Sunday, January 15, 2017

Embracing Suffering


I am sure that all people who reach a certain spiritual level, come to this understanding of human suffering--but amazingly, despite my advanced age, I am only just now realizing this:  God allows everyone to have a certain amount of suffering--and to reach His Kingdom, we must willingly embrace it, if we wish to be perfect.  Not conquer it, but embrace it, just as Jesus embraced his suffering on the Cross. 


For some, it might be a life of material poverty.  For others, it is physical illness or some kind of disability, or a person who never finds their soulmate and maintains a life of chastity despite their own deep desires. Perhaps it's the loss of someone that a person loved so much, life seems unbearable without them. It could be the misfortune of being born in a country which has great economic or civil strife, such that they experience the stress and uncertainty of immigration or becoming a refugee, leaving behind a homeland that should have been their safe haven. 


It doesn't matter what it is:  there are a million varieties of human suffering, but all have one thing in common: if you are so much in love with God that you wish to be perfect, then "deny yourself, take up your Cross and follow Me." (Matthew 16:24-26) 


Understanding this--at last!--has been an incredible liberation for me, because it explains and justifies what is wrong with this world: it's the one thing that makes everything else make sense.  All my life, I have felt guilty (for example), that I am not poor... that I am not disabled... that I live in the United States instead of somewhere else--and I am freed of that guilt now!  They have their suffering, and I have mine: and it is all according to His plan.  Nevertheless, this knowledge does not absolve us from doing everything we can to relieve suffering wherever we find it!


The challenge, of course, is the embracing part, because it's human nature to want to avoid suffering.  And so, most of us spend a great portion of our lives struggling to escape from our suffering, not realizing that the only true freedom comes with acceptance, with offering our suffering to God in union with Jesus Christ.  This is a mystical concept that not everyone "gets," but I am absolutely convinced that it is true.       

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Personality of Christ


For some reason, during prayer before Mass this morning, I started thinking about Jesus' personality.  What were those distinguishing characteristics that made Him different from everyone else, just as each one of us is unique?  And as I thought about this, I couldn't come up with any!

Then it came to me (and I hope this doesn't sound too crazy): He has everybody's personality: mine, yours, everyone who ever existed--but in Him, each quality is perfected. 

So Jesus has ...

my empathy
my concern for the poor
my love of people and animals
my honesty
my passionate devotion to God
my dependability
my generosity
my revulsion when I see acts of cruelty
my dedication to doing what is right
my grateful spirit
my highly ethical consciousness
my love of prayer
my desire to be immersed in God
my desire for humility
my willingness to suffer
my love of truth
my willingness to show my emotions
my desire to be totally obedient to God's will
my righteous anger when others are mistreated
my sensitivity ...

...but each of these qualities in me is incomplete--I have them to a degree, but could have them much more if I were not a sinner--in Him, they reach the highest level possible

Friday, January 6, 2017

A Life Hidden in Christ


I was given an insight in prayer last night about how I am supposed to live now.


God made me understand that He wants me to stop focusing on all the great and heroic things I imagine myself doing for love of Him, and instead learn to be perfect in a different way: by living a very quiet life hidden in Him, as He did when He was a child in Nazareth--doing the mundane, domestic--often boring--tasks that need to be done at home, but doing them with great love and patience--all for Him.  


This makes sense to me, because at this moment, I am engaged in trying to solve a big problem: that is, changing what needs to be changed in order for me and my parents to have a clean and orderly house--a decent, safe, peaceful and ordinary existence.  


It's not going to happen overnight, but He has given me all the resources I need in order to achieve this.  He sent me a devout Catholic therapist who understands the spiritual and emotional struggle I am in, and knows what to say to give me the courage needed to confront the situation and strategies for resolving it; I have a happy and fulfilling life outside the house, doing work for my parish; I have a loving and supportive pastor who understands the problem and will not allow me to give up; and I am blessed to be in a strong, loving and sustaining relationship with Him, through the deep prayer life which He has given to me. 


As this all unfolds in time, I know He will give me the graces and understanding I need in order to solve the problems before me.  I just need to persevere, to be calm and measured in my approach to the problem, confident that with His help, I will find a way to do what is needed--and in the process, I will learn what it is that He wishes to teach me through my experience of this trial.


I am on a journey.  God is at the end of it.  And I know I'll get there because I love Him, and He loves me.  And by then, I will love Him even more. 


Jesus, I trust in You!  


The Little Way of St. Therese