Wit & Wisdom: Sacrifice

“It is by the apostolic preaching of the Gospel that the people of God is called together and gathered so that all who belong to this people, sanctified as they are by the Holy Spirit, may offer themselves ‘a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God’.”

Vatican II, Presbyterorum ordinis, 2

With Lent fast approaching, this word sacrifice frequently looms and weighs upon our hearts as something undesired or sought after and yet something we are being asked to pursue. Could it be that we are working with a poor understanding of the rich true meaning of what it is to sacrifice? First as Christ has shown, and St. Paul reiterates, a sacrifice isn’t static or dead. In fact, rather than as an action performed it is more of a state of being. We are to be a ‘living sacrifice’, a testament to the continual love we have come to know as followers of Christ.

So, then we are brought to the heart of the matter. Sacrifice flows out of love. One cannot truly offer sacrifice without having experienced love otherwise it becomes a complaint ridden, shallow and inadequate substitute. It also entails giving of ourselves at a cost- from our need rather than our surplus. Just like the widow’s might, this is what it is to give and witness love.

As a young mom, I remember the countless sleepless nights- of feedings and changings, of fevers and nightmares, as well as, the meager availability of sleep and time. Yet, I cannot imagine making any other choice, than to give all that I am for the life and welfare of this great love entrusted to me. Sacrifice then also carries with it gratitude and responsibility. It is a graced notion of incorporation, for the needs of others can then remarkably become our own.

This Lent, take a moment to think of the profoundly beautiful invitation to sacrifice, to be a living witness to the love of a Father, the gift of the Son and of the Spirit’s renewal of hearts and lives.

Am I seeking to be transformed this Lent?

Is my sacrifice deep and life affirming? If not, what might God be asking me to do differently?

724f2-ashwednesdaycross“Let us remember that love lives through sacrifice and is nourished by giving…Without sacrifice there is no love.” –Maximillian Kolbe

724f2-ashwednesdaycross“True love grows by sacrifice and the more thoroughly the soul rejects natural satisfaction the stronger and more detached its tenderness becomes…”           –Teresa of Avila

724f2-ashwednesdaycross“Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word; always doing the smallest right and doing it all for love.”

 ― Thérèse de Lisieux

724f2-ashwednesdaycross“Jesus says; ‘My daughter, I want to instruct you on how you are to rescue souls through sacrifice and prayer. You will save more souls through prayer and suffering than will a missionary through his teachings and sermons alone. I want to see you as a sacrifice of living love, which only then carries weight before Me… And great will be your power for whomever you intercede. Outwardly, your sacrifice must look like this: silent, hidden, permeated with love, imbued with prayer.”

– Diary of Saint Faustina

724f2-ashwednesdaycross“If God sends you many sufferings, it is a sign that He has great plans for you and certainly wants to make you a saint. And if you wish to become a great saint, entreat Him yourself to give you much opportunity for suffering; for there is no wood better to kindle the fire of holy love than the wood of the cross, which Christ used for His own great sacrifice of boundless charity.”-St. Ignatius Loyola

724f2-ashwednesdaycross“A sacrifice to be real must cost, must hurt, must empty ourselves. The fruit of silence is prayer, the fruit of prayer is faith, the fruit of faith is love, the fruit of love is service, the fruit of service is peace.”- Mother Teresa

724f2-ashwednesdaycross“Those who are willing to lose their own consolation for their neighbors’ welfare receive and gain me and their neighbors…and so they enjoy the graciousness of my charity at all times. […] Then she must love her neighbors with such affection that she would bear any pain of torment to win them the life of grace, ready to die a thousand deaths, if that were possible, for their salvation. And all her material possessions are at the service of her neighbors’ physical needs.” –Saint Catherine of Sienna

724f2-ashwednesdaycross“If we love each other enough, we will bear with each other’s faults and burdens.
If we love enough, we are going to light a fire in the hearts of others. And it is love that will burn out the sins and hatreds that sadden us. It is love that will make us want to do great things for each other. No sacrifice and no suffering will then seem too much.”       –Dorothy Day

724f2-ashwednesdaycross“Once we come to realize how much God has given us, a life of self-sacrifice, of working for him and for others, becomes a privileged way of responding to his great love.”

Pope Francis

724f2-ashwednesdaycross“Love Jesus, love Him very much, but to do this, be ready to love sacrifice more”. –Padre Pio

Peace,

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Worth Revisiting: Embracing Advent

As  Pope Francis opened the year of mercy, it is a time to mark our conscious and concerted effort to be a continual witness of God’s mercy in the world. This begins, as he notes, for each of us with our daily conversion of heart, a turning towards Christ and an acceptance of the love and mercy that is available for all. We are to then share and radiate this mercy that we have been given to all those we encounter. Why wait? Today is the day..

This Advent season, I find myself disenchanted with the stores, and the constant promotion of items to be bought in order to win smiles and love. Some years are like that we say to ourselves, and yet I know that there is something much profound at work. Searching, I recognize that while society hasn’t necessarily changed, I have.

The other day, I took a moment with a local homeless man just to talk. As he stood there, leaning uncomfortably against my church, I could not pass him by. That is, without sharing a smile and asking him how he was doing. Even from a distance, I noticed that the cold weather had left his skin and lips weathered, and reddened.  I suddenly realized that I had come prepared. For, inside my car were a new pair of tube socks with lotion, wipes, chap stick, toothbrush and toothpaste enclosed. Gladly, but a bit surprised, he accepted the gift.

Examples of items to include in a care kit..

This morning on my way to take my son to school again I saw him, with a huge smile on his face walking with a couple of other men. What a gift he had given me to see him enjoying a bit of happiness and company. The homeless life can be so very isolating, for mental illness and addictions have often served to distance them from relationships and even recognition. In our hurry and perhaps even fearful, we are accustomed to look straight ahead towards our destination.

Where are our eyes focused this Advent? Upwards toward heaven, forward in completing the day’s events, or all around seeking God in everything? Are we, as Mother Teresa observed, “seeing and adoring the presence of Jesus, especially in the lowly appearance of bread, and in the distressing disguise of the poor”?  [1] Times have been difficult in my suburban community, and many more families are either finding themselves cutting back, overextended, or without.  Yet, while we can’t do or be everything to everyone we can greet, love, and support one another in whatever way we can. Today, an invitation was extended for more volunteers at our parish food pantry in order to serve more people, and provide rest for regular helpers. Maybe an hour this Advent season is a gift you too can give.

How are our hearts this Advent? If we are serious about preparing for Christ’s coming, it’s time now to think about the condition of our hearts. Are we hardened by our own circumstances, and the pitfalls we have found ourselves in? Where are my thoughts this Advent? Trusting the path and journey we are on isn’t easy to do alone, for the temptation is to seek control.

Prayer and the Eucharist– are for me the most transforming corrections for my squinted vision, stiffening heart,  and human tendencies to control my world.  In quiet prayer, I can silence the noise and hear Jesus’ voice once again. All my pretences fall away, as I stand like a child at his feet. Feeling his embrace, my heart melts and I long to stay with him. His smile reminds me who and whose I am. Created and loved I am asked to see as he does. His daughter, I am called to be ever close to him. This intimacy of the Eucharist draws me not inward but outward.

 I am called to be more than I could have ever imagined, and all that you know I can be.  “Let faith arise..open my eyes!” 

[1] Mother TeresaIn the Heart of the World: Thoughts, Stories and Prayers

Peace,

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Wit & Wisdom: Joy

 

Joy is such a desired virtue and yet so often we settle for poor substitutes or temporary glimpses of happiness. Where is joy to be found and what is required of us? Let’s take a walk with the saints and soon-to-be saints today..

The following are my top 15 quotes (in no particular order) on joy.

  1. Joy does not simply happen to us-we have to choose joy and keep choosing it everyday. Henri J. M.Nouwen
  2. ” Let us aim for joy, rather than respectability. Let us make fools of ourselves from time to time, and thus see ourselves, for a moment, as the all-wise God sees us.” — St. Philip Neri
  3. Peace begins with a smile—smile five times a day at someone you don’t really want to smile at all—do it for peace. So let us radiate peace…and extinguish in the world and in the hearts of all men all hatred and love for power. — Blessed Mother Teresa
  4. “And here the first word that I wish to say to you: joy! Do not be men and women of sadness: a Christian can never be sad! Never give way to discouragement! Ours is not a joy born of having many possessions, but of having encountered a Person: Jesus, in our midst.”― Pope FrancisThe Church of Mercy
  5. Be humble, be simple-bring joy to others.― St. Madeline Sophie Barat
  6. Joy is very infectious; therefore, be always full of joy..it is a net of love by which you can catch souls.. ― Blessed Mother Teresa
  7. The secret to happiness is to live moment by moment and to thank God for all that he in his goodness sends to us day after day. ―  Saint Gianna Beretta Molla
  8. Jesus is happy to come with us, as truth is happy to be spoken, as life to be lived, as light to be lit, as love is to be loved, as joy to be given, as peace to be spread.
    Saint Francis of Assisi
  9. “People are made for happiness. Rightly, then, you thirst for happiness. Christ has the answerto this desire of yours. But he asks you to trust him.  Pope John Paul II (World Youth Day 2002)
  10. “Joy is the most infallible sign of
    the presence of God.”
    Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
  11. How I long to find the right words to stir up enthusiasm for a new chapter of evangelization full of fervor, joy, generosity, courage, boundless love and attraction! Yet I realize that no words of encouragement will be enough unless the fire of the Holy Spirit burns in our hearts. —Pope Francis, Joy of the Gospel (261).
  12. Once, when I was praying, Jesus pervaded all my soul, darkness melted away, and I heard these words within me: You are My joy; you are My heart’s delight. From that moment I felt the Most Holy Trinity in my heart; that is to say, within myself. I felt that I was inundated with Divine light. Since then, my soul has been in intimate communion with God, like a child with its beloved Father. Saint Faustina
  13. “Laugh and grow strong” — St. Ignatius of Loyola
  14. “You will know your vocation by the joy that it brings you. You will know. You will know when it’s right.”
    ― Dorothy Day
  15. “From silly devotions and sour-faced saints, good Lord, deliver us”-Saint Teresa of Avila

With

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Worth Revisiting Wednesday: Consecration to Mary

It’s Worth Revisiting Wednesday! A place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link-up with fellow bloggers! Co-Hosted with Allison Gingras at Reconciled To You.

As I will be on air Friday chatting about “Saints and Sinners” as part of An Engaging Faith for Real Life Radio, I thought that this would be an apt post to revisit since two of these saints have also been consecrated to Mary. If you haven’t considered this retreat before, there are so many amazing graces to be found in becoming less dependent on ourselves, and to lean more on Mary to lovingly guide us to Christ through humility and submission to God’s will.


Mid Retreat Reflections: Consecration to Mary.

Familiar with Louis de Montfort’s treatise on Mary, I have thoroughly enjoyed Gaitley’s use of modern saint stories that bear vivid witness to lives devoted to Marian consecration. Here we follow St. Maximillian Kolbe, Blessed Mother Teresa and St. JP II. who also had devoted themselves to Mary to glimpse how that was manifested in the course of their everyday.

As a convert to Catholicism, I began this path of understanding and growing in Mary a little more than 20 years ago. Still, it is this later discovery that has prompted a desire to fully seek who Mary is in the life of Christ, the life of the Church and quite personally for me. Oh, how very much I still have to learn!

This retreat is said to be undertaken with ‘fire in one’s heart’ with generosity and desire. Where we lack these things, the Holy Spirit, Mary and the saints are there to lovingly guide and support us.

1. “Doing the Lord’s work does not always turn out according to our plans.”//This is none more evidenced than in the lives of the saints who were often redirected in their efforts to serve. For me, it speaks to the need to let go of the outcome and instead to seek God’s will and guidance in every instance of my desire to serve. Many times, I may never know the results of the work begun.

2. Because of sin, there is a great need to continually renew our baptismal promises and recommit our lives to Christ.// Mary’s life is a beautiful witness to a life fully committed to God’s will, and devoted to the heart of Christ- she is there to help us daily to honor our own promises.

3. Give Mary our prayers, sacrifices and gifts to distribute to those who need it most.// Initially, this was difficult for me to grasp. If I have been asked to pray specifically for someone, how can I let go of who my prayer’s intention is for? Because our efforts are not lost but she “augments, increases and purifies the spiritual gifts we give her”. Moreover, it isn’t that we cannot pray for those we love we just let go of the “final say”.

4. Why did Mary call herself the Immaculate Conception at Lourdes and not rather I am Immaculately Conceived?// I had never given this much thought before and yet much like St. Kolbe I was now enthralled with the distinction. As the spouse of the Holy Spirit she had in fact taken the name of the One who creates, sustains, and renews the face of the earth- the uncreated Immaculate Conception. Born without original sin, Mary also knows within her the Holy Spirit as “uncreated Love” which bears divine fruit within her womb in Jesus.

5. W+ w =S. In short, when we seek to unite God’s will with our own it is then we are led to sanctity or holiness.// Following God’s will is difficult but when look to Mary’s beautiful example we see she is there to lead the way.

6. Every day “people give themselves over to Satan to be possessed by him…why can’t people give themselves over to God to become an instrument of love?// Mary implores us to not be content in our own salvation, but to lead others, indeed the entire world, to conversion and to the love of Christ.

7. Christ longs, undeniably “thirsts” to be close to each one of us. “Hear your name. Not just once. Every day. If you listen with your heart you will understand”.// Moreover, this intimacy calls us to see the suffering of his children who are left lonely, hungry and uncared for. This too is a “thirst” of Christ which goes unfulfilled when we walk away from those most in need.

Father, thank you for this gift of time spent with you to seek how to better serve you in all that I do. Holy Spirit help me to conform and unite my will, as did Mary, with you. “Help me to listen (and respond) to the thirst of Jesus” 

Peace and Love,

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