God hears the whisper of your heart

God as potter is deeply invested in what he creates. The image of potter is often portrayed as an image of power: God chooses how to shape the clay. For me the image of potter is intimately one with the image of God pouring himself into his creation. It is an image of love. I can hear God listening closely to everything we say as he shapes our lives. The shaping of the vessel is part of an ongoing conversation of love between potter and clay. On a particularly busy day, I (the clay) may tell God (the potter) that I am tired. I need help. It is characteristic of God to bend over the little vessel he is loving into being and care for me. Listen closely, God, to the whisper of my heart. Bend over your creature, here, and let me know your ever tender love.

From the book Cherished by the Lord

 

Cherished by the Lord

Be the Christmas you celebrate

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-353be-a139ef

“See how they love one another!” From the origin of Christianity, people were so attracted by the joy they saw in the followers of Jesus that they eventually felt they no longer could tenably hold to their viewpoints and prior beliefs. This joy and this love then spills over into legal and social action, ministries of justice, and service to the most vulnerable.

Pope Benedict XVI stated in his book Christianity and the Crisis of Cultures: “Our greatest need in the present historical moment is people who make God credible in this world by means of the enlightened faith they live. … We need men who keep their eyes fixed on God, learning from him what true humanity means … so their hearts can open the hearts of others”

So here are some suggestions for this Christmas and holiday season.

Advent is a time for online watchfulness

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-67zgg-a139e9

The end of the liturgical year, the anything-but-quiet waiting weeks of Advent filled with the tug between the contemplative and commercial, the awesome birth of Christ in hearts anew on Christmas night, the first day of the brand new year and the World Day of Peace. . . . There has always been something almost magical about the turn of the year. Children with their excited hope for what Christmas morn will bring and cloistered nuns with their contemplative immersion in the mystery of all Christmas is — and everyone in between — are swept up by something fresh and exciting and innocent in these weeks.

I’ve been thinking about how much we need this gift particularly at this time, this year. Our hearts have been so beaten and tainted by the mainstreaming of aggressive and violent language. It has infiltrated our hearts and minds through social and news media on our computers and television screens. Then like an unwanted blot of dark ink it has soaked into our conversations and relationships and thoughts and desires and dreams….

How can I keep a deep spiritual sensitivity of mind and heart so that I live as a citizen of heaven while yet on this Earth? (Philippians 3:20) The ancient practice of cleansing our thoughts holds a key. This is how I’ve started practicing this watchfulness in these end-of-year weeks.

May my life be a work of art

There are so many good things we could do; how do we know which specific deeds God desires most of us? This passage from the Letter to the Ephesians is full of clues. Words such as “rich in faithful love,” “through the great love with which he loved us,” and “it is through grace that you have been saved” tip us off. God has planned a tremendous work of art for humanity and civilization. This artistic creation is a direct reflection of God’s love and life. It is that simple. The Father, from all eternity, loved the Son. The Son turned around and, instead of holding on to this love which he had received, gave it away. He emptied himself, became a man, walked among us, lived our life, and died our death, so that, as the Father had done, he could pour himself out in love for us who needed salvation. It is by grace that we are saved. The deeds God desires of us are self-emptying acts of service of others, love to the point of giving our lives for one another.

Jesus, make my life a work of art. May I love others with a faithful love that seeks their good before my own.

From the book Cherished by the Lord

God trusts us

Jesus appointed twelve uneducated, unprepared, and unlikely men to help him in the very delicate work of saving the human race. They themselves were part of the humanity that needed salvation. If Jesus wanted the job done right, why didn’t he choose angels he could trust? What mystery that he entrusted himself instead to family, friends, disciples, and women “who provided for” him (Lk 8:3). Today he entrusts himself to you and me.

Never, Lord, will I complain about others in the Church now that I see how you have trusted us from the beginning to carry out your Father’s plan for salvation. Nothing we can do can destroy the power of that plan. Thy Kingdom come!

From the book Cherished by the Lord

9 – How to Live with Greater Love

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-muf78-9e1824

God created the human heart to be like a large box vast enough to hold God himself. When we hate ourselves for what we’ve done or who we think we are, our hearts become smaller and smaller until our spirits have no more room to breathe. Sometimes we don’t think we can bring our shame into the open before God. Perhaps you believe that God won’t forgive you. You hide from God just as you hide from others when you are afraid to reveal your true self. At the root of this unhealthy behavior is the reality that you have rejected yourself. Do you love yourself in all your vulnerability and imperfection? When we refuse to allow ourselves to be held by God in the midst of our struggles, we deprive ourselves of God’s tenderness toward us.

To see who we really are is to see ourselves as God sees us. We need to expose ourselves to the messages, the Voice, the Words of God to know ourselves and others in truth.

Jesus is God in the world

We believe that God meets us in Jesus. Jesus is God in the world as the One who bestows Life and reveals the Father. The Church is the mystery of the Body of Jesus. It stands wide open to us, but, unlike other sociological institutions, the Church’s depths defy our sounding. This is the revelation God has made to us. We do not need to rely on lucky guesses or profound insights. We only need to answer, to respond with belief. Belief finds its own equilibrium through ways that are often unseen. Incredibly, it is only in believing that we know who we truly are. We can stand taller than labels, peel away criticisms, and go beyond curiosity to adoration.

From the book Making Peace with Yourself 

Autumn Gifts

How rich is God in his blessings to all!
 
Today as I reflected over the past month and noticed what God has been doing, I noticed a few of my autumn gifts. These gentle lessons from my Father help me to prepare for the extra-special intensity of Advent and I thought to pass them on to you.
 
1) There is something so refreshingly beautiful about tasting goodness: the goodness of life, of others, of nature, of food, even of difficulties. There is goodness because God is good and He gives Himself entirely to us in all of creation, in others whom I live with or meet, in the Eucharist. Lesson: Commentary, whether kept to myself or externalized through judgments and criticism, mars the goodness of the gift. Live, see, speak, think, judge “with soft eyelashes.”
 
2) Unwinding, resting, leisure is a spiritual need. Lesson: Gentle self-care is important: intentionally blessing the gift of food, honoring the sacredness of cleanliness, getting adequate sleep, moments of rest in nature, which I often call “God’s Cathedral.”
 
3) The gorgeous changing of the colors of the leaves here in New England is magnificent. I have been astounded particularly by the beauty of the leaves just before the sunrise. They are translucent, almost transported into some divine manifestation of God’s own beauty! St. Silouan gently called a monk to task when he broke off a flower as they walked. For the saint, every particle of creation deserves the respect and attention of being precious and a living testimony of divine love. Lesson: Take the time to notice every created thing: leaves, people, the homeless, drivers on the road, Christmas wreaths, cards I receive, bird song, clouds and sunsets, everything. Treat each living thing with gentle respect.
 
As we approach Thanksgiving, what have been your autumn gifts? How has your Father been manifesting his goodness to you, opening your eyes, and ears, and heart….to see, hear, and feel in new ways, the powerful presence of God all around you.
 
Thank you for joining me on the journey,
Sr. Kathryn J. Hermes, FSP

8 – God Loves the Wildflowers, the Mystery of Repentance

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-v4uek-9e1803

When I lead people through the journey you have been experiencing in this book, I often find that at a certain moment—a sacred moment—something wells up deep within a soul: repentance. Your regrets may be a mixture of things you have done, sins you have committed and things that have happened to you. But all of us have done things we look back on with regret. In this journey of life, we experience regret around things we could have done differently, ways we have hurt others, words or actions we can never take back, and relationships that have ended. As you explore your regrets, do not feel surprised if you begin to feel the bubbling waters of a cleansing sorrow that are as different from burning shame as day is from night. This sorrow is pure gift, but we can ask God for this spiritual sensitivity.

Repentance is a step into the mystery of our salvation. It does not always feel good but it ultimately leads us to wholeness and healing. Our human nature is frail and we know from experience that we are dust, weak, and prone to sinful passions and desires, even when we know better. But God himself took up our struggle as his own. Christ came, as Healer and Savior, to heal the sickness of our human nature. ­­When Christ was conceived in Mary’s womb, he received from her his human nature. God became incarnate. In Christ the Word, his human nature was united to the divine nature in the unity of the second Person of the Trinity. Because he is divine, Jesus exalts our human nature and transforms it. Jesus became man, journeyed to Calvary, and rose from the dead so that we might become partakers of his divinity through faith and baptism (see 2 Peter 1:4). By dying on the cross, Jesus took our sins upon himself and by his resurrection he clothes us anew in the garments of his glory.