“Give me a book that shows me who You truly are”

The first time I flipped through the pages of the bestselling spiritual testament He and I, I was flabbergasted. He and I is the journal of Gabrielle Bossis, a French laywoman who lived in the first half of the twentieth century. In this book, Gabrielle documents her “simple talks” with Jesus, intimate conversations with Jesus that were real and personal. The great historian Daniel Rops wrote in his preface to the original French edition: “…here we breath the sweet fragrance of Christ.”

Whoa! I thought as I turned page after page. And then I turned to Jesus and asked, How come you don’t speak to me this way? 

Immediately the answer came back: Because you don’t listen.

One of those stop-you-in-your-tracks responses that God uses to get your attention when he has a plan.

So, okay, I’ll listen. 

As I walked down the hallway, I heard a quiet voice inside me say, You could help Sister with her bags.

So over I went and offered to help. I noticed that the more I responded to the invitations spoken in my heart, the more they came. The more I listened, the more I heard.

It was the beginning of something new and beautiful in my life.

“Loving you makes Me happy” (Jesus)

The bestselling spiritual testament He and I reveals the words of Jesus to Gabrielle Bossis, a single woman, nurse, and, in her later years, playwright, who lived in France in the early twentieth century. Bossis documented her “simple talks” with Jesus in her journals, intimate conversations with Jesus that were real and personal. After her death these journals were made public. Here are Jesus’ words to her on April 17, 1947:

The unfolding of My love in you is My personal happiness; I’m waiting for it. Everything that affects you touches Me personally. My friend, you are part of Me and I, your Christ, am part of you. Then why should I alone desire this close union? Don’t you also desire it? You see, it’s quite distressing for a friend to have to say, ‘Love Me. Think about Me. Serve My cause. Give Me your life.’ Don’t you think that the one who loves would prefer to have the other read his sentiments? And when this does happen, He is so deeply touched….” 

With these words Jesus risks telling us he is in love with us and desires both our attention and our response. Jesus has a deep “friendliness” for us that he wishes we felt toward him. The simple talks in He and I between Jesus and Bossis hold the key to the development of this friendship with Jesus. No spiritual jargon, methods, or process. Just time spent with Jesus listening to his desire for us, his love for us, his suggestions for deepening a friendship.

“I give you everything for nothing” (Jesus)

One of my favorite words from Jesus to Gabrielle: “Keep in mind more often that I give you everything for nothing: all My heaven for your nothingness and for the mere pittance of your yearnings.” Yes. All of creation, the death and resurrection of Jesus, the sacraments and his Body and Blood given to me for food each Sunday or daily if I desire it, eternal life … all of this for the “mere pittance” of our yearnings for him. That yearning can stretch from “fulfilling our Sunday obligation,” zipping in and out of Mass, or “writing a check for a charity,” all the way to seeking Jesus present in everyone, every place, and everything. So many Christian lives, even when religious duties are meticulously fulfilled, are saddened because they lack the vibrant beauty of desire.

In reading the words of the Lord as recorded by Gabrielle, we discover that all Jesus is asking for is desire, which he defines simply as focusing our eyes on him no matter what we are doing.

“I will just say that Jesus is irresistible” (Amanda)

I found in the Amazon reviews for He and I these two I’d like to share with you. The first is from “Amanda”: “As a reader and lover of books, I prayed to Jesus to find me a book about Him that shows who he truly is and I came across this book. Jesus is soo… I cannot find the words to describe his character and personality I will just say he’s irresistible. My beautiful Jesus. This book is life-changing. It changed me.”

The second is from someone who identifies themself as “loves teaching”: “This book will change your life in soooo many ways. Every time I pick it up and read, it is as if Jesus is speaking and correcting me himself. It fits the situation every time. Amazing. You will develop your own love affair and love story with Him and He with you. You will not be the same person after you have read a few chapters of the book. You will come away with the sense of knowing who you are, who created you, and what is expected of you now that you know who He IS. Get the tissue out. It is a real eye opener. Life is hard and unfair. As I read the book, I could only handle a few pages at a time. Sometimes, it was one page and that was it. Everything about you will change.”

“I have learned what Jesus’ voice is like” (Sr. Kathryn)

So tonight I am looking through my own journal. Flipping through the pages, I see a little conversation with Jesus of my own.

Every interruption, Jesus, every request, every moment I am hidden behind the scenes is an Annunciation moment. 

Without waiting for even a second, Jesus confirmed: It is I who am pouring you in Mary’s mold so that you may take on my features. 

A gift to be met by a leap of the heart… 

Yes, he responded. I’m bending your will so you see the advantage of mine. I’m shaping you. 

Thank you. 

By reading the words of Jesus to Gabrielle Bossis, I had learned what Jesus’ voice is like, the kind of things Jesus says, how he is interested in the things I am interested in. How he is always there, a silent Friend just waiting to enter into conversation with me. You could say I got used to hearing how Jesus speaks in an everyday life by “listening in” on how he spoke to Gabrielle.

Of course, I had meditated on the gospels, and applied the words of Jesus recorded there to my life, and tried to follow him in every way I could. But sometimes I just need something simple. I want to know I’m loved, safe, and wanted, just like everyone else.

This little exchange between Gabrielle and Jesus on September 17, 1937 expresses best what I am trying to say. Gabrielle writes about something she had witnessed: A little girl said to her father, “Give me your hand.” And Jesus tells her, Say that to me often. 

My friends, Jesus doesn’t need grand statements or heroic heights of perfection from us. He leads us to happiness and holiness through simple presence and little actions. You can learn to recognize the way Jesus enters into the smallest realities of our life and teaches us what our hearts most want to learn by listening in on another’s conversations with the Lord.

Let Jesus’ tender voice fill your heart

Just a little bit every day is all you need. As your conversation partner, Jesus will teach you. You will learn to love his voice, to love his will, to love his people. You will surprise yourself at how easily you slip into this friendship with the Lord.

Jesus Speaking: Heart to Heart with the King is a new daily devotional based on He and I. It will release on September 14, 2019. Each day you will find a short Scripture passage, a few lines from Jesus as recorded in He and I, and a conversation starter for your own prayer. Listen in on Jesus’ conversations with Gabrielle Bossis and start your own.

His tender voice will fill your heart.

Purchase Jesus Speaking before September 14 and save with a special pre-release offer. Learn more. 

ENJOYED THIS ARTICLE? HERE ARE 5 WAYS TO GO DEEPER…

God has amazing ways of knocking on people’s hearts, awakening desires, arousing questions, provoking an unexpected spiritual fire. If you have enjoyed this article, and are ready to embark on a sustained spiritual journey, here are 6 ways you can join me on the journey:

  1. Join my private Facebook Group and walk the road of healing with a great group of people. I offer a half-hour live spiritual conference here Tuesday evenings at 7pm EST
  2. Sign-up for my letter Touching the Sunrise. I write a letter a couple times a month from my heart to yours to support you along the way.
  3. Explore my books: Surviving Depression: A Catholic Approach; Reclaim Regret: How God Heals Life’s Disappointments; Just a Minute Meditations Deeper Trust and Inner Peace.  Enroll in the free 5-day email series introducing Reclaim Regret.
  4. Enroll in courses on Midlife, Contemplative Prayer, and a do-it-yourself downloadable Surviving Depression retreat
  5. Become a part of the HeartWork Community, a place where you can ask the hard questions and find a path to a life that is free, fulfilling and fruitful.

 

Journey with the Holy Spirit: The Gift of Fortitude

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-3grxj-bbed10

We often think of fortitude as the gift that makes us brave and strong in our witness to Jesus. The martyrs have been filled with the gift of fortitude. But many of us will not die as martyrs. Our living of the Christian life, nonetheless, requires the strength of the Holy Spirit to persevere in the midst of life’s ordinary challenges and struggles. After the age of the martyrs with the Decree of Constantine in the fourth century, the followers of Jesus asked themselves how they would live their total fidelity to the Lord. Thus began the pilgrimage to the desert as our desert fathers and mothers left behind the comforts of ordinary life to struggle against themselves and to grow in love for the Lord in the harsh desert sands. Today few of us  have the luxury of solitude. It would perhaps be easier to hide away in a mountain retreat all alone, undisturbed by the needs and personalities of other people. Instead we remain in communities, families, relationships in both workplaces and in friendships. Relationships take a great deal of fortitude to return love when another may hurt us, show patience when others may be aggravatingly slow, be interested in the one who is boring, care for the one who is aging and alone. All of this takes great fortitude to live on a daily basis…it takes a love that is above the strength we can gather on our own. That is where we need to cry out for the gift and power of the Holy Spirit.

Journey with the Holy Spirit: The Gift of Counsel

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-88nnr-bb2d44

Pope Francis spoke of the Holy Spirit’s gift of counsel in these words: “As with all of the other gifts of the Spirit counsel too constitutes a treasure for the whole Christian community. The Lord does not only speak to us in the intimacy of the heart; yes, he speaks to us, but not only there; he also speaks to us through the voice and witness of the brethren. It is truly a great gift to be able to meet men and women of faith who, especially in the most complicated and important stages of our lives, help us to bring light to our heart and to recognize the Lord’s will!” (General Audience, 2014). Today we explore more deeply the way the Holy Spirit not only leads us but also helps us lead others in the ways of the Lord.

Journey with the Holy Spirit: The Gift of Knowledge

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-jrgud-b6f844

We are continuing this week a journey with the Holy Spirit through a contemplation of his seven gifts.
Today we are meditating on the gift of knowledge. I sat down for a conversation with Jeannette de Beauvoir and talked about what the gift of knowledge is, how it helps us grow in greater union with God, how it blesses our life, and how to prepare for this gift of the Holy Spirit.

The gift of knowledge is a supernatural habit by which we, under the action of the Holy Spirit, judge rightly concerning created things as related to eternal life and Christian perfection. It is not a question of philosophical or psychological knowledge, which gives a certain knowledge of things we can deduce by natural reason. It isn’t even a question of theological knowledge. It is, according to Jordan Aumann in Spiritual Theology, a question of a supernatural knowledge or “divine instinct” that comes from a special illumination of the Holy Spirit. Under the influence of this superior impulse and higher light we are able to judge rightly concerning created things in relation to their supernatural end.An Invitation: to become a part of my HeartWork community!

Welcome to the HeartWork Community.

A blend of spiritual guidance, mentorship, and counselling, the HeartWork community is a place where you can ask the hard questions and find a path to a life that is free, fulfilling and fruitful.

Sometimes we can’t touch the sunrise within us because we are numb from the effort to keep pushing through the wounding of present or past situations and events in our life. But at a certain point, we can’t ignore our heart’s desire for more.

What is HeartWork
Here at the HeartWork Community we learn a simple and practical process of watchfulness “at the door of your heart” in the spirit of the Eastern Fathers, who teach that the process for healing the heart is through a patient and sacred watchfulness which gives rise to the deep experience of wonder that bubbles up from the heart.

For the past twenty years I’ve written about moving through our brokenness into the light of God. My best-selling title based on my own experience, Surviving Depression: A Catholic Approach, has been translated into 12 languages and is in its third edition. My newest book, Reclaim Regret: How God Heals Life’s Disappointments, has just been released. For years I’ve offered HeartWork personally on an individual basis to whoever wants to pursue the hard questions in their own life and grow in an integrated spiritual-human formation. As much as that has helped people over the years, I realize that many more people could benefit from HeartWork if there were various ways a person could access the program. I so believe that HeartWork can help people that I want to make it available to as many as possible. That’s why I created the HeartWork community at http://pauline.org/heartwork.

I hope I’ll see you around.

Sign up for my letter (not a newsletter) and investigate my facebook group at: http://touchingthesunrise.com

Four Characteristics of Heart to Transform Difficult Situations

One of the main reasons many of us think we aren’t holy is that we live amidst contradictions, our virtue sorely tried as we struggle through the combat of the unfolding trials of a life we can’t control.

When told of a religious who was never seen to commit any imperfections, St. Francis de Sales would ask one question: “Has she an office?” He was asking if she had work to do that involved other people—did she run the kitchen, or was she the bursar, the porter, the prioress, the abbes, that sort of thing. If the answer was no, if the “perfect” sister got to read and think and pray without engaging with others, then he dismissed this so-called perfection. She might not show the vice of anger, but she didn’t have virtues, either. Virtues are built when engaging with others, not sitting in ivory towers.

There is great comfort in St. Francis de Sales’ approach here. He had spent happy years as spiritual guide to St. Jane de Chantal after the death of her husband through an accident at the hands of a friend. Grief, sorrow, loneliness, and the struggle to forgive marked those first years of spiritual growth as the young widow’s soul opened under gentle guidance and grace. Then, as they founded the Order of the Visitation, Jane must have had a number of years of peace and joy as the first sisters gathered around her and she was able to immerse herself in the contemplative prayer that so fed her soul under the direction of the holy bishop.

However, by the end of her life she had founded 80 monasteries of the Visitation. Her quiet life was now spent at this work of God to which she had been called with Francis de Sales. She personally followed the spiritual life of many of the sisters, resolved problems with people and buildings and relationships, dealt with legal issues and political interference in the foundation of monasteries and the life of the nuns, consolidated the charism and constitutions of the Visitandine Order and passed it on to her daughters… Those marvelous quiet days as the Order was beginning were long gone as she bore the weight of responsibility for the mission God had entrusted to her. And in this crucible of suffering and strength the saint was formed. The nun who slept in the cell next to Jane’s recalled hearing her moaning in the night under the heavy burden she carried. In fact, toward the end of her life, she relinquished her responsibilities to care for her own soul.

This past year has been a difficult journey for me, and it has been difficult to write. I see now that it has not been my failure, but an apprenticeship by which Jesus has been chiseling away at my character, healing and transforming. Situations that called for humility and open-hearted strength seemed to smother me rather than call me forth. I emerged from the year not victorious, but humbled and welcoming of my nothingness and God’s power at work in mysterious and incomprehensible ways. Those first years of profession things seemed so much rosier and exciting… Now are the days for the “second yes.”

What is your crucible of suffering? Your “second yes”?

Perhaps deep within you is a longing for quieter days, relationships before the struggles developed which you now weigh you down, the carefree fun of young adulthood as you once tested your wings before the harsher realities of life settled in.

Our life, with all its twists and turns, shadows and sunlight and glaring heat and quieter dusk hours requires courage. Virtue is built through courageous self-combat.

We may feel we’ve lost too many skirmishes to count. It may seem that our identity is stamped indelibly with our mistakes and failures, blotting out the successes and valiant struggle. It doesn’t matter.

Your path to sanctity, and mine, lie straight through the messy confusion. It is in the daily attempt to clarify and re-approach situations with a new heart that we became saints. It isn’t success that is the measure of victory. It is persevering determination to carry out the responsibilities laid upon us by divine providence.

Four characteristics of the heart can make your journey more joyful:

  • Vulnerability: Give yourself permission to feel the full impact of your experience with honesty and integrity.
  • Hospitality: Welcome what you would rather neutralize and remove from your life with gentleness and trust in your special place in your Father’s tender heart.
  • Creativity: Imagine the internal structures of your psyche and your heart giving way, making room for you know not what. Wipe your tears, fold up your beliefs, and turn the pages of the stories you tell yourself about yourself and others in the situation.
  • Courage: Practice choosing a new heart-characteristic amid the hand-to-hand combat of your life where you polish your character with virtuous choices. Instead of frustration, try reverencing the present moment as it is. Instead of self-pity, give yourself the gift of seeing with new eyes how God is at work in your heart for others. In place of trying to change others, see what of their behavior you can begin to understand. For in the end, all of us are unfinished and wounded works of art, trying to get what we think we need to survive. Be the first to realize that you are one with everyone else in life, wanting the same things, just wishing you could experience the peace of an open and tender heart.

The struggles of your life, whatever they may be, unfair as they may appear, are the path of discipleship upon which Jesus leads you. He has no other way for you. It is the most beautiful way and it leads straight to heaven’s glory where Jesus will crown his work in you accomplished through his grace.

Thanks for walking the journey with me.

I’d love it if you would leave your thoughts below.

Sr Kathryn

ENJOYED THIS ARTICLE? HERE ARE 5 WAYS TO GO DEEPER…

God has amazing ways of knocking on people’s hearts, awakening desires, arousing questions, provoking an unexpected spiritual fire. If you have enjoyed this article, and are ready to embark on a sustained spiritual journey, here are 6 ways you can join me on the journey:

  1. Join my private Facebook Group and walk the road of healing with a great group of people. I offer a half-hour live spiritual conference here Tuesday evenings at 7pm EST
  2. Sign-up for my letter Touching the Sunrise. I write a letter a couple times a month from my heart to yours to support you along the way.
  3. Explore my books: Surviving Depression: A Catholic Approach; Reclaim Regret: How God Heals Life’s Disappointments; Just a Minute Meditations Deeper Trust and Inner Peace.  Enroll in the free 5-day email series introducing Reclaim Regret.
  4. Enroll in courses on Midlife, Contemplative Prayer, and a do-it-yourself downloadable Surviving Depression retreat
  5. Become a part of the HeartWork Community, a place where you can ask the hard questions and find a path to a life that is free, fulfilling and fruitful.