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.

7 – How to Live without Masks

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-ma3tn-9e17f3

Many of us excel at putting up a facade to protect ourselves. We embrace our pretenses, defenses, games, ploys, or idealized self-images as though they were real. We convince others and even ourselves that they are real. But if we look closely at the masks we wear, we discover that they often project the opposite of the secret we are seeking to cover up. For instance, if my secret is that I am unable to accept my own hostility to others, I might create a mask that is sweet and kind. I may fool others for a while, I may even fool myself, but eventually the deception ends up bankrupting me. In time, my bitterness and hostility will come out in public, in a way  I can’t hide.

If my secret is that I regret having missed opportunities for advancement, I might cover my anger with a passive meekness. But beneath my humble words, a raging inner victim resents that others have what I don’t. Or perhaps my secret is that I have seriously injured a relationship by something I did—maybe I had an affair, stole from someone, or lied. I may cover my guilt by denying that I did anything wrong or had any part in injuring another. I blame someone else. But once I have the courage of truth, I stop denying that what I did was truly wrong. I accept my part in the situation, and admit my fault. I accept that something needs to be confessed.

Secrets can distort our entire lives without our being completely aware of it. Often a part of our psyche tries to hide the truth, but secrets can cause emotional and physical illness until they are faced, admitted, and, when necessary, repented. So take the courageous step to admit and repent your secrets. Only an interest in the truth that is stronger than your interest in feeling good about yourself will unbind your heart and free you. Commitment to the truth enables you to show absolute respect to the present moment in all its joy or pain, trusting it to unfold in God’s timing, not your own. The more open you are to your experiences as they come, and the more time and space you give yourself to live through what is happening without being pushed, hurried, or judged, the more you will discover the truth about yourself.

Jesus will show you the way

The suffering in your life can yield great treasures. It is possible to find gifts in the ashes, treasures in the flames. But don’t worry about that now. Jesus himself will show you where the gold lies. You only need to hold on to him, to lean in your weakness on his power, to trust in your poverty on his bountiful love. Lay your head down on his heart and rest as a little child sleeps in his or her parent’s arms.

From the book Making Peace with Yourself 

6 – How to get power over the power of your thoughts

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-4bf7a-9c0c01

Have you ever awoken in the night with terrible thoughts about things you’ve done in the past, even when you were a child? Thoughts can go around and around like a hamster in the wheel. The Evil One can instigate over and over again our returning to memories of past weakness and faults, so that we never entirely move on. Thoughts can keep us intent upon looking at ourselves. God asks us to look at what he is doing, what he is saying, what he is desiring. God says, “Look at my wounds. Look at my love for you.” That is what is true. That is what is real. We explore the thought of Elder Thaddeus on how our life depends on the kinds of thoughts we nurture.

How do I overcome fear? Meditation on the precious Blood of Jesus

My friend, upon whom God’s unmerited favor and spiritual peace has descended in Jesus Christ!

Whoever you are, I welcome you. With all your joys and fears and resistance and desires. With your longing for peace with God and harmony, inner unity, and spiritual serenity…

Just today I was inspired to pray in adoration to the Most Blessed Blood of Jesus and was led to a prayer written by St Albert the Great. Let me share it with you:

I adore You, O Precious Blood of Jesus, flower of creation, fruit of virginity, ineffable instrument of the Holy Spirit, and I rejoice at the thought that You came from the drop of virginal blood on which eternal Love impressed its movement; You were assumed by the Word and deified in His person. I am overcome with emotion when I think of Your passing from the Blessed Virgin’s heart into the heart of the Word and, being vivified by the breath of the Divinity, becoming adorable because You became the Blood of God.

I adore You enclosed in the veins of Jesus, preserved in His humanity like the manna in the golden urn, the memorial of the eternal Redemption which He accomplished during the days of His earthly life.

I adore You, Blood of the new, eternal Testament, flowing from the veins of Jesus in Gethsemane, from His flesh torn by scourges in the Praetorium, from His pierced hands and feet and from His opened side on Golgotha.

I adore You in the Sacraments, in the Eucharist, where I know You are substantially present.

I place my trust in You, O adorable Blood, our Redemption, our regeneration. Fall, drop by drop, into the hearts that have wandered from You and soften their hardness.

O adorable Blood of Jesus, wash our stains, save us from the anger of the avenging angel. Irrigate the Church; make her fruitful with Apostles and miracle-workers, enrich her with souls that are holy, pure and radiant with divine beauty. Amen

The words in italics from this astounding prayer struck me this morning in a way that I had never been impressed before. St Albert says that he is overcome with emotion thinking that this blood of Jesus passed from Mary’s heart into the heart of the Word, the Divine Person of the Logos. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches (no. 466ff.), “everything in Christ’s human nature is to be attributed to his divine person as its proper subject…Christ’s human nature belongs, as his own, to the divine person of the Son of God.”

Thus, St Albert states, eternal Love impressed its movement on the virginal blood of Mary, which was assumed by the Word and deified in His person…becoming adorable because it became the very Blood of God.

So what does this mean for you and for me, my friends? After a recent article I noticed a comment with the question, “How do I go about letting go of fear?” My friend, all that St Albert says in this prayer says one thing to us that is truth: our very human nature has been taken up into the divine person of the Word of God.

O most precious blood of Jesus, I adore You enclosed in the veins of Jesus, preserved in His humanity like the manna in the golden urn, the memorial of the eternal Redemption which He accomplished during the days of His earthly life.

We intentionally and affectively say “YES” to that dynamic movement in the best way we can. But we live now hidden with Christ in God because our human nature has been associated with the divine nature and can never be separated. The essence of our redemption lies in the lifting up of human nature into the everlasting communion with the divine life which was realized by Christ’s redeeming work.  The Incarnation then is the union of the divine majesty with human frailty and therefore the ultimate redemptive act of God.

We can be confident, then, that Jesus lives on as true God and true Man, bearing in his divine Person the pain we each suffer in our humanity which he associated to himself through the incarnation. Our worries, our sufferings, the drama of pain and abuse and failure and discouragement and powerlessness and need…. He willingly bears the full impact of our suffering and pain from the injustices received through the sin and failure of others. Jesus cares for each of us as he cares for his own Body, restoring us in hidden or obvious ways in resurrected glory.

O most precious blood of Jesus, I adore You in the Sacraments, in the Eucharist, where I know You are substantially present.

I place my trust in You, O adorable Blood, our Redemption, our regeneration. 

So we can remind Jesus:

I am yours. You are mine. I am totally your care and responsibility. You have taken me up in the Ascension to a place in the heavens where you are seated at the right hand of God. I can’t understand this. I can’t comprehend a wonder so mighty. But in this you ARE the way for me, taking on human nature and bestowing upon it the fullness of grace, making it capable of ascending to God. You ARE truth, teaching me that to be truly human is to be in you knit to your divinity. You ARE life, my only life, my only hope, my only drink. my only grace, my only nourishment. Your Incarnation empowers me to live as Christ, to love as Christ, to serve as Christ and to be one with Christ.

O precious blood of Jesus, make our souls holy, pure and radiant with divine beauty. Amen.

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Mid-Life

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-ipwfc-9c0bc7

In the dining room of our house is an unassuming image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus embroidered by my grandmother. I can’t remember a time when it hasn’t graced the walls of our home. Beneath it is a simple glass shelf, a small votive candle, and a pamphlet about the Enthronement of the Sacred Heart in the home.

Another image of the Sacred Heart stands out from my childhood. In St. James Church, our parish, to the right of the main altar was a marble statue of the Sacred Heart. I often would stand before the Sacred Heart of Jesus and pray, and lighting candles there was special, especially as a child. Even today when I return home for vacation, I stop to pray before this statue when I make my Hour of Adoration in the church each morning.

In my teenage years I read The Imitation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. From what I remember, each chapter of the book developed one of the virtues of the Sacred Heart of Jesus that we could imitate in our own life. The text was structured in the form of a conversation between the disciple and Jesus. When I read the book I could “hear” Jesus speaking to me.

Those are beautiful memories. Today in my fifties, however, after half-a-lifetime or more of relationships, problems, dreams, the joy of giving life and love to others, disillusionments, sorrows, my devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is very different. Today I talk about ways in which someone in their fifties lives their love for Jesus and their devotion to his most Sacred Heart.

A blessing when one trusts

Unbeknownst to him, the Lord was not asking Abraham for his son’s life. It was Abraham’s life that the Lord still wanted, Abraham’s trust that he still had not received. Abraham, the Lord was asking, can you let me take your life into my hands? Will you entrust your entire life and future unconditionally to me, now when it seems everything has ended? “I will indeed bless you, and I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore” (Gen 22:17).

From the book Making Peace with Yourself

God asks us to trust

Unbeknownst to him, the Lord was not asking Abraham for his son’s life. It was Abraham’s life that the Lord still wanted, Abraham’s trust that he still had not received. Abraham, the Lord was asking, can you let me take your life into my hands? Will you entrust your entire life and future unconditionally to me, now when it seems everything has ended? “I will indeed bless you, and I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore” (Gen 22:17).

From the book Making Peace with Yourself

5 – When you feel you can’t move on you’re not alone

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-4xp3m-9c0ba6

The woman bent double who was healed by Jesus is our guide today. What was she thinking all of those years, about herself, about life, about others as she waited all those years for a miracle. She teaches us who may feel the same way, that we are not alone. Our lives are woven into this huge tapestry of love and mercy and compassion. In some place we are also like looking for healing. We may have an illness, a disappointment, a failure, a secret we haven’t told anyone, family expectations. Our discussion looks at how we can move beyond the point of accepting that nothing can change, that this is all there is. It is easy to do, but it costs so much. It is the face of Jesus, the call of Jesus, even today, that heals…. It is from Jesus that we learn who we really are. We learn to stop writing our own stories we feel comfortable living with. Jesus shows us how to emerge from the stories we are telling ourselves about our lives, our past and disappointments, our future.