Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Lost, Sought, And Found; A Surrender To Faith. By: C.C.

"God manifests himself in what is hidden. Therefore if you try to find Him you don't He shows Himself when there is no "you" to look for Him." (Thomas Merton)

    We can not see God because we lack the humility required to see the Divine reality at work. We can not share God properly because we lack the love that enables us to partially understand Whom we are sent by. In the often tireless seeking of God we can become deflated and exhausted. One may even become full of doubt and disenchantment with the idea of an all loving and all merciful Father present among us. As we busy ourselves pursuing things of this world we must be reminded that God, though present to us is not found within this world but is seen by seeking Eternal life. The Divine reality is only made visible by a yearning to fulfill the call of holiness.
    It is truly God who calls each of us, it is God who first sought us. Our action is one of allowing Him to find us; a complete surrender to the love. We do not pursue God as we pursue the things of this world. The true success of our spiritual life consists of getting out of our own way to make dwelling room for our Lord.
    We can only begin this journey when we become open. Before we can be open to our Lord's love we must have a willingness to receive faith. There must be a faith in things unseen, and simultaneously a yearning to see them. To accept this has become difficult for many as they spend time clinging to tangible things. Everything one can touch, see, taste, and smell is the only truth that they are willing to commit themselves to. All of the fleshy driven passions are those most accessible by the world and seemingly easy to fulfill; yet, still there remains an emptiness.
   To live by faith means to accept and trust; it means to love. Faith is initiated by love; because God is love. Catherine de Hueck Doherty writes " Through faith the veil between God and man becomes less and less until it seems as if we can almost reach out and touch God." May we be open to receiving this faith each day, humbly striving in love toward God who is able to fulfill the deepest desires of our heart. (C.C.)

"My God, if we were to love You alone - You in all things and all things in You - how wonderful that would be!"  (St. Augustine)

Kari Jobe- The More I seek You (a beautiful song)


Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Vocation To Love And Serve. By: C.C.

"Few souls understand what God would accomplish in them if they were to abandon themselves unreservedly to Him and if they were to allow His grace to mold them accordingly."
(St Ignatius Loyola)

   As we celebrate the fourth Sunday of the Easter Season we take the time today to acknowledge and pray for the intention of Vocations to the priesthood and religious life. 
    I felt that these words from St. Ignatius can be used to better understand the idea of vocation in each of our lives and how we are called to abandon ourselves entirely to God. Many of us, especially in the years of our youth and young adulthood take the time to "establish ourselves" listing the many plans we have for our futures. We commit to studies and various activities without acknowledging that it by God's grace and design that we will prosper, and that His will should be our deepest yearning; above the things of this world. 
   The idea of abandonment can seem quite fearful. Trusting God enough to rest fully in Him; allowing Him to "mold us accordingly". This is not something that can be taught or done for us, each of us are called to discern our vocation in life. Our fear and zealous yearning to create our own future is often a result of lacking trust in God. 
   There can be a tension and conflict in regards to what God is asking of us and what we may be willing to give. Though one may hear "surrender to Him" and "let go in trust" , it is much harder to do if we still see ourselves as the sole conductor of this surrender.      May our desire to surrender to the Lord in our lives become a prayer of allowance. May we be open to hear His voice. Let us not fear where it may take us, but may we trust that He who created all things and gave us life knows where we will find most joy. 
   May we pray today for an increase in all vocations within our Holy Catholic Church throughout the world. Let us nurture the love of Christ within our families and with our youth. Regardless of where each of us are called to serve our Lord, we all have the same vocation; to follow Him and serve Him faithfully. Let us abandon ourselves daily as to better know and come to understand where it is that we will serve Him best in love and faith.(C.C.)

“A man knows when he has found his vocation when he stops thinking about how to live and begins to live.” 
― Thomas Merton

Friday, April 19, 2013

"Restless Heart Ramblings" By: C.C.

"When I hear my former life brought forward, no matter with what intention it is done, I am not so ungrateful as to be afflicted there at; for the more they show up my misery (weakness), the more I praise my Physician." (St. Augustine)

    Saint Augustine of Hippo is a saint that I hold dear to me for many reasons. There can be much comfort found in learning of his life and journey toward faith when faced with those who seem to be so far from acknowledging God in their lives. In learning about the life of Saint Augustine one can share with him the praising of our Divine Physician.
     Through reading his Confessions, and most recently watching the Restless Heart movie, the life of this beloved Saint became even more alive and significant to me. I was reminded of the immense power of our Lord's love and mercy, and the depths that He travels in order to call even the most lost sheep home to Him and home to truth.
      Saint Augustine corrects and humbles me when I am faced with shame in looking back at my past. He calls me to see the grace and the healing power of my Lord. I recognize that it is through this process of conversion and witness that one can come to see the undeniable truth of God's will for us, and the truth of His existence.
     This truth and the power of conversion is the very thing that I was skeptical about prior to being brought to my knees in tears of surrender. Any sense of doubt was silenced by the surrounding of God's grace in my brokenness and unworthiness. A life that once seemed full of "fun"and  told by others to be solely "youthful experience" was essentially one that led me to the most destruction and emptiness. It was a life full of falsity and lies that has somehow become quite customary within our Western culture. 
   I share the sentiments of Saint Augustine when hearing of my "former life" being brought forward.  It was once a source of great humiliation for me, but by further surrender I realized that it is truly a means of praising my Physician and of leading others toward Him.
   The life of Saint Augustine is not one to be dismissed as solely an "ancient" reality, but a life that is still very relevant today. Through God's grace, it is a testimony that is capable of converting the lost and simultaneously one that reminds the faithful of the destruction of sin. Saint Augustine's written testimony leads each of us to the Divine Author and Physican who is all loving and merciful beyond our understanding. (C.C.)
    "Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe."(St.Augustine)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Lightly And Joyously Through Darkness. By: C.C.

"Let us walk lightly and joyously amid the difficulties of this passing life. Let us willingly accept the mortifications, pains and afflictions that we find on the way. We are certain that these trials will end with this life, after which there will be only joy and eternal consolations." (St. Francis De Sales)

    To walk "lightly and joyously amid the difficulties of this passing life" is a difficult task as we are being faced with tribulation and suffering. De Sales speaks of the eternal consolations that await us, and yet, as we continue our earthly journey it can often seem that the eternal consolation for which we strive is far away. 
   Even those with strong faith can find themselves in moments of despair and confusion as they seek to understand what is going on around them. There are numerous events that have taken place within these recent weeks that can lead one to feel spiritually deflated. From the Gosnell trial, Boston bombing, and the death of Rehtaeh Parsons there is no doubt a need as followers of Christ to be reminded of the joy through which we are called to face our suffering. A joy that does not imply an avoidance or excusing of the evils surrounding us, but rather a joyous suffering as we offer up everything to our all loving Father with trust. In suffering we come to understand what it means to "carry the Cross" of Jesus.
   When faced with tragedy and affliction our need for the Lord is reaffirmed. We recognize the immense hope, faith, and trust required. Beyond this, we come to seek a purpose for this suffering and what it means for each of us as Catholics. 
   Let the weight of this Cross, and those that will come push us onward in faith with a longing and desire to make visible the love of Christ by which we are sent. Let us turn time and time again to our Lord where we may be gifted with the grace to continue on in fervent prayer and trust. We must remind ourselves that "He will not forsake us", and that it is through Him that we will have the strength to endure whatever may come. Let us continue to seek His light, remembering that we are called to share this light in the world with others. We are truly "Children of the light" through unity, faith, and prayer may we all gather at this time in certainty "that these trials will end with this life, after which there will be only joy and eternal consolations" 
   Lord thank you for the gift of faith. We thank you for calling us to serve and suffer with you so that we too may know the joy of eternity. As we face tribulation we ask for your mercy and grace so that we will press on in faith and persistent prayer. Provide us with the strength to be your light through this darkness, enabling us to be your instruments. We pray that "your will be done on earth as it is in heaven" Amen. (C.C.)

Monday, April 15, 2013

Wealthy And Empty. By: C.C.

"All the wealth in the world cannot be compared with the happiness of living together happily united." (St. Marguerite d'Youville)

   The idea of wealth bringing happiness is largely promoted within our Western culture. There seems to be immense importance placed upon "things" rather than our relationships with one another. There are line ups, and even sleep overs outside of department stores when the latest gadgets are released; as if the newest technological invention will somehow add to our self-worth and joy. We have "iPods", "iPhones", and yet we have forgotten about the "I" behind them.There are bigger homes being bought, only to house empty souls. We have not only lost the concept of living "together happily united" but we have lost an understanding of happiness, togetherness, and unity entirely.
   While there are many benefits and healthy ways that we can implore the privileged access we may have to material goods and modern technology, there is a danger when these "things" take precedent over our relationships with one another; most importantly our Lord . 
   These words from St. Marguerite d'Youville offer a response to our self-absorbed and highly ambitious society. They highlight a reality that is the result of striving to attain wealth over true fulfillment that can only be found in being happily united with one another. If we spent our time seeking the wealth of relationship and love within our families over material wealth we could better understand what it means to be truly wealthy. 
   We must learn to value one another. We must focus on preserving relationships with our loved ones, recognizing that no amount of money or material goods can replace the immeasurable value of those dear to us.
    Lord, help us understand that in only seeking things of this world we will never find true happiness. Humble us so that we can turn to You with fullness of heart, yearning to understand and appreciate the blessings that You have given to us through our health, our families, and the simple gift of another day. Provide clarity to those who are lost, and to those who may not recognize that only you can fill the void within their hearts. May those who have material wealth use this as a means of being charitable and helping others. May our ambitions be rooted in the desire to please You and glorify Your name. Thank you for all that You have given and for that which You take away. May we humbly seek to "live together happily united" until You call us home. Amen (C.C.)

Saint Michael, pray for us!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Teaching Catechism; And The Reconfirming Of My Own Faith. By: C.C.

      "Many look at the youth today and ask "have you no faith?". I look at many of our adults asking "where is your witness?" (C.C.)

          At my cousin's Confirmation March 7th.Honored to be her sponsor!
    As I looked back upon my adolescent years which were spent rather distant from The Catholic Church teachings, it made me wonder. How is it that we can form our youth today with a hunger and a yearning to be active within the Church community? More so, how do we succeed in the formation of Catholic youth? 
   There is an emptiness in simply throwing them teachings of the Church, citations from the Youcat, and also telling them how they are to live. The greatest formation of our youth comes from us as young adults and leaders being formed ourselves. It comes from our witness of living the faith with honesty and openness. There is a way that we can teach them the doctrine, dogma, and discipline remaining fully invested with our hearts and our experiences. The best way we can aid in the formation of our youth is by first understanding that this work begins with our Lord.
  One must recognize the undeniable power of our Lord's intercession and His ultimate desire that we as children come to him and strive to live life according to His design and purpose for us.We must remember that we do not teach alone.
    I often find myself in conversation with many parents of youth and young adults alike with a deep desire to keep their children in the faith. They are willing to do whatever it takes to help them become strong Catholic youth. Their intent is obviously driven by love for their children and is very admirable, yet, in looking back within our very own lives and histories we may find moments that we too fell, doubted, and experienced spiritual darkness. To deny this reality is to avoid an honest truth. It is to deny the peaks and valleys that we experience on our spiritual journey. 
  As a "revert" to the Catholic faith I often look back upon moments in my life where many were sharing the faith with me. This year as I taught Catechism to some Confirmation candidates I placed myself back in grade 8 Catechism classes and remembered what it was like for me, only thirteen years ago. I remember my absent thoughts, my lack of openness, my hearing but not receiving of all the goodness being taught. And yet, somehow through God's grace and the gift of faith the power of that same Sacrament remained etched within my entire being. I realized that the most valuable lesson I could share was not isolated to what was written down, but what was exuded by my witness and love for the faith. 
   Lord, we ask that You provide us with patience and understanding as we seek to pass on the faith to our youth. Remain present to everyone in roles of leadership who share Your word and the teachings of the Holy Catholic Church. Enable us to witness the faith with the joy that only You can bring. May the youth that we educate be used as Your instruments to call home those who have fallen away from the Church. May we encourage an openness to the vocation of Religious Life and Your will above all. Help us strengthen our own faith in times of doubt and despair. We thank you for the gift of being privileged to guide Your children as we too seek to follow You. We ask for the intercession of all the Angels and Saints, and may the protection and love of Our Most Holy Mother Mary shield us from all harm. May we keep our prayers fervent for all of our youth in the Church; especially those who are approaching the Sacrament of Confirmation. Amen. (C.C.) 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Called To Courage. By: C.C.

"We can be truly courageous only to the extent we learn to trust in our Lord's love for us; and that of our heavenly Father. This courageous trust is a lifelong challenge for us. (Abbot John Eudes Bamberger)

    Being Catholic in today's society requires and demands much courage. This reality is one that has been present since the birth of our Church. One may think we are immersed in " the hardest of times" or facing "unbearable darkness", yet, we must remind ourselves about a not so distant history in order to continue striving toward supernatural hope; enabling us to remain persistent in prayer and faith. This history I mention is written throughout the course of time and in various places where The Universal Church is found. It is written in the stories of Christ's first followers, the lives of our Saints, and numerous Martyrs. It is heard through the Psalms of David.
   For many members of our Church living outside the North Americas the courage needed for them is very different. Though our freedom is threatened in many ways and seems to be fearfully progressing, there is a harsher reality present within the lives of many of our Catholic brothers and sisters in the world. There are those forbidden to attend Mass and even speak the name of Jesus. For them, there is a present reality being lived that shares equal brutality with the history we read. It is this reality that calls me to courage. It is their witness of faith that reminds me of our need to work for the Eternal. It is the reality of extreme Christian persecution  from parliament to playgrounds that calls me to "trust in our Lord's love for us" as we fight to uphold His will. 
   Today, as we are faced with radical oppression and circumstances, Let us recall the Lord's immeasurable love for us. May we rest in the fact that our Holy Catholic Church is not held together by the hands of sinful humans but by a Divine embrace of protection and love .

"Pray, hope, and don't worry" (St.Padre Pio)  

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Working For Holiness While Working. By: C.C.

"True holiness does not mean a flight from the world; rather, it lies in the effort to incarnate the Gospel in everyday life, in the family, at school and at work, and in social and political involvement."(Bl. Pope John Paul)

   To live while keeping ones mind on the Eternal does not mean an avoidance of the present day reality in which we find ourselves. We are each called to holiness given our state in life. There is great confusion when we see this as something separate from where we currently find ourselves. Often by means of frantic searching and longing for God we completely pass Him by; as He is always with us.
   It is dangerous to compartmentalize our faith and only turn to the Gospel when in Mass or in times of personal prayer. Our call to holiness is not just a call to participate in our Sunday obligation or something we think about before closing our eyes at night. As Blessed Pope John Paul II reminds us "true holiness lies in the effort to incarnate the Gospel in everyday life". 
   This idea of incarnating the Gospel is inclusive of our daily tasks and duties. From the most mundane base things to the most glorious, we are perpetually called to holiness. There have been numerous writings from our beloved Saints and many great spiritual authors suggesting ways of accomplishing this. For many of us who try to lead a devout life while immersed within a secular setting this presents a great challenge.While we may often feel most surrounded by our Lord as we sit in Adoration or pray quietly, we must recognize that as we work, engage with family, and fulfill other obligations that He is ever present. 
  We are called to be witnesses of our faith. We are called to "show what we know" and act as the Easter people that we are. Though it is easy to become consumed with our duties and lose sight of He who provides what we need most to accomplish our tasks, an honest effort to incarnate the Gospel must be made. 
  Lord, we ask your mercy for the times that we have fallen victim to our work and obligations. Help us draw nearer to You and bring You into each moment of our working day. Provide us with the clarity so that we may come to see You within our work; recognizing that it is only "through you that all things are made possible". Meet us Lord in our housework, in our morning traffic, in the office, the classroom, the boardroom, and wherever else we are called to serve. May we come to not only read the words of the Gospel but truly incarnate them as to better serve You and share the joy, love, and peace that only You can give. Amen (C.C.)