"Let nothing trouble you, let nothing frighten you. All things are passing; God never changes. Patience obtains all things. He who possesses God lacks nothing: God alone suffices" (St. Teresa of Avila)
These words from St. Teresa of Avila have always brought me great comfort. I have visited them many times throughout my journey of faith and each time I read them they speak so differently. Revisiting these words not only confirms the fact of how much we as individuals grow and change within our spiritual life, they also affirm that God is constant and His love unchanging.
St. Teresa of Avila did not share these words without also empathizing with the emotion of which they are written; she identifies with each of us.
As I read this quotation today I can not help but smile. I reflect upon the many times that I have felt troubled and afraid. I remember that these emotions and situations did indeed pass away. It was in clinging to God despite the heaviness of my burdens that I was brought great comfort. Through faith we can endure whatever we are presented with.
"All things are passing; God never changes"
In order for us to find full comfort in these words we must first have some understanding of our Lord as unchanging. We must acquire some sense of who God truly is and where our greatest source of stability can be found. As we come to reflect on Scripture, the lives of the Saints, and even our own lives we can recognize the truth of this statement. We may come to find that as we spent time questioning God, wondering where He was, longing for His comfort, that He was ultimately right there with us. Arguably in the midst of our difficulties we may often lose sight of His presence and give into our anxious feelings. St. Teresa of Avila reminds us of our need to constantly stay focused on our Lord through every circumstance.
If God never changes, and we understand Him to be constant and all loving, then we must not be troubled or frightened. It is through faith that we are able to be patient through the storms of life and through the things that may burden our hearts. Let us come to recognize that we are fulfilled by God alone and that with Him present in our lives we lack nothing. May we see His unchanging love as a comfort to us in everything. Amen (C.C.)
"Pray, Hope, and Don't Worry"- Padre Pio
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
"It is better to say one Our Father fervently and devoutly than a thousand with no devotion and full of distraction." (St. Edmund)
Numerous Novenas, devotions, prayers, the Holy Rosary, and many other beautiful ways of prayer surround our Catholic faith. However, it is truly important that our prayers are more than what we are raised with, taught, and recite during the liturgy; we must have a life of personal and meaningful prayer that is truly from our hearts. Even as we pray these prayers of our faith we must pray them with devoutness, sincerity, and authenticity. It is not only about us communicating with our Lord but allowing ourselves to be open to God's voice communicating to us.
As we live amidst the chaos of working life, various schedules, and the pressures and pulls of numerous commitments our prayer time may often suffer. Even if we schedule time for prayer within our day it can often seem that this too becomes more of "something to do" opposed to a time of peace. Our Lord invites us to share in the peace of His presence through prayer. It is Him who places this desire to communicate with Him upon our hearts. The other day I came across this wonderful quotation..
“To say that we travel toward God with God and in God is to make clear that prayer is not first a human initiative, but a divine one. On life’s journey, it is God who first calls us." (Catholic Update Guide to CCC)
If God has initiated within our hearts this desire to communicate with Him, to thank Him, and to need Him; then He too is truly yearning for all of your heart, all of your words, your distractions, your pains, your burdens, and your love.
When we approach our Heavenly Father in prayer we must do so with openness and honesty. Before reciting words from our prayers and novenas let us sit before the Lord in silence and offer Him every distraction and burden that is upon our hearts and minds. May we find comfort in our time of prayer and may we come to experience God present among us and within us daily.
Lord, tonight I pray for all of those who are experiencing difficulty in their prayer life. Provide them with comfort and perseverance so that they may come to find true comfort in you. Lord provide each of us with humility when we pray so that we may share with You openly and honestly. Help us through our distractions when we pray Lord, and may we realize that even our prayer of tears and silence is understood by You when we can not find the right words. Thank you Lord for all of Your blessings and for calling each and every one of us to a deeper relationship with you. Help us to recognize your presence around us and within us each day. We ask for the intercession of our Blessed Mother and all the Angels and Saints as we pray. Amen (C.C.)
Monday, November 26, 2012
Tonight at prayer group I was very grateful to hear the testimony of a Deacon that I truly respect. It was through his humility, rawness, and truth that we as listeners were able to recognize the Lord's hand upon every moment of his life. Throughout the sharing of his testimony Deacon Robert also allowed for each of us to understand the importance of sharing the experiences of our own lives and God's mercy with one another. It is in this sharing and relating that we come to see Christ present among us today.
Throughout the history of our Church there have been numerous men and women of faith whose lives have served as testimonies of our Lord's love and mercy. Often the way in which God revealed Himself through these early followers is quite drastic. There are various Divine interventions leading to conversions that continue to leave us speechless today. As we reflect upon these moments from Scripture and history it takes great faith in our Lord to believe them. It also takes great faith to acknowledge these events as the work of our Almighty God. From Abraham and Sarah, Job, our Holy Mother, St. Paul, and St Augustine the lives of these men and women have revealed to us the love of our Lord and the power of His grace and mercy. No less important are we as His followers today.
Our lives also serve as testimonies of God's goodness and mercy. It is through the sharing of our experiences with one another that we each come to glorify God and recognize Him present today among us and working through us. Deacon Robert shared his story tonight, and yet, what was truly being shared was the story of the Lord's love for each of His children.
Following the prayer group this evening I came home and began watching one of my favorite shows on EWTN entitled The Journey Home through which various testimonies are shared. Tonight Leah Darrow was featured. As I listened and watched her recount her story I was deeply moved. I watched as she spoke about her way of living before "reverting" back to her Catholic faith. I could not deny the immense courage that it takes to be able to publicly reveal personal struggles, to fully expose ones weaknesses, vulnerabilities and sin. Yet, through seeing her speak so full of Christ's love tonight her openness serves as a means of glorifying the Lord and understanding the depths that He will go to transform our hearts and our lives if we permit Him to. Our present day testimonies are reminders in these times that our Lord's love is constant and unchanging. We are His children. Jesus died for you.
Let us each take the time to reflect upon our lives and take note of the moments that we recognized God working. Let us offer prayers of thanksgiving for everything that He has given. May we each pray for the clarity to see Him at work daily in our lives, surrendering fully to His will and allow ourselves to be His instruments each day. Lord Help us to also share our story and glorify You by doing so. Provide us with the strength, courage, and humility that we need. Thank you Lord for your unchanging love and for your mercy and grace. May we strive each day to live in closer union with You. We pray for the intercession of our Blessed Mother and all the Angels and Saints. Amen. (C.C)
http://youtu.be/78pQoOsHSaI - Leah Darrow- The Journey Home
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Chastity is not about repression, but rather it is truly a means of reclaiming the wonderful gift of sexuality that God gave to each of us. I am currently reading He Speaks to You by Sr. Helena Burns and this month's focus is Chastity and Celibacy. As I read these wonderful reflections each day I am strengthened through my journey of chastity and have also come to understand the importance of speaking to this matter openly and without shame. Somehow the sacredness of our sexuality has been lost amidst a culture that is seemingly okay with highly provocative and arguably pornographic lifestyles, images, shows, and music . There seems to be an expectation that all of these things are truly "normal" and accepted, where as living chaste or celibate is considered an illness.
Chastity is not a fear of sexuality or of sexual desire, but rather it is an understanding of ones sexuality as a gift from God and the acknowledgement that the marital act is entrusted to His children in the Sacrament of marriage. Our society makes it difficult to speak of these matters and determines that anyone who lives in such a manner is "abnormal" or "repressed". I admit that there are struggles and challenges living out chastity in these highly sexual times. There is no way that this would be possible without a loving commitment to the Lord and full trust in His Providence and mercy. No matter what your past is and what you have gone through living a life of chastity is truly possible.
Heavenly Father we thank you tonight for the gift of our sexuality. Help us always to acknowledge this as a gift from You and provide us with strength to live in purity as we strive to serve You. Lord forgive our sins and protect all of us from temptations and from lust. We pray especially for the intercession of Our Blessed Mother to wrap her mantle of love around our shoulders and guide us along our journey toward purity. Amen (C.C.)
Thursday, November 15, 2012
"The moment a man, by the help of God, succeeds in overcoming his own will, that is, in freeing himself from every inordinate affection and care, to cast himself and all his miseries unreservedly into the bosom of God, that moment he becomes so pleasing to God that he receives the gift of grace. Grace brings love, and love drives out all fear, and hesitation, and fills the soul with confidence and hope. What is more blessed than to cast all our care on him who cannot fail? As long as you lean upon yourself you will totter. Throw yourself without fear into the arms of God. He will embrace you, he will heal and save you" (Saint Albert the Great, Magnificat reflection for today)
What does the Lord will for my life? What does He will for this day? How can I be sure that I am fulfilling the will of God? These questions can often cross our minds as we try and live a devout life. It is also in these questions that we recognize the stronghold to our own action and will opposed to a complete and open surrender to the Lord. Saint Albert reminds us that overcoming ones will is attained through a total casting of oneself "into the bosom of God". This image that St. Albert presents us with is deeply comforting. Just as we see children in the arms of their mothers so safely at peace and rest, so too does our Heavenly Father yearn for us in His bosom with trust and at peace.
The pull of our society and worldly demands often distracts us from this resting place. It is not God who lets us go, but rather, our own humanness that gradually breaks away from the closeness of this bond that He yearns to maintain with us. We must continuously mortify our own will and cast everything on Him with faith. We must strive each day with an effort of perpetual giving of self to God in order to allow His gift of grace to rest within our soul.
Lord, tonight I pray for those who are attempting to know Your will in their lives. Please help us daily to mortify each and every action that comes from our own selfish will. Provide us with clarity and peace through discerning what we are called to do in every situation. Thank you Lord for Your mercy and grace. Thank you for Your unchanging love. It is truly through You that we are strengthened and come to know a sense of peace while on earth. May we each fearlessly cast ourselves into the bosom of God daily with faith in His healing and Providence. Amen (C.C.)
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
It has been spoken about in numerous homilies and prayer talks, written about in many spiritual books, and often thought of as we journey toward holiness. What is in your God hole? What do we fill ourselves with instead of He who is the Only that can satisfy and sustain us. As we live with a yearning to be most like Jesus we battle greatly with out human reality. Often times we get ourselves down by the "fleshy" things and are victim of emotional swings and materialistic lures. Yet, through this, we are also reminded somehow of God and our deepest most present hunger that can only be satisfied by our Lord. This soft whisper that breaks through our flesh and into our soul is God; He calls us and yearns for our love as we seek to be loved, to be accepted, and to be fulfilled. In our tireless seeking we often pass Him by, Only then to return at our starting point more drained and empty than when we first began our search.
Seeking for that which satisfies can lead us to destructive behaviors and addictions. We are attracted to that which at first does not seem to be threatening but in time has proven it's evil. It is grace that awakens us to the reality of our Lord. His mercy on us that truly breaks through the "muck" and disillusion. His love for us that will sustain us and lead us to become the people that we are created to be.
Regardless of your spiritual state in life, your devoutness and sanctity, we must all empty ourselves of everything that remains in the dwelling place created solely for our Lord. As long as we are part of the world we will need to frequently evaluate our true commitment and connection to God. We must constantly work at discerning what we are drawn to through worldly allure and what is truly guided by our Lord and the Holy Spirit. This work in our lives is ongoing and always changing. As we grow in faith and in virtue we become more aware of ourselves and are better suited to weed out the things that are not of God. It is often easy to identify the larger obstacles preventing God from truly working in our lives, yet, this does not mean that our detachment from them is made any easier. The purification is painful and there must be a conscious effort made to surrender to the Lord and ask for Him to help us. It is in this surrender to Him and through relinquishing control that we allow the dwelling place of the Lord within us to be made accessible.
Lord tonight I pray for all of those who are truly searching for You in their hearts. I pray for those who have yet to know You and are victim to the demands and allures of our world. Help us each day to grow in faith. Guide us along this journey toward holiness and provide us with the clarity to detach from anything that hinders our relationship with You. We pray for the intercession of all of the Saints and our Holy Mother Mary to help us live more like Jesus. May we seek you in faith knowing that our fulfillment rests solely in You. Amen (C.C)
Saturday, November 10, 2012
"The recent election in our country has favored a government whose policies include oppressive laws inimical to basic Catholic and even basic Christian values, as a large number of Bishops and Protestant spokesmen have expressly stated. A prominent archbishop has announced publicly that to vote for candidates who favor legalizing abortion and homosexual marriage is gravely sinful. The recent election has shown us that the society that had once provided conditions that allowed for fidelity to those values essential for the unhindered practice of the Christian faith has become instead a threat to our fundamental values. Similar and even harsher reactions of governments throughout the centuries have frequently tested the fidelity and courage of the Church. God in his
The nation doesn’t simply need what we have. It needs what we are." (St. Teresia Benedicta)
Recently, my prayers and thoughts have been with my brothers and sisters in the United States. The presidential election has come and gone and threats to our core Catholic and Christian values continue to surround us. At this time, more than ever, it is evident that we are experiencing a battle that is beyond human leadership and paper ballots; this is truly a battle between holiness and sin. Abbot John Eudes Bamberger's reflection on this recent election provides us with hope and shares a very important truth that is extremely helpful for all Christians " Governments throughout the centuries have frequently tested the fidelity and courage of the Church. God in His Providence has made use of such oppression to purify His people and lead them to greater holiness through resisting such opposition." These threats to our Catholic Church and values calls for every single one of Her faithful to stand united in prayer and practice.
Beyond protestations and our righteous rage we must remain true in our hearts and souls to our faith and remember that no external force can rid us of our fire for The Lord and our faith. Through this very public opposition to the Church each of us are faced with a question of morality and ethics. All of us are faced with an opportunity and call to further holiness by living our faith in a way that demands more of those around us. Together we must continue to assemble in our Parish communities, in our workplaces, in our prayer groups, and the silence of our rooms with full faith that our Lord will provide for His children and that His will, will be done.
Through this political tribulation we bear a Cross upon our shoulders that Christ indeed carries with us. We have amidst this great trial an even greater chance to become His true deciples by remaining faithful and not allowing the sin of others to sway us away from our values. We must continue to pray that The Lord has mercy upon those who remain in darkness. Above all, we must continue to pray for our political leaders and pray that their hearts may be opened to The Lord and what is truly just. May we each strive for holiness within our own lives and share the light of Christ with those around us. It is through being obedient to God and true to our faith that we can aid greatly in this battle against sin. May we forgive those who persecute us and ask our Lord to also forgive them "for they know not what they do" ( Luke 23:34). We ask for the intercession of our Holy Mother, Queen of peace to provide us with comfort and courage. Do not lose heart and remember the words of St. Teresia of Benedicta, our nation desperately needs who we are.....I would like to add that our nation desperately needs who we are in Christ. Amen (C.C.)
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
"Our hearts were made for You, O Lord, and they are restless until they rest in you." (St. Augustine of Hippo)
Along the spiritual journey there are moments of great peace and there is also a sense of restlessness that can present itself as we try and live in relationship with our Lord. The "peaks" and "valleys" of our spiritual lives remind us greatly of our Lord's passion. It is through this experience that we are able to see that our longing to lead a devout life is very much in union with the suffering of the Crucifixion and the glory of the Resurrection.
Our God is one of peace and love, and our world is not always as such. As children of God we must understand that we are created for our Lord alone and that our true sense of joy, peace, and happiness can only come through Him. St. Augustine reminds of this truth and also offers us insight into the restless that we will experience until we rest in our Lord. Seeking rest and peace with God is something that is not fixed, but rather, it is something that is continuous.
There are many times that I have felt restless in my heart and was greatly troubled by this. I felt that I was not fulfilling the Lord's will for my life, or that I have in some sense been lazy in my spiritual life. However, I turned to the Lord in these moments and asked Him what He wanted of me through this experience of restlessness. I embraced it and offered it all up to my Lord. As I sought God in these moments I realized that this restlessness was a way to draw me nearer into the heart of God. I recognized that the Lord wanted more of me, more of what I even thought I had to give. The interior battle with restlessness reminded me of my own broken and human nature and also of our unchanging and all loving God who longs to give peace to each one of us.
In our moments of restlessness may we each draw nearer to our Lord...recognizing that our true rest and sense of peace is only found in Him. May we seek ways daily to detach ourselves from seeking comfort in our surroundings and may we wait for the Lord patiently, in stillness, and in fullness of faith. Amen (C.C.)