Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Our mission: Love

"Of course I'll hurt you. Of course you'll hurt me. Of course we will hurt each other. But this is the very condition of existence. To become spring, means accepting the risk of winter. To become presence, means accepting the risk of absence." 
- The Little Prince

It hurts to love others. When your heart cares so deeply for each and every person you know, you will get hurt. We are all called to love with all that we are, and to love each person. We are all called to have a sacrificial love, like Christ's.

Sin makes getting hurt and hurting others inevitable. However, this does not mean that we should not still be there for people, give of ourselves, and love others.
Loving until it hurts, is part of becoming a saint.

Choosing to love regardless of the hurt, for the sake of the other person, and for the sake of the love of God, helps prevent the inevitable hurt. Giving of ourselves and expanding our hearts to love each person God places in our lives makes us vulnerable to being hurt. Love makes us vulnerable.

It hurts when your heart aches so much for those you love, but no one's heart aches back for you.
It hurts when love is not returned, when we are forgotten or replaced. But, don't we do this to Christ's heart at a daily basis? How lacerated His Sacred Heart must be from our lack of love for Him.
Christ loves us, even though we do not deserve it. He loves us without forcing us to love Him back. If Christ does this for us, how can we not follow His example and not only love Him in return, but love others the way He does?

Being selfish creatures, it is a constant battle to perfect our charity. Charity is not selfish, charity," not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs."(1 Cor. 13:5)
The world teaches to love only those who love us, only those who fulfill our needs or do things for us, or those who are worthy of our love. The world teaches that love shouldn't hurt or burden us. To the world, love does not require sacrifice. This is all the exact opposite of true love - the love of God.

Our hearts should model Jesus' most Sacred Heart. His heart loves each and every person with infinite love, but in return what is given? Ingratitude, forgetfulness, and indifference to mention a few. Even from souls closest to Him. He loves without counting the cost; He loves even if love is not given back in return; He loves the unworthy.

We are all called to love with a perfect love centered on Christ.
Our mission is to love.

"Teach me, O Lord, to love my neighbor even when not loved by him, to love him with no concern for my own benefit, but solely because You love me, solely to repay Your gratuitous love. Then I shall fulfill the commandment of the law: to love You above all things, and my neighbor as myself." 
- St. Catherine of Siena 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

~ Autumn Bliss ~

Autumn is one of my favorite seasons, a close second to summer.
I simply love sweater weather. Layering, tights, boots, gloves, warm hats, and my one weakness - scarves. You can almost always catch me wearing a scarf during this season. Not only is the fashion extremely cute and classy, but I can be modest without burning up. I love bundling up. Don't get me started on the yummy cider and donuts, my mom's beloved pumpkin rolls, fun filled cidermill trips, pumpkin carving, hot cups of tea, and warm bonfires with star filled nights, unless you want to witness the longest post in blog history.
I love it all.

Aside from the fashion and other delights of autumn, I am captivated by the immense beauty of the vibrant golden nature that surrounds me. Going on walks, breathing in the crisp fall air and the scent of the changing season, brings so much peace and strengthens my spirit. As I watch the autumn season unfold and lay in the fallen leaves, it is impossible for my mind not to want to think deeply about life and ponder on different ideas and thoughts.

Last fall, I wrote a close friend whom I greatly admire, my perception or "analogy "of fall. My simple thoughts on how I interpret fall on a deeper level. My friend told me I should share what I wrote on my blog. I do not usually keep rough drafts of my letters, so I really can't remember each point I made before. Hopefully I haven't forgotten the main points or rewritten it entirely. Regardless, I will do my best to remember what I wrote last year, and share my new thoughts to my "analogy". 

When I watch the trees and see the progression of the season, I cannot help but think of how it represents my beautiful Catholic Faith and the movement and progression of the human soul.

I see the trees as representing the soul of a human person. (I know, weird. Bear with me)

In the season of fall, the trees prepare for the long cold season of winter. The progression of fall represents the growth of maturity in the soul. At the peak of fall, all of the trees are breathtakingly beautiful, at their most glorious moment of the season. Bright oranges, deep reds, and radiant golds can be seen as far as the eye can see. Then, shortly after, they begin to lose their crowning glory, leaf by leaf. The trees slowly begin to lose what they are most proud of, what they love most. In order to make it through the winter season, the trees must let go of their leaves. The faith and love of the soul is tested by God. They go through a period of time bearing the cold, yet in the spring, they bring forth new life - new leaves. They are made anew again.

I am reminded of the virtue of humility as I watch each leaf fall to the ground. As our souls grow closer to God, it is made apparent just how much it is not about ourselves. It is all about loving God entirely, loving others, and doing His will in our lives. Not about us. The trees during autumn always remind me how crucial it is that we die of ourselves. Only when we lay down our lives and give all that we are to God, will He be able to work through us. Only when we lay down our lives for Him, will we find them. This is difficult, and it can sometimes be as cold as winter. But after the hard, frigid and lonely season of winter passes, we are made anew in Christ in the spring.

There will be times when God asks us to let go of everything, what makes our soul beautiful, what makes us happy, or everything perfect in our lives, it is the only way He can transform us into who He wishes for us to be. Autumn always reminds me of the season of transformation our souls experience many times as they travel closer to God. The trees let go of each leaf and bear the winter season without their glorious crowns, trusting in God's love.

The trees display perfect abandonment of self-love and sacrifice of the will and desires as they face the cold winter. But they are not abandoned. After the darkness and cold of winter, they are transformed and made even more beautiful again.

Humility, love, and trust. A beautiful thing.

The trees also remind me of sin in the soul. The trees can also represent what happens to the soul when sin latches on. When the soul becomes dark with sin, we lose the beauty of grace in our soul. Each sin is like losing a radiant leaf. The trees during winter represent the soul in sin, a tree having lost all its leaves, is cold, lacking life, and desolate. Once the soul repents, and receives forgiveness it has life again. The tree is restored and by the grace of God sprouts new beautiful leaves. 

I can't help but feel as though I am missing something... Have had quite the scatter-brain lately! If I have, oh well. Hopefully you have enjoyed these thoughts, and I hope they have impacted you in some way.

When your winter season closes in, remember you are not alone, God is shaping your soul to transform you into a beautiful new creation. Don't let go of Him. 

Con amore in Cristo,


Saturday, November 1, 2014

~ My Heart Finds Rest Only In Thee O Lord ~

"Let us therefore give ourselves to God with a great desire to begin to live thus, and beg Him to destroy in us the life of the world of sin, and to establish His life within us."
- St. John Eudes

Giving ourselves fully to God is sometimes extremely difficult. Actually, maybe always extremely difficult. It is so hard to remove ourselves from our self-love, and rather love God with our whole hearts and our whole being. It is a daily choice we each have to make in order to grow closer to Him. Are you going to choose to live your life loving God with all that you are, or are you going to choose to love God only as much as you think you need to without having to give up your entire will and give Him all of your love? Sometimes doing God's will means letting go of what makes you happy, or bringing to an end what He previously called you to, in order to bring you to the next path He asks you to take. No matter how hard or painful it is to do His will, it will always be followed by a happiness and joy that comes with uniting our wills to the Holy Will of God. Giving our entire lives to God means picking a part our will day by day in order to replace it with the will of God. This is the only way to grow closer and closer to Him, and the only way to reach eternal life with Him. 

On my adoration day this past week, it was simply a downer day. There was a lot on my mind and heart and I just could not wait for later in the night when I could finally work it out with God. Not long after I made it into the chapel, I couldn't ignore it any longer. I broke down and told God that I was not happy. The tears couldn't be kept from falling. (The poor guys on both sides of me!) I told Jesus I was not happy, and that my heart hurt so much. I told Him I couldn't understand why I was so unhappy, considering how I had been trying to do His will. An explanation was needed.
Then it hit me. 
I was not loving Him with all that I am.
I was not loving Him with every bit of my heart.
I was not loving Him with every ounce of my will.
I was not giving Him all of me.
That is why I was so unhappy.

Well, then my eyes were a waterfall... Okay, not that dramatic, but once my soul realized this, I couldn't help but cry and let the tears cleanse my soul. It was so true. I thought that if things in my life were not going the way I wanted them to, or if struggles were still struggles for me, I couldn't be as happy as I ought. But here's the thing... If I love God with all that I am, none of that matters. The only important thing is if my heart is entirely Christ's and how much love in my heart I have for Him. If my heart is full of love for God, and all I do is out of love for Him, I receive a happiness that can only come from Him - which is true happiness. This has everything to do with surrendering myself completely to God and picking up my precious, individual cross, that Christ has for me. Christ gives each of us our own unique cross(es). One of my favorite parts of The Imitation of Christ is about this topic:

"Christ: My child, as much as you can abandon your self-love, so much will you be able to enter into Me. As the longing for nothing exterior brings you peace, so does the complete surrender of your inmost self unite you with God. You must learn perfect renunciation of your will to Mine, without contradiction or complaint. Follow Me: I am the Way, and the Truth, and the life (John 14:6). Without the way, no human being can go; without the truth, no human being can know; and without life, no human being can live. I am the way you must follow, the truth you must believe, and the life you must hope for..."
-Imitation of Christ, Chap. 56 
"That we must deny ourselves and bear the cross with Christ."

Only when Christ is our way, our truth, and our life can we be truly happy. Yet, this requires complete abandonment of self-love, which includes all your will and desires. It also calls for discipline, along with giving all your love to God. Our hearts are restless; always on the quest for happiness and peace. We are constantly searching for it, but are we constantly loving God with all that we are? Every day we find ourselves placing our source of happiness in things of the world, in people, or in our own pleasures instead of in God. Yes, God places special people in our lives and gives us things, talents, and interests that make us happy, but our source of happiness does not stem from them, only from God Himself. He is the only one who can give our hearts rest in this endless quest. 
“You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in you.” 
- St. Augustine

This is a topic that I have been wanting to write about for months, and I have only scratched the surface of only one portion of it, so I hope to have posts on it in the future as well. It being All Saints Day, I thought the timing was appropriate to get the conversation rolling because one of the vital steps in the journey of becoming a saint is conforming our wills to the will of God and loving Him to our highest capacity. This is where our happiness, and ultimately our holiness is to be found. 
"We are all called to be saints, all of us; do not forget that."
-Saint Katharine Drexel

Con amore in Cristo,