Everything old…

February 26, 2010

 

…is new again.

  Ever felt like you wasted time because you looked for life and love in created things instead of the Creator? St. Augustine did. Here’s an old prayer of his. It’s a prayer for lost time…

 Late have I loved you, O beauty so ancient and so new. Too late have I loved you! You were within me while I had gone outside to seek you. Unlovely myself, I fell heedlessly upon all those lovely things you had made. And always you were with me, and I was not with you. And all theses beauties that held me far from you would not have existed unless they had their being in you.

You called, you cried, you broke open my deafness. You blazed, you gleamed, you drove away my blindness. You sent your fragrance and I drew in my breath, and I long for you.

I tasted, and now I hunger and thirst. You touched me, and now I burn with desire for your peace. Amen.

That old prayer is a favorite of mine which is why I really like this new song by Matt Maher…

ALIVE AGAIN
I woke up in darkess, surrounded by silence.
O where, where have I gone?
I woke to reality losing its grip on me.
O where, where have I gone?
Cause I can see the light, before I see the sunrise.
Refrain:
You called and you shouted.
Broke through my deafness.
Now I’m breathing in and breathing out.
I’m alive again.
You shattered my darkness.
Washed away my blindness.
Now I’m breathing in and breathing out.
I’m alive again.
Verse 2
Late have I loved you.
You waited for me I searched for you.
What took me so long?
I was looking outside.
As if love would ever want to hide.
I’m finding I was wrong.
Cause I can feel the wind before it hits my skin.
‘Cause I want you.
Yes I want you
I need you.
And I’ll do whatever I have to
Just to get through
Cause I love you
And I love you.
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Stories

February 20, 2009

 

My pastor often comments on the fact that our parish community is full of stories: Stories of God’s grace, stories of grief and heartache, stories of promise and hope and ultimately love stories between us and our Savior. He references this so often that now I can’t help but sit in Mass (especially daily Mass) and look at my brother or sister sitting next to me and wonder, “What’s their story? What’s brought them here today? What are the prayers and cries of their heart?”

I’ve come to know a few of the regulars at daily Mass and I’ve learned bits and pieces of their stories, of their faith journeys with Christ.  Knowing their stories and knowing them broadens my perspective and my prayers when I’m at Mass. I’m less focused on my story and my prayer intentions and I find myself praying for those around me: For Rosanna who has a sick grandson, for Marilyn whose son is not walking with the Lord, for Gina who is discerning the call to a religious vocation, and for Joe, who I know misses his beloved Irma Lee.

My questions about some of the others in the pew next to me may never be answered but I’m glad the Holy Spirit leads me to think about them because somehow when I start thinking about their stories I become less concerned about my own. And isn’t that the way it should be? Of course when I come to Mass I have my own personal needs and prayer intentions. Sometimes they’re all I can think about. But, the liturgy really is about community prayer and not just my personal prayers.  When we celebrate the liturgy together we come to commune with God and with each other; we come to offer up prayers for all of our stories. And most importantly, we come to offer thanksgiving for our common story, the salvation story into which our God has graciously written each of us.


For a Friend

January 29, 2009

 

Stop trying to map out the future in your mind. Rest in the moment. Rest in the now. Push away the burdens and create the space to be at peace. Push them away not with might and strength but with a patient waiting that will eventually bear the fruit of contentment in the here and now.  Be content no matter the circumstances and somehow the circumstances will seem less suffocating, less overwhelming.

Do not grasp for easy answers, for solutions to your problems. Stop grasping. Instead fold your hands in prayer and find within your core the presence of Christ.  Seat yourself in him, with him.  Stay and rest with him.  And when you find yourself tempted to grasp for answers bring you hands back, fold them and pray. Bring your heart and head back to that place where Christ resides within.  But be careful in that place. Do not expect to find all the answers there. Jesus is not as much about giving easy answers as he is about giving his presence, giving his life, giving his grace. 

His presence, his life, his grace…these are all the answers you need.  


Love, Intimacy and Conversion

November 20, 2008

Re-reading Deep Conversion/Deep Prayer by Thomas Dubay. Good, but convicting stuff.

Dubay talks about intimacy with the indwelling Trinity as the key to conversion from self-love to Christ’s love.

“To put it simply: the main source of deep conversion is to fall in love with endless Beauty. A genuine person will gladly sacrifice for real love. Christic martyrs are in love. Jesus tortured to death on the Cross is the icon of perfect love, unconditional, selfless love. All the saints imitate him in their heroic virtue because they too are in love. Their concern, determination, and motivation are rooted in and arise from their intimacy with Triune Beauty which is purest and endless love (1 John 4:8).” (Dubay, Deep Conversion/Deep Prayer, p. 199)

I long to be holy, that is, I long to fulfill God’s command to love Him and to love my neighbor as myself. This requires conversion from my egocentric, self-interested way of “loving” to the pure, unselfish and perfect love of Christ.  Holiness begins with falling in love with God. Dubay goes on to give a human example:

“If a man loves a woman authentically and profoundly, he would not for a moment entertain the idea of harming her or of tainting the beauty of her chastity.  People intimate with God [in love with God] resist with all their might…sins.” (Dubay, p. 100)

How then do I fall in love and grow in this intimacy? Jesus shows me the way.

“[Jesus] habitually spent long solitudes absorbed in the most profound communion with the Father (Luke 5:16), long before dawn (Mark 1:35), even all though the night (Luke 2:19, 51) and led the apostles in continuous prayer for forty days in preparation for the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:14) (Dubay, p. 100).

Jesus, who was one with the Father, needed to get away and spend time alone with His Father. What does that say about what we need? Don’t we need that time away with our Abba Father? Time away from the distractions of the world (our computers, cell phones, i-pods and other gadgets). Time alone to listen to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Time to be still, to learn to hear His voice so we can recognize it when we’re engaged in other tasks and focused on other people. Time to be intimate and to fall deeper in love with Him.

Thinking of it in terms of human intimacy. The most intimate moments between a husband and wife belong to them. They don’t occur in public, surrounded by people. Nor are those moments, moments of multi-tasking. They are moments of undivided attention, undivided self-giving. These intimate moments serve to strengthen the relationship when they are “a part.”

If Jesus, perfect in all ways, needed to spend intimate time away with His Father then I, so imperfect in so many ways, must also seek this same intimacy so that I can fall deeper in love with Him and love more deeply like Him.


I do believe…

May 24, 2008

***

“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24)

 

I love this verse. I pray this verse often–coupled with this portion of a prayer we pray at church:

 

“I believe Lord, that you are here present, although my eyes do not see you my faith senses you.”

 

Praise God. His grace is sufficient; even at times, for my unbelief.


For a Gentle Life

March 19, 2008

This prayer from The Essential Catholic Prayer Book ministered to me today.

Thought I’d share it…

Prayer for a Gentle Life 

Teach me, my Lord, to be kind and gentle in all the events of my life; in disappointments, in the thoughtlessness of others, in the insincerity of those I trusted, in the unfaithfulness of those on whom I relied. Let me put myself aside, to think of the happiness of others, to hide my pains and heartaches, so that I may be the only one to suffer from them.

Teach me to profit by the suffering that comes across my path. Let me use it so that it may mellow me, not embitter me; that it may make me patient, not irritable; that it may make me broad in my forgiveness, not narrow, proud, and overbearing.

May no one be less good for having come within my influence. No one less pure, less true, less kind, less noble for having been a fellow traveler in our journey toward eternal life. As I go my rounds from one task to another, let me say from time to time a word of love to you, my Lord. May my life be lived in the supernatural, full of power for good, and strong in its purpose of sanctity. Amen.


A Praying Mom

August 27, 2007

Today is the feast day of St. Monica (332-387).

For those of faith traditions that do not celebrate feast days, do not fear, we are not worshiping saints on these days. Feast days of the saints commemorate the lives of brothers and sisters in Christ who loved Jesus and led lives of Godly example for others to follow. A saint’s feast day sometimes falls on their birthday, so you can look at it like we’re celebrating this family member’s birthday, or on the anniversary of their death in which case we’re celebrating their union with God in heaven. Ultimatley we’re celebrating the gift they are to the family of God and the lives they lived for Jesus.

St. Monica was the mother of St. Augustine (a well known theologian of the Christian faith in the early church). I’d never heard of Monica prior to becoming Catholic but since learning of her she’s become one of my heroes. What we know of her comes primarily from the writings of Augustine himself. She was from a devout Catholic family. As a young woman she was given in marriage to a pagan who would not allow her to baptize their children. What is often admired about Monica was her great faith and perseverance in prayer for her family, especially her unbelieving husband (who became a believer in Christ on his deathbed) and her “partying and carousing” son, Augustine. Yep, good ole’ St. Augustine was a prodigal son, so to speak.

Monica prayed for 20 years for her son to leave behind his worldly ways and become a follower of Christ. For a period of time she even forbade him to live with her because of his lifestyle and his belief in the popular Manichaeism heresy of the times; he was known for his illicit affairs and had a mistress who mothered his child. Sounds like she had to put some tough love into action with Augustine. In the meantime, she fasted and prayed continually and wept many tears for her son, all the while dealing with an unbelieving husband who, as the story goes, had a violent temper (Monica suffered a great amount of abuse in her marriage).

Twenty years… It would have been easy to give up hope. I can only imagine how heartbroken she must have been with her son’s worldly ways. How torn she must have been to have a grandchild that she might not have seen very often because of her tough love for her son. How frustrated she must have been to see him using his God-given intelligence to espouse beliefs that were contrary to the truth of the Christian faith. In spite of it all, she persisted in prayer for her son. I have to say that I’ve been praying for some people in my life for a lot less time and sometimes I lack perseverance and faithfulness or I feel like giving up because it seems to me they are never going to turn to Christ as their one and only source of life.

Monica persevered and God answered her prayers in ways she never dreamed. At 29 Augustine moved to Rome. As the story goes, he “outwitted” his mother (hmmm, another word for fooled or deceived) and left for Rome at a time when he knew she wouldn’t be able to follow him. Gee, he sounds like a real loveable and likeable son so far. Monica however, never gave up. She too went to Rome and then to Milan where Augustine was living. While in Milan both Augustine and Monica developed a relationship with Bishop Ambrose, a true leader for Christ. I imagine Monica was thrilled and felt like her son’s relationship with Bishop Ambrose was an answer to her prayers. Makes me think about praying even now for the people my girls will befriend in the future and the influence these people will have over them. 

Eventually Augustine gave up following the heresy of Manichaeism, gave up the illicit relationship with his mistress and became a believer of the Christian faith. He then chose to be celibate and devoted his life to the service of God and the Church. I’m thinking Monica was beside herself at this point; on the one hand thanking God and on the other thinking, “why’d it have to take so long Lord?’ Augustine would later go on to use his considerable intelligence and teaching skills for the faith and become a celebrated saint of the Church.

When I read about Monica, I’m inspired to pray a little harder and a little longer for those I love. One of my prayers has been that the Lord will make me a holy vessel of his love and grace to my husband and children. And, that he’ll make my family a holy family so that we are more like Jesus and we can be a light and testimony of God’s love and power to those around us. This prayer has not come without sacrifice. St. Monica knew what sacrificing and suffering for her family meant. She’s an example of a Godly wife and mother who faithfully prayed for and loved her family. And she was blessed to see the fruit of her faithfulness.

I want to be like that kind of praying mom.