Surrender to the Unknown

Photo by Nick Belt

“If someone surrenders himself entirely to God resolving to do
anything for Him, the Lord will protect that person from deception.”

-Brother Lawrence

What if we took steps in life with the heart of a child? with no future
steps laid out except the one in front of us. Kind of like a child who
leaps into the back seat of his family car. He, at times, does not know where
he is going but he doesn’t worry because he knows that mom or dad is driving. That is enough to convince him to make an act of trust. What if we look at what Jesus has done or allowed to happen in our lives? We can come to recognize His guiding hand, we can begin to know and love the driver and we too can make an act of trust. At times it feels as if we are at the edge looking out into the abyss of the unknown trying to convince ourselves to jump, not knowing where we will land.

The Lenten season is a very appropriate time to practice not only acts of trust but willful acts of surrender.

A time always comes when we are caught amid living, astonished at how we got where we are and wondering where we are going next. Personal reflection during moments like these usually begin with a plan. There is a plan, an A, B, C type of plan and it usually includes details of what steps to take first and what backup plan to implement in case the first steps backfire. This reaction to life is lead by our intellect and if our intellect alone is heading our implementations we know that we are off to a bad start. 

Planning is not all wrong, it is a part of our participation with the plan
of God for our lives. He does not discourage our efforts, but he does ask us to look at the root of our motivation for planning. What is the engine that powers our motivation for making life choices? Is our mind or our heart the engine? Do we reason our way through life or do we will our way through life? And what role do we give prayer in all of this?

“Whether you eat or drink or speak or converse with a person in the world, or whatever else you do, be ever desiring God and having your heart affectioned to Him, for this is a thing most necessary for interior solitude, which demands that the soul have no thought that is not directed toward God” (St. John of the Cross)

Surrender begins with the exercise of doing God’s will in our daily duties. We exercise surrender of the will daily so that when the time comes to bend to something big in life our will is strong enough to let go of all it was holding on to. Similar to those who exercise their body so that when the time comes to perform, they are not stiff and weak but agile and strong.

Have you ever tried the “trust fall” when you are near a friend or
loved one? you simply fall in their direction without warning? the idea is that you grow in trust when they react quick enough to catch you. These trust falls are necessary in the spiritual life, they are the choices we make in prayer, the choices we make during times of inspiration, they are the life choices we make with a spiritual guide or with blind faith. If they are made in complete surrender to God and are in union with His will, we cannot be deceived, we are not left wondering if we took a step in the right direction.

If our choices are rooted in our desire for God, they will be done with an intention to glorify Him. If we want to make a change in life but we are afraid because it would significantly change everything we’ve known and lived for, we simply must discern the root of the change, what prompted it? what goal do we hope to achieve by it? is it a pure desire? is it from God? Even if it is not clear where it will lead or if it will even work, as long as we trust God with the initial step, “step A” without creating a B, and a C for ourselves, God will bless it and once we take it, he will ask us to take another step and another. Not B, or C steps, but new A steps and each of them requiring a leap of faith into the unknown.

 

Perfecta Caridad

Hace poco leí un libro llamado In the Face of Darkness, por la hermana Timothy Marie Kennedy, O.C.D. y llegué al capítulo 6 donde leí esta cita, “entre Jesús y el alma fluye una corriente que nadie ve y un diálogo que nadie oye”. Entonces pensé: “si nadie ve la corriente que fluye entre tú y Jesús, ¿de qué sirve?”. Debe haber una razón más productiva para que este diálogo suceda que simplemente ser una corriente invisible.

“Entre Jesús y el alma fluye una corriente que nadie ve y un diálogo que nadie oye”. – Madre Luisita

¡Y por supuesto, encontramos que hay un propósito mayor! Dios tiene una razón para todo y la razón de este flujo de diálogo actual e invisible se llama “caridad perfecta”. Esta idea proviene originalmente de las escrituras, entre otros pasajes, se encuentra en Mateo 5:48 “tú, por lo tanto, debes ser perfecto, como tu Padre celestial es perfecto”. Pero ¿cómo podemos imitar su perfección si no sabemos cómo se ve? ¡Ah! Exactamente… ¿Qué pasa si, ¿qué tal si, esa corriente de diálogo que mencionamos anteriormente era una pieza del rompecabezas? ¿Qué pasa si el propósito de este diálogo fuera en aras de una mayor revelación de la perfección?

Jesús quiere amar el alma y hace justamente eso, si el alma está abierta a recibirlo. Es maravilloso tener una dulce corriente de diálogo con Jesús, sentarse en soledad lejos de todo el mundo y mirarlo mirándote fijamente, en silencio. Para experimentarlo en la Eucaristía y sentir el hormigueo de deleite al unirse a él en el amor. Estás construyendo una relación, esto es bueno. Pero la razón por la que él desea entrar en el alma tan mal es doble.

Amor: ¡su misión es usted! Jesús quiere prepararte con un amor transformador que penetra en tu ser y esto se lleva a cabo en los rincones más íntimos de tu corazón, es un asunto privado entre el amante y el amado. Nadie debe ser invitado a esta reunión entre tú y Jesús, sólo tú y él. Diles a todos que se salgan. Hasta…

Eventualmente, usted llegará a darse cuenta para que Jesús estaba preparando su corazón todo este tiempo, con un empujón de la gracia, por supuesto. La intimidad que le permite deleitarse es por el bien de su familiarizándose con su amor. Él quiere que usted (nosotros) entienda el significado del amor y la única manera de hacerlo es entrando en esta escuela de amor con él.

En el momento en que te das cuenta de que el amor está destinado a conducirte a desear el bien del otro, es el momento en que este diálogo interior que sostenía tan querido se convierte repentinamente para el otro. Ya no es sólo tú y Jesús, sino, en su madurez, se convierte en ti, Jesús, y tu prójimo. Esta relación se transforma en una expresión aún más íntima y completa, se transforma en una expresión de amor perfecto.

Perfect Love

I was recently reading a book called In the Face of Darkness, by Sister Timothy Marie Kennedy, O.C.D. and I reached Chapter 6 where I read this quote, “between Jesus and the soul there flows a current that no one sees and a dialogue that no one hears.” Then I thought, if no one sees the current that flows between you and Jesus what good is it? There must be a more productive reason for this dialogue to be happening than simply being an invisible current.

“Between Jesus and the soul there flows a current that no one sees and a dialogue that no one hears.”– Mother Luisita

And of course, we find that there is a greater purpose! God has a reason for everything and the reason for this flow of current and invisible dialogue can be found in something called, “perfect charity”. This idea originally comes from scripture, it can be found, among other passages, in Matthew 5:48 “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” But how can we imitate His perfection if we don’t know what it looks like? Ah! Exactly. . .What if, just what if, that current of dialogue we mentioned earlier was a piece of the puzzle? what if the purpose for this dialogue was for the sake of a greater revelation of perfection?

Jesus wants to love the soul and he does just that, if the soul is open to receive him. It is wonderful to have a sweet current of dialogue with Jesus, to sit in solitude away from the whole world and gaze at him as he gazes at you, in silence. To experience him in the Eucharist and feel the tingle of delight as you join him in love. You are building a relationship, this is good. But the reason he desires to enter the soul so badly is twofold.

Love: His mission is you! Jesus wants to prepare you with a transforming love that penetrates your very being and this takes place in the most intimate recesses of your heart, it is a private matter between the lover and the beloved. No one should be invited into this meeting between you and Jesus, its only you and Him. Tell everyone else to bud out. Until. . .

Eventually, you will come to realize what Jesus was preparing your heart to grasp all along, with a nudge from grace of course. The intimacy that he allows you to delight in is for the sake of your becoming familiar with his LOVE. He wants you (us) to grasp the meaning of love and the only way to do that is by entering into this school of love with him, and every time you freely engage in this inner dialogue the closer you come to understand what exactly he wants you to do with the relationship you are building with him.

The moment you realize that Love is meant to lead you to desire the good of the other, is the moment when this inner dialogue you held so dear suddenly becomes for the other. It is no longer only you and Jesus but, in its maturity, it becomes you, Jesus, and your neighbor. This relationship moves into an even more intimate and complete expression, it moves into an expression of perfect love.

The Christmas Blessing of Purity of Heart

The Christmas Blessing of Purity of Heart

By: Robert McNamara, Franciscan University

In Advent we await the birth of the Saviour. We await the birth of a baby who is the Saviour. The idea of a baby brings before us thoughts of innocence and purity, but even more so, the idea of a baby who is the Saviour brings before us thoughts of sheer innocence and perfect purity. Innocence means being untainted by evil; the innocent is one who knows not the evil of sin. Purity means having a transparent heart, a heart that is not clouded over by evil but is turned toward the true good and in a true way. Such a heart is clear of all that pollutes love, such a heart sees the world in a true way and is bright with the presence of a love the knows the true good. Unpolluted by the disposition to grasp from the world, the pure of heart receive the good gift of the world as it pours forth from the Father who is Love and cooperates with His loving intent. In this way, the pure of heart live in the presence of the Love of the Father and are innocent of the evil of sin.

Of course, we recognise immediately that such purity is beyond our natural capability. Such purity is too high for a fallen humanity. A humanity that has experienced the fracture of original sin and is constitutionally disposed to personal sin cannot attain to this purity of heart. This leaves us with an apparently insoluble problem. On the one hand, we recognise the need to see the world truly as it is from the depth of a pure heart, to see and love each human person as they truly deserve, simply, to be lovers and beloveds. Yet, on the other hand, we find ourselves incapable of rising interiorly to see and love the human person in this way. To love the other in this personal way is to affirm his true good; first, by recognising the great good of the human individual, then, by being deeply moved by this personal goodness, and, finally, by striving to confirm this person in goodness by seeking his true good. We want this kind of personal love, we want to be lovers and beloveds in this very way. And yet, we find ourselves incapable of doing so, at least properly and consistently. We need help. We need a Saviour.

The Saviour comes in the form of a baby, one who is innocent and pure, vulnerable and dependent. This baby is divine Love incarnate, the centre of a radiant love that flows from the luminous depth of divine life. And yet, He comes to us in the form of a human baby entrusted to the love of ordinary human parents, Mary and Joseph, giving Himself over to their everyday human care. He comes into a simple rural community and loves in a humble child-like way. In this way, the child Jesus is not merely the centre and source of a radiant and pure divine love, but He also seeks to be loved in an ordinary human way, and precisely in everything that comes along with the radical dependence of being a human child. In the same way, He entrusts Himself to our ordinary human love, as a child, seeking our love and care while similarly bestowing His tender child-like love upon us. The child Jesus is the very epitome of innocence and purity, and it is in responding to this divine gift that our own hearts are purified of the evil that ensnares them.

Throughout Advent we await the coming presence of the birth of our Saviour while our hearts grow and deepen in hope-filled expectation of the child to be born. At Christmas we take the child Jesus into our arms and experience the intimate presence of divine Love incarnated as a human child. In the presence of the innocent and pure baby Jesus, in His child-like embrace, the human heart is purified of all that clouds and obscures the presence of divine life. The human heart is healed of its fallen disorder and returned to the kind of unpolluted purity that is transparent to divine love. The bright light of the love of God can then illuminate the dark depth of the human heart and give to the human person an expansive freedom that enables him to respond again to divine love—to be beloved of God, and to respond to Him with love from the innocence of a pure heart. In Advent we await this great gift; at Christmas we will rejoice in this gift. Ocome, o come, Emmanuel

DIGNITY

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“The ultimate test of your greatness is the way you treat every human being”  – St. John Paul II

DIGNITY. What is it? What gives it worth? What determines it? Power? Intelligence? Passions?

Nietzsche would say that we focus wholly on the will by inflating our ego until it works to our advantage. He would determine that it is found in our will to power. The more power we gain the happier we will become. Can we gauge our dignity on that? Kant would say it is held up principally by reason, his categorical imperative would suggest that happy living is determined by the mind. Can we gauge our dignity on that? Bentham would suggest that the key is found in the passions, our emotions determine us. To produce pleasure and avoid pain is the greatest achievement of man, he says. Can we build our dignity on that? Each of these philosophers hold a mustard seed of truth when it comes to what aids humanity in the wholeness of fruitful living. But they only present the peak that adorns a mountain.

A mother gives her son an apple to take to school. He throws it into his backpack, but days go by and he forgets he has it. Days later, when he finds it, it is rotten, so he takes it and throws it away, he simply takes it and tosses it. Now compare this to a dad with his child. His little boy contracts an illness and slowly, due to his illness, the child’s body begins to deteriorate. He is “rotting”. Will his Father simply throw his son away? Now consider why you said “No” without hesitation. And God-forbid you answered “Yes”, consider why you did so.

“You must remember to love people and use things, rather than to love things and use people” -Ven. Fulton Sheen

DIGNITY. We simply have it because we are made in  God’s own image. Because we are made in his image and likeness we automatically become worthy of respect and love. This should wipe clear any distinctions, restrictions, bias, segregation, or requirements to receiving respect.

That example was a bit extreme. Let’s turn to something more applicable. An extinct species, let’s say a Gorilla, is in the forest. Also, in the forest is a man on an impromptu exploration. A scientist is standing nearby observing the gorilla in his natural habitat. The gorilla is only one of 50 left on the earth, so the scientist is very meticulous on capturing every movement and reaction. Along comes the explorer and both he and the gorilla come face to face. Frightened, the gorilla begins to charge toward the man with a growl, knocking the man over. The scientist having a gun for protection, has to choose: which one should he rescue?

We have to remember that the worth of man does not depend on whether or not he is loved, rich, powerful, good, etc. He is a rational being with a divine nature rooted in an immortal soul found to be in God’s image, no one has the right to disregard or trample on that reality. The gorilla, although owed respect, does not hold the same level of dignity.

Now apply this principle truth to a whole community of people. Respect is blind to religion, sexuality, nationality. In denying them our respect, we deny God his respect too. Each of them contributes a brush stroke on the canvas of God’s image, not because of anything they have done to become this image but simply because of who they are: Human.

Short Story- Mary Queen of Heaven!

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It’s kind of like entering into a candy store at the age of 9 and loosing yourself in the infinite sweetness that surrounds you. Everywhere you turn delightful things are displayed before you. The innocence of pleasure fills your very being. You walk about with confidence from aisle to aisle because there is not a care in the world at that point, it is just you and this new moment in time.

That is how this young girl would describe her first zeal for holiness. She was zealous and full of energy, she desired nothing short of holiness because she knew that it was attainable and its sweet aroma drew her near. At first she was very flamboyant and wholly present to all things and people and places. The hope in her heart of knowing Mary, and Knowing Jesus in a way yet to be realized before, was ever-present before her. Daily she wondered what she could do to please them and find favor with them. The morning of Mary’s birthday began with a simple solemn Mass, after morning prayers, this young girl went straight to work, thinking up some wonderful way in which she could celebrate her Mother in heaven. Nothing special came to mind except a cake which her sisters were already planning . It was a beautiful gesture but she wanted to offer her Mother something special and intimate, and didn’t want to stop short of offering a perfect gift. Sitting in the chapel, alone and in the dark, she pondered what it was she could do for her Lady in Heaven, time passed by and she toyed with various ideas but could not settle for any of them. In her disappointment she returned upstairs to the common room for dinner, she heard one of  her sisters comment on the surprisingly late hours for confession that were being offered at the church downtown. Now, recently these young girls were learning about the Desert Fathers and their love of purity, their pursuit of a pure life and desire to inch toward seeing God face to face by using this method of purification. It was something that fascinated her and as her wheels began to turn so too her excitement. And at the peak of her excitement and determination she suddenly got it!!

Her mother approached the common room and the young girl ran to her side and asked, “can I go to confession at 8pm tonight!”. No further explanation was given and no further explanation was sought, silence followed. Her mother stared at her for a minute and wondered why she would possibly want to rush to confession at such an odd time of day. But without hesitation, this poised mother said “yes, you may”. God only knows what she might have been thinking, “this poor young girl could have just committed a grave sin for all I know and is trying to save her soul”. It didn’t take long for this little sister to jump in the car and head out, considering it was late in the evening.

At the church, she sat in the pew and waited her turn, looking up at Mary she says, “Mother, I found the perfect gift for you, I don’t own anything that I can give you and I haven’t got a penny to offer you but what I do have is a heart and like the church fathers, I want to offer you one of the greatest gifts anyone could give you. I extend to you a pure heart, one that I do not yet have but after confession I will wrap it in love and place it at your altar, it is not midnight so your birthday is not over yet,” she says with a grin. On her way home she fought against her thoughts, her surroundings, her intentions, and desires because she did not want to stain the gift that she had just given to Mary. When she entered the community room, she cast her eyes to the ground and swiftly ran past her other sisters, because she did not want to engage in conversation or provoke a bad judgement in her heart. She was determined to keep her heart pure until midnight if she could help it!

It was not until years later that she grew in her understanding of purity of heart, and although the gift was honest and of pure intention she began to learn how much more went into living a life pleasing and acceptable to Mary and Jesus. The seal of habitual goodness, and the laying down of ones will, the desiring only what is asked from God and humble detachment of unreasonable plans or goals became her new pursuit. But she never did forget the day that innocence took over and zeal animated her desire to love her Mother in Heaven.

Familiar Gaze

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True Story!

It seems right for me to muse about a friend I met a few years ago. I first heard about her through a mutual friend and from what I could gather she was a very quiet and simple person; absorbed in her daily duties. Her parents loved her and those who spoke of her only said nice things about her. She received much praise which made me curious to know what it was about her that people loved. So I decided to go and meet her myself. It took me some time to finally come to her and by then I had received a bit more information about her, she was a mother and a wife.

“I don’t know her parents very well” I thought to myself, ” I rather ask her husband about her instead.”

His name was Joseph and he was very nice, he was trusting. I learned that his wife’s name was Maria but the day I went to meet her I wasn’t able to stay, so I promised to come back earlier the next day. When I returned the next day, I didn’t find her at the door instead her Son opened the door and invited me in. He really was a gentleman in every sense of the word. I was impressed and immediately drawn to His kindness. The day was young and the sun was beaming so I asked if I could wait for her outside in the breeze. He said:

“Sure, I’ll join you”

We went to sit outside and He began to share His story. Joseph, the loving man who welcomed me the first day, was actually his adopted father.

“I was an unexpected gift from God for Maria. As much as she loved me, she knew she could not raise Me on her own.”

“She did not get mad at God for giving Me to her,” He continued, “she simply praised Him and said ‘Yes, be it done, Lord.’ Joseph, although a little skeptical of entering into the picture, stepped up and the three of us became a family.”

As He continued to describe His mother, I couldn’t help but marvel at Him. I knew immediately that He was someone special. He was like none other, He was set apart from everyone else, and He choose to pause for me! to wait with me! That felt very nice. The way He spoke about His mother was so tender and loving, He respected her and treated her like a queen. He was so invested in her life and was not afraid of being vulnerable with me in showing that. I forgot that I had been waiting for Maria, and was engrossed in every Word He spoke. He looked into my eyes and I felt as if He was looking into my soul. I didn’t know what to do except take in the moment.

“My mother, is really a sight to behold, I promised her that whoever she loved, I would love. Whoever she received, I too would receive, and whoever came to me I would give to her maternal care, because I know the gift that she is and I would hate to keep her to myself. ” He continued, “when you meet her you will know what I’m talking about.”

At that very moment, Maria walked up to the porch glowing with joy at the sight of her Son. She walked up to us and embraced Him first. He stepped aside and introduces me by name, she turned to me and for a moment the world stopped. Her eyes caught my eyes and she looked at me with familiar affection, I was not a stranger to her, I did not know her but some how I felt she knew me. The gaze of affection was eternal, at least it seemed that way. My heart melted and I wanted to cry, but didn’t know why, this woman was a stranger but her love for me felt like that of a mother. In this warmth I approached her trustingly and embraced her. Her Son had since gone back inside and left the two of us standing there, by now the sun had begun to set. She invited me to sit and enjoy what was left of the sunset.

“Your Son was just telling me about you . . .”

Instead of continuing the story of her life she shifted the conversation and began to ask about me. As much as she was a stranger I did not feel the least discomfort in opening my heart to her. We talked for hours and not once did she take her eyes off of me. She shared many things with me. She asked that I continue to visit, to go to her home and she would continue to meet with me. I leaped for joy at the invitation and asked if I would have an opportunity to speak with her Son too, she reiterated the Words He had spoken to me just earlier:

“whoever I love, He too will love. Whoever I receive, He too will receive.” she said, “He would love to have you here more than you know, trust me.”

And almost on cue we both stood up. The sun had already gone down and we were both left in the shadow of the night. I was not afraid, because I felt as if I knew this family my whole life. It hurt me to have to leave but I knew that I would see them again. Some how I knew that I would always have them with me. My heart was filled that day and my joy was satisfied. Her Son was a keeper, I knew He would become a part of my life forever, I kind of loved Him. Joseph, was a humble man and he made me feel safe, and Maria . . . she was a woman who I knew would teach me how to be a woman, she would teach me how to embrace and use the gifts God had given me and more importantly she would teach me how to love her Son. I went home that day filled to the brim with love in my heart. The walk home was as blissful as the morning dew.

 

When Parenting that Crazy Kid Inside Pays Off

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By: Emma Lindel

This summer a beautiful family welcomed me into their home! I work for an event planning company which clears a common misconception, I’m not their nanny. I really just wanted to live with a bunch of kids running around. To clear another misconception, I have a good loving family myself in this same town. But the question remains:

Why live with this family?

I had recently heard about a group of families who would “teen swop” for a year. The goal was to experience the faith and its unique expression within a different family culture. I wanted this experience too as I continue to consider the direction of my life.

For an hour each weekday morning, I help get the seven children up and moving. One day, I was eating breakfast with the little boy I will call Henry, 2 years old, who thought the CAT digging machine hiding behind the trees was a T-Rex. He sang who knows what in hilariously varying pitches as he ate his half bagel and cream cheese. Needless to say, we enjoyed our morning breakfast. As momentum picked up, and it was time to bring everyone upstairs from the cartoons, there was a little hesitation in me. Am I going to be able to stay strong, in charge, and yet full of gentleness and patience?  Am I going to be able to handle helping everyone navigate their desires and concupiscence? It’s real and all there amidst the muffin with the extra cinnamon crumbles and the coveted floor sweeping chore after breakfast. I need the Lord’s presence in it all. I need to know I’m not alone and that with the Lord there’s room for mistakes.

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Some days I leave amazed by myself in action. Somedays I leave overwhelmed or sorrowful or just skidding by without withdrawing myself. In every situation the Lord is present, and these children remain such a sign to me of Him, His love for me in everything, and that He loves me too much to leave me where I am.

One morning as I struggled with the poor child who had a diaper rash and tried to be gentle with the oldest daughter who had received some hurtful words, I peered my head from around the corner remembering I left a hungry little boy, Anthony I will call him, not even a year old, with his oatmeal out of arm’s reach but in front of him at the table. As I moved my head further out, there was his four-year-old brother, Sam, who had jumped in and was feeding him with a big grin on his face. Those two were living it up. Sam would feed his little brother and in amazement and almost laughing would comment on his big bites. He got napkins to try to keep Anthony clean during the process and I laughed at the little man’s attempts to feed his older brother.

The simplicity and delight these children take in life…it does something to me.

One Sunday, I was entrusted with the task of bringing everyone to Mass. Mom and dad would be gone for the time being, but I was not alone, I was in the company of six of the seven children and five of the six children were able to dress themselves. For this, I was grateful! The drama of the morning was not diaper rashes or children running out the front door without pants on. The drama of the morning was a little boy and the hamburger bun.

Everyone excitedly ate sugary cereal, and then were off to get dressed for Mass. All except Sam. I scan my eyes across the room and I see him climbing on a chair into the pantry. In his hands was a package of hamburger buns. He wanted to eat a hamburger bun “right now.” I’m foreseeing the struggle he’s about to experience when I stop him from pulling down the bag of buns, and begin to look for words and understanding.

I didn’t want him to feel ridiculous or ashamed because he wanted the hamburger bun. I affirmed his desire, but also enforced some boundaries. I don’t not have children, but I’m a child myself. Flowing from my heart was how I try to treat those crazy, hamburger bun eating kids inside of me.  

I tried to help him to see that he would have it at lunch, and having little idea about the cognitive development of a four-year-old, but going for it anyways, I shared with him the reasons I had for setting up this limitation, namely cinnamon toast crunch + donut was already happening in his life and we needed the buns for sandwiches for lunch.

It was time to help his brother get ready. When I finished, I found him on the porch, arms crossed, sitting on the porch swing. He wasn’t giving up. He had decided he wouldn’t get dressed until that hamburger bun was his. As I talked to him, I could see him becoming more content with the idea of waiting. In a moment of becoming aware of being swayed by my words, he tightened up again. He crossed his arms. He would not back down.

There I saw myself reflected in him, tightening up, afraid of losing my ground. Deeper in Sam than his strong, self-centered will, is a desire to be strong and humble. In his innermost being is the Holy Spirit (TOB 16.1). As incomputable as it is experienced, it’s true that admitting we are wrong and that someone knows what is better for us makes us stronger and more humble people. The truth in love is convicting. This, along with threatening no hamburger bun the whole day, gave Sam all he needed to respond to what was good for him. Seeing this boy lay aside his pride through the conviction of a deeper desire and loving support was so beautiful to me.

I turned to Sam as we walked to our car after Mass. “Sam, you finally get the hamburger bun!” He reacted with surprise, gratitude and a fist punch into the air. Again, I was grateful for the beauty of his choice and my participation in it.

There is so much to be received from children. I hope that you, too, receive all the Lord has for you in your relationship with the children in your life!  

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La Compasión Es Pura De Corazón

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“el amor inquebrantable de el Señor nunca cesa;
sus misericordias nunca llegan a su fin;
son nuevas cada mañana.

Lamentaciones 3:22-23

 

 

 

La tristeza es una emoción poderosa que a veces invita respiraciones de dolor a cada suspiro de la vida. Se filtra en el receso del corazón, anima las espinas de la desesperación. Invita desesperanza al alma y atenúa el camino de la vida de forma tan discreta. Esta es la razón por la cual Dios en su plan misericordioso colocó en cada uno de nuestros corazones la capacidad de ejercer la compasión. Pero, naturalmente, la compasión no existe fuera de la comunión. No es un acto singular, requiere un dador y un receptor. Así como el Padre ama al Hijo a través del Espíritu Santo, en nuestro ser fuimos creados para imitar ese mismo amor. Pero ¿A quién podemos amar si vivimos aislados? ¿Con quién podemos sufrir si no tenemos un acompañante? Nos necesitamos los unos a los otros.

¿Alguna vez has tenido una conversación íntima con un querido amigo o miembro de tu familia y terminaste llorando? En algún momento del camino, tu corazón se llenó de compasión de repente debido a algunas dificultades que compartieron. Probablemente fue tu apertura de corazón lo que te hizo sensible a su estado vulnerable y te permitió unirte a ellos de una manera virtuosa, te abriste para sentir por ellos y entrar en su dolor. Tener compasión en tiempos como estos es encontrar a Cristo crucificado en la humanidad y abrazarlo en su agonía. Pequeña en acción, esta comunión de corazones es un poderoso medio de amor; está grabado en el hueco más profundo de nuestro corazón.

La compasión se encuentra en una hija que toma a su madre bajo su techo y la cuida hasta su muerte. A diferencia de la simpatía, no solo siente el dolor de su madre, sino que lo abraza y lo hace suyo, ella “sufre” con su madre. La compasión es lo que la hermana Norma muestra a cientos de familias de inmigrantes que cruzan a los Estados Unidos en busca de una vida más plena. A diferencia de la empatía, no agota su caridad porque es un acto de gracia y recibe ayuda divina. La compasión es un abrazo del dolor del otro, una inclinación amorosa del corazón, un acto de caridad.

Todos los días en el trabajo encuentro a innumerables personas que entran a nuestras puertas en agonía o dolor, vienen porque saben que podemos satisfacer sus necesidades. Es un centro de salud que cuida a los débiles para que vuelvan a la salud. Se les da acceso a todos los remedios correctos y son visitados puntualmente por fisioterapeutas y ocasionalmente médicos. Pero me he dado cuenta de que lo que les produce más alegría es cuando una enfermera se detiene en seco para mirarlos amorosamente a los ojos para preguntar: “¿cómo estás hoy? ¿Hay algo que pueda hacer por ti?” Este gesto simple pero significativo le dice al paciente que alguien más reconoce su dolor y quiere ayudar a aliviarlo. Y a lo largo de su recuperación, las expresiones en sus rostros van desde la tristeza, al anhelo, a un toque de esperanza con un toque de alegría.

Un aspecto único de nuestra unidad como seres humanos es el anhelo que todos tenemos de vivir una vida feliz. No es una búsqueda singular, sino universal y comunitaria. Es lo que une a todos y cada uno de nosotros. Y cuando nos encontramos con alguien que no puede obtener este bien, o está cautivo debido a luchas físicas, emocionales, psicológicas o sociales, simpatizamos con ellos. ¿Por qué? porque reconocemos su vacío. A medida que crecemos en virtud, también crecemos en nuestra capacidad de entrar en el sufrimiento de los demás por el bien de su alegría en el amor. Nuestra simpatía luego evoluciona hacia la compasión. El latido de nuestro corazón se purifica dulcemente cuando reposa en un impulso virtuoso. La humilde resignación en el amor le da al corazón una disposición pura y en este estado desinteresado se realizan muchas maravillas en medio del dolor y la tristeza. Así como Cristo asumió nuestro sufrimiento por el bien de nuestra redención, nosotros también tenemos la oportunidad de enfrentar los sufrimientos de los demás de manera redentora. Pero, si bien nos ocupamos en encontrar el verdadero significado de la felicidad, a veces nos olvidamos de que no se puede encontrar fuera de los demás, fuera del Corazón de Cristo.

Fuera de este contexto, la compasión se convierte simplemente, en una palabra, una expresión de justicia social. Es una palabra que puede ser fácilmente utilizada o abusada. Cuando tratamos de aplicarlo a cuestiones como la eutanasia o el aborto, se convierte en una expresión irónica del corazón. De ninguna manera puede aplicarse una palabra que significa “sufrir con otro” a un acto que disminuye la vida en su existencia. Si no hay vida que cuidar, amar, entregarse, no hay compasión. La compasión está arraigada en el amor y el amor está enraizado en el corazón y el corazón es lo que le da al hombre su esencia. En el corazón encontramos emociones, sentimientos, espiritualidad, todo lo cual ayuda a animar las acciones del hombre. Pero estas cosas, aunque arraigadas en el corazón, no pueden en sí mismas sostener un abrazo compasivo porque están sujetas a cambios. Pero únelos armoniosamente bajo el redil de un corazón puro y encontrará un don desinteresado de amor. De repente, ves a Cristo en cada encuentro y lo recibes con amor.

La perfección de la caridad es solo eso, encontrar a Cristo en cada encuentro. Y de una manera imparcial, compartimos la vida de Cristo al abrazar compasivamente a nuestro prójimo en sus sufrimientos, y como Cristo lo hizo con toda la humanidad, lo hacemos en unión con él en la cruz.

Compassion is Pure of Heart

woman-at-well

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning.”

Lamentations 3:22-23

 

 

Sorrow is a powerful emotion that sometimes invites breaths of pain into every sigh of one’s life. It seeps into the recess’ of ones heart and animates the thorns of despair. It invites hopelessness into one’s soul and dims the path of life ever so discreetly. This is why God in his Merciful plan placed in each of our hearts the capacity to exercise compassion. But naturally compassion does not exist outside of communion. It is not a singular act, it requires a giver and a receiver. Just as the Father Loves the Son through the Holy Spirit, we in our very being were created to imitate that same love. But who can we love if we live in isolation? Who can we suffer with if we do not have a companion. We need one another.

Have you ever had an intimate conversation with a dear friend or family member which ended in tears. Somewhere along the way your heart was suddenly filled with  compassion because of some hardship they shared? It was probably your openness of heart that made you sensible to their vulnerable state and allowed you to unite with them in a virtuous way, you opened yourself to feel for them and enter into their pain. To have compassion in times like these is to encountered Christ crucified in humanity and to embrace him in his agony. Small in action, this communion of hearts is a powerful means of love; it is engraved in the deepest recess’ of our heart.

Compassion is what a daughter has when she takes her mother under her roof and cares for her until her dying days. Different from sympathy she not only feels her mother’s pain, but she embraces it and makes it her own, she “suffers with” her mother. Compassion is what Sister Norma shows to hundreds of immigrant families who cross over to the United States in search of a fuller life. Different from empathy she does not exhaust her charity because it is an act of grace, and is divinely assisted. Compassion is a selfless embrace of another’s sorrow, a loving inclination of the heart, an act of charity.

Every day at work I encounter countless people who enter our doors in agony or in pain, they come because they know that we can meet their needs. It is a health care center that nurses the weak back to health. They are given access to all the right remedies and are punctually visited by physical therapists and occasionally doctors. But I’ve noticed that what brings them the most joy is when a nurse stops in her tracks to simply gaze lovingly into their eyes and say, “how are you today? Is there anything I can do for you?” This simple yet meaningful gesture tells the patient that someone else recognizes their pain and wants to help relieve them from it. And throughout their recovery the expressions on their faces go from sorrow, to longing, to a hint of hope with a touch of joy.  One unique aspect of our unity as human beings is the longing we all have for living a happy life. It is not a singular pursuit but a universal and communal one. It is what unites each and every one of us. And when we encounter someone who is unable to obtain this good, or is being held captive due to physical, emotional, psychological, or social struggles we sympathize with them. Why? because we recognize and acknowledge their void.  As we grow in virtue, so too, we grow in our capacity to enter into the suffering of others for the sake of aiding their joy in love. Our sympathy then evolves into compassion. The beat of our heart is sweetly purified when it reposes on a virtuous impulse. Humble resignation in love gives the  heart a pure disposition and in this selfless state many wonders are realized in the midst of pain and sorrow.  Just as Christ took on our suffering for the sake of our redemption, we too have the opportunity to take on the sufferings of others in a redemptive way. But, while we occupy ourselves in finding the true meaning of happiness, at times we forget that it cannot be found outside of others, outside of Christ’s Heart.

Outside of this context, compassion becomes simply a word, an expression of social justice. It is a word that can be easily misused or abused. When we try to apply it to issues such as euthanasia or abortion it becomes an ironic expression of the heart. In no way can a word that means “to suffer with another” be applied to an act that diminishes life in its existence. If there is no life to care for, to love, to give of self too, there is no compassion to be had. Compassion is rooted in love and love is rooted in the heart and the heart is what gives man his essence. In the heart we find emotions, feelings, spirituality, all of which help animate mans actions. But these things, although rooted in the heart, cannot in themselves sustain a compassionate embrace because they are subject to change. But unite them harmoniously under the fold of a pure heart and you find a selfless gift of love. Suddenly, you see Christ in every encounter and receive him in love.

Perfection of Charity is just that, finding Christ in every encounter. And in an unemphatic way we share in the life of  Christ by embracing our neighbor compassionately in their sufferings, and as Christ did with all of humanity, we do it in union with him on the cross.