Why Lord?

Just trust Me

Today, knowledge is at our fingertips…literally!  When we want to know something like how to make five star steak, where do we go?  We go to Google!  Google allows us to have information instantly!  No more spending hours and hours trying to figure things out!  The answers are all at our fingertips…or are they?

Oftentimes we can get impatient in our prayer life because God allows things to happen to us and to people we love that we simply do not understand!  We try and try to have the answers in life…we ask God to provide us with answers about our life…but we just find we are empty and cannot see.  How often we ask in our prayer life: “Why Lord?  Why have you allowed this to happen?”  

There are some questions that not even Google can answer!  There are some things that can only be answered in deep prayer and communion with our Lord.  Sometimes the Lord wants us to stop trying to figure everything out!  Many times we are so focused on the problem that we stop believing that God is taking care of everything… if we let him.

Jesus once said to St. Gemma Galagani: “Do you know daughter for what reasons I send crosses to souls dear to me?  I desire to possess souls entirely and for this I surround them with crosses and enclose them in tribulation.”  This is amazing!  Through the cross we discover how to love…what it means to love and through carrying our crosses with patience we become great saints! 

I remember a time in my Religious Life where I was struggling with desiring what God wanted.  God made it so clear to me that something was not His will, and yet I could not bring myself to want what God wants.  A common question that was in my mind was: “Why Lord?  Why is it that I am desiring something that is good, and yet it doesn’t seem like you want me to have it?”  One of the Sisters told me about the above image where Jesus is asking the little girl to give her teddy bear.  He is asking her to trust Him because she could not see that He had something more amazing coming to her…a bigger teddy bear.  Sometimes, there is something that we really love and in our pride we are afraid to give it to God with the trust that He knows what He is doing and He will give us even more then we could ever imagine!  Sometimes, part of not knowing, part of being in darkness is learning to give God our little teddy bear trusting that He is going to give us an even bigger teddy bear!

If we want to have a real life example of this, look at St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine.  Monica prayed for her son for 30 years that he would be converted, settle down and get married.  But God gave her more then she was ever expecting!  Augustine converted, but not only that, he became a bishop and a Doctor of the Church!  The whole Catholic Church looks to the teachings and writings of St. Augustine who after his conversion grew in wisdom and came to know truth!  This is because of the prayers and tears of a mother who just wanted her son to come back to God!  God gave her more then what she asked for!

We are a people who struggle a great deal with faith.  I heard a quote from St. Thomas Aquinas recently that made a lot of sense, “To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary, but to one without faith, no explanation is enough.”  We seek answers so quickly!  To remain in the silence and darkness of faith seems too risky…too uncertain.  The fact is, perhaps we need to focus more on the things that are certain, rather than the things that are uncertain.  What can we be certain about?  God loves me.  God can only will what is good for me.  God forgives me and redeems me.  God is mercy!

Much of our prayer life consists in learning how to want what God wants.  We need to make the following words real in our own lives: “Not as I will but as you will Lord.”  Only then will we  have peace…

If anyone has prayer intentions that they would like to share, feel free to write them in the comments box below.  They only come to the SOLI Sisters comment box and so they will remain anonymous and no one else can see them.  Our Sisters would love to pray for you! 

 

Image from:

TLC Website

http://tlcatholic.blogspot.com/2014/05/give-god-your-teddy-bear-and-get-bigger.html

God is not “Google”

 

rosary 2

Have you ever had something that you wanted so badly that you prayed and prayed and PRAYED for it!! I once spoke with a lady who was sad because people do not know God.  She commented on how people today can just go to “Google” and get all the information they want!”  That made me think about the fact that we cannot use God as if He is Google.  God is not Google!  God is Love!  We can know a lot about God, but do we really know Him?  Have we allowed ourselves to seriously encounter Him in prayer?

So what is our prayer life like?  Why do we pray?  I think we all know deep inside that prayer is more then just asking things from God.  Prayer is relationship!

Sometimes we do get what we pray for, and we are so happy and full of life that God answered our prayer!  Perhaps you lost something, and you prayed so hard that God would help you find that lost thing…and you find it!  Maybe you were praying so hard that God would help you find a husband, a man like St. Joseph…and He did.  Perhaps you were praying so hard for your children to go back to Church, and finally after 10 years of praying they finally tell you, “I have started praying to God again.”  These are moments where we can show gratitude to God for!  God answered our prayer!

Sometimes, we do get what we pray for…but we realize that what we prayed for was actually not what we really wanted.  For example, perhaps you prayed really hard for a certain job or position in the company with the intention of being perfectly happy…you got it, but you did not expect to be working overtime, having stress everyday with customers and employees, and having to keep up with everything.  Perhaps you were really praying hard for God to send snow…lots of snow…you think it is beautiful…and God sends it, and then you are sorry afterwards because there is a major power-outage, you have lots of snow to shovel, and everywhere is slippery with ice!!

Sometimes we do not get what we pray for…sometimes what we are praying for is not God’s will, or we are asking for things with the wrong motive.  God wills our good!  He can only want what is good for us.  Sometimes what we ask for is something that is not good for us.  We must not be discouraged when we do not always get what we want or what we ask for.  This is a good opportunity to love…even if I do not get from God what I am asking for, I will love God anyway!

Sometimes, God is asking us to wait a while before our prayer is answered.  We need to persevere in prayer and never lose heart…we need to persevere in prayer because this will help us have greater faith and trust in the Lord that He will provide.  God will take care of it!  Sometimes we can have a tendency to live in our head,  and try to make things happen the way we want them too.  This is very exhausting!  It is much better to bring our petition to the feet of Jesus and leave it at His feet, trusting in Jesus to take care of it!

Sometimes, we do not see the fruits of our prayers…we don’t always know how our prayers are helping other people.  We do not always see the conversions that are happening, the people who are turning back to God in faith.  We do not always see the fruits of bringing a soul to God in prayer and saying, “I offer up this sacrifice for this person…it is worth feeling a little pinch of suffering in order for this person to become a saint.”  St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta says, “Love until it hurts.”

What matters most is the intention that we offer our prayers and sacrifices with.  If our intention is always out of love, we can be sure that thousands of souls are being saved.  If you do one thing today…just one thing… a small act of charity and generosity out of love, you can be sure that souls are being saved.  Cleaning a mess, offering a smile to someone when you do not feel like it, taking out the garbage are some examples of things that are unpleasant in our every day life that, if we offer them up to God, can become moments where souls are being saved.  For example, if you offer a smile to someone you do not feel like smiling to, and you offer that up to God with great love for another person, you can be sure that God takes that offering and pours out His Mercy and Grace for that person and on the whole world!

The point of prayer is not to get things that we want.  No, that would be using God as if He is “Google.”  The point of prayer is to have a deep and personal relationship with God.  God is seeking to help us want what He wants for us.  We need to understand that God can only will what is good for us!

Only at the end of our lives will we see what God did with all of our prayers and sacrifices.  Let us not waste opportunities to show the Lord that we love Him tremendously!  Let us learn to practice patience…God hears all of our prayers, He knows the desires of our hearts!

Image above from Pintrest

 

https://www.pinterest.com.au/pin/470555861064615514/

Thank you God for the Memories!

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There are some memories in life that we never want to let go of.  For you men, perhaps it was the time that your dad looked at you and told you how proud he is of you for the man you have become. For you women, perhaps it was the time your dad told you how beautiful you are, and how you deserve to be loved and cared for, because of the precious treasure that you are.  For you parents, maybe it was the time you held your first-born child for the first time.  For you teenagers, maybe it was the time that your parents bought you that truck that you always wanted…and the thrill of driving it for the first time down the country road….through the mud!  For you priests maybe it was at your first Mass at the moment of Consecration when for the first time as a priest you held Jesus in your hands.  For you who are dedicated to God in Consecrated Life, perhaps it was the memory of your final profession, when you vowed poverty, chastity and obedience for the whole of your life and at that moment became a Spouse of Christ for all eternity!  All of these memories have something in common: they are memories of a time where we knew we were loved.

The next few steps of the ladder of love speak about charity.  “The seventh step of the ladder gives it an ardent boldness.  At this stage, love neither profits by the judgement to wait nor makes use of the counsel to retreat, neither can it be curbed through shame…” (Dark Night of the Soul. Bk 2 Chapter 20 par. 2).  This is the step in which one is willing to endures all things for God.  I suppose we can ask in our own life: Am I willing to endure everything out of love for God…even death?

The eighth step of the ladder of love involves holding on to the Beloved, and never letting go.  This is a real test of love and trust…clinging to the one we love without letting go, even when the road is hard.  St. John of the Cross further clarifies this step: “If one were to remain at this step, a certain glory would be possessed in this life; and so the soul only rests for short periods of time” (Dark Night of the Soul Bk. 2 chapter. 20 par 3). We never want to let go of the one who loves us beyond what we can imagine!  From this step, one enters the state of the perfect.

We need to hang on to Jesus.  He is life and the source of life.  I once heard a priest say, “Keep your eyes on Jesus…focus on Jesus!”  May our eyes continue to be fixed on Jesus!  May we never forget all the moments in our lives when God has shown His love for us!  You do not need to look very hard…every moment is a gift from God!

Image from:

10 Family Photo Ideas: February 1, 2019

https://www.frameiteasy.com/learn/family-photo-ideas/

Accessed April 12, 2021

When the Light Came Into the World…

mary

We can imagine the joy of Mary when the angel Gabriel revealed to her that she would be the Mother of God!  As we read in the book of the prophet Isaiah: “Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a Son and they shall call His name Emmanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).

Remembering that “God so loved the world that He sent His only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life,” (John 3:16) gives us hope in the midst of the storms in our lives.  Mary carried the Light of the World in her womb.  We will recall Jesus as the Light when we celebrate the Easter Vigil.  We carry Jesus within us every time we receive the Holy Eucharist!  We must ask our Blessed Mother Mary to help us receive Jesus with a joy like she has!!

As we celebrate the feast of the Annunciation let us reflect on Jesus who is the Light.  In the preface at Mass before we sing the Holy, Holy, Holy prayer (Sanctus) we pray these words about the Blessed Virgin Mary:

“…conceived Thine only-begotten Son by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit, and the glory of her virginity still abiding gave forth to the world the everlasting Light, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

What beautiful words to ponder on throughout the day!  Truly nothing is impossible for God!  How grateful we are for the “Yes” of Mary!

Please listen to this song: “Lux Aurumque” composed and conducted by Eric Whitacre, who took the words from a poem written by Charles Anthony Silvestri.  I do realize that this is a song more for Christmas time, but it is a good song to listen to as we reflect Mary’s encounter with the angel Gabriel and how she received the Light in her womb!! Jesus is the Light of the World and we will encounter Him in a special way during the Easter season!

This is the translation of the song:

Light,
warm and heavy as pure gold
and angels sing softly
to the new-born babe.

Here is the link:

Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir- “Lux Aurumque”

Lyrics from: https://ericwhitacre.com/music-catalog/lux-aurumque

Image from https://catholicnewstt.com/index.php/2018/12/20/mary-ideal-advent-figure/

Vulnerability and Seeking Light…

28475-Angel appearing to Joseph Champaigne Matthew 1

There was no human being on this earth who loved the Blessed Virgin Mary more than St. Joseph.  He loved her with a love that is beyond words…even when she revealed to him that she was going to have a baby…a baby that was not biologically his, who would be the Messiah. St. Joseph loved her even then.  He could have had her put to death, yet he was a loving and just man and decided to send her away quietly.  He did not want to bring shame or guilt upon her.  He loved Mary, and she loved Him.  We can imagine the intense prayer of St. Joseph at this time…seeking the light of God…and as we know light came!  In a dream, St. Joseph hears: “Joseph. son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 1:20).

It took great courage for Mary to reveal to St. Joseph that she was to be a mother…the mother of the Messiah.  We can imagine the questions and struggle in St. Joseph…he loved Mary yet she was carrying a child that was not biologically his.  We can imagine the sorrow and confusion in the heart of St. Joseph.  Mary had complete and total trust in the Lord.  Mary knew the law…she knew he could have had heard her put to death…yet Mary had complete faith in the Lord and totally surrendered to the will of God.  Even if St. Joseph would reject her, one thing was certain…the Lord would not reject her!  Because of her faith and trust in the Lord, and knowing the love that St. Joseph did have for her, she was able to speak the truth…for Truth was made Incarnate in her womb, and when the time was right, God spoke to St. Joseph and gave him light to see.

Thinking about the love story of Mary and St. Joseph brought something to mind that most people struggle with: sometimes we can live in great fear of being “cast out” from the lives of people who love us if we reveal a part of us that is broken and in need of healing.  Sometimes we can have a fear of being vulnerable and revealing the struggle within.  But this fear of being “cast out” is not living with the mindset and heart that Mary had.  Everyone carries something…some Cross…and sometimes we need the support of others in order to carry it with patience and hope.  Otherwise we can become very fearful and lonely.  We need to be able to share our burdens with people who love us.  Mary shared this truth with St. Joseph…she knew he loved her.  Sometimes we can fear because we do not know right away the response that we will receive from the other person: “Will they still love me if I tell them this?”  “Will they still think that I am a worthy person if I tell them this?”  It is true that we do take a risk revealing a part of ourselves that is painful and in need of healing…but knowing that the person who is listening to you loves you increases faith and trust in the relationship.  We cannot expect people to be perfect and to react to our situations perfectly…that is the reality of life.  However, within ourselves we can maintain a true and lasting peace like Mary had knowing that God would never reject her, even if men do.

There may be times where we need to listen to another’s burdens, struggles and trials.  This is truly honorable, for it is an act of love to listen to another.  Sometimes, people just need to be listened to.  People just need to know that they are loved.  However, sometimes people are weak to reveal themselves…they want to feel safe, secure and accepted.  They want assurance before speaking that you will not cast them out, but that you will receive them, right there in that brokenness.  Being open to listening is a tremendous gift.  Words of compassion can really help the soul feel safe: “You know I love you, and I care about you, and if you ever need to speak to me, I am here for you.”  “If you ever want to talk some time, I would be very happy to talk with you!”  Sometimes beginning with being vulnerable yourself can help another person to open up in their situation…this builds trust and confidence.

Of course, we will not share our struggles, burdens and Crosses with everyone.  We would never start preaching from the street: “Guess what everyone…let me tell you what I am struggling with right now!”  No…don’t do that.  You are a precious treasure created out of love, and so, you want to share those things that are deep and personal with people in your life who love you and who you can trust. Spiritual directors, spouse, parents, close and trustworthy friends, confessors, and even at times counsellors are just a few examples of people who we may need to share our burdens with.  Sometimes others can help shed light on situations and trials…light that we are not able to see yet because of fear.  Of course, before we discuss any sorrow or trial, we need to bring our burdens to the Blessed Sacrament.  We need to go to Jesus and ask the Lord to help the person receive what we say with an understanding heart.  I am sure that our Blessed Mother prayed to the little child in her womb that he would help St. Joseph to understand.  God helped St. Joseph to understand!

St. Joseph pray for us!

Image from Christian Art Website

https://www.christian.art/en/daily-gospel-reading/640

Hungry? Thirsty?

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Do you ever feel hungry…like really hungry?  Or perhaps you have felt thirsty…maybe you are an athlete in training or you like to go on hikes…and you need water!  Hunger and thirst are normal for us…when we are hungry and thirsty it reminds us how much we are in need of God…how much we ought to hunger and thirst for Jesus in the Eucharist!  No five star meal can compare with Jesus in the Eucharist!  He fully and truly satisfies us!  The next few steps of love that we are speaking about are about having this great hunger for God!  So great that we cannot imagine taking a breath without God!!

So, here we are at the fourth step of our journey with God on the ladder of love.  St. John of the Cross speaks of this step as the step in which “love makes all burdensome and heavy things nearly nothing.” (Dark Night of the Soul Bk 2. Ch 19. Par. 3).  At this step, St. John of the Cross says that here souls do not seek satisfaction or consolations in God, but they are seeking to serve God seeing that He deserves our complete and total love.  This soul desires to suffer out of love for God.

At the fifth step, the soul has an impatient desire and longing for God, so much so that St. John of the Cross says, “the soul so feeds on love-for in accord with its hunger is its satisfaction-” (Dark Night of the Soul Bk 2 Ch.19. par 5).  This can be compared to a great hunger…a starvation, not for physical food but to love God.

At the sixth step, to soul is “running swiftly toward God and experiences many touches in Him.” (Bk 2. Ch 19. Par.5)  St. John of the Cross says that at this stage, the “soul’s charity is now highly increased and almost completely purified…” (Book 2. Chapter 20. Par.1). In other words, the heart is now enlarged to a greater degree, and the soul is cooperating with grace.

Image: Canada’s Food Guide Website:

https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/

 

One Step…Two Step…Three Step…

drop zone

Do you like heights?  Some people get such a thrill going up high off the ground!  Some people get sick just thinking about going up high.  I remember going on a ride at Canada’s Wonderland (the image that you see here is the Drop Zone at Canada’s Wonderland) when I was a teenager called “Drop-Zone” and I remember looking down at the spot where my dad was standing…and he seemed to get smaller and smaller, until eventually I could not see him anymore!  It seemed the higher we went, the smaller everything else became. Perhaps this is a good meditation for the spiritual life: the higher we go in union with God, the smaller everything else becomes, especially the things of the world.

St. John of the Cross speaks about the steps of love in the “mystical ladder of divine love.”    We will speak about these various steps in detail.  He speaks in the first step about a “soul sickness.”  The soul’s sickness comes because of the “heat from above” where “the soul changes the colour of its past life and loses its appetite for things.” (Dark Night of the Soul Bk 2. Chapter 19. Par. 1).

The second step causes a person to search for God without ceasing.  She is looking for her Beloved in all things. In all its thoughts it turn immediately to her Beloved. (Book 2. Chapter 19 par. 2).

The third step involves prompting the soul to the performance of good works giving it fervor to keep going and not fail!  (Dark Night of the Soul Book 2. Chapter 19. Par 3).  The soul believes that the works done for God are small and from this comes a deep sorrow that the soul is not doing enough for God…that everything he does is so little.  What is the effect of this step?  St. John of the Cross says that one effect is that love is teaching him what God deserves.  In this way the soul is removed from vainglory, presumption, and the condemnation of others…” (Bk 2. Chapter 19. Par.3).

The fourth step…well you will find out next week!!!

Image taken from “Canada Alive Website” https://canadaalive.wordpress.com/2013/06/04/canadas-wonderland/

Fire is Hot!

fire!

Have you ever heard the expression: “If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen!”  The kitchen can get very hot!  The stove is hot…the barbeque is hot…fire is hot!  Have you ever been camping…or had a bonfire?  There is something so cozy about gathering around the fire in the summer time with your hotdogs and marshmallows and the lake out at the back.  Yes…bonfires are fun…but there are always lots of mosquitoes!  You can even bring a guitar and sing around the bonfire!

Anyone who has been near fire knows that it is hot and it burns!  When we are roasting our hotdogs and marshmallows we need to be super careful because it is easy to get to close to the fire!  We do not want to get burned, yet the fire offers us many wonderful things: heat, light, yummy marshmallows…

God’s fire is a different type of fire!  God’s fire is a fire of love…full of passion.  St. John of the Cross says that “the spiritual inflaming engenders the passion of love.” (Dark Night of the Soul Book 2. Chapter 11. 2). The soul is starting to feel that it is being wounded by a strong divine love and it has a certain feeling and foretaste of God.” (Dark Night of the Soul Book 2. Chapter 11. 1). At this stage of the journey in the dark night of the soul, the soul is being purged out meaning that it’s attachments and passions are all being purged and purified in the flames of God’s divine love.  Union with God means that we need to be purified!  The saints knew this, and they all worked hard to overcome vices, temptations, passions and attachments in order to be in union with God.  The soul is starting to possess something of union with God and it is in this union that the soul will learn to love God so intensely, with all its strength.  This type of love would not be possible if our appetites, passions and emotions are all over the place and scattered.  God allows for this dark night in order to make the soul strong in virtue and in order to break self-will.

So what is God doing?  He is basically gathering all the strength, faculties, appetites of the soul both sensory and spiritual to be employed in his love.  This means that “the soul must be wounded, touched, and impassioned, all its strength and its appetites are recollected in this burning love.” (Book 2. Chapter 11. Par 4.)  The soul will eventually become aware of this fire…this wound…and the soul desires God with a desire so strong that it sighs in darkness and doubt because it realizes that it is not yet filled with this love of union.

St. John of the Cross says, “the soul proclaims this verse: fired ‘with love’s urgent longings.’” (Book 2 Chapter 11: 6).  In everything: his thoughts, and deeds the soul loves in many ways; however, the soul does not feel rest…only anxiety in the burning wound.  However, St. John of the Cross assures us: “nonetheless, in the midst of these dark and loving afflictions, the soul feels the presence of someone and an interior strength which so fortifies and accompanies it…” (Book 2. CH 11. Par 7).  What is this presence?  It is the Holy Spirit!

We want God’s purifying fire to make our hearts pure!  St. John of the Cross makes it very clear that if we do not purify completely in this life, then we will need to be purified in Purgatory after death.  He says, “as the spirits in the other life are purged with a dark material fire, so in this life souls are purged and cleansed with a dark, loving, spiritual fire…Souls are cleansed in the other life by fire, but here on earth they are cleansed and illuminated by love.” (Bk 2. Ch 12. Par 1).  This should not make us afraid…we want to be pure and clean before we meet God.  Purgatory is a mercy from God where we can finally be free of all our disordered passions and attachments and be in union with God.  We must pray for the souls in Purgatory everyday!  Souls in Purgatory know that they are going to heaven once their time of purification is ended.  We must work hard to cooperate with God’s grace to be purified in this life and learn to sacrifice certain attachments and passions for the good of our soul!
As this fire of divine love purifies the soul, the intellect and the will are becoming united as well all for the sake of a deeper contemplation.  St. John of the Cross says, “this enkindling of love and the union of these two faculties, intellect and will, is something immensely rich and delightful for the soul…it is a certain touch of the divinity and already the beginning of perfection of the union of love for which the soul hopes…” (Bk 2. Chapter 12. Par 6)

He offers a further explanation, “when God infuses these spiritual goods the will can very easily love without the intellect understanding, just as the intellect can know without the will loving…” (Bk 2. Chapter 12 par. 7) This means that just as fire gives off light and heat, the light  can sometimes act upon the will leaving the intellect in darkness, or the intellect can have understanding while the will is in dryness.  St. John of the Cross uses this analogy, “All of this is similar to feeling the warmth of the fire without seeing its light, or seeing its light without feeling the fire’s heat.” (Bk 2. Chapter 12. Par 7)

I think that is good for now!  More to come!