Category Archives: Spirituality
Some tidbits of thought and discoveries from my Spiritual journey.
Well here I am, back at my favorite summer home – The Pines Catholic Camp! I’m a staff supervisor this summer, and I already love my team so much! They’re such a great group of men and women!
I’m finding that, as with any position in ministry, the devil is always close at hand trying to discourage, harm, and destroy the good that comes from God working through willing vessels. I experienced some strong feelings of discouragement and being overwhelmed with all that had to be done and everything I was responsible for. I began to realize though that God had called and chosen ME. He could have chosen anyone in the entire world, but He didn’t. He chose me. He called me here, and He chose me for this position, for this work, and for this team.
I found a quote the other day that amazed me. “Jesus is going to do great things with you if you let Him, and if you don’t try to interfere with Him.” (The general consensus in the office here is that it is a Mother Teresa quote, but we’re not sure…)
It’s so humbling to see the good that God has used me to work, and to know that He will continue to do more of the same, as long as I stay open to His calling. God is teaching me a lot of trust in His provision this summer, and showing me how much I really rely on Him. I love it.
Please pray for me and my team as this summer starts in earnest on June 2, with the first group of camper’s arrival. We have been called and chosen by God Himself, and may His work be done through our lives!
“He called those whom He desired” – Mark 3:13
Here we go!!! Summer Camp 2013 has officially begun for this lady, as I moved in here Wednesday to begin Senior Staff Training. It is becoming real!
As the leadership team out here prepares for the summer, I realized all the weaknesses I bring here with me, and all of the ‘stuff’ going on back home that I am laying at the foot of the Cross to serve God for the next three months.
The team had Adoration the other night, and as I adored Our Lord Truly Present, the following prayer developed in my mind:
Lord, here are my hands. They’re fragile, they’re small, and they’re empty. I give them to You. Use them to do Your Will.
Lord, here are my feet. They’re blistered, they’re sore, and they wander. I give them to You. Use them to do Your Will.
Lord, here is my mind. It’s ignorant, it’s dim, and it’s prideful. I give it to You. Use it to do Your Will.
Lord, here is my will. It’s stubborn, it’s selfish, and it’s weak. I give it to You. Use it to do Your Will
Lord, here is my heart. It’s insecure, it’s broken, and it’s bleeding. I give it to You. Use it to do You Will.
This is my offering, Jesus. It’s nothing, but it’s what I have. I give it entirely to You to be used to Know, Love, and Serve. Take me, and make me into Your own Image. Make me less of myself and more of You, Lord, and when I’m the most like You, I am the most like me. Create me more and more in Your Image, and guide my hands, feet, mind, will, and heart to You.
In prayer a few weeks ago, I asked for graces for a few things going on in my life. Eyes closed, I envisioned “grace like rain” falling on me from Heaven. I opened my hands to receive it, but as my hands filled to capacity, I started to panic! Frantically, I searched with my mind to find something that could hold the excess. I mean, this is GOD’S GRACE! You can’t WASTE the stuff!!! It didn’t stop raining down on me though, and my hands were not enough to hold the abundance I was being given. I was beside myself! The ‘grace-like-rain’ filled up my hands and ran out between my fingers and onto the ground. I looked up, beseeching this waste of precious grace to STOP! Couldn’t God see I had all I could hold?!
I cried out to Mother Mary, and she smiled down at me and the state of panic I was in. She looked up to the One that the Graces were coming from. As my gaze followed hers, I saw no end… It was infinite. Infinite. I didn’t really understand though; I was still upset about the ‘wasted grace’ making mud at my feet.
It slowly sunk in though… When something is endless, there’s no such thing as waste. God could pour out enough to drown me (and then some!), but never run out, or even run low! His grace has no end, which is why He can give, and give, and give. I realized that this extra Grace was not being wasted. It was, in fact, giving testimony to the great generosity of God to my poor, feeble soul. Any of what God does is never, EVER wasted. My frantically trying to conserve the infinite must have made God smile. He knows my heart, and my love of Holy Things, but this Holy Thing is His to pour out at will, and I pray for the Grace to accept His generosity in all things!
Today is a really awkward day.
Jesus is dead. He signed the New Covenant in His own Blood, the tomb was sealed, and His Soul has been delivered to His Heavenly Father. Annnnnd He’s gone…
It feels as if today shouldn’t even happen. From yesterday at the Good Friday Service until tonight at the Vigil, life as a disciple of Christ is just weird.
Our Master, the Lord, died. So how is life still going? How do the mundane things like eating, sleeping, talking… how does it keep going?! Doesn’t anyone know what happened yesterday? If HE is dead, how are we alive?
The soldiers are standing guard over His tomb. His apostles are hiding. The women are crying. Mary’s heart is broken.
Even with this overwhelming sense of loss, there is still something there, though, moving underneath… something hopeful, something growing… I can’t put my finger on it, but it lends some peace to the uncomfortable feeling of ‘out-of-place’ that follows me like a shadow every Holy Saturday.
“…and after rolling a great stone against the entrance of the tomb, they departed.” – Matthew 27:60
Today is often called “Maundy Thursday.” As often as I’ve heard that name for Holy Thursday, I’ve wondered what on earth “Maundy” even meant… It’s been bugging me enough lately, so I looked it up.
Maundy is the ceremony of washing the feet of the poor, and also refers to Jesus’ washing His Apostle’s feet at the Last Supper in the Gospel of John, chapter 13. Jesus got down on His hands and knees, and cleaned the dirtiest part of His band of Apostles. In doing this, He was trying to show us many things… We’ll look at three of them.
First, washing someone’s feet is nasty work – and if you think it’s bad in 2013, just imagine what it was like when people wore, not Nike’s, but thin sandals (if anything!) and walked everywhere on dirt roads! That had to have been GROSS! When feet needed washing (and this was often!), it was the job of the servants. When Jesus got around to Peter in verse six, Peter knew that Jesus was the Lord of the Universe, and felt like he (Peter) should wash Jesus’ feet, not the other way around! Jesus gently reminded him though that He knew Peter didn’t understand… and that was ok. “…You’ll understand later,” Jesus promises in verse seven. Jesus goes on to say that if He doesn’t wash Peter’s feet, Peter cannot have any inheritance with Him. Peter sees a little more clearly, and asks that Jesus not only wash his feet, but all the rest of him as well! (Oh Peter…!) Jesus doesn’t always ask us to understand every little thing He does in our lives, but He does ask us to lay aside our fear and trust Him. “You will understand later.”
Second, by washing nasty, dirty feet, Jesus is asking us to submit our dirtiness to Him. Peter didn’t want to! He saw how dirty his dirtiness was, and didn’t want Jesus to touch it. (I can’t say that I blame him!) Peter wanted to give Jesus the best and perfect parts of himself, and not let the yucky see the light of day, especially when Jesus, the Son of God, was looking. Jesus shows us though that He WANTS these parts of us. He wants you to give Him the yuckiest, nastiest, grossest parts of yourself, so that He can cleanse and heal them. Jesus told St. Faustina to “give Him her misery,” because it was the only part of her that was truly hers to give. The pretty stuff, the virtues, etc… they were all gifts and graces from God. Though we should offer our gifts to God also, He mostly wants the nasty stuff, so that He can relieve, clean, and heal. “If I do not wash you, you have no inheritance with Me.” Peter said it best: “Then not just my feet, Lord, but my hands and head as well!”
Third, Jesus is setting an example for us. He says in verse fourteen that “if I, therefore, the Master and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet.” He shows us by His own actions how we should love one another. Not only did He tolerate the dirtiness, but He embraced it, and washed it with His own hands. What would this look like in our lives? A smile to a complete stranger is a good place to start! Digging deeper though, Jesus is teaching us by example that we ought to bear one another burdens, and love each other through highs and lows. Do you know someone struggling with sin? PRAY for them!! And then TELL them you’re praying! Affirm their good efforts, console them in failure, encourage, and offer them every kindness! ‘Wash their feet’ as much as you can, and in this way, you imitate Christ!
Jesus poured Himself out completely for us, and today, Maundy (aka washing-of-the-feet) Thursday, He will ask you to pour yourself out alongside Him. How will you answer?
“Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist.” John 13:5
The Gospel reading for the Blessing of the Palms at Mass Sunday morning made me laugh. Really!
Towards the end, some of the Pharisees told Jesus to get His disciples to calm down, and Jesus quips that “If they stay silent, the very stones will cry out!”
Jesus was sassy! It’s true! Think about how that must have sounded – if His disciples hadn’t cried out “Hosanna!” in exultation, the ROCKS lying down in the DIRT would have! The very fibers of nature were aware that God was at hand, and all the Pharisees could think about was obeying the law just for the sake of obeying it, not because it drew their hearts to God.
As the Palms were blessed, and I marched into the Church with the masses of the faithful in attendance Palm Sunday morning, the choir began the hymn “Hosanna.” It made me smile to think that we the faithful, the modern-day disciples, we Christ’s living stones crying out “Hosanna to the Son of David!”
I’ve been trying hard to find ways of uniting myself with Christ and live this Holy Week WITH Him, instead of just watching. Sometimes when I receive Holy Communion, Jesus gives me an image to meditate on. Today during Mass, as I received His Body and Blood, the image of a scared child filled me. It was Jesus, about 1 or 2 years old, scared to death, and clinging to me fiercely. He could see the suffering, the scourging, and the cross… and He was so afraid!
All I could do was hold Him. I knew I couldn’t say I’d protect Him; I’m nowhere near strong enough. I couldn’t say it was a bad dream; it was very, very real. I couldn’t even say I would live it with Him; I know my soul is such a coward, the only way I could live it is through His grace.
It tore my heart from my chest to experience Jesus Christ, my Savior, my Lover, my LORD, crying and scared, as a small child. We know from the Agony in the Garden that His sweat became great drops of blood… In order for that to happen, biologically speaking, blood pressure is so high that the heart actually bursts. His heart broke before the first lash of the whip struck His sacred flesh.
Comfort your Lord Jesus this Holy Week as He prepares for the Cross.
Song: Mary From Thy Sacred Image – Meditation on the image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help
Remember this picture of the Good Shepherd carrying the lamb?
Ever wonder why He is almost ALWAYS depicted carrying a lamb??
Well, sheep are pretty dumb. They tend to run off, find precarious cliffs and precipices that they then fall off of to their death! A shepherd has to tend his sheep very carefully, and train his sheep to STAY with him and not wander off, not because the shepherd is possessive or is having a power trip, but for the sheep’s own safety.
Shepherds had a great strategy for teaching their wild woolies not to run away: when a lamb left the flock, the shepherd left the flock to find that sheep (sound familiar?), and when he found it, he would bring it back to the flock. Just like the gospel!
What Jesus didn’t have to say (because His 1st century audience would have already known) was what that shepherd did when he got the lamb back with the rest of the sheep to teach that lamb not to run to danger again. He broke its legs.
The modern man’s reaction to this reality is one of horror: WHY would the shepherd hurt the baby lamb? It didn’t know any better! Why cause it pain for an innocent mistake?!
Understand though: what may have been an innocent mistake would not end so innocently for the lamb if it meant the little guy starved, fell to its death, or was killed. The shepherd though, in mercy, did not just break the legs of his lamb. He then carried the wounded animal on his shoulders until the little legs healed and became strong again. By breaking the lamb’s legs, he taught it a lesson that, while it hurt for a little while, would ultimately save its life. The shepherd understood that broken legs hurt, but death is worse. Legs will heal. Lives, once lost, are lost forever.
Now compare this to the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ. Speaking only for myself, I can say that my Shepherd has had to break my legs a few times, but just as the shepherds in 1st century Israel, He never fails to carry me through healing back to strength. Yes, it hurts. But hurts heal, and the wisdom and faith gained brings life in Christ.
When it comes to our souls, Jesus isn’t playing around. The life of our souls is infinitely more valuable to Him than anything else – that’s why He died a gruesome, humiliating death to save our souls from Eternal Death.
So, dear little Soul, trust your Good Shepherd, even when He has to carry you for a while.
“I am the Good Shepherd; I know My sheep and Mine know Me.” –John 10:14
Therefore, that I might not become too elated, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I begged the Lord about this that it might leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” – 2 Cor 12:7-9
I was looking at an image of the Immaculate Heart of Mary that hangs by my bed, and I noticed there was no sword piercing her heart (image to right), as is fairly typical of images of the Immaculate Heart. I got the feeling that Our Lady missed the sword being there, and I didn’t understand why. You’d think she’d prefer to not have a sword thrust through her heart!
Our Lady pointed out to me that the piercings of her heart, and the resulting scar, are actually a glory. Even though they caused her great suffering, the piercing sorrows of her heart (over half of which were from Good Friday – watching her beloved Son scourged and crucified) brought about the greatest glory! When Jesus rose on Easter Sunday, His glorified Body still bore the marks of His Passion and Death. They were an irrevocable, irremovable, fundamental part of His Glory.
One of my own “thorns” is, even though I dearly love people, I cannot recharge my emotional energy by being with large groups of them. I need silence and solitude to get my mental and emotional steam back. I am finding that to be a gift though, most especially when I get that ‘quiet time’ in adoration or prayer. This thorn of mine becomes my strength, because it forces me to slow down and be Mary at Jesus’ feet, and not Martha for a while. It allows Jesus into my life and heart to teach me, know me, and love me, and helps me to learn, know, and love Jesus.
I understand better now why Jesus wore His thorns as a crown; to show that suffering and glory work in unison. You can’t have one without its counterpart. Jesus’ thorns were His crown.
I pray for the grace to, like St. Paul, boast gladly in my weakness, that the power of Jesus may be more fully in me.
Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Cor 12:10
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” –Matthew 7:7
Seek and you will find – seems simple enough. If you can’t find something, go look for it, and you will find it. But it seems that the seeking shouldn’t end. Jesus didn’t say, “Seek *until* you find,” implying that the seeking ends once the thing sought is found. No, He said, “Seek and you *will* find.” It seems then than we are in a constant state of seeking.
On the one hand, this is nearly infuriating. Will the seeking never end?
On the other hand though, if it is Christ Whom you seek, why would you want to stop seeking? The minute you stop seeking, you will stop finding. Jesus promises that if you seek, you will find.
Interestingly, the condition of ‘seeking’ is placed on the goal of ‘finding.’ You can’t find without seeking; but if you do seek, you do find. Jesus doesn’t leave us seeking in vain; far from it. He gives us of Himself, to the extent that we seek Him. The more you seek Him, the more you find Him. And the more you find Him, the more you love Him. And the more you love Him, the more you want Him. And the more you want Him, the more you seek Him!
See what He did there?
“For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” –Matthew 7:8