Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Tempest

 
"A violent windstorm, especially one with rain, hail, or snow; a violent commotion, disturbance, or tumult."  These are some of the adjectives that define/describe the powerful word, "tempest."  Some may better associate this word with the famous play, "The Tempest," written by William Shakespeare in early 17th century, where upon returning to Italy from a wedding in North Africa, a ship party is hit with a horrible storm on the sea, soon one of the characters reveals to the another that they arranged the shipwreck, which becomes clear along with other plots and themes as the play continues.  Essentially what the word and the play bring to mind is a violent storm.  Usually we associate this with natural or physical phenomena, like hurricanes, thunder storms, and blizzards and as a consequence, we can see the outside effects of "mother nature" fairly readily.

But, what the play and even a closer look at the word "tempest" may not readily indicate to the naked eye is that sometimes we each undergo our own tempest.  Sometimes it is caused or orchestrated by someone and we unfortunately bare the brunt of the storm.  However, sometimes it is also that we ourselves are in inner turmoil.  Sometimes we are in the storm of inner turmoil for a long time, looking for calmer seas, a life boat, or heck even just a life jacket so that we can at least feel like we can float through the tosses and turns of the storm.  Sometimes, we don't show that there is a storm going on, we keep in, go day through day as best we can and partially because we are hopeful and partially because are instinct knows no other way, but to persist, even when the shore is nowhere in sight, even though this can be more exhausting than the tempest itself.

I think this ties in with the life of a Christian fairly well or at least those of us who are still so infantile in our Christianity, our understanding of the mystery still seems so limited, where God wants us seems so unknown, we almost think we are lost or forgotten.  We want to be better, but find ourselves falling short of graces to deal with our fellow brother and sister.  We grow tired, we grow impatient.  But, we need to remember that he, God is always there and perhaps our tempests are part of a larger plan, even when it is so difficult because we have no idea when the storm inside us will end or which island our little torn and tattered boat will end up on, and I guess that is the scary part.  I guess what is the senseless part is trying to steer the boat through the tempest.  Why do we try to steer, when the waves are so much larger, that any steering is literally insanity, because it does nothing at all? It definitely is not helping and perhaps just makes it worse, but you do it because the steering makes you feel like you have control, but the tempest laughs at you the whole time while you’re turning that wheel like a mad man, because it knows that the little wheel you are steering is no match for this storm.  I guess once again this is where surrender comes in.  I guess this is where you throw your hands to the dark sky, with its rain, with its hail and you say fine and ride through it, even if you do not know what you are riding through or what the purpose is.

I think the tempest, in an "inner" sense of the word is brought on by vacillation of all sorts, but also by the feeling of being lost.  I think when we veer away from God, even if just for a brief time, this tempest has then an easy and fast way of settling in, especially if it knows you are vulnerable and especially if it knows that you are open to it.  I think that is why, even when it is difficult, one must arm their ship (meaning themselves) with Christ and ask for one thing and one thing only, his will and direction.  This is hard, as we so often want to steer our own wheel, be the master of our own ship.

"The mind and intellect of Christians are always centered on heavenly thoughts.  They gaze on heavenly things because they participate in the Holy Spirit.  Because they have been born above from God and are children of God in truth and power, they have arrived, through many labors and sweat endured over a long time, at a state of equilibrium, tranquility and peace, freed from further sifting.  They no longer vacillate back and forth, tossed about by crippling and vain thoughts.  In this they are greater  and better than those of the world, because their intellect and thinking of the soul is permeated by the peace of Christ and the love of the Spirit, as the Lord had in mind when he said:  "They had passed from death to life" (John 5:24)...

Prayer
"Dear Lord, let me be the Christian you are calling me to be, centered on heavenly thoughts.  Let your will be done, let me know who I am, so that I no longer vacillate back and forth, tossed about this tempest by crippling and vain thoughts. You are my refuge and I need to see you in my life.  Amen.


Citation:
Psedo-Marcarius.  "What the Pharisees Rejected."  Magnificat.  Vol 13 (8).  October 2011.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Clinging to the Cross



I come to you often in a weak and needy state.  Impatient with myself, others and even you.  I come to you tired, drained and searching.  I come to you for answers, consolation, purification and peace.  I come to you, because I realize how much of my own behavior has brought me to this point, I am on my knees and I have no other option but to cling to you.  I take my crucifix that I have brought home from a far away place, a place oddly enough you have sent me twice and I hold it to my chest.  I close my eyes and ask for you to quiet my soul and to show me why it is you made me the way you did and how I am to proceed, to serve, to carry out the challenges before me.  When I hold you on the cross against my heart, I feel your arms wrapped around me, I feel your warmth and I don't want to let go of your cross, I realize how very much I need it.  Eventually, my mind calls me back to my daily routine and I realize how special my time with you is, how essential it is, I want to stay there longer and longer each day, because in that moment, I am what you created me for, I am stillness, I am in communion with you.  This is a moment of sweet surrender.

Reflection:
"Believers know that the cross is the inscrutable wisdom of God, the wisdom of love seeking its surest proof, its fullest expression for the sake of the beloved.  The mystery of the cross, for truly it is a mystery of the deepest currents of love, can only be comprehended through prayer, and then only by degrees."


"From tonight I ask you to pray even more.  Mediate on the wounds of Jesus.  Pray as much as you can in front of the crucifix."  ~ A message from Our Lady of Medjugore to the Visionaries Prayer Group



Citation:
Beyer, Richard. (1993).  Medjugorje Day by Day.  Avia Maria Press.  Norte Dame, IN.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Staying in the Present Moment



The last year of my life has taken me on an interesting journey, with highs and lows and some struggles to work through or better yet, to try to surrender to God.  In this journey I have fell upon some interesting religious and spiritual teachers, some Catholic and some not.  What is interesting is that they all have the same powerful message and oddly enough (not knowing this at the time of my first reading and study) they actually often quote or refer to one another.  This has lead me to believe that I did not fall on these individuals randomly, but perhaps through God's will.  Their message is simple, stay in the present moment.   Through their teachings on staying in the present moment, they talk about one's ego and the false sense we have of ourselves, how this can distract us with worries and things we think we should be.  In the end, realizing that all we have is the present and the rest to some extend is an illusion of the mind in our past and future thinking, can lead us to state of peace, love and consciousness--simply being.  That we can still be productive in the present, but not a slave to the past or future.

In my morning mediation, I reflected on a message from Our Lady in Medjugorje.  In this message she states:

"Dear children, sometimes you oppress your hearts with certain matters, but this is not necessary.  Sometimes you are frightened by this or that, but again, why do you need that?  Who is with Jesus need not fear.  Do not worry or be anxious about what will happen tomorrow or a few years from now.  Abandon yourselves to Jesus, for only that way can you be the faithful sheep that follow their Shepherd."

Again, sometimes we fall upon things and it is simply not random that we do so.  I felt that these words were speaking directly to me and perhaps I need to read this message at the start of each day and then again at the end.  Perhaps these words will also speak directly to you too.  Being present is what Christ calls us to do, he does not call us to be stuck in the past or hurrying to the future.  In the present we can just be, taking one moment at a time, being healed one step at a time.

Prayer:
Dear Lord, thank you for the present moment.  Help me not to give away this gift you've given me today.  Amen.

Citation:

Beyer, Richard. (1993). Medjugorje Day by Day. Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Mom Knows Best: Perspective From My Earthly & Heavenly Mothers




A few weeks ago I posted about experiencing a "spiritual drought."  What has been difficult for me over the last few weeks, is that I found it very difficult to pray.  I struggle with a few crosses and sometimes I let those get the best of me and I fall into sin, whether that be by unkind words, thoughts and actions towards myself or others.  The pattern I find myself in then is that this truly separates me from God, which of course is the basic definition of sin.  I fall into this trap of "unworthiness" and I feel so awful about myself and others, that I feel it is hypocritical to pray and attending mass even becomes a struggle, because I feel so low.

I know I know this, but my dear Mother brought to my attention that this is how the devil works.  He sees we are trying to do good spiritually and he works subtly to eat away at our virtue and efforts.  For me the devil can work as a huge distraction.  The evil one can get me fire-up over an issue and it deters me from prayer, but also productivity in my studies (I am a graduate student) and just completely erodes my focus.  I am naturally a productive person, so the devil knows where to hit me the hardest.  My Mother also brought up a very interesting and true way to think about sin.  Reminding me essentially of the verse in John (20:23) "If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained."  She shared how in the mass she attended on Sunday, the priest discussed this in his homily, partly focusing on how if we retain sin and are unforgiving, it destroys us internally and we can even see its effects externally in people--they are weighed down, grumpy, negative, aged, tired, etc.  I must admit, my lack of forgiveness with myself and others has had this effect.  I sometimes am so absorbed by the hurt, that I cannot get past it and in the end, it tears me apart inside and separates me from God.  Instead of giving it to God, I let it distract me and am thus vulnerable to the evil one.

This morning I got up early, feeling low about one of the crosses I carry.  As I sat in bed with tears in my eyes, I decided it was time to go back to weekly mass, even though, part of me wanted to stay wallowing in bed.  I took two of my favorite things on earth (my dogs Murphy and Norma) for a walk in downtown Claremont and then headed into early morning Mass.  The priest talked about what we store up in heaven and how important it is to consistently put God first in our lives and when we don't do that, we fall to sin.  He said that prayer is key here, it is our armor, our daily replenishment. 

I decided after mass to walk back to the sacristy and ask Father if he had a moment for confession.  I had a few things weighing heavily on my heart and needed God's mercy.  Lately, whenever I go to confession, I can't help but get emotion, this time was no different.  But even though it was painful, it was a release and in that moment, I felt a little less heavy than I had in a couple of weeks.  To me the sacrament of confession is so paramount and I have always felt very drawn to it.  The grace I feel from confession is so tremendous, I can literally feel a physical difference.  I know not every one's experience is like this and I have Catholic and non-Catholic friends who are very skeptical about confession, but I know its awesome graces and today, I am very thankful for this sacrament.

Upon heading home, I read a reflection from my "Day By Day" prayer book, which is based on Our Lady's messages in Medjugorje.  The reflection I choose discussed the power of the devil (coincidence, I think not!).   In a message she gave to one of the visionaries she stated,

"Dear Children, again today your Mother wants to warn that Satan, by every means possible, wants to ruin everything in you, but your prayers prevent him from succeeding.  When you fill up the empty space in your soul with prayer, you prevent Satan from entering.  Pray, dear children, and your Mother will pray with you to defeat Satan."

Both my earthly an heavenly Mother, reminded me of the power of the evil one this week.  I think God knows how dear they both are to me, so he used them to speak to me, to plant a seed, open my eyes and hopefully add some moisture to my drought.

Dear Lord,
Thank you for the Sacrament of Confession and for your divine mercy, which is always available to those who seek it.  Lord, I am weak, I am a work in progress, I am passionate and sometimes irrational only operating on human emotion and not spiritual virtue.  I lack trust, increase my faith in you.  Lead me Lord.  Who I am Lord and who are you?
Amen.

Citation:
Beyer, Richard. (1993).  Medjugorje Day by Day.  Avia Maria Press.  Norte Dame, IN.


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Trying to Get Out of a Drought



Nothing but self-will can separate us from God.
-- St. Alphonsus Liguori 

Sometimes I feel as though I am in a drought.  As if all the life that I had in me is gone.  Sometimes on my journey I can feel indifferent and it is hard to get back on track.  I think I know what this is, it speaks to the necessity of perseverance.  If we do not  persevere in our relationship with God, if we become luke-warm in anyway, this has a ripple effect.  We can begin to feel separate from God, which is essentially the definition of sin.  In this separation, we feel off, we feel dried out, we feel that sense of focus drained away.

I know that on this journey and pilgrimage of life that there are ebbs and flows, valleys and peaks.  We have highs, we have lows and sometimes our relationship with God is not much different.  But, that is not because God leaves or dries us out, it is because we, in our own free will separate ourselves from God.  This separation causes negative consequences and misdirection, that is why it is so essential we persevere and that taking time with God becomes part of our daily routine, less we grow more separate and independent.   This is like any relationship really.  If we don't take the time, if we do not commit ourselves and persevere, we grown apart, we begin to yearn to become independent and this separation in the long run can cause sin and pain and deplete our relationships' living water, that is so essential for them to grow.

Sometimes, I am too independent and this has led me to want more.  The idea of anyone or anything clipping my wings is frankly revolting to me at times.  However, I have to admit that even though this independence has granted me accomplishments, it has not necessarily granted me true peace or acceptance of God's will and more than I would like to admit, it has made me separate myself from him and others.   In some ways, I feel very tired and dried out, and unfocused both on my relationship with God, others and on some necessary tasks that are literally right before me today.

Dear Lord,

Release me of my need to always feel and want independence.  Grant me your clarity and focus with all my tasks this day.  Bless our time together and my time with others.  Let the order of your natural will happen to me this day and help me to sit back and let you unfold your plan, so that I may be separate from you no longer.

Amen.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Something to Share ~ A Few Favorite Bible Verses



Daily Grace, a fellow Christain blogger has asked that I share three of my favorite bible verses.  A few bloggers are doing this and I think it is a nice way to build community.  This being said, here are a few of my favorite bible verses:

Jeremiah 17: 7-8
"Blessed is the man who puts his trust in Yahweh and whose confidence is in him! He is like a tree planted by the water, sending out its roots towards the stream.  He has no fear when the heat comes his leaves are always green; the year of drought is no problem and he can always bear fruit."

Reflection:  I love this verse from Jeremiah, because it shows the confidence we can obtain if we trust in the Lord.  We can withstand every trial, every difficulty if are peace and trust are in Him.  We can handle life's trouble with grace and be a true example.

Philippians 4: 4-7
"Rejoice in the Lord aways. I say it again:  rejoice and may everyone expereince your gentle and understanding heart, The Lord is near: do not be anxious about anything.  In everything resort to prayer and supplication together with thanksgiving and bring your requests before God.  Then the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."

Reflection:  I've had this passage marked in my bible for years and read it often.  It always soothes my soul.

Matthew 5: 46-48:
"If you love those who love you, what is special about that?  Do not even tax collectors do as much?  And if you are friendly only to your friends, what is so exceptional about that?  Do not even the pagans do as much?  For your part you shall be righteous and perfect in the way your heavenly Father is righteous and perfect."

Reflection:  This sums up the Gospel, to love one another and bare with one another.  I can have a hard time forgiving and interacting with people who are not like me, so I try to reflect on this as a reminder that God calls me to love, even when it is uncomfortable and a challenge.

I would like to read the following bloggers' three favorite bible verses:

Wake Up Dave
Ask Sister Martha
Meandering Thru Life

Monday, May 23, 2011

Day 12 and Fasting

Thoughts:
I preference my efforts to fast 21 days with the note that I was not a very good faster and that fact still remains.  I am struggling with fasting still and will probably attempt to at least do it two days a week as our Lady has asked us to through her messages she's given in Medjugorje.  Some may think I am weak and a failure and that, I am, no doubt.  I believe in the merits of fasting, and I know that I am weak and still need to try; however, through the past ten to twelve days I have had some realizations.  One is that I am notorious for putting myself on a rubric, a schedule, a list of dos and don'ts, so in this fast, I feel like I have added to that and in a sense missed the important things I should be fasting from, such as an unforgiving heart, judgement of others and myself, etc.  I hope I will one day be able to do a fast for a long haul and I will continue to try.  For now I am deliberating and being honest about my weaknesses.   Upon reflecting on this weakness I found this quote, perhaps a reminder from God not to completely give up or loose heart or think my efforts have been lost or in vain:

There are three things, my brethren, by which faith stands firm, devotion remains constant, and virtue endures. They are prayer, fasting and mercy. Prayer knocks at the door, fasting obtains, mercy receives. Prayer, mercy and fasting: these three are one, and they give life to each other. Fasting is the soul of prayer, mercy is the lifeblood of fasting. Let no one try to separate them; they cannot be separated. If you have only one of them or not all together, you have nothing. So if you pray, fast; if you fast, show mercy; if you want your petition to be heard, hear the petition of others. If you do not close your ear to others you open God's ear to yourself.
-- Saint Peter Chrysologus

So, I know God is calling me to master this difficulty. I know he wants to give me certain graces and blessings.  So I will continue to show a fast/sacrifices in some way shape or form and mediate on our Lady's requests and advice.

Prayer:
Lord, I am weak, so I need you to be strong as I will work on taking time to fast this week.  Be with me, have mercy on me and create in me a pure heart O, God.  Amen.





Friday, May 20, 2011

The 2nd Station and Day 9 of Fasting




Day 9:

In my daily effort to spend some private time with God, I sometimes read the Stations of the Cross.  I've always felt compelled by the "Way of the Cross," because it helps me to put my own struggles in perspective. It makes me recall when Jesus said, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).  Essentially, I know that because Christ died for us, death, along with sin, struggles and suffering cannot conquer.  I personally need to remind myself of this fact, hence I mediate on the stations. 




This morning in my mediation on the Stations of the Cross, I focused intently on the Second StationJesus is Given His Cross.  The reflection stated:

          Jesus calls:  The life giving tree becomes the Cross for me.
                                For "Cursed is the one hung on a tree."
                                Life's tree for you is as different as it was for me; it
                                often appears as rejection in all areas of work and play.
                                However, it is the way to know how to love my Father more!


        I answer:       Jesus, I complain a great deal of all that is my tree of life
                              each day:

                               The traffic
                               My work
                               The boss
                               My spouse
                               My family
                               My friends
                               Loneliness

                              All these I know are the plan your Father has
                              for me!  I need you to help me remember
                              that all this, if I use love, patience and kindness,
                              can be the way to carry the tree of love,
                              instead of despair. Jesus in your cross you
                              patiently carried all of my everyday sufferings;
                              let me continue the same for love of you
                              so that others may hope in you.

              
Today's Fasting Prayer:
Dear Lord, help us to remember how you willingly accepted your cross with patient endurance.  Rather than resort to complaining, help us to carry our crosses and discern your will properly and with utter clarity, so we know what decisions we are to make.  Help us to love selflessly today Lord, even when the cross seems more than we can bare. 

Lord, also pour our your graces and healing of this generation and the future generations that are being born into this world.  Rid us of our sins of the flesh and purify our hearts and minds, so that they may be focused on living your message of love and passing this and a culture of life and light on, instead of one rooted in sinfulness and death.  Amen.



Citation:
Vivona, Francis., J.C.L. (1994).  The Way of the Cross for Everyone. Autom:  Phoenix, AZ.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Lesson from "There Be Dragons" & Fasting Day 8


Day 8:

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of seeing the new movie, "There Be Dragons."  It is a film about St. Jose Maria Escriva, who founded Opus Dei.  In this film, looks at the life paths of two men from childhood, one being Jose Maria and the other his childhood friend.  The film shows how each individuals' paths unfolded and how they did or did not respond  to God's plan for them.  Jose Maria, essentially embraces the suffering of his life and the Spanish Civil War and turns  to God.  His childhood friend however, embraces vices, such as anger, hatred and jealous, hence putting his soul and relationships is dire jeopardy.  Overall, the film shows that we all have a choice.  We can either embrace God and seek to find in him each day, and follow his path, even in the midts of suffering, trusting that he is good and has a plan for us.  Or, we cannot simply reject God's plan, the love he offers and the gift of life he offers to us.  If we do the later, we will most definitely fall in peril.  Also, this film is about forgiveness at its very core.  It is about overcoming forgiveness with love, even in the midst of something like war, death and betrayal.  Forgiveness is not easy, but what this movie shows, is that if we do not forgive when we are wronged or hurt by another, we are really one that suffers, because that unforgiveness will rot away at our heart and soul, creating anger and where love once was, a vacuum is left and if we do not forgive, that space will surely become occupied by the enemy, who wants us to hold on to past hurts, unforgiveness and sorrow.  Those things planted by the enemy due to our lack of forgiveness will act out and they will act out in an evil vengeance if we are not too careful.  It will negatively effect our closest relationships and even how we respond to others in our day-to-day lives.

Therefore, today during my fast, I have been concentrating on forgiveness.  I have my own struggles with forgiveness and need to forgive others and let things go into the past and start anew, this hard for me. 

I've also focused my fast today on marriage.  It just so happened that today's reflection in my fasting book and in daily prayer book I bought years ago in Medjugore, both talked about marriage.  Both works echoed how a purity of love that comes from God must be rooted in marriage and how important it is for couples to pray together and be a reflection of God's love.  Both works also discussed about how spouses need to be an example to one another and to others (friends, family, coworkers) by living a love-filled life that is rooted in their faith.  Essentially, both the movie and these reflections talked about the concept of love.  For the last several months I have been thinking of this word "love" and am realizing it is more than a feeling, it is a daily decision, it is an action, a verb, a sure challenge, a risk, a vulnerability, but worth it.  We must love like Christ loved.  As Jesus said, "and now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love" (1 Corinthians 13:13).

Fasting Prayer:
Dear Father, may we be filled with your love so that we may bring it to others.  May the love you fill us with help us to choose the path you are laying out before us.  May the love you fill us with help us to forgive, even when it is most difficult.  May the love you fill us with help us to heal.  May the love you fill us with pour out of us on to others, so they may know your goodness and seek you.  Help us to remember how very lovable we are, we do not need to seek love, because we are loved by you, which is the greatest love of all.  I asked especially Lord today, that you pour out your blessings on all married people, may they be a living example of your love.  Heal marriages that are struggling.  Let your will done in marriages that are discerning.  Help us to remember that marriage is also a vocation and a call to holiness.  Help married couples to make the proper life giving decisions.  Amen.

P.S. Here is a link to the trailer of "There Be Dragons," I highly recommend this movie http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tk05XVC1EtY

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Fasting Day 7



Day 7:

To persevere:  "Continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty or with little or no indication of success."  Wow!  In order to persevere , one must have a degree of faith, hope and trust, especially if what we are perserving in is not yet showing any indiciation of success.  Today is my 7th day of this partial fast and it really is a journey, because some days are better than others, with their ups and downs.  However, despite my weaknesses and really wanting to grab a glass of wine or piece of meat, I know I need to perserve.  I have not had a huge "awakening" in the last seven days, if anything, I have just confirmed how weak of an individual I am; however, deep down inside, I know that "When I am weak, I am strong," (2 Corinthians 12:10 ) so I will perserve.  I trust that God will pour out his graces on me as I perform this humble and little sacrafice.  I trust he will answer my prayers and grant me clarity and a resolution to my discernment. 

Today in my morning reflection I came across these words that happen to be inscribed on a cathedral door in Milan:

"All that pleases is but for a moment.  All that troubles is but for a moment.  That only is important which is eternal."

Preserve and focus on the eternal! 

Today's Fasting Prayer:
Dear Lord, thank you for the gift of a new day.  Each day you give us an opportunity to start over, to preserve.  Grant me your strength and courage.  Release me from every fear and concern.  Take care of it all Father, I know that you will. 

As a special intention I would like to also pray today for all the elderly and lonely in our families, neighborhoods and those who are forgotten about.  Grant them comfort, peace and the gift of companionship.  It is possible to be lonely even when one is in a crowd, so be with those people in a special way today Lord.  Amen.

Citation:
Beyer, Richard. (1993).  Medjugorje Day by Day.  Avia Maria Press.  Norte Dame, IN.

Google. Dictionary.  "Persevere."  Retrieved May 18, 2011 from:  http://www.google.com/#hl=en&biw=1579&bih=694&q=persevere&tbs=dfn:1&tbo=u&sa=X&ei=HPTTTd26Js7ngQfUnO0t&ved=0CCIQkQ4&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.&fp=ecbf8a9c27052cf6

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Day 6



Day 6, May 17, 2011:

I read a brief reflection today that stated something very simple and true, that we "cannot enjoy the fullness of life in Christ when you are still a slave, bound by addictions."  Now addictions can come in many forms, some are more apparent than others, some are private.  But, I would said that most people in their lives have struggled with one form of addiction of another.  I know in my life I have become addicted to worrying, it has become an unwelcome friend of mine, day-in and day-out.  What is unfortunate is that I am starting to see that this has lead me not to have the peace or clarity I seek.  I see that the enemy preys off of our weaknesses and addictions and for me, the enemy is good at causing me to doubt and second guess myself.  I have other areas of my life that I guess if I was really honest with myself, I would have to admit that they are a form of an addiction, and when thinking about these things, yes, I can see how they keep me away from living in the fullness of Christ.  As I said before, I get in the way a lot with my relationship with God.

Today's Fasting Prayer:
Dear Lord, thank you for the gift of a new day.  I ask that you give me the necessary graces to be free of my addictions and fears, so I may have clarity and be sensitive to your Holy Spirit and the gifts you are wanting to out pour on me.  Forgive me Lord for my doubt.  Please let your most holy and perfect will be done in my life.  Lead me Lord, I want to say Yes, but I am afraid and confused.  Heal me Lord and help me not to get in the way of that.

Also, Lord, I pray for every family member of mine.  You know the private struggles they carry in their hearts and relationships.  Pour your Holy Spirit out on them Lord and renew them.  Let your will be done in their lives and let them seek your will, Amen.

Citation:
Franklin, J. Fasting:  Opening the Door to a Deeper, More Intimate, More Powerful Relationship with God. Charisma House:  Lake Mary, Florida.

Day 5


Day 5, May 16, 2011:
Yesterday was my fifth day of fasting and it was a little tough sense I was at a family gathering, but I stayed meatless, which was good.  Yesterday the book on fasting that I am reading asked the question, "How has this fast, so far helped you to relate to your heavenly Father?"  One is that I am constantly reminded how weak I am, meaning how weak the flesh is.  Second, that I am starting to realize that sometimes I get in God's way.  Sometimes instead of trying to let things take their course, I feel the need to control, interject or influence the situation somehow.  This fast so far is showing me that I have to say "Yes" to God everyday and every moment.  It has to be that constant, or I stumble.  This fast is showing me how very dependent I am on God and need to be.

Fasting Prayer:
Dear Lord, today I lift up to you the souls of the departed and all the souls in purgatory.  I pray for all those departed souls that have no one here on earth to pray for them.  Amen.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Day 4


Day 4:
Today was a bit up and down, but I still managed to get through some of my goals on my fast.  Sometimes as we try to get closer to God or seek an answer, we are bombarded by negativity and sometimes respond that way as well.  I am learning that I can definitely get in the way of my own fast, my own prayer life, my own relationship with God.

Two thoughts that I mediated on this weekend were love and service.  Yesterday at a formation meeting, myself and my formation director discussed the concept of God's love.  I shared that sometimes, especially after I have sinned, I have a hard time accepting this love, I feel distance, unworthy, undeserving.  For some reason it is hard for me to always see God as merciful and ready to forgive.  I shared I think this is partially why I have a hard time forgiving and getting past things.  However, I know that part of loving is forgiving, whether that be myself or another.  We also discussed how love is an action and a decision.  For example, waking up each day and deciding that I am going to love my neighbor, family, and those that are hard to love.

Also, today at mass, our Deacon gave the homily and it being "Good Shepard Sunday," he discussed not only vocations to the priesthood and religious life, but the vocations of lay people.  I was deeply touched about his testimony on why and how he and his wife went through the Deacon Formation process.  He too discussed love and how the root of his vocation is to live the Gospel, especially reflecting on how Christ came to serve, not to be served.  I had to really think about this, because I had an incident come up this morning somewhat unexpectedly and at first I jumped to anger and then recalled what Deacon Moore had discussed, love and service, essentially putting the other first, not serving my own needs or comforts.

Sometimes fasting days are much harder than others, that was my experience today.  But, some of my goals were still met, thank you God.  Thank you God for continuing to show me my weaknesses and what I need to perfect through you and your mercy and love, which is always there whenever I am open to receiving it.

Today's Fasting Prayer:
Dear Lord, thank you for the gift of today.  Thank you for all the priest, religious and lay people you've put in my life as good Christian-Catholic role models.  I have been blessed to have more than a few.  I pray again for an increase of vocation to the religious life and for all lay people, that they two may discover your vocation for them.  I also pray for my own vocation, lead me Lord, who am I and who are you?  I want to give you my YES!  Teach me how to love like you love Lord.  Teach me how to serve like you serve Lord.  Amen.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Fasting Day 3


Day 3:
Today (and really this weekend) are focused on getting past my quitting point.The weekends are usually a time when we are a little more carefree and we can allow ourselves to indulge (maybe even over indulge) because we feel like we deserve it after a tough work week.  However, today I will focus on what God deserves, which is my sacrifice, my YES to him through continuing my fast and working on perfecting it.  I see this partial fast as also a process and it highlights my weakness and impulses to the flesh so profoundly.  I think this too is a revelation from God, that through fasting more of our weaknesses and temptations are exposed.  I will stay hungry for the Lord, for I know it is HE I seek to be fed by and lead by, not the ways of this world.

Today in my book on fasting, it states that Jesus went through cities where He could do no miracles because there was no hunger.  Therefore, in this God is saying, "I'm looking for somebody who wants something.  I'm looking for somebody who will do more than show up for another church service, but they will hunger for that which I want to place in them!"

Prayer for Today's Fast"
Dear Lord, please allow me to continued to stay focus on this humble and small offering, as I know it does not compare to the ultimate sacrifice you gave us through Christ.  My weakness is pitiful and I need you to carry me through and embrace me in my weakness, which is always before me.  Guide me Lord, who am I Lord and who are you?  What are you wanting from me.  This discernment is painful and I know you have called me to something my whole life and now it is a burning desire and I feel confused and cluttered.  Grant me strength, courage and clarity so that I may know your will and follow it completely.  I also pray for all the fallen away Catholics that I know.  I ask that you anoint them Lord and create in them a desire to return home. Amen.

Citation:
Franklin, J. Fasting:  Opening the Door to a Deeper, More Intimate, More Powerful Relationship with God. Charisma House:  Lake Mary, Florida.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Fasting Day 2


Day 2:

The first few days of fasting are always a challenge, and yesterday being the first was definitely that.  However, I got through, with complete dependency on God.  I think that is one of the fruits of fasting, you are totally focused on offering up your day to God, you cannot escape it.  You find yourself praying constantly, "Dear Lord, give me strength, I can't do this without you." 

I had the opportunity to speak with a priest about my fast and the reasons why I am doing it.  I felt so blessed to have him pray over me and give me some advice about my fast and its purpose, it felt like the proper way to start this journey (almost like participating in Ash Wednesday before Lent).  It felt like I had my ticket and passport and I was ready and excited to embark on this 21 days of closeness with God.

One of the many things that came up in our conversation was the importance of fasting.  Father shared that if I recalled the story of the man who wanted a demon driven out of his son in (Matthew 17:17-21), that the disciples of Jesus could not cure him. The man specifically states this to Jesus, and therefore, he (Christ) is the only one that can drive this awful demon out.  Later, alone with his disciples, Jesus tells them when referring to the demon and their inability to drive it out of the young man that, "Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting." (Matthew 17:20-21).  I thought this was reaffirming, because the book I had picked up on fasting, started with this story in the introduction.  I had the feeling again, that in order to start conquering some of my demons and fears within, fasting (and prayer) would be the only way to get them out.

Prayer for Today's Fast:
Dear Lord, I offer up my private intention to you and for you to release the demons and fears in my life that are keeping me away from your most holy and perfect will for me.  I also offer up this sacrifice for all religious (priest, nuns, brothers, friars).  I pray that you may bless them Lord and increase the call to these important and necessary vocations and strengthen these members of the Body of Christ to continue to do their ministry that gives glory to God and brings people closer to him.  I ask this through the intercession of St. Rita, patron saint of impossible things, Our Lady and St. Franics.  Amen.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

21 Days



Day 1, May 12, 2011:

Back in February I wrote a blog post about the importance of fasting and how it helps to release us from our dependence on earthly thing and rely more profoundly on God.  I also mentioned in that post that I was not a very good "faster," but that I did believe that if and when sincerely practice, it can bring forth tremendous rewards and closer encounter with God. 

I mention this, because I find myself once again, being called to renew my commitment to fasting.  I have tried to fast at least once week, but I must admit, I have not done this whole heartily or in a way that has fostered true discipline or reliance on God.  My tummy begins to get hungry and simply, I end up caving!  However, I keep hearing this inner call to press on, to take fasting more seriously.  Through prayer, conversations with others and various incidences, I feel that God's is revealing to me that I will obtain the clarity I seek and His will for my life, if I seriously dedicate myself to a serious fast.

Today I had the rare occasion of letting myself roam around my local bookstore.  I decided that I needed a little break from my normal studying and lesson planning routine.  I had a gift card and thought perhaps I would buy myself a cookbook or a light read to flip through.  However, once I got to the bookstore, I immediately came across a table with four books on fasting!  I thought to myself, what are the odds of this!  Especially, on a Wednesday, which is my normal fast day, but on this day, I had decided not to fast...was God trying to give me some kind of reminder?  Nonetheless, I proceeded to look through each book and one spoke to me, it is was, "Fasting:  Opening the Door to a Deeper, More Intimate, More Powerful Relationship with God" by Jentezen Franklin. 

As soon as I got home, I could not put the book down.  Franklin had a candid and easy way of explaining the spiritual purpose of fasting that just spoke to me.  Franklin also uses many scriptural passages to demonstrate how all major characters in the Bible fasted and the spiritual rewards that were given to them.  He also discusses how those who were tempted by passion and food, did not gain reward with God or ever learn God's true plan for their life.  For example, he discusses Adam and Eve in the garden and how by eating the forbidden fruit, they basically ate themselves literally out of house and home!  As a practicing Catholic, I immediately saw that I could learn a lot from this Protestant Pastor.  Franklin discusses that at the beginning of each year, he and his congregation embark on a 21 day fast.  The number 21 stems from Daniel's fast while he was under captivity in Babylon.  Essentially, by doing this at the beginning of the year, Franklin states that him and his congregation are putting God first in their lives for that year.  Now, Franklin discusses that fasts can be shorter and longer than this and they can be taken on in different forms, from a complete fast to a partial.  However, his main point is this to readers who open up the first few pages:

"Since you are reading this book, you are probably not content to go through this year the way you went through last year.  You know there's more.  You know there is an assignment for your life.  You know there are things that God desires to release in your life, and there is a genuine desperation for those things gripping your heart."

Wow!  When I read these words, I thought, "Oh my, this is how I have been feeling, this is why I named my blog, "In Search Of," this captures my yearnings, my quest for clarity and to know God's purpose and how I had thought for months now that I needed to fast more seriously to obtain it!"  Sometimes, God works in mysterious ways!

So where is this all leading?  Well, Franklin points out that in the Beatitudes, Jesus gives us three specific duties:  giving, prayer and fasting and if we practice this threefold cord, it is not easily broken (Ecclesiastes 4:12).  Therefore, I have decided to recommit myself seriously to a 21 day fast.  It will be partial, I do not think I am quite at the level to just go on water alone, but it will be a contrite effort, for spiritual discernment, mental clarity, courage and an answer to a private prayer request.  I plan to write a very brief blog post each of the 21 days, discussing my goals for the fast, biblical teachings and some of Franklin's insight.  Franklin recommends a journaling effort to take place during your fast, so  I will use my blog to help encourage me to stay with this spiritual exercise and perhaps encourage others.

As Franklin says, "When you eliminate food from your diet for a number of days, your spirit becomes uncluttered by things of this world and amazingly sensitive to things of God."  I have been waiting for this anointing, but I realize I must make the sacrifice, so I am open to receive it.  I hope you keep me in your prayers as I make this journey.

Plan:
My plan is to not drink any carbonated beverages, only water.  To fast from wine (this is going to be tough) and eat only one to two smalls meals a day (I am going to try to keep this vegetarian). I know this may not seem like a lot, but for this wine loving carnivore, it is a fast!  I am hoping this emptying of self, will help me to uncover God's plan for me and give me the courage to take certain steps and provide an answer to a private prayer request.


Fasting Prayer:
"Lord, as I fast unto You, replace the source of my joy, peace and gentleness with You. Purify my character so that I rely on continual surrender to Jesus instead of the contentment of the flesh." Amen.


Citation:
Franklin, J. Fasting:  Opening the Door to a Deeper, More Intimate, More Powerful Relationship with God. Charisma House:  Lake Mary, Florida.

Friday, April 29, 2011

My Nature Is A Fire



"Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire."
— St. Catherine of Siena

How simple, yet profound St. Catherine's words are.  We often miss the simple things.  We sometimes have a tendency to over complicate who we are and who God is.  All God calls us to is to be ourselves, which is a likeliness of his love.  Could you imagine what the world would be like if we all accepted this radical and divine truth?  If we weren't so concerned with obtaining, possessing, achieving and striving for things outside our means or reality, we'd would set the world on fire! We would be alive in the moment in love, where all things are possible.

St. Francis also shared the same sentiment as St. Catherine.  He would  pray to the Father, "God who are you and who am I?"  Wow!  What a humble and genuine thought.  To come to the realization of St. Francis and St. Catherine, that all we are is what God made us to be and that is a bellowing fire of love, if we only accept it and let it transform us. I think that when we get to this point of recognition, acceptance and communion, there is a discovery and freedom, because we've finally accepted the divine indwelling and can discard our false sense of self.  All we have to be is who we are, no more, no less.

So as St. Catherine of Siena said, let our nature be fire, God's fire!  Let us especially keep this in mind as we draw near to the Feast of Pentecost, when the Father poured out his Holy Spirit in flames among Mary and the Apostles, further igniting their fire of love within.  From this point, the Apostles were able to go out and be of service to Christ, because they accepted who God made them to be and they therefore, spread the Good News and truly set their world on fire!


My Nature is Fire
Prayer 12 (XXII)*

In your nature,
eternal Godhead,
I shall come to know my nature.
And what is my nature, boundless love?
It is fire,
because you are nothing but a fire of love.
And you have given humankind
a share in this nature,
for by the fire of love
you created us.
And so with all other people
and every created thing;
you made them out of love.
O ungrateful people!
What nature has your God given you?
His very own nature!
Are you not ashamed to cut yourself off from such a noble thing
through the guilt of deadly sin?
O eternal Trinity,
my sweet love!
You, light,
give us light.
You, wisdom,
give us wisdom.
You, supreme strength,
strengthen us.
Today, eternal God,
let our cloud be dissipated
so that we may perfectly know and follow your Truth
in truth,
with a free and simple heart.
God, come to our assistance!
Lord, make haste to help us!
Amen.
~ St. Catherine of Siena

Citation:

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Judas, Peter and Simon of Cyrene ~ We've All Been There

During this Holy Week of our beloved Church, I cannot help but think of these three characters and the role they play in our Lord's passion.  Each individual is unique and through their own actions and choices, serve a distinct purpose in the amazing drama Christ is about to undergo.  More importantly, if we examine these three individuals carefully, we see some paradoxes and perhaps various sides of our own personalities or at least situations where sometimes we've acted like Judas, Peter and Simon of Cyrene.

I have to admit that I have always struggled with Judas.  I've posed the question to both religious and lay people, "Well, didn't there have to be a Judas?"  "Didn't Christ have to be handed over?"   "Isn't Judas essential to the paschal mystery?"  Through this struggle of mine, I am beginning to understand that even without Judas, Christ coming to die for us would've occurred, because that was the Father's plan.  It was Judas who had free will and rejected the love of God, a grave sin against the Spirit.  After all, Christ says it would've been better that Judas was not born instead of making this deathly free choice.  Yet, haven't we all rejected the love of God at some point in our lives?  Have we betrayed God by our actions?  Have we betrayed those we love or say we love?  Have we looked out solely for own agenda at the expense of someone else and as a result, caused them pain and suffering?  I would imagine that if we did some serious soul searching, we would have to admit that we can answer "yes" to some, maybe even all of these questions.

Then comes Peter.  Peter who loved Christ so much and swore he would never deny him, fulfills Jesus' prophecy:  “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times" (Matthew 26:34).  Again, haven't we all been Peter?  So on fire and committed to Christ, but when the time of trial set in, we abandoned God and his presence in our lives.  Or, even perhaps in certain circles of friends, colleagues and even certain family members, we water-down our love of Christ so that we don't rock the boat or "offend" anyone.  We deny Christ sometimes to fit-in and even become luke-warm in our faith.  We cast Christ aside when we succumb to sins of the flesh.  We deny him when we say we are Christians, but our actions do not show that.  We are also, Peter and Jesus knows that and still loves us in spite of it.

     Lastly, on Good Friday, we see Simon of Cyrene.  Yes, on the road of Calvary he is told by the Romans to help carry Jesus' cross.  Several things about this are profound, one is that Simon does not try to argue his way out of carrying Jesus' cross.  He does not say he is too busy with this or that, he stops in his tracks and comes to Jesus' aid.  Second, Jesus, Christ himself in his human frailty needed another humans help.  Therefore, if Jesus was not prideful, why are we sometimes in rejecting others help in carrying our crosses?  Jesus truly humbled himself in this moment with Simon.  In this scene we can take on may roles and apply it to our lives and reflect on how we live.  Do I help others carry their crosses?  Am I there for my family, friends, co-workers and strangers or am I too busy?  Do I ask others to help me carry my cross or am I too prideful?

In this holiest week of our dear Church, we get to take part in Passion of Our Lord. It is not a time for us to passively engage in the Triduum.  It is time for us to seriously contemplate the gift Christ gives us everyday, forgiveness, mercy, his life and our salvation.  It is time for us to see ourselves in these three individuals and allow the Resurrection to transform us according to the Lord's will.

Become passionate about the Lord's Passion over the next several days.  Don't let this Holy Week pass you by!

Peace and All Good Things,
JEK

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

"Lord You're A Little Too Late!" What St. Martha Shows Us About Ourselves


The more I read about St. Martha, Lazarus' elder sister, I cannot help but see myself in her and perhaps you do too.  I can't say that this is necessarily pleasing to me.  For example, the Lord on an occasion of visiting Mary, Martha and Lazarus did chastise this sister when she was busy in the kitchen and lamenting about her work by saying, "Martha you are worried about many things" (Luke 10:41).  I feel like the Lord is constantly saying this same sentence to me.   Martha is also interesting in that she confirms that Jesus is the Son of God in this past Sunday's Gospel (John 11:24); however, she seems disappointed that he took so long to come to her dear brother, Lazarus' bedside.  Why did he wait?  Where was he?  Did he not love Lazarus after all?  Martha tells Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died" (John 11:21). 

I am a person that wants things done yesterday!  I have struggled with this my whole life.  I have the hardest time when things don't go according to my schedule or something unexpected happens.  I feel like saying, "Come on God, you know I am busy."  "You know my anxiety cannot take this, you know I am tired and over-worked!"  "Where are you!"  "If you were here and taking care of me, this would not be happening!"  "Why Lord?"  So, just like Martha, I too feel like God is sometimes a little too late.

In reading through a Lenten reflection, this was said about Martha and this situation, and I think it is good for us "Type A" personalities to seriously and prayerfully think about:

"But Jesus reassures me as he reassured Martha:  'Look, no matter when I seem to get there, I've been with you all the time, and I can pull life out of anything.  I can do that with your sins...things that are your fault.  I can do that with tragedy.  I will do it with the crucifixion.  I can do it when things happen because of the sins and failings of others."

"That is the lesson of Lazarus' rising.  If I can believe that Jesus brought Lazarus back to life, it makes all the difference.  I never loose hope.  I can always put my faith in Jesus.  I can respond to situations (even sin and violence) his way, and know that he can pull life out it. It is a powerful belief.  As we approach Easter, I can catch the spirit of this Gospel and live this belief.  This belief will change my whole life if I really accept it and trust in the Lord."

So, let us take a lesson from the meaning of this story and trust in the Lord, through sin, violence, turmoil and inconvenience.  It is harder for some (like me) and easier for others, but as we get closer to approaching Holy Week we can trust knowing that the Resurrection is on it's way.

Dear Lord, let me see how you pull life out of everything, especially through my daily trials, struggles and inconveniences.  Amen.


Peace and all good things to you.

Citation:

The Little Black Book:  Six-minute Meditations on the Sunday Gospels of Lent (Cycle A).  (2010) Edited by Catherine Haven.  Diocese of Saginaw.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Righetous Is Not a Four Letter Word!



Today's readings expose the irritations that the wicked or those who have either fallen away from God or do not see need for him in their lives feel about the "righteousness" of others.  Essentially, the wicked or those who have no to a limited need of God, tend to make their own path, because they have lost all sense of who God is and their lives are not guided by the Spirit, but the flesh.  To see someone attempt holiness (which is what we are all called to do) is truly irritating for them.  Perhaps it is because in today's environment the word "righteousness" is basically considered a "four letter word" and has such a negative connotation, sort of a "holier than thou" description.  However, it is unfortunate that the word "righteousness" has become a sour taste in some people's mouths.  Righteousness does not mean that one thinks they are above others, it means that they choose to do something!  It means one is choosing to embark on the journey and hold steadfast to the virtues that they have in the Lord, in the Holy Spirit and the Cross.  Righteousness need not be judgemental, instead it can be an example of not settling for mediocrity or indifference to the presence of God in our lives.

Regarding today's reading from the book of Wisdom (2:1a, 12-22), Fr. Gary Caster makes a profound point stating, "that the wicked cannot see the innocent soul's reward, because holiness is 'obonxious' to them, and 'knowledge of God' a hardship."  Wow!  Can we see this in today's society or what!  Where innocence is trampled on and preserving it is deemed as foolish and taking the straight and narrow way is hard, so as a result, many abandon it or don't want to "rock the boat" or project their virtues on others by appearing "self-righteous." So, as a result they remain silent and refuse to take a stand and defend Christ.  But, we need to remember that Christ reminds us that we are to, "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it" (Matthew 7:13). 

F. Gary Caster goes on his reflection of today's reading in stating that the wicked underscores errors in judgement.  One of them being that they feel "threatened' or "judged" by the righteousness of others.  He states, "If we find goodness of our neighbor to be distasteful, then we have probably lost our hunger for God."  He continues to say that this should not be viewed as an affront for our love of God, but a hope that we too can grow in holiness.

Of course, we never want to think we've reached some religious or spiritual pinnacle like the Pharisees, they were certainly self-righteous and did not act in the wisdom and humility that comes from a close and love-filled relationship God and subsequently with neighbor.  However, we are to remain firm despite our failings, sinfulness and that our desire to have a close relationship with God may irritate others.  We are not to compromise our beliefs in our faith to accommodate other's insecurities, irritations or false perceptions of our motives.  For we must put God first and again, Christ warned us that this may cause division at times (Matthew 10:34).  Therefore, we have nothing to fear, especially if our efforts are humble, genuine and true, because he assures us that once this is done, all other things will fall into place, "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." (Matthew 6:33).

Seeking God, having an inmate relationship with him and living that out can be a hardship at times, after all, it is the way of the Cross.  Living this life with God is counter to settling for mediocrity or a culture of indifference or doing whatever we "feel" is good at the moment, essentially making our own path that strays from the narrow one we are called to walk.  But do not settle for this, do something!  God even asks us to do something about it when he calls us to rejoice when we are put down by others for his sake (Matthew 5:12).  And, Bl. John Paul II calls us to action to in saying:


"Do not be afraid. Do not be satisfied with mediocrity.
Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch."


Citation:

Fr. Gary Caster. (2010).   The Little Way of Lent:  Mediating in the Spirit of St. Thereses of Lisieux.  St. Anthony Messenger Press:  Cincinnati, Ohio.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A "Little" Quest Towards God's Will in the Spirit of St. Therese of Lisieux


"Let it be done to me according to thy will" (Luke 1:38).  I have always struggled with this surrender.  When I think of Mary's complete trust and then later Christ's trust in the Garden of Gethsemane, I am always left feeling amazed, humbled and frankly saddened and embarrassed that I cannot echo their prayer in my own.  I realize that God's will is what is best for me and his master plan, but I must admit that I have a hard time trusting it.  Does he really know all the details?  Maybe not, so I should remind him in prayer constantly of what I need.  Wow!  This is the opposite of faith, but I still want to tell God what to do!  What if his will is not mine?  Then what?  I want certainty and security, but wait, God never promised certainty and security.  This is my immature, under developed thought process.  Then I must recall what Christ has promised, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).

I mention this, because several weeks ago when I was in Adoration, as I quietly settled in and closed my eyes, I decided that I was not going to "ask" God for anything, I was trying to slowly rest with the fact that he does know what I need before I even ask.  As I quietly sat, I heard a thought say, for Lent ask only for HIS WILL, just try it, just for a few weeks and see.  So, I thought alright then, fine, you win God, I will try for the remainder of Lent to ask let it be done unto me according to thy will.  I must admit this has been the most difficult prayer and I have stumbled and had to shut myself up and recite this sentence and renew my commitment often.  What I started to say at the beginning of each day is, "Dear Lord, let your holy and most perfect will be done in my life this day."  I must admit, over the last several weeks since I have been saying this, my days have been a little unpredictable and sometimes things I do not want to be pulled into are attracting their force/attention my way, but I do feel a little more led by the Holy Spirit and in certain situations where I usually am not calm, I have been.  Surrendering is still very hard and I will probably struggle with it my entire life, but this is my "little way," again in the words of St. Therese of Lisieux to break my will.  In a beautiful Lenten reflection book I have on St. Therese, one of the prayers quotes her as saying,

"I made a resolution to give myself up more than ever to a serious and mortified life.  When I say mortified, this is not to give the impression that I performed acts of penance.  Alas, I never made any...My mortifications consisted in breaking my will, always so ready to impose itself on others, in holding back a reply, in rendering little services without any recognition, in not leaning my back against a support when seated, etc, etc.  It was the practice of these nothings that prepared myself to become the fiancee of Jesus."

When I read these words in Adoration about a week after my commitment to only pray for God's will the rest of Lent, I was awe struck and move to tears, especially when re-reading the line, "My mortifications consisted in breaking my will, always so ready to impose itself on others, in holding back a reply..."  because I felt like God was speaking in that moment directly to me through this thought of St. Therese.  It also touched me, because it served as confirmation and reminder of the previous inner voice I heard and moved me that the Saints also struggled with dying to God's will too!   I felt a sense of communion in that moment and humility.  And finally, because the Saints, such as St. Therese, "The little flower" loved Jesus so much that she was willing to surrender everything to his divine purpose, even if it meant through daily on-going sacrifices.  What fidelity to Christ!

Thus, I will continue my "little" quest, "Dear Lord, let your holy and most perfect will be done in my life this day." Despite the fact that this is probably the hardest sentence this control freak has ever said!  So even when I struggle, I will recall this reflection of St. Therese and call upon her intercession.  I am so thankful I became reacquainted with this "little flower," a Doctor of the Church, in a more intimate way this Lenten Season. 


With this, I leave you with a beautiful prayer of self-abandonment I came across and have started to carry with me:


Father,
I abandon myself into your hands;
do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you:
I am ready for all, I accept all.

Let only your will be done in me,
and in all your creatures -
I wish no more than this, O Lord.

Into your hands I commend my soul:
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands without reserve,
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father.
~Charles de Foucauld

Citation:

Fr. Gary Caster. (2010).   The Little Way of Lent:  Mediating in the Spirit of St. Thereses of Lisieux.  St. Anthony Messenger Press:  Cincinnati, Ohio.

Prayer of Abandonment. EWTN The Global Catholic Network.  Retrieved Saturday, April 2, 2011 from:   http://www.ewtn.com/devotionals/prayers/Abandonment.htm