Friday, February 28, 2014

Asking For It

I attended my annual silent retreat this past weekend, and have a new list of graces to ask God for (as encouraged by Fr. Anthony Sortino, L.C.).  I want to share them so that you may use them to build your relationship with Christ.  It's good to be reminded that they exist, and are there for the asking...

Don't leave your presents unopened - they are graces every one.
And you need them as long as you have a room down here. 

Upstairs is a Holy Place, lit up by His Holy Face.
And there are unopened presents lying all around.
But all of the people who need those gifts are not Upstairs, they are down.

Seek, and you will not be disappointed.
Knock, and the door will be opened.
Ask, and you shall receive.

Your graces are lying in wait, beautifully wrapped where you can't see them.
So, look up and ask for what is yours, because they're still there, and you still need them.

September 2010
Ask for the grace of...
~The gift of deeper union with Christ.
~To know how He loves.
~To know how He loves YOU.
~To feel thirst for love, to be drawn to God.
~To believe in the promise of love that He has made us.  To reject any insecurity, mistrust, fear, inadequacy.  "We make our stand with our Lord!"
~To shed expectation.  To acknowledge your God-given desires, and give what you have.  Let God delight in perfecting you.  Vacillate between desire and surrender.
~The grace to accept sufferings with joy.
~To love God SO much that we embrace the purification He allows.
~Greater trust and surrender. 
~Surrender, detachment, forgiveness.
~The grace to suffer with Jesus.
~To trust in God's promises.  To trust in the ONE who makes the promises.
~To learn, accept, and love yourself as one who is given a new name - a name which tells who you are, in God's eyes.

Dear Eternal Father,  Thank you for Your graces!  Thank you for drawing near to us, when we draw near to You (James 4:8).  You gave us free will.  I offer it back to You, and ask You not to allow me to forget You, nor forget to ask for Your grace in all circumstances.  I want to be who You intended before I drew my first breath.  I want to live up to my new name, accept it, and see myself as You see me.  Thank you for all that was, is, and is to come.  Amen. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Lust In the Light

Disclaimer:  Neither my husband's character or actions have anything to do with this post.  He is an incredible husband, father, and man striving to do God's will, and he has never broken my trust.  In fact, what started my thinking on this subject, are the incredible strides he's making in his spiritual life.  His courage gave me the courage to think about temptations he might be facing.  However, I am imperfect, which means I love imperfectly, too.  In this case, I am too attached to him, and take him (and all that happens in his life) too personally.  His only connection is that he married me

[Those whose joy is unpossessive of things] have nothing in their heart, but possess everything with greater liberty (2Cor. 6:10); the others, insofar as they possess things with attachment, neither have nor possess anything.  Rather their heart is held by things and they suffer as a captive...and spend all their time going to and from about the snare to which their heart is tied."  Ascent of Mt. Carmel, St. John of the Cross (AMC)

So, because I'd rather not share these thoughts, and it might also be helpful for you, I must.  The prayer at the end of my Gospel reflection this morning convicted me of that.  "Lord Jesus, open my eyes to the revelation of your healing presence and saving word.  Help me to walk according to your truth and to not stumble in the darkness of sin.  May I help others find your healing light and saving presence."

That's pretty much it.  I'm stumbling, and I want my stumbling to be fruitful - for myself, for my husband, and for all who can relate to anything written here.  I'm stumbling around this not-so-little thing called lust.  But, it's not my own lust that's the problem, it's the idea of it.  The idea of a spouse (mine, in particular) lusting after another.  I don't fully understand it, and I never see it, but the following passage treats my curiosity about it...

"Bernard [of Clairvaux] reminds us that is was curiosity that led to the Fall originally, and speaks of Eve. 'Why are you always glancing at it [the forbidden fruit]?  What is the good looking at what you are forbidden to eat?...For when you are looking intently at something, the serpent slips into your heart and coaxes you.  He leads on your reason with flattery; he awakes your fear with lies...He increases your interest while he stirs up your greed.  He sharpens your curiosity while he prompts your desire.  He offers what is forbidden and takes away what is given.  He holds out an apple and snatches away paradise.'"  On the Steps of Humility and Pride by B. Clairvaux, as quoted in The Fulfillment of All Desire, by Ralph Martin

I think it is easy for me to dwell on lust for three reasons:  It is extremely private so it rarely makes its way into conversation.  I'm insecure.  My love needs to be purified.

Thinking about lust (when I am neither the lust-er or the lust-ed) leaves me feeling deceived and betrayed, but this is just the beginning.  I allow it to exert power over me, and the relationships in my life because:
1.  I can't change the emotions or actions of another.
2.  It allows me to feel superior and sit in judgment.
3.  It creates emotional distance.
4.  It encourages me to characterize a person only by their fault, and rob them of their dignity.
5.  I'm equally enslaved by my reaction to their fault, as much as the other may be by the sin itself.
6.  It binds my love.  "They cannot rejoice in them [those they love]if they hold them with possessiveness, for this is a care that, like a trap, holds the spirit to earth, and does not allow wideness of heart."  - AMC
7.  It has me breaking 8 of the 15 rules on Mother Teresa's humility list, which you can find here, if you're interested:

Last night, I finished reading Hinds' Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurdard, in preparation for my upcoming silent retreat.  The main character is Much-Afraid, and at the end, she makes some pretty awesome revelations about her journey.  This Much-Afraid did, too.

"Therefore, I begin to think, my Lord, You purposely allow us to be brought into contact with the bad and evil things that you want changed...that is the only satisfactory way of dealing with evil, not simply binding it so that it cannot work harm, but whenever possible overcoming it with good."

"They [her ugly Fearing cousins] were indwelt and tormented by their different besetting [something that is tempting, harassing, or assailing you] sins and ugly natures, just as she had been by her fears...She could scarcely bear the thought, yet for so many years she had not only feared, but condemned them, had actually 'disdained their misery', telling herself it was their own fault...Yes, she, detestable, fear-enslaved Much Afraid had actually dared to disdain them for the things which made them so wretched and ugly when she herself was equally wretched and enslaved."

So, where's the good that comes from lust?  Maybe it's in this post.  Maybe it's the dim light shed on a subject which loves to dwell in the darkness.  Maybe it's just the good that it has done me to spell-it-out, and the humility I've gained by doing so.  Maybe the good is something that I can't perceive or know nothing about.  Maybe the good is that "perfection consists in fighting against [imperfections]." ~St. Francis de Sales.  Or maybe it is all of these things. 

Dear Heavenly Father,  Thank you for this gorgeous day, and endless reasons to praise you.  Please forgive me for my sins, most especially for sitting in judgment of another, reducing another to their faults, and being enslaved by something other than love.  Lord, please draw near to those who struggle with lust and intercede for those who are affected by it.  You know our intimate struggles.    You have promised that there is always a way out, if we desire it.  Please give us the grace to desire a way out, and to forgive ourselves and others when we fail.  Make us love you more and more, and our neighbor, for love of You.  Amen.