God’s Will

January 27, 2009

The blood of Christ reveals God’s gracious will, which neither wants nor seeks anything but that we be made holy. Whatever he gives or permits is given out of love so that we may be made holy in him.  This is how the truth is fulfilled.

St. Catherine of Siena

 

Your will for me God is holiness–that is, for me to love like you. So, whatever comes my way, whether it be good, bad or even tragic, help me to accept it as a means to that end. Let my heart always be prepared to love no matter the circumstance, no matter the cost. Give me eyes that see this eternal purpose in each situation I encounter today and give me the grace to follow the way of love through obedient faith.  Amen.

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Passionate Love: Setting YOUR world on fire…

May 20, 2008

***

If you are what you should be, you will set your whole world on fire!

 

 

***

 

I wasn’t going to publish this post. But, I had a conversation with a friend last night that made me rethink that decision. My friend mentioned that she can’t worry about setting the whole world on fire; she just wants to be the best wife, mother and friend that she can be. That, she said, would be enough for her right now.

 

Bingo! She got the point of the quote, at least what I think is an important part of this quote.

 

Notice that the quote says, If you are what you should be, you will set YOUR whole world on fire? Key word in the second part of the quote is YOUR.

 

Some people get “hell bent” on going and changing the whole world or making their mark on the world that they forget their own little world, their own environments (their families, their circle of friends, those people in they come into contact with regularly). Here’s a question:

 

If you can’t die to yourself and love those in YOUR world

 then how do you think you’ll set the WHOLE world on fire?

 

*** 

 

I know this message may seem remedial for some of us but from what I’ve observed many Christians lose sight of it (including myself). It seems many of us get caught up in some vision, experience or ministry in order to bring the love of Jesus to the world and while doing so we neglect to show that love to the ones closest to us. 

 

Some people think that we have to do something really big for God in order to be significant or important in His family. You know, be some great speaker, teacher, author, musician, or missionary. Or start some fantastic church program that triples church attendance.  Now don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with doing those things. But they should follow a life of faithfulness in your own little world. They should flow from the life of one who is what she should be and is setting her own little world on fire with the love of God. 

 

How many times have we heard about the church leader who neglected HIs family in his pursuit of building the Kingdom of God? Or, the famous author or speaker who spent so much time on the speaking circuit that he/she never had time to really love and build relationships with their family. In case you think I’m pointing fingers let me make it clear I’m just as guilty.

 

It happens when I’m so busy preparing to serve on a women’s retreat to bring the love of Jesus to those women and I continually lose my patience with my girls when they interrupt me. I guarantee you my world is not on fire with God’s love at that point! Or when I’m busy serving in some area at church and I’m not available to my husband who needs me to be flexible and maintain a peaceful environment at home. Or I’m so wrapped up in “ministry” that I don’t have time to reach out to a neighbor who has a real need. And so, I miss an oppotunity to show Christ’s love in a tangible way in “my world.”

 

*** 

 

There’s something I’ve noticed when reading about the lives of some of the saints in the church. It’s this: They were faithful in the small stuff. Their influence in the Kingdom came from a life of faithfulness, love and holiness in the here and now, in their own small worlds.

  • Mother Theresa was a woman of faithfulness, love and humility long before she was known for bringing God’s love to the poor, sick and dying people in Calcutta and inspiring others to the same. She simply was what God called her to be; a vessel of God’s love and light.

 

  • St. Theresa of Lisieux lived only 24 short years. Few people even noticed her or knew of her while she lived. It was after her death that “The Little Way of St. Therese” became known. This little way was not little in any way. St. Therese put “dying to self” into practice in the most simple and common everyday experiences. Her story is an inspiration. She was what God called her to be and her life has influenced many to love God and others by dying to self in the little ways.

 

  • St. Rita wanted to be nun but at a young age her parents had her marry. In her vocation as a wife and mother she set her world on fire through years of unselfish and faithful prayers for her wayward husband and sons.  Not long after their hearts were converted they died. 

 

***

Back to my friend’s comment.

 

She just wants to be the wife, mom, and friend that God has called her to be. And if she can do that faithfully and with the love of God she’ll be content. 

 

I think that’s in part what St. Catherine meant in by this quote. If you are what you should be (a child of God who loves Him and others). And, if you live that out in your vocation right here and right now. Then, you will set your world on fire.

 

And in case you’re wondering what that fire looks like. I think it looks like passionate love. And don’t get confused. I’m talking about the the passionate (suffering) love of Jesus that we’re called to imitate as we pick up our cross each day. St. Catherine often spoke of the blazing love of Jesus. Like fire, His passionate love purifies, it burns away the chaff and impurities of life. His love draws us to a life of holiness and loving others.

 

What a calling we have–to be a vessel of love and holiness right where we are.  Like my friend, I want to focus on doing that in my world in the here and now. I want to be faithful in the “small stuff.” I want the passionate, blazing love of Jesus to transform me and to set my little world on fire for His glory .

 


My latest favorite quote

May 15, 2008

If you are what you should be,

you will set your whole world on fire.

-St. Catherine of Siena


Only by grace…

April 3, 2008

gaze at cross 

*** 

Eternal goodness,

you want me to gaze into you

and see that you love me,

to see that you love me gratuitously,

so that I may love everyone

with the very same love.

You want me, then,

to love and serve my neighbors gratuitously,

by helping them

spiritually and materially

as much as I can

without any expectation of selfish profit or pleasure.

Nor do you want me to hold back

because of their ingratitude or persecution,

or for any abuse I may suffer from them.

What then shall I do

to come to such a vision?

I shall strip myself of my stinking garment,

and by the light of most holy faith

I shall contemplate myself in you.

And, I shall clothe myself in your eternal will…

St. Catherine of Siena

***

To gaze into Christ and know His love in such a way that I would turn around and love others like He loves me…

Only by grace might this come to pass…

Only by grace do I even desire it.


Compassionate Catherine

April 2, 2008

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I’m acquainting myself with the writings of St. Catherine of Siena (1347-1380), the patron saint of our church. My pastor gave me a book of some of her prayers and I’ve slowly been reading and meditating on them. It’s only been in the last year that I’ve learned of this saint. I’m amazed by her passion and piety. I’ve really come to love this sister in Christ.The book of her writings that I’m reading is called Passion for Truth Compassion for Humanity, Catherine of Siena (Mary O’Driscoll, editor).  Actually, the word writings is a bit misleading, St. Catherine was illiterate by today’s standards. Her “writings” were dictated and recorded by others.

St. Catherine was raised in a society and time period where women were mostly uneducated. Her family loved God, His Church and the sacraments, and the saints. Among many things the Holy Spirit used her family and even her study and contemplation of the stained glass windows at her church in order to grow her faith. It’s interesting how in our society, where literacy is the “norm” and households have mulitple copies of the Bible, we place such an emphasis on reading Scripture (which of course is a good thing).  However, here is a prime and powerful example of how the Holy Spirit works through the hearing of the Word in Church and the oral faith tradition passed down in a family. It’s easy for us to forget that for much of Church history this is how the faith was taught and lived.

The wisdom and knowledge exhibited in St. Catherine’s writings are evidence of the power of the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the fact that God uses the weak things of the world to admonish and confound the wise. A great example of this is how the Lord used St. Catherine to admonish and encourage Church leaders (even the Pope) during a time in history when women were greatly limited in terms of their spheres of influence. 

There are so many facets of Catherine through which God’s love shines. Too many to share in this post. The title of this book though speaks volumes about who she is.  She is most assuredly passionate about truth and leading others to walking in truth and piety. But, that passion for truth was rooted in her compassion and love for others. I’m humbled and convicted by this compassion and her willingness to care for people who returned her kindness with cruelty.

One of her prayers Your Greatness is Everywhere, has spoken to me in many ways. I thought I’d share excerpts over the next couple of days…

O fire ever blazing!

The soul who comes to know herself in you

finds your greatness wherever she turns,

even in the tiniest things,

in people

and in all created things,

for in all of them she sees

your power

and wisdom and clemency.

For if you had not been powerful,

knowing,

and willing,

you would not have created them.

But you were powerful and knowing and willing,

and therefore you created everything.

O my poor blind soul,

You have never come to know yourself in him

because you have not stripped yourself

of your disordered will,

and have not clothed yourself in his will…

***

You know us Catholics, we believe in that whole “communion of saints thing,” so I can’t close this post without asking our sister in heaven to pray for those of us still on our pilgrimage here on earth.

Don’t freak out my Protestant friends. Let me assure you, this isn’t idolatry. I’m just asking a fellow sister in Christ to pray for us (not any different than asking you to do it, except she’s in heaven and probably won’t forget or get distracted by some menial task like we do here on earth – smile). If this belief troubles you because you think it’s not Biblical then click here and you’ll find a Biblical explanation for why we Catholics ask our brothers and sisters in heaven to pray for us. If you’re interested in Church history and what the Church Fathers thought about this topic this article might interest you as well.

St. Catherine, please pray for us, that we will come to know ourselves in Christ and in his blazing love. Pray that we will look for and see God’s greatness in all things, especially in others. And that we may be clothed in His perfect will.  Amen.