Wednesday, March 28, 2012

You Are Wonderful. By: C.C.

``Men go abroad to wonder at the heights of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motions of the stars, and they pass by themselves without wondering. `` (St. Augustine)
This quote from St. Augustine is one that has always grasped my attention. It is also one that came to mind while on retreat in Genesee NY. The idea of truly getting in touch with our inner most self is one that leaves many people uncomfortable. It is arguably this same fear of self- discovery that keeps many away from God, Church, and their faith altogether. Somehow we have established a fear of truly getting in touch with ourselves. We are scared of the silence, the past hurt, and ultimately the unknown that we may encounter. There is something which holds us back from venturing into the depths of our soul. In my opinion, this seems to be something very tragic and disheartening, and yet at the same time very natural. I too have battled with this very fear in the past. However, growing in my faith and walk with Jesus has truly allowed me to venture into depths of myself and discover things that I did not know existed. It often takes the hurt to heal, and exploration of self to find self. In this it is important to remember that we can not truly know ourselves until we seek Him who knows us best. We must surrender our fear to the Lord and find comfort in knowing that He longs for us to find joy, and that we are created by Him who wants us to become who were called to be. St. Catherine of Siena once said ``Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire``. I would like to suggest that in failing to become who we were meant to be and by repressing our truest self results in unimaginable misery. Perhaps this misery is not often felt all at once....but over time I can imagine it becoming something that causes a lot of unrest....Leaving us tirelessly seeking ``something``, when that which we seek is within us. One comes to recognize that the inner self is the most beautiful paradise. There is so much within to wonder at. Inside each of us there are the heights mountains, huge waves of the sea, and winding rivers. Today more than ever it is easy to hide behind the masks we put on to the world. The advancements in social media and technology allow us to create an identity that we want to believe ourselves. The bombardment of ridiculous status updates, photographs, and ``friend`` tallies has become our modern concept of someone`s identity. Potentially, some are comfortable living on this surface, having a false portrayal of identity controlled and calculated. The beauty of each of us rests upon our unique differences and not our manufactured sense of identity. It is time to truly get in touch with ourselves, to dive within and know our soul. We are so connected today in numerous ways and yet there is an abundance of disconnect. So advanced technologically, by means of communication, and through transportation..yet, somehow as St. Augustine says ``We pass by ourselves without wondering``. Lord tonight I pray that each of us can work beyond our fears and truly venture within ourselves to discover the beauty that is there. Help and guide us to recognize the things within that prevent this clarity. May we come to embrace the importance of reconciliation and see this Sacrament as a means of attaining purity of heart, mind, and soul. Lord forgive us for denying the people who You have called us to be. Help us work through the fears we have, the hurt that has occurred, and everything else that prevents us from being who we were meant to be. Holy Mother I ask that you continue to surround us with the warmth of Your motherly love and protection. Lord, may we someday find comfort and rest in knowing who we are through You. Amen. (C.C.)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

"Yes, Lord" By: C.C.

"Mary said, 'You see before you the Lord's servant, let it happen to me as you have said.' And the angel left her." ( Luke 1:38)
This simple sentence of surrender represents one of the most important moments of our faith. There is no denying young Mary's complete faith, love, and devotion to God. How often we struggle within our own lives to offer up the most simple things in our hearts. Here, through Mary, we witness a complete self denial and desire to fulfill God's will. It is profound really when one reflects upon the immensity of what this verse truly means. Thousands of years later we can still cling to this moment as one of inspiration and as a lesson in faith. I would imagine that Our Lady, despite her faith still battled with emotions of fear and worry at this moment when the angel appeared to Her. However, much greater than these emotions was her Love and yearning to serve the Lord her God above all else. Somehow She knew that following the path God designed for her was the most important thing. Unaware of all that awaited She trusted Him, faithfully saying yes to whatever was to come. Whatever His will was for her life she gladly accepted. Lord, tonight I pray that like our Blessed Mother we are able to trust our lives to You. We know Lord that You search our hearts and know and guide us so that we can always walk the path that leads us to a closer union with You and Your will for us. Help us move beyond our emotions of fear and anxiety, trusting that in saying Yes to You is the way to Eternal Life and true communion with You. I pray tonight for those who are fervently seeking Your will, those in confusion, and also for those that find it difficult to trust in You. May Blessed Mother continue to comfort us on our journey with You, and may we continue this Lenten season with a sacrificial and surrendering heart. Amen (C.C.)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

His Glory. By: C.C.

"How can you believe, since you look to each other for glory and are not concerned with the glory that comes from the one God?" (John 5:44)

In reading today's Gospel I have felt compelled to share this verse from John in my reflection. How often do each of us along our journey of faith lose sight of He who is glory? We may find ourselves fervent in prayer, honoring Him above all, and then somehow giving into the expectations that have developed within us toward the external things in our lives. In doing this there may be a gradual pull away from our Lord. In failing to look toward Him for glory and recognizing that He is the source of all of our joy, love, and happiness, we begin to place unrealistic expectations on "things" and people in our lives. In our brokenness we seek affirmation from others. Seeking things in our surroundings that no human being or material item is capable of providing us. We have a need for much more than anyone we encounter can satisfy. As we turn to today's Gospel we can reflect upon our own faith. Let us acknowledge the times in which we have turned toward our brothers and sisters for glory instead of recognizing the true glory given by God alone. May we understand that it is through serving Him that we truly attain glory beyond measure. We must make the choice each day to live from faith and must honor the Lord through our actions and dealings with others. May we strive to live our lives with humility and a steadfast desire to please Him above all. Let us turn today toward our Lord and pray that everything we do will be pleasing to Him. Amen. (C.C.)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Home From Genesee. By: C.C.

" The truth is that we can find lasting satisfaction only in the service of that person who alone can fill the measure of our radical solitude, and who is accessible only in silence." (Abbot John Eudes Bamberger)
It is difficult for me to truly place my experience at Abbey of the Genesee into words. I have battled since returning home to truly formulate and internalize everything that occurred there. The thought of putting these experiences into words and somehow articulate what went on during my retreat is a task nearly impossible for me. However, in this I feel that there is also something wonderful and splendid. The intimate experience that I had and shared with the Lord is one that should rightfully surpass any vocabulary, feeling, and thought. This should be true of each of us as we turn to the Lord in prayer each day. These moments should be profoundly intimate and private for us. Through devotion, faith, and fervent prayer one can begin to know the joy that can only be found through Him who is the source of endless joy. We come to realize, as Abbot John Eudes Bamberger has written that only through our service to Him can we come to know "lasting satisfaction". In order to do this successfully we must surrender ourselves to silence and prayer. What I have learned over the course of my prayer life, and further during my retreat is the need to be fully open during my time with the Lord. The importance of mortifying all distraction, thought, and expectation in order to enter into the place where the Lord can truly speak to us. This yearning for His voice can cause slight frustration and potentially leave us in a sense of unrest as we demand "Lord, please speak to me I am open" is often during our frustration and expectation that we become blind and deaf to seeing and hearing from the Lord. We yearn for His voice and yet we also have the expectation of how we want to hear him. How silly of us to try and orchestrate the affairs of our Lord. How wonderful it is though when He breaks through our expectations and surprises us beyond what we could have ever imagined. Today surrender yourselves to silence and sit before the Lord. If you are unable to visit the Blessed Eucharist or take part in Mass, then simply offer the silence that you do have to Him. In this moment reflect upon your need for Him in your life and the ways that you have been waiting for that answer to your prayer, or that need to feel His comfort. Try and recognize through reflection, the ways in which God has truly appeared to you in your life, in your toughest circumstances, in your joys, and potentially in the confusion that you may be facing today. Trust in Him enough to allow His work to manifest in your life void of expectation (as much as you can) will most likely come to understand that as we yearn for His voice, He is speaking. As we seek His helping hand, He is already holding ours ever so tightly. As we seek His aid through tribulation, He is already carrying us through it. Lord, today I pray that we become more receptive to receiving You in our lives. Let us sit before You and surrender ourselves fully to the majesty of your works. Forgive us for trying to play Your role and harbor expectations for the ways in which we want You to respond to our call. Let us understand that You have called us, so that we may follow You and trust You. Lord, let us always turn to You in faith, love, and devotion. (C.C.)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Lent. By: C.C.

I came across this wonderful prayer/reflection from St. John Chrysostom, and could not help but be moved. I feel that St. John does a wonderful job of putting the Lenten season into perspective. I hope that it speaks to your heart as it did to mine. May God continue to bless you. (C.C.) The true spirit of Lent lies not in giving up chocolate and soda, but in giving up the things that prevent us from seeing Christ as he truly is: present in the world, present in others.
Advice for Holy and Great Lent from St. John Chrysostom: 
Do you fast? Give me proof of it by your works.If you see a poor man, take pity on him.If you see a friend being honored, do not envy him.Do not let only your mouth fast,but also the eye and the ear and the feet and the hands and all the members of our bodies.Let the hands fast, by being free of avarice.Let the feet fast, by ceasing to run after sin.Let the eyes fast, by disciplining them not to glare at that which is sinful.Let the ear fast, by not listening to evil talk and gossip.Let the mouth fast from foul words and unjust criticism.For what good is it if we abstain from birds and fishes,but bite and devour our brothers?May He who came to the world to save sinners,strengthen us to complete the fast with humility,have mercy on us and save us. Amen.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

"Deep within yourself listen to your conscience which calls you to be pure. A home is not warmed by the fire of pleasure,which burns quickly like a pile of weed grass. Passing encounters are only a caricature of love, they injure hearts and mock Gods plan." (Pope John Paul II)
"Actions speak louder than words; let your words teach and your actions speak."
(Saint Anthony of Padua)

Monday, March 5, 2012

We Do Not Journey Alone. By: C.C.

"Do not get upset about the dryness and coldness you are suffering; be consoled in the depths of your heart, remembering the words of our Lord, "How blest are the poor in spirit...Blest are they who hunger and thirst for holiness..." [Mt. 5:3-6] How happy you should be to serve God in the desert, without manna and without water, consoled only by the fact that He is guiding you and you are suffering for Him. " (St. Francis DeSales)
Lately I can not help but immerse myself in the writings and reflections of St. Francis DeSales. As I read today's quote I am drawn again to further reflect upon this season of Lent and what we are each being called to do. I recognize that despite the feelings and challenges we may be facing throughout this season we can find comfort in the words of our Lord. It is through focusing on the reason for our prayers, fasting, and daily sacrifices that we can be stronger in our journey throughout these coming days. The reason of course is Jesus Christ. It is a journey that invites us to purify our hearts, remove the barriers from within, and become aware of our need for a relationship with Jesus. However, it is crucial that we recognize how powerless we truly are without His help and guidance. We are not called to journey alone, but to remember that "He is guiding us", and that He is with us. Let us challenge ourselves during this Lenten season to push beyond our comfort zones, let us ask our Lord and Blessed Mother to guide us through this journey so that we may suffer for Him and glorify Him in all we do. Amen. (C.C.)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Cleanse My Soul Lord By: C.C.

"Recall to mind how long it is since you began to sin; note how greatly sins have multiplied in your heart since that first beginning and how every day you have increased them against God, yourself and your neighbor by deed, word, desire and thought. Consider your evil inclinations, and how often you have given way to them. By these two points you will discover that your sins are more numerous than the sands of the sea. Cast yourself at the feet of the Lord and say to Him, "Lord, with the help of your grace, I will never again abandon myself to sin." (St. Francis De Sales)
The Lenten season has already been a rather challenging period for me. I definitely feel that I am in the desert on a journey alongside Jesus. However, I have faulted at times and often forgotten that He is with me. I get consumed by my own brokenness and seek tirelessly for His healing hand upon my heart. But, feel that he is so far which I know is not the case. It is rather appropriate that during Lent I find my faith life to become increasingly intense., reminding me of my desire and constant need for Jesus in my life. I become aware of my sins in a way that I have not yet before. Those sins that often go over looked, those sins of word, desire, and thought which come in so subtley but leave such immense wounds. Taking the time to honestly acknowledge my sins has been quite painful; it has been a process that I see as essential for a relationship with God. Ironically, just when I feel that I have confessed all that there is to confess...I find myself alone in prayer and remembering yet another thing that I must rid from my heart, mind, and soul. The pain is humbling though, if I can look at it as a reflection of how God is working within me, how much He desires for all of His children to come to Him and to constantly be made new. I will frequent the Sacrament of Confession quite often these coming days and weeks to further aid this process.
here below is part of a song I wrote that I find very fitting for my feelings today.
Cleanse my soul oh Lord, hear my prayer
Stand beside me Lord, For I know you’ll always care.
Be my saviour Lord, when the world pushes too strong
Hear my prayer Lord, For I’ve been in sin too long.
And I know that when I reach for You
You’ll always be right there,
For I know You see the good in me,
I know You’ll always care.