Restless?

“Is there a quiet stream underneath the fluctuating affirmations and rejections of my little world? Is there a still point where my life is anchored and from which I can reach out with hope and courage and confidence?’ While realizing my growing need to step back, I knew that I could never do it alone.” Henri J.M. Nouwen, The Genesee Diary

What is spiritual growth but a series of surprising twists and turns that if paid due attention to are to lead us to our ultimate happiness? Some seemingly move forward, others stand still, and at times take a necessary step back . Yet, not to be confused with regressing, it is as if we are called upon to return to that place of remembering in preparation for what God has in store next.  And where ever we may find ourselves on the path it requires a dependence on, an anchoring as it were, to the one guiding it all.

Wanting to continually move forward, however, we often become impatient with the stillness. Seeking to bypass the lesson that we are to learn,  we may notice a restlessness in our spiritual journey. Yearning to go deeper, we feel ourselves a casual observer to the spiritual consolations and joys of those around us.  This time here is necessary to renew, mend, and recommit our will to His. And if we are ever to know true peace we must make peace with the still times in life.

Having said this, I like Nouwen had been feeling a number of paradoxes in my life. While remarking that work had kept me busy, I hadn’t been able to adequately enjoy down time. Even though professionally enjoying many consolations, I fixated on the unavoidable mistakes. Was God also asking me to talk less ‘about God and more with him’? Had my own witness become stale, and my prayers rote? My soul needed a bit of respite.

“Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.” Augustine

And who better to enter into such respite with than the source of all our true happiness and longing. For happiness is more than a fleeting feeling it is resting one’s true self in the all encompassing presence of God. It is to share, even in small ways, in the love and life of God until the day we are called to meet face to face.

Finding a spot in Adoration, I at last nestle myself in a place of humble longing. Desiring to draw close, I submit all of my fears and failures, my joys and successes, my concerns and those of others. I open my heart for God to walk through, and where he gently shows, I pause to reconsider. Here, I am his child and here my soul recognizes who I was created to be. And very quickly, I begin to shed the praise and criticism of others. And if there are places where forgiveness is needed, or trials and challenges intended to grow us are to be offered- may it find its satisfaction.

For, if our Christian life is to be meaningful, it must find its ultimate meaning and satisfaction in what God desires for us. Otherwise, we may very readily find ourselves tossed by the opinions and daily events in life. Are you restless in your walk with God today? Consider spending some alone time with God, allowing him to prioritize your life and show you your value in his eyes.

Peace,

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To Honor the Innocents

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“When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:

 “A voice is heard in Ramah,
weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.”                         Matthew 2:16-18

 As Augustine noted these “infant martyr flowers”; they were the Church’s first blossoms, matured by the frost of persecution during the cold winter of unbelief”. In remembering them, I cannot help but also be reminded of the countless martyrs that have given their lives long after them.

This Christmas,Pope Francis spoke to the “brutal acts of terrorism, particularly the recent massacres which took place in Egyptian airspace, in Beirut, Paris, Bamako and Tunis. These are “our martyrs of today,” those brothers and sisters, he said, “who in many parts of the world are being persecuted for their faith…”

ABC News on Dec. 23, 2015 reports that Iraq’s Christian population has dropped from 1.3 million people in the 1997 census to about 650,000 now. Lebanon, who has taken on many of Syria’s refugees, is an area where according to the NY Times Christians in 1925 constituted 85% of the population now constitute less than a quarter. The recent bombings in Beruit and Paris, as well as the attacks in Mali, and Tunisia this November show little regard for unarmed or innocent citizens.

What can we do?

Pray and…work – with courage towards promoting change, real substantive change. This means having a goal that involves more than just eliminating Isis, for as history has proven, there are others that will merely step into their place. Looking at the underlying problems of poverty, unstable governments with recruitment of child soldiers, not to mention human and drug trafficking we see that there is fertile ground for violence. Are we ready not just to fight but to witness God kingdom in the world? Are we prepared to get to the work of education, justice and peace?  Then, there is also a true need for dialogue, and reconciliation.

My mom, a high school math teacher in a very poor area of the south, understood this well. Her classes consisted of students who others had already given up on, those who were absent due to fights, arrests, drugs or early pregnancies. An expected typical day or life for a student, or child was not typical for them. Many were living the only life they knew, in cycles of violence, dependence and poverty where few had ever taken an interest in their potential. That is, before my mom. Meeting with students before and after school to mentor, she also created homework and make up for long extended absences and most importantly…let them know she cared. Years later, on innumerable occasions she would be stopped by a former student, all grown up who would tell her the difference she truly had made in their life.

Though a seemingly small step, these are the actions that each of us can do in promoting peace, and justice in our communities, in living out our faith with courage. In serving as spiritual mothers and fathers we too can nurture the children we encounter and give voice to Holy Innocents whose lives ended too soon.

Peace,

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Wit & Wisdom: Waiting

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Psalm 130:5-6 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.

This Advent, I begin again by  asking myself a seemingly simple question.. What am I truly waiting for? And while expectantly awaiting the answer, there are, of course,  a myriad of other questions that the very posing of this question precipitates.

Where am I seeking God today and what is it that which fuels my desire in life?

 Am I doing all that is needed to prepare my heart and the place for that which I desire?

So, there is, I believe, an active component to waiting, filled with hope and promise. As well as, the invitation to respond by encountering the present moment-giving our fullest attention to our God who meets us in the midst of our everyday lives.

In the words of the saints and perhaps soon to be saints..

1. Advent is a time of waiting, of expectation, of silence. Waiting for our Lord to be born. A pregnant woman is so happy, so content. She lives in such a garment of silence, and it is as though she were listening to hear the stir of life within her. One always hears that stirring compared to the rustling of a bird in the hand. But the intentness which which one awaits such stirring is like nothing so much as a blanket of silence. – Dorothy Day

2. Grant me, O Lord my God, a mind to know you, a heart to seek you, wisdom to find you, conduct pleasing to you, faithful perseverance in waiting for you, and a hope of finally embracing you.
St. Thomas Aquinas

3. Waiting is essential to the spiritual life. But waiting as a disciple of Jesus is not an empty waiting. It is a waiting with a promise in our hearts that makes already present what we are waiting for… Waiting for God is an active, alert — yes, joyful — waiting. -Fr. Henri Nouwen

4. Our hearts were made for You, O Lord, and they are restless until they rest in You.”  St. Augustine of Hippo

5. If we really want prayer, we’ll have to give it time. We must slow down to a human tempo and we’ll begin to have time to listen. And as soon as we listen to what’s going on, things will begin to take shape by themselves….The best way to pray is: Stop. Let prayer pray within you, whether you know it or not.” Thomas Merton

6. If you want God to hear your prayers, hear the voice of the poor. If you wish God to anticipate your wants, provide those of the needy without waiting for them to ask you. Especially anticipate the needs of those who are ashamed to beg. To make them ask for alms is to make them buy it. – St. Thomas of Villanova

—–God waiting for us-

7. When you approach the tabernacle remember that he has been waiting for you for twenty centuries.” – St. Josemaria Escriva

8. He loves, He hopes, He waits. If He came down on our altars on certain days only, some sinner, on being moved to repentance, might have to look for Him, and not finding Him, might have to wait. Our Lord prefers to wait Himself for the sinner for years rather than keep him waiting one instant. -St. Julian Peter Eymard

9. No one is more patient than God our Father, that no one is more understanding and willing to wait. He always invites us to take a step forward, but does not demand a full response if we are not yet ready. He simply asks that we sincerely look at our life and present ourselves honestly before him, and that we be willing to continue to grow, asking from him what we ourselves cannot as yet achieve.”                                                 -Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis

10. The devil may try to use the hurts of life, and sometimes our own mistakes to make you feel it is impossible that Jesus really loves you, is really cleaving to you. This is a danger for all of us, and so sad, because it is completely the opposite of what Jesus is really wanting, waiting to tell you…he loves you always, even when you don’t feel worthy.

-Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

Peace,

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