Wednesday, December 14, 2022

THE SOUL THAT SUFFERS WITH LONGING TO SEE GOD - St John of the Cross

 Saint John of the Cross (1542–1591)

I live yet do not live in me,
am waiting as my life goes by,
and die because I do not die.

No longer do I live in me,
and without God I cannot live;
to him or me I cannot give
my self, so what can living be?
A thousand deaths my agony
waiting as my life goes by,
dying because I do not die.

This life I live alone I view
as robbery of life, and so
it is a constant death — with no
way out until I live with you.
God, hear me, what I say is true:
I do not want this life of mine,
and die because I do not die.

Being so removed from you I say
what kind of life can I have here
but death so ugly and severe
and worse than any form of pain?
I pity me — and yet my fate
is that I must keep up this lie,
and die because I do not die.

The fish taken out of the sea
is not without a consolation:
his dying is of brief duration
and ultimately brings relief.
Yet what convulsive death can be
as bad as my pathetic life?
The more I live the more I die.

When I begin to feel relief
on seeing you in the sacrament,
I sink in deeper discontent,
deprived of your sweet company.
Now everything compels my grief:
I want — yet can’t — see you nearby,
and die because I do not die.

Although I find my pleasure, Sir,
in hope of someday seeing you,
I see that I can lose you too,
which makes my pain doubly severe,
and so I live in darkest fear,
and hope, wait as life goes by,
dying because I do not die.

Deliver me from death, my God,
and give me life; now you have wound
a rope about me; harshly bound
I ask you to release the cord.
See how I die to see you, Lord,
and I am shattered where I lie,
dying because I do not die.

My death will trigger tears in me,
and I shall mourn my life: a day
annihilated by the way
I fail and sin relentlessly.
O Father God, when will it be
that I can say without a lie:
I live because I do not die?

St. John of the Cross
translated by Willis Barnstone
found in “Poems of St. John of the Cross”

Saturday, December 3, 2022

Élisabeth Leseur - Meditation on Suffering

I know that if I didn't begin each day with the daily meditations from The Magnificat I would be banging around like the pinball in the song Pinball Wizard by The Who.

This year, with my trials and tribulations, the theme of suffering has brought me some solace. I just want to share a few quotes from Élisabeth Leseur.

“Let it be done for you according to your faith”

God, I offer you my spiritual aridity and deprivations. I offer you the interior sadness, the injuries, the disappointments of my heart, so much anxiety for the spiritual well-being and the health of those precious to me, and all the many sufferings of life. I offer you darkness of spirit, weakness of will, interior sorrow, and burdens. I offer you my physical distress, this illness that has sadly limited my external life, the discomforts and exhaustion that my troubles bring right now. I bind these things into a sheaf, Lord, and come humbly with the shepherds to lay it in the manger.

Little Child, all love, all purity, all tenderness, give me purity of heart, tenderness, and charity. Accept my afflictions and use them for the good of others and for your glory. May your blessed hands help me to carry [my burdens], and may your love and the union of our hearts relieve my isolation. May it end one day, when, by your grace, you will convert and make holy those dear persons whom I beg you to make Christians and apostles, O Jesus Christ, my Lord and my God.

A few more quotes from Servant of God Elisabeth Leseur:

“Look around oneself for proud sufferers in need,” Élisabeth counseled, “find them, and give them the alms of our heart, of our time, and of our tender respect.”

“Suffering is the highest form of action, the highest expression of the wonderful Communion of Saints, and that in suffering one is sure not to make mistakes (as in action, sometimes) — sure to be useful to others and to the great causes that one longs to serve.”

And here is an entry from her diary dated, May 3, 1904, which is typical of her experience of sorrow: 

"Has my life known any unhappier time than this?…And yet through all these trials and in spite of the lack of interior joy, there is a deep place that all these waves of sorrow cannot touch….[T]here I can feel how completely one with God I am, and I regain strength and serenity in the heart of Christ. My God, give health and happiness to those I love and give us all true light and charity."

Sometimes the best place to be is in silence and Élisabeth sums it up this way:

“Silence is sometimes an act of energy, and smiling, too.”

Dear Lord, please kindle in my heart the indelible mark of suffering shared by all in the Communion of Saints and help me find union with Your Heart full of tenderness and charity.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Peace and Truth - The Peace that Convicts Us of Our Lies

The one symbol most often identified with Jesus and his Church is the cross. Today we celebrate The Exaltation of the Holy Cross. The cross is a sign of suffering, a sign of human cruelty at its worst. But by Christ’s love shown in the Paschal Mystery, it has become the sign of triumph and victory, the sign of God, who is love itself. Pope Benedict XVI wrote: 
In one respect the cross does have a terrible aspect that we ought not to remove... To see that the purest of men, who was more than a man, was executed in such a grisly way can make us frightened of ourselves. But we also need to be frightened of ourselves and out of our self-complacency. Here, I think, Luther was right when he said that man must first be frightened of himself so that he can then find the right way. However, the cross doesn't stop at being a horror... because the one who looks down on us from the cross is not a failure, a desperate man, not one of the horrible victims of humanity. For this crucified man says something different from Spartacus and his failed adherents, because, after all, what looks down at us from the cross is a goodness that enables a new beginning in the midst of life's horror. (Salt of the Earth: The Church at the End of the Millennium)
 As my friend, Gil Bailie surmises that if you or I were on the cross, looking down at our persecutors, we would have seen ravenous wolves. Jesus looks down and see lost sheep. In this difference of looks we have either the apparent peace we grasp at by expelling our enemies versus the look of Real Truth and Goodness revealed through the grace of His Peace. Pope Benedict XVI continues:
Peace convicts us of our lies. It brings us out of our comfortable indifference into the struggle and pain of the truth. And it is only thus that true peace can come into being, in place of the apparent peace, beneath which lie the hidden hypocrisy and all kinds of conflict. Truth is worth pain and even conflict. I may not just accept a lie in order to have quiet. For it is not the first duty of a citizen, or of a Christian, to seek quiet; but rather it is that standing fast by what is noble and great, which is what Christ has given us and which can reach as far as suffering, as far as a struggle that ends in martyrdom - and exactly in that way of peace. Christ embodies the great and undiluted loving-kindness of God. He comes to help us bear the load. He does not do this simply by taking away from us the pain of being human; that remains heavy enough. But we are no longer carrying it on our own; he is carrying it with us. Christ has nothing to do with comfort, with banality, yet we find in him that inner calm that comes from knowing that we are being supported by an ultimate kindness and an ultimate security. We see that the entire structure of the message of Jesus is full of tension; it is an enormous challenge. Its nature is such that it always has to do with the Cross. Anyone who is not ready to get burned, who is not at least willing for it to happen, will not come near. But we can always be sure that it is there that we will meet true loving-kindness, which helps us, which accepts us - and which does not merely mean well toward us, but which will in fact ensure that all things go well with us. Quote from: God and the World: A Conversation With Peter Seewald 

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Founding Fathers' Vision for Independence Day

The following Independence Day meditation is from The Magnificat by Anne Husted Burleigh, author and scholar on John Adams.

"In God’s plan of history—that mysterious drama that unites God’s providential care with our freedom –there are particular moments that reveal with glittering clarity that God is in charge. For Americans, Independence Day marks the anniversary of such a moment.

"Nearly two and a half centuries ago, on July 4, 1776, members of the Continental Congress approved  Jefferson’s magnificent Declaration of Independence, proclaiming “these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

"For the first time a nation sprang forth, not simply from the bond of people living together in a place for years, but rather from an idea, the principle of the truth of the human person as sacred and unrepeatable. The Declaration acknowledged our origin as beings made by God, with rights God himself gave us. It is God’s law—his plan—that declares unequivocally that in our creation by the divine hand rests our equal liberty and the rights inherent in us a God’s creatures. Our liberty arises not from us, but from the one who made us.

"Independence Day Honors not our own artificial schemes of liberty and quality but the founding  principle of natural law that alone protects who we are: each one of us chosen, loved, and created as  free beings by God our Father. No other authority will do: nothing other than divine truth provides proper grounding for ordered liberty. On God’s authority, then, the American founders in 1776, “with a firm reliance on the Protection of divine providence,” ventured forth in the great experiment, mutually pledging “to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our Sacred Honor.” 

By Anne Husted Burleigh

Anne is a long-time writer, among whose books is a biography of one of the American founders, John Adams. She and her husband live in Cincinnati near their children and grandchildren.




Friday, June 25, 2021

Bishop Barron - How to Discern God's Will for My Life

A great resource from Bishop Robert Barron and the folks at Word on Fire. 

     "As a priest, and now a bishop, I hear often from many people searching for God’s direction in their lives. They wonder, what does God want me to do with my life? How can I be faithful to God in my day to day decisions? How can I hear God and be sensitive to his promptings? We all ask these questions. They are a normal part of the Christian life. That’s why Brandon Vogt and I recently devoted a whole episode of our podcast, “The Word on Fire Show,” to exploring these questions. Below you’ll find an edited transcript of the show so you can read it slowly, at your own pace, and reflect on how God is leading you in your life. In the end, all discernment boils down to one ultimate goal: finding the path of greatest love. Let’s seek that path together."

Listen to Bishop Barron discuss the context of the book HERE!

Sunday, April 25, 2021

What Does it Mean to Believe IN?

 A wonderful meditation from The Magnificat.

From “Believing That” to “Believing In”

In the Gospel of John, the personal nature of the act of faith is stressed by the very use of the verb “to believe.” In the Gospel, we encounter the expression “to believe,” which means to lend credence to or hold to be true. For instance, to believe Scripture (Jn 2:22), or Moses, or Christ (Jn 5:46). We also encounter the expression “to believe that,” meaning to be convinced that, or just to believe. For instance, to believe that Jesus is the Holy One of God, that he is the Christ, that the Father has sent him.


But alongside these well-known usages, there is one unknown to profane language yet most dear to the Evangelist, and that is the expression “to believe in,” as in the sentence: Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me (Jn 14:1). Believe here means: have faith in, entrust yourself to the person you believe in, build your own life on that person. It indicates a total and unconditional trust that is to replace all human insecurity. A trust in consequence of which the heart can never again be troubled by anything. Jesus asks the same kind of trust for himself that God asked of his people in the Old Testament.


Believing in the Son of God is something different and more than believing that Jesus is the Son of God…. As regards the former, there are all sorts of degrees and you would never finish progressing through them. In other words, you can always trust more in Christ, by surrendering yourself to him more and more and losing yourself in him, until faith in the Son of God becomes the whole reason for your life. Like Paul, who could say: The life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me (Gal 2:20).

Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa, o.f.m. cap.

Cardinal Cantalamessa is a Capuchin Franciscan friar and the preacher to the papal household. [From Jesus Christ: The Holy One of God, Alan Neame, Tr. © 1991, St. Paul Publications, Slough, UK. All rights reserved.]

Monday, April 19, 2021

The Vast Expanse Between the Good Life and the Holy Life - A Reflection by Father Donald Haggerty

 


The vast separation between the good life and the holy life is always far more than we realize. The difference is not evident simply in the exterior activity of life. The generous accomplishments of a good person may outshine the limited works of the holy person. What distinguishes the holy person is the interior quality of a soul seeking God, and this is often not seen so visibly. The good life will always be observable to some degree, but whether or not a life is truly holy can easily be concealed in its essential truth. The most important acts of a holy life take place in secret, within quiet depths of the soul. And these most important acts are the offerings it makes for others. There is no great love of God unless a soul is great in offering itself for others. And this begins in the intensity of its prayer, where God alone sees.

The word holiness ought not to be tossed about too lightly, as though the reality were easily reached. There is a danger that an overworked and casual evocation of holiness as the goal of life reduces the immense challenge of giving all to God to a manageable habit of steady, low-cost generosities. Dorothy Day kept on her bedside table a striking phrase of Dostoevsky that conveys, by contrast, the starker reality of a true offering: “Love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared to love in dreams.”  It is precisely the harsh and dreadful nature of sacrificial love that makes such love and the offering that accompanies it most fruitful for the salvation of souls.

A task in prayer that must be repeated with regularity: to search for the deeper solitary region of the heart where a single word spoken in silence has more impact on our soul than hours of replete eloquence taking place at the shallows of life.

 ~ A Reflection by Father Donald Haggerty, ‘The Contemplative Hunger’

Check out Fr Haggerty at Ignatius Press HERE.