Thursday, July 31, 2008

Almighty God and Father

Today, I started a prayer just as I have countless other times, but as I said "Father God" the hugeness, the beauty of this address crashed into my soul. He is God, and we get to call Him Father. Awe and gratitude - the speechless, jaw dropped, hand-clutching-chest awe and gratitude inspired by a gift you didn't earn and don't deserve and could never earn and will never (no matter how much I want to) deserve, but it's here and it's mine and He wants me to have it, He really, really does (deep sigh) - that's what I feel.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Holy St. Benedict, pray for us!

Whenever you begin any good work you should first of all make a most pressing appeal to Christ our Lord to bring it to perfection; that he, who has honoured us by counting us among his children, may never be grieved by our evil deeds. For we must always serve him with the good things he has given us in such a way that he may never – as an angry father disinherits his sons or even like a master who inspires fear – grow impatient with our sins and consign us to everlasting punishment, like wicked servants who would not follow him to glory.So we should at long last rouse ourselves, prompted by the words of Scripture: Now is the time for us to rise from sleep. Our eyes should be open to the God-given light, and we should listen in wonderment to the message of the divine voice as it daily cries out: Today, if you shall hear his voice, harden not your hearts; and again: If anyone has ears to hear, let him listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. And what does the Spirit say? Come my sons, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Hurry, while you have the light of life, so that death’s darkness may not overtake you. And the Lord as he seeks the one who will do his work among the throng of people to whom he makes that appeal, says again: Which of you wants to live to the full; who loves long life and the enjoyment of prosperity? And, if when you hear this you say, I do, God says to you: If you desire true and everlasting life, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from deceit; turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. And when you have done these things my eyes will be upon you and my ears will be attentive to your prayers; and before you call upon my name I shall say to you: Behold, I am here. What could be more delightful, dearest brothers, than the voice of our Lord’s invitation to us? In his loving kindness he reveals to us the way of life.And so, girded with faith and the performance of good works, let us follow in his paths by the guidance of the Gospel; then we shall deserve to see him who has called us into his kingdom. If we wish to attain a dwelling-place in his kingdom we shall not reach it unless we hasten there by our good deeds.Just as there exists an evil fervour, a bitter spirit, which divides us from God and leads us to hell, so there is a good fervour which sets us apart from evil inclinations and leads us toward God and eternal life. Monks should put this fervour into practice with an overflowing love: that is, they should surpass each other in mutual esteem, accept their weaknesses, either of body or of behaviour, with the utmost patience; and vie with each other in acceding to requests. No one should follow what he considers to be good for himself, but rather what seems good for another. They should display brotherly love in a chaste manner; fear God in a spirit of love; revere their abbot with a genuine and submissive affection. Let them put Christ before all else; and may he lead us all to everlasting life.

- from the rule of St. Benedict


You've probably seen this before. It's made the rounds in multiple forwared emails, blogs, etc. but everytime I read it, I still feel blessed and very, very grateful. It was this sense of gratitude, in response to these words, that I believe opened my heart to God.

- If you can read this, you are better off than over two billion people in the world who cannot read at all.
- If you have food in your refrigerator, clothing in your closet, a roof overhead and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of the people in this world.
- If you have money in the bank, in your wallet and spare change in a jar, you are among the top 8% of the world’s wealthy.
- If you can attend a church meeting without fear of harassment, torture or death, you are more blessed than three billion people in the world.
- If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are more blessed than the million people who will not survive the week.
- If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture or the pangs of starvation, you are ahead of 500 million people in the world.
- If your parents are still alive and still married, you are very rare, even in the United States.
- If you hold up your head with a smile on your face and are truly thankful, you are blessed, because the majority can, but most do not. - A.D. Kessler

“I firmly believe no matter how little you have, or think you have, you still have the capacity to give to those less fortunate than you.” – Jesse Thomas

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Surgery and Sacraments

I had to have surgery today - nothing exciting - just a stent in my kidney to help stuff get where it needs to go. It was, however, urgent enough that they looked am my CT scan and said "This has to happen today - now... we're getting you an OR," and serious enough that I had to be put under general anesthesia. That meant no food or drink - absolutely nothing - including the Eucharist.

I said a Rosary and a Divine Mercy chaplet. I prayed from my heart for a while, and made an act of contrition for a few venial sins I haven't had a chance to confess yet. Friends prayed; people lit candles. I was at peace - I felt a beautiful, total trust in God as well as the Hope of life and grace here and beyond. I still wanted the Eucharist. There is no substitute for Him. I believed it before; now I've lived it.

God isn't confined by the Sacraments. His grace is sufficient for all of us in all things, and He works in ways we can't possibly imagine. I felt completely taken care of - physically by the excellent staff at Alta View hospital, emotionally by loving friends and family, and spiritually by the Great physician - the One who gave me life in the first place and continues to love and guide and form me. But the Sacraments are a special Grace, and nothing on my end can stand in for them. I can't express what my heart has come to understand about these Channels of God's grace. As I meditate on this experience I hope to be able to find words to articulate what I've learned.

I'm profoundly grateful to have access to this Source of Grace - the Sacraments of the Catholic Church. I'm deeply sorry for the times I haven't taken advantage of them, haven't opened my heart and soul to God. I pray for those who have to go through any sort of pain or difficulty without knowing that they are Loved by Love Himself. I praise God for revealing Himself to the world and personally revealing Himself to me. I'm thankful to know of His Goodness and Mercy and Love. I'm thankful for the Saints who have gone before me and exemplified the Love of God working in them and through them - I'm especially grateful that their witness doesn't stop at their death - that God continues to work through their prayers and intercessions. And I'm thankful for the saints God had placed in my life to smile at me with, hug me with, make soup for me with, etc. I hope and pray to offer that Love to other people, and I'm sorry for the times I haven't.
Father, may my gratitude for Your Love - perfectly exemplified in our Lord Jesus Christ and perfectly bestowed though the Sacraments of Your Church - open my heart to You and to my neighbor. May my thankfulness strengthen my devotion to the Sacraments and the Church you have entrusted them too. Please use me a a channel of Your grace as I promised to be in my Baptism, and please make me holy to do all of this for Your glory. Through Jesus Christ, Amen.

Blessed Mother, thank you for your love and prayers. Please keep up the good work.