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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Can You Stand Still?

I am an interesting combination of personality. Most would call me an extrovert. Those who know me well understand my deep introverted side. I am both. I need people. I love people. I am the oldest of seven kids... you can't escape needing people when you grow up in a small house full of people! I also need space, and quiet, and alone time. You also can't escape needing solitary times of reflection and introspection when you live in a small house full of people!

Yet, I was that was before we moved into a smaller house and before we had as many people in the family. I've always needed both. You can ask my parents. When I was eight and nine I would go wandering off in our woods, thinking I'd been gone for 20 mins only to find it had been hours and they were freaking out that I might have died or something (you can sense my contrition, can't you? lol). At the same time that I yearned for this solitary adventure, I would return to life so refreshed that you would barely be able to contain me. My parents were always encouraging me to "go outside and play"... being old enough to understand what that means now, that translates to "you are WAY too hyperactive, so go get out your energy and don't come back until you'll stop breaking things and running your siblings into dressers..." (oops, again). Yeah.

So many things never really leave us, and I am in so many ways just the same, although I've learned very well how to mask it all. Those who sit next to me most often in class know that my leg is always bouncing or my fingers tapping or my attention span spreading to include fun comics and little notes and side comments that may or may not pertain to the lecture (most recently those comics depict me hitting my head against a wall repeatedly). And on the other side of life, I get home and am all too happy to become a recluse, playing guitar or reading or just being alone.

In the spiritual realm of life, this is easy to understand, even if in psychology is is less so. I have two options. Go to prayer, and actually listen. Really receive. Allow the Lord to tell me who I am. Receive his love. Or go to prayer and... not receive. Fail to really hear his words. Fail to know myself anew.
When I receive, his Love is abundant. It overflows. There's a crazy torrent running through me and there is no practical way to handle that aside from allowing it to spill all over the place onto others around me.
When I think I am static and that perhaps, I already know myself... that is when I suffer. When I decide the wineskin isn't quite worn out, and it could stand another day or two before I need to face getting re-outfitted, that is when I can't handle the world.

How can I give if I do not receive? Moreover, how can I receive from others (and the world at large) if I do not give? There needs to be some emptiness for what others bring to have somewhere to go. I can't pay attention or care or be compassionate or focused if there's just too much inside that isn't being moved through me. That's where the introvert can cause real problems. When my introspection does not lead to greater self-love and then greater self-gift, but instead remains fixated on whatever issues or problems or skills have caught its attention. Then I remain self-absorbed and unable to really relate to others.
On the other side of the coin, the extrovert can cause just as many problems, because the more I get caught up in the "high" of joy that I often have when I am around friends and family, I assume a level of "everything is good in life" that also means "no need to pay attention to myself" and therefore means "suddenly, I don't know who this girl is anymore." I hope that makes sense.

The point is that the need for balance is very evident. Too much of a good thing never made more sense than when dealing with our hearts and souls. To go to the Lord and receive and hear and allow him to speak is vital and necessary. But to stay there and never go out and give from the abundance, to never get emptied so that I can return to be refilled.. that's no good either. I must enter into a continuous (and dare I say, habitual) cycle of being given to, and then giving from that wealth. Once I am a pauper again (which should be the next day), I will return for more of what I need. The "cycle" shouldn't scare me, but encourage me. I should be thrilled that every day is another point of discovery, of starting over. Not that anything has been lost from the day before, but exactly the opposite: everything from the day before was so potent that who I am now ought to be someone new. I ought to be changed, touched, reformed, affected in some way, from my interactions with the world and God.

Truly, the balance is generally much harder to maintain than simply going to prayer with an open heart. There are weekends or weeks where no time is "your time" and you just loathe people by the end. There are also weekends or weeks where the emptiness of the house or the lack of relationships is the loudest echo that you've ever heard, and it perpetually goes on, and you fear you will never hear the end of it. Neither are good, to this extreme. Both are needed, when appropriately given.

The stillness we need to move, and the movement needs to be stilled.

Friday, October 22, 2010

It's all about Love.

You know those funny Christian songs that repeat things a lot and seem to say very little other than that God is good and we love him? Sometimes, I need those songs. Their purpose is a feeling more than developed lyrics. Sometimes they offer one profound thought, or one focus for your heart, and the rest of the time you are just being kept on track while you allow that single idea to settle and take root in you. Songs like "Blessed Be the Name of the Lord"... not that much of a new concept. But when you listen to the whole song, you understand the basic theme of praising God, in the good and bad times. Or "Lay it Down".. even more simple. You surrender yourself and your life to God. That's the crux, and the whole song. The songs that are a few short lines that find themselves repeated are often the ones that most swiftly lead you to true worship. You aren't worrying about following the notes all over the staff, and you aren't concerned with the words that are coming up either; simply, you enter into prayer. 

Now, please don't misunderstand me, I am a critic of music. Especially certain types, which I will not get into here. And likewise there are certain forms that I am very devoted to. The bands I love most are those that I find ingenious - those whose lyrics turn simple thoughts and phrases upside down or inside out, and allow me to think about life in new ways. I love poetry, and I love thinking outside of the box. I love imagery and analogy. The bands that run along these lines are those that I truly enjoy. However, that does not mean that each genre of music does not have it's place. I love jazz, and classical, and orchestra and latin chorus and punk and rock and boy bands and girls who sing their hearts out... each in their own place. When I need to get out some frustration, I will go run to my fun/angry/punky/yell-about-life songs. And when I need to be quiet and find peace, or even more importantly, pray, the Christian songs that are "worshipful" are the best. 

That being said, when I write a song that is in that style of worship-music, I get excited. I love repetition, when it is good. However, often when I go back I find myself disappointed with the music because it seems so tame or emotionless. That is when I recall that the purpose was for me to get over myself and into a place of communication and prayer, a place where I can thank God for life specifically in the form of music. In that case, I can't allow my annoyance that this song is nowhere near the symphony I feel God actually deserves. He wants to embrace us. Some people, I know, do not find music in anyway prayerful or worshipful, and these "Christian songs" are the worst. That's fine. I have found them to be excellent ways for me to pray, especially when I am with friends or family and can praise together. 

So here are some lyrics that were running through my head today. Granted, you can't hear the music (because I'm not going to put it on youtube right now.. I'm supposed to be writing a 10 page paper, haha), so you don't know the melody and that is part of the experience. But as it is, I wanted to put the words down. I wrote the song a few years ago, and periodically it just gets stuck in my head. 

We stand before your body.
We stand before your blood.
What gift could ever measure up
to the Love that you are?

So take my heart, it's all I have.
Take my faith, it's in your hands.
Take my life, all of my heart,
Take my fears and show me you.

We stand before your body,
and we stand before your blood.
What gift will ever measure up
to the Love that you are?

Take my heart, it's all I have.
Take my faith, it's in your hands.
Take my life, all of my heart, 
Take my fears and show me you.

Behold the body of Christ.
Behold, the God of the universe.
Behold the King of the world.
Behold, the Lamb who was slain.

If all that I am,
Would be only yours.
What could I fear?
What could I fail to love?

I'll be very honest here, I love music and poetry. I love words. I'm not always good at them though. Sometimes it comes very easily, and sometimes I feel like I can't find that natural rhythm that is usually there. But when I do find the current that is running inside of my veins and allow myself to float along its course, I usually find myself surprised at how simple it all is. Sometimes I want to be able to develop something truly literarily spectacular, but I understand that if what inspires me is sitting still in a tree or by myself somewhere, I'm probably going to reflect the simplicity of my inspiration. And once again, I'm just not a genius. :)

So anyway, go read St. John the Beloved, St. John Chrysostom, St. Therese of Lisieux, or any other of those wonderful saints whose poetry is truly gripping if you need something beautiful to mull over. In fact, read John Paul II, especially The Jeweler's Shop, a play he wrote. 

But take time to allow things to settle inside of you. I cannot tell you how often I need to slow myself down to hear my heart beat before I carry on with life. I see myself running off like the little four year old I was, getting lost in the mall because I forgot to look at where my mom was going, I was so intent on getting to whatever temptation the toy store may have held. Nothing has really changed. Deadlines, papers, friends, "fun," etc... the things that demand my time and effort and energy and presence begin to get me running toward them too fast, much too fast. Then I arrive and realize I left "me" behind. That is a terrible feeling, realizing you didn't bring the real "you" along because you were in too much of a rush. Give yourself time to breathe, to think, to discover, to wonder, to be. 

Allow the world to present to you its gifts. The dawn awaits your eyes, awaits your heart. Those pinks and purples and blues are painting the clouds and buildings and that ever-so-gentle sunlight is peaking over the horizon, hoping to meet your eager gaze. But where are you? Staring at the jerk in front of you who just cut you off in the four lane highway that you aren't getting anywhere fast on? (That would be my life.) The dawn is still there, right in front of your eyes. Do you want to see it? Will you allow it to bring its beauty before you? Gosh! How often this world, and PEOPLE, come before us, offering us their goodness. How often your coworkers have some small personal achievement in the day that is truly worthy of your appreciation. Although it may have been a minute task, they preformed it with the beauty that only they could bring to it. How often my coworker's issues mean little to me. What they have to offer goes overlooked because I can't slow down. 

Let us take some time to stand before life. Before God. Before others. Before ourselves. Who are you? Who is the Lord? Who are these people in your life? What is this life? Why do you do anything that you do? We never want to bother to ask these questions because the worst fear might just come to be true - that we aren't doing it for love, but because we are slaves. We cannot bear to live that way. It is a half-life. God has set us free. Free from sin and free from a world that would teach us that love isn't real, or isn't to be trusted. How foolish. God is the only true and eternal thing, the one who holds all of life in place, and we would believe that he is a fantasy or fictitious, just so that we don't have to face the pain that is entailed in love. What are we thinking? Pain is because we need to grow. Love is because we are. Love is how we are. To be should be to love. If that is not our life, we must find ways to make it our life.  Nothing else is going to satisfy! Nothing is truly enough, other than what is real love. We will always feel incomplete without Him. Even when we do pray and do strive to love, we face satan's temptations and the world's lies, teaching us to distrust the goodness and faithfulness of our Father. How often I am still tempted to disappointment and loneliness because I listen to the lies instead of the truth! The more we are in the habit of putting ourselves somewhere where we can be still and quiet, and truly pray, the more we will be able to weed out the truth from the lies, and hear only the voice we should hear. The only voice that speaks in love.

I'll end with my favorite image of all time. I've placed it on this blog before, but the face of love never gets old.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Courage to be Humble

My friends,

The thought came to me this morning in the car: "If you have the courage to be humble, you will have the courage for everything else."

I was thinking about events of the past day. I had felt that "urge" to go pray with people outside the abortion clinic for the 40 Days for Life prayer vigil. I have been praying for them and with them, but I had not been able to actually stand there with them. So I went.

These adorable ladies were sitting there finishing a rosary, and it seemed they weren't sure if I was approaching them for help or to help. It is less expected that a young woman go stand there than a Grandma. But once I introduced myself they explained that they had been there for nearly two hours and needed to leave. Therefore, it would be up to me to stand by myself with a sign in one hand and a rosary in the other.

When I was little, my dad took my siblings and me with him somewhat regularly to pray outside clinics, so this wasn't a first time experience. However, this was the first time (excluding the March for Life each year) that I had been "an adult" praying outside of a clinic. I was somewhat surprised by my various emotions.

At first I was nervous, and wasn't really sure what to think. I had the "what are these people thinking of me" tension going on. I was also praying a rosary and trying to focus on the prayers and trying to overrule my self-concerned thoughts with thoughts about those people who were driving by and looking at me or those people who could possibly be inside the clinic. As time passed, I became more and more comfortable, and lost that edge of awkwardness. I started to feel even proud of myself in the situation. It's fun feeling like the lone fighter. Not to mention, I do look like a teenage when I'm standing on the side of the road in skinny jeans and a flannel, and for people who are looking at me and then the sign, that probably is a striking statement. Here's a girl who is young, and who could easily be part of the demographic that the campaign is trying to reach, and instead is part of the prayer campaign.

Then a guy on a bike passed me and shouted "Safe Sex!"

I didn't have a response. What?
My sign says "pray to end abortion." Somehow his statement didn't register as anywhere near the issue that I was trying to address. After the fact, I wanted to yell back, "Abstinence!" I had to laugh at myself though. I realized exactly how silly I was. First, I was hoping to be some "powerful witness," and I couldn't even engage in any kind of conversation. And secondly, I used to teach abstinence. If there's anything I might have actually been prepared for, you would think that would be it. Oh well.

It then came to me, this morning, just how much I needed to be emptied of "me" in my head and filled with the truth. It wasn't that I was necessarily wrong about the witness I was making - maybe that was a good and powerful thing. But the point was that my head was all wrong. The courage to stand there alone and keep praying and pacing and pacing and praying was a gift. I needed the Holy Spirit if I was going to be brave. What I needed was humility. The gift of being little, of knowing my own weakness, is the necessary precursor to boldness and fidelity to the truth. I couldn't do that if I wasn't a little child. If my Father wasn't protecting me and guiding me. If I didn't have the love and support and thousands of prayers of all the other people who were interceding for those people effected by abortion.

I don't know, I feel particularly inarticulate today, but I think the point should be obvious. Thinking I'm doing something great = fail. Realizing the Lord's goodness and power and trying to do something good even when I don't have much to offer = win. We want the win-mentality! The action of standing out there and the intention to proclaim the truth I believe in was still the same. But my spirit, my heart, they needed the mercy that comes in humility.

And this is exactly the truth for the rest of our lives. What can we fear, when we are humble? Have we not, by the very fact of a humble disposition, already acknowledged our total weakness and dependence on another? Yes, we have. And in doing so, there's nothing left to be robbed of. Rather, all that is left if this trust and abandonment to the Lord. And seeing as how he is all powerful, that means we can march bravely on. St. Therese and Bl. Mother Teresa and many other saints have said time and again that all of their courage and consistency came directly from their trust and reliance on the Lord, from their humility. And I think it's obvious that Our Lady, being totally and perfectly humble, is the greatest example of this. St. Paul reminds us that there is nothing we cannot do when it is within the love and power of God.

So rather than praying for courage, I will pray for humility. In being emptied, I can be filled. In being simple, He can be great. His greatness is infinite. Why hope in anything else?
If pride goes before a fall, humility certainly goes before a victory.

When your strength is not your own, but His, there is nothing to fear. Be humble, and have courage.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Pray. And then, pray some more.

It seems appropriate to follow up a semi-philosophical post (which needs further embellishment) with a semi-practical post.


Did you know the Catechism of the Catholic Church has four main sections, four "pillars"?
The first is the Creed, going through the main principles of the faith. Second is the Sacraments, teaching more fully about a life in the Church and in Christ, especially through the liturgy and the Eucharist. Third is "Life in Christ," a section on morality and the commandments, giving us guidelines on how to live in love of God and neighbor. And fourth is rather simple, Prayer. Some of the most beautiful passages of the Catechism (I believe) are in this section.

For example, CCC 2743 "It is always possible to pray: The time of the Christian is that of the risen Christ who is with us always, no matter what tempests may arise.36 Our time is in the hands of God: It is possible to offer fervent prayer even while walking in public or strolling alone, or seated in your shop, . . . while buying or selling, . . . or even while cooking.37"

St. John Chrysostom, one of the early Church Fathers, wrote that practical line of advice. It is possible to pray, always. It is necessary to pray always!

Let me share a few more beautiful points from the Catechism:
2739 For St. Paul, this trust is bold, founded on the prayer of the Spirit in us and on the faithful love of the Father who has given us his only Son. Transformation of the praying heart is the first response to our petition.
2740 The prayer of Jesus makes Christian prayer an efficacious petition. He is its model, he prays in us and with us. Since the heart of the Son seeks only what pleases the Father, how could the prayer of the children of adoption be centered on the gifts rather than the Giver?
2741 Jesus also prays for us - in our place and on our behalf. All our petitions were gathered up, once for all, in his cry on the Cross and, in his Resurrection, heard by the Father. This is why he never ceases to intercede for us with the Father. If our prayer is resolutely united with that of Jesus, in trust and boldness as children, we obtain all that we ask in his name, even more than any particular thing: the Holy Spirit himself, who contains all gifts.

There is a small system revealed here in these passages. Paul's prayer is one of confidence, of boldness. His heart is enflamed with courage and when he prays, he prays in faith, knowing he will be heard. Paul's boldness stems from a deep awareness of the prayer of Jesus. The Son gave the example for all. His prayer with the Father was intimate, personal, private, deep, healing, full, open, trusting, completely in love. This is what we then should seek to imitate. Moreover, Paul sees that after Christ's Ascension to the Father, the gift of the Holy Spirit is poured out upon the Church at Pentacost, and we are all now made sons and daughters of God in a special and unique way with Christ. That being said, Paul understands that we should not only imitate Christ's prayer because he is our perfect model, but we should pray with him, in his Spirit, because we have been given the gift of adopted sonship.
The point Paul is making is one that should leave us in awe.
God, the Father and Creator, decided to invite us into a relationship with him. Not just any relationship. One of a Father to his children. In Scripture, Jesus says, "What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the holy Spirit to those who ask him?" (Luke 11:11-13) This is really radical.
I was just reading over some of Genesis last night, and this is what I read: "When the LORD saw how great was man's wickedness on earth, and how no desire that his heart conceived was ever anything but evil, he regretted that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was grieved. So the LORD said: 'I will wipe out from the earth the men whom I have created, and not only the men, but also the beasts and the creeping things and the birds of the air, for I am sorry that I made them.'" (Gen. 6:5-7) Does that not stop you in your tracks? How bitter. How very sad.
Now go from this to Christ! That same Father and Creator whose heart was grieved by man's wickedness would come and allow his whole self to be broken by our wickedness, and in reparation for our wickedness. Rather than a flood to kill us all once more, there was a flood of mercy and grace to kill sin. Christ on the Cross is the victory that no flood would offer.
So when we are invited to prayer, to life in the Holy Spirit, to a life in and with Christ, it is a life of communion with God. This means true conversation. This means open hearts. This means willingness to hear the good and the bad.

Sometimes I think about my own father (whom I love dearly) and how as a child there were some times I had no desire to hear what he had to say. Being admonished is not the best feeling. I'd prefer to go on thinking I was a good kid. I didn't want to face the facts when I messed up, on accident or on purpose. No one likes the proverbial wrist slap. But if I wouldn't take my father's admonishments, how could I accept his praise? What would the words of affirmation and approval mean, if they were not tempered with caution and correction? The one who loves, gives the truth. And there is no doubt that I was not always in the right. In fact, too often I thought my "wisdom" would protect me, and it was only my father's strength is challenging me when I was lazy or selfish or mean that broke through my false defenses. My father gave me love, and that meant the truth. I needed to receive his love. I needed to be able to hear his praise and happiness just as much as his guidance.

This is the same disposition we should have in prayer. How many times have I gone before the Lord and wanted to hear his voice, and have some form of consolation. But there has been a line. "Tell me anything Lord.... but not that." "Let's stay away from the vocational things, or the relationships I'm in, or the sins I can't seem to shake.." Right. That's called fear. That's called doubting the loving nature of God.  God IS LOVE. How can I doubt that? How can I doubt that he will bring truth to me? If it's hard to hear, it's hard to hear. That's life. I'm imperfect and that needs to be worked on. But can I really fear him? Can I really think he would ever do anything but lead me to his mercy? That's just silly. He is all mercy. "For equal to his majesty is the mercy that he shows," Sirach 2:18.

So it is vital that we pray, and pray often, and pray always, and to pray with an open heart, without fear, within trust. As St. Paul goes bravely forward in his prayer in imitation of Christ, so we must have confidence in the love of our Father in heaven.

The more we are able to enter into routine of prayer, the easier it will be to transcend into a meditative and adoring state. Whether through praying slowly and deeply with Scripture, or the Rosary, or with theological writings of the saints, or the Catechism, etc... we need to come to places each day where we can encounter the Lord in honesty and humility. Where we can say, "here I am, this is what I have." Where we can ask, "what would you ask of me? What can I do for you?" And where we can find the peace and courage to say, "Let it be done unto me according to your word."

I highly recommend reading the book "Holy Daring: The Fearless Trust of St. Therese of Lisieux."

In this book, John Udris reveals much of the same wisdom and guidance found in St. Paul's teaching on prayer that is also St. Therese's guidance.

Beyond that, two other prayer sources are a must. The first is Total Consecration to Mary, by St. Louis Marie DeMontfort. I cannot express the mercy that is contained in this practice of prayer. The preparation for consecration is 33 days of meditations and prayers concerning our own conversion and the mysteries of the life of Mary and Jesus. It is a process that you can renew every year (or more than once a year). It shares in that deep confidence of faith, knowing that you are totally giving yourself over to Christ's mother for her protection and intercession. Did he not do the same? The King of the universe chose her to be born from! He gave himself over to her, and the consecration to Mary is meant to honor him and draw us closer to him through her prayers and example.
The second is the Liturgy of the Hours, or the shorter version, Christian Prayer. It takes a little getting-used to as far as the format of the Hours goes, but this form of prayer is prayed around the world by Catholic priests and religious every day, and by many of the lay faithful who also participate. The prayers are beautiful, combining the Psalms, the New Testement, prayer petitions and simple prayers to lead us into a sense of deep gratitude for the love and goodness of God.

I encourage us all to take time for prayer! Make time for quiet, for stillness. Take time to know the one you love. Take time to know the one who loves you. Have you ever sat with the Lord as asked him, "Why do you love me?" Sounds a little unnerving, huh? Try it. Be with him, all the time, every day. Let him sit with you, calm you down, hold your hand, walk in stride with you. Talk to him. Pray without fear.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

But the time, why is the time gone?

Truly, the blog gets neglected when all other things take form before my eyes as MUST BE DONE NOW. My life must be done, now. Sometimes that is a demand that simply cannot be ignored.

One thought I had recently was how very much we live (or attempt to live) as if we could ignore life. Or ignore certain truths about life. Or ignore basic principles about being alive.

Time is one of them. We are creatures. We cannot deny this. We try and try, but no matter how great our science is, we are still created. I've been through this before on this blog so I'm skipping all the reasoning for now.

Being created beings, in a created universe, that is governed by the coming and going of tides, the passing of days, the rising and setting of the sun, the aging process of our bodies, the surprising retention of memories and learning we possess as these days march on, it seems rather undeniable that we exist in time. It also seems obvious that by existing in time we are participating in time. Bringing something new to history, and taking something unique from it. We cannot control time, try as we might. Watches, timetables, timezones, time machines... nothing seems to have mastered it yet. Fountains of youth, elixirs and potions... even a stone. None of these have been able to stop the approach of death that is inevitable by virtue of being mortal.

It would seem that death is then some cruel curse that approaches slowly but steadily, always looking us in the eye while also creeping up behind us... never giving us a moments peace to live as if he wasn't there.

The funny thing is that death isn't all that terrible. Now, let's be clear, I haven't died. So I can only say that with a certain level of conviction. There are also many things in my life I have wished, after the fact, that I did not say. I would keep that thought on the table as I proceed. However, I don't write what I don't mean (mostly), so for now, I mean this.

Death isn't that terrible, and neither is pain. Suffering isn't the enemy. We certainly can make it the enemy, but it isn't the outright nemesis. The true evil is when we are corrupted. When we lose truth. When we let go of hope. When we take our suffering over our faith. When we'll have another dose of pain to kill the seed of love. When we prefer pity and consolation and compassion to honesty and growth. What we so often run from is the growth that is hand and hand with the suffering. Enduring it is one thing, overcoming another. We'll stand in the rain all day but we don't want to swim the channel. But we must.

Time, strong as it is, isn't giving us a choice here. No one likes to think they're coerced, but guess what? You are. You are forced to die. Stinks, huh? Well, actually I'd wager not really. I don't think it's a bad thing. Don't get me wrong - I'm not excited about death. I am excited about what I hope will greet me after death, but that's a different story. At this point, the thing to take away is that I have only discovered goodness to be the remnants of hardship. The times when it has been bitterness is when I have not allowed love in, and have chosen to stir up my hurt and malice because it's easier than forgiveness or mercy.

We don't have all the time in the world. People die. We should be quick to forgive, quick to show mercy, quick to love. What do we gain when we aren't compassionate? What do we get in self-centeredness? Nothing. Nothing worth writing home about. "Mom, I was so good at giving him the cold shoulder. He feels even more low now! Yay." Yay? Really? Gross, what's wrong with you. You sound like a screwed up person. Why?? Because that's not love, not human, not true and not good. There's no beauty there. Beauty that stirs the soul and brings us to new life, new hope... that beauty is in the moments of great forgiveness, of deep love, of acceptance and understanding even when it isn't "fair".

Anyway, I'm rambling. No surprise, I'm beat.
But time is there too. Time is calling my name to sleep, reminding me that I will meet it happily in an abyss of non-awareness, when I can let it all just be.

I want to challenge us to two things. 1. To shake off fear of suffering and death. They are not good of themselves. It is not good that people are hurt or lonely or abused or broken or forgotten, etc... That is sad and tragic. But the good that can be found in those things is when we allow love to conquer, to come in and transform, to move us to change, to give us new skin and a new heart. The harder the fight the better the victory. 2. To practice "being" in time more. We have a better concept of our relationship with time when we stop trying to kill it or control it. I love missions, when I have my phone turned OFF for 10 days. It's unthinkable here. I never turn off my phone. Why would I? But how great it is, to live free from the constraint of digital numbers. To look at the sky, guess the approximate time and decide it's time for lunch, or time for a bath, or time to sleep. How gentle the world seems when time is allowed to lead us. It's not as surprising when things are hard or when things are startling and beautiful. Time, when it's given permission to be it's own, moves us with such grace that everything is a gift.

I don't know if that makes sense, but think about it. I'm going to think about it more, because I think this is a vital lesson for the heart that hungers for peace.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

I love October!

I apologize for the neglecting of worldAblaze this month thus far. I had a final for Nuptial Body, one of my classes, and that took priority. I also went to Connecticut for the weekend, which was wonderful :)

Anyway, October. The pre-cursor feast, The Archangels, is September 29.

 Then we begin with my favorite, St. Therese of Lisieux, on October 1.

Then October 2 is the Guardian Angels

and October 4 is St. Francis of Assisi.

Yesterday, October 5, was St. Faustina.

I rest my case.

What I wanted to briefly reflect on was the common thread running from each of these feasts to the next.
It is nothing but the abject love of Christ.

Do we realize this is the exact same invitation he has extended to us?
What made Therese able to suffer through so much pain, to experience rejection and lonliness and confusion and doubt, and still remain at peace? What enabled Francis to cast off all the things of this world and devote himself so fully to the Lord that his very body revealed the depth of love in his heart for Christ on the cross?
What lead Faustina to such a sincere devotion to Our Lord that she would bear his message of Mercy to all who would have ears to hear about the truth of God's love?

The only answer I can find is radical. Radical love. Love that is consuming. "Who of us can live with the consuming fire?" says Isaiah 33:14. Truly. How can we live without it? How can we ever exist outside of him?

I challenge us all, myself above all, to pray. We need to be in communion. We need to be still and silent. If I cannot kneel before him and hear his voice teaching me about his mercy, how will I have the courage to share it with others? How will I even have the courage to go to confession? If I do not believe in hope, how can I posses it? Faith comes first. Faith that cannot be stemmed. Faith that will not accept limitations. Faith that believes the Word of God, that takes him at his Word, at his life. Can we do that? Will we? We must.

We are his children. My goodness, the number of times when I was little and my dad would say to me, "do this" or "no you can't go" and not give a reason! The times I would hound him, following him everywhere, just saying, "why?!" over and over. I wanted to know what he knew. I wanted to be sure I could trust his judgement. Little did I understand how wise he was. Little could I perceive what he could see, the fullness of his understanding. Nor did I know his love. If I had understood his love, I don't think I would have needed a reason at all.

We must strive to know his love. And then, like these beautiful saints, we must strive to throw ourselves into his arms and allow his strength to be our strength, his life our life, his love our love.
Sacred Heart of Jesus, we place all our trust in you.