suffering

The Lord is My Shepherd…

April 18, 2015

The Good Shepherd Russian icon 19th centurySince I am a supporting friend of people going through very difficult life situations and experiencing a great deal of turmoil, I thought Father Jacques Philippe’s book, Searching for and Maintaining Peace: A Small Treatise on Peace of Heart would be a help to me and them. This is indeed a great treasure full of short meditations from Scripture and words of the saints and I recommend it to anyone who wants to help himself or others through the sometimes very rough patches of life, especially when tempted to despair and give up on the spiritual life.

We are simply not going to be able to overcome the evils of hard times without a strong spiritual life, and yet the first thing Satan tempts us to abandon when suffering greatly is our relationship with God. Just because we may be up to our derriere in alligators doesn’t mean we should abandon God who is the very One to help us drain the swamp.

I found particular inspiration from meditation #8 on Psalm 23. Father Philippe says in regard to this prayer that

…God leaves us wanting for nothing. This will serve to unmask a temptation, sometimes subtle, which is very common in the Christian life, one into which many fall and which greatly impedes spiritual progress.

For example, I lack good health, therefore I am unable to pray as I believe it is indispensable to do. [Change the word “health” to any other perceived detrimental situation.] Or my immediate family prevents me from organizing my spiritual activities as I wish. [Operative words: “as I wish.”] Or, again, I don’t have the qualities, the strength, the virtue, the gifts that I believe necessary in order to accomplish something beautiful for God, according to the plan of a Christian life. [Operative words: “I believe.”] I am not satisfied with my life, with my person, with my circumstances and I live constantly with the feeling that as long as things are such, it will be impossible for me to live truly and intensely. I feel underprivileged compared to others and I carry in me the constant nostalgia of another life, more privileged, where, finally, I could do things that are worthwhile. [I, I, I, I…]

We often live with this illusion. With the impression that all would go better, we would like the things around us to change, that the circumstances would change. But this is often an error. It is not the exterior circumstances that must change; it is above all our hearts that must change.

Happy are those hearts purified by faith and hope, who bring to their lives a view animated by the certitude that, beyond appearances to the contrary, God is present, providing for their essential needs and that they lack nothing….They will see that many of the circumstances that they thought negative and damaging to their spiritual life are, in fact, in God’s pedagogy, powerful means for helping them to progress and grow.

The essential question to be asked in hard times is, “What is God teaching me here?” We can fall into the “if only” trap all too easily, filling ourselves with desires which on the surface may be laudable but upon closer examination reveal that we are not accepting God’s will for us at this time.

For about 15 years now I’ve been asking God to give us the money necessary to move out of this diocese. I gaze enviously at the neighboring Tulsa diocese where the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter has a parish, the Benedictine monks at Clear Creek have a thriving foundation, and the bishop is doing all sorts of things to stir up the spiritual life of his flock and ask, “Lord, why can’t You get us out of here and let us move there? If only I could be there my spiritual life would be so much easier…” Whine, whine, whine.

Last fall in front of the Blessed Sacrament I got my answer. The spiritual situation in this diocese is improving somewhat but God made me understand clearly that all pain, suffering, and longing is given to me to endure for the sake of the diocese I’m in – the old saying, “Bloom where you’re planted,” we have heard. That “Aha!” immediately freed me. I have my purpose, my assignment. He wants me to witness here and He will take care of the rest. Why He kept me in the dark for so long is gradually becoming clearer, but it is all part of His plan for me and everyone else I come in contact with, and for the spiritual growth of this diocese.

The fundamental problem is that we employ too much of our own criteria as to what is and what is not good and we don’t have enough confidence in the Wisdom and Power of God. [Bingo.] We don’t believe that He is capable of utilizing everything for our good, and that never, under any circumstance, would He leave us lacking in the essentials – that is to say, lacking anything that would permit us to love more. [That is the bottom line, isn’t it?] Because to grow or to enrich one’s spiritual life is to learn to love. Many of the circumstances that I consider damaging could, in fact, be for me if I had more faith, precious opportunities to love more: to be more patient, more humble, more gentle, more merciful and to abandon myself more into the hands of God.

Let us then be convinced of this and it will be for us a source of immense strength: God may allow me to occasionally lack money, health, abilities and virtues, but He will never leave me in want of Himself, of His assistance and His mercy or of anything that would allow me to grow increasingly ever closer to Him, to love Him more intensely, to better love my neighbor and to achieve holiness.

What more could we possibly ask?

Image: The Good Shepherd, 19th century Russian icon, private collection, via Wikimedia

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V. Praised be Jesus Christ!

R. Now and forever!

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Saturday, April 18th, 2015 spirituality 2 Comments

Living in Todays Chastisement

September 27, 2014

Winged demon, Exterior Relief, Catedral Nueva de Vitoria-Gasteiz. Wikimedia Commons

Winged demon, Exterior Relief, Catedral Nueva de Vitoria-Gasteiz. Wikimedia Commons

It seems likely that every demon in hell has been loosed upon this world. How else are we to make sense of the hatred and chaos all around us and the unconscionable suffering of our fellow man but to recognize the hand of the evil one stirring hearts against one another and the Lord? Make no mistake about this; we are in a major chastisement for the sins of all nations. Moreover, we delude ourselves if we think we will be spared the consequences of the sins of the world and our own nation just because we are personally doing our best to follow Christ.

A couple of years ago someone asked me where in the Bible does God show us that wars, bad weather, plagues, etc. are His punishment on us. After all, a lot of good people are hurt by these events. I gave the answers in a simple way, not going into much depth, but this past week I read an excellent post by Rich Maffeo explaining it all, complete with Bible quotes. Please read his commentary because it’s quite clear and convincing and then come back here for my thoughts.

No Escape

We gain nothing and garner greater pain by denying what is right in front of our eyes and in our own back yards. The beheading this week, and not a one off case, of an employee at Vaughn Foods in Oklahoma City by a follower of Islam who reportedly shouted the Muslim cry repeatedly as he attacked her is a prime example of the bloodshed coming our way unless we as a nation perform a Nineveh (Book of Jonah) and embrace the Lord. But how likely is that to happen? The murder of innocents is enshrined now not only in Roe vs. Wade, it’s in the Obamacare laws, and I’m speaking not only of abortion, but the denial of care to those most in need, especially the elderly, that has and will have the effect of their premature deaths if not outright murder. We could show many more examples of laws and rulings touching our everyday lives that not only produce evil effects materially, but also violate our freedom to choose God before mammon.

We are not going to be able to escape these evils any more than most Jews were able to escape Hitler’s death camps because the depth and breadth of personal sin results in deathly harm to all. When enough people push an ungodly agenda it inevitably becomes law, and the law is used to justify expanding the sin by force. St. Paul minces no words in Romans 1:28-32 in describing the sins and the fate of those who persist in them:

And as they liked not to have God in their knowledge, God delivered them up to a reprobate sense, to do those things which are disgraceful; Being filled with all iniquity, malice, fornication, avarice, wickedness, full of envy, murder, contention, deceit, malignity, whisperers, detractors, hateful to God, contumelious, proud, haughty, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, foolish, dissolute, without affection, without fidelity, without mercy. Who, having known the justice of God, did not understand that they who do such things, are worthy of death; and not only they that do them, but they also that consent to them that do them.

What to do

Unfortunately, living in a nation where these evils are now forced upon us shows how personal sin tortures the corporate body of society. So what shall we do, given that we who follow Christ are the anawim Zephaniah speaks to in Chapter 2:3? St. John Paul II gives us a hint in his General Audience of May 23, 2001 where he expounds on Psalm 149:

5. There is a second term which we use to define those who pray in the Psalm:  they are the anawim, “the poor and lowly ones” (v. 4). The expression turns up often in the Psalter. It indicates not just the oppressed, the miserable, the persecuted for justice, but also those who, with fidelity to the moral teaching of the Alliance with God, are marginalized by those who prefer to use violence, riches and power. In this light one understands that the category of the “poor” is not just a social category but a spiritual choice. It is what the famous first Beatitude means:  “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5:3). The prophet Zephaniah spoke to the anawim as special persons:  “Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, who do his commands; seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you may be hidden on the day of wrath of the Lord” (Zep 2:3).

First, we must embrace the suffering that comes from living in a Godless world the same way that Christ embraced His suffering for the sins of the world. Why? Father F. J. Remmler tells us in his book, Why Must I Suffer? that

Public and national sins must be expiated in this world for the very simple reason that they cannot be expiated in the next. In the world to come families, cities, provinces and nations will have no continued corporate existence. There, men and women will exist merely as individuals, without being united by those social, civil, political, and national bonds which are necessary in this life for the welfare and preservation of the human race. In eternity, they will individually enjoy the fruits of their life on earth – the good will possess the kingdom of God in Heaven, while the wicked shall suffer for their evil deeds in the unquenchable fire of Hell. But public sins require public expiation, and as this expiation cannot be made in this next life, it is clear that it must be made on this side of the grave….

The sufferings endured by the good have a much greater atoning value than those endured by the wicked. Hence, the more good persons there are to join in making the required atonement, the more quickly will it be made. Besides, God is easily moved , out of consideration for the sufferings of the good, greatly to mitigate His punishments, and sometimes even to cancel them altogether.

Such sufferings afford the good an opportunity of making full atonement for their personal sins. For there is no one so holy and so confirmed in grace that he has not committed some sins, such at least as are venial. “Even the just man shall fall seven times,” i.e., frequently. But it is an unchanging law that every sin, even the smallest, must be fully expiated either here, or hereafter in Purgatory. But expiation made here is vastly more profitable than that which is made after death.

Second, we must constantly study God’s teaching in the Bible and its truths in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Knowing and accepting God’s truth gives us the power to call out and refute evil. It enables us to speak and live as a good example to others according to our state in life.

Third, we must frequent the sacraments and nurture the grace from them just as the good servant made the talents the Lord gave him grow from five to ten (Matt. 25). The Sacrament of Confirmation strengthens us through the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit to do what we ought and not shrink from necessary controversy.

Fourth, we must prepare ourselves to weather the onslaught through prayer, fasting, and self-denial, performing the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. If we are to die directly from the evils we face, we must make sure that we are in the state of grace and the confession of Christ is on our lips.

Finally, we must trust in God’s mercy and care for us personally, always seeking to see as God sees and to love others as He loves them. These are the ways that we can bear victoriously the onslaught of evil and join our King for eternity.

Psalm 149

Sing ye to the Lord a new canticle: let His praise be in the church of the saints.

Let Israel rejoice in Him that made him: and let the children of Sion be joyful in their king.

Let them praise His name in choir: let them sing to Him with the timbrel and the psaltery.

For the Lord is well pleased with His people: and He will exalt the meek unto salvation.

The saints shall rejoice in glory: they shall be joyful in their beds.

The high praise of God shall be in their mouth: and two-edged swords in their hands:

To execute vengeance upon the nations, chastisements among the people:

To bind their kings with fetters, and their nobles with manacles of iron.

To execute upon them the judgment that is written: this glory is to all His saints. Alleluia.

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Saturday, September 27th, 2014 Catholic culture, penance, psalms, spirituality, suffering 9 Comments

Summer Vignettes

August 12, 2014

Sharing the Harvest

Between a wonderful two week vacation staying with my sister in northern Michigan and managing the garden, this has been a busy summer. God has been very good to us with our harvest of tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, cucumbers and beans. Best of all, a neighbor and I have gotten together a couple of times to make salsa and tomato sauce. The conversation over chopping, scraping, mixing and seasoning has been joyful and grace-filled. The secular world would never understand how freeing it is to be able to thank God directly and out loud when we get news that her daughter and husband have arrived safely from a day long drive home. It would not appreciate our acknowledgement in conversation of how God has been so generous this year with the harvest. Most people would think we are stupid Bible beaters. But somehow I think the kitchen is filled with angels and saints rejoicing over the praise and good example we are giving her children.

Reading the Bible

Reading the Bible

A trip with the Bible

On the way up to Michigan and on the way home my husband and I listened to Steven Ray and Scott Hahn Bible presentations. I particularly liked Hahn’s discussion of the “Our Father”, and how it is a prayer we offer within the context of being members of the Father’s family. Moreover, his comments about how we are not home until we join God and the rest of our family in heaven highlighted for me the fact that we are surely in exile here.

I also took my Ignatius Study Bible with me on vacation so I could keep up with the online New Testament study I’ve been doing. Both the Bible and the sacred liturgy of the Church are God’s ways of continually drawing us to Himself and making us long for the day when we can leave everything behind and come to our true home.

Hell in Africa and the Middle East

With those ideas as a backdrop, consider the plight of the many Iraqi Christians and Yazidis driven from their earthly residences by ISIS. Consider that both Iraq and Syria, also in turmoil with ISIS, have been the home of continuous Christian communities since the beginning of Christianity. Facing the choice of converting to Islam (the ISIS version of it), paying the penalty tax for being Christian, or dying, these Christians made a fourth choice – to flee and affirm Christ. How many of us could abandon all we have and leave with only the clothes on our backs to go to a strange place, not knowing where we will eventually end up? This forced detachment can only be met with peace of heart by understanding that heaven is our only home. Not minimizing the hunger, thirst, exhaustion, and illness that people are suffering in the heat of the desert, only by focusing on our final destination can we survive should the same thing happen to us here. Let these events and the suffering of those affected by war be a lesson to us. Meanwhile, those of us who are temporarily exercising stewardship over what God has given us must pray fervently for all those courageous Christians in the Middle East that they will be cared for and remain steadfast in the Faith, and that all the others will find Christ amidst the chaos.

It’s tempting to make political comments as to how the world got to where it is today, but I won’t do that. Instead, I’ll say that I know that God has blessed those of us who are not being driven from our homes, sold as sex slaves, beheaded, crucified, and mowed down with bullets as our fellow men are. His gift of our being unmolested at this point carries with it a heavy responsibility to live up to our calling as Christians, behaving morally responsibly and unhesitatingly speaking God’s truth when we are called upon to do so.

The atrocities in Africa and the Middle East have distracted me from writing this blog. I want to bury my head in the sand and pretend that things aren’t as awful as they really are. Because I feel connected to all on earth and see every person as someone Jesus died for, I feel guilty about writing on spiritual matters when men, women, and children are being killed right and left by a satanically inspired bunch of completely degraded people. This is not what God has called us to be as human beings. This is the 21st century. Aren’t we supposed to have advanced beyond all this? But today’s comments here are to acknowledge the uproar and devastation so that I can move on and return to my spiritually oriented writing. I’ve learned that it’s easy to get side-tracked by the violence and lose focus on my mission. Wars will always be with us because men will always be motivated by greed and power to set themselves up in the place of the one, true God and to act as though power exists so as to destroy all who won’t submit to it rather than serving, as Jesus said at the Last Supper, all. It is in faithfully serving that we make ourselves last and thus be made first in the kingdom of God. So now I will get back to posting more often. Jesus rules and that will never change.

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V. Praised be Jesus Christ!

R. Now and forever!

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Tuesday, August 12th, 2014 Catholic culture, jihad, spirituality 4 Comments

Obtaining Peace of Mind

April 26, 2014

Compassion, Bouguereau, 1897

Compassion, Bouguereau, 1897

Many people I know are enduring some great challenge or other to the point of sleepless nights and nervous exhaustion. Being by nature a Mrs. Fix-it, I would like to take all these trials apart for them, sending these friends off with a cheery “Have a good day”, but such is not to be. In fact, the best I can do apart from listening and giving solid advice is to pray for them and trust that God will help them sort things out. This is probably how our good contemplative monks and nuns approach the many troubles we bring to them. Yet I am constantly tempted to worry excessively about people I care about.

One thing I’ve realized as more distraught souls find me – and I’m not out there looking for them by any means – is that if I don’t keep my own house in order I’ll never be any good to them. I get it that God’s will is for me to be present to them and to point them in practical ways towards solving their earthly problems while helping them come closer to God. I also get it that I’m no good to anybody without constantly working on my own spiritual life, especially maintaining my own peace of mind in the heart of Christ, and that’s wherein lies the challenge. My prayer life and spiritual reading become full of distractions over concerns for others. Mrs. Fix-it just has to intrude on my quiet time with God. Fortunately a very old book of spiritual direction has become an aid.

St. Francis de Sales’ (1567-1622) favorite book was The Spiritual Combat. He carried it around with him and read from it whenever he could snatch a moment here and there from his many duties as bishop of Geneva. The author, Father Lorenzo Scupoli, gives most useful spiritual advice to those of us struggling to live a God-centered life in an increasingly abusive and murderous world and to live rightly loving our neighbor.

Father Scupoli in chapter 25 of his book remarks:

Our peace of mind when lost demands every possible exertion for its recovery. We actually never can lose it or cause it to be disturbed except through our own fault.

True. True. God is teaching me through helping others that I have to depend on His power, grace and mercy for them and never become agitated over not being able to solve their problems for them nor to be impatient with how long it takes them to act. In fact, overstepping my bounds will lead to a dangerous pride and get in the way of them learning the lessons He has in mind for them as He perfects them.

…Our compassion for sinners and sadness at their destruction must be free of vexation and trouble, as it springs from a purely charitable motive….

Making my friends’ trials my own and letting them overpower my God time is not putting God first. If God is not first I become like a man struggling in quicksand. Sooner or later I will go under because I don’t see the rope extended to me to drag me out of the pit.

These trials and events occur at the design of our Master; the severest tribulations of this life bring His will to our aid, so that we can march with a calm and tranquil soul. Any disquiet on our part is displeasing to God. For of whatever nature it may be it is always accompanied by some imperfection, and it always has a tendency towards self-love in one form or another.

Disquiet when we are concerned about friends, family, or the trend of life in general should be an alarm bell calling us to question what is behind the agitation. For myself, I inevitably find that I want more power than I am entitled to. Although I quietly pray for those I want to help and watch for the signs of God’s grace in their lives, I am often stuck in a fantasy of how I think things should be and what I think they should be doing to end their pain. In other words, I think I’m smarter than God. After reflecting on this for awhile, I saw the pitfalls and resolved to change. Now disquiet becomes a trigger for me to pray that God be with them and that they submit to His will, whatever that is.

I am convinced that, if the heart is troubled, the enemy is ever able to strike us, and as much as he wishes. Moreover, in that state we are not capable of discerning the true path to follow, the snares that must be avoided to attain virtue.

You will find it greatly advantageous to preserve a calm mind through all the events in your life. Without it, your pious exercises will be fruitless.

The enemy detests this peace. For he knows that this is the place where the spirit of God dwells, and that God now desires to accomplish great things in us. Consequently he employs his most devilish means to destroy this peace. He suggests various things that apparently are good. It is a trap; you will soon discover that these desires will destroy the peace of your heart.

The devil slithers in under the cover of us desiring to do good to others and disturbs our very necessary time with God. This is the key problem with giving in to our emotions, our feelings of fear and anxiety both for ourselves and on behalf of others. God gave us the capacity to reason and think and He means for that to rule our feelings, not the other way around. Part of our self-discipline is to be able to hold feelings at bay while reasoning things out. If we cannot do this for ourselves with the help of God’s grace, how are we to really help our friends who are in emotional turmoil?

Father Sculpoli goes on to say that even when we discover that the desires we have to do a good are truly from God, we must “deter execution until our eagerness has been mortified.” Preceded by mortification he tells us, our work is more pleasing to God.

Finally he tells us:

Let us raise our hearts to God. Whatever He wills, without exception, should be received with the firm persuasion that every cross He wills to send shall prove an endless source of blessing, a treasure whose value one may not appreciate at the moment.

After pondering this chapter I have concluded that obtaining peace of heart and practicing it faithfully is a prerequisite for helping the many people God puts in my path who have little to no peace of heart. Whereas before I jumped right in to problems without sufficient reflection on the spiritual aspect of a friend’s trials, now I am asking myself how God is blessing them through their pain. In addition to making suggestions and observations that can help them, now I ask myself how God is providing for them in their trials and ask them what they think God wants from them. Doing this helps Mrs. Fix-it to help them better and always to point them to Christ. Most of all, I now can share with them that not knowing exactly what God is doing with them is no cause for disquiet, but rather an invitation to trust in Him and place themselves in His hands while doing all that is reasonable and allowable in His eyes to endure their trials and solve their problems.

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V. Praised be Jesus Christ!

R. Now and forever!

(Click on the link above to read why I end my posts this way.)

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Saturday, April 26th, 2014 Spiritual reading, spirituality 14 Comments

The Silence of Christ

March 26, 2013

Crown of Thorns, 1520-25, Lucas, Cranach the Elder (b. 1472, Kronach, d. 1553, Weimar), Oil and tempera on limewood, Private collection

Crown of Thorns, 1520-25, Lucas, Cranach the Elder (b. 1472, Kronach, d. 1553, Weimar), Oil and tempera on limewood, Private collection

Bossuet, in his Meditations for Lent, wrote:

Few people like to suffer, and to suffer in silence in the sight of God alone. And if it is rare to find those who like to suffer, it is still rarer to find those who suffer without trying to tell the world of it.

This comment isn’t just for Lent, but for all the times of our lives. I don’t think Bossuet was trying to be funny here, but really, the second half of the second sentence really is funny because it so perfectly describes our human nature. There is a reason for that marvelous Yiddish word, “kvetch”.

Who among us can truthfully say that we have never whined or complained to anyone who will listen about things that pain us most deeply? It is at those times we are trapped inside our own little world, maybe throwing tantrums over the injustices or ill fortunes of life, and wanting somebody to take pity on us and rescue us. While grieving over certain losses is normal and it is healthy to let someone care for us until we get back on our psychological feet, when we let our suffering control our lives to the point that it consumes our outlook and relationships with others, we are in trouble. Why? Because we are looking everywhere but to Jesus for the answer.

Jesus endured a thousand injuries, insults, and indignities from all manner of persons. He was falsely accused by his cruel enemies, the scribes and the Pharisees. They said He was a blasphemer, a rebel, a breaker of the law, and a disturber of the peace, that He had contempt for the Roman taxes, and finally, that He was misleading the people with His new doctrine.

And we get bent out of shape when somebody makes the slightest false accusation against us! But Jesus made no attempt to defend Himself. He bore the blows of the Jews and their accusations in His illegal midnight trial, the scourging and crowning with thorns all without a word. While the sadistic Roman soldiers spit on Him and struck Him viciously, He was silent. And when the hedonistic Herod, a slippery piece of work, tried to get Jesus to speak, He remained silent. He didn’t try to get out of fulfilling the purpose the Father sent Him here to accomplish.

We, too, have a purpose in our suffering: to share in the suffering of Christ for the salvation of souls. Our suffering with this purpose keeps us focused not on ourselves but on eternal life which we will spend with God and our whole, huge, joyful and loving family of saints and angels.

Bossuet writes:

…[O]ur souls are tested and marvelously improved when, by a truly Christian generosity, we are able to rise up above all that troubles and opposes us, and, like Jesus, we keep a profound silence, even when there is something to speak about, whether for our justification against an unjust accusation, or amid a raging tempest of trouble. A truly generous soul must defend itself with silence, which will be its calm and peace amid the storm. Jesus will send an interior sweetness into the depths of the hearts of those who, by a little courage, reject and abandon the help of creatures for the sake of His love.

In our sufferings and contradictions, let us not look to secondary causes. We must not pander to our self-love by a vain search for someone to blame for our sufferings. We must instead lift our sights to heaven to see that it is God Himself who has allowed these things to happen to us, and that they will be for the sake of our salvation if we know how to profit from them.

Suffering in this life is not optional, but our interior attitude towards it is. Let us imitate the silence of Jesus as a way to strengthen our character, build virtue, and enjoy an ever closer relationship with Christ.

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V. Praised be Jesus Christ!

R. Now and forever!

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Wednesday, March 26th, 2014 Spiritual reading, spirituality, suffering 3 Comments

Sabbath Moments

December 7, 2013

Awareness of God

Awareness of God

Welcome to Colleen’s Saturday meme hosted by her at Thoughts on Grace. She always picks beautiful, seasonal themes for her blog, and all very peaceful so go there and enjoy. Enjoy and join us.

Peaceful is a good word for Advent. I think of how the Jewish people were longing for the promised Redeemer, and how the very devout among them prayed so sincerely for His coming. Whatever their expectations, they were waiting patiently and quietly, fulfilling their daily duties that God had called them to do. Unlike the Zealots who were fomenting insurrection against Rome, the Jews like Peter, Andrew, James and John, Mary and Joseph, peacefully prayed with faith that the Father would keep His promise.

Mary knew that she was carrying the Savior, Emmanuel, “God with Us” in her womb, but she didn’t fully understand what that would lead to. She went about her daily duties in the house at Nazareth with kindness towards others and recollection in her heart. She took one day at a time and was not anxious for the morrow (Matt. 6:34).

It’s impossible for me to think about the Virgin Mary without thinking of her perfect “Fiat”, “Thy will be done.” Especially in Advent when I know the many little things she had to do to prepare for the Baby that would be the light of the world.

In meditation #6 of Divine Intimacy, Father Gabriel writes:

God’s will is also marked out for me by the circumstances of my life, whether important or not, down to the smallest detail, health or sickness, poverty or wealth, aridity or interior consolation, success or failure, misfortunes, losses, and struggles.  From time to time, God asks me to fulfill special tasks of charity, patience, activity, or renouncement, detachment, submission, generosity, sacrifice. But everything is permitted by God, all is ordered by Him for my sanctification, “To them that love God, all things work together unto good” (Rom. 8:28); “everything is a grace!” (T.C.J. NV).

As I think about this, my mind is drawn to the Christians of the Central African Republic who are in the midst of what appears to be another genocide perpetrated by the muslims. I think also of the Christians in the Middle East – Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq. Their Advent is far from peaceful. They are just trying to stay alive. They are refugees; hungry, thirsty, tired, and grieving. Their images are etched in my heart.

The circumstances of their lives cannot be more opposite to mine. Worse yet, in earthly terms, I can do nothing to help them, nothing to stop the hate and violence they suffer, nothing to stop the loss of life. Only in spiritual terms can I help to strengthen them in their passion and suffering. I can give the peace of my Advent for them. All the little things I must do in my daily life, whether routine or extra as I prepare to visit family over the holidays, I can give to Jesus with submission for their sake, praying that they will know that God is working for their sanctification. Whether I like to do these little things, or whether I feel like groaning at the effort required, I can ask Him to bring them peace in their hearts as they endure such terrible tribulation. This I must do in blind faith that it will make a difference, even though I will never in this life see the benefits for them.

For whom will you offer your peaceful Advent?

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V. Praised be Jesus Christ!

R. Now and forever!

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Saturday, December 7th, 2013 Sabbath Moments, spirituality 7 Comments

Sabbath Moments

August 10, 2013

Awareness of God

Awareness of God

Welcome to Colleen’s Saturday meme. Join us with a few of your own Sabbath Moments too.

Rain, bees, and swallowtails

Rain, rain, rain most of this week. We are now over 20 inches above normal which is great for the aquifers and the water table but bad for the poor folk who are flooded out of their homes. Last year many people in our area experienced the inconvenience of their wells running dry after two years of severe drought but now they have plenty. The garden has turned into a jungle and with a few hours of sunshine here and there, we’re seeing vegetables start to flower again. This week I’ve spent some Sabbath Moments listening to the thunder and rain, seeing more bees appear, and the first blue swallowtail butterfly flitting about the front yard. Every year the growing season is an adventure to see what God has in mind.

A rebuke from St. Therese

This morning my Divine Intimacy meditation was on prudence. Father Gabriel wrote,

Supernatural prudence is that virtue which suggests to us what we should do and what we should avoid in order to reach the goal we have set for ourselves.

He tells us that if we want to get to perfect union with Christ we must perform acts of charity and generosity without recoiling from the sacrifice. I am reminded of the times since I was a child that I groaned either outwardly or inwardly at having to give up what I wanted to do in order to obey my mother or to answer the call of someone in need, such as my husband or a neighbor. My mother’s favorite phrase to us when we were kids was, “Offer it up!” That evil concupiscence in me still rebelled even if I went through the outward motions.

Today I’m so glad she said those words because as an adult the discipline of doing not what I wanted but rather what God wanted has served me well. That doesn’t mean that I don’t feel like groaning anymore when I have to give up what I want. The temptation to procrastinate or avoid now becomes a trigger that reminds me I must do God’s will cheerfully and somehow it is easier to go forward with my duty.

From today’s meditation we also have the words of St. Therese which surprised me because they contain a rebuke to a fellow sister that we can all benefit from.

St. Therese of the Child Jesus said to a religious who told her that she disliked doing a certain act of charity which required a great spirit of sacrifice, “I would have been glad to do it, since we are on earth to suffer. The more we suffer, the happier we are. Oh! how little you know about regulating your affairs!”

Yup. That would be me. Thank you, Lord, for St. Therese!

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V. Praised be Jesus Christ!

R. Now and forever!

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Saturday, August 10th, 2013 Sabbath Moments 9 Comments

Sabbath Moments – The Immaculate Conception

December 8, 2012

Awareness of God

Thanks to Colleen at Thoughts on Grace for this great Saturday meme.  Today I’m celebrating the feast of the Immaculate Conception by devoting this entire post to her, sharing thoughts from my meditations (Sabbath Moments) on the Immaculate.

“I am she: Immaculate Conception!”  These were Mary’s words to St. Bernadette in that grotto spoken so long ago.  Please visit Father George Byers’ Holy Souls Hermitage for a really interesting explanation of this announcement from heaven that came not long after Blessed Pius IX declared the Immaculate Conception a formal doctrine of the Church.  It was Father Byers’ discussion that made me drift into a lengthy meditation on Immaculate Mary.

To be conceived without original sin meant that from the moment of her conception Our Lady did not suffer from the concupiscence the rest of us since Adam fell have had to battle.  Her will as well was always perfectly united to God’s and because of these two characteristics, she never sinned but lived in a way that was always rightly ordered to God and neighbor, something we strive for valiantly as Christians but never quite achieve until we have passed from this life into eternity with God. 

This does not mean that Mary never suffered.  She suffered plenty throughout her life.  We know from the Bible of that wearying trip to Bethlehem for the census, the birth of Jesus in the cave stable on a cold winter’s night, the flight into Egypt, and we can guess a great deal more about what daily life was like in Nazareth those days even though the Bible only tells us of the disappearance of Jesus when He was twelve.  Then there was the traveling to meet Jesus during His public life and finally the nightmare of His passion and death on the cross.

Immaculate Conception c.1626, Peter Pauwel Reubens, oil on canvas, Museo del Prado, Madrid

Being rightly ordered in our relationships with God and neighbor means being perfectly pure of heart and full of grace as the angel Gabriel addressed her.  Nothing could crowd God out of Mary’s heart.  No earthly attachments, no inordinate cravings, not one iota of enslavement to a will that was at odds with God.  No creature but Mary can claim this, but as in all things, her joyful declaration, “I am she: Immaculate Conception!” points directly to God.  It isn’t a brag but a glorification of the Lord in whom she rejoices.

I thought about how perfectly timed the appearance at Lourdes was for the world.  Purity of heart carries great power over evil and God meant for us to turn to Our Lady as the Immaculate Conception to live in purity of body and soul, heart and mind.  By sending her at a time not long before communication tools allowed easy access everywhere to all that is impure and destructive to relationships, especially to the family, He gave us a public icon to stand against all the foul images of our day.

The United States is consecrated to the Immaculate Conception.  Our Catholic national cathedral is named Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.  As we gaze with dismay on the galloping culture of death that seems to be about to swallow the entire population (don’t kid yourself – no one will be untouched before it’s over), we can still have peace of heart and confidence in the love God has shown us by giving us a Mother with an Immaculate Heart.  

We must love her as Jesus loves her, as the Father and the Holy Spirit love her, and know that, we being her children, she will never abandon us but will obtain graces that will strengthen us in the battles we face.  We must imitate her in our detachment from the world, offering our prayers, works, sufferings, and joys to God, and by so doing tame our self will and concupiscence and grow daily in grace

It sounds like an easy formula, but we all know it isn’t easy in practice.  Yet with the help of our Mother who is always at the side of Jesus, we will become ever more formed in His likeness.  Let us not arrive at the end of our lives saying, “Why did I think this or that was so important?”  Only living with the obedience of Mary and Jesus in unity with God’s will is really important.  Only that is of real and lasting worth.

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V. Praised be Jesus Christ!

R. Now and forever!

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Saturday, December 8th, 2012 Blessed Virgin 5 Comments

Sabbath Moments

April 14, 2012

Awareness of God

Colleen at Thoughts on Grace hosts this Saturday meme.  How about joining us over at her place to enjoy other bloggers’ moments of peace this week?

Easter peace

Since a week ago Friday I’ve had all sorts of frustrating health issues pop up that have kept me from functioning well, writing blog posts, and attending Holy Week services, but a real blessing has been the repetition of the Easter Sunday antiphons in the Divine Office every day.  This repetition places the Resurrection of the Lord front and center for me no matter what is going on health-wise.

“Jesus stood in the midst of the disciples and said to them: Peace be to you, alleluia, alleluia.”  This antiphon introduces the Benedictus (Luke 1:68-79) every day, which has made me think a lot about the peace of Christ.

No matter how disagreeable or difficult things may be at various times in our lives, if we have that interior peace, that “resting in the Lord”, that confidence in the power of Christ who vanquished death, we can surrender and let Him be in charge. What a relief!  And how great of the Church to keep us focused on that all this week during Lauds.

The fourth step of humility

Sabbath Moments seems like a good place to keep writing about St. Benedict’s 12 steps of humility.  I’ve covered the first steps in previous Sabbath Moments posts. Today we learn of his fourth step in Chapter 7 of his rule:

The fourth step of humility is that in this obedience under difficult, unfavorable, and even unjust conditions, his heart quietly embraces suffering and endures it without weakening or seeking escape.

Father Gerard Ellspermann, O.S.B. remarks:

Things are getting rougher, but still the humble hold up under difficulties, unfavorable circumstances, even unjust conditions. Not only does the humble hold out, but there is a quietness in his suffering, and an endurance that shows no weakening nor cowardice by seeking escape. [I don’t think we can do this without the grace of God.  Human nature just is not strong enough, which is why we see escapism in so many broken families, abused children, lost religious vocations, and drug, alcohol, and pornography addictions.  We keep trying to force getting what we want, or what we think we want, from everybody and everything but God, who always gives us what we need.  The more humble we are, the more easily we recognize God’s will and accept it without running away or griping to anybody who will listen.]

St. Benedict now envisages cases when obedience becomes hard and painful.  Sometimes we are tempted to cry out and complain that this is too much, too illogical, too unbearable.  Personalities are involved, state of health is not considered.  Can you push yourself to ascend this step of humility?  Can you do so without murmuring, without recrimination?  Of such stuff are saints made.  “They could do it, so why not I?” (Augustine said that.)

The keynote of this fourth degree is endurance. The spirit of this degree is expressed in two expressive phrases “quietly” and “embraces patience.”  The Latin of St. Benedict suggests “in silent serenity” and “a being wrapped in patience” as in a garment.

Here, then, is another virtue linked with humility and obedience.  It is patience.  This patience, which means putting up with suffering in this instance, the oblate also needs in life, for it helps to unite himself to Jesus Crucified.  Each one’s life has much of the Cross of Christ.

Here too, is the opportunity for interior mortifications which become the hard things that lead to God.  We need to remind ourselves that Our Lady said to Bernadette of Lourdes that He “did not promise to make you happy in this world! [Lent is not the only time to mortify our senses.  In reading the lives of the saints we learn that they all practiced some form of self-denial every day for the love of God, even in the midst of great seasons like Easter.  The critical or snarky remarks held back, the extra effort to make a spouse smile, the giving up of personal time to help someone in need – these are all occasions for mortification and make us spiritual athletes by the grace of God.]

“If I keep my wits about me I can so use this present discipline as to provide me with the best possible preparation for eternal life: I can unite my afflictions with those endured by Christ,” says Don Hubert van Zeller in his notes on the Holy Rule.

Fighting obedience and straining against the will of God is very tiring.  If we’re lucky, one day we’ll wake up and realize that surrender is the best option.  Then the fourth step of humility becomes habitual and the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” (Hamlet, Act III) become so much more bearable.

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V. Praised be Jesus Christ!

R. Now and forever!

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Saturday, April 14th, 2012 Sabbath Moments, spirituality 3 Comments

How to Persevere in Spite of Suffering

February 10, 2012

The past two days’ reflections on the Holy Rule of St. Benedict have contained some excellent comments on suffering by Father Placidus Kempf, O. S.B.  Since this blog theme is suffering with joy, the relevance to the Rule is most welcome. We are still in meditation on the Prologue where St. Benedict has already warned us that there will be difficulties along the way but…

When one shall have advanced in this manner of life and in faith, he shall run with his heart enlarged and with an unspeakable sweetness of love on the way of God’s commandments.

We’ve considered the truth that without the cross we have no heaven, so the question becomes, how do I perceive my cross?  How do I bear it and run with an enlarged heart, a heart filled with such love that it becomes unthinkable to set down the burdens God has laid on me? Father Placidus lends us his perspective:

Whether suffering comes from God or from men, it can always be borne if we continue to pray and to be faithful to the duties of our state. Does not time, too, that wonderful invention of God’s mercy, in some sort wear away and lessen our pain?  Even in this world suffering will not last forever.  How long will it last?  As long as God wishes, as long as there remains in us something that must be burnt away. Therefore the duration of suffering depends in part on our generosity.

After many years of pondering St. Teresa of Avila’s prayer, “Lord, either to suffer or to die,” I know that to be willing to suffer for the salvation of not only my soul, but the souls of others is only possible through the grace of God. To endure cheerfully and generously (the enlarged heart) whatever He sends us is only possible through His grace.

The cheerful and generous part prevents suffering from overpowering us and driving us into dark despair.  It keeps us from letting suffering rule us and from being centered on ourselves. It also helps us avoid giving ourselves a pass when we sin through frustration and weakness as we bear our burdens.

“An important thing to be considered,” says Father Faber, is “that our physical difficulties have to be sanctified just as much as our spiritual difficulties. The monstrous assumption, which most of us make, is that some corporal annoyance, which accounts for our irritability or any other sin, also excuses it. If we once begin to do this, we have not merely taken a step off the right road, but we have fallen over a precipice.”

The Example of Jesus

From the Prologue:

Thus, never departing from His guidance, but persevering in His teaching until death, we may with patience share in the sufferings of Christ that we may merit to be partakers of His kingdom (Col. 1:11-12).

Father Placidus writes:

In days of joy as well as of pain we must ever keep our minds the admonition of our Blessed Savior: “He who has persevered to the end shall be saved (Matt. 10:22).  What a beautiful example of perseverance Jesus gave us!  What would have happened to us had He stopped carrying the cross of our sins after the first or second fall? No, He must carry the Cross to the top of Mt. Calvary, be nailed to it, hang upon it in the greatest agony and die on it that we might have eternal life.

Patience comes from the Latin word, patior, “I suffer.”  Patience in suffering and perseverance are twin sisters. They must accompany us on life’s highway, of which Joyce Kilmer has written so beautifully —

They say that life is a highway,
And its milestones are the years,
And now and then there’s a toll-gate
Where you buy your way with tears.
It’s a rough road and a steep road
And it stretches broad and far,
But at last it leads to a Golden Town
where Golden Houses are.

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V. Praised be Jesus Christ!

R. Now and forever!

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Friday, February 10th, 2012 Spiritual reading, spirituality, suffering 5 Comments

The Leper, the Centurion, and Jesus

January 23, 2012

Jesus Healing the Leper, William Brassey Hole

Matthew 8:1-13 was the Gospel reading for the Third Sunday after Epiphany in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman rite.

The humble leper

We hear about the cleansing of the leper who with humble faith asked, but did not demand, that Jesus cure him.  God can do anything He wills and often He waits for us to acknowledge submission to His will before He grants our request. This abandonment to God’s good pleasure brings us close to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane who in agony submitted to the Father, ” Saying: Father, if thou wilt, remove this chalice from me: but yet not my will, but thine be done” (Lk. 22:42).

Because we are all sinners, our souls are leprous to one degree or another.  We all need to be made clean in the sacrament of Confession.  Our bodies, too, are often afflicted with disease and frailties.   The sicker we are, the more we need to throw ourselves on the merciful Christ with the words of that leper of long ago: “Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean.”

Every physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual adversity we suffer can be met with these words. All are an opportunity to practice humble faith and place ourselves in the loving hands of Christ.  If we take time to think about it, our asking in this manner is an opportunity to experience peace of heart.

The humble centurion

Centurion Beseeching Jesus, William Brassey Hole

In the same gospel we hear the tale of the Roman centurion who is used to ordering others around and getting instant obedience.  But he, too, approaches Jesus with a humble heart full of compassion for his suffering servant and complete faith in Jesus’ power to heal, even at a distance.  From this encounter with the Lord we have the powerfully compelling words, “Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldst enter under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant shall be healed.”

From this passage in Matthew we draw the beautiful prayer we say together before receiving Holy Communion: “Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldst come under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”

In the traditional Latin Mass we say this prayer three times.  Why?  Because in Hebrew expression there is no comparative or superlative as we have in English.  Thus, the triple repetition of something signifies the greatest emphasis possible in what is being said.  Since much of the Traditional Mass originates from the time of the apostles, we find this custom retained in the Latin expression of the Hebrew culture.  Thus, we, in praying this prayer three times at Mass, emphasize our great lowliness in the face of Jesus, our helplessness to cure ourselves, and our great faith in Jesus.  A second reason for the triple repetition is acknowledgement of the triune God.  Jesus is the second Person who cannot be separated from the Father and the Holy Spirit.

I write a lot from the viewpoint of suffering in this world.  Often we suffer because our souls need healing.  We need God’s help to root out anger, resentment, envy, covetousness, and many other evils from our hearts/souls.  Often, physical suffering can be eliminated or greatly ameliorated by the healing of the soul. This prayer of the centurion prepares us to receive the healing power of Christ in Holy Communion when we say it at Mass.

When we are not at Mass but on a bed of pain, we can repeat this prayer as an offering to God as we unite ourselves to the Passion of Christ and seek His aid in conforming ourselves to the will of God.

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V. Praised be Jesus Christ!

R. Now and forever!

(Click on the link above to read why I end my posts this way.

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Monday, January 23rd, 2012 spirituality, wellness 1 Comment

Sabbath Moments

January 21, 2012

Awareness of God

Sabbath Moments is the weekly Saturday meme hosted by Colleen at Thoughts on Grace. Visit her to read more Sabbath Moments.

Sabbath moments seem to evolve, for me, into gratitude for being able to recognize God’s work and blessings in daily life.  Among the ordinary whirling of our existence everything seems to stop and we are given the grace to see Him and somehow know Him a little better.  Sabbath moments are also times of joy, even in the midst of pain and adverse circumstances because He reveals Himself there, too.

Francie’s friends

My little piano students are quite taken with Francie, so after lessons I give them a handful of her dry food so they can reward her for obedience to their commands.  They go outside on sunny days to do the tricks I’ve taught them and it is such a joy to see them all having such good fun.  No doubt God loves to see His children playing together well, too, and honoring all the saints in heaven who are special to Him as Francie is to me.

Rule of St. Benedict

This week’s meditations on the Holy Rule by Father Placidus Kempf, O.S.B. (RIP) have been a fountain of Sabbath moments.  While many available meditations are set up to complete the reading of the Rule three times a year, the ones I use from St. Meinrad’s for oblates take a full year to finish reading once. Today from the Prologue we read:

Behold, in His loving Kindness the Lord points out to us the way to life.

Father Placidus’ first paragraph stopped me short:

Along our modern improved highways signs help the tourists to reach their destination.  Christ was way ahead of our modern, so-called progress.  Nineteen hundred years ago [this was written in 1978] He erected a huge sign to guide all men to their true destination — the Cross on Calvary.  The only road that leads to heaven passes over Mt. Calvary.  The only true sign to that happy home is the Cross.

People can become very twisted mentally and emotionally if they try to avoid the Cross or rebel against it.  It seems paradoxical to say that running towards the Cross and embracing it is a joy, yet in embracing the Cross we embrace God’s will for us and receive that yoke of Christ with the light burden that He carries with us.

I am now coming to understand that in making the sign of the Cross we not only signify that we belong to Christ and confess the triune Godhead, we are also saying that we accept following Him through suffering and death into perfect union with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

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V. Praised be Jesus Christ!

R. Now and forever!

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Saturday, January 21st, 2012 Sabbath Moments 2 Comments

Sabbath Moments: Perseverance

September 24, 2011

Awareness of God

Welcome to this meme hosted by Colleen at Thoughts on Grace. Please visit her to read others’ Sabbath Moments of the week.

This week we got some good and lengthy rain showers – just the right kind to soak the earth after a parching summer.  Rainy days are good days for resting in the Lord.

My experiment with late sowed zucchini failed.  I’m getting 4 inch veggies that just won’t grow longer or bigger.  We’ve had such weather extremes – very hot then dropping into the upper 40s at night – that I think, along with the angle of light changing, conditions aren’t good for normal growth.  However, nothing ventured, nothing gained, and nothing learned.  I’ll move the second planting up a couple of weeks next summer and see what happens.  And here’s hoping next summer won’t be so hot.  God is my partner in gardening and He always gives me a lot to think about as I try to coax the best out of the plants and apply the knowledge of those more experienced than I whom He puts in my path.

Hives are still a problem.  At times they drive me crazy and I have to deal with the trade-off of having more of them and itching worse with taking more prednisone than I want.  Right now I’m opting for less drug and more itch.  This is a test of perseverance, which happens to be the lesson from Divine Intimacy today.

Father Gabriel writes:

The angel, a pure spirit, is stable by nature; if he makes a resolution, he holds to it; but this is not the case with us.  We, being composed of spirit and matter, must suffer the consequences of the instability and fluctuations of the latter.

As stability is characteristic of spirit, so instability is characteristic of matter; hence it becomes so difficult for us to be perfectly constant in the good.  Although we have formed good resolutions in our mind, we always feel handicapped by the weakness of the sensible part of our nature which rebels against the weariness of sustained effort, and seeks to free itself from it, or at least to reduce it to a minimum. [No kidding.]

Our bodies are subject to fatigue; our minds are disturbed by emotions which are always fluctuating.  That which at one moment fills us with enthusiasm may, at the next, become distasteful and annoying to such a point that we think we can no longer endure it. This is our state while on earth and no one can escape it.

However, God calls us all to sanctity, and since sanctity requires a continual practice of virtue, He, who never asks the impossible, has provided a remedy for the instability of our nature by giving us the virtue of perseverance, the special object of which is the sustaining of our efforts. Though fickle by nature, we can, by the help of grace, become steadfast.

Physical and mental obstacles to bearing up under life’s difficulties seem, at times, to be monumental.  Sometimes it looks like a lot of things pile up on us all at once and all our good intentions fly out the window in a second.  It’s especially difficult to come to terms with chronic conditions that fluctuate in severity and are badly affected by other temporary difficulties.  Father Gabriel notes:

Sometimes just a momentary inattention, an unexpected happening, a little weariness or emotion, is enough to make us commit some fault that we had sincerely resolved to avoid at any cost, and here we have failed again!  This, however, is no reason for being discouraged or sad; rather it is a motive for humbling ourselves, for recognizing our weakness and begging more insistently for God’s help to rise at once and begin again.

Because our human nature is so unstable, our perseverance will usually consist in continually beginning again.  This is the perseverance to which we should all attain, because it depends on our good will, in the sense that God has infused this virtue in our soul, giving us at every moment sufficient grace to practice it.

It is not in our power to free ourselves from this instability of our nature, and therefore we cannot avoid every slackening in virtue, every negligence, weakness, or fault; but it is within our power to correct ourselves as soon as we perceive that we have failed. This is the kind of perseverance, that God demands of us, and when we practice it faithfully, and are always prompt in rising after each fall, He will crown our efforts by granting us the supreme grace of final perseverance.

So dealing with hives along with everything else is God’s way of strengthening the virtue of perseverance in me.  Just as an athlete doesn’t get to be a gold medal winner in the Olympics without daily intensive practice, so we will not achieve heaven without rigorous practice of perseverance.  I’m going for the eternal gold.  How about you?

Thanks to everyone who’s been praying for me.  I’m sure your prayers are helping.

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V. Praised be Jesus Christ!

R. Now and forever. Amen.

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Saturday, September 24th, 2011 Sabbath Moments 8 Comments

Christian Patience in Suffering

September 22, 2011

Because I watch quite a bit of Asian art films and drama, I am struck by the fatalistic response to suffering that is an outgrowth of Buddhist beliefs and finds its expression in the dialogue of many of the works.  Life without Christ is so grim.  If I had to believe that the trials of this life were karma and that I was going to have to come back and deal with this world all over again I’m not sure how I would handle it. Fortunately we have a loving Father who sent His Son to redeem us from the misery of this world and to make sense out of suffering in the human condition.

St. Teresa of Avila, Peter Pawel Rubens

Father Gabriel writes in Divine Intimacy for today:

Christian patience is not the forced resignation of the fatalist or the philosopher who submits to suffering because he cannot escape it, nor is it the attitude of one who submits because he is not able to react through lack of strength and resources; it is the voluntary acceptance of suffering in view of God and eternal happiness, an acceptance sustained by the knowledge that suffering is absolutely necessary to purify us from sin, to atone for our faults, and to prepare us to meet God.  Christian patience incites us to accept suffering serenely, and gradually to esteem and love it, not because we see it as an end in life, but rather as a necessary means for attaining the end, which is love of God and union with Him. If Jesus willed to live a life of martyrdom and to die on the Cross in order to kindle the fire of charity in us and restore us to friendship with God, how can we expect to attain the plenitude of love and intimacy with God if we do not follow in His footsteps?

“Christ, therefore, having suffered in the flesh, be you also armed with the same thought” cries St. Peter (1Pet. 2:1).  Let us embrace suffering then, with the same sentiments which Jesus had: to do the heavenly Father’s will to atone for sin and to give Him proof of our love.

Christian patience is not merely a passive attitude in the face of suffering; it is also active and voluntary.  The latter is the more important because it is this which makes suffering meritorious. A patient man is passive because he wills to be passive, because he uses his free will to submit to all the sufferings which he meets on his way, because he voluntarily bows his shoulders under the yoke of suffering, just as Jesus bowed His under the weight of the Cross, because He willed to do so, “quia ipse voluit” (Is. 53:7).

A Christian is not a forced Cyrenean, but a willing one, not in the sense that he goes spontaneously in search of suffering — this would not be feasible for all, and sometimes would be imprudent — but in the more modest sense whereby he accepts willingly all the suffering which he encounters on his way, recognizing in this the Cross offered him by God for his sanctification.

St. Teresa of Avila is known for this great quote, a few words of which you might see in a stained glass window of a Carmelite monastery like the one in my area:

O Jesus, what greater proof of Your love could You give me than to choose for me all that You willed for Yourself?  To die or to suffer: this is what I should desire (T.J. Way, 18; Life, 33- 11).

The Freudians would call us masochists.  We are, however, Christians with purpose sent to reach out to our fellow man and bring him the hope of the Cross.

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V. Praised be Jesus Christ!

R. Now and forever. Amen.

(Click on the link above to read why I am ending my posts with this.)

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Thursday, September 22nd, 2011 suffering 3 Comments

Road Number One

September 19, 2011

June 25, 1950 began a conventional war for communist dominance over South Korea, a war that has not ended and which can be taken up again at any time.  Invading the south over Road Number One, the north Koreans aided by China and Russia pushed all the way to Seoul twice before finally being driven back by United Nations and South Korean forces.

Dramafever, a website showcasing Korean and other Asian videos, describes Road Number One as:

A high-budget war epic commemorating the Korean War, Road No.1 spans several generations and sixty years, and commemorates the sixty years that have passed since the Korean War. It’s based around the historical “Route 1”, a national highway that served as the main passageway between North and South Korea during the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950.

The story is one of friendship, love, and sacrifice on the human level amid the destruction of war.  I highly recommend this series for all the artistic reasons one can recommend such a work – script, lighting, acting, composition, historical authenticity, etc. – but also as a way to see and hear the true meaning and effects of communism on society. My husband, who served in Korea in 1959 – 1961, was very impressed with the accurate portrayal of conditions at the 38th parallel and the depiction of the war.  Certainly students studying American involvement in the Korean War could get a good “feel” for what the war was like, but I don’t recommend this series for young children.

At the heart of Road Number One is the battle between communism and the free world.  I think of Marxism/communism as a religion designed to create a small elite class of wealthy and powerful people who grind everyone else under their boot heels. The elite with their mad desire for forcing everyone to their way of thinking substitute government (themselves) for God.  We are well on our way to this in America as we turn out PC students from our public schools and universities who have been thoroughly brainwashed into believing that the government owes them whatever.  The sheer number of Marxists surfacing in today’s politics ought to freeze our blood because it is as anti life and anti hope as you can get.

In episode seven, the Korean scriptwriters gave an outstanding set of lines to a nurse serving on the side of North Korea at the front, illustrating the end result of Marxist atheism. She tells a female volunteer doctor who is desperately trying to save some civilians caught in the fighting:

A military hospital is not a free clinic.  We don’t have time to waste saving useless people.  This is a place where one is responsible for his own usefulness to continue living.

Last week when Justice Joanne Veit let Katrina Effert off with only probation for strangling and throwing her newborn baby over the fence into a neighbor’s yard, I saw the only logical outcome of Marxist thinking.  Life is cheap and whoever is mightier wins.  The weak and suffering?  Too bad.  Deny them succor and let them die or kill them outright.  No one is my neighbor.  Only I am important.

Unless we selflessly live Christianity in the face of accelerating communism in our country, we as a nation will fall. Contrast the nurse’s words with Pope John Paul II’s words in Salvifici Dolores #29:

Following the parable of the Gospel [Good Samaritan], we could say that suffering, which is present under so many different forms in our human world, is also present in order to unleash love in the human person, that unselfish gift of one’s “I” on behalf of other people, especially those who suffer. The world of human suffering unceasingly calls for, so to speak, another world: the world of human love; and in a certain sense man owes to suffering that unselfish love which stirs in his heart and actions. The person who is a “neighbor” cannot indifferently pass by the suffering of another: this in the name of fundamental human solidarity, still more in the name of love of neighbor.

Marxism/communism leads to dehumanization, isolation and death; Christianity to affirmation of human dignity, love of neighbor and life. In addition to an excellent portrayal of the Korean War, Road Number One vividly shows us where we are going – straight to the gates of hell – if we Christians do not grow stronger in articulating the Gospel of Life and living it 24/7.

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V. Praised be Jesus Christ!

R. Now and forever. Amen.

(Click on the link above to read why I am ending my posts with this.)

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Monday, September 19th, 2011 film Comments Off on Road Number One

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