Real and Pure…

pure-heart-5-1

“Love until it hurts.  Real love is always painful and it hurts: then it is real and pure” (St. Mother Teresa).  Have you ever looked at a crucifix…really looked at it?  That is loving until it hurts.  Jesus gave everything…everything…for you and me.

Moms and Dads, you know what it means to love until it hurts.  You sacrifice for your children to have a good life, you spend so much time teaching your children, and helping them to be mature, faith-filled adults.  You watch your children make mistakes and like a good parent you correct them…you are proud of them when they succeed, you support them, even if they fail…why?  Why do you do all this for your children?  Because you love.

Spiritual Fathers out there, priests, bishops, you know what it means to love until it hurts.  You bring all of your spiritual children to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  Like a good Father, you help feed our souls with the truths about God and ourselves.  You have been consecrated to offer the Mass for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.  You have been consecrated to offer the Sacraments that bring healing and reconciliation and are able to extend God’s blessing on your spiritual children.  Spiritual Fathers…you give so much of yourselves, just as Jesus gave everything for His Bride the Church.  Why?  Because you love.

Spiritual Mothers out there, consecrated women, and single women you know what it means to love until it hurts.  You who are consecrated offer the gift of yourselves laying down your life out of love for God and the Church.  You who are single, you give yourselves with a spirit of modesty and purity ready to serve the Lord in whatever way He calls you.  Women of God, you see Jesus in the eyes of the people you serve.  You bring your spiritual children to the chapel and offer them at Holy Mass.  You offer sacrifices and prayers so that souls may find Christ…you rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.  Why?  Because you love.

No matter what vocation we have been called to, we come to know something about “real love.”  When we love, it costs something: it is a self-gift.  We can experience this in day-to-day relationships as well.  Relationships are constantly changing: people move away, a loss of a loved one, and this produces pain in our hearts.  But the reason why it is painful, is because the love that you have for that person is real and true.  When our relationships change, it is a reminder that the people we love do not belong to us…they belong to the Lord.

In my experience, I have found that when relationships change that makes room for love to grow deeper and stronger.  I will give you an example.  In Religious Life, the relationship that we have with our families changes, since we join a community and become a Spouse of Christ.  We see our families a few times a year…naturally we love seeing our families.  I have found that the times I do get together with my family are precious times and we take advantage of the moments that we are able to spend together.

Even though relationships will change due to circumstances, choices, events (moving away or death) that does not mean that we stop loving.  In fact, these circumstances can help us to have a deeper love, because we learn to see who that person is in the eyes of God.  Sometimes we do not realize how much we really care about someone until we feel the absence of their presence among us.  But really they are not far away…their memory lives in you…they have become a part of you, they are closer than you think…because you love them.

As we enter our discussion on the dark night of the spirit, we realize that God is allowing the soul to be purified in order to have perfect union and likeness with Him.  We experience many things at this stage that on a natural level are difficult and painful, yet on a supernatural level are so important and beneficial for us.  The dark night of the spirit “feels” like we have been abandoned by God, however in reality God is very very close to us.  We experience pure and dark contemplation.  We can experience affliction in the soul from feeling abandoned by God.  We can feel rejected from friends and find no consolation in spiritual direction.  We can experience humiliation in our soul because we realize our poverty and misery as sinful creatures.  We experience an inability to pray and lift up our spirits to God.

Some of you might be thinking…what kind of a relationship is that?  It sounds like there is no joy or inner peace…that sounds like misery!”  However, many of the saints including St. John of the Cross would argue that this is actually a grace-filled time!

What does St. John of the Cross say about this stage of the spiritual life?

St. John of the Cross says, “when the divine light of contemplation strikes a soul not yet entirely illumined, it causes spiritual darkness.” (Bk 2. Ch.5. par.3) He gives two reasons why the divine light illuminating the soul gives rise to a dark night: “First because the height of divine wisdom which exceed the capacity of the soul.  Second because of the soul’s baseness and impurity; and on this account it is painful, afflictive, and also dark for the soul.” (Dark Night of the Soul, Bk 2. Ch. 5. par. 2)

Today we will discuss how the soul during this time feels abandoned by God.  St. John of the Cross clearly says, “Because the light of wisdom of this contemplation is very bright and pure, and the soul in which it shines is dark and impure, a person will be deeply afflicted receiving it in himself.” (Dark Night of the Soul, Bk 2. Ch. 5. par. 5).  Let’s apply an example to demonstrate what St. John is saying.  For all of you who are not morning people this example is for you!  Imagine when you were young and were still getting up to go to school.  You are in bed, all cozy and tight when suddenly mom walks in and turns on the light right in your face!  It is painful!!  Why is that painful?  You know the light needs to go on in order for you to get up for school…why is it painful?  Because you just spent 7 or 8 hours in a dark room!  So it is with the soul.  Our souls are affected by original sin…they suffer all kinds of temptations, imperfections and sins.  So, God needs to shine His light on our impure souls.  He must do this in order for us to be cleansed.

St. John of the Cross goes on to say, “When this pure light strikes in order to expel all impurity, a person feels so unclean and wretched that it seems God is against him and that he is against God.” (Dark Night of the Soul, Bk. 2. Ch. 5. Par. 5).

You might be thinking:  “Why God?”  St. John explains what God is doing in these moments: “For the hand of God does not press down or weigh upon the soul, but only touches it; and this mercifully for God’s aim is to grant it favors and not chastise it.” (Dark Night of the Soul, Bk 2. Ch. 5. Par 7.)  It is like when your mom takes a splinter out of your finger.  She says, “Honey this is just going to pinch a little.”  And then almost in shock you scream out “AAAHHH.”  But it only hurts for a time…that is the same with the dark night of the spirit, it is only painful for a time, but it is worth it in the end…!”

A Fresh New Start…

forgiveness blog

What is your first reaction when you wake up in the morning? Is it, “Good morning God!” or is it “Good God… it’s morning…five more minutes!”  Either way it’s morning…what matters I suppose is our attitude towards a new day!

But there are many times when we wake up in the morning and all of our cares and trials just zoom into our head like a racecar and we are not sure what to do with them, or where to put them.  A priest once said that we need to jump out of bed…(or roll out!) get on our knees right away, and give our day to God totally and completely!  That means we are giving to Him all our thoughts, words, actions struggles, anxieties, joys, virtues, everything…even our sins.  Yes.  God wants our sins too.  He wants us to look at Him with humble hearts and admit that we “fell in the mud” again!  It is easy for us to get discouraged and to really be hard on ourselves for the mistakes of the past.

This time of COVID has been a trial for many people.  It is forcing us to slow down and look in ourselves and see that our true worth, value and purpose is not in what we do here…it is who we are.  We are children of God…and God loves us.  The lockdown procedures of COVID are also forcing us to really examine our lives, and that can be a cause of joy, but also a cause for anxiety and stress.  We might look at the past and question: “why did I waste so much time worrying about little things?”  “Why did I treat this person that way?”  “Why didn’t I just tell the truth?”  “Why have I taken so much for granted?”…”and the big question… “Have I truly forgiven myself and others for the mistakes of the past?”

Forgiveness…  It is a reality that describes the very heart of God.  How many times in the Gospels have we heard it said: “Your sins are forgiven you.”  Remember the words of Jesus on the Cross: “Father, forgive them.  They know not what they do.”  Forgiveness is at the core of love.  You know you love when you can honestly say to another person, or even to look in the mirror and say, “I forgive you!”  Forgiveness is not an emotion…it is not a warm and fuzzy feeling we have for ourselves or another person.  Forgiveness, just like love, lies in the will.  We must choose to forgive…even if we still feel angry and hurt…we must choose to forgive.  Why?  We only need to look at a crucifix and see the answer…our Lord forgives me, I must also forgive and love.

When you have love for someone, sometimes it is hard to show it because it means that you are taking a risk.  We are worried about getting hurt…  That is understandable.  When we have been hurt, we want to close in on ourselves and put a guard over our hearts.  Yes, we do that to be safe.  The wounds go deep, but I have learned that one of the greatest ways to show love is through forgiveness.  Wounds go deep, but the merciful waters of forgiveness can cleanse that hurt and begin to heal the wound.

One day, I found the Litany of Forgiveness.  I hope that praying this Litany will help bring healing in your lives, especially during this pandemic time.  We will resume our study of the Dark Night of the Soul next week.  God Bless you and stay strong during this pandemic!!!

Litany of Forgiveness

By: William Rabior, 2001

Excerpted from Prayers for Later Years

Scrupulous Anonymous Vol 56. #2, February 2019.  Viewed this website on January 20th, 2021.

For the times I lacked compassion and concern for

others—forgive me, Lord.

For my failures to pray and take the time to talk to

you—forgive me, Lord.

For not sharing my resources: my time, talent, and

treasure—forgive me, Lord.

For holding grudges and refusing to have a forgiving

heart—forgive me, Lord.

For the times I have criticized and gossiped—forgive

me, Lord.

For not caring for myself physically, emotionally, and

spiritually—forgive me, Lord.

For the ways I misused nature and damaged the

environment—forgive me, Lord.

For my prejudices, biases, and deliberate acts of

discrimination—forgive me, Lord.

For the misuse and abuse of the wonderful gift of

sexuality—forgive me, Lord.

For failing to see your face in the homeless and the

helpless—forgive me, Lord.

For believing I could save myself—forgive me, Lord.

For not living fully for you—forgive me, Lord.

For my lack of faith, hope, and love—forgive me, Lord.

For doubting that you can and will forgive me

unconditionally—forgive me, Lord.

For doubting that you love me with an everlasting

love—forgive me, Lord.

Amen.

Source: Excerpted from Prayers for Later Years by William Rabior (807596). Copyright © 2001, William Rabior. To order, visit Liguori.org or call 800-325-9521

© 2019 Liguori Publications. All rights reserved. Policy on copying or distributing: Individuals may download, print, copy, and/or share issues of Scrupulous Anonymous provided 1) you don’t remove this copying/distributing policy and 2) you don’t seek or accept payment for the copies. Nonprofit organizations may quote SA in publications offered at no cost as long as you identify Scrupulous Anonymous as the source and include the issue number or date and the publisher (Liguori Publications, ScrupulousAnonymous.org). For commercial or other purposes, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or any other—except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior written permission of Liguori Publications. Liguori Publications, a nonprofit corporation, is an apostolate of the Redemptorists (Redemptorists.com).

Never Alone…

flower in darkness

Have you ever been in a house…alone??  For some of us, it is a really thrilling experience!  You get to jump on the cozy bed of your parents and they don’t even know.  You can blast the music and sing at the top of your lungs without fear…you can make as much popcorn as you want and eat it all just because you can…(not that I have done any of these things of course!)…yes being home alone can be a thrilling experience.

Being in a house by yourself can also have the opposite effect which I like to call the “spooky effect”…especially if you are in the house at night.  All of a sudden you begin to hear sounds that you never heard before…little “pitter patter” and “creeky” sounds that just make your heart beat out of your chest.  Then your imagination goes wild and you scream, cry or hide… or you do all three.

When we are experiencing a dark night, we have a tendency to think that we are alone.  We are never alone!  We have the whole army of angels helping us…our Blessed Mother, St. Joseph and Jesus Christ our Saviour and Redeemer.

Happy New Year to all of you and welcome back to our 2021 Blog posts.  For those of you who are new to the blog welcome, and for those of you who have been reading you are awesome and keep reading!  We are going to continue the study of the Dark Night of the Soul getting into our explanation of the Dark Night of the Spirit…so fasten your seatbelt…get cozy… and here we go!!

The purpose of the dark nights as we previously spoke about is really to purify our love and to help us have purity of soul ready for union with God. St. Therese says, “I know that He is better pleased to see you stumbling in the night upon a stony road, than walking in full light if day upon a path carpeted with flowers because these flowers might hinder your advance.”  She makes a good point…when everything is sunshine and daisies, it is harder to grow in virtue…but when the way is paved with stones and thorns…that is when we learn how to love…really love.   The dark nights are a mercy…God is permitting those who travel through the dark night to have their purgatory here on earth, so that we can be running into the arms of God when our time here has come to an end.

So now that we have spoken in detail about the night of the senses let us now talk about the night of the spirit!  Are you ready?

St. John of the Cross points out in Book II of the Dark Night of the Soul that the soul does not go into the dark night of the spirit immediately after the aridities and trials of the first purgation.  He describes the new state the soul is in as “proficient” (illuminative way) and it seems that in this new state, “the soul is liberated from a cramped prison cell, the soul goes about the things of God with much more freedom and satisfaction…” (Dark Night of the Soul. Bk II chapter 1. Par.1.). He goes on to say that at this stage, the soul readily finds in its  a very serene and loving contemplation and spiritual delight.  However, since the purgation of the soul is not complete yet, the soul still experiences certain aridities, darknesses, and conflicts.

So the senses are more purified at this stage, and prayer is simple, infused and consoling.  There is occasional dryness and other weaknesses in the soul.  At this stage there are other imperfections that need to be spoken of in the state of “proficient.”  The imperfections are both habitual and actual.

The habitual imperfections are “imperfect affections and habits still remaining like roots in the spirit…” (Bk II Ch.2 par 1).  The sensory purgation (night of the senses) could not reach the spirit and so, St. John of the Cross describes the differences of each purgation by saying that the difference between purgation of the senses and purgation of the spirit: it is like the difference between pulling up roots (purgation of the spirit) and cutting off a branch (purgation of the senses). (Bk II Ch.2 par 1).   Have any of you ever planted a garden?  I remember we were pulling up weeds in the garden and there was this one really hard weed to get out of the ground…I tried with all I had to get it out… and my whole body just flew back (you are probably hearing the Chariots of Fire music in your head right now…don’t worry it is in my head too!)  It was pretty epic!

Roots are hard to pull out!  St. John of the Cross describes the purgation of the senses as the gateway to the purgation of the spirit…meaning the purgation of the senses is like digging in the ground for the roots…  (Bk II ch.2. par 1.).  Yet, when the roots come out, that weed is gone and something new can be planted…something beautiful like roses…I love roses!

Now, let us talk about the actual imperfections.  This is the time (do not be afraid) but this is a time where the devil can impress upon souls apprehensions and feelings where the soul needs to stand their ground and defend themselves through faith!  There are times where the devil can tempt the soul to lose holy fear in God, be drawn by vanity arrogance, feeling too secure in oneself due to spiritual feelings… (Dark Night of the Soul Bk II. Ch 2. par.3) Just ask our Blessed Mother Mary to crush his head…she will!!

In order to reach union, the soul must enter the dark night of the spirit.  In this night, the sensory and spiritual parts of soul are despoiled of all delights and the soul is made to walk in dark and pure faith which is the means to divine union…

Beauty is Lovely…

'ADORATION OF THE MAGI'

Happy New Year Everyone!!  The SOLI Sisters pray and hope that God will bestow upon you many graces and blessings in this new year!

As our Sisters were driving around looking at the Christmas lights and seeing the beautiful snow covering the fields, I was thinking about the beauty of God.  God is beautiful!  Imagine, the three wise men gazing upon the beauty and innocence of Jesus Christ as a little baby!  Imagine their joy and astonishment at looking into the face of God…what a sight!!

In light of thinking about beauty, I thought that you all might be interested to hear this very beautiful piece of music!  We are still within the Christmas Season and contemplating the Incarnation!!  Please listen to the Carol below by clicking on the link entitled “Chesterton Carol.”  I hope that you enjoy it!!

Chesterton Carol