Monday, September 26, 2016

"Can You Love a Little More?" By:C.C.

                       Image result for love christ

This question repeats in my mind since hearing it in the confessional on Saturday. "Can you love a little more?"...Beyond the seemingly fluffy sentimentality of such a question is the fundamental aspect of what our faith is essentially all about. By choosing to love in radical measures we surely avoid the occasion of sin and act in favour of service and charity toward those around us. 

Jesus came into the world out of love from our Heavenly Father, reflective of His radical love for each of us. He came in such a way that would orient our minds and hearts toward a love greater than what had once been experienced and known. He penetrates the divisiveness of class and belief systems, of sinners and those who think themselves saints. His witness proposes the question, even at times silently, "Can you love a little more?"

In my marriage I am often confronted with the temptation to choose against love and give into the rise of petty annoyance and judgement. Faith reminds me and demands a greater love, a call to live selflessly and pursue virtue.

In every state of life it is by remaining true to this fundamental love taught to us by the witness of our Lord that we can succeed in living out our vocation to the fullest. At the same time, we must be cautious to not redefine this concept of Christian love to a point where we are entirely passive to sin and consequently disobedient to God. 

Love is difficult. It is not always understood, nor can it ever be completely defined. Similar to the love of a parent for their child who at times must say "No" even though this may temporarily result in disappointment. Surely if the "No" is born from love and for the wholesome regard of the child then it is just, and here we find an example of tough love that gives rise to a greater love and greater good.

To love a little more is to open our hearts a little bit more to the love of God.This cooperation with divine love allows for grace to permeate and aid us in our living out of service to God daily. 

As we approach the feast of St. Thérèse of Lisieux we are again confronted with the reminder of the heroic and simple love that our Christian life should teach us. The witness of such a saint who viewed the essence of her vocation as love itself can offer us, through her little way, the grace to love a little more. 


I find it rather amusing that I share a birthday with the feast day of such a simple Saint. For I could not be further away from her humble innocence. My past indeed resonates more with a pre converted St. Augustine! Yet, in this irony I meet God's immense grace and His ongoing invitation to all of us wherever we are to love a little more in our little way, and to patiently pursue the path toward eternal life. (CC)

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Holy Spirit By: C.C.



The Holy Spirit, a gift to us, awakens our soul. It rouses us from the slumber of worldly concerns and gives life to the most essential part of our being. We can not seek Him by pursuit. We must be open, patient, and obedient to receive. We must be filled more with faith and trust than expectation.
We can not orchestrate the affairs of the Spirit. We can not have Him do what we please and most desire. Our flesh must lay motionless, our soul at His mercy. We are given this gift as an invitation to partake in the Divine life of our Lord in a special way. We must guard ourselves to not become over zealous and boastful. If we are too proud we will be humbled, often through immense humiliation and failure, so that nothing will be attributed to our own doing. Those who claim to be "alive in the Spirit" and proceed to act in such a manner of building a following for themselves, are in fact only alive in themselves and deeply misguided. 
The Holy Spirit is a bold wind. Penetrating through the most hard of heart. Awakening those who are dead.Yet, He is also gentle. Invasive not to disrupt us, but to save; a disruptive force of love. 
One can not seek to understand the Spirit, but simply respond with surrender. Even in the most difficult of circumstances there will be a steady hand leading the way.  
To believe in the Holy Spirit is to accept mystery. To find residing place in the unknown and have hope for what is to come. 
In faith and trust we go forth in the love of God. Renewed and strengthened by the Holy Spirit, we are sent out as humble servants and open vessels ready to receive His will.
Be still, be silent, be prayerful , and wait upon the Lord. (CC) "Come, Holy Spirit and renew the face of the earth ".

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Remaining in The Love of God. By: C.C.


"Jesus said to his disciples:“As the Father loves me, so I also love you.Remain in my love.If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love,just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.“I have told you this so that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete.This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.You are my friends if you do what I command you.I no longer call you slaves,because a slave does not know what his master is doing.I have called you friends,because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.This I command you: love one another.” (John 15:9-17)
Obedience to Christ can seem as a burden to us when we forget that we are God's beloved. Today's Gospel reminds us of the love through which our Lord sends us out into the world so that His joy might be in us and our joy complete.
When we confuse our concept of joy with fleeting happiness, or ideas about freedom rooted in our own limited sense of control, then we fail to remain in the love of our Lord. 
Today we are reminded that we are not slaves to a master up to cunning tricks or hidden agendas, but are loved unconditionally without measure. So often we can forget and lose sight of the love of God at the foundation of His commands and become slaves to ourselves. As a result we are often void of joy and imprisoned in disappointment. 
It is hard to follow God's commandments when we lose sight of love. love is the one thing that we yearn for in the depth of our being because we are authentically made in love for love. We are created by Love.
To love as Christ commands us is only possible by remaining in His love, and by seeking in prayer for the courage and the strength to love radically even when it is difficult. The ability to love authentically flows from the primacy of our love of God. 
St. Thomas Aquinas tells us that "to love is to will the good of the other" when we only seek the good of ourselves then our love is limited, it is not love at all. By remaining in the love of God we do not expect others to be as a god to us and fulfil us by being blamelessly perfect. When we see others in the light of Christ's love we are free to love them as they are. We are able to reconcile disappointments and shortcomings. 
The first step toward love is to reflect upon the Lord's love for us. We are invited to love as He loves. By faith we will come to understand the implications of Christ's love for us, and we are then able to go forth and love one another. (CC)

Monday, April 11, 2016

The Food That Endures and Endurance of Belief By:C.C.

"Do not work for the food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life"(John 6:27)
To order our lives in a such a way that we live this finite reality mindful of the infinite is itself a great act of faith. To strive for virtue and obedience to God is a perpetual struggle and experience of wrestling with our own will. 
It is easy to work for what we can see. Our physical reality and accumulation of tangible things can give us a sense of presumed security. The unknown and unseen is unpredictable to us and can propose an immense challenge if we lack trust in the Lord. 
 To first seek understanding robs us of what can only be revealed to us by faith and will never satisfy our desire. Though our belief is often challenged, through faith we can be assured of seeing the works of the Lord and arriving at a point of increased awareness as to what this demands and implies for our lives.
Today's Gospel reading offers us some consolation in this regard. After feeding the five thousand, naturally many frantically set out to seek Jesus. The crowd was undoubtedly astonished at what had taken place. Jesus quickly identifies that their excitement and intrigue is based solely on the satisfaction of their physical hunger. He humbly reprimands them and in doing so affirms that He is the true "bread of life" and that only through Him can we truly understand what it is to " work for the food that endures for eternal life". 
We are exposed today to many things within our world that make this reality of eternal life difficult to imagine and pursue. Many prefer vice to virtue , and most times vice is seen as virtuous. 
Jesus reminds us today that "this is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent" (John 6:29). Everything essential for us flows from this imperative belief. The grace to live and order our lives for the food that endures is a natural consequence of our belief  and the primacy of Christ in our lives. 
This belief is not an isolated and single event, it is an ongoing living consensual experience. May we pray today for an increase of belief in the Lord, so that we may live out our call in the world with humble awareness and conviction of the eternal reality. (CC) 

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Catching Fish With Jesus....Literally! by: C.C.

"..............”So they went out and got into the boat,but that night they caught nothing.When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore;but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?”They answered him, “No.”So he said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.”So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish. So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.”When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad,and jumped into the sea.The other disciples came in the boat,for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards,dragging the net with the fish.When they climbed out on shore,they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread.Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.”So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore full of one hundred fifty-three large fish.Even though there were so many, the net was not torn.Jesus said to them, “Come, have breakfast.”And none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?”because they realized it was the Lord.Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them,and in like manner the fish.This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to his disciples after being raised from the dead." (John 21:1-14) 
   By faith we learn to attune ourselves to the providence of God in most circumstances. There are however times when His hand seems to be immediately providential and consoling. The way in which our Lord revealed Himself while fishing some years ago is a moment that my now husband, and his family members still remember with much joy! Despite the seemingly humorous way that I "out-did" Carmen's fishing record that day, there was definitely a lesson to be learned by our Lord. Looking back the symbolism and grace is even more blatant, and challenging. 
My father in his own right is quite the avid fisher man. He however, does not waste time on the "little fish" and likes to catch big ones, primarily Musky. He takes his fishing seriously, and for such reason at a very young age I was eventually kicked off the boat and banned from fishing with him because apparently I "talk too much, and frighten the fish". I accepted this, and found joy during family holidays kicking soccer balls instead,(which proved to be beneficial),while my brother and father hunted for their "big fish". 
Fast-forward many years, and some years ago (summer 2011) I found myself in a relationship with a lovely young man (my now husband) who apparently loved to fish. An opportunity presented itself during a cottage weekend with his cousins. 
Carmen had brought all of his fishing gear, hopped into a canoe and off he went. He was gone for over two hours, returning to the dock with no fish, and not even one bite. Defeated, but not discouraged he asked if I'd like to come along in the canoe for a ride. I hesitantly agreed, but joined. I watched as he attempted to catch more fish, and then he invited me to try. My first cast provided nothing. Following this I quietly paused and cast my rod out into the water...a bite, a hook, and in the boat came fish number 1! I was so excited. In fact every cast following this one was a fish! I caught 9 fish in 10 casts, all under 1 hour! Looking back it was extremely miraculous, and blatantly providential. It was indeed God's work. 

Carmen was amazed, and as a good assistant he netted the fish and aided that process. The glory in all of this is the fact that prior to each cast I prayed for the intercession of St. Peter, one Hail Mary, and one Glory Be. By no means was I attempting to make a mockery of prayer or ask God for something so seemingly trivial, I simply had faith that He would provide and perhaps shine in this moment and teach something very important to Carmen and I through this. He did. 
Together, with God's help, we made a fantastic fishing duo. In fact, our relationship up to this point had been quite turbulent as we were discerning vocation, and over discerning, and healing, and converting (which is undoubtedly ongoing). None the less, it was and remains a beautiful lesson today. 
The Lord provided. His providence in this moment was rather instantaneous, and it allowed me to recognize that by His grace and remaining in His will, like fishing, He will provide for us. Alone Carmen caught no fish, in coming together we were able to succeed. He supported me in my joy of fishing, despite his own bitterness of having caught nothing. I was his helper and this role continues in an even larger capacity today.
Having decided to remain home with our daughter is much like being in the boat and casting out a net in hope of fish. In quite a literal sense I have come to see how trusting in God's providence for the "bigger fish" in life is a calling for each of us. In working with Him and remaining in His will we will be provided for. Our Lord speaks to us today as His followers and invites us to be obedient to Him and provides abundantly. We must only be trusting and receive all that God sends and all that He wills with a spirit of acceptance and faith. May we learn to recognize in our lives where the Lord is calling us to cast our nets. (CC)





  

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Weeping Outside the Empty Tomb With the Fullness of Easter Hope. By: C.C.


Early this morning a dear sister in Christ told me of her Grandmother's passing. I read today's Gospel reading and was moved to reflect on it. Though it is written primarily for her, I pray it too will comfort those in similar situations.Please join me in prayer for her and her family. (Today's Gospel reading precedes my reflection).
"Mary Magdalene stayed outside the tomb weeping.And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting there,one at the head and one at the feet where the Body of Jesus had been.And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”She said to them, “They have taken my Lord,and I don’t know where they laid him.”When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there,but did not know it was Jesus.Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?Whom are you looking for?”She thought it was the gardener and said to him,“Sir, if you carried him away,tell me where you laid him,and I will take him.”Jesus said to her, “Mary!”She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,”which means Teacher.
Jesus said to her, “Stop holding on to me,for I have not yet ascended to the Father.But go to my brothers and tell them,‘I am going to my Father and your Father,to my God and your God.’”Mary went and announced to the disciples,“I have seen the Lord," and then reported what he had told her." (John 20:11-18)

I often wonder what it would have been like to be there. To be standing beside Mary Magdalene,perhaps comforting her in her time of mourning. I would imagine trying to show through my presence and friendship that I could some how fathom the depth of her despair and sadness in thinking that Jesus, who saved her from herself and from her sins was gone. 
As if bearing the Crucifixion and knowing of His death wasn't enough, she now sat outside the empty tomb weeping for where her Lord could have gone. Unknown to her at that moment of course, is God's plan, already accomplished in the rising of His Son. She weeps outside the tomb, as we would also; arguably, as we do when a loved one has passed. We long to hold on to them, it is human to do so. Out of love we recall memories, we replay their presence in our lives, their words, their touch, that is to be no more. It brings us, and rightfully so, a degree of suffering,sadness and loss.

In some ways we can be so desperate to go where they have been taken, just so that we can be with them once again. And then, here in this Easter Octave, we read this Gospel message and see that the despair Mary felt in her heart, overcame her so much so that she did not see Jesus there before her, she did not see her risen Saviour. We are not told that she was kept from recognizing Jesus, as in the Scripture account of The road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35)...It can be suggested that in the depth of her despair and loss she had blinded herself to the hope and joy of the risen Lord. Yet, in His goodness He again calls her name and she knows Him; grasping her attention with the intimate speaking of her name that only the Lord could possibly know. 

Like Mary, we wait and weep outside of the tomb, but we, an Easter people, now know the joy of the risen Lord. We know the promise of Eternal Life and the place that is promised to us if we are to be obedient followers of Christ. “Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death” (Isaiah 57:2) We see an empty tomb out of despair, but we are called in our sadness to recognize Christ before us, within us, and beside us calmly calling our name, offering His consolation, through His Resurrection to the Heavenly Father.

To weep is natural. Jesus too wept for Lazarus. But let us not hold on to our loved ones so to keep ourselves in mourning and forget to pray for them, for the repose of their soul, for God's mercy on them so that they may be raised with our Lord to the joy of Eternal life. “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?"
Whom we seek most has indeed risen, and for this reason, even in our time of loss we can rejoice, and can hope in knowing Jesus Christ. Amen (CC)


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Humble Praise By: CC



Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. (Matthew 23:12)
Where honour is due it must surely be given with motive for the glory of God. In this manner one maintains a sense of right ordered affection and praise to God for graces bestowed upon those seeking intimacy with Him. 

The risk of over an attentiveness to the person through whom God reveals Himself is the failure to acknowledge the shared lowliness of our humanity and the fruitful power belonging only to our Lord graciously shinning through surrendered souls. So often idolatry is fostered in this way. There is a fine line to walk, but it is set aright by keeping our gaze on things above. 

To make a god out of the vessels God uses is to miss the point of such witness entirely. There is nothing "great" about the persons through whom such graces are revealed, but rather it is the alarming opposite. It is through the humble recognition of human baseness and lowliness that the greatness of God is magnified. It is the greatness of their surrender we must admire most. Perhaps it is fitting that many remain unable to identify this point and fail to make the distinction. The proud will seek the man, the humble will seek and see the Lord more clearly.

Veneration is defined as "Honour paid to the saints who, by their intercession and example and in their possession of God, minister to human sanctification, helping the faithful grow in Christian virtue. Venerating the saints does not detract from the glory given to God, since whatever good they possess is a gift from his bounty. They reflect the divine perfections, and their supernatural qualities result from the graces Christ merited for them by the Cross. " (Catholic Culture

Though this definition speaks of venerating the saints, it is also important to consider these words as we encounter those touched by grace, or even for our own correction when we receive divine favour and consolation. If anything done, said, or thought of in the private of our minds for a moment detracts from the glory of God, or is seen to be merited, it should be dismissed at once. We must continually pray for a purity of intention in all of our labour done for the Lord. 

This concept becomes even more important in today's society with the prominence of social media and the various "New Evangelization" movements that place man before all in some regard to share the grace of God. If the following fostered is not for following the way of Christ's Cross then it is indeed misguided.

There are many people who fit under this umbrella of being dedicated to God's work. In our modern day the laity in a much larger capacity than ever, in my opinion, seem to hold many positions at the forefront of ministry..be it authors, speakers, youth ministers, faith formative councils etc. This has over time proven to be a great blessing and at others a horrifying curse within the Church. These roles, if not employed by people with humble reverence and hiddenness in Christ can promote misguided devotion and bring about great scandal. We must guard reverently the right ordered devotion to The Divine person, sitting at the Right hand of the Father giving thanks and praise to Him always as we know it to be right and Just. 

My original thought for this writing came from my own personal experience. Some years ago, during a time of great conversion in my life, simultaneously one of great turbulence and interior agony. I ventured to a monastery to seek silence and solitude with our Lord and ultimately to be corrected. I knew nothing of this place, very little of monastic life, and much less about the workings of the Holy Spirit to the magnitude and depth that has since been revealed. 

In the Confessional I met a very wise, reverent, and elderly monk. This man was quite serious in his nature and was not at all amused by my attempt at pleasant small talk. Omitting many details , that confession was one of the most monumental confessions I had ever experienced. I left from there changed, and albeit due to God's grace, there was undoubtedly something about this monk. I returned to the retreat house to then begin reading some random books upon the shelf. In what I read, I found this monk's name, and much more about him and his wisdom. Unbeknownst to me; both the immense influence of the one who wrote about this monk priest, and the divine graces clearly at work in his life. From that point forward encounters and conversations continued and in this exchange I saw before me the light of Christ and a humble vessel. 

Throughout time, I came to learn of another well known monk and author to whom this elderly monk I encountered had called a friend. I found myself much less intrigued about the man he knew and more about the Lord he knows, more about the primacy of Christ's presence in our midst and how the living out of obedient service to Him is life giving and fruitful. In no way am I trying to reduce  the immensity of influence this prominent man has had  to many conversions and positive occurrences, this influence  has simultaneously been employed and hijacked by those, often spiritually irresponsible, to foster division, and in turn reduces the immensity of surrender and the devotion of one in pursuit of life hidden in Christ.  The will that seeks only to know about one's humanity, their motives, and all things tangible is perhaps seemingly  easier to digest at times, but beyond this, it can be pursued in some ways to exploit God's grace and defend personal theologies and ideologies. It is a limited and finite approach towards pursuing the infinite. 

The vessels that Christ uses are not concrete passageways in themselves, they are but a ladder on our journey to ascend toward truth. A ladder that is undoubtedly broken, imperfect, and appropriately so, for this witness calls us away from them, calls us out of ourselves so to pursue the Divine Person, Jesus. Blessed are we when we see beyond man and recognize the light of Christ through them. If our gaze remains limited to our limitations we surely miss Christ among us, Christ walking with us as on the road to Emmaus.  

We rightly venerate the Saints in Heaven, as we seek on earth to become humble lowly servants of the Lord until we are Home with Him. Let our eyes be opened and our hearts be pure so that we may clearly see Christ among us reflected in those authentically possessed by God. (CC)