Category Archives: Neat Things I Didn’t Author

Give Everything to God

I admit it freely; I have fallen behind on many things that I wanted to do for Lent, but somehow, this is okay. It is okay because I realized that it isn’t a race to the finish. None of this is “over” once Easter Sunday dawns. Until God calls me home, I will always need work. I will always need to keep striving toward conforming my heart to Jesus’s heart.

This morning, I worked on reading the backlog of things in my e-mail inbox, including the messages from Saints in the Making University. The story, “The Pearl Necklace” really struck me today.

There once was a young girl who was in the check out line with her mother. It was then that she saw it; a beautiful plastic pearl necklace! She begged her mother to buy it for her, but her mother told her that if she really wanted it she would have to earn the $1.47 herself. Her mother told her that she could help with some chores around the house to earn a few bright shiny pennies, and reminded her that her birthday was coming up soon and she would surely get a new crisp dollar bill in the birthday card from her grandmother.

So the little girl worked very hard over the next few weeks and saved up all her earnings. She asked her neighbors if she could rake their leaves for ten cents and she did extra chores around the house. One day, she finally had enough money to buy the treasured necklace. She was so happy when her mom took her to the store to buy her necklace and she got to pay the woman at the check out with her very own hard earned money. The small girl wore her necklace everywhere. It made her feel so beautiful and grown up!

Now every night the little girl’s Daddy would read her a bedtime story, say nighttime prayers with her, and put her to sleep. But one night when the little girl’s Daddy was putting her to sleep he asked her a question. He asked, “Do you love me?” She replied, “Daddy, you know I love you more than anything!” Then he asked her if he could have her pearl necklace. “Oh Daddy,” said the little girl. “I can’t give you my necklace. I love it so much and it is so beautiful. But you can have my pink unicorn, the one I got for my birthday.” “That’s ok,” He said. “Daddy loves you, darling. Goodnight.” And he kissed her gently on the forehead as he left. Every night the loving father would patiently ask his daughter for the dime store necklace and every night she would refuse, offering one of her many other toys. But her father would always say it was ok, tell her how much he loved her and give her a good night kiss ever so gently on the forehead before leaving.

Then one night when her Daddy came in to put her to sleep he noticed that his little girl was crying. “What is wrong, honey?” He asked. With tears streaming down her cheeks she held out her tiny hand, and dropped her deeply treasured necklace into her father’s hand. “Here, Daddy.” She said, her voice shaking. “You can have my necklace.” To her surprise, her Father pulled out a beautiful velvet box and gave it to her. When she opened it, a beautiful genuine pearl necklace was revealed. You see, her father was just waiting for his daughter to let go of the plastic necklace, so he could reveal the real treasure he had in store for her.

What is your pearl necklace? What in this world are you so afraid to let go of? Your Father’s gifts for you are so much better. Let go of the counterfeits so your Father can give you the real thing. –Author Unknown (Reprinted with permission)

I think, especially for me, it is these things which are really hard to stop clinging to. It’s easy to give up sinful things. (Okay, no, it is not, but at least rationally, you can see *why* you should give them up.) It’s much harder to give up something which is good and not apparently causing you to sin. Our vision is narrow, and we can’t see beyond the good to the potential greater good which God is offering to us. Instead of trusting that God is good and wants the best for us, we question why. “Why would God want to take this good thing away from me?” We don’t understand and so we hold back from God. We don’t freely give everything that we have and that we are back to Him.

I have a couple things that I cling to like this. God may not be calling me to give them up, but I have to prepare my heart and my will for the possibility that He might at some time in the future. I have to be willing to completely abandon myself to His will. And this is a struggle — at least it is for me.

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In his book, “The Gift of Faith,” Fr. Dajczer also speaks of the necessity of abandoning ourselves to God’s will. Do you *really* have faith in the goodness and generosity of God? We must trust Him in all things, great and small. This is a radical kind of faith and trust, and it is not come by easily. But, then, faith is not meant to be easy. It is wrung from us, drop by drop, collected and offered back to the Father as a complete gift of self. It is the very difficulty and completeness of the offering which makes it such a beautiful and precious gift. The best image that I have for this is the blood that Jesus sweat during His agony in the garden of Gethsemane. He was perfectly obedient to the Father and had perfect trust in Him, yet clearly it cost Him a great deal to endure what He endured for our sake. And this is why His gift to us — of His entire self, being poured out drop by drop in the garden, at the pillar, and on the cross — is such an incredible gift. And also why our response needs to be so great in return.

Cross-posted to OLGCBlog.com.

Batter My Heart

This was the assigned reading for Sunday for my Lenten boot camp. One week in and I’m already falling behind. *sigh* But the point is continual progress. I’m going to fall a lot more, but if I can pick myself up and keep going, then I’m going to count it as a win. 🙂

Batter my heart, three person’d God; for, you
As yet but knocke, breathe, shine, and seeke to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow mee,’and bend
Your force, to breake, blowe, burn and make me new.
I, like an usurpt towne, to’another due, 5
Labour to’admit you, but Oh, to no end,
Reason your viceroy in mee, mee should defend,
But is captiv’d, and proves weake or untrue.
Yet dearely’I love you,’and would be loved faine,
But am betroth’d unto your enemie: 10
Divorce mee,’untie, or breake that knot againe;
Take mee to you, imprison mee, for I
Except you’enthrall mee, never shall be free,
Nor ever chast, except you ravish mee. — John Donne

I’m not the greatest at poetry. I can read it and find a meaning for myself, but I’m never quite sure if that’s the meaning that the author intended or not. What I take from this is that the narrator (and, by analogy, us) is caught in a passionate, interior struggle between his own corrupt desires, and his desire to enter into the Divine Life. He is begging God to do violence to his deformed heart, to wrest him away from the Evil One.

I love the intensity, the emotion, and the passion of this piece. And I resemble him who “proves weake or untrue” all too often.

Dear Lord, please batter my heart with Your love for me and abduct me away from the one who has me in chains. Break me down and overcome me with the persistence of the ocean waves, until I — your creature who is dust — submits and is formed into your image as the sand submits to the violence of the sea and the ugly disruption of the day’s is washed away, leaving a pristine beach at dawn.

Pristine Beach1

In Christ, We Suffered Temptation

This has been sitting in my e-mail inbox for a few days, sent to me by one of my Dads. I finally read it today, and find it a great passage to reflect upon. Trial and suffering are integral aspects to a truly Christian life. Thanks be to God that He gives us the grace to endure and to image Him in our afflictions.

In Christ we suffered temptation, and in him we overcame the Devil
Hear, O God, my petition, listen to my prayer. Who is speaking? An individual, it seems. See if it is an individual: I cried out to you from the ends of the earth while my heart was in anguish. Now it is no longer one person; rather, it is one in the sense that Christ is one, and we are all his members. What single individual can cry from the ends of the earth? The one who cries from the ends of the earth is none other than the Son’s inheritance. It was said to him: Ask of me, and I shall give you the nations as your inheritance, and the ends of the earth as your possession. This possession of Christ, this inheritance of Christ, this body of Christ, this one Church of Christ, this unity that we are, cries from the ends of the earth. What does it cry? What I said before: Hear, O God, my petition, listen to my prayer; I cried out to you from the ends of the earth.’ That is, I made this cry to you from the ends of the earth; that is, on all sides.

Why did I make this cry? While my heart was in anguish. The speaker shows that he is present among all the nations of the earth in a condition, not of exalted glory but of severe trial.

Our pilgrimage on earth cannot be exempt from trial. We progress by means of trial. No one knows himself except through trial, or receives a crown except after victory, or strives except against an enemy or temptations.

The one who cries from the ends of the earth is in anguish, but is not left on his own. Christ chose to foreshadow us, who are his body, by means of his body, in which he has died, risen and ascended into heaven, so that the members of his body may hope to follow where their head has gone before.

He made us one with him when he chose to be tempted by Satan. We have heard in the gospel how the Lord Jesus Christ was tempted by the devil in the wilderness. Certainly Christ was tempted by the devil. In Christ you were tempted, for Christ received his flesh from your nature, but by his own power gained salvation for you; he suffered death in your nature, but by his own power gained glory for you; therefore, he suffered temptation in your nature, but by his own power gained victory for you.

If in Christ we have been tempted, in him we overcome the devil. Do you think only of Christ’s temptations and fail to think of his victory? See yourself as tempted in him, and see yourself as victorious in him. He could have kept the devil from himself; but if he were not tempted he could not teach you how to triumph over temptation. — St. Augustine

Can Someone Tell Me…?

I’m currently reading William May’s, “Marriage: The Rock on Which the Family is Built,” and I must note that I’m pretty stupid as regards the Theology of the Body, although I read a bunch of it and continually struggle to understand ever more.

Today’s challenge is in a couple of phrases that May seems to like to repeat a lot:

Men give in a receiving sort of way.
Women receive in a giving sort of way.

Can anyone explain these to me? Thanks!

Effects of Holy Communion

In his book, “With Us Today: On the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist,” Fr. Hardon gives us 9 effects of Holy Communion produced in one who receives in a state of grace:

  1. Sustenance of Supernatural Life
  2. Promise of Bodily Resurrection from the Dead
  3. Remission of Venial Sins
  4. Protection Against Future Sins
  5. Curbs the Urges of Concupiscence
  6. Spiritual Joy
  7. Perseverance in Grace
  8. Growth in Supernatural Life
  9. Remission of Sin

Now, can anyone truly say that they get nothing out of Mass?  And also, reasons why you want to make sure you are in a state of grace if you are to receive the Body and Blood of Christ.

Pope Francis’s Grandmother’s Creed

This was written to Pope Francis in honor of his ordination by his grandmother. It is very beautiful and worthy of some reflection, perhaps particularly during a moment of silence before the tabernacle as we prepare ourselves for Lent, which is not too far away.

May these, my grandchildren, to whom I gave the best my heart has to offer, lead long and happy lives, but if one day hardship, illness, or the loss of a loved one should fill them with grief, may they remember that one sigh directed to the tabernacle, home to the greatest and most august martyr, and a glance toward Mary at the foot of the cross, may cause a soothing drop to fall on the deepest and most painful of wounds.
— Pope Francis: His Life in His Own Words

Pope Francis on Prayer

In your opinion, what should the experience of prayer be like?

In my view, prayer should somehow be an experience of giving way, of surrendering, where our entire being enters into the presence of God. It is there where a dialogue happens, the listening, the transformation. Look to God, but above all feel looked at by God.

— Pope Francis: His Life in His Own Words

You Are Never Alone!

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I feel alone sometimes.

It sucks.

I get depressed and frustrated and upset. I cry and I get into a funk. I become less charitable and more withdrawn.

I don’t feel this way at the moment, but it wasn’t all that long ago that I did, and I know that I will feel this way again in the future.

What does one do?

A good thing is to recognize that feelings do not equal reality.

Fr. Clement, one of our associate pastors at OLGC, wrote a great article in this weekend’s bulletin that speaks so well to this:

One of the first fiery darts that the enemy of our salvation and joy fires at us is the idea or the “feeling” of being alone. When we don’t recognize from whom this is coming, even more fiery darts are sent our way: nobody understands; nobody cares; does it even matter what I do or don’t do?; I’m such a loser; I’m such a failure!, etc…

With all of these darts in us, is it a surprise that we begin to limp along the path that Jesus shows us, or even, that we lose sight of the path that Jesus bids us to walk on?

Our Lord and Savior in Chapter 18 of the Gospel according to St. Matthew, reveals to us that we are never alone: we have at our side an angel and this angel beholds the countenance of our loving Father in heaven. Just as the angels were called upon by the Father to assist Jesus throughout His life, our loving Father bids our angel to watch over us, to protect us, to lead us and to guide us.

This contrast between our fickle feelings and what Jesus reveals about the truth of our lives is helpful in our growth in maturity in Christ. We recognize that our feelings, although neither right nor wrong, can and do mislead us, especially if we blindly follow or act upon them. The fact that “I feel alone” doesn’t mean I’m a bad person, but, at the same time, IT’S NOT TRUE! We ought not to act upon that feeling; we ought not allow it to damper or influence our day or behavior.

Let us learn to turn to our beloved guardian angel for guidance and protection in those moments. Let us speak to our guardian angel: “Speak to me about our loving Father”; “Open my eyes to Jesus’ presence in my life right now; open my ears to hear the sweetness of His voice!”

What a great reminder! The Holy Spirit is always with us, but so too is our very own guardian angel, whose only job is me! And a much needed reminder to pray. Pray always. In the good times, the happy times, the sad times and the confusing times.

Sometimes It’s the Small Things

Agony in the Garden

I can study the Catechism or Scripture, but sometimes it’s just a phrase or sentence in random places that I reflect upon the most. A friend regularly sends out different reflections throughout the week and, to be honest, I don’t read through them all. Today, however, I did read (skim) through it and this stood out for me:

God the Son, in your eyes, I am like a poor, helpless sheep whom you gently pick up and carry when I’m worn out from my sins…. I am completely unworthy of your love, but so grateful to find rest and a true home in you. Lord, grant me a generous heart.

Yes. Please.

Be a Sheep

Pretty Sheep - Day 41/365

If we are sheep, we overcome;
if wolves, we are overcome

As long as we are sheep, we overcome and, though surrounded by countless wolves, we emerge victorious; but if we turn into wolves, we are overcome, for we lose the shepherd’s help. He, after all, feeds the sheep not wolves, and will abandon you if you do not let him show his power in you.

What he says is this: “Do not be upset that, as I send you out among the wolves, I bid you be as sheep and doves. I could have managed things quite differently and sent you, not to suffer evil nor to yield like sheep to the wolves, but to be fiercer than lions. But the way I have chosen is right. It will bring you greater praise and at the same time manifest my power.” That is what he told Paul: My grace is enough for you, for in weakness my power is made perfect. “I intend,” he says, “to deal in the same way with you.” For, when he says, I am sending you out like sheep, he implies: “But do not therefore lose heart, for I know and am certain that no one will be able to overcome you.”

The Lord, however, does want them to contribute something, lest everything seem to be the work of grace, and they seem to win their reward without deserving it. Therefore he adds: You must be clever as snakes and innocent as doves. But, they may object, what good is our cleverness amid so many dangers? How can we be clever when tossed about by so many waves? However great the cleverness of the sheep as he stands among the wolves – so many wolves! – what can it accomplish? However great the innocence of the dove, what good does it do him, with so many hawks swooping upon him? To all this I say: Cleverness and innocence admittedly do these irrational creatures no good, but they can help you greatly.

What cleverness is the Lord requiring here? The cleverness of a snake. A snake will surrender everything and will put up no great resistance even if its body is being cut in pieces, provided it can save its head. So you, the Lord is saying, must surrender everything but your faith: money, body, even life itself. For faith is the head and the root; keep that, and though you lose all else, you will get it back in abundance. The Lord therefore counselled the disciples to be not simply clever or innocent; rather he joined the two qualities so that they become a genuine virtue. He insisted on the cleverness of the snake so that deadly wounds might be avoided, and he insisted on the innocence of the dove so that revenge might not be taken on those who injure or lay traps for you. Cleverness is useless without innocence.

Do not believe that this precept is beyond your power. More than anyone else, the Lord knows the true natures of created things; he knows that moderation, not a fierce defence, beats back a fierce attack.

— A homily by St. John Chrysostom
H/T to Steve for sending it to me.
Photo credit to Olivia Bell Photography