Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
If God causes you to suffer much, it is a sign that He has great designs for you, and that He certainly intends to make you a saint. And if you wish to become a great saint, entreat Him yourself to give you much opportunity for suffering; for there is no wood better to kindle the fire of holy love than the wood of the cross, which Christ used for His own great sacrifice of boundless charity.--- Saint Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556)Heavy. This is a heavy thought. How incredible it must be, to be so dead to self, that one rejoices in suffering! That one finds great joy in being humiliated or broken, or considers one's self favored highly by God when life becomes a trial. This is a bizarre way to live. It is upside down, foreign to our culture, and to our modern Christianity of sweet blessings, and God fixing everything for us when we want it fixed. In fact, when we truly study the words of our Lord they sound very much like St. Ignatius of Loyola, "If a man wishes to come after me, he must deny his very self, take up his cross, and begin to follow in my footsteps." (Matt 16:24)" This also sounds like the apostle Paul, " I rejoice in my sufferings.." Weird. God's Kingdom is so upside down to our thinking. Someone asked Thomas Merton one day what he wanted to be now that he was Catholic. He said, "I guess I want to be a good catholic", to which his friend replied, "no, you should want to be a saint." This changed Merton's life. It should challenge ours as well.wkm
Monday, December 29, 2008
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Friday, December 26, 2008
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
This is the irrational season
When love blooms bright and wild
For if Mary had been filled with reason.
There'd have been no room for the Child.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Fr. Ron Hatton sent me this quote. It struck a nerve of truth! How incredible and intricate is our tradition. We must dig deeply as St. John Karpathos did in understanding our journey. He didn't just read the story of Judas and Peter and think, "one betrayed him and killed himself and one betrayed him and found forgiveness." St. John knew there was something going on within each man that mattered. Peter and Judas both walked with Jesus.. We walk with Jesus. And like both disciples, we will betray our Beloved. But we must learn from both, and that both will teach us what is eternal. The Tradition of the Church is vital to our understanding scripture. Without it, we are like sheep without a shepherd. We must be like Peter, no matter how many times we fall, we must weep and repent, and then we must tell the risen Lord, "You know I love You Lord, You know all things."
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Rejoice! The more we dive in and dig in to this faith, the more intense the love becomes! It becomes so riveting that we begin to disappear, and hallelujah!, we begin to abandon ourselves almost ridiculously to Jesus. It looks odd not only to those around us, but even to ourselves. We start to crave His nearness in ways that do not make sense. We find ourselves hating our sin and mediocrity with ferocious aggression. Then pride comes and we fall again. We wander through doubt again, we stagger like drunks trying to trust even for the smallest things. Then grace overwhelms us again, out of nowhere, and we dig some more. All of this is His sword, dividing us from ourselves so that we may know ourselves the way He knows us. St. Augustine said, " O lord, You know me better than I know myself." Why do we need this knowledge? So that when we are tempted to sin, or to think we are doing fine, or feel as if we have made it, or when we are faced with frustration, fear, doubt, anger, etc...we will recognize our fallen tendencies and turn to Jesus crying out for Mercy. The more we turn to Him instead of brewing in our minds the same old ways we always have, the more we can trust Him in the struggles and dark nights. This brings about a love for Jesus for Who He is, not for what He can do for us. Lord, let this be so!
Friday, December 12, 2008
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.
---St. Teresa of Avila
Beloved Jesus, how can we love You better? When will our every waking breath be for You and Your purposes? When O Lord can we see Your Beautiful face? While we are down here on our soujourn keep us close to Your Sacred Heart. There are wolves Lord. Within every disturbance and horror that sometimes walks beside us on these paths, we need You; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. You don't just walk with us, You are within us. Jesus, You said You would make Your home within our very hearts. The Kingdom is within. The unseen in our lives is more real than the seen, than the horrors, the frustrations, and the annoyances. God, You are more real than anything we can see, for You are unseen. Help us see this.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
How is it that we could ever imagine our days without Jesus? How could we breath? How could we find beauty and sincerity without His nearness? Without Him, our beauty and sincerity are covered in the filth of ego and blindness. Just look at the news, and the media's passion for the twisted and the base aspects in every one of us. There is a frenzied glee when someone is found to be doing wrong. But the real sadness is that they know we will watch it! This is the world without Jesus, without His mercy. He calls us to be His mercy, like Mother Teresa. She shared in the darkness of the poor. She was an oddity in our times. She embraced poverty as if it were the pinnacle of success. It is where she found Jesus, and where He told her to go. We are all called to this detachment, to this heart. The little ways are where we start. Kindness, humility, honesty, and trust are some of the foundational virtues of our journey. What a difference it would make in how we live and in our decisions if we truly believed that God will take care of us no matter where He leads us! How much we miss because of our fear to persevere in faith through seemingly impossible situations. There is so much joy we forfeit. Most of us would shrink back from what Mother Teresa ran to embrace, all because she loved Jesus with a simple love. Lord, help us die.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
The actual Christian task involves…
"accepting ourselves as we are in our confusion, infidelity, disruption, ferment, and even desperation."
These dark nights of the soul bring a different light to our eyes of faith. The light is not a blinding light, it is the warm glow of love. We are being emptied by these nights. It is painful to go through this. Mother Teresa spoke often of this emptying as the true path to being filled with God. How can He fill us with Himself if we are full of oursleves and other things? Jesus emptied Himself, are we not to follow Him in every way? The Father in His mercy helps us as much as we let Him. If we raise our hand in prayer and say, 'I volunteer for this part of the journey.', we bring a smile to our Lord. He is greatly pleased with our desire. We are His little children, we are being transformed, sanctified, and set free to love. We are being emptied. Lord Jesus, our Beloved, please be patient with us in these storms, and please Lord, understand when we cry out and wake you, hoping once again You will calm the waves.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
"I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost...." writes Merton. It often seems the things we hope are God's will in our own personal lives end up lying before us in a heap. We are not sure if what we are doing is the right thing. The fight to have faith in the unseen is so obscured by "reality" of the bills we can't pay or by sickness, or self doubt. This causes the desire to make Jesus the center of everything we are and do a constant battle. The battle to be His friend and rest in Him no matter what is relentless. This prayer by Merton touches something deep within us. Our faith, and the grace to trust, are the gifts we have been given. Many times, this is all we have to work with. Lord, increase our faith, and help us know that we are not alone today. wkm
Monday, December 8, 2008
The Virgin Mary is celebrated today as we remember her Immaculate Conception. She was made by God the Father to be the New Ark of the New Covenant. She is the Mother of God. She was full of grace from the very moment she was conceived. This is so vital to understanding the doctrine of our faith that is the Incarnation of Jesus. In Genesis 3 God tells Satan He will put enmity between her seed and Satan's seed. "Her Seed", the woman is never the one with the seed, but Her Seed is the Seed of God that she has been foreshadowed to carry since before the world began. She would be the one to give God's Son His Flesh and Blood. This is the Body and Blood we present at the alter. Mary had to be pure and free from sin, otherwise, she could not be the New Eve that says YES. The first Eve said no, the second said Yes, and the new Adam is our Savior. God did not have to do it this way, but He did. He is mysterious and He is in love with us.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
The better we know our own weaknesses the better we will be able to endure when we are tested. I know that when I am tested and want to give up because of the pressure, confusion, or fear I may be dealing with, that I still do not know myself well enough. If we know that we are capable of any sin, false humility, pride, spiritual laziness, etc.. then we can recognize it when the test comes and plead for mercy and grace to persevere. In this pleading, we are now asking for strength to endure the affliction, not for the affliction to end. There is a huge difference. The affliction, or cross, is a gift to help us grow closer to the Lord Who carried His cross and had to endure. He is giving us these crosses to make us like Him in all things. When we plead with Him to take away the gift, we are basically saying, I don't want to grow. But, when we know ourselves and realize why we want the cross taken away, we can then adjust it a bit or maybe move it to the other shoulder and carry on. Of course, this sounds much simpler than it really is. This is why we cry often for mercy.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Some days are harder than others. When we feel at our weakest, this is when we must look up with hope for Paul said, "When I am weak He is strong in me." Perseverance is not positive thinking, it is carrying a cross on a bruised and beaten shoulder up a hill while the world around you laughs or ignores you. Perseverance is not "just hanging in there", it is fighting to keep holy and pure in the face of temptation to despair and turn away from God. We must pray for one another.
Friday, December 5, 2008
The idea that we are able to handle whatever comes our way is at best naive. Bob Dylan wrote, "If you think you've lost it all, there's always more that you can lose." But there is one thing that should bother us if we lose more than any other loss, the presence of God. This is why we should hate our sin with the utmost passion. The willful decision to go against what we know God wants separates us from His nearness. He doesn't leave us, we leave Him. He said He would never forsake us. He does at times withdraw from us when we are seeking Him to make us want Him more, that is an entirely different thing than losing His presence due to sinfulness. We must make time in our day to go inside and look upon His Sacred Heart. This is why the rosary is so important. Just touching it or seeing it can instantly take us into one of the mysteries of our Beloved Jesus. Let us not be naive in our daily toil, thinking we can handle it all alone, we can't.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
We are a few days into Advent and it dawns on us that we are never out of "Advent." We are waiting all of the time and in every season! We are waiting most of all for Jesus to return and then we shall see Him as He is, and thus we shall be changed. We are also waiting for the Lord in every aspect of this journey. We hope to be good participants in His work in our daily lives. This is where we grow in faith and patience, always, "waiting upon the Lord". We pray and wait. We seek and wait. We hope and wait. We act and we wait. We wonder and we wait. We cry out and we wait. We are waiting to see His face and love Him as He truly deserves to be loved. St. John Damascene's words are intriguing, "Lead me to pastures, Lord, and graze with me." We all should hope to know Him in this way. But it may take some waiting.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Mystery is a reality we can perceive but not penetrate with the human mind---Albert Einstein
We walk a narrow road. The reality of the spiritual life is not some whimsical happiness, or even a confidence that we have it all figured out. We know only a few things for sure; Jesus was God incarnate. He was fully God and fully man. We know He came to save us by defeating death. He did this by dying. He brought light where there was no light. We now have hope, and though death is still an unknown occurrence to anyone reading this, we have hope that death is simply a door. His Blood washes us clean from sin. He rose from the grave and ascended into Heaven, and now sits at God's right hand. We know that He is coming again. He gave us His Church, through the descent of the Holy Spirit Who helps us. He does this through the Sacraments and prayer. We have Christ With us in the Holy Eucharist. We know that the bread becomes His Body and the wine His Blood. He told us this. We know His Mother, who is now our Mother as well. We know that the Saints are cheering us on. We know that we must work out our salvation with fear and trembling. We know these things. By faith we live in these truths. By grace we walk in them. Let us be detached today from the things that make us forget or ignore this mysterious and beautiful Way. Let us open our hearts in humility and cry out to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Lord, do with us what You will!
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Monday, December 1, 2008
There is a never-ending call upon each of us to love the unloved. Who are they? A friend at school who is always alone. A homeless man who needs a cup of coffee on a cold day. A friend who needs a phone call. An enemy who needs to be shown forgiveness. This ain't easy! This is grueling work, and some days it seems impossible. Do not think for a moment that Jesus doesn't know this. He dealt with every single human condition we can imagine, and then some. We just have to take a breath and move forward in what we know is right to do, and pray! It will feel awkward at times, uncomfortable, and irritating; kind of like learning to swing a golf club correctly, but, it will change us, and we will learn how to die to self. Mother Teresa can teach us a great deal about this. If you think you know her, you don't. Read her life story in the book "Come be my Light." She told someone once, " I want to love Jesus like He has never been loved." Every sick and dying person she cared for was Jesus. Lord, help us love You by loving those in and around our lives like Mother Teresa did. It would be something if we even tried this.