Saturday, November 4, 2017

For the Love of Jesus

"O my soul, love a God who is bound like a criminal for you;
a God scourged like a slave for you;
a God made a mocking for you;
a God, in short, dead upon a cross, as the vilest outcast for you!
Yes, my Savior, my God, I love You, I love You!
Bring continually to my remembrance, I beseech You,
All that You have suffered for me,
so that I may never more forget to love you.

O cords that bound my Jesus, bind me to Jesus;
thorns that crowned my Jesus, pierce me with the love of Jesus;
nails that transfixed my Jesus, nail me to the cross of Jesus,
that I may live and die united to Jesus.
O blood of Jesus, inebriate me with His holy love!
O death of Jesus, make me die to every earthly affection!
Pierced feet of my Lord, I embrace you."

From: The Practice of the Love of Jesus Christ by Saint Alphonsus Liguori, pg. 60-61

Pure, holy, true love is that like the Love of Jesus. He forgot Himself and only thought of His love for others. This love delivered Him to the cross to die a painful death. Where does our love take us? We must ask ourselves, do we love so much that we forget ourselves? Or, ironically, are we still so concerned over our own well being and comfort so that while thinking to love our life we actually deny ourselves of fully loving our Lord, who gives us life?

O Lord, may our love for you be pure, holy, and true. Help us to forget ourselves for love of you! Amen.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Spiritual Growth

"Many beginners, delighting in the sweetness and joy of their spiritual occupations, strive after spiritual sweetness rather than after purity and discretion, which is that which God regards and accepts in the whole course of the spiritual way. For this reason, over and above their imperfection in seeking after sweetness in devotion, that spirit of gluttony, which has taken possession of them, forces them to overstep the limits of moderation, within which virtue is acquired and consists. . . Inasmuch then as all extremes are vicious, and as in this course of conduct men follow their own will, the consequences are that they grow in vice and not in virtue; at least they minister to their spiritual gluttony and pride, for they do not walk in the way of obedience.
-St. John of the Cross in Dark Night of the Soul, pg. 26

I know that is a long excerpt, but it sadly is the reality in which many Christians live out their Christian faith today. There remains in them a desire for only that which is easy and pleasing, and thus they cease to grow in the spiritual life. This is also explained in Hebrews:

"Although you should be teachers by this time, you need to have someone teach you again the basic elements of the utterances of God. You need milk, [and] not solid food. About this we have much to say, and it is difficult to explain, for you have become sluggish in hearing. Although you should be teachers by this time, you need to have someone teach you again the basic elements of the utterances of God. You need milk, [and] not solid food. Everyone who lives on milk lacks experience of the word of righteousness, for he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those whose faculties are trained by practice to discern good and evil.
Hebrews 5:11-14

It begs us to ask the question, is our love for God really pure when we only love with the expectation of receiving something in return (namely consolations and spiritual highs) and which requires nothing of ourselves to give in return?

Lord, help us to love you more each day and to strive for a love that is as pure and holy as You. Amen.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Seeking God

Allow God to make us insignificant in the eyes of the world. It is for our betterment. We are weak, prone to pride, and very easily enticed toward vanity. 

As we learn to let go of ourselves--our wishes and desires and selfish tendencies--we will soon realize the beautiful treasure God is giving us. For it is when we let go of ourselves that we cling to Our Lord and find true life and satisfaction in Him alone. 

How easily ensnared we are in vanity and our desire for significance! The problem is we seek beauty, appeal, and significance from the world and not from God. If we truly only sought His delight, how different we would be. How truly beautiful we would be! A beauty that we can take with us into Heaven, a beauty that is not ours but Our Lords reflected in us. 

We must realize how much appearance deceives us. We must take special care to not project our own ideas of what God finds beautiful. 

"God does not see as a mortal, who sees the appearance. 
The LORD looks into the heart." 
1 Samuel 16:7

We also must take special care to not place value in things typically highly valued in our world. Often what God values, the world despises. Since we have a disordered desire to appeal to those around us, we can shun what God values in exchange for what the world values. This is dangerous of course because we will begin to slowly reject God without even realizing it at first. 

“No one can serve two masters. 
He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. 
You cannot serve God and mammon."
Matthew 6:24

Let us cling to God alone and orient our lives toward Him and the things of Him. Pray for humility, ask how we can love Him more in our lives, and ask for the help to forget ourselves and find Him.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Enter into the silence

I want to take a few moments to write down some thoughts that have occurred to me lately. It is SO important to take time out and distance ourselves from the world--to enter into the quiet and stillness where God can be found and is waiting for us.

Sometimes this place is a scary place. Allowing ourselves to be present with God means He may ask things of us that are difficult. He may ask us to change things about ourself that we don't really want to change (and may even love about ourselves) or uproot bad habits or any number of difficult things. Sometimes we avoid transparency and closeness with God, without even meaning to, because in our heart of hearts we fear what drawing nearer to God might entail.

I really believe, however, that only in this quiet place where our fears are exposed and surrender is offered, true healing begins from the damage caused by sin and flesh. Only here can we hope to really separate ourselves from the (often many) ungodly attachments we have in our lives. Growth in holiness will be quicker as we immerse ourselves in total reliance on Jesus ALONE and not in ourselves.

Jesus gave us this example when He, too, withdrew Himself from the world to spend time with His Father. He also chose to surrender to the Father's Will despite the agony it resulted in. If we are called to strip away parts of ourself and that process results in agony, it will all be worth it in the end. We can't know what God has in store for those of us who choose to love Him and serve Him HERE, in THIS world. The time is NOW! This is our opportunity, I pray we won't pass it up.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Greatest Gifts

I've been reminded in a few different ways lately how precious motherhood is, and what a gift these sweet children are. 

This Christmas season I have considered the importance of Christmas. Mary and the whole world (past, present, and future generations) welcomed the greatest gift to humanity EVER in the form of an innocent little baby. Jesus chose to come as a baby. Babies are gifts! They bring new life and hope and promise. 

Life is quick to happen. Our time with them is so short. It saddens me when I look around and see so few children cherished, nurtured, and loved the way they deserve. We are guilty at times of this in our own home, and beg Gods forgiveness and grace in helping us give them the godly example of HIS love. 

As we love the Father because He first loved us, similarly will they learn of His love through us which will enable them to love God and others better. 

Our job as parents and mothers is so important. I remember when I was first staying at home with Teá and how conflicted I felt about staying home (which actually lasted about 3 years). Many around me made me feel as though I should be working. I felt that way, too. I didn't come from a home with a stay at home mom, and I always assumed and envisioned I would also be a working mom. Well meaning people would question things like whether my kids were getting enough socialization because they weren't in daycare, preschool, and now school, or whether I was offering them a good example of womanhood and being a productive member of society. 

Yet, whenever I came to God in prayer over these and many other concerns, I was only left with the impression that we were right where we should be, and what a GIFT our family has been given to have each other. Of course there are the normal, everyday stresses of life, but in general we are spared a LOT of stress that naturally comes with two working parents, plus the stress of not being the primary caretakers of our children and finding suitable arrangements for them, and of giving up hours everyday with them. Not everyone can do this, and even more people who could choose not too for various reasons, and yet God has generously shown us the treasure that is found in pouring into our children in the ordinary moments of each day. I am grateful He has given us this wealth of treasure, the gift of time with my kids. The gift of not only being able to teach them but also show them each day how they are to live, how we are all to live, which is a virtuous life honoring God and living in love.

Parents have the moral responsibility of forming their children, and we will all give an account to God someday on how well we handled that ever important task given to us. Let's not turn our eyes another way or hope someone else will come along and do our job for us. With Gods help I am certain we can rise to the challenge and raise our children in a way that is worthy of what has been entrusted to us (which is their very soul!!). 

It's also very evident (at least I personally think so) how the family is under such attack in today's culture. It is being torn apart, mocked, trampled upon, and reimagined. The family is supposed to be a beautiful reminder of the family of God, of His church, even of His very nature. We should all be very prayerful in regard to how we construct our lives at home. It's easy to be swayed and swept away by the current ideologies or cultural norms. This is not Gods Will however. Family is the most basic unit of society and holds it together. It is also the means by which God has chosen many of us to live out our vocations and grow in holiness. Yet it is all too often ignored or pushed aside for other endeavors which do not have our holiness, sanctity, or for the glory of God in mind. 

I pray that all would come to a greater realization of the true gift we are given to bring life into this world, and hopefully, into Heaven. We are taking part in Gods own creative nature as He allows the creation of new human beings to come to life through us. Each one is unique, irreplaceable, and beautifully made in His image with a special mission only that one person can carry out. 

I'm so grateful for another life God has given us that we will get to meet and welcome into our little family in a few short months. The girls anxiously await their new baby brother and couldn't be more excited! Neither could we! Thanks be unto God for all His blessings!