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!

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/

If You Can’t Fix It, Give It!

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-96925-a8cc19

Life has a way of gradually leading us deeper and deeper to the point of life—the “height” of the mountain—love. All other reasons for living need to fall away.

The unstoppable circumstances-beyond-our-control are perfectly fit to addressing our deepest sin, our greatest fear, our strongest selfish ambition. The only way to deal with them is to realize we can’t and to simply allow them to do their work in us, a scalpel held in the hands of the Divine Surgeon.

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/

The pure glory of God in us

This week, when I was nursing some upset, so small I can’t remember what it was, I noticed a shift. Something within my deepest spirit moved me onto a different plateau, into a different perspective….

“All this doesn’t matter,” I prayed much to my surprise.

“Instead, may I honor YOU all the days of my life. My YOU be glorified and praised. That’s all I want in life.”

We are already starting a week that will bring us upset. Theodore McCarrick has been laicized. In a few days, a book will release that is the result of years of research into what is claimed to be the gay culture in the Vatican. The following day the meeting in the Vatican will begin with Pope Francis and the heads of the Bishops Conferences around the world on the subject of clergy sex abuse. Who knows if it will “produce” the immediate results that will satisfy all of us.

Today’s readings give us courage as Catholics and disciples of Jesus.

In the first reading, Jeremiah–at the time of the Babylonian exile–was pleading with the King and leaders of Israel to trust in the Lord and not make alliances with other countries.

Thus says the LORD:
Cursed is the one who trusts in human beings,
who seeks his strength in flesh,
whose heart turns away from the LORD.
He is like a barren bush in the desert
that enjoys no change of season,
but stands in a lava waste,
a salt and empty earth.
Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD,
whose hope is the LORD.
He is like a tree planted beside the waters
that stretches out its roots to the stream:
it fears not the heat when it comes;
its leaves stay green;
in the year of drought it shows no distress,
but still bears fruit. (Jer 17:5-8)

In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus comes down to a level plain, signifying that he stands WITH us, and pronounces the poor, the hungry, the weeping, the people others hate as those who possess the kingdom of God.

Neither of these readings can be understood simplistically. We need to honor the pain, the betrayal, the bruises and batterings people carry from the weakness and sinfulness of others. It seems to me, however, that we need to honor these things with integrity and reverence, not soured with passion that protects its own righteousness.

For it is clear that Jesus, God-with-us, actually desires to stand with us, no matter who we are, in our pain and sorrow.

And blest are we if we trust him, for even in periods of drought, we will still bear fruit.

Thomas Merton recounted in Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander–an experience in Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, in which he was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that he loved all the people he saw swarming along the sidewalks. Even though they were total strangers to him, he knew deeply that “they were mine and I theirs.”

Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge can reach, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in God’s eyes. If only they could all see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time. There would be no more war, no more hatred, no more cruelty, no more greed…I suppose the big problem would be that we would fall down and worship each other. But this cannot be seen, only believed and “understood” by a peculiar gift.

Again, that expression, le point vierge, (I cannot translate it) comes in here. At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God, which is never at our disposal, from which God disposes of our lives, which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our own mind or the brutalities of our own will. This little point of nothingness and of absolute poverty is the pure glory of God in us. It is, so to speak, His name written in us, as our poverty, as our indigence, as our dependence, as our sonship. It is like a pure diamond, blazing with the invisible light of heaven. It is in everybody, and if we could see it we would see these billions of points of light coming together in the face and blaze of a sun that would make all the darkness and cruelty of life vanish completely…. I have no program for this seeing. It is only given. But the gate of heaven is everywhere (From Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander by Thomas Merton).

This is truth. God-standing-with-us is truth.

The pure glory of God written like a pure diamond in our hearts, in all hearts, is truth.

As we hear the news this week–and we think of all people: victims and perpetrators;  priests, bishops, pope, and laity; journalists and consumers of news in whatever format–may we see them in truth, holding them in the awareness of bruises and brokenness, yet ultimately with hearts on whom God’s name is written in their poverty, in their indigence, in their dependence, and in their sonship. And for those who in some way, clearly or possibly, have not reflected this “secret beauty of their hearts” let us have yet the courage to trust in the God who stands by us, by his Bride the Church, be each of us, by all of us together.

And maybe some of us will have the humble strength to stand ourselves with the others, standing in the radiance at the core of their reality, the person that each one is in God’s eyes. For as Merton says, “if only they could all see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time. There would be no more war, no more hatred, no more cruelty, no more greed….”

by Sr Kathryn J. Hermes, FSP

monthly sheets

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!

4 Habits for Calming the Tempests of your Spirit

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-e3wk4-a6f599

Ever-happening transition and the need to keep up with the changing expectations around us, as well as the not-so-peaceful world we live in can create tempests in our spirit. I call it verbal pollution when I feel harmed by the disrespectful words and attitudes and reactions of people in both the social conversation and in my own personal space. Sometimes I myself don’t respect and truly love others into profoundly gifted relational bonds through unending kindness myself. So here are four habits that might help to calm the storms that rage within no matter what their source. Let me know if you find them helpful.

Seasons of Life

“To journey and to be transformed by the journey is to be a pilgrim.”
—Mark Nepo

Pilgrimage has become an integrating theme of my life this year. I don’t often use the word pilgrimage, actually; I’ve come to call it “seasons of life.” Let me explain.

At a recent meeting with one of the sisters who is about 20 years younger than me, I realized that I was feeling more and more uncomfortable.

I tend to consider options from many different angles before moving. Call it cautious or wise, that’s how I am … most of the time. There are important opportunities I seize with an intuitive sense that a certain path must be taken if I or we are to be true to ourselves, and it must be taken now. But on the whole, I tend to cover my bases before making decisions.

In the discussion that played out during the meeting, the topic was analyzed, figured out, and finalized as the only option that would make any sense.

I felt marginalized. Fear crept into my thinking, suggesting that I no longer had anything valid to offer, that my priorities were outdated, that I was becoming useless and losing my grip.

That afternoon when I talked with Jesus about what had happened and how I felt, I heard in my heart these words: “You need to get ready now.” And, “There is a new season of your life coming.” Surprisingly, I was filled with joy and excitement.

There was a warmth and an affection in the way Jesus addressed me. Whereas before I had felt uncertain, abandoned and fearful that something I was or had would be taken away from me, in this experience with the Lord I felt safe, warm and held.

In his book entitled Eternal Echoes: Celtic Reflections on our Yearning to Belong, John O’Donohue says, “Ideally, a human life should be a constant pilgrimage of discovery.”

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about St. Paul’s “conversion” on the road to Damascus. My pilgrimage along the seasons of life has made me see this pilgrimage experience of Paul in a new light.

In a sense, the Lord “sneaked up” on Paul, surprising this overly zealous rabbi who was persecuting the followers of Jesus, bathing him in light.

I felt joy as Jesus told me to prepare for a new season of life.

As Paul heard on the highway into Damascus that he had been persecuting Jesus himself, in the followers of the Way he had arrested and imprisoned, I wondered: what spiritual effect did those words have as they reverberated in his spirit?

I always assumed he was shocked or horrified or ashamed. Could it be, I’m wondering now, that it was joy that flooded Paul’s spirit, as he was told to get up, go into Damascus, and wait to be told about the new season of his life about to begin?

Actually, his own response to the Lord betrays that this might be so. Paul didn’t collapse in guilt, asking “What have I done?” but asked transparently, “Who are you, Sir?” Then when he was told to get up and go into the city, he simply did as he was told and walked into the plans the Lord had for his future.

In reality, almost every person who approached the Lord — from Peter to Thomas, from Mary Magdalene to Zacchaeus to the repentant thief — all of them were filled with the joy of life begun again, a page turned, the promise of a new season of life, when they encountered their own weakness, brought it to Jesus, and heard, “I have a plan for you.”

Jesus never shamed people about what their past had been, but instead said, “I have a place in my plan that only you can fill. Get ready: a new season of your life is coming.”

Saying hello to new seasons of life means waving goodbye to seasons once familiar and loved. As exciting as the new adventure may promise to be, or as sad as the past has been, any change means a face-to-face encounter with grief or fear.

It is only by walking through the liminal state of transition into the new season, that we discover how much the plans of God for our future actually fit us perfectly. So many times I’ve made my own plans, which God has promptly overturned with his own. And I am so grateful he did.

Most recently, a book I had proposed for publication was rejected several years ago, leading me through a long inner struggle, a personal odyssey of coming to terms with deep regrets in my own life, regrets that were much deeper than a “book deal gone sour.”

The years of prayer and transparency were barren years, a desert where writing came hard and words were dry. But they have opened up to a life more grounded, and a prayer more true.

The pilgrimage over the threshold into life’s new season became the framework for a new book: Reclaim Regret: How God Heals Life’s Disappointments. The book is being published at a time in my life when it can be an invitation to a number of ways that people can work with me directly to find greater peace in their own life.

So if you are in a discovery phase precipitated by your journey, allow yourself to be transformed by trusting these four principles:

  • Life is good when there is ongoing call for conversion.
  • Jesus never looks back at what you’ve been, but calls you to look forward to the place he has for you in his plan, a place only you can fill.
  • Moments of truth, though sometimes painful, are gifts of light.
  • Step into the change that the Lord is showing you, and it will transform you.

Three Ways to Avoid Being a Workaholic

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-nbuqs-a39f08

I have many inner struggles around the work I do. Some of the things I have been asked to do in mission required long hours. Sometimes I have gotten angry about the amount of work expected of me; other times I know I could give more but am holding back. On the one hand, I feel like I need to always be available; on the other hand, I can use work as an escape. I look at others working more, working less, and in both cases I feel guilty. I want what I do to flow from who I am, and the integration — when it happens — feels wonderful! How complicated is the human heart!

Reflecting on my own experience, over the past months I have identified three guides that help me in unraveling the motivations of my heart; to connect my “doing” with my “being” so that my work flows not from workaholism but from something deeper.

A 3-step tool to turn stress into grace

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-ei6fx-a39ee2

We all face surprises, pressures and difficult situations. The good news is that by making a few small changes to the way we work through them, we can shift from angry assumptions to intentional love.

In this podcast I offer a three-step tool I use when I’m angry or frustrated may be helpful.