The Hate You Give

I don’t know anything about the movie, just its title. I’ve passed over it several times when debating over which movie would serve as a Friday night escape. But the title of the movie did something to me. It was bold and unapologetic. It was angry and accusatory. I felt convicted in some strange and unatoned for way. Could I be guilty of a sin I didn’t commit?

Today, I meditated on the story of Herod and John the Baptist and read an excellent meditation on it. And that meditation scared me as it spoke of “the power of anger in its most extreme form.” And I reflected on my passions, my hate and any resentment or anger that was “inspiring” my heart or motivation.

Sin creeps so steadily into your soul. Like a silencer. Like a slow dose of poison, unnoticed. The hate you give. In your words, your actions, your rants and apologetics. In the way you deal with people. In the selfish advice you give them. In the missing of moments, in the accusations against our Lord. In the chains we put Him in. In the blasphemies we speak against Him.

It is us. We are the crowd that shouts, “Crucify Him.”

The hate you give

I cried for my soul. For the hurt that I’ve held onto. I have forgiven so many. The perpetrators of my abuse, friends, acquaintances and so many more. There is nobody in my mind’s eye that I hadn’t forgiven. I scanned my mind at a rapid pace, but my heart was beating and swelling and filled with conviction.

The hate you give. (Holy Spirit whispers)

And the sin was there clear as day. I had forgiven but I had harbored. I had done what Jesus had asked me to do but I had resented. I had followed the Word but I had not absorbed the word into my soul. And my actions, my words, my motivations had fallen so short of what the Lord expects from me.

And He was crying from the crucifix, Forgive them all.

Look at me. My eyes, my body, covered in blood and sweat and the wounds of a million lashes. My soul dying from rejection. My heart crushed by those I called my own.

But His heart, His heart swelling with an unfathomable love. And not hate, not hate but an immense love. An impossible love for you and for me. Blood, tears, sweat, dirt, rejection, hate, the hate, and the love coming back from Him. Lord my rejection is killing me. My soul is slowly dying. I don’t want to hold onto it any longer.

Betrayal is cruel and deep. It burns the soul. The person I loved the most. The person that left me. The forgiveness that I gave. The rejection that I received. The bitterness and resentment and anger that followed. The grief that consumed my soul. The why God why. The meditation on Judas. The crying. The repairing of the heart. And all the while God is watching…Take it all my beloved daughter. Grieve it. I love her too. I love her, too.

And there it was, deep and wide. My sin on display. I didn’t want God to love her.

The hate you give

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew 14:1-12

Herod the tetrarch heard of the reputation of Jesus
and said to his servants, “This man is John the Baptist.
He has been raised from the dead;
that is why mighty powers are at work in him.”

Now Herod had arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison
on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip,
for John had said to him,
“It is not lawful for you to have her.”
Although he wanted to kill him, he feared the people,
for they regarded him as a prophet.
But at a birthday celebration for Herod,
the daughter of Herodias performed a dance before the guests
and delighted Herod so much
that he swore to give her whatever she might ask for.
Prompted by her mother, she said,
“Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.”
The king was distressed, 
but because of his oaths and the guests who were present,
he ordered that it be given, and he had John beheaded in the prison.
His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl,
who took it to her mother.
His disciples came and took away the corpse
and buried him; and they went and told Jesus.

Silence has a Sound

Silence is a work of art. It is a choice. It is a canvass. It is a miracle of life.

Even the brush strokes have noise. Bristles to paper. The splashing of water. The insistence of color. Red is loud and blue has the hues of ice. Yellow demands its way. Green is the rustling of leaves. There is still SOUND.

The art of writing is even noisy. The tap of keys on a keyboard, strikes, movement. The sound of air or breath. Long sighs and even pauses. There is still SOUND.

We run away to find silence. It is an attraction. The insides of monasteries. The center of the Eucharist. It is deception. But not deception of the thing in and of itself. No, on the contrary that is the truth. The monastery, the Eucharist all reflect the silence we seek. It is not the world that is noisy but the inside of our souls. It is why we fall to our knees before the Blessed Sacrament praying for air and can hear the slamming of a car door, the buzzing bee, the murmurs of conversation. Silence makes us more attuned to noise and God does not want us to absolve ourselves from it but rather to sit in it and with it. How could heaven in all its splendor not include sound? The sounds of angels and trumpets, of the voice of God and of the saints. No, rather God is saying to us, let your souls cry for silence! Let your souls demand it! Let the face of the Blessed Sacrament reflect back on your face the gift of INTERIOR silence, so that I may teach you to have peace amidst the commotion of your busy world, the hustle and bustle and in ALL circumstances. I want you to carry with you that silence. In the pain of your wounded marriage, in the unexpected death of your loved one, in your screaming children. I want it to envelop you in my Holy light, so that when your soul is suffering it finds its place, right in the center of my heart. In the center of my Holy and uninterrupted silence.

No my child, do not run away from noise but run towards it and bring my silence with you in the inside cavern of your soul. You who everyday walk my streets, feed my children and bare my scars to the world. Rejoice in the noise! It is then that I test you. It is only then that your spiritual practices can be put to the test.

And all this in the Blessed Sacrament. In the thirty minutes, In the noise from the outside. In running away. This from seeking solace from Him, answers from Him as to why I cannot get quiet. A loving rebuke, a joyful discipline.

The world does not conform to your needs. The universe and all that is in it is mine, He says. You conform to its needs.

For the ones that he has left behind in the world, not in cloistered convents, or monasteries or hopelessly tucked away. For those whose vocation is marriage or motherhood or some other form of non-religious life. It is then that He tests us. Can you find the comfort of the cloister in the silence of your heart? Can you put on the habit despite the noise? Can you place yourself in the center of my will when it is loud?

The circumstances of life are what they are- and they will keep coming, as surely as the sun will rise tomorrow. But will YOUR will finally give itself up to be fused into the Holy and Divine Will of God? And what if not for silence? Are we simply running INTO the burning sun rather than standing back to feel its rays? We cannot consume ourselves in Holiness without the acceptance of our own individual realities, our stages in this present life and each and every circumstance that presents itself.

When Jesus rebuked the wind and the waves, the storm in our souls should have calmed. That is his Holy and Divine Will. To accept that this act he performed presented us all the silence we need.

You may still hear the pull of the waves and the rocking of the boat. But your soul. Your soul will be still…

She said Yes

In the 4th installment of “The Wild Goose” Series by Father Dave Pivonka, I was awestruck at the simplicity and complexity of the message all at the same time- Mary’s Fiat. 

Let it be done to me according to thy word

God’s Will is the center of the universe in our lives. But as I have ebbed and flowed and felt the current of the world and its many waves, I have longed for eternal peace. 

At the tender age of three, I began experiencing communion with God. His light, His love and His gentleness. And I’d like to tell you a beautiful story about how that billowed into a cloud of divine exquisiteness, but it did not. Or maybe it did.

My sexual abuse began at the tender age of 4 or 5. So God’s Presence at three became a great force in my life that protected me. I never doubted that God loved me. In fact, I truly believed that I was created to suffer and die for God. It wasn’t until Jesus entered my life that I learned that there was someone else that already did that for me.

In group, we talked about those ways that God became present to us even amidst the abuse. Many women recounted stories of horror that included such beautiful light. God was present in so many ways during these times, and I see now looking back that it was a gift from God that I never doubted Him, His Presence or His love for me, even amidst the suffering. I was not one who left Him. He was always such a beautiful part of me. And even my grandmother, God rest her soul, was sent as the embodiment of the unconditional love that I needed. And the thought that I had in the back of my head that weaved in like a thread was this- Why would God create me to be so intelligent, so loving, so creative only to kill me?  There was this sense I had within me, this war I had with my conscience that He wanted me alive. Yet I thought there was more glory in my death, and of course this was a thought from the evil one.

I am 41 years old and still alive.

Father Pivonka said that on his tombstone, he wanted one thing said about him. 

FATHER DAVE PIVONKA,

HE SAID YES

HE SAID YES

I had to take a breath. 

This is acceptance of the Divine Will. Of the things God allows and those He does not. Of the people and places and things He surrounds us with, and those He takes away. Of the acceptance of it all. Of the fiat.

God’s Holy Will is a reaction. It is not forward movement by us, but by Him. It is  responding to His call, a step closer to His sacred heart. It is an emptying of ourselves over and over and over again.

I think about my tombstone often, and have for many years. But these days, I do not think about it in the context of morbidity, but of light. That I know for certain that I was not destined to die, but to live- in His Will and in His divine light. 

Father, 

Help me to embrace those three Holy words

SHE SAID YES

Watch the Series, The Wild Goose here

 

The Spiritual Bouquet of Christ

Easter has begun. And not just in the source life of the Church, but in the hearts of many believers. Easter is the promise of hope, the resurrection of our forgotten dreams, the time when our bodies are so badly beleagured by Lent, that the only place to go is up. Our hands are outstretched, we are on our knees, we have barely crossed the finish line. We are tired, hungry and ready to surrender.

This is exactly where God wants us to be

My ego is surrendered to my Maker. I have been humbled and afraid. I have cried and crawled and begged for water. I have sustained myself by every word that comes out of the mouth of God. I have hung on to Him when there was nothing else to sustain me, the imprint of His mother’s rosary beads in the palm of my hands. I came out of Lent covered in dirt, barely breathing. I came out exhausted and longing for change. I was beaten, battered and often times alone. And only my God could save my wretched soul.

I was exasperated when Easter did not produce the type of fruit I imagined. I felt desperate and disappointed and heard the words this-was-all-for- not repeat in my head. I was walking around in a daze.

Where are you God?

Until I met up with a friend. I prayed earlier that day for Jesus to show up, and He did. Her words changed me forever. It was an explosion of flowers. It was spring. She reminded me that Easter was not a day, it was in fact a season.

What a game changer! I had been living liturgically for so long, but realized that I still fashioned a bit of secular living. Have you ever felt like that? Been reminded that God’s calendar is not the world’s calendar? That the Church, like the world teaches us to live in “seasons.” As the globe spins in winter, spring, summer and fall, the Church lives in the glory of Advent, Christmas, Ordinary Time, Lent, Easter, then back to Ordinary Time.

If we learned to live liturgically, our joy would blossom into the most beautiful bouquets.

We would align with the will of our Creator. Live in joy with Him, cry with Him, be reborn with Him and be still with Him.

Our spirits would soar!

Why do we fight against the current of our spiritual ocean? We are swimming upstream while Jesus is calling us to flow with the current. We are climbing when we should be descending. We are trying to knock down doors when we should be sitting in the waiting room. And isn’t it a great relief to know that we are not crazy, but rather we have an answer in Mother Church! That as our souls ebb and flow and yearn to be closer to Christ that Mother Church with her open arms takes us in, makes us clean and says

Yes my child! Live with Jesus! Die with Jesus! Rise again with Jesus!

Isn’t this such a glorious notion. I can run like the prodigal son into the arms of my loving Father!

So if you are feeling out of sorts, your Easter wasn’t what you thought it would be, you are feeling confused, perplexed and unsure, open the Church’s liturgical calendar and find hope in the SEASON. It is Easter and Jesus Christ has Risen! Rejoice with Him and anticipate his heavenly departure. Remember all those Lenten seeds you planted and find hope in it’s Easter fruit.

He has Risen Indeed!

The Tomb of Silence

Thirty seconds in and I am terrified. I cannot control the racing of my thoughts. I am afraid to ask the question, God, what do you want me to do?

The question stands alone and cold. I don’t want to move from it. In fact I want to hide behind it. It is a shield, a fence that I am on the other side of. .

The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak

I finally settle in. He’s only asked me for five minutes. But I am scared to go here, scared of what He will ask of me. It may be spring, but it is winter in my soul.

I cannot resist any longer. I sit beside my Lord and find myself beside the tomb. I cannot see Him. I cannot hear Him. But I know that He is there. How so? I have finally visited the grave.

Even in the silence I am working, He tells me. I am bringing souls to heaven. You can’t see it behind the tomb. It is only in the silence that you can understand it. Stay beside my tomb and you will see. Beside my tomb of silence there are great treasures to behold. See all that is going on! When in doubt, go sit beside my tomb. It is busy with activity. It is silence that comes before my resurrection. Learn to sit with me in silence, I have much to say here. There is great joy here. Silence before meditating on my Word. 

I settled in. I wasn’t so afraid anymore. The time had passed quickly and now I didn’t want to leave. But I knew I couldn’t spend too much time before the tomb, there was a resurrection to prepare for. So I opened God’s word and heard His voice. The words were alive because of my time beside the tomb.

He spoke to me about the seriousness of sin. That monster that waits to devour us. But this time I heard it differently. This time He opened the door to even deeper treasures.

Sin begins in the first thought. How will we respond? It lies in wait at the door in order to devour us. The devil tricks us into believing in an outward looking world, focusing on the sin of others and what others may or may not be doing. This then produces the ugliness and allows us to lose focus on our own personal holiness. But if we pause before we act, correct our thinking in our minds, turn inward instead of outward, we will remember our Lord’s beating. We will remember our Lord’s scourging. We will remember our Lord’s silence.

Like a lamb led to slaughter or a sheep silent before shearers, he did not open his mouth (Isaiah 53:7 (b))

It is in that moment that we can pause too. Sins urge is for us, but we can rule over it (Genesis 4:7). We can sin no more if we are repentant (Psalm 4:5). We can prepare the way of the Lord.

If I choose to sit beside the tomb in every moment that I am about to offend my Lord, I can remember all of these things. I can remember the silence in the face of accusation, I can remember the stillness in the face of a beating, I can remember His prolonged agony as he suffered for my sins.

Today, sit beside the tomb of silence

 

 

This Easter, leave the thorn in place

But to keep me from being puffed up with pride because of the many wonderful things I saw, I was given a painful physical ailment, which acts as Satan’s messenger to beat me and keep me from being proud. Three times I prayed to the Lord about this and asked him to take it away. But his answer was: “My grace is all you need, for my power is greatest when you are weak.” I am most happy, then, to be proud of my weaknesses, in order to feel the protection of Christ’s power over me.

2 Corinthians 12:7-9

It is Day 38 of Lent and I am weak. I tell you this because it’s true. The Apostle Paul tells you the same in the very next words of verse 10, “I am most happy, then, to be proud of my weaknesses, in order to feel the protection of Christ’s power over me.”

I’ve read this verse a thousand times, it is a Christian staple. My brain gets in the way though. My thinking, my complication, my resistance to hear what the Holy Spirit has to say. I think I know better, I think I’m smarter. I am not. I am a garbage can of thoughts. I have an agenda. I am a mess of a human. And this, this has led me to fall on my knees in front of the altar of my God. He expects me. He expects me to do this as homage to Him. He knew I would fail. He knew I would be here. Nothing is a surprise to the King of the universe.

In my great anxiety I was exasperated, when God? when will the pain end? The anxiety is too much and I am failing you Lord. Many have told me I have no faith if my anxiety has taken over. That I am lacking. This continued to make me feel less than, a betrayer of the one who saved me. Am I Judas Lord? I questioned myself. And this brought me into an even greater despair. Such is the plot of the enemy.

As I sat in front of the crucifix at mass this morning my anxiety was palpable. It was physiological. I was a mess of nerves and sweat. Things were not going according to plan. But when I fell to my knees, the devil couldn’t penetrate the grasp of the Holy Spirit, He spoke that scripture to me.

I had asked so many times, sometimes from minute to minute for God to take away my anxiety, for God to take away my physiological response when things get tough. But God has refused me. I never saw it as something to give up on- I always believed that someday it would be gone. But today I heard a freeing truth- it will never go away. It can’t be prayed away, anointed or exorcised. It can’t be charasmatically eliminated. It is the very thing that brings me to my knees. It is the very thing that keeps me glued to Christ.

I bowed my head… yes Lord! Yes Lord this is my cross!!! It is not a lack of faith but a gift. Yes Lord it is all grace. And in that moment I accepted all of it- the heart racing, the sweat, the tears, the inability to eat, the rocking back and forth, the pain, the panic. It was all beautiful now. It was all a gift of God.

How could it have taken me this long??? Six years and thirty eight days into Lent I had a massive explosion. God had broken me. And I repeated Stephen Colbert’s quote in my mind,

It’s that I love the thing that I most wish had not happened. 

Our weaknesses are exquisite, they are not demeaning, or false or something to be prayed out. Rather, they are something to be taken in, accepted. They are the cross of Christ, the crown of thorns, the torn body. They are blood on my hands, my human betrayal and my failure to stay just one hour. And they are…everything.

Easter is coming but my anxiety will remain. I will not pull out the thorn in my side. It is a piece of the crown of thorns that keeps me in His arms.

You are not far from the Kingdom of God…

“We accept the love that we think we deserve.”

Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

It is twenty-two days into Lent and the desert feels hot. As things get more difficult, emotions get more raw, God becomes more real. He is straining me, pressing me like Gethsemane. He wants to get things out. He wants to retain the good. It is painful…

But what makes it more painful is to know the truth. The truth that for so long, I have believed that I had to perform for God in order to get Him to love me. And although I know better, my human family has set these wheels in motion.

I am only as good as my last assignment

So yesterday, He made me look introspectively at this. Why I toil and then lie in pain over and over again. Why I never think that I am enough… for Him. This is what has filled my head for so long, the God that wants more from me. The successful God. The friends that have left me because there love was conditional. The people that have conditioned my success on how much I do for them. The inability to take the day off, or scream or just sit in silence. It is an interior war, not an exterior one. It is me against myself…

What a great struggle it is to realize deep and cutting truths. Having an idea of love that is shaped by those around you rather than the one above you. We befriend the same kind of people, work for the same kind of people, attract the same kind of crowd over and over and over again. This is nothing short of an internal pulse, a signal that we put out that we are unaware of. We believe that we do not deserve better, that we do not deserve more. When we believe that love is conditional, others who believe that seem closer to us rather than farther. We try and surround ourselves with people who love us regardless, but end up pushing those people away. It is too much to know that someone would love me for who I am, not what I can do for them. This thought to me is overwhelming…

And yet, God tells me I deserve better, I deserve more. Not things, or tangibles or praise but love. I deserve to be loved in its most purest form, in its most innocent form. I deserve to be loved the way He loves me.

In seeking Him first, my Father tells me that I am not accepting of this great love. I cry in His arms because He understands. My heart is heavy, but swallowed in the divine love He has for me. 

There are so many of us out there like this. Dancing with exhaustion to gain the approval of others. People leaving our lives because we disappointed them. Trying to be enough when it will never be enough… for them.

We can’t rest, we can’t stop until they love us. And we are exhausted. I needed to be visited by God. I needed to know that He wanted better for me, more for me. I was afraid to go on an adventure. I was scared to follow my dreams…

There are no disappointments in the love of God

So if today you hear HIS voice, harden not your hearts. You are not far…from Him.