Renouncing All for the One Who Is Worth It- No not you

I’ll admit it, I stole the title of today’s post from my Magnificat Reflection from Monsignor Giussani, a priest from Milan, Italy. Today’s stolen title and gospel reflection can be found here. It’s more than worth the read.

None of us are worth it really, though are attentions seem to sway us to think otherwise. We turn to our husbands and friends and co-workers to provide what they cannot, the unconditional, unselfish, unyielding love of Christ. I am sure that is why so many relationships fail, because we fail, yet expect others not to do the same. In fact, we expect them to exceed our expectations. We are so unfair and selfish in that way. If we are imperfect producers of love how can we expect any different from the flesh and blood around us?

Renouncing all for the One who is worth it is just that, He is the only one that is worth it. Yet our hearts pour out in so many other directions, bleeding on the ground and we still ask why. Why did he/she hurt us? Why is there pain in the world? Why did they break our hearts? Why do we ask why? Why instead do we not yield our hearts to the one who created the heart? To the lover of our souls? To the Only one who knows, and is worth it?

The light of love flooded my heart this morning thinking of the lover of my soul. And I couldn’t help but think how my heart danced away from him, watching him standing in the background. It isn’t that I want to stray, in fact quite the opposite, but love and acceptance seem so enticing when the road gets hard. Sometimes you just want to be held by something real. And Jesus is hard to hold, because in order to hold Him, you have to renounce everything else, even oneself.

And it’s hard to let go. It’s hard to follow a path that leads to the unknown. And my cross is heavy, over- bearing at times. And I don’t like it, and I don’t want it. Why can’t I carry an ice cream cone or a puppy or something? The burden of the wood burns my back, It is sweaty, hard, laborious. And sometimes the gentleness of Jesus gives way to the pain of Jesus. But the way of the cross is the same every time- a painful death, silence and a resurrection. Yet we so often will not choose that path, even it be an unconscious choice of avoidance. And that’s where I was. The road is narrow and I don’t like it. But after much pain and trial, I am back on the road, carrying my cross, coming after Him to a known death, again and again and again. I have calculated the cost yet still run. I reason I am not strong enough or brave enough. I reason I am broken. I say that I am not the one. And that’s the moment I leave Jesus in the corner while I dance with someone else. But when I come back, the pain is sweet, the burden is light and the heart is heavy. This is the great mystery of the crucifixion.

The meditation from today goes, “As time passes, Jesus makes his request more demanding.” Oh how true this is! And our love for Him is tested, day in and day out. Oh Lord why do you bring me such difficult people. “Because, ” He says, “They need to know that they are loved by me.” Oh my Lord, such a tall order.

But this is what I was made for, to love Him and know Him and serve Him. To pour that love out so others may experience Him in a real and tangible way. No matter their belief or who they are. Everyone wants and needs to be loved, and it’s really that simple. And the closer I am married to the sacred heart of Jesus is the closer I am to heaven. And I want to be close to heaven because my heart is buried there, and so is His. There is no other reason to live. Just Him. And that love, that great love that pours out when we are hopelessly wrapped up in Him is the same love I give to you, and you, and you. I give His love regardless of the love that’s given to me from you. Because it is not my job to make them love me, it is my job to make me love them, like He loves them. Don’t they know He’s right here? And there are so many tears. Oh Lord, how foolish I have been. Of course I am not qualified, but I am when you hold me. Because when you hold me, I can hold them. Because it is ok. Because through His wounds I am healed. And the wounds in my heart, those invisible wounds that Christ has too, can heal the one who is wounded. How can we not see those wounds? They are the walking dead in high positions, they are noble kings, they are paupers and they are prisoners. Is there any man that can escape the pain of life?

If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts. Marry your heart to Jesus and reflect the love that He has, no matter the cost.

Listen to: I shall Not Want

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…

90 Seconds

How do you live one moment at a time? You cannot. This concept is wholly secular. Moments are increments of time that pass in movement from once frame to the next. They are snippets. They are still frames that can only be entered once the “moment” has passed. And, we move on to the next moment…

There is a lot of pressure to live “in” the moment. But moments are passing shadows. The movement of a shadow on a sundial covered 40 moments in a solar hour. On average, a moment corresponds to 90 seconds. And moments, (for all that they are not these days), were marked by a call to prayer at various intervals throughout the day. They were not a random “creation” of moments, they were an intentional calling on God, a movement towards Him. Even the earliest reference to the moment was defined by a Saint (St. Bede the Venerable).

When taken out of context, the moment becomes distorted, like other concepts extracted from out of their holy boxes. The world takes them and twists them to fit their own relativism, where one is in control of who and what they are. The God-man is lost in self-help books and do-it-yourselfers. And the moment? The moment fades away (how very cliche).

But if we return to mark our own moments, good and bad, can God change them? Can He use them? Or does the passage of 90 seconds define our whole lives? Each bead of the rosary marks a moment that I can change, a prayer, defining me. The now is the now I ask for Mary to pray for me, in this very moment, fifty times.

So the decades of the rosary are made up of moments, are marked by intentional prayer, are graces I give away after consecrating myself to our Holy Mother. And in those moments that have passed me without prayer, can I strive to make them holy by praying over them, especially the ones that stop me from enjoying life, the ones that rob me of my joy?

I say, contradict the world.

LET THE MOMENT PASS. DON’T HOLD ONTO IT. Jesus said as much to Mary Magdalene…

 

The Time that I can’t change

I am feeling overwhelmed by the time that I can’t change. As the clocks move forward, I struggle to catch up. The hours and minutes and seconds are in a sprint before me, and I am breathless and desperately chasing… time. In a haze of exhaustion and sorrow, the words in my bible seem to run off the page. Esther’s desperate plea for protection against her enemy, the psalmist’s cry for help. Sometimes I feel as if the words are there but I just can’t seem to catch up… in the same way time is escaping the grasp of my hands. God am I enough?

It is very obviously winter in my soul. Lent does that to me. When I have strained and poured myself into the divine colander, making the Master  tear apart my imperfections, and there are many. God is not cruel, but the truth sometimes is. And I wonder how I ever thought these words in my head, Am I my own Master?

The hiddenness of God is the beauty of God. As I travel, grope ground and dirt along my way, I am drowning. This is the part where I start to get hungry. This is eight days in the desert with no food from the world. It is just me and God.

And the more I sink, I fail, I get dirt on my face is the more I want Him; the more I realize that there is nothing good in this world. And the more the world reaches out to me with all its false temptations, sorrow and madness is the deeper I run into the Lenten desert he has created for me. It is not a retreat or defeat, it is a crown of thorns. It is not fighting back. It is a wanting for holiness. The world has nothing to offer me.

The Kingdom of God will grow upon earth, will be brought to fulfillment, in the same way it was established; by the daily and seemingly hidden lives of those who do always the will of the Father.

Servant of God Walter J. Ciszek, S.J.

Run to the wilderness with me!

Do Not Fear the Cross!

Invitation to the Cross (His words to me)

“We must never say that the kind of sanctity, forgetfulness of self, love of the cross, self-immolation and so on-are not for us. That is our human way of looking at things. If God wants them of us, he will send the necessary graces; all we must do is to hold ourselves in readiness for anything that he may ask of us, and go ahead fearlessly.”

Dom Augustin Guillerand, O. Cart., French Carthusian monk and revered spiritual author

The question in my meditation time today was, when is the last time that you were happy? Such an odd question for Day 2 of Lent, when I was expecting the scourging at the pillar. But this Lent has been different for me, very different, as I had already spent my time in the desert prior to entering this Lenten season.

Instead, I felt Ash Wednesday as an opening. There was joy instead of pain, peace instead of sorrow. My foot entered the door of His kingdom and crossed over into an infinite threshold. There was no fire, or brimstone or darkness, but only light; light in my vision, in my body and in my soul. It was almost as if I entered heaven.

But how could this be? Was I not destined to be thrown into the darkness for self-evaluation, state of consciousness and penance? Yes all those things are important. But why had I entered the gates of eternal freedom?

Because, the Lord said, you have chosen the cross

In two or so months of suffering, it wasn’t until a single moment leading up to Lent that I sat with myself and decided to make that choice. I had had enough suffering, and I was willingly ready to hop on that cross. But if I chose death, would he give me life? It was worth the chance…

My soul is sorrowful even to death

When I gave up my soul to the cross, the tears ran dry. I could still feel every inch of the pain; but that was until I crossed over to the other side. And as I slid  into my spiritual death, the pain, the willingness to give it all to Him, the suffering suddenly stopped. I was inside the book of Revelation; He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death, or mourning, or crying or pain…and there wasn’t. 

The cross was true to it’s word- it did not fail me. I could only feel the splinters but for a second.

And suddenly my great pain turned into great joy, and my mourning to turned into dancing! The welcomed cross, the humble cross, the needed cross.

Choose life, God said, by choosing death

What a strange dichotomy. What an absolute wrecking of soul. But He is the God of the living, not the dead. And I praise the cross of His execution every time I get down on my knees.

O great physician of the soul! Oh great Master! May I die to self a thousand times a day to feel your infinite love!

“When I cried to the Lord, he heard my voice; he rescued me from those who attack me. Entrust your cares to the Lord, and he will support you.”

Psalm 55; A Lament over Betrayal

 

 

Free Fall

Writing is falling. It is exposing. It is trusting God word by word and line by line to say what needs to be said, what He wants to be said.

I have started and destroyed three prior blogs. Such is the journey of a poor human soul who is afraid and distrustful of God. God never asked me to delete them, only to change them, to lean into that change. They would have been nice to look back at and see that leg of my journey. But many saints before me have destroyed their first works- so I consider myself part of a band of rebels, of disobedients who have turned their backs on God.

This morning He asked me to sit down in front of the keyboard and just type. No forethought or plan, just the words He wants. This is hard. In my quest for control, it is hard to let go, hard to let him take over my fingers on keys. But I can feel Him gently lean over me and help me type.

I can feel Him helping me to simply let go…

It is only in trust that God’s Divine Will is revealed and entrusted to us. And although my Plan A never came to fruition, it was never His. Such a hard and cruel lesson. How many still sit up at night pondering what could be when it never was….

God’s Divine Will is free flow, it is where you are, it is a taking over of mind, body and soul, it is words we do not now understand. Sometimes I sit in rooms full of important people and wonder how I got there. Why I push so hard for this world to change and conform to God’s truth. Why I am able to offer love when it hurts the most. 

It is supernatural, it is overwhelming to think that God created me with a distinct purpose. To know Him, to love Him and to serve Him. And my Master like a hidden lover calls to me in  moments that I sink deep and pulls me out of the mire.

I sometimes think I am crazy to chase the divine carrot on a stick. But I step and step over chasms, and crying children and war because I love Him and I can’t let Him go. I walk blind and cannot stop myself from calling out to my lover, Master where are you?

Sometimes He cries back with great and palpable love and sometimes I feel I am drowning with hands up and no rescue. This is the lesson of blind obedience and trust. This is the lesson of unconditional love.

I have given up everything for Him- friends, family, jobs. I am where He wants me in every moment. I fail Him miserably and make Him proud sometimes within the same moment. He loves me either way. I keep my mind and heart focused on the end and my lover’s words- Well done my good and faithful servant.

I am living my best life even through tears and writhing. There is no life or breath outside of Him. The world is an afterthought, though He teaches me how to live in it. He is close even when I am far.

So if you are questioning where He wants you, don’t. Give your soul away to Him. Arms wide and open and accepting.