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.

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.

4 – Nothing is ever lost – St Peter’s lesson for us

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-9sb78-9c0b38

St Peter guides us in our own journey of finding peace in our lives, even after our own regrets. We discuss the power of our own self-image and failure. Peter shows us how to be courageous in following Jesus no matter what devastating losses and disappointments we have lived in our own lives. Peter shows us that failure is a part of our journey to finding Jesus and his tremendous love. Regrets are devastating on many levels, but they are in some way our history in learning our own place in relationship to Jesus and our own place in salvation history. Nothing is ever lost.

Meditation Six: Heal From Fear and Disappointments

“Were not our hearts burning within us?” (Luke 24:32)

The banging reverberated down the empty Jerusalem street cloaked in inky blackness. “I know they are in here,” Cleopas said under his breath to his companion. “Peter!” he called in a loud voice. “It’s me! Cleopas! Open the door. We’ve come back from Emmaus! We’ve seen the Lord! Let us in!” 

Step One: Allow yourself to go within. Embrace the stillness inside yourself, the peace. Even if you don’t feel it right away, it is there. Take a few moments for your whole being to settle down into that space in the center of your soul where God dwells. Even if you can’t feel him or sense him, God is there, shining, giving, and loving. It might help to picture a bright light, or a gentle candle, in the center of your heart, to represent God’s radiant presence within you.

Step Two: When you are settled, read the accounts of some of the experiences of the disciples after Jesus’ crucifixion in Luke 24:13-49. As you read, focus on the experience of Cleopas as he walked on the road to Emmaus and later returned to Jerusalem to notify the other disciples. Imagine the fear and disappointment he must have been experiencing after the death of his beloved Lord. When you have finished reading, sit in silence for some time.

Step Three: Slowly read the passage again. When you finish, you may wish to use the following guide to enter into Cleopas’ experience to find healing.

Praying with Cleopas

  1. Cleopas must have been frightened and confused as he walked to Emmaus! Have you ever felt like all is lost before? Imagine you are Cleopas, walking down the road to Emmaus after the death of Jesus. What regrets are you running from like Cleopas and the other disciple? Where are you trying to control your life? To fix a problem your own way? To redirect your own life without the presence and power of Jesus? Experience Cleopas’ joy when he realized that Jesus had appeared to him. Have you ever felt a change from dejection to joy in a few short hours? Do you identify with Cleopas’ sadness or his joy?
  2. Imagine yourself in the room when Cleopas and the other disciple returned to tell them what happened to the disciples who were in hiding. Watch the scene play out. You can imagine yourself as one of the people in the room or you can be yourself. You can watch what happens or participate. Allow your imagination to take over as you make this Scripture story your own.

To put yourself in the story, it may help to read this imaginative account:

A servant cautiously cracked the door open, raised a lamp, and peered out to see who was knocking so loudly. “It’s them!” he called over his shoulder, then quickly pulled the two disciples into the house where the Apostles were hiding.

Everyone started speaking at once.

“We saw Jesus!” Cleopas said excitedly.

“You saw him? So has Peter!”

“Where did you see him? What did he look like?”

“Tell us, Cleopas. What was he like?”

“Quiet!” said Peter, “Give them something to drink. They’ve come from Emmaus, that’s a long journey. Let them catch their breath.”

Cleopas sat down, took a drink of water, and then began. “You all know we left Jerusalem yesterday morning. I saw no reason to stay. Jesus was dead. He had died like a criminal. I couldn’t believe I had given up so much to follow him and then he died like that. I wasn’t going to hang around in hiding. On the way back to Emmaus we were talking about what had happened, what went wrong, what we could have done, should have done. It felt so lonely out there on the road, walking back to our old life. We were trying to figure it out, to make sense out of it. Attempting to comprehend what our own lives meant after this devastating loss of Jesus. We were getting nowhere.”

Cleopas paused and reflected quietly, then said, “We were getting nowhere until this man joined us on the way. There was something different about him. He was so full of joy. Peace flowed from him.”

“Was it Jesus?” James asked.

“We thought he was just a traveler,” Cleopas continued. “When we told him about Jesus’ death on Calvary, everything made sense to him. Where we saw roadblocks and problems, he explained to us the mysterious plan, the designs of God starting with Moses, David, and Isaiah and fulfilled now in Jesus. It gave me such a feeling of hope to think that what seemed like the end might just be one dark moment in a journey that the Lord has blessed—” Cleopas paused and the room was in complete silence for a moment.

“—we don’t really need to understand this on our own terms but on God’s,” Cleopas continued. “As the evening began to fall, we stopped and ate together. I realized how my heart was burning like…like…”

“Like the first time we met the Master,” Peter quietly broke in.

“Yes,” Cleopas agreed. “But the stranger gave himself away when he broke bread and gave it to us, just as Jesus had done at the supper we shared on the night he was arrested.”

Cleopas put his hand on Peter’s shoulder. “Peter, I think everything is going to be alright. I think everything is just the way it is meant to be.”

“Look!” James exclaimed.

The room was bursting with radiant light and their hearts swelled with joy. A figure had appeared. He said, “Do not be afraid. Why do you doubt it is I?”

“Jesus!” Cleopas exclaimed.

“Look at my hands and my feet. It is me—risen—here—with you.”

3. As Cleopas walked away from Jerusalem in confusion and regret, his shattered expectations had become a wall between him and reality. Recall the times in your life when things didn’t work out as planned. Someone got hurt. Plans fell apart. Dreams were shattered through others’ mistakes or your own. A good question to ask yourself in these situations is, “Am I certain that this wall of fear and disappointment is the whole truth?”

Write down or recall a situation in your life that seemed bleak but that you were later able to see more clearly.

4. Quietly imagine yourself with the disciples and the stranger eating supper in Emmaus. Watch as Jesus quietly prays and then breaks the bread, handing it to you with the words, “This is my body. Take and eat.” Let the radiance emanating from the face of Jesus pour over you. Freeze the moment and soak in the warmth and light from around that table. …

This is taken from one of the meditations in Reclaim Regret: How God Heals Life’s Disappointments

My new book is officially released this week-end.

If you have felt moved by the above meditation, take advantage of the offer of free shipping this weekend (August 24 to 28), and start your own journey of healing.

 

If only I could do things over again….

You are busy. Life happens. You can barely keep up. You know that you could be thinking about more important things, but you don’t have the time to stop and consider what they would be, much less do them.

And then something happens. You are stopped in your tracks. A spouse leaves. A friend dies. A job is lost. Opportunities pass you by. A child makes decisions that break your heart. As you absorb the pain of what is happening, the important things begin to surface. What was hidden, suddenly seems so obvious. The knowledge of what you could have done, should have done, for years perhaps, or years ago, leaves you feeling profoundly empty, or guilty, or depressed.

If only you could do things over again…

Regrets come in all shapes and sizes. Navigating the questions, self-doubt, and haunting what-ifs of your life can be difficult. Facing how your regrets may have turned you into a person you never wanted to be is even more difficult. Yet no one escapes this part of life. It’s the nightfall between yesterday and tomorrow, between the past and the future, between sunset and the coming dawn.

You may feel bad about something in your life that has happened to you or someone you love. You may have a number of things for which you are blaming yourself. Perhaps you have given up hope that you will ever be able to retrieve what you have lost in life or fix what has been broken. A woman once shared with me that she still wonders what she did wrong after her marriage ended in divorce over twenty years ago. To this day, she wishes she could go to bed and never wake up. She is not alone in her suffering.

Through a program I designed called HeartWork, I have worked one-on-one with many people haunted by regrets.  The people I have worked with often believe that if they just had just one more chance things would be different, but they also feel that no more chances re available for them. But God always offers second chances.

Hi. I’m the author of the forthcoming book Reclaim Regret: How God Heals Life’s Disappointments. I’m excited about sharing the book with you when it releases in September. But right now I invite you to join me for a five-day journey via email, a journey to inner peace. The email journey has exclusive meditations, insights, and sneak-peaks into the book, along with a special offer. I hope to see you there!

Sr Kathryn J. Hermes, FSP

PS You can get 12 free videos introducing you to HeartWork here

What’s holding you back from living within

I’m a religious sister, so, you could say, spirituality is an important part of my life.
I’ve always reached for the best in anything I did, and the same is true of “the spiritual life.” In fact, in my younger years, I pursued it with a vengeance.

So I prayed extra. I created schedules for spiritual reading. I tried to imitate the saints. I made lists in my journal of anything that could distract me from a single-minded devotion to God…or so I thought.

One year I was making the 19th Annotated Retreat with a Jesuit Director at Boston College. Each evening I sent an email with a short paragraph about my prayer that day. I struggled through the first month or so, treading water in what were my ideas of spirituality. It was a rocky start to a retreat in everyday life I had hoped would bring me closer to God.

Looking back now I realize how self-willed the exercise had been. The sense of inner violence that was marring my soul’s surface was painful as I tried yet one more spiritual practice. Then one day something changed. I can’t exactly remember the prayer experience I shared with my director which prompted him to send these words in response, but I will never forget what he told me. Somehow, that day, I must have yielded to grace, and he wrote in response to my evening email, “That is the Spirit. The Spirit is a gentle breeze, like perfume on the wind, a light fragrance you can barely catch.”

I remember sitting in my office, deflated and free. The years of soapbox speeches and accumulating spiritual kudos had not of the Spirit. The self-styled aggressive pursuit of holiness actually kept me from the inner life of the Spirit, kept me from living within.

The Apostle Paul was also a professional religious person whose spirit before the encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus was marred with aggression. He rounded up the followers of the Way to put them in jail. Zealously he pursued his plans and religious career. Just outside the city of Damascus, he was met by Love. “I am Jesus the One you are persecuting.”

In an instant he realized he had been wrong. This Jesus that he had rejected as dead, was alive. The community he had persecuted were the ones who had truly understood the action of God in history.

This “conversion” experience is the freedom that arises from no longer knowing, having one’s plans overturned, becoming the servant instead of the protagonist, moving from autonomous isolation to community interdependence. “Go in the city and there you will be told what you are to do.” Though Paul had pursued perfection as a Pharisee, he had not lived within. He suddenly touched the immense horizons of the life within that were being opened up to him as he walked into the city of Damascus, blind and led by his companions.

Something that both I and St Paul didn’t ask in our early heady days of religious “conquest” was this: is God in all of this bluster? Do I want to see his face or my own?
God wants to shower on us the radiance of his glory. He wants to draw us into his plans for the salvation of the world. To convert us from our surface life to the deep inner wells of spirit, from pride to wonder, from zealous aggression to sensitive discernment, from certainty to the inner depth that can sense the slightest movement within without needing to know.

If you want this inner life, here is a simple practice you can make your own:

Stop and focus.

Calmly center. Ask yourself: What am I feeling right now?

Disengage

from any strong opinions and emotionally driven behaviors.

Ask:

Where is God in this situation? Pray: “Show me your face, O Lord. Show me your face.”

Imagine

God watching you as a dear old grandparent watches a grandchild. With that type of love, hear God speaking to you about what is going on.

God says, “Dear child, this is what I see when I look at you. (Listen as God describes the situation from his perspective and what he sees is your reality.) I hear your heart’s desire…. I can hear what you are thinking…. (Let God tell you from his perspective what he hears.) I want you to know, dear one, that I care about what happens to you. I have plans for you. I understand this event more than you could ever know. This is what I want for you… (Open yourself to God’s wisdom. Have the courage to see the situation through God’s eyes, and to want what God wants.)

Youth is a time for building our identities, trying things out, learning what works for us and what doesn’t. But when the moment comes when God’s face begins to show us what the world looks like in God’s eyes, we can let go of much of what we’ve built up on the outside to begin a new journey, gently deepening our inner life.

I’m excited to be coming out with my new book Reclaim Regret: How God Heals Life’s Disappointments September 1. You can get a special offer right now.

 

 

5 powerful ways to find the love you’re looking for

The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.
Ernest Hemingway

I sometimes check an app where people are encouraged to leave their secrets, things they wouldn’t tell others. After many months of listening to people’s stories in this hidden way, I can say that the driving force that is at the root of all their stories and my own, is the longing to be loved, known, seen, heard, cared for.

These whispered fears, adventurous stories, and shame-filled confessions may not be my personal experience, but I too weave my own life’s narrative with the yarn of this deep longing for love. I can’t help but feel this strong inner connection with the rest of humanity, for we all struggle, rising and falling, in this arduous search for an eternal love, often getting short-circuited into a situation that promises love but cheapens us instead.

How God must have compassion on our human hearts, so gullible to the flashing promises of love’s allure. After all he created us for Love (capital L), forming our hearts with his own hands. His own heart has been broken by our longing for a “god” other than the One who tenderly bends over us in compassion. His Son’s heart knew the bitter tears of rejection and isolation, the fire of desire and dreams, the soothing comfort at the presence around him of those he loved.

Some of the situations whispered about on this app would arouse in any of us the deepest compassion: the shame and suffering expressed by those who have experienced abuse, abortion, rejection and loneliness in the most difficult of situations.

I want to cheer for others who tell their story: “I’ve been a month without cutting.” “This is my first year anniversary of being sober.” “This is my child’s first day of school. I chose not to abort her and I am so glad.”

People around us are whispering their stories to us all the time. Too shy to proclaim their need or their success, too fearful of ridicule or shame, incredulous that anyone would even care, the people around us leave clues of their desire to be noticed. And we can so easily miss these clues. It’s easy to look at a social media app and flip through the whispered secrets of people’s lives. What would be different if we could respond to the clues all around us that people are leaving in real life?

I have to admit I often miss them. My attention is on my own needs, my own longing to be seen and heard. My drive to finish something important to me. And I can’t see. Am deaf to the beating of the hearts around me. Perhaps too tired to exert the energy to show another the compassion I long for myself.

We are all struggling to get what we feel we need. We find what we long for when we give it away.

There are five powerful ways to give love away and find the love we’re looking for:

  • Listen with your whole body. Look at the person who is speaking. Lean toward them. Hold yourself quietly. Don’t interrupt except to say, “Yes.” “I see.” “Yup.”
  • Be vocal about your appreciation. Make a habit of telling people what you appreciate about them as a person. “I love the way you….” “I’m so grateful when you do…” “You make everyone smile when you…”
  • Ask someone to help you. Use that opportunity to get to know them a little more and to share something about yourself. Your vulnerability will encourage the other to feel comfortable sharing with you.
  • Be observant and sensitive. Ask someone if they are okay when you notice that they are a little down, or quieter than usual, or you notice something else has changed in the way they present themselves.
  • Practice showing your love on your face. Imagine if you couldn’t speak and you had to communicate your concern or interest entirely with your facial expression. Practice and you’ll see how much you are able to communicate without a word. And sometimes with our words, we don’t communicate the intensity of our compassion unless we pair it with the visible expression on our face. It’s the difference between a casual, “Are you okay? And “I really want to know, are YOU okay?” And yes, I am ready to stay here to receive your answer.

When you give this love away, you will find it coming back to you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Gift of the Middle Years

The sunrise is the glorious announcement of something new, a new opportunity for joy, for birth, for creativity, for relationship, for love. As the sun stretches its arms of color across the horizon, gradually exchanging pastel hues of a sleepy dawn for the solid gold of day, the night is left behind. Even at times the memory of the darkness is gone. Only the expectant future, pregnant with promise, remains.

To run along the horizon at morn, to dance with the dawn, to explode with the joy of a future that leaves the past in the past is one of the greatest habits of mind and heart that we can develop. God gives us the opportunity to practice these habits day after day, for we can touch the sunrise every 24 hours and the possibility of joy is there again.

When we reach the “middle” years of our life, however, the dark of the night can overtake even the hope that there will be a dawn. Some of the hopes and dreams of the younger years, the expectations of how we thought our life would turn out, eventually begin to sour, no matter what efforts we put into them. As the years pass and we experience both life’s joys and bitter disappointments we realize at last that some of what we hoped for won’t happen, and sometimes it won’t happen because of decisions we ourselves have made. We begin to replay the messy events of the past, choices we made, sins and mistakes that weren’t really us, but there they are. We did them and now we can’t get away from them, even if we are the only ones who know about them. We look at them again and again because we can’t forgive ourselves for what we’ve done, and we fear that perhaps God hasn’t either.

We are primed to label any angst that we feel after 40 as a “crisis,” and the very special kind of crisis we have come to call “the midlife crisis.” Calling these wonderful middle years of life a “crisis” is a problem. Even just the word crisis makes me cringe, shut-down, withdraw in fear like a turtle pulling its head into its shell in the presence of danger.

In these transitional years between past and future, instead, I believe we are longing for something more: more prayer, more relationship with God, more family, more tenderness, more life, more peace, more trust…. Always “more.”

I admire how “sneaky” God is. At this time of our life, many wish they had prayed more, or that they had a better relationship with God. They want “more” of God, of spirit, of joy. They look back and think this feeling of guilt about how “little” they prayed and loved God is a condemnation of how deficient they were when they were younger. It is God coming closer, getting your attention, almost yelling to you, “YOU WANT MORE!” You can have more. Remember that in your younger years you did the best you could with what you had. And no matter what you did, it became a step to where you are now. So be here where you are now. If you want more spirituality and prayer, then take more NOW!

It was when I was in my early forties that I started having the scary thought, “Time is running out. The clock is ticking. I’m running out of time.” It was the gentle wake-up notice, and the beginning of many years of reassessing what my life had been, stabilizing what my life had become, and looking forward to a newer, gradually wiser vision of what I wanted the rest of my life to be. Today I am in my mid-fifties. The journey between the first wake-up call, through the midnight of deep disappointment with my life and myself, and on to a healing that brought closure to the guilt-ridden regrets has been long and difficult and blessed! It is for this reason that it is impossible for me to speak of a midlife crisis. I can’t even bring myself to see it as a midlife opportunity. Instead it is a midlife Gift. I am utterly in awe of the beautiful place God has brought me to…and it was all because I had to face where I had been, where I had fallen short, what I wish I had and hadn’t done in the first half of life.

This journey became my book that is releasing September: Reclaim Regret: How God Heals Life’s Disappointments. 

This book is offered as a guide through whatever journey of self-questioning and regret God is taking you on now in your life. It will help you to:

  1. Step back, ease up, and take a walk through your inner space, a walk that is gentle, casual, and tender.
  2. Touch aspects of your history, of your soul, of your heart that you may not have had access to for a long time. By just being with all this, new doors will open. The regrets that sometimes assail us in mid-life and beyond are painful to process but ultimately good. We see how we have received God’s grace in our life and how we have fallen away. But the marvelous thing is this: we still have time. We have time to change. We have time for something new to come about in our lives. It is all mercy. It is all grace!
  3. Pray with scripture in a way that will help you deepen your intimacy with Jesus and your trust in God. Scripture shows us that it is when we encounter the Face of God, the gaze of Jesus, that our struggle ends.

Sound interesting? I’d love to share more with you. Join me for a 5-day free email series with exclusive meditations and exercises. God doesn’t want us to be bound by our past. He wants us to touch the sunrise again and again. I love the prayer of Zechariah at the birth of John the Baptist and it is my wish for you:

In the tender compassion of our God
the dawn from on high shall break upon us,
to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death,
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

May you once again touch the sunrise.

Sr. Kathryn

Regret Promo 01-3

In Transitional Times: How to Keep Your Feet on the Ground

This morning in our chapel, Redemptorist Father Tizio from Mission Church opened his homily with these words: “There is a Chinese curse: May you live in a time of transition.” The sisters all chuckled since we seem to be perpetually living in transition with a mission to evangelize with the means of communication.

We all in this country, he went on to say, are living in a time of tremendous upheaval. Living in transitional times, it has been described, is like living with both feet in the air. There is no security, no clarity, no way of knowing what will be except that we are not there yet and we can’t go back.

You, my friend, may be feeling this insecurity as you watch what is being reported in the news or perhaps witnessing yourselves the very human consequences of this struggle. For us Sisters, the events reported have names. For you it may be the same. It is a phenomenon that is not only playing out in the US but across the world, as people flee their countries for a better life, but the challenge of resettling millions of people while both respecting both their needs and the security of the receiving country is not easily resolved.

In January 2019, a man who would completely understand our struggle will be canonized. His name is Oscar Romero, the martyred Archbishop of San Salvador, who spoke out against poverty, social injustice, assassinations, and torture. Romero faithfully adhered to Catholic teachings on liberation and a preferential option for the poor, desiring a social revolution based on interior reform.

While seen as a social conservative at his appointment as archbishop in 1977, he was deeply affected by the murder of his friend and fellow priest Rutilio Grande a few weeks after his own appointment. As he took over the care of his flock, he actively denounced violations of the human rights of the most vulnerable people, defended the principles of protecting lives, promoting human dignity and opposition to all forms of violence. He was declared a Servant of God by Saint John Paul II in 1997. His cause for beatification and canonization was reopened by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012 and he was declared a martyr of Pope Francis on February 3, 2015. He was beatified on May 23, 2015.

By the time of his death, Romero had built up an enormous following among Salvadorans. He did this largely through broadcasting his weekly sermons across El Salvador on the Church’s station, YSAX, “except when it was bombed off the air.” In these sermons, he listed disappearances, tortures, murders, and much more each Sunday. This was followed by an hour-long speech on radio the following day. On the importance of these broadcasts, one writer noted that “the archbishop’s Sunday sermon was the main source in El Salvador about what was happening. It was estimated to have the largest listenership of any program in the country.” According to listener surveys, 73% of the rural population and 37% of the urban listened regularly. Similarly, his diocesan weekly paper Orientación carried lists of cases of torture and repression every week. (Wikimedia)

How easy it could have been for the Archbishop to fire up his listeners with anger and violence. But like a sword his words cut a straight line through the human heart in its quivering attempt to hold the horror of their suffering and bring justice. Romero did light a fire in their hearts, a fire we desperately need today, here, in the throes of our own transition.

Let us take a moment to learn at the feet of soon-to-be canonized Oscar Romero:

In mid-May of 1977, military forces raided the town of Aguilares, killing dozens of people, desecrated the church and the eucharist, and deported the three priests remaining in the parish. A month later Archbishop Oscar Romero installed a new parish team. In the homily of the installation Mass, he said: “We will be firm in defending our rights—but with a great love in our hearts, because when we defend ourselves with love we are also seeking sinners’ conversion. That is the Christian’s vengeance.” (June 19, 1977, The Violence of Love, page 4)

How could the Archbishop talk love in a country torn apart by violence, torture, and murder.

“The church’s social teaching … is a looking at God, and from God at one’s neighbor as a brother or sister, and an awareness that ‘whatever you did to one of these, you did to me’” (The Nonviolence of Love, March 14, 1977, page 3).

But in the face of a problem so overwhelming, what should I do? What can I do? We feel like we should be able to do something. Romero couldn’t solve the country’s problems, make them go away, return to mothers their children who had disappeared, wipe away the floods of tears and fear. He invited his flock to enter into the problems of the human family.
“The transcendence that the church preaches is not alienation; it is not going to heaven to think about eternal life and forget about the problems on earth. It’s a transcendence from the human heart. It is entering into the reality of a child, of the poor, of those wearing rags, of the sick, of a hovel, of a shack. It is going to share with them. And from the very heart of misery, of this situation, to transcend it, to elevate it, to promote it, and to say to them, ‘You aren’t trash. You aren’t marginalized.’ It is to say exactly the opposite, ‘You are valuable’” (quote found: https://ignatiansolidarity.net/blog/2014/08/13/man-gods-microphone-12-quotes-celebrate-life-voice-oscar-romero/).

In Boston, where I live, I may not personally meet these brothers and sisters of mine from Latin and Central America, although my sisters do (even here in Boston). I can hold these people dear to my heart: “You aren’t an illegal alien. You aren’t trash. You aren’t a criminal. You are valuable.”

From this experience of the heart of misery comes wisdom, for, as Romero says, “There are many things that can only be seen through eyes that have cried.”

For starters, in conversations, social media posts, comments online, I can be intentional in my language and motivation to convey my respect for them as my brothers and sisters, their human dignity, people caught in the middle of a situation for which I don’t see an easy solution.

“I don’t want to be an anti, against anybody. I simply want to be the builder of a great affirmation: the affirmation of God, who loves us and who wants to save us” (The Violence of Love).

All I know, as Romero said, is that “there are not two categories of people. There are not some who were born to have everything and leave others with nothing and a majority that has nothing and can’t enjoy the happiness that God has created for all. God wants a Christian society, one in which we share the good things that God has given for all of us” (original quote: https://ignatiansolidarity.net/blog/2014/08/13/man-gods-microphone-12-quotes-celebrate-life-voice-oscar-romero/).

So we can say that in a transition we don’t really have two feet in the air. If we choose, Romero shows us how to plant both feet securely on the ground: one foot in the kingdom where God loves us all equally and the other foot in the human heart where each of us and all of us blossom under the sun of God’s love with equal dignity and value. The winds of transition will continue to blow, the uncertainty cause us to wonder and fear, but our compass will still be pointed due north: to our common Father who makes us all brothers and sisters in Christ his Son.

“We have never preached violence, except the violence of love, which left Christ nailed to a cross, the violence that we must each do to ourselves to overcome our selfishness and such cruel inequalities among us. The violence we preach is not the violence of the sword, the violence of hatred. It is the violence of love, of brotherhood, the violence that wills to beat weapons into sickles for work” (The Violence of Love).

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  • Upon research into this “Chinese curse” I discovered it was not invented by the Chinese at all: “It was first used by Sir Austen Chamberlain in 1936, and later popularized through a speech by Robert F Kennedy in 1966. The phrase “live in interesting times” dates at least to the late 19th century. The “Chinese curse” element was likely added by Sir Chamberlain as an (effective) embellishment. There is no evidence of a Chinese origin.” (https://www.quora.com/Where-does-the-quote-May-you-live-in-interesting-times-come-from)