Blessed by My Cross

My friend, you who are the delight of the Lord, sought-after by your God, blessings!

Wherever you are I want to encourage you to cast away every fear, that you may walk more boldly in Christ, for in him God has chosen you before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.

The road is narrow and at times a difficult climb, but we will walk the road together. We shall say, “I give myself absolutely to you, O Lord, do with me as you will.”

These words may seem frightening, for we hand over our future and the control of all that occurs to God’s tender regard for us. What a mighty surrendering trust it takes to utter these words with absolute sincerity. The Annunciation and agony of the Savior in Gethsemane’s garden crystallized in these words: Behold the handmaid of the Lord…. And Not what I will, but what you will.

Sometimes, I cling so strongly to my own fears that I am unable to say these words, “Do with me as you will.”

From the first cry of the newborn’s wail to the final sigh of the crucified Savior, these words ring out. The tiny child lying on the straw on a cold winter’s night in the small town Bethlehem is the mystery of Jesus’ life that most fills my spirit. I have small reminders of Christmas around me wherever I live or work: a statue of Mary lifting into the air her son and the Son of God, a very small nativity set, a suncatcher on the window that depicts the manger. Christmas is never far from my mind.

Yet my life, as perhaps many of yours, has been marked by the cross.

Life and death.

The fresh innocence of beginnings and the heavy struggles of adult life.

The joy of a mother’s love and the anguish of a mother’s agony as she stands beside her child to the end.

The wood of the cross mounted on Calvary’s hill didn’t come as a surprise to Jesus and Mary. Its long shadow cast itself into their lives very early after Jesus’ birth. A sudden departure in the night at the warning of angels, fleeing to Egypt to escape the hands of Herod who would extinguish the Light of the World that his own light might flicker in the darkness a few years longer.

From the beginning the darkness wrestled with the Light. We often hear that the name Bethlehem, means House of Bread, which is only one possible meaning of the name. You see the word “Beth” in Hebrew means house. The word “Lehem” has two different possible meanings. The first refers to leavening dough in order to make bread. The second means “hand-to-hand combat,” where we are stretched and wounded throughout our lives which are punctuated almost daily with the struggles of human existence. It is as if we are thrown into the arena and must fight for our lives that Light might triumph. Or is it that God fights for our lives? The tree of life is planted in our very heart.

The cross, as it has appeared in my life, has been this wrestling match between Jesus and the passions that pummel my heart, between the force of Love and the shadows of darkness. He has wrestled with the immaturity of my heart and the prejudice in my mind. I was untested and unable to respond to him wholly without a lifelong struggle of repentance in which I discovered my limits and the wondrous call to become fully human in Christ. A call that was beyond my human limits. The wounds of love that I bear from experiencing the cross, these alone could bring me to the glory and joy of Christ’s vision for my life.

As I have watched how Jesus has fought for my very life in the crosses that have become divine wrestling matches through the years I have learned three things:

  • When life is brought to a shabby wreck through illness, failure, fractured human relationships, the bitter awareness of sin, it is this paradoxically that is the place of my great hope. He has given me the gift of sight to see beyond the visible to his invisible Love at work.
  • Jesus has defeated my logic and led me out of the prison of having to understand everything. The cross as it appears in one’s life is often illogical compared to what we think should happen. To realize that the conclusions of my rational mind are incomplete, to open myself to paradox, and to silently wait for understanding to be given to me has brought much anguish…but slowly I’ve learned that Jesus can be trusted.
  • The situation that has defeated me has only done so that I might see how Jesus fights for me, that he himself might triumph in my life. The cross is essentially how God works in and through the way-things-are to defeat the darkness that still struggles for the upper hand in my life. I have been blessed to realize, at least in my better moments, that I want to let God act. In the words of Job, I am finally able to say, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him” (cf. Job 13:15).

Friends, Mary, the Mother of Sorrows, stands with her Son as he hung on his cross, and she stands here with each of us. Whether the cross enters our life through loss, failure, sin, illness, relationships, Mary is with us because she knows our sorrow. She herself has lived through the agony of the moment-by-moment struggle to make sense of pain, to find a way forward, to reframe what is happening into something our minds can comprehend. And she knows the final leap of faith, the only thing that can make sense of this hand-to-hand combat we call our life.

I am sure of it. My crosses have become my blessings only because of this strong and tender presence of the Mother given to me at the foot of Jesus’ cross. She is the strong woman who teaches me how reliable God is, how ultimately secure I am in saying to him, “I give myself absolutely to you, O Lord, do with me as you will.” There is no easy way promised to us as we whisper these words, trembling perhaps, but wanting to give him everything. But it is God himself who guarantees our ultimate and absolute trust. When we have gotten to the end of our rope and the bottom of our heart where we find emptiness alone, God himself can take over where we have discovered ourselves impotent. He who has chosen us before the foundation of the world to be holy will guarantee that we are so, if we but repeat with every breath of our life: “I give myself absolutely to you, O Lord, do with me what you will.”

 

Finding Heart Peace in Deep Contemplative Listening

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-zc8zv-aa528c

It is in our heart-space that we receive after deep contemplative listening. That we unfold within the wisdom from God who makes diamonds of our dust. We have been created to hear the voice of God and His word. In a loud and noisy room, we all know we hear little. And if we are doing the talking in that loud and noisy room, we are so full of ourselves we receive nothing. Instead of unfolding, we clamp down in a hardened empty shell of self-importance.

So how do we return to our heart space so that we can live in the turbulence of our age with our heart attuned to the deepest place within us where wisdom is born, where God makes himself visible through us, and where we welcome both our own true voice and God’s Word, so that we can be God’s Voice the world so longs to hear.

Lenten Secrets for Finding Light in Today’s Darkness

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-i3e52-aa527f

The night can be a scary time. As kids we might have been afraid of monsters under our bed or of sleeping in our own room. Even now as adults the “dark night”—whether it slips into our life as depression, breaks our heart with unexpected ruptures of relationships and futures, or quietly takes from us what we had most cherished—still holds hands with its sister anxiety. Just as individuals live through darkness, cultures and periods of history also can be overshadowed by fear and chaos and death. Now is one of those times.

The saints lived through times such as these. The courage of the saints might seem “out of reach” to us, but the Church as a good Mother gives us stepping stones each Lent so we can regain our balance and our strength, knowing truly that this world—even as it is—is still in Christ, and without Christ the world has no meaning.

Lenten Journal for the Second Week of Lent

O Lord, what will it take to wake me up? Why is it so hard to pay attention and to stay focused when I pray? Were we not meant to be united with you in deep communion? How easily I drift into sleep like your inattentive apostles! I can understand them; I try to work hard all day, to be present to people and responsibilities, to get things done quickly and well. And when I finally find some quiet moments to pray, weakness takes over so quickly. “Do as John did at the Last Supper and fall asleep on the Lord,” a priest told me once in confession. I don’t think he meant every time!

It is a consolation to know that you, too, grew tired and fell asleep during the storm at sea. As with your incarnation, in that incident at sea, were you giving us “permission” to be human? So often I try to carry more than I need to, and it doesn’t work. It is impossible for me to do all I desire; no wonder I falter under the burden. “God is my co-pilot” the old bumper sticker proudly announced. “If God is your co-pilot,” a more insightful sticker proclaims, “switch seats!” You are the Lord, not I.

But I want to stay awake! Not only in prayer, but in all of life. I want to live life deeply, fully present to those around me, my family, friends, coworkers, the person on the street. I want to keep aware of the sufferings of your people around the world. I want every person to know the dignity you have given them. But do not let me be tempted into making projects out of all this good; if I am present to you, I will be present to them. And when I forget you in my outreach to them, wake me up to your presence within them, and we will be reunited.

DOWNLOAD THE JOURNAL FOR THE SECOND WEEK

Hi, my Friend,

If you’re wondering if you could get some help along the spiritual path but aren’t really interested in committing to one-on-one spiritual accompaniment, you should check out my Patreon membership.

If you want to explore more, from as little as $2 per month my valued Patreon friends develop their relationship with God through:

  • over 50+ audio and video programs and guides on spirituality and prayer,
  • my very popular Journalling Sheets created for each month
  • monthly HeartWork Exercise Guides
  • weekly new podcasts

Maybe you never heard of Patreon before? Worried about whether you could find yourself around?

Patreon helps fund writers and artists by letting supporters become patrons. The artist sets goals: what they will do with the pledged money. And the patrons pledge a monthly amount–in our case: $2, $4, $8 or $22. You choose your contribution. In return, you get rewards – and lots of them!

I hope to see you around!

The Voices Within Us

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-h3a2g-aa5269

Do you ever wonder how to hear God’s voice? It is a voice that is so beautiful, leading us to holiness, truth, and peace. Learn how to sort out the various voices we hear around us and within us in order to be guided at last by the voice of the One who loves us forever.

 

Hi, my Friend,

If you’re wondering if you could get some help along the spiritual path but aren’t really interested in committing to one-on-one spiritual accompaniment, you should check out my Patreon membership.

If you want to explore more, from as little as $2 per month my valued Patreon friends develop their relationship with God through:

  • over 50+ audio and video programs and guides on spirituality and prayer,
  • my very popular Journalling Sheets created for each month
  • monthly HeartWork Exercise Guides
  • weekly new podcasts

Maybe you never heard of Patreon before? Worried about whether you could find yourself around?

Patreon helps fund writers and artists by letting supporters become patrons. The artist sets goals: what they will do with the pledged money. And the patrons pledge a monthly amount–in our case: $2, $4, $8 or $22. You choose your contribution. In return, you get rewards – and lots of them!

Lenten Journal First Week of Lent

We start Lent with a story that reminds us of our choices: Jesus is being put to the test. Imagine the desert into which he went: immense stretches of barren land. No trees, no running water, at best a cave or two in which to hide from the worst of the sun’s heat. This is an environment in which people die—and quickly.

But Jesus wasn’t just in an inhospitable environment: he was fasting, an incredibly lengthy and painful fast. As we begin Lent, it’s natural that our thoughts also turn to fasting. It’s a necessary spiritual practice (Jesus didn’t say “if you fast,” he said, “when you fast”) that’s gone largely out of style. And while for many people missing one meal seems a significant hardship, it’s also not enough to learn about hunger, to feel real hunger. Part of the practice of fasting is what we learn from it, from the emptiness inside, from the ache: it sharpens our senses and helps us focus.

DIGITAL DOWNLOADABLE JOURNAL

Taking Our Spiritual Temperature

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-4bac6-a8cc3f

Lent is a time when we traditionally take our “spiritual temperature” to refocus our lives on discipleship and holiness. But in these days there are many other reasons why we might want to take our spiritual temperature. There are symptoms we may struggle with because of the scandal in the Church or problems in our country: symptoms like anger, a general malaise, uncertainty about the future, fear. Join Jeannette and I as we talk about ways we can find true inner peace in these difficult times.

Hello, my name is Sr Kathryn Hermes and I’m inviting you to my free Private Facebook Group. This group is for those who feel the call toward being a part of a community with others who want a more heart-centered and spiritual life, but would like support on the way. The goal is to walk together on a contemplative and healing path to refind the joy that is the gift of God to us.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/srkathrynhermes/