What is impossible for us is possible for God

Look around you. Do you see Spirit-filled Christians? Do you see Catholics on fire for the Gospel? Men and women totally surrendered to God and living lives marked by the beatitudes: Blessed the poor in spirit, the meek, the pure of heart?

The event of Pentecost as recounted in the Acts of the Apostles gives us a clear indication of why we don’t see the Spirit transforming the earth.

The descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles was part of a long process of transformation for these twelve disciples of Jesus. The Master took these men from their professions as fishermen or tax collector, for example, and began a three-year process of helping them see they could do nothing of themselves. Nothing. Peter’s betrayal of Jesus within just hours of his boast that he would die for him is a clear example of this. Peter learned, he had to learn, as we all have to learn, the truth: apart from Jesus we are nothing. We can do nothing. Without the Spirit of Jesus, no one of us can say Jesus is Lord.

This cuts against the grain. Today we all want to prove who we are, strut our stuff, even in the spiritual life. We humans think we can do at least part of it on our own and God can help us out with the rest.

It takes a long time to learn the first lesson: that salvation is not possible for us to achieve. And the second lesson is just as important: what is impossible to us is possible for God! Pentecost teaches us both lessons. The frightened apostle who gave way under the accusing glance of a maid in the High Priest’s garden after Jesus’ arrest, now stood before a crowd of 5000 boldly proclaiming that Jesus had died and risen. The difference? The Spirit now filled his heart after he’d learned the all-important lesson that he, by himself, could do nothing. He needed the divine omnipotence to work within him so he could delight in the law of God and do what God wills. God gives us the power to accomplish what his will desires.

If you have ever felt you couldn’t be virtuous, holy, or good, you are on the right road! Let yourself be led. When you are utterly helpless, God will come to work in you all that he desires of you.

Another word for this is “poor in spirit.” This is the first beatitude: “What happiness comes to you when you feel your spiritual poverty!” (Mt 5:3 TPT) The poor in spirit have only one remedy: trust in God. This total reliance upon God is the doorway to the Kingdom. Blessed are they who have surrendered to God and trust completely in him.

Isaiah the prophet proclaims:

“The oppressed and needy
search for water,
and there is none,
their tongue is parched with thirst.
I, Yahweh, shall answer them,
I, the God of Israel,
shall not abandon them.
I shall open up rivers on barren heights
and water-holes down in the ravines;
I shall turn the desert into a lake”… (Is 41:17-18 JB)

Imagine the Sahara desert being turned into a lake! It can’t turn itself into a lake gradually. It can’t do anything to become a lake. In fact, a lake is the exact opposite of a desert! But God can completely uproot the desert and plant in its place a body of water. And he wants to do so, because he will not abandon you.

In Peter’s complete failure, the Lord placed holiness and courage and power. It was the Lord’s work brought about by the coming of the Spirit.

So where are you failing?

What are you worrying about regarding your journey with the Lord?

What do your inner critics accuse you of?

Where are you hopelessly lost?

What are the attitudes and behaviors you can’t improve?

What are the addictions you can’t overcome?

Where are the prayers that are filled with distraction?

Who will save you? God will, through Jesus Christ.

So pray, “I can do nothing. God must and will do all. In prayer, in virtue, in love, in work, I believe the Spirit will work in me at every moment. Oh my God, teach me this! Show me what a God you are. How you place your omnipotence at the disposal of every child of yours. I count on you. My God, you are working out my life for me. You are making me holy. You are renewing the face of the earth. You are sending down on me your Spirit. You are refashioning me. You do all things.”

At the Last Supper Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to his followers. When he wants to give you the Holy Spirit, he will first bring you to the end of self, as he did Peter, and then he will flood your desert with the water of life and the fountain of the Spirit. Every moment you will receive this gift. Every moment you must depend on the Spirit. Every moment you must surrender yourself to receive from above what you cannot do on your own.

So you are called to be this Spirit-filled Christian! You are called to be the living witness of the Spirit’s power in the Church and the world!

Here is a short and powerful prayer you can say daily to surrender yourself completely to the Spirit’s guidance:

The Prayer to the Holy Spirit by Cardinal Mercier:

I am going to reveal to you the secret of sanctity and happiness. Every day for five minutes control your imagination and close your eyes to all the noises of the world in order to enter into yourself. Then, in the sanctuary of your baptized soul (which is the temple of the Holy Spirit) speak to that Divine Spirit, saying to Him:

O Holy Spirit, beloved of my soul, I adore You. Enlighten me, guide me, strengthen me, console me. Tell me what I should do; give me Your orders. I promise to submit myself to all that You desire of me and to accept all that You permit to happen to me. Let me only know Your Will.

If you do this, your life will flow along happily, serenely, and full of consolation, even in the midst of trials. Grace will be proportioned to the trial, giving you the strength to carry it and you will arrive at the Gate of Paradise, laden with merit. This submission to the Holy Spirit is the secret of sanctity.

When life breaks your heart: Mary is there

The long silent Holy Saturday…. Mary’s heart broke anew as she retraced in her memory every pain-filled step of her Son to Calvary, heard once more every gasp for breath, every word of his resounding in her soul… Mary was mother and mourned the limp body of her Son laid in her arms and then buried in the earth. Cast into the fire she waited, knelt before the Father, wept to wash away the pain.

On Holy Saturday I imagine Mary as the mother who in her humanness shared the misery of so many sorrowing mothers who worry for their children, who have life wrenched from their hands. Parents who see their children absorbed in evil or lost to the evil of another or swept away in accidents beyond their control.

We all can draw next to Mary when the night falls on our joy.

We can be sure she understands when our hearts break, when the desert sands swirl around us making us lose our way. When we fear for a loved one, and when we face our powerlessness to keep evil from affecting another, our powerlessness in the face of death.

With what tenderness must Jesus have approached his mother the morning of the resurrection. With a joy that for all its glory could never erase the wounds of the past two days. Both mother and Son forever would bear the agony of human hearts broken open on the edge of pain…the same that we all bear in some way in life. Mother. We call her mother. She is the one who knows. Who stands by us when we walk amid the flames.

40 days of quiet joy, almost learning to breathe again, to trust again, to invite the sun’s splashing splendor to surround the disciples nearest to Jesus and his mother. Mother and more, the Risen Master pulled Mary into the center of the tiny community he would leave behind as he returned to the Father, a community of “sons” assigned to her from the altar of the cross. She was not only his mother but theirs. And in the nine days which they spent locked in retreat in the Cenacle, she quietly took on a mother’s role of teacher and guide, listener, getting to know each of the apostles with their specific gifts and challenges, knowing them as fully and wisely as she knew her Son. Their souls an open book to her tender searching eyes, as she helped each become more a bearer of Jesus. She knew just the right word for each, teaching them to pray, to trust in the Spirit’s advent promised by Jesus. In those nine days they gathered around their Mother and Teacher.

When the Spirit fell upon the apostles and those in the Cenacle, she encouraged them to go forth bearing the message of her Son to the world. As a mother she remained in the background, praying for her “children,” encouraging, supporting, loving. She walks through history bringing us Jesus, the mission she received at the Annunciation and which she carried out through her life. She brought Jesus to Elizabeth, and John the Baptist leapt in her womb for joy. She presented Jesus to the shepherds and the magi, and they left filled rejoicing. She has appeared throughout the centuries around the globe, continuing to call us to live the Gospel and love her Son. And she speaks to us in the quiet of prayer, knowing our souls intimately…our every need, desire, struggle, pain.

On the Saturday before Pentecost, the Pauline Family celebrates the Feast of Mary who is the Mother, Teacher, and Queen of the Apostles. Blessed James Alberione, our Founder, wanted to go back to the very source of Marian devotion in the Church, and at the source of find Mary as Queen of Apostles.

Mary is an apostle because she gave Jesus to the world. As his mother and ours, she has a unique vocation and gave Jesus to us in a way that no one else ever could. As Alberione put it: “By nature Mary is essentially an apostle. She came to give Jesus, to bring life to souls, to be mediatrix and distributrix of grace. Mary came to bring us the Life—Christ. She is an apostle in the prophecies of the Old Testament, in life and in heaven.”

On the spiritual level, every baptized Christian is also called to bring Jesus to the world today. So Mary is our model for evangelization. She can help us become bearers of Jesus, teaching us to “put on” Christ in our mind, will, and heart so as to live and serve as true disciples. She loves, guides, and supports us just as she did with the first disciples and apostles of Jesus.

As Mary walked the road to Calvary and now the roads of the world, she has only one desire: that we know and love her Son, that we find grace and glory through obedience to him.

Today my heart ached to be able to hold a friend who was scared about the health of her parents, a friend several states away. I had to step back and remind myself that Mary understands this not-being-able-to-take-away-the-pain-of-another. I can stand in the fire with her at my side. There is a comfort to that. But my devotion to Mary as the Queen of Apostles means she helps me take one step further: she helps me find Jesus in this experience; to put on Jesus’ thoughts, words, behavior; to want what Jesus wants in this situation, and then to give Jesus to my friend through prayer, words, and love.

This Saturday, let us take again this magnificent prayer to Mary given us by John Paul II, drawing close to her in our every need, allowing her to be our mother, teacher and queen.

Hail Mary, poor and humble Woman,
Blessed by the Most High!
Virgin of hope, dawn of a new era,
We join in your song of praise,
to celebrate the Lord’s mercy,
to proclaim the coming of the Kingdom
and the full liberation of humanity.

Hail Mary, lowly handmaid of the Lord,
Glorious Mother of Christ!
Faithful Virgin, holy dwelling-place of the Word,
Teach us to persevere in listening to the Word,
and to be docile to the voice of the Spirit,
attentive to his promptings in the depths of our conscience
and to his manifestations in the events of history.

Hail Mary, Woman of sorrows,
Mother of the living!
Virgin spouse beneath the Cross, the new Eve,
Be our guide along the paths of the world.
Teach us to experience and to spread the love of Christ,
to stand with you before the innumerable crosses
on which your Son is still crucified.

Hail Mary, woman of faith,
First of the disciples!
Virgin Mother of the Church, help us always
to account for the hope that is in us,
with trust in human goodness and the Father’s love.
Teach us to build up the world beginning from within:
in the depths of silence and prayer,
in the joy of fraternal love,
in the unique fruitfulness of the Cross.

Holy Mary, Mother of believers,
[Mary, Mother, Teacher, and Queen of Apostles]
pray for us.

Amen.

August 15, 2004

 

 

Finding Inner Peace: Discovering Compassion

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-egzfq-af5851

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.

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!

Finding Inner Peace: Risking Trust

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-xwh5c-af5846

“When we first take our Christian discipleship seriously and commit ourselves to accountability with other Christians who are doing the same, we find out that we have a lot of rough edges. Our personality is harsh, or we’re sharp in the way we relate to others, or we’re a bit out of shape in our prayer. But it is the process of following Christ that helps us to go deeper and deeper into ourselves so that we empty ourselves: prayer, the sacraments, commitment to a group, or spiritual direction. We empty ourselves completely so that Jesus can take up residence more fully within us. Jesus changes our sharp edges and makes us gentle. It’s a practical thing. It’s working with God in a real way. It requires sincerity, and once we love the truth above everything, God sets us free. That’s communion.”

Finding Inner Peace: Trusting God with Your Life

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-653a9-af583e

God dances for joy at our birth, taking us in strong yet gentle arms as we enter into the world. As we encounter situations that are painful and deforming, God cries with us. He does not leave us alone in our pain, even when situations make us begin to close in on ourselves or induce us to hide from others, from ourselves, and from God. We are surrounded by the power and love of God, even in those moments when we feel God can’t be trusted. We resist that love and set out on our own, fighting our way through life—or perhaps we feel that we’re pitted against life, against ourselves, against God. Healing begins when we learn to trust God with our live.

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!

Finding Inner Peace: When Our Hearts Are Broken

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-qctkd-af5830

Often, when life’s events break our hearts, we are ashamed of our anger and pain. We apologize for angry words and stifle cries of pain, pushing our hurts out of sight. We try to make peace with ourselves without acknowledging our anger and our tears—somehow these seem unacceptable to us. But they aren’t unacceptable to God.

From the very beginning of the Sacred Scriptures, we find God responding to the cries of his people.And he responds to the cries of our heart today.

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!