Posted tagged ‘Catholic’

Saint “Enemy”

April 18, 2013

Saints are my heroes
and–praise God!–
my friends.
Their lives radiate
who I long to be…
and what God has said He wants
for me.

God does not will
the mess we have made of ourselves.
He thirsts for our restoration
(with our participation).
He’s giving us time
to turn our lives around:

The Lord does not delay His promise, as some imagine,
but deals patiently for your sake,
not willing that any should perish,
but that all should return to penance
~II Peter 3:9

He wants us safe
in the truth that sets us free (John 8:32):

For this is good and acceptable
in the sight of God our Saviour,
Who will have all men to be saved,
and come to the knowledge of the truth
~I Timothy 2:3-4

More,
He desires our holiness, our glory,
the splendor of righteousness!

For this is the will of God,
your sanctification
~I Thessalonians 4:3

The just shall shine like the sun
in the Kingdom of the Father
~Matthew 13:43

But we all, with unveiled face,
beholding the glory of the Lord
are being transformed
from glory to glory
by the Spirit of the Lord
~II Corinthians 3:18

The glory of God is man fully alive,
but the life of man is the contemplation of God.
For if the manifestation of God
which is made by means of the creation,
affords life to all living in the earth,
much more does that revelation of the Father
which comes through the Word,
give life to those who see God.
~St. Irenaeus of Lyons (Against Heresies, IV, 20, 7: PG 7, 105)

As we become who we are,
we glorify the Lord
Who glorifies us!

…but God doesn’t just want this for me.
He wants it for every man, woman and child He’s ever created…
including the people
who try my patience,
get on my nerves,
frighten me.
That doesn’t mean they’re not saint material!
Saul (greatest persecutor of the Early Church)
became St. Paul (see Acts 9).
St. Paul & St. Barnabas had a falling-out over John-Mark
(Acts 16:37-39).
The list goes on.

It is a serious thing
to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses,
to remember that the dullest, most uninteresting person
you talk to
may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now,
you would be strongly tempted to worship,
or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet,
if at all, only in a nightmare.
All day long we are, in some degree
helping each other to one or the other of these destinations.
It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities,
it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them,
that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another,
all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics.
There are no ordinary people.
You have never talked to a mere mortal.
Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations
– These are mortal, and their life is to ours
as the life of a gnat.
But it is immortals
whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit –
immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.
― C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

And since God is eternal,
what will be
(in my time-limited experience)
already IS
for Him.
He doesn’t have to wait.
He can name His own
now
according to their final destiny.
He knew Saul as St. Paul
from the foundation of the world.
He knows my “enemies”
(and those I’m tempted to look down on for any reason)
for the glorious saints He created them to be.

I tried it on for size,
putting “saint”
in front of the names
of people I know–
myself, for starters
(I’m responsible for my own sainthood first!),
then the easier ones,
working up to the names that make me wince.

St. N., St. N., St. N…

Let it be, dear Lord.
And may the way I think of
and treat these people
help them to become
the glorious, winsome, inspirational saints
You created them to be!

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God Did it First

April 17, 2013

Simply to be known and loved by [Jesus],
as [the Apostles] do in fact feel known and loved
by him,
unaccountably gives a new savor
of excellence and worth
to their poor lives.

~Erasmo Leiva Merikakis,
Fire of Mercy, Heart of the Word, Vol III
Meditations on the Gospel According to Matthew

Q: Why did God make me?
A: God made me to know Him, to love Him and to serve Him here on earth
and to be happy with Him forever in Heaven.
~Baltimore Catechism

God designed me to do for Him
what He did first for me!

He knows me, inside and out:

Before I formed you in the womb knew you
~Jeremiah 1:5

O Lord, You have probed me
and You know me;
You know when I sit and when I stand;
You understand my thoughts from afar (etc.)
~Psalm 139

He loves me:

As the Father has loved Me,
so I have loved you.
Live on in My love
~John 15:9

Love, then, consists in this:
not that we have loved God,
but that He has loved us
and has sent His Son as an offering for our sins…
We have come to know and to believe
in the love God has for us…
We, for our part, love
because He first loved us
I John 4:10, 16, 19

He serves me:

I AM in your midst as One Who serves you
~Luke 22:27

This is Truth
that needs to sink in,

to give a new savor of excellence and worth
to my poor life,
and give birth to a response–
that I may become who I am,
knowing Him,
loving Him,
serving Him
here on earth
in preparation for being happy with Him
forever
in Heaven.
Amen!

It’s Not Me

March 16, 2013

In every block of marble I see a statue
as plain as though it stood before me,
shaped and perfect in attitude and action.
I have only to hew away the rough walls
that imprison the lovely apparition
to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it.
~Michelangelo

Awakening Slave

I’m imprisoned in my own block of marble
in much that is not me,
in thoughts and vices, desires and habits
foreign
to the saint God is making
of me.

It can be hard to tell the difference.
I’m attached to what is not me.
It feels like me.
The process of chiseling away what doesn’t belong
is painful
and slow.

I’m tempted to say,
“Oh, that’s just the way I am.”
But that would be to leave myself imprisoned,
forever unfulfilled.

God sees me.
He sees the lovely apparition
imprisoned
in unloveliness.
He is hewing away
the rough walls
to reveal to others
what He sees.

But unlike Michelangelo’s statue,
I participate in the process.

I can resist
or cooperate.

As reactions rise unbidden within me,
thoughts,
desires,
aversions,
protests,
I’m learning to ask,
“Is that me?”

Is that thought, desire, aversion, protest
worthy
of St. Me?
Is that the glorious masterpiece
God is creating me to be?

Or is it just so familiar
that it feels like me?

Would God say,
“Oh, that’s you!”
Or would He quizzically remark,
“That’s not like you!”

I’m learning to let the chisel fall
when it’s not me.

The Pharisee’s Lament

March 6, 2013

+Luke 15:1-3, 11-32 (prodigal son)

I am the older brother
looking down
a supercilious nose
at scum
I hoped to never see again.
How dare he!
drag the filth of pigpen
to our fine and honest house!

But I’m the pig!

I see that
in my father’s eyes
as he comes out to plead with me
–not that he scolds–
I see myself for who I am
compared to him.

I am the one who’s soiling
our home
with ugliness
and stench.

My brother has come clean–
but I have not.
I envy him!
Resentment still infects my heart
and poisons those I meet.

I am ashamed,
but pride entraps me
so that I cannot admit
that I am wrong,
cannot believe
that there is mercy
to restore
the likes of me.

I’d rather spend the night
in misery
here in the outer darkness
with the beasts
than join the feast.
This is my self-made hell
on earth.

Please pray for me!

Deep in my soul
I really do want
to come home
for the first time.

Candlemas

February 2, 2013

I couldn’t care less
if a groundhog sees its shadow today.

I care very much
if I’m seeing shadows.

Today the Light of the World (John 8:12)
enters His holy dwelling.

the glory of the Lord entered the temple
-Ezekiel 43:4

the couple brought [Jesus] up to the temple
so that He could be presented to the Lord
-Luke 2:22


If my eyes are on Him
the shadows fall behind me.

I only see shadows
if I’m turned away from Him…

That would be
a very long winter indeed.

Go to Joseph

December 4, 2012

Go to Joseph
and do whatever he tells you
-Genesis 41:55

The Old Testament Joseph sold the people food
in the midst of famine,
ultimately accepting their livestock, land
& finally the people themselves in payment for nourishment
(see Genesis 47:16-26).

When we “go to Joseph”
–either one–
he will tell us the same thing.
For the sake of our soul’s nourishment,
we must be sold-out to God–
lock, stock and barrel!

Friends Help Friends Get to Confession

November 26, 2012

I’m one of those who leaves skid marks
all the way up to the confessional door…
every time.

It’s just a tough sacrament.

But we need it today like never before.

We’re in the midst of spiritual warfare.
This is our most potent weapon.

When you have made a good confession,
you have chained up the devil.
-St. John Marie Vianney, Cure of Ars

Confession fulfills the first words of Jesus’ public ministry:

Repent and believe in the Gospel!
-Mark 1:15

And makes the angels rejoice.

I tell you, there will be more joy in Heaven
over one repentant sinner
than over ninety-nine righteous people
who have no need to repent
-Luke 15:7

I wondered–
where does God expect to find 99 righteous people
who have no need to repent
when He says, “There is none righteous” -Romans 3:10.
Then it dawned on me that the people who are already in Heaven
are righteous & can’t sin anymore!
“Nothing unclean shall enter it” -Revelation 21:2

Growing up, it never occurred to me to go to Confession.
I didn’t know anyone who did.
Oh, I made my First Confession–about 2 years after First Communion
(so I never associated the two),
and the general message was that it’s practically impossible to sin.
We’re good people!
There were penance services the two years I was in a Catholic grade school, but all I remember about those was darkness, guilt and fear.
Somehow I missed the forgiveness part.

It was only in college that I went again–
when they had Advent & Lent penance services.
I was at the church every time they had an event,
so I went, shaking all the way.

I still didn’t get the forgiveness part…
but it finally occurred to me (thank you, guardian angel!)
to confess something that had a stranglehold on me.
That broke the neck of the compulsion.
Oh, it still managed to flail a few times.
Further Confessions put another bullet in its head.
I daren’t toy with it–it is still a weak spot–
but I’m not in bondage to it anymore.

There’s power in Confession.

From then on, I tended to go twice a year–
at the Advent & Lent penance services
(although there were still years when I didn’t go at all).
And every time it was like pulling teeth.

I didn’t know what to say…
(or if I did–well, if you’ve gone, you know!)

In every other sacrament, the words are given to you.
In Confession, you have to come up with your own.

Take with you words and return to the Lord
-Hosea 14:3

I read through every examination of conscience I could get my hands on.
I read books on Confession.
I asked priests for help.

One finally said, “try coming more often.”
I gaped like a goldfish.
If I don’t know what to say twice a year
how on earth am I going to know what to say more often!

But it was something I hadn’t tried yet…(!)

And when I learned about indulgences
& that the Confession requirement for a plenary (souls out of purgatory!)
is covered if you go to Confession every two weeks,
I set that as a goal.
If I can’t get up the nerve for my own sake,
at least I can help somebody else!
(‘course, going to Confession helps everybody who has to deal with you! ;))

I don’t always make it.
Some weeks there are too many other people waiting to go
(wouldn’t want to compete, or anything!)
but usually it’s just a lack of words.
And I still leave skid marks every time.
Nor do I feel the euphoria most people report afterward.

I just go anyway.

This is definitely a work in progress,
and I expect it will be for the rest of my life.

But my life is changing, one wrestled-through Confession at a time.
Every time I go, I’m exposing my soul to the very graces I need
to overcome the sins I just confessed.
Asking every two weeks,
“so, where did I go wrong this time?”
motivates me to steer clear of “slippery slopes”
that put me at risk.
And just knowing Confession is coming up
gives me another weapon against temptation–
“oh no you don’t! I don’t want to have to confess that again!”

It’s a good thing.
It’s something I want for my friends, as hard as it is.
Let’s help each other.


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