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.

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