Saturday, August 30, 2008


Sometimes I feel totally overwhelmed by people and relationships. I was feeling like that today. I told Jesus I just wanted to crawl inside His heart and make it all go away for a little while. He told me I am always welcome in His heart, but that's where all of humanity is as well, so if I'm trying to escape the human race I should probably figure out a different plan.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Love and healing

What if the wounds inflicted by suffering didn't have a chance to fester and breed bitterness and hatred? What if kindness, mercy and charity got there first and cleansed, soothed and bandaged the wounds? Love would have a chance to heal the wounds, and the wounded would be pointed to Love Himself.
I know I'm not saying anything new here. Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed by human suffering and its all-too-common, lingering effects - bitterness and hatred. When the pain I see all around me becomes oppressive, the above turns into a sort of prayer/personal battle cry.
I also like a quote from a post on Conversion Diary: Fear is the absence of love. I summon this quote most often in situations where I have no idea what to do or how to help. Looking deeper, I have to admit that this "not knowing" is a result of trying desperately to avoid awkwardness and failure. The quote reminds me that the more I love, the less worried I am about my abilities or image - love takes over and I act. As I become more other-focused, I become less self-focused. Since most fears are rooted in self doubt, they turn into faint background noise when we focus on other people.
Returning to the quote - if I turn the l in love into a capitol L, I'm reminded of something else. God is Love. When I give up or refuse to take action because of fear, I'm denying myself a chance to be used by Love Himself to love those who are hurting. I'm making it about me instead of about Him. I'm worried about what I think I can't do instead of glorying in all that He is doing.
A personal note related to love and healing - a deep, heart-felt thank you to everyone who prayed for me in the days leading up to my surgery. My operation went extremely well, I got to go home from the hospital a day early, and aside from a brief tussle with an infection, my recovery is going great. Your love and prayers are a sign that constantly points me to God, and I am inexpressibly grateful.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Giussani in Korea??

I like this post about human freedom which I found on Intentional Disciples. Interestingly, none of the people who post on this blog (to the best of my knowledge) are members of Communion and Liberation, but the perspective is very Is It Possible to Live This Way?

I'd also like to acknowledge the memorial of the Queenship of Our Lady. I love that this remembrance follows so closely on the heals of the Feast of the Assumption - a beautiful reminder that destiny doesn't end with the conclusion of our earthly life.

Holy Mary, Queen of heaven and earth, please pray for us!
Through your intercession, may we live with awareness and intention.
Through your intercession may we fully realize, embrace and become our destiny.
Holy Mary, Mother of the Restoration of our freedom, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Sacrifice and Choice

When asked about her training methods during an interview, an Olympic marathoner recently said "I don't believe in sacrifices, I believe in choices." I've been thinking about this ever since. I understand the difference she's referring to in regards to athletic goals, but what is the difference between sacrifice and choice in life outside of the "bird's nest?"

Here's what I've got so far: I think choice is about following your own destiny - decisions either take you closer to your destiny or further away from it. Sacrifice, on the other hand, concerns the destiny of others - the obvious example of this is Jesus Christ freeing all of us to pursue destiny by sacrificing Himself. All sacrifices must be choices though; we have to freely cooperate with God's grace because He will never force us to love Him. Sacrifice always involves faith in a God who has decided to bring about the salvation of the world through us. We make sacrificial choices that put others before ourselves and we trust that in giving us the grace to make this sacrifice, God is bringing us closer to our destiny as well - along with the rest of creation.

This is why community is so very important. It constantly reminds us that we all share one common destiny - the God who lovingly created us for union with Himself - and we cannot get there on our own because that common Goal draws us together. Community also provides endless opportunities for sacrifice. Since we become children of God by being bound to Christ in baptism, we live out our destiny as heirs of the kingdom in union with Him through our sacrifices. This is something I've come to understand much better through my kidney problems. I wanted so badly to suffer bravely when the pain was really difficult. I trusted that God could do something beautiful with my suffering, but until recently I didn't understand how this all happens. I think I'm starting to get it now - kinda. Christ doesn't need my help to save the world - He allows me to share in his work because in doing so He makes me into the person the Father created me to be. No one can reach their destiny without sacrificing his/herself, and sacrifice must be done for others.

I'll probably be thinking about sacrifice and choice for a long time, so if you have anything to add I'd love to hear your thoughts. Looking back over what I've just written, it all seems very elementary to me - stuff I already knew. But through my experiences, I'm beginning to connect and understand these ideas on a deeper level.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Our Blessed Mother's Assumption

I love our Blessed Mother, and I love the Feast of the Assumption. I have a hard time with most of the depictions of this event though. I don't know a great deal about art - I only know what speaks to my soul - so maybe there's something I just don't get. The beautiful paintings of myriads of cherubs gloriously whisking the Virgin Mary away just seem off to me. I realize that these are artistic expressions and not a journalistic account, but it's the essence of the depictions that doesn't feel quite right. Mary was the most profoundly human (human as in living in relationship to God) person to ever live. The satisfaction of humanity is destiny - full union with the One we were created for full union with. Our Lady lived this destiny perfectly throughout her earthly life, and when it was time for that life to come to a close, her destiny was actualized in a way that would not only justly reward the person she was but also serve the rest of Creation as a promise of what is to come - what is, in a way, going on right now. Yes, this event - humanity fully sharing divinity - is glorious; I just picture it more simply. I imagine a stirring in her heart, a quiet Voice speaking without words saying "It is time." And then she was gone and yet more fully present then ever - able to be a mother to every single soul, not just those who were blessed enough to be in her physical vicinity. Being the epitome of humanity, I think Mary's experience would be the epitome of human experience. And God usually speaks to His children in a quiet simplicity that is infinitely more beautiful than all the cherubs anyone could ever paint.

As I write this though it seems very unfair to the artists who created these works. How would you paint the Voice of God? I think they did the best they could, knowing they would fall short but still compelled to try, trusting in God to do something beautiful with what ever they could offer in love.

Blessed is she who trusted that the Lord's word to her would be fulfilled! May we see heaven as our goal and come to share in her glory!

Oprah and Giussani

I'm watching a rerun of an episode of Oprah entitled "Why Did You Get Married?" The show only started 10 minutes ago, and I'm already shocked by the answers to the title question. Almost everyone answered with some variation of "I don't know." When Oprah asked them about their expectations for marriage most of the responses were similar. I don't understand how anyone could undertake something that huge without an equally huge amount of prayer, discussion, introspection and preparation.

This has certainly highlighted for me the importance of living with intention. If I had to sum up the message of Is it Possible to Live This Way? in one word (please don't make me!) I would have to choose THINK. Giussani constantly challenges us to examine our minds, hearts and lives. I'm very new to Communion and Liberation, and I'm just starting to be able to put my experience of this charism into words. One of my favorite things I've learned through the movement so far is that we (we as in human beings, not just members of CL) should never allow ourselves or each other to mindlessly coast. Better still are the underlying implications of this: we are worth more than what we would settle for if it weren't for Jesus Christ. Through Christ, with Christ, and in Christ this "more" which would have been lost in original sin is not only restored but made truly present.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Prayer request

As you may or may not know, I'm scheduled for kidney surgery on the 22nd. I'm starting a novena today and asking for your prayers. St. Benedict is the patron Saint of kidney issues, and he's been very helpful thus far. The 22nd is the memorial of the Queenship of Our Lady, and she's always been gratuitously good to me, so I'm feeling blessed all around.
This whole situation has actually been a blessing because I've learned so much. My understanding of God's goodness has been deepened and broadened. His goodness transcends our limited experience. It's not just what He does, it's Who He is! I've experienced His love and strength in countless ways, but I sense it most through the prayers of those who care about me. This strengthens my faith in my vocation - I hope my prayers can help others (especially those who suffer) to encounter the love of God who is Love Himself. Thank you for your prayers - past, present and future.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A middle of the night prayer

Holy St. Clare, beautiful in every way, I feel so blessed in my calling to be one of your spiritual daughters. Please pray for me, and obtain for me the grace to love our Lord with all that I am. This is the desire of my heart. Amen.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Holy St. Clare, pray for us!

"O wondrous blessed clarity of Clare! In life she shone to a few; after death she shines on the whole world! On earth she was a clear light, now in heaven she is a brilliant sun. O how great the vehemence of the brilliance of this clarity! On earth this light was indeed kept within cloistered walls, yet shone abroad it’s shining rays; it was confined within a convent cell, yet spread itself through the whole world."

CLARE, a close friend of St. Francis of Assisi, lived in the 13th Century. Her reputation was like that of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, "a saint in our midst".

CLARE was born into a wealthy family, educated in the domestic arts of spinning and needle work, reading and writing. She knew about St. Francis because of his love for the poor. Francis' father was a successful cloth merchant. In 1204 Francis enlisted in Assisi's war with Perugia. After a year as a prisoner of war, his view of society and its social structures was forever altered.

During this time, urban development was beginning and capitalism was in its infancy. Goods were created through cheap labor and poor working conditions. Francis could see that the poor were most harmed by capitalism and urbanization. He left his father's business and began a simple life dependent on God. He begged and preached in the streets of Assisi and ultimately formed the community of Friars Minor.

IN 1210 Clare heard Francis preach detachment from things and money, to live in faith, that God will provide as God cares for the birds of the air (Matt 6). Assisi

IN 1212 Clare left her family and joined Francis. Inspired by Francis' faith, Clare lived and believed in Divine Providence. She depended on God to supply what she and the community needed. Her small group of followers became known as Poor Clares.

IN the document on her canonization in 1255, a number of miracles are re-told. Once, finding an empty jar of oil filled when they were in need, Clare believed God had filled it as "a gift of divine generosity". Clare accepted all things and people as a gift from God. She lived among her community as an equal doing daily works with everyone else. She was attentive to the well-being of each sister. Once Clare suspected a sister was suffering from depression and gave her extra sensitivity and care. The nun was restored to health and peace of heart, the canonization document says. The "Legend of Clare" tells us she healed a young boy with an emotional disorder.

FRANCIS also respected Clare's gifts of listening and insights. He and the brothers went to Clare whenever they had to make an important decision. Pope Gregory IX, a regular visitor, often consulted her opinion. Soon Clare and her communities became known for their care and prayers for people in need.

CLARE was canonized two years after her death and thousands of women still follow her inspiration as Poor Clares around the world. We are blessed to be among these.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The point of no return

Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi and he asked his disciples,“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah,still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living
God.” Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.

Peter takes a huge step, the step, in this passage. Those who thought of Jesus as a prophet, teacher, healer, etc still had an out. They could follow Him without fully investing themselves. They could listen to His teachings and say "That was interesting." or "Hmmm, something to think about." When Jesus taught something that was difficult for them to accept, they could ignore that part of His message. When following Him began to cost them something, they could fade away and go back to business as usual.

When Peter proclaimed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the Messiah, the One they had all been waiting for, he passed a point of no return. When another person - no matter how wise he or she is - tells you something, you can choose whether or not to believe it, accept it, allow it to affect you. This doesn't make sense when it's God doing the talking. It's irrational and untrue to ourselves to go against the One who created and sustains us.

I think of Peter following Jesus in the weeks and months before this exchange and wonder what was going on inside his mind and his soul. I imagine this Reality of all realities slowly growing in his heart.

"Could He be the Christ... this isn't how I pictured the Messiah... no He can't be - He's a carpenter from Nazareth... but He's not just a carpenter, there's something more there... there's something about Him - I can't name it and I don't understand it, but I can't deny it... what if He is..."

I imagine this interior dialogue being fed by his experiences - experiences that answer some questions, but raise new ones. Until one day the question is asked, the line is drawn, and something inside of him responds to invitation inside the question. There's no turning back now - he's all in.

From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.

The acceptance of this Truth changes everything else. It changes Peter and the other disciples, and it changes their relationship with Jesus. They are no longer spectators, they are participants. They are playing an active role in the story of the world's salvation.

Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.” He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

But what is this role supposed to be? Peter gets it wrong because he forgets who Jesus is. He's shaken by the things Jesus tells them about what He will have to suffer. How could this happen? He's confused, angry and afraid. He slips back into his old mind set, and forgets that he is talking to the Son of God. How many times have I responded to God in faith, and then stumbled backwards? Thankfully, Jesus is there to rebuke me - show me where I'm wrong and remind me of who He is and who I am in relationship to Him. He reminds me that I'm no longer a subject but an heir to the Kingdom. He invites me to think as God does - to be in full communion with Him. Each time I pass a point of no return - this happens continuously throughout our lives as we're called deeper and deeper into the mystery of God - Jesus holds me to it. He won't let me be any less than the one He created me to be.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

An answer that raises more questions

This started as a response to a question on I’m continuing with it as an exercise in articulating exactly who I believe God is and who we are in relationship to Him.

God created us because God is love and true love is always life giving, over flowing, profuse. True love seeks perfect union with the object of that love. True love also desires what is good for the one who is loved – so much so that He will sacrifice His very self for this end. God created us out of love, but because He loves us He couldn’t stop there – He continues to long for us. He wants us to share in His divine nature, in the communion of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is also what is good for us. Union with God is where we find perfect happiness, peace, truth, beauty – everything good. Union with God is also where we become all we have been created to be. To be one with God, we have to be like Him, and we need His help. We need contact with something holier than ourselves to become holy. Water cannot boil by trying really, really hard; it can only boil when it comes in contact with a source of heat – something it can’t make on its own. Recognizing this, we can see that God does not require our love and worship out of narcissism. God longs for us to allow Him to make us all we were created to be, but He will never force His love on us. Until we accept our dependence on God, He cannot help us. Those who think they are healthy will not let a doctor care for them – even if they are in fact very ill. Submitting to God should not come from being crushed by the fist of guilt or shame or fear. Opening ourselves to God should be a response to the Love He first lavished upon us. It doesn’t mean serving a cruel, faceless dictator; it means accepting the guidance of a Father who is Love and offers to make us into the same so we can perfectly share in this Love forever.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Please pray a novena to Saint Clare with me!


O most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we praise your Holy Name and the wonders of grace you worked in your servant, Saint Clare. Through her powerful intercession grant us the favours we beg in this novena, above all the grace to live and die as she did in your most Holy Love. Amen.

First Day

O Seraphic Saint Clare, first disciple of the Poor Man of Assisi, who hast abandoned all riches and honours for a life of sacrifice and of highest poverty, obtain from God for us the grace we ask(State your intention here...), that of always submitting to the Divine Will and of living confidently in the providence of our Heavenly Father. Amen.

Second Day

O Seraphic Saint Clare who, notwithstanding living separated from the world hast not forgotten the poor and the afflicted, but hast become a mother to them, sacrificing for them your riches and working for them innumerable miracles; obtain from God for us the grace we implore(State your intention here...), Christian charity towards our brethrenin all their spiritual and temporal needs.Amen.

Third Day

O Seraphic Saint Clare, light of your country, who hast delivered Italy from barbarous invaders; obtain from God for us the grace we implore(State your intention here...), that of overcoming all attacks of the world against faith and morals thus preserving in our families true Christian peace with a holy fear of God and a devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. Amen.

Fourth Day

Blessed Saint Clare, whose very name means light, illumine the darkness of our minds and hearts so that we might see what God wishes us to do and perform it with a willing and joyful heart. Before your birth, a Heavenly voice foretold that you would be a light illuminating the world. Be a light to us in the sorrows and anxieties of this earthly life, and lead us into the eternal light of our home in Heaven. Amen.

Fifth Day

O Seraphic Saint Clare, whose virginal heart was great enough to love the whole world, take our petitions into your pure hands and present them to God. Pray for us that we may one day enter joyously before the throne of God. Let the light of your perfect purity consume the shadows of sin and corruption that darkens the world. Intercede by your innocence for our youth. Safeguard the peace of our homes and the unity of our family. Plead with your chaste love for all in peril. Amen.

Sixth Day

Generous Saint Clare, who left wealth and pleasure and all earthly goods to become the first spiritual daughter of Saint Francis and to serve God in the cloister, help us to commit our lives to God without limit or measure so that He may live in us and shine forth from us to all whose lives touch ours. You who loved souls so much as to make your life a continual sacrifice for them, obtain for us the graces we now implore and win for us the strength to praise God in suffering as well as in joy. Amen.

Seventh Day

Faithful Saint Clare, loyal daughter of the Church, friend and confidante of popes, intercede for the holy Church and look graciously from Heaven on our holy Father Pope. Enlighten us to remove from our souls all that hinders the progress of the Church on earth. Grant that we may share your great love for the church of God and spread His kingdom on earth by a holy life. You, who worked miracles in the presence of the pope on earth, obtain for us the graces we need, now that you stand in the presence of the most high God in Heaven. Amen.

Eighth Day

Valiant Saint Clare, who fearlessly stood alone against the barbarous Saracens, trusting in the Blessed Sacrament as your only protection, enkindle in us a tender love for Jesus Christ; help us to live Eucharistic lives. You who saved your city of Assisi from plunder and ruin, protect our city and archdiocese, plead for our beloved country and the suffering world. A voice from the Sacred Host rewarded your trust with a promise: "I will always take care of you." Glorious Saint Clare, from your high place in Heaven, take care of us now in our earthly needs and guide us by your light to Heaven.Amen.

Ninth Day

Gracious Saint Clare, who fulfilled your womanhood by a life of love in prayer and penance, help us to fulfill our destiny that we may one day greet you in Heaven. You who were consoled at your death by a vision of Christ band His Mother, obtain for us the grace that we may die under the special protection of God and enter into the life and bliss you now enjoy. Have pity on us who struggle, on us who mourn, and win for us the favours of God so that after this life we may come home to Him who lives and reigns forever and ever.Amen.

Closing Prayer

V. Pray for us, Saint Clare.

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us Pray:We Pray You, Lord, Grant us Your servants who celebrate the festival of Blessed Clare your Virgin, by her intercession, to be partakers of the joys of heaven and coheirs with Your only-begotten Son, Who being God, lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.