Sunday, April 15, 2018

The Daily Struggle

"You sure have your hands full!"
"You must be very busy!"
"How do you do it?!"
"Are they ALL yours?!"

Being a family with 4 young children I get these remarks and questions more and more. I don't mind at all, and there's some truth in those statements! My daily tasks are growing, our house and time is full, and that's good! Yet, it is also true that within those wonderful, full, busy days there is struggle. Struggle to do my job well, to love my kids well, and to teach my kids to do likewise. Struggle to give up my desires and wishes and welcome Gods plan for my life. Struggle to put others before myself.

So herein lies the real question: Is struggle bad? NO! No, no, no! Without struggle and sacrifice, good cannot be accomplished. Look at the cross...Jesus took on suffering and sacrifice and even death to bring about life. He knew it was worth every bit of struggle...WE were worth His sacrifice. He did it out of love for us.

And so we are to do the same. Welcome the struggles. Don't take the easy road, laden with comfort and pleasures. Those things pass. Ask God for the strength to walk His path so we that may know Him better and become like Him, all for His glory.

For it is on this journey where growth takes place. Growth isn't easy, but it is through our daily struggles and sacrifices that virtue is to be cultivated. Just as with a garden, the seeds will not grow into a fruitful plant in a moment, but over the course of time, and with much care and attention given to it's growth. So it is with our lives: Patience, love, endurance, courage, temperance, humility...these virtues aren't produced over night. They take much time, struggle, and sacrifice to become a part of our lives. Yet, we are given much opportunity to practice and develop these virtues, and the opportunities are usually within our daily struggles and tasks! Simple opportunities like when your plans get changed unexpectedly for the worse and not complaining about it, or giving someone the last piece of chocolate you'd been thinking about all day, or choosing to do a kind deed to someone who's been irritating you. There are endless opportunities!

We must not give up but continue on and doing so all for love of Jesus, because where there is love, the burden becomes light, the task easy.

"Our lives for the most part are made up of little things, and by these our character is to be tested...little duties carefully discharged; little temptations earnestly resisted with the strength God supplies; little sins crucified; these all together help to form that character which is to be described not as popular or glamorous, but as moral and noble."
~ Fulton J. Sheen

 Jesus, help me to bear patiently the trials of my daily life. Teach me to make use of the trials, the sufferings, the humiliations, that come my way, to learn to know myself better and to love God more. Amen.

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.