Thursday, November 3, 2016

Among the Sinners By:C.C

......."So Jesus addressed this parable to them.
“What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them
would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert
and go after the lost one until he finds it?
And when he does find it,
he sets it on his shoulders with great joy
and, upon his arrival home,
he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them,
‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’
I tell you, in just the same waythere will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repentsthan over ninety-nine righteous people" ( excerpt from today's Gospel Luke 15:1-10)

There is something very humbling in this scripture and perhaps even more challenging to digest. Quite often what keeps many "lost sheep" away from the rest of the flock is a presumed arrogance and righteousness on part of the faithful.

As a revert to the faith and one once so very far from the flock I find myself often grazing the outskirts of the Church. There still lingers within me at times the feeling that it is a me versus "them" type thing. I look upon these families rooted in the faith, attending Mass together, and even routinely making trips to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and I encounter a void, as if time was lost from my youth without God as a central part of my life. 

I'm reminded, as we should all be that Jesus does not look upon us this way, He does not place us in judgement against another, but searches our hearts, weighs our intentions and our actions through His love. He is undoubtedly just, but He is merciful. Our Lord so actively searches for us and reaches into the most dark and seemingly hopeless of occasions calling us toward Himself and renews us. We are not to think of the years spent without devotion to Him, but rather seek to live each day well in His presence by striving for virtue. We must be aware of His mercy and forgiveness so that we come to experience the consolation He longs to provide. We must not dwell where He has brought grace, and surrender to Him in all things. 

As the year of Mercy comes to an end it is appropriate to see the value in this proclamation of mercy. It reaches beyond the confines of parish walls, youth groups, and close knit parish socials and it calls to the outskirts, to the peripheries where Pope Francis has emphasized great need.

The Universal Church is built up of sinners striving for sanctity, and yes, it too has some righteous sheep prancing around.  Let us not become so blind to our own sin, and the state of our soul that we become neglectful of virtue and love of our neighbour. We have great responsibility as the faithful to remain united in Christ, for love of Christ, in reflection of Christ's love for us. 

If we are honest with ourselves, and humble before the Lord we will join St. Paul in proclaiming that we should only boast about our Lord (1 Corinthians 1:31) we can rid ourselves of judging our brothers and sisters in Christ and even find ourselves among the sinners welcomed by the Lord. (CC) 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Embrace of Ongoing Conversion by: C.C.

The interior room is never completely clean. The corners and hidden spaces will not remain forever polished. The freshness and eagerness of encounter that follow the soul's authentic meeting with Christ can lead one to pursue and respond to the  mission of transformation. 

There is initially a zest for new life and desperation to rid self of the dust and residue of a self absorbed life laden with sin.

To sacrifice seems joyful because the remembrance of Christ's loving sacrifice and mercy is ever so near, looming with a gentle caress. There is warmth, there is comfort, and there is consolation. It's purpose is not so that we remain overcome with fluffy fleeting emotion, but that we experience something remarkably tangible enough to prepare us for the discomfort that is to come.

Longing to remain in this euphoric state is an ideal that suits itself more to those with a worldly desire for self gratification than the reality of faith which demands and requires ongoing metanoia.

True transformation in Christ, for Christ, in order to remain eternally with Christ is a great tireless work. It is life long, yet, so are the pangs of eternal damnation, so blessed is the soul who responds actively to the call of the Lord.

One must guard the interior room with a surrendered willingness. Not always looking to keep it clean, perfect, and tidy, but to be ready to accept the mess that undoubtedly arises patiently. 

As the desire for the caress of Christ looms around there must be the assurance that it is ever present, even in the discomfort of change and mess;... quite possibly it is more intensified in the moments of difficulty, but we are more accustomed and willingly inclined to respond to gentleness. 

Ongoing conversion invites the soul to find residing place in the trenches of transformation that are not always pleasant, but crucial. This extends beyond optics and feelings and requires a shedding made possible through the person of Christ. 

We must strive to remain in Christ, and thus we must perpetually work with God's providential grace and see that actively returning to Him is also remaining in Him.

The Eucharist is our sustenance and the Sacrament of Reconciliation our aid. One will undoubtedly begin to see that the path appearing to be filled with the most resistance is indeed the one with divine assistance. 

May we strive to walk the narrow way with the freshness of initial conversion, with the willingness to embrace difficulty, as to prepare ourselves more fully to live with Christ eternally. (CC)

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)