Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Road To Heaven. By: C.C.

"Raise your eyes to Heaven and you will see that no one arrives there without hard work and continual afflictions. When things go wrong, say to yourself, "This is the road to Heaven. I see the harbor and I am sure that the tempests will not stop me from reaching it." (St. Francis De Sales)

     There is no easy route to Heaven. If we take the time to reflect on the lives of the Saints and the events of our own Christian journey we may come to realize the truth in this reflection shared by St. Francis De Sales. In reflecting upon the life of Jesus and His first followers we can better understand the lives that we are called to live if we long to share in the Eternal Kingdom with our Lord.
  Similarly, in the pursuit of anything worthwhile there is a certain amount of hard work and commitment needed in order to advance ourselves. It may often seem much easier for one to strive for the grade, the finish line, the end zone, or a job promotion due to the visible destination that we can almost touch with our finger trips. 
     The Spiritual work for the Kingdom of God requires immense faith in what is not seen. It takes belief in the invisible and total surrender to a reality that we can not see or touch. It is for this very reason that so many remain skeptical when it comes to any talk about Heaven or the existence of God in general. This can also be experienced by "believers" when things in life do not go accordingly or when there seems to be a complete absence of any "goodness" in their current situations.   
   Believing in God and being devoted to a spiritual way of life does not excuse one from the trials and sufferings of this world.  It is in these times of difficulty that we must raise our eyes to Heaven with perseverance and trust in our Lord. We must praise our "lowly" times and trust in the promises of God and all that awaits us.
    Beyond the Eternal joy that we are striving for-we must also begin to see glimpses of this invisible reality present among us in our current situations. As we begin to see our hardships as a chance for growth, purification, and as the "road to Heaven" we may also be more inclined to identify and appreciate our daily blessings.
     Lord, help us to see you in all things. Give us the clarity to recognize Your love in our sorrow and our joy alike. Help us always to be drawn nearer to You in faith and to strengthen our walk with You daily. Provide us with comfort when we lose hope. Gently call us back to You if we should stumble or fall away. Forgive us when we fail to see your goodness in our lives and have mercy on us. Lord we thank you for the gift of another day and another chance to know you as we strive to become the children you have created us to be. Make our hearts pure enough to love you above all things, our eyes open to seeing you always, and our will to serve you and meet you in Heaven propel us forward in this life. Amen (C.C.)  

"God sends afflictions, but nothing comes from the divine hand that is not useful to those souls who fear Him. Be happy if they come and receive them with a heart filled with filial love, because God sends them with a heart that is paternally concerned with your perfection. He wishes to purify and refine His holy love in you. Think often about the duration of eternity and do not get upset about the mishaps of this transitory and mortal life." (St. Francis De Sales)  


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Rooted In Love. By: C.C.

“If we see ourselves as good practicing Catholics then we must acknowledge that the core of our faith is tolerance and mercy…the core of our faith is treating difficult people with kindness—that’s at the very centre of our faith. Rosaries are wonderful, prayers to the Saints are wonderful..but where the rubber hits the road is LOVE.” (Dr. Ray Guarendi)

     God is love, the Cross is love, and we are all called to love. These statements are often shared in homilies, blogs, prayer groups, conversations, and last but definitely not least through Scripture. Yes, these words often flow freely from our mouths without much thought. However, we are called to act out of this knowledge of our faith with love.
    One can begin by asking the question--what is love?Prior to fully understanding my faith and the way of our Lord..I remained very ignorant to what love meant and the expectations I had within myself for judging what love was and what it was not. It is only after I turned to Scripture and to my Catholic faith where I was met a very different idea and understanding of love. I began to imagine true love far differently than what I had previously understood it to be. I realized the undeniable and often forgotten truth that love is sacrifice. I am not here reflecting on ideas of  solely "romantic love"-- I am referring to the way that we are called to love in the highest sense. Striving to attain here on earth a taste of the greatest romance of all time- God's love for each one of us. Our first two commandments speak of this, and Jesus reminds us of their importance again in the Gospel of Matthew..“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself."All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:36-40)
   In taking the time to reflect upon my own life and through revisiting many scenarios I came to the point of seeing God's love through it all. I often lacked the understanding and clarity to acknowledge Him at work--unable to grasp the immensity of His love for me. It is when we begin to reflect upon His unconditional love for us, His unchanging tolerance and mercy, that we will better understand the way God wills us to deal with one another. By reflecting upon the way God is tirelessly there for us despite our faults allows us to be more patient with those around us.
   So often we may be faced with circumstances where we are challenged and led by emotions which aim us away from being the person God calls us to be.  As we deal with "difficult people" It is only through constantly looking towards our Lord where we will find strength and ability to respond accordingly as His followers. It is by doing this that one may be humbled. Rather than lashing out at another--the opportunity for self reflection and acceptance is born.
   When we love God above all things we start to see ourselves as we truly are and begin to see the ways that we too can be just as "difficult" as those we judge around us. In turning to our Lord with complete surrender and humility we see how unworthy we are of His love and yet, how lovingly He responds by calling us to holiness. In this pursuit of leading holy lives we are met with many challenges that are both interior and exterior. As we walk along this spiritual journey we are continuously faced with the challenges of our own personal emotions, insecurities, judgements, and battles of the heart which we must offer up to God. We see how that when our Lord looks to us He does so with a great sense of tolerance and mercy. It is then, when we are faced with exterior challenges and the "daunting" task of having to accept another that we can begin to do so by imitating this same notion of tolerance and mercy.
      May we each take the opportunity to pause and reflect with a spirit of love when we are faced with "difficult" people. May we come to recognize our own behaviors which can also be troubling for others before being quick to react. Let us be drawn each day to the core message of our faith in order to always share kindness with one another. May we extend tolerance and mercy beyond our households and loved ones. Lord give us the patience and commitment of faith to treat all of our brothers and sisters in Christ with love. Amen (C.C.)