Thursday, January 31, 2008
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Dr Frankl a well renowned psychiatrist, who was imprisoned at Auschwitz came to this conclusion. He recognised even in the midst of the most evil tyranny when the heart and soul of man is immersed in the dark shadows of hopelessness the difference between living and death is when we recognise that though our bodies maybe crushed still we have the power to choose our attitude. Dr. Frankl wrote, "Everything can be taken away from man but one thing: the last of all human freedoms-to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances".
At times we all face difficult times and situations but it is how we handle these adversities that will either make us or break us. When we face betrayal what ever form it takes, it is only natural that at first we will feel hurt and our hearts will become crushed. Then comes fierce blinding anger, even rage, but what do we do with what can be harmful emotions?
In order to heal we must harness the anger that has been unleashed and through prayer we allow the gentle movement of the Holy Spirit to make benign the anguish that once pierced the depths of our soul. As we pray we also pray for the one who has tried to do us harm, for in praying for our enemies we free ourselves from hate.This is not to say that the evil done is to be condoned, but it is to say that the evil done to you has not gained ground in the inner most depths of your heart.
At times the greatest obstacles we face is not the actions of another but our own reactions to those who try and bring harm to us or our loved ones by trying to destroy our good name and reputation. We must at all times protect our families from harm but we cannot achieve this by doing harm to another. This simply creates a vicious cycle of action and counter action, of insult and counter insult, and in the end who gains by this counter productivity? No-one!
Rather than become victims, turn what was meant to harm you into an act of empowerment, as you turn to God and allow the Triune Spirit to comfort, strengthen and guide you to make the right decisions and choices. In the end if those with 'listening ears' choose to believe the slander and malice done by another was that person a friend in the first place?
By looking at all things as blessings in disguise we can cauterize the pain of the hurt done and instead focus on the good that has come from it, for God turns all things good when we allow Him too. This negates the power of the one who has tried to destroy you by innuendo and false accusations, and instead it opens your own spirit to the work of the Divine and through this window we glimpse what we can become when we allow God to work within our souls.
Sometimes the strongest person is not the one who can shout the loudest, but the one who can remain calm while all hell breaks loose around them. For when we follow our Lord and Savior should we expect to be treated better than our Master? Why then are we so surprised when our names are slandered, or when we are falsely accused? If we choose to follow in the footsteps of Christ we must expect more thorns on our path than rose petals.
In the end most of our behaviour is driven by a need to justify ourselves to those around us. When in fact, the real essence is to find meaning and purpose through the pain of betrayal and from this painful experience we will have learnt to lift our hearts to the Lord in prayer and through this path comes wisdom.
For the price of wisdom is pain and the fruit of pain is giving and giving till it cost just as the Master did before us.
Written by Marie
Sunday, January 27, 2008
I can tell you what it doesn't mean. It doesn't mean we must make sure we have gained every material advantage for ourselves and our families.
We think if we gain many 'things' then we are a success, but what price was paid for a gaining of these material luxuries?
Were we born so that we could fill our homes with plamsa TV screens, computers and all the latest gadgets and gizmo's? Is our faith all about making sure we have saved enough money to educate our children in the finest universities so they may become materially wealthy?
And when these youths graduate do parents then allow them to behave wildly and party before settling down to more 'serious' things, like earning lots of money? Would it not be better to send these young men and women to work with the Missionaries of Charity or other Catholic Charities? So that our youth will understand that life is not about getting the best, but of giving the best of yourselves to another in need?
Did God create us to live in a corporate world?
A world of steel and concrete. A glass prison where our souls are enchained, as we walk the corporate treadmill in a mad race to be the best and the brightest, at what exactly?
And for those on the opposite end of the financial spectrum who cannot afford to send their children to the finest universities. Who are your childrens teachers? Drug Lords and Gang leaders?
Our youth are becoming emotional vacuums where the currency is not serving others but serving self.
We admire and revere our Saints without understanding that we are today's Saints.
Marriage does not preclude one from Sainthood, St. Gianna Molla is one example another is Louis and Zelie Martin, who raised a Saint, their daughter Therese.
We were not created to live comfortable lives of suburban bliss or corporate power. And once we reach a certain age we can then retire and live comfortably off our assets. Is that what faith is, to make sure that our own interests are served first?
We were born powerful, we were born to speak The Truth without compromise, we were born for greatness.
You are a child of God, a witness to The Truth in an age of untruths.
We must make sure we remain true to The Catholic Churches Teachings but we cannot do this if we live our faith in such a way that we become too frightened to speak God's Truth. We become essentially agreeable to all faiths.
Is it a case that your faith may not be my faith so let us honour your faith lest mine cause offense?
The devil is in the detail and the detail here is when we compromise our beliefs so as to be seen as open minded and inclusive.
In order to be courageous and speak God's Truth unflinchingly we must understand that we are not placed on this earth to be amenable to every pervading fad or thought. As Christians we must not be fainthearted but instead to stand on Truth alone, lest we find ourselves living...a lie.
Written by Marie
What is maturity ? Maturity is the ability to control anger and settle differences without violence or destruction. Maturity is patience. It is the willingness to pass up immediate pleasure in favor of the long-term gain. Maturity is perseverance, the ability to sweat out a project or a situation in spite of heavy opposition and discouraging set-backs. Maturity is the capacity to face unpleasantness and frustration, discomfort and defeat, without complaint or collapse. Maturity is humility. It is being big enough to say, "I was wrong." And, when right, the mature person need not experience the satisfaction of saying, "I told you so."
Maturity is the ability to make a decision and stand by it. The immature spend their lives exploring endless possibilities; then they do nothing.
Maturity means dependability, keeping one's word, coming through in a crisis. The immature are masters of the alibi. They are the confused and disorganized. Their lives are a maze of broken promises, former friends, unfinished business, and good intentions that somehow never materialize.
Maturity is the art of living in peace with that which we cannot change, the courage to change that which should be changed -- and the wisdom to know the difference.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
The man who has everything is in some ways a poor man. He will never know what it feels like to yearn, to hope, to nourish his soul with the dream of something better. He will never know the experience of having someone who loves him give him something he has always wanted and never had.
There is a wholeness about the person who has to come to terms with his own limitations, who has been brave enough to let go of his unrealistic dreams and not feel like a failure for doing so. There is a wholeness about the man or woman who has learned that he or she is strong enough to go through a tragedy and survive, who can lose someone and still feel like a complete person. You have been through the worst and come through in tact.
Life is not a trap set for us by God so that he can condemn us for failing. Life is not a spelling bee, where no matter how many words you've gotten right, you're disqualified if you make one mistake. Life is more like a baseball season, where even the best team loses one-third of the game and even the worst has its days of brilliance. Our goal is to win more games than we lose.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Imagine our conversation if I told you I wanted all the things you were capable of giving me, but I didn't want you.
"I want your support. Life is tough and I need to know someone is always on my side. I want your understanding. Mistakes happen. I need someone who won't look down on me every time I fall. I want your help. Some things are just too difficult to do on my own. I want your love so I will always feel loved. I want your protection so I will always feel safe. But... I don't want you."
"I don't want to associate myself with you in public. If people don't like you, they won't like me. I don't want you to show me the way down any paths. I go where I want to go. I don't want you pricking my conscious with definitions of right and wrong. I do what I want to do. I don't want you revealing any plans you have for me. I have plans of my own. I don't want you calling on me when there's work to be done. I'm a busy person. I don't want you interrupting my life."
What kind of a response do you think those 'wants' and 'don't wants' would invoke?
Sure? No problem? I'm in? What can I do for you first?
It's difficult to imagine anyone expecting so much, and so unwilling to give anything in return.
How many of us are having that same conversation...
Sunday, January 20, 2008
May the new day bring you blessings,
as the light comes filtering through.
May your sunrise be as lovely,
as a morning draped in dew.
May the wind blow forth a promise,
sending sweet bouquets your way.
May life seem a little brighter,
as you rise to greet the day.
May the daybreak render pleasure,
as the birds begin to sing
May the distant roll of thunder,
bring forth a touch of Spring.
May the mist embrace the stillness,
like a fire fly in the night.
May an angel walk beside you,
to hold you in the light.
May the rain caress your body
and life drops flood your soul.
May His Spirit come upon you,
to cleanse and make you whole.
May the showers come so softly,
running gently through your hair.
May you touch the living water
and know that He is there.
May the freshness bring you new life,
pushing through the tender sod.
May you pause to pick a flower
and brush the hand of God.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Anyone driving by me, saw someone taking a leisurely walk. They had no way of knowing what I was really doing - walking in prayer.
I used to think prayer was a head down, eyes closed, solemn occasion. Then, one day, I looked up and found myself in a moment of prayer. It was a simple 'Thank You'. I wasn't bringing a problem to God. I was offering up gratitude - head up - eyes open - heart light.
Since that time, my prayers have become shorter. Their frequency, however, has multiplied tenfold.
I can't close my eyes and pray while I'm driving, but I can turn off the radio and have a prayerful conversation with my Creator. I can pray while I'm walking, exercising, standing in a long line or doing work around the house.
I no longer connect and plug-in to God at a certain time and place once a day. I engage in a ongoing conversation with Him all day long, about all aspects of my life.
I don't have to go running to Him every time something goes wrong if I don't run away when everything is going right.
The less I talk, the more I listen. Shorter prayers allow me to carry on a real conversation - both talking and listening. Answers aren't drowned out by the sound of my own voice, or worse, a running commentary of worry in my head. "Did He hear me? Will He answer? Is He there?"
He hears, He answers, He's there - always. There's no need to ask those questions again and again and again - simply more time to listen and learn and see.
The more I listen, the more I see. Where once I would do down on bended knees and ask God to reveal His fingerprint in my life, I now see whole handprints. They're everywhere - in all of life.
A solemn occasion calls for solemn prayer, and it still has an absolute place in my life, but I believe I'm supposed to be happy about being here, not grim and somber every time I want to talk to God. I'm excited about having the gift of life.
I don't know all the answers. I don't know what the future holds. I can't see the big picture. But I'm excited about walking through it all with the One who does.
The strength of my belief won't allow my face to tighten into a permanent look that says, "Faith is a serious business and if I mean business I better look serious about it."
I simply can't.
One day I opened my eyes, looked up, and experienced an awesome occasion of prayer. A short while later I read John 17, which begins:
"Jesus said these things. Then, raising His eyes in prayer...."
There was no turning back after that.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Well friends, I'm back from my time away. I treasure the time I got to spend with my family. It was bitter-sweet in that there was a death in my family back home so I had to cut my time away short. I ask that you keep us all in your prayers, especially my cousin and her two children ages 1 and 2.
I hope and pray that everyone had a Happy and Holy Christmas Season and that we are all looking forward to this year with arms wide open, hearts wide open and our focus on God and all that He has in store for us this year.
So to the blogs I'm familiar with and those I am getting acquainted with, I look forward to being blessed through your blogs and friendship that inspire, teach and help me in this journey called life.
God bless you all,
Posted by Ginny at 11:00 PM
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Teresa Anawim and her blog 'To Love & To Pray.' I am so glad to see Teresa back blogging again. I love reading her gentle yet challenging reflections.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Is God fair? Not by worldly standards. If God were to follow the worldly order of things, then those who go to Mass everyday, those who eat fish on Fridays and follow to the utmost degree the dictates of their beliefs should get a free ticket into Heaven, right? Wrong!
Faith is not a contest. It isnt a race where there are winners and losers. Most can remember the numerous Gold Medals won by the American athlete Carl Lewis or the numerous Olympic medals won by Susie O'Neill who was given the nickname 'Madame Butterfly' for her efforts in the pool. But who remembers who came last?
The world applauds winners while God shows Mercy to sinners. We are not sent to jail when we have confessed our wrong doing. No, we are forgiven.
This grates on a lot of people who do follow their beliefs to live a Godly life. Why then does God favour the 'Johnny-come-lately' who have led dissolute lives and then at the last minute they seek God's forgiveness? It isn't fair.
God favours the loser in us all, if He didnt we would all be lost for who can measure themselves against the Triune Spirit? Who can equal God?
Our God is a God of the second chance. He is the God who favours the least amongst us. A God who chases the lost soul when all have given up. God stays the course when we have walked away, why? Because God Loves.
Picture God's love as all the oceans and the sea's combined and then see your love as a tear drop, does it bear comparison?
When we look at the Prodigal son, we all feel a little sorry for the one who stayed with his father while the wastrel son spent his fortune on wine, women and song. Yet, the father rejoiced at his son's return. What of the elder son were not his criticism of his younger brother truthful? The elder son was looking for fairness and found his father unfair.
Are we so perfect that we can say to God, 'just give us one chance. We will get it right the first time?' If you can say this then you have made yourself greater than any Saint in Heaven, for every Saint in Heaven believed and was saved by the God of the second chance.
Mend a quarrel. Search out a forgotten friend. Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust. Write a love letter. Share some treasure. Give a soft answer. Encourage youth. Manifest your loyalty in a word or deed.
Keep a promise. Find the time. Forego a grudge. Forgive an enemy. Listen. Apologize if you were wrong. Try to understand. Flout envy. Examine your demands on others. Think first of someone else. Appreciate, be kind, be gentle. Laugh a little more.
Deserve confidence. Take up arms against malice. Decry complacency. Express your gratitude. Worship your God. Gladden the heart of a child. Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth. Speak your love. Speak it again. Speak it still again. Speak it still once again.
Friday, January 11, 2008
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
The difference between niceness and gentleness is this, one is Ego based while the other is Spirit. God calls us to be gentle and loving towards one another without judging and to be compassionate towards all in full knowledge that we ourselves are imperfect.
Who am I- has become a cry from the heart of those who have lost themselves. When asked that question they have no answer. They truly do not know who they are. Why is this so?
It happens over time. It is like a creeping fog that soon envelops the soul till oneday we no longer see ourselves or know ourselves. We live lives of agreeability to just about anyone and anything lest we be thought 'not nice' or 'mean.'
The reason why being 'nice or nicey nice' is Ego based is because we care more about what others think of us than what God thinks of us. It is also convenient, we see instant gratification on the face of those whom we are trying to impress. We dont see the face of God, we see each other and then we compound the error by thinking that pleasing people is pleasing God. No it isnt.
How many times have you been asked to do a friend a favor and though you know your schedule is already maxed out, you end up agreeing to do this favor? Once home though you find you are overworked, overstressed and overwrought, you then take your irritability out on your family. The question to ask yourself is this, why did you agree to do something when you knew you had no time?
Was your motive to impress God or impress your friend?
Another thing that nice people do is to run from challenges, lest our opinion be thought 'judgemental or mean.' At times we are being called to say the exact opposite of what a person wants to hear. To give an example a friend once approached me and told me that she no longer loved her husband and wished to embark on an affair with a fellow worker. My friend asked for my opinion, I gave it to her and said that adultery is a sin and that I hoped she would reconsider and try and improve her marriage. Is it what she wanted to hear? NO!
Nice people become 'yes people.'
In order to be true to yourself then be true to God and stand up for your fundamental beliefs even if it means going against the flow.
William Wilberforce was a man who went against the flow, many of his parliamentary collegues considered him a traitor to his class. Did their personal opinion stop this man from his crusade to stop slavery? NO!
The key to is to care for others without relying on their opinion for your own self worth. Be responsible, be caring but be prepared to move on.
How many of the twelve Apostles remained safe and comfortable? How many of our greatest Saints lived lives of comfort and ease, never rocking the boat?
Until you have been tested you will never know your own capabilities nor will you reach great spiritual heights. You will remain safe.
Is your need to be perceived as 'nice' worth the price you will pay?
"Come here." I sharply said, and the child cowered and wept."Come here." I said--He looked and smiled and straight to my lap he crept.
Words may be mild and fair but the tone may pierce like a dart;Words may be soft as the summer air but the tone may break my heart;
For works come from the mind, grow by study and art--But tone leaps from the inner self, revealing the state of the heart.
Whether you know it or not, whether you mean it or care,Gentleness, kindness, love and hate, envy, anger, are there.
Then, would you quarrels avoid and peace and love rejoice?Keep anger not only out of your works--keep it out of your voice.
Sunday, January 6, 2008
Why is this such a problem? How can people not know who they are?
When you live your life in such a way that you draw back from being tested and run when God is tempering you in fear that the process may be painful, you will never know your own capabilities. You will also never understand your own strengths and weaknesses.
Why? Because knowingly or unknowingly you decided to stay comfortable.
It is much easier to stay comfortable than to challenge yourself or allow another to challenge you. We want to be safe, we want it all without it costing us.
Many lose their identity as they swim in the ocean of 'niceness'. They have lived so long trying to be nice to everyone that oneday they awake and wonder, who am I? Where did I lose myself?
To some extent we confuse 'niceness' as being christian spirited. Many think that in order to be a good Christian we have to be nice to everyone we meet. That is not what faith is about, 'niceness' is not gentleness.
If anything a longing to be perceived as 'nice' is actually a distorted form of self love. A person who is needy begins to live a lie. They become the image of how others see them, this then leads them to live the image and lose themselves while doing it.
The difference with niceness and gentleness is this; niceness wont speak the Truth(God's Truth) in case it causes offense. Or the nice person will remain silent even if they know another is in serious error or in danger of losing their soul. This is self love. A gentle person speaks the Truth without judgement even if it means losing a friendship, the gentle persons focus is on God and not themselves. This is selfless love.
When did we think that in order to be seen as 'nice' we have to be agreeable to just about anything?
A failure to speak the Truth to one who needs to hear it is a failure of love.
Until you have been tested in the Fire of God's Love by living and speaking His Truth irrespective of your own popularity, you know not love. We learn who we are when we have gone through adversity and when our mettle has been tested, but if we keep running, we wont grow. It is that simple.
Unless you are willing to accept that Discipleship costs, you will have thrown away the Pearl of Great Price for the shell.
If you spend your life running from difficult situations, you will remain a shadow of who you were born to be.
The deepest principal in human nature is the craving to be appreciated. If you treat an individual as if they were what they ought to be and could be, they will become what they ought to be and could be.
There is no stimulus like that which comes from knowing that others believe in you. There is no investment you can make which will pay you so well as your effort to scatter sunshine and good cheer where ever you are.
Applaud them when they run, console them when they fall, and cheer them when they recover.
As water is to a flower -- So is praise to the heart of another.
Friday, January 4, 2008
On Epiphany, Christ was made manifest by the shining of a great star. Today Christ continues to make Himself known to us with the same spiritual illumination. The six Sundays which follow Epiphany are known as the time of manifestation. It was difficult for men to realize that God was living among them 1900 years ago. Today we, too, forget that all grace comes through Him, that our life is one with Him and our salvation is in Him. In order to convince His followers of his Divinity, He resorted to miracles — godly acts which mere man could not fathom. These miracles are related in the manifestation gospels. He changes water into wine. He cures the centurion's servant from a distance. He commands the sea and the winds and they obey. With such miracles He proved His Divinity and called those who loved Him to a new apostolate.
One after another declared their all embracing faith. Simeon held the Christ and declared that he had seen the salvation of all men. Do we in our homes see Christ in "the little children who round the table go?" The blind man of Jericho suddenly saw the Savior after years of darkness. What in his blindness had been but a man passing by became for him God whom he now glorified. Do we in our families see the Christ in our husbands and wives or are we still walking in blindness? Can we who have seen nineteen centuries of Christians and multitudes of miracles refuse to believe? Once we are conscious of the infinite price which Christ paid for our souls, our eyes are opened to see our shortcomings.
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
There is a difference between self esteem and self love. Authentic self esteem is to see oneself as we truly are, nothing. It is also to give merit where it belongs, to God. It is the knowledge that we are not the Source of Love, God is. We are able to love only if we empty ourselves of vainglories and accept our humble state.
Self love on the other hand accepts all praise as if it were merited and gives no credit to God. There are many faces of self love, the most glaring is the need to be the centre of attention whether it be by showing off or the need of approbation from others. Self love is distorted love in that the person either thinks too highly of itself or it thinks of itself as too lowly. Both have the same meaning the focus remains on themselves.
When a persons conversation becomes full of 'I' 'ME' 'MY', that is a sure sign of too much self love and not enough self forgetting. Another sign of self love is the inability to accept criticism and perceives constructive criticism as a personal attack.
That wonderful Saint, Therese also recognised this when she was cautioned about speaking the truth to a fellow Sister, here is what Therese said, "If I'm not loved, that's just too bad! I tell the truth and if anyone does not want to know it, let her not come looking for me." Therese was disciplined and did not seek or need the admiration on the part of the novices.
We sometimes misunderstand Therese in our need to turn her into a nice girl who ran around throwing roses. Do we believe this myth because it makes it easier to love her? Or do we believe the myth because it means we do not have to leave our comfort zone?
Yet this most August Saint encourages us to go beyond our limits. To seek nothing for itself but to give of oneself generously but not out of self conceit. All of Therese's focus was on God and God alone and it was God she loved to her utmost being.
Therese is not a comfortable Saint. Can we live her little Way? A Way that seeks to empty ourselves of all Ego? That puts itself last and allows itself to be forgotten to become..nothing in the scheme of things. Can we do this?
We know Therese through her book which her Mother Superior insisted she write, but what of the soul who does not receive this commission are you ready to be unknown, misunderstood and loved only by God?
Therese was a woman of immense strength which had little to do with throwing flowers and smiling sweetly. This was a woman of steel who endured the 'dark night of the soul' who at times in the midst of her own passion had suicidal thoughts. Does that fact make you uncomfortable? It shouldnt. It simply makes Therese human and fallible just like the rest of us.
If you love Saint Therese then love her for the right reasons and not the myths that have sugar coated her deep, intense & profound spirituality.
Therese shows us the difference between self love and authentic love.
The next time you are undergoing a crisis understand one thing, are you making your 'feelings' your priority? Or do you Trust God enough to let go of your need to control yourself and those around you?
If you are suffering do you suffer in silence or do you alert those around you and almost the entire world about what you are enduring?
Therese possessed a crystal purity of the true meaning of suffering and embraced it even as her heart trembled at what lay ahead of her. This young woman lived with fear as the night closed around her and her senses fell in the abyss of negation.
The great lesson of Therese is she loved God for who He is and not for what He had given her or would give her.
Therese loved God more than she loved herself. That is authentic Love.
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
Many people in today’s world are seeking validation in all the wrong places and in the wrong people. This happens when we rely on another's opinion to validate who we are. This then leads to a roller coaster spirituality of great heights and even greater low's.
Whereas, with God He loves us where we are and who we are. Despite the fact that we do not deserve such an Awesome love, still it is God who loves the unlovable, for there is no one on earth who equals God's Goodness and Purity.
This does not mean that God leaves us where we are. No! With our cooperation God seeks to transform us into His Divine image, a reflection of Christ Himself.
Sincere spirituality has nothing to do with 'feeling good.' There is an entire industry dedicated to do just this but in a superficial manner. You cannot fix the outside while neglecting the soul, though your outer self may shine, it shines as does tinsel but tinsel is not gold.
It is when we think that the only thing that will improve us is a better body, a better home or a better job. This is where we stumble and miss out on the most integral aspect of personal happiness. Joy springs from within, and not without.
This spirit of joy cannot be found in self improvement courses or books, for joy has its origins from the indwelling Spirit. This inner joy and peace is that which Christ promised us and is there for all if they seek it with all their hearts and souls. One begins with a spirit of thanksgiving and gratitude to God not for what He has given us, but for who He is.
In order to maintain a healthy spirituality one needs to practice prayer.
Prayer requires discipline. In order to hear the still small voice of God we need quiet times of reflection and intercession, and in a busy world this is not easy. There must also be an understanding that prayer is not an emptying of one's mind, but of focussing one's mind and recognising the Presence of God within the soul. To be still in the Presense of The Divine.
It is when we open our hearts to a loving and forgiving Father that we find our true worth. God transforms our souls into living reflections of His Beloved Son. This is where we find our peace, that peace which Christ speaks of, which the world cannot provide. No matter how alluring the outside package may look for without that inner joy, one becomes a plastic image of the Divine.
The key to peace lay not in the outside world but in the inner sanctum of the soul...Do YOU feel this peace?