Re-Routing Week 6-Merge

Last weekend at Mass, Fr. John Riccardo asked the congregation if there was anyone present that wasn’t looking for true happiness.  Of course nobody raised their hand!  Who isn’t looking for true happiness?  Who doesn’t want to be loved and to love? In Genesis 2, we learn what it means to be human. We were made in the image and likeness of God to be in relationship with God and with our neighbor. “It is not good for man to be alone.” We also learn that woman was made to be a helper to man–to help him be human. If you look at all of this in its purest sense, I think it is absolutely the most beautiful thing about marriage and friendships. I have thought about this a lot this week. Being married for almost 22 years, and now a widow, I understand God’s words.  They make sense to me.  Yet, if God has made us this way, why do we often find it so difficult to be happy or to love?  Why do we allow sin to taint our relationships with each other? Why do we fear loving each other and serving each other with full surrender and vulnerability? What would happen if we did?  We, meaning, our culture, like to twist love (through rebellion), instead of understanding it as God has meant it to be. Back in November, I was at a Theology of the Body Conference for a week where we were immersed in Genesis 2 for about 8 hours a day. I would say it took me a good day and a half to untwist my mind from the culture. Imagine those who don’t know God—Genesis 2 must seem impossible to understand!  However, I believe our culture is searching for God–for authentic, true, pure love, even if we don’t know it.

The question Father posed at the end of his homily was God saying to us, “Will you trust me?” Do we trust God?  Do we know that He has our best interests in mind?  He gives us gifts, if we would just recognize them. God also gives us free will to make decisions. We are free to choose death(sin) or we are free to choose life. I want to choose life. I want freedom that only God can give.  When we choose sin, we choose to rebel, we choose to not love God or our neighbor. Sometimes we are so desperate to be loved, sin becomes our attempt to find love in an improperly ordered way.  I’m pretty sure this is not the route to happiness. A while back, I was listening to a Christian speaker say something that will stay with me forever.  He said  “When sin enters our marriages and we don’t love the way we should or we want to walk away from our marriage, we are saying that God’s power and grace that was given to us in the Sacrament of marriage isn’t strong enough to overcome our trials, our unhappiness–unhappiness that is often (not always)  caused by our own selfishness.” God knows our life. God knows that people can change. Circumstances can change. I get that more than most people. But, one thing doesn’t change.. God doesn’t change. Sin rejects God. We reject God. But, the Good News is our sin is never greater than God’s mercy because God is love–always, and forever.

“Beloved, let us love one another because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.”  1 John 4:7-8

Loving and gracious God, 

Only you know the deepest desires of my heart.  And, only you know how to satisfy them. Help me to love with a heart that is pure.  Help me to recognize the gifts that  you have given me. Don’t let me waste another day being selfish, instead, allow me to serve my family, my friends and my community in ways that reflect Your love. Thank you for teaching me what love is every time I see you nailed to the cross. You are the King of Kings. You are the Lover of my Soul. I love you, Lord, like no other. Yet, I still sometimes fail to trust you. But, every day, I try again and every day, your love remains unchanged.  Heal me, Lord, from all my past wounds. Carry me always and never let me feel alone. I pray earnestly for all marriages that have allowed sin and selfishness to invade their home.  You have the power to break these chains. Please break them. Heal the division in families because without families, our world seizes to exist.  Help me know my mission. My mission starts with my own family.  Lord, thank you for your personal call to each of us to live in holiness, to live in love, and to live in true happiness with you.  Brian, watch over me from heaven. I need you now more than ever. Amen.

 

 

 

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Re-Routing Week 5-Road Work Ahead

“I believe in God, the Father, Creator of heaven and earth…”

How often do I say these words every week at Mass and never really think about what I am saying.  When we watched the video “How Great is Our God?” by Louie Guglia this week, I was thinking about this.  I have watched this video at least a dozen of times and every time I watch it something new hits me.  I love the last 10 minutes or so of this video the most.  I cry when I listen to these last 10 minutes, not only because it overwhelms me, but because God overwhelms me and I think how can I not trust Him with my life?  How can I question His plan so easily?  How can I not love more? Why am I not down on my knees in gratitude every minute of every day because God created me out of nothingness to share in His beauty and goodness?  I have been through a lot of things in my life and I can honestly say that choosing to trust God, the Creator of the Universe, is not easy.  That sounds so absurd!  Really?  If I can’t trust the Creator of the Universe, then who can I trust? By God’s grace, ever since I became a widow almost 2 years ago,  I realize more and more every day  that there is absolutely no other way to live than by trusting God.  But, what does that mean concretely?  This is what it means for me.  It means I don’t do ANYTHING big without taking it to prayer.  It means I don’t make decisions in the heat of anger, sorrow or sadness.  It means I am patient. It means I look to the word of God for answers to moral and spiritual dilemmas. It means I thank God in all circumstances and for all things–both good and bad.  It means I try to live a moral life and when I fail, I repent. It means I put my hope in Him and nothing else. It means I let Him love me.  I asked a spiritual director a couple of years ago this question, “How do I know when something is from God and not from my own head?” and he said “when it is rooted in Truth and Love, then you know it comes from God.”  Great answer! But, I have also learned that you have to know what Truth is and you have to know what Love is– meaning I have to know Jesus.

Here are some words from “How Great is our God?” that help me know who Jesus is.

“So,  you are at the toughest place in your life? How can you know that God is going to hold you together and bring you through?  You know because there is a cross standing over history and it is looming over this building tonight.  It is the place where the Star-Breather became the Sin- Bearer where the Universe-Maker became mankind’s Savior and it is proof that God doesn’t always change the circumstances.  He did not change them for Jesus on that hillside outside of Jerusalem. But, the cross is also proof that God always has a purpose in the circumstances and that His purpose and His plan will prevail & will triumph through any circumstance in this world.”  Through death, through illness, through trials, through temptations, God’s plan will prevail and He will stand in the midst of all this with us, “I will renew your strength and when you think you can’t take one more breath, I will give you enough to keep going on, and to keep going,….”

HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD?

Father, I pray tonight that I will personally know the depth of your love for me as you are  “star-breather” who became the “sin-bearer”. Watch over my children as they sleep and when they are awake, help me to be a living example to them of God’s great love story.  I prayer in a special way for marriages and families and for all priests, deacons, laity and religious sisters who make it their mission to further God’s plan for all of creation, in particular, God’s plan for marriage.  Thank you for the gift of wisdom. Thank you for the gift of life.  Amen.

There is another great video that I have watched with my kids that is worth viewing with your family.  It is by the Skitguys and the title is “God’s Chisel–Remastered.”  “You are God’s masterpiece.”

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Re- Routing -Week 4- Fog Area

I am not sure if it is coincidence or not that week 4 of re-routing was called “fog area.” I was tempted not to share a blog this week because my prayer life was dry –no,  more like distracted.  Between my own physical illness and ailments, and the spiritual “dryness” this week, I was paralyzed and overwhelmed by all the fog in my life. I spent very little time talking with my children. I tried to sit with Jesus in Adoration but I was distracted with life, I tried to read Scripture, and I found myself just going through the motions. And then the attacks came by the Evil one, telling me “you can’t blog about re-routing, you can’t even get your life together this week. You are not loved, you can’t be a missionary disciple– look at you!” And so it went on…

Do you recognize the spiritual battles in your life that prevent you from loving like Jesus loves? I recognize spiritual battles much quicker in my life these days than I ever have before. In fact, there was a time in my life that I didn’t recognize them at all because I didn’t know Jesus and I didn’t recognize the evil one for who he is.  I am convinced this week that God was trying to purify my soul and remind me of my nothingness without Him. I finally gave myself permission to sit before the Blessed Sacrament in silence and give Him my emptiness, my spiritual battles, my physical battles and just let Him love me. I realized I did need to share because the Christian life isn’t always easy and it is not always joy (only because I am stubborn and choose to wrestle with God over my will, instead of accepting His will for me). A friend told me this week that the closer you get to Jesus, the stronger the battles. I have nothing that I want to publicly share from my prayer journal this week, but I do have part of a prayer to share from Divine Intimacy that I turn to in times of need:

“O my Jesus, true light, drive away the clouds of ignorance which come from my evil nature, and give me the grace to seek the truth with a sincere heart and to love it: for you, the Incarnate Word, are the Truth. Be the only light on my path, the only Master to guide my steps. I need You, eternal Truth, to liberate me from the slavery of my frailty and wretchedness, and from the passions which often blind my conscience and hinder me from complete adherence to the good and the true which You teach me. Your truth teaches me that You are He who is, and that I am one who is not: that You alone have worth, and I have no value; that You are All, and I am nothing, and if there is any good in me, it is a wholly gratuitous gift from You. O, Jesus, grant that I may seek Your truth and love it, even when it is painful, or when, like a two-edged sword, it lays bare my miseries, my faults, my sins. Let Your truth penetrate my whole being and all my acts: make me courageously reject every light which does not emanate from You!”

Praying to always see the Light in the areas of fog in our lives.

Re-Routing Emergency Vehicles-Week 3

Watching the clips of Saving Private Ryan are always tear-jerkers, but on this past Wednesday night’s showing, when Private Ryan asks his wife, “Tell me I led a good life. Tell me I’m a good man.” I thought, “Isn’t that what we all want in life—somebody to acknowledge that we have lived this life well?” In our group discussion on Wednesday, we talked a lot about following God’s plan for our life.  We were searching for an example of someone in today’s time that was a true example of what real surrender looks like. Mother (Saint) Teresa was our closest present day example. ALL the Saints are examples of surrender and they are living, even if we can’t see them, but we were looking for someone “in our midst” that was an example. We all have a lot of work to do! If we are all striving to be Saints, we need to be examples to each other. As I prayed about this the next couple of days, I realized I am always looking around for someone to show me how to do this. Jesus, Mary and the Saints have shown us time and time again how to do this, but, at least for me, if I am honest, I always think there has got to be an easier way. Hasn’t some  Saint-in-the-making, friend of mine out there, found a short cut to becoming a missionary disciple, a path void of suffering, to help me sell out for Jesus? An easier way to “earn it?” Nope!  When I talked with my kids this week about if they think daily about how Jesus has rescued us—how he has been our emergency vehicle, they gave me the honest answers. The reason we don’t think about what Jesus has done is because WE have made other things in our lives more important. It is as simple as that.

When we go to Mass, we participate in the summit of our faith. This is one of the most important things we can do as a family.  “The liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; it is also the font from which all her power flows. It is therefore the privileged place for catechizing the People of God. Catechesis is intrinsically linked with the whole of liturgical and sacramental activity, for it is in the sacraments, especially in the Eucharist, that Christ Jesus works in fullness for the transformation of men.” (CCC, 1074)

We get all that we are looking for in life at Mass.  At any place in the world, at any time, in any decade, even when the world seems to be falling apart, the Mass is a universal constant. We get to encounter the authentic love and mercy of Jesus–every time. One of the readings this week said “Christ is the same yesterday, today and always (Hebrews 13:8). Every Sunday He gives himself to us in the Word made flesh and in the Eucharist. Take this, all of you, and eat it: this is my body which will be given up for you. We have an opportunity every Sunday, and everyday to “know” the authentic at Mass—Jesus never changes. How refreshing is that in today’s world?

I am constantly in search of the authentic —I think we all are. Nobody is looking for counterfeit anything in life, yet, we settle for counterfeit all the time for fear that this is the best it gets. We want authentic friendships/marriages. We want people in our life that enjoy spending time with us for who we are. People who want to get to know the real “us.” We want real friends, not imaginary friends. Jesus is a real friend. He wants to spend time with us-always- and we should desire to spend time with Him. He wants to know us intimately, and if we are not ready, He waits patiently.

Dear Lord,

Thank you for the gift of your self. Forgive me for the times when I have not wanted to spend more time with you– when other things have been more important. You continue to show me the real meaning of love. You have shown me that love isn’t easy.   There is no love without sacrifice. The Mass reminds me of this all the time. The Mass brings me peace because with you I am safe—you rescue me. I come to you impoverished and broken, and, yet, I am never a burden to you. You take all of me in whatever state I come to you. You see me for who I am.

Help me to be a witness of love and mercy to others. Give me the humility to let these not be just words in my prayer journal. Give me the humility to recognize how I need to be different in my life. I beg for your pardon when I fail. There was a time in my life when I thought I knew better than you what was good for me, but you have chipped away at my walls and I have slowly, let you in. But, I know it’s not time to stand still. Every day, it is time to make a decision to give my all to you. I can barely write these words– that’s how broken I am. Thank you for your patience. Thank you for not giving up on me. Help me see the joy in the process of purification. I have been here before and I know that for every period of trial, your joy always awaits around the corner.

I have many people on my heart and mind to pray for today. I pray especially for (names left out for respect of those I am praying for).

Amen.