach His words, let us be a consolation to those tearful people who have not found Him, let us be unafraid, and ever prepared to give all that we have and are in this all important commission which Christ has laid upon the faithful. For this Jesus died, and as we share in His work, His loving gaze settles upon us and His kingly head nods in approval.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Need To Be Loved


"If They Persecute Me, They Will Persecute You Also."

We have been made body and spirit by God, and as such we have many needs; but by far the greatest need of our spirit is love. The nourishing love that God has destined us to share is infinite, it is a Divine Love, and is only realized in the fullness of eternal heaven. On earth this need is eased by faith, hope, and love within our earthly capacity. Most, if not all people find themselves hungry for this love, and many do not identify what it is or how it is to be satisfied. Indeed, perhaps this greatest good, this need for the absolute perfection of Divine Love, is a central cause of sin. It is certainly instrumental in many people straying from the path to heavenly love. But why?

We are born ignorant and small, unable to do anything for ourselves. We do, however, have the capacity to grow from the first moment of our conception in the womb, and we continue to grow physically, mentally, and spiritually throughout our entire lives. Many times we flatter ourselves with the thought that we know quite a bit, but we never know enough to walk the way to eternal life perfectly on our own. It is this deception within a person that leads to evils such as sensuality and materialism. We are familiar with ice cream, and therefore we know how to make use of it for our own pleasure... but if we were only familiar with ice cream, we would be unable to imagine peach cobbler which is, of course, somewhat better (in my humble opinion). Oftentimes we are deceived by our lack of knowledge into thinking there is nothing better than what we can obtain in this life, and therefore we should make the best of it. In this we are wrong... the wisest man is he who admits how little he knows. We are never much more than ignorant and small, therefore, we must always seek wisdom and purpose where it is to be found--in Christ.

We are not always mistaken, however, in our identification of this great need. Many, many times we identify it immediately and seek to satisfy it with human affections. Our human nature habitually corrupts this need to be loved into a focus on how others think of us. We become afraid that others are not thinking well of us, and live our lives in a veritable slavery to human opinions. It is not uncommon, even for the holiest of us, to be hurt by imaginary injustices done to us... and this hurt causes us to look at others bitterly, or to condescendingly judge them. This trap, this enslavement which leads to sin and clouds our minds and hearts from receiving the light of Christ, is overcome only by a true revelation of goodness.

Those who have recognized Christ as the true light, and the fulfillment of all our desires, are truly the blessed ones. These people offer charity freely, without expecting to be loved in return, because they know that Jesus Himself repays their love for any of His children a hundredfold. These people have access to the greatest wisdom and courage, because they look to Christ as the beginning and end of all that is good. To suffer persecution and mockery for Christ's sake is, for these, a genuine gift... for it gives them the opportunity to share even more greatly in the love of Jesus. When they are despised by men, it is not that they think so little of humankind that they don't mind... rather, they are glad because they know that the Charity they offer which is not repaid by men is always repaid by Christ. To be thought of as little, ignorant, or sinful brings these people the greatest consolation... because such painful convictions are always true of human kind in contrast with God's Divine Nature, and the realization of them brings holiness which in turn brings them closer to God Himself, and, of course, Love.

The Love of God is so great that it astonishes the angels and fills the blessed in heaven with the greatest awe. Indeed, this Divine-Human love is so great that it can easily be mistaken for folly... but those deepest in this foolishness of love know that love does not end at folly, but merely passes through it to the greatest harmony and good; the end of all man's desires. All that Jesus has done for us is an expression of this love which burns so strongly within His Heart. He calls us to the greatest heights of virtue and asks us to have faith in Him, and to know that all will be repaid. Therefore let us think and act always in Charity towards others, and give them all the love that is in us to give, so that we may receive from Christ the satiation of our burning hunger and the fulfillment of our ambitions for happiness.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Meditations On Silence

These past couple weeks I have posted very little because I have been away from home visiting my dearest friend, Laura Romaine, and joining her in holy week missions in Chicago. Recently she wrote a meditation on silence so beautiful and so full of inspiration that I asked her to let me post it, and she kindly agreed. Silence is certainly a very important part of all our lives, and deserves much attention. I hope you enjoy these words as I have.

Meditations In Silence

When two persons talk, the level of intimacy between them can be measured by the amount of silence. New acquaintances or teenage school girls will chatter, sometimes incessantly. Close friends may discuss, allow pause to consider their words, think, or simply to enjoy the others' company. Lovers may not talk at all, but gaze with moonstruck eyes and words only after the moment is broken.

Yet God always speaks in silence. When we are in His company, we never hear His voice loud, but only in the placidity at our hearts. It is because he is the closest to us, is the only one who can see into our innermost depths. Our own devotion to Him can also be measured by how comfortable we are in that silence. Is it necessary to speak all the time? Is a Mass without singing not worth attending? It is so easy to cover up that still, small voice with our own talking, our own thoughts.

In nature, things grow and develop in silence. A flower's petals open quietly, the sun beams coax shoots out of the ground in silent synchronization. As a child forms in his mother's womb, the loudest sound is a heartbeat, steady breathing, the shift of bone and muscle, the flow of blood--

This silence is nurturing. Silence is not a visual, but rather a space with room for the most mystic and spiritual things. We can reach out through silence to grasp this. We can immerse ourselves in silence to receive grace, strength, and courage.

The sister of silence is music. Music is like a tapestry woven of the strings of quiet. Small pieces of that rich depth are chosen to create a theme, to come together in harmonies. It takes relevant pieces that our minds can comprehend as well as our hearts. Yet still, the richest part of music is the eloquent pauses, where we drink briefly of that overwhelming font, before retreating again to the simplified melodies. Music often sits beside silence in life's dance, the rhythm of a heart, the harmonies of wind, the gentle rustling of leaves, muted scrape of petal against petal. All create sweet music which we attempt to amplify with our own voices and instruments.

If music is the sister of silence, noise is her enemy. Modern "music" resembles in many ways a white noise, a cacophonous and overwhelming mess of sound, designed to drive thought and growth out of our minds, and God out of our hearts. The noise of television, of yelling, explosions of sound which destroy our appreciation for the euphonic. Filled up with empty noise, we not only begin to dislike true music, but also become uncomfortable with silence. In the Screwtape letters, the devil writes "Music and Silence, how I hate them both!" Where the music of joyful laughter and prayer and holy song abides, he cannot enter. Where silence reigns, he cannot enter. We can only come into contact with the devil through noise-crying and screaming, pounding, raving, gossip and slander--all are ways the devil can create a place of communication. Even the worry, fear, or distraction of our own minds can give him welcome. Restless souls must find their repose with the God who speaks in gentle peace, or they will keep running a fruitless race to achieve rest where it can never be found.

Maritain wrote that "men are afraid of what is great, profound, violent, and definitive." We then, naturally shy from the encounter with God, and so fill the moments of peace with emptiness of input. Perhaps this was the fall off the angels, as in the silence of the void God first spoke a song, and His heavenly world bore worlds and stars and celestial beings. Angels joined his song, and stars joined His songs, each with his small, but distinct and harmonious part. Perhaps a note arose, not in harmony with the others, discordant from pride and disobedience. It was this note, perhaps that began the war, full of noise as rebellious angels were driven out of heaven.

We, on earth, by attuning our wills to God and bringing our thoughts to him through the day join the Son begun at creation, and when we rebel against him, we create violent unrest and cacophonous discord.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Birds


It was a beautiful morning as he walked out the door into a paradise of green grass. He was barefoot and his clothing was poor, and held in place by a white cord. As he walked the trees rustled in the wind above his head, and the light shone through the leaves to fall gently on his face. A cloud or two drifted in the sky and brought a cool shower that lasted only a few moments and then diminished in the clean air of dawn. In the distance was a view of hills and flatlands, flanked by a mountain covered with newly grown trees. He walked at a leisurly pace, breathing deeply of the lovely scented air.

As he walked, he came upon a field with flowers growing abundantly. The pinks and blues and yellows gave off such a perfume that he felt he was in a paradise and sat down softly, sitting back on his heals. His mouth spread in a smile as he broke into a tune... a tune with no set words or melody, but very surely a musical song of love. Birds of all colors began to flutter around him as he sang, and some settled at his feet and on the grasses surrounding him. Soon his song began to convey the goodness of God, and the wonderful love of Christ. The deep set meaning of the beatitudes drifted from his mouth with gentleness and grace, and his eyes glowed with enthusiasm. The birds lifted up his song to the heavens and came down again, flooding him with grace.

A short time passed and he rose again and walked on. His song had stopped, but in every step the melody continued and in his every movement his words were expressed. As he went his way, he brought with him the peace of that field, and communicated the love that he had expressed to those birds. His simplicity gave him wings, with which he flew to a point in the sky where he could see the beauty of that field and hear the lovely song of those birds at each and every moment. Thus, he never left this field, nor did he leave that peace behind, but instead brought it with him wherever he went.

Monday, April 5, 2010

This is the Day!


This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad ALLELUIA!!!!

Dear Friends,
Easter is a time of great rejoicing... we have just experienced the greatest act of love in all eternity... the pains and horrors of the passion... but the love of Christ has shone through and the joy we feel now is greater than any sorrow. At this time my love is always intensified, for I see in a simple and yet beautiful way the lightness of love that my soul feels for Christ.

After receiving the Eucharist Easter Sunday, I closed my eyes and saw many colorful birds... they flew together, spiraling into the air and coming down upon St. Francis' hands. They drifted gracefully down through the leaves of the trees as the sun shone through the leaves and lighted up their wings. Then they rose up again, as if raising the peace sent forth by St. Francis and his followers to the heavenly halls. This image was so beautiful, and the colors were so heavenly, that if it were not for the spring freshness of the trees I might have thought it was an image of God's palaces themselves.

The joy, the light, the peace, the beauty... all this reflects the awesome glory of the Resurrection. The Risen Christ, in white, is an image of hope and happiness. The holes in His hands and feet speak strongly to the heart of His divine love. The scepter He holds in His hands speaks of royalty and inheritance. His right hand held in blessing reflects how we are His beloved children. This blessing speaks of peace and all good, which is found in the beatitudes, the attributes of His blessed ones. His heart is pierced, and from it flows blood and water. This reminds us of the sacrifice of Redemption, and the intensity of Christ's cleansing mercy. How could one look upon the risen Christ and not love Him? Our Lord's complexion demands our adoration!

The days of the Easter Triduum have prepared us to embrace the mystery of true life... a life that overcomes even death... a life that embraces suffering. By meditating on Christ's brokenness and His poor face full of miseries we come to see more beauty beneath His sorrows, and we come to love this beauty that is deeper than handsomeness and health. As the new Way of Light stations suggest, if we looked at Christ only in His human form we could not experience Him on a deeper spiritual level. This preparation of the Triduum, this lesson we have learned, prepares us to recognize Christ in the Eucharist and know when we are filled with Him.

Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Light! Those who walk in His paths are illuminated by His blessings, and those that receive His graces are beloved by Him. We are the children of Christ, the followers of the Risen Lord, come let us adore and give thanks and praise!

My Mission (Journal)

All For Christ!

I was blessed with the opportunity to spend the holiest days of the year on a mission with Regnum Christi. We participated in all the Holy Triduum services, visited a nursing home, held a kids camp, evangelized door to door, and much more. What I have left from this incredible spiritual experience is a compilation of notes and meditations. Although this journal does not relate my actions from day to day, it does contain many indications of the spiritual formation I experienced there. I can not promise comprehensible thought processes... but the prayers I have written here all indicate a deeper desire for perfection in some aspect of my life. Many of these thoughts are indeed more suited to the Easter Triduum, however, it is not unsuitable to consider Christ's passion in the midst of our rejoicing. Our rejoicing is complete when we contemplate that He rose from the dead, not that He just simply rose. God bless!

Holy Thursday

Dear Jesus, what can I give you? I long to give, and to console you. Can my name, my person, be a version of you, Christ? When am I biggest, I am weakest. If spiritual Strength, love, goodness is what I want to give, I must always be small. I set the bar of virtue so high that only you can reach over it and satisfy me. Help me to keep it high, and never be afraid to keep it high. Help me to stay high in virtue by being low enough temporally for others to pass over me. Let my precious purity make me beautiful in your eyes.

My God, hit me with lightening. Show me how I have hurt you. Now, quickly, show me before I hurt you again. To see all that is evil in myself would certainly oppress me with the greatest horror... and yet, I would sooner endure this and fly to your mercy than to continue hurting you who I love so deeply. Make me grateful for all you have done, moral in both mind and body, and filled with your living word. Jesus, have compassion, cover me with your blood which has been spilled in my redemption. Show me what love is, and make my love so strong that all I do reflects this love I have for you.

Adoration Hour

Gentle Jesus, I love you. I love you for the blood and water which fell from your heart. I love you for the wounds in your hands. I love you for your pierced feet, which I kiss and on which I pour out myself. I love you for your lips, which breathed the living word of God. I love you for your eyes, beautiful and powerful as they shone divine love. I love your face so torn, no sight is more beautiful to me than this ugliness and pain. I love you for your mercy, which gives a wretch like me the strength to stand before you. I love you for your holiness, which fills me like the scent of insence. I love you for your holy crown, the eptimome of romantic glory. I love you for the fingers which which you bless me, and the scepter by which you judge me. I love you Jesus, with my whole heart, soul, mind, body, and strength. Help me to always love you more and more!

Good Friday

"I have made you, for all time I have known you. Even if a mother should forget her child, I shall not forget you. I have carved you in the palm of my hand." We are the thoughts and heartbeats of Christ. Our faces have moved Him to do what He has done, and He has loved us for all time as we are, even in our imperfections. We are sustained by the will and love of God, and even in those things that are most imperfect about us, He never ceases to love us. His love has no conditions, and if we pour out our souls for Him in their genuine form, imperfections and virtue, He will receive it as a precious gift. Even when we betray Him, He loves us. Our guilt does not close us off from God. Through Christ's sacrifice, even in our shame we can grow closer to Him. God is not afraid of sin, He always wins. And, although it brings Him pain, Jesus always accepts us back. Like a rope that is continually knotted, His continual healing draws us even closer to Himself.


All that Christ suffered in the battle of sin He suffered so that the unwinable battle may be won. He died in great love of each one of us. His last words were all words of love expressing deep set virtue. He has said that we are carved in the palm of His hand, and it has become a painful carving. My Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross for me.

"The worst act of torture has turned into the greatest act of love."

My Jesus, how can I thank you for dying for me? What can I give to you and others. My Jesus, I would willingly pour out my spirit and my blood for any one of your children. Help me to likewise pour out all my energy, my strength, and my love to help them.

Dear Jesus, to be without your physical presence is very hard and brings me great sorrow. Sitting now, in an airy little chapel, I feel keenly the longing I have to be with you. My love, your passion has turned my filial love into the love which a bride has for her bridegroom. I love you, I long for you, and the purpose of my life is driven ruthlessly by the inner torments of the pain of a broken heart desiring to be made whole. Sweet Jesus, your death is the cause of my greatest mourning and the greatest joy. Sweet and gentle Jesus, the alter stands empty there, as you carry your cross and die...

My angel, I wonder what He felt like all the Passovers before His death? Do you know what He said in prayer? What did He say as He prayed? Drink in His words, my angel, and then send them off again from your lips on my behalf.

Suffering Lord, I look now upon your cross and see a form so torn and broken that I can hardly breath from the anguish it gives me to see my Love thus treated. I love you my Jesus, yet I would not take you down from the cross, which you have freely chosen to mount. You see, sweet Jesus, I can only cry for mercy at your feet, be strewn with your blood, so full of love, and receive the kiss of your death. There could never be any greater love than this.

Holy Saturday

As I sit here in silence, listening only to the rustling of the wind and beating of my own heart within my breast, looking with a steady gaze at the empty Tabernacle, I think only of the mutual love between my Lord and myself at the moment of His death. My breath comes easy, even in the midst of my sorrows, for as He suffers my burden is eased. I feel that I should feel pain, His pain at this moment... but love, though consumed with agony, is greater even than sorrows or happiness.

Dear Mary, Star of the Sea, I offer you any pride, vanity, and fear that may be within me, and which causes me to lack charity. Take them from me and make me pure and beautiful, so I can better serve My Jesus and others. I fear that I am not lovable, and have to strive to become so. Please show me that God's love and mercy are for me the way I am, and that when I try on my own to make Him and others love me more, I only become worse. Please intercede for me, that I may come to a perfect charity, a love greater than fear.

Lord, you teach that if we ask we shall receive, and if we seek, we shall find. You, our Father, do not abandon us in our needs, but send your Holy Spirit. Please send your Spirit to me, give me your wisdom, love, and gifts of holiness. Help me along the way, and I will follow you as a docile lamb. I love you, Lord, and I trust you. I know you know what is best for me, Jesus, I look through your eyes and see that you want what is good for me. If I simply follow you, and believe in you, then I shall never want for anything. You will never return evil for my plea for goodness, but always give better than I had intended.

"See Mother, I make all things new." Heart of my heart, let me die with you. You're not alone, I'm here. Let me die with you, don't leave me alone. You make all things new, my heart is ready, I come with you. "Father, forgive them."

Dear Mary, I commend myself to you. Please help me to obtain holiness. I do not want to be good and comfortable, I want to be holy, even if it is difficult. Indeed, I know that to see my faults in their entirety would bring me overpowering sorrow, if it were not for the mercy of Jesus which I long to share.

Easter Sunday (Midnight and Early Morning)


Alleluia! My risen Jesus, I love you so much... I rejoice in your victory and, now that the intensity of your love is fulfilled and made clearer to me, I want to give you so much more. My Jesus, in the midst of all this work I feel as if I have neglected You. My soul does not flourish in this life (that of a missionary), although my love would indicate that it would. My Jesus, my Love, You were dead, but now You are alive again! The earth cannot contain my joy as I receive my crucified Lord into my arms. My sorrows were great, and my tears flowed abundantly, but now they flow again, for another reason. Sheer joy pierces my soul as I look upon the glorified person of He who was dead.

Oh Blessed One! Oh Holy One! He who has brought news of great joy. My future Spouse, my one and only dream, may all the world praise your most Holy Name! You suffered and died the most brutal death, and your interior and exterior pains were far greater than any pains ever known. Your burden was heavy, and I have not made it lighter. As I contemplate your Face, so full of pain and mutilated and torn beyond recognition, I see intense Divine Love. Your longing and love were so great that, though You feared the pain, You embraced it. Gentle Jesus, I see now that love is greater than happiness or pain...

Fill me, oh Jesus, with Your charity.. Cultivate this great love within me until it is perfect. Let my every action be an expression of my love for You, and let me look upon others with the greatest Charity, and admire them, for they are Your sons and daughters.

Risen Christ, You have promised us happiness greater than our imaginations, if only we first embrace the sorrows. My Jesus, I hope in You, who I love above all else. Your risen and glorified Body together with the broken Body of your Passion are the centers of my greatest love, and all my purpose. They attract me like honey attracts bees, and I am as detachable once I have embraced you as the water in the oceans is detachable from the firmament of the earth.

Jesus, I consecrate my day to You, my life, all that I have and all that I am and all that I do, I am Yours and I love You. Sweet Jesus, I love You with my whole heart and soul, it is no lie that everything I do is focused entirely on You, for I am infatuated to such an extent that I haven't the power to cease thinking of You for even a moment. You make all things new, You who send forth the light of mercy, peace, and love. Your eyes which shine divinity. Oh Lord, I earnestly desire the good You give.

Dear Mary, Star of the Sea, I offer you myself as your servant. Take me under your wing and teach me love and purity. At the moment I cannot give anything, for I am poor and weak in spirit. With your help and loving care I know I can become a beautiful and dedicated child.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Fourteenth Station


V: We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You. (Genuflect)

R: Because, by Your holy cross, You have redeemed the world. (Rise)

V: Consider how the disciples carried the body of Jesus to its burial, while His holy Mother went with them and arranged it in the sepulcher with her own hands. They then closed the tomb and all departed. (Kneel)

R: Oh, my buried Jesus, / I kiss the stone that closes You in. / But You gloriously did rise again on the third day. / I beg You by Your resurrection that I may be raised gloriously on the last day, / to be united with You in heaven, to praise You and love You forever. / I love You, Jesus, and I repent of ever having offended You. / Grant that I may love You always; and then do with me as You will.

(Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be.)

Virgin of all virgins blest! Listen to my fond request: Let me share your grief divine.

I see Him taken now, and set inside a tomb. I am sad, and I lay my face on the stone that encloses His Body as if I thought I could feel some life in it... it is cold, and does not move. The world grows dark, and still I wait by the stone where my Jesus has been laid.

The wall of stone that now separates me from the body of my Love is like the veil which separates earth from eternity. I look up into the sky and see only darkness, not even the stars are shining. But to my ears comes the sound of distant choirs of angels... and thought I hear, I cannot see. I hear voices, many voices, joyfully praising God's name... but all I can see is darkness, and trees bending in the wind. What is it that separates my poor humanity from the beauty which the senses of my soul can perceive?

"Where I will go, you cannot follow..." I hear His whisper in the wind, and I cry out to Him to let me follow. But all is silent, and I am alone. A great immovable stone has sealed the death of my Savior, will I ever see Him again? I am heartbroken, and cannot think or feel as I gaze upon this great stone wherein His lifeless body lies. Could He really have been touched by death? He is so good, He who is the life?

"No one takes my life from Me, I have power to lay it down, and power to raise it up again."