Tag Archives: Grace

Distractions: Blessings in Peculiar Packages #2

Another peculiar package of God’s blessings are distractions in my “prayer life.”[1] How can I conceive of such a thing? Distractions, after all, take you away from prayer! Nonetheless, I am convinced that, in some way, distractions are a blessing. Like the previous package of pride, distractions are something with which I am plagued and at the same time, through God’s grace, by which I find another path to faith.

I am convinced that, without God’s help, I cannot get rid of distractions in prayer. I used all the techniques in the world: from anxiously waiting for them to pop up so that I can banish them from my thoughts [a useless exercise in futility; they only become the focus of my attention] to sitting on the riverside, letting them float off into the oblivion. I have prayed until I am blue in the face for God to set me free of them…but normally, in everyday ordinary prayer, be it my own or during the Eucharist, the recitation of the Hours or the rosary, etc., distractions arise from every point of the compass, flights of fancy, starting piously innocent but ending up far afield.

On special occasions God grants me the blessings of focus and concentration.[2] But the majority of the time that I am plagued by distractions about everything under, and even beyond, the sun.

Are these simply the floating garbage of life washing up on the beaches of my prayer? To regard them as such would be to somehow fall into the trap of separating my body, mind and emotions from my soul, my spiritual life from my “normal, everyday” life, the sacred from the secular. Since this is the opposite of what I know to be true, the oneness and unity beneath the structure of the analytical categories into which I box reality, how should I re-evaluate these distractions in light of God’s providence? How do I refocus my vision to bring into alignment God’s knowledge of these distractions with their seemingly ungodly purpose of taking me away from prayer, from talking with Him, from praising and reverencing Him, that is my purpose in life? His constant answer: “I am here, learn from it. My grace is sufficient for you.[3][2Cor 12:9]” I must understand why this answer to my pleas are part and parcel of His unconditional love and desire for my greatest happiness, when in fact, these torture me constantly.

This is not an “either/or,” but, like many of God’s mysteries a “both/and.” I also find there are many intertwining answers: (a) growth in faith and humility, (b) seeing God in all things, even the most mundane and seemingly unimportant things in life, and (c) acceptance of my vocation to live the life of the ordinary Sunday-go-to-Church Catholic with all its joys and sorrows, ups and downs, desolations and consolations, nothing out of the ordinary, and with great need to find God right there in the midst of all that clutter of life, chaos of family and job.

I am what is to be a sheep of which Pope Francis wants the clergy is to smell. I am one of the millions and billions who live lives trying to bridge the gap between orthodoxy and orthopraxy, between doctrine and dogma and the lived reality in God’s world. I am only one very small part of this Church in the Modern World, this Body of the Cosmic Christ. I am a beneficiary with all of the blessed mercy and forgiveness necessary to transform the world into God’s Kingdom. And if I do my part of that right here in W. Pawlet, Vermont, and you do your part in San Francisco, Tokyo, San Paulo, Seoul, Beijing, Mumbai, then, not by our individual or even combined efforts, but by the power and providence of the Father working through the Holy Spirit to bring the world to His Son, this ultimate transformation will happen.

Distractions are a microcosms, the evidences of this life and, if I, by realizing that they too are God’s reflection, can use them to come to Him,[4] then I will have brought one more microscopic portion of the Kingdom into focus. I don’t always achieve this; in fact, it is a rarity that I even am conscious of this. But, like Merton, “I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.” [5] And, in that, I am comforted.

Finally, one of the blessings that You, God, have brought about with distractions is my confrontation with “You.” By constantly realizing that I am off the track again, that I have wandered, I then find you searching for me even there. You are indeed the Good Shepherd who leaves the 99 to find this one lone straggler and bring me home on Your shoulders. You exude the smell You wish Your sheep to have, the odor of humility and faith, “of sanctity” as it use to be known. By humbling Yourself in constant service to us, Your brothers and sisters, Your creatures no less, You provide an example for us to follow…You walk the walk, not just talk the talk. By having faith in me as a person, that I am someone for whom it is worth Your time and energy to go out and search, You extend to me the hand of fellowship, of love, of caring; You hope that I will return. And by setting me on Your shoulders with great joy, You show me by your emotions that the joy of the Gospel is a lived joy, a joy of deep friendship, of love, of the bonding of Shepherd and sheep, of God and man. Your actions make clear that there is really and truly more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance. [Lk 15:5,7]

So I keep fighting the distractions, shooing them away, to come to You. But at least I know that You are with me anyway and that I am beloved by You, even when distracted. Would that I were not distracted in prayer with You, in conversation with You, in communion with You! But I am and probably will continue to be. I thank You for coming to find me and for our bonding each time after Your rescuing me once again. That is truly such a blessing. Amen. Alleluia!!!


[1] “Prayer life” is somewhat of a misnomer. It is normally used to designate that time or portion of one’s life which is set aside specifically for talking with God. While Jesus Himself taught us by example that there are times each day you need to go up to your mountain alone and pray, particularly before making important decisions, He also modeled praising God and speaking about God and calling on Him throughout his normal day. Finding God in all things, in the world around me, is not a separate special investigation I undertake only when I put my mind to it. It is a constant habit that I enjoy, finding, seeing, talking to God wherever I am, whatever I am doing, with whomever I am.   Thus, prayer life is all life seen from the perspective of living in God’s presence and carrying on conversations with Him as you do with family and friends throughout your busy day.

[2] One of the reasons I pray at my computer, typing what comes up between God and myself, is that I am not so distracted, I am forced to concentrate, I can listen to the Spirit for the next inspiration, for His reading on the topic, for what is true and what is false, what is on target and what is not….and raise my mind and my heart to Him in thanksgiving and praise as I relish and record to the best of ability His wondrous view of reality, a feeble attempt at recording a grand masterpiece.

[3] Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner. Hereafter, NABRE.

[4] Not “back” to Him; He is, somehow in some manner which may be totally unrecognizable to me, present in all things, people, and places; so my realization is just an awareness of Whom is already there.

[5] Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude, Thomas Merton > Quotes > Quotable Quote, Good Reads, http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/80913-my-lord-god-i-have-no-idea-where-i-am

The Will of God

In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.[1] [1 Thes 5:18]

What has bewildered me for years…decades…is what the will of God is for me right here, right now.[2]

For years I wondered why God hadn’t revealed His will for me, knocking-off-my horse revelations, big, huge life-long challenges, monumental tasks of self-sacrifice and dedication, missions worthy of a “S”aint [the big “S” of which I “aint”].

But St. Paul [a very big “S”], who was knocked off his horse, summarized the secret very nicely in this succinct Rule for Life: In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. [1 Thes 5:18]

In all circumstances give thanks…not just in happy, wonderful times when remembering God and giving thanks is natural, easy to do,…not even in just in the painful, trying circumstances in which being reminded to give thanks may seem counterintuitive but it serves to remind me that God is with me, no matter what,….but even, and perhaps especially, in ordinary, hum-drum, everyday circumstances in which it may be most difficult to discern the hand of God, in which it is hard to find a reason to give thanks just because it is ordinary, hum-drum, everyday. Then its easy to take God for granted, like many persons I live with day in and day out, even my wife, my children; He is overlooked, forgotten, ignored. I guess my awareness quotient needs boosting, my appreciation factor a major overhaul, my humility a better work-out. “Ya guess?” Duh!!!

Scripture can tell me how to recognize the joyous, the exuberant occasions. The Annunciation’s be it done unto me according to your word [Lk 1:38], an acceptance of God’s will in humility, trust and wonder. Again, Mary’s My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior [Lk 1:46-47], the working of God’s will in her. Peter’s stammered Master, it is good that we are here [Lk 9:33], a humorous but oh, so human understatement of the glory of the Transfiguration. The first converts, so overjoyed that they even ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart, praising God and enjoying favor with all the people. [Acts 2:46-47]

There are poignant examples of obviously painful acceptance of God’s will, My Father, if it is not possible that this cup pass without my drinking it, your will be done! [Mt 26:42], the most obvious, the terrifyingly magnificent paradigm of obedience. Abraham’s “God will provide the sheep for the burnt offering.” Then the two walked on together [Gen 22:8], true, unflinching faith with fear and trembling. [Phil 2:12] Remorse for sinful failures: Peter remembered the word that Jesus had spoken: “Before the cock crows you will deny me three times.” He went out and began to weep bitterly, [Mt 26:75] followed days later by the humbling interrogation by Jesus: Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” [Jn 21:17]

How about the hum-drum, the ordinary, the mundane. I can’t look to the miracles…too miraculous…or can I. Granted, raising Lazarus and walking on the water, even calming the storm is a little beyond the norm…but how about eating? The way it was done was miraculous, Jesus knew the crowds followed him because you ate the loaves and were filled. [Jn 6:26] Ok, so that’s still a bit out there.

How about the eighteen years between His being found in the temple at age twelve and his baptism by John at about age thirty. All we know about those years are summed up in two verses in Luke: He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus advanced [in] wisdom and age and favor before God and man. [Lk 2:51-52] That must have been rather an ordinary, hum-drum existence. Even his neighbors didn’t see him as a stand-out: Where did this man get all this?…Is he not the carpenter? [Mk 6:2-3] Throughout His life, He only did what the Father told him: a son cannot do anything on his own, but only what he sees his father doing; for what he does, his son will do also. For the Father loves his Son and shows him everything that he himself does. [Jn 5:19-20][3] Does this mean that carpentry, that being subject to his parents, that growing up and doing the normal things in this out-of-the-way one horse town is doing what He sees His Father doing? It seems as though it does…

The corollary to Jesus stating that He cannot do anything on his own, but only what he sees his father doing [Jn 5:19] is that I, in turn, are totally dependent on Jesus to do anything good, i.e. God’s will. He explicitly states this at the Last Supper: whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. [Jn 15:5] If I take this literally, and I see no reason why I should not, then everything else that He said is subsumed in this: everything from “follow me” to all of the Sermon on the Mount or Plain to carrying my cross daily to doing to the least of these must be done, can only be done, will not be able to be done, without remaining in Jesus and, through Him in me, being His hands, His eyes, His mind, His feet, here and now, in this moment in time and this small place in the universe. Of course, any pretensions of my being Him totally are ridiculous hubristic inanity; He must function on earth through me and you…and you…and you, through each of us in our own sphere of activity, of interaction, of grace, to reach the whole world and…every creature. [Mk 16:15]

Perhaps the most cogent argument for the ever present revelation of Your will is the prayer You taught us which reflects the perfect way, His Way, of relating to You. In it, You coupled two significant calls to action on my part: Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as in heaven. [Mt 6:10] The Kingdom is what I am called upon to preach by word and action in season and out of season…seems to me that that should cover a whole bunch of moments right there.

But then He added: Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Let me think about this for a second; how is God’s will done in heaven? (a) Heaven is where God is; (b) God’s will cannot be thwarted, is not unfulfilled, creates not just automatically, as if there is a time lapse between the willing and the accomplishment, but simultaneously; what is willed is; (c) and the prerequisite for remaining in heaven is the compliance and carrying out of God’s will, as was evident in the presumed test of the angels, would they obey God, even when He became man, as well as the continual praising and serving of God by the heavenly host. Now, if this alacrity, this absolute unquestioning immediate accelerated performance of God’s will in heaven is the criterion by which my performance of God’s will on earth is judged, the standard is extremely high. Obedience, the listening and carrying out of His will, is to be immediate, here, now, always and ongoing forever…

Besides those considerations, how about:

  • There is the constant and omnipresent awareness by God of everything that goes on in the universe: Yet not one…[sparrow] falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. [Mt 10:29] This “hands-on” management style of creation should give me pause, if He’s on top of every tiny bird falling to the ruling of nations: You would have no power over me if it had not been given to you from above. [Jn 19:11]
  • How about the fact that He not only watches over me but provides my every need: No one can receive anything except what has been given him from heaven. [Jn 3:27] Do I really not worry about your life, what you will eat [or drink], or about your body, what you will wearYour heavenly Father knows that you need them allBut seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness,[4] and all these things will be given you besides. [Mt 6:25,32-33] Do I have the faith He requires: For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. [Mt 7:8]
  • How about the implications of…If anyone says, “I love God,” but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. [1 Jn 4:20]
    • And Jesus is very explicit about His total identification with each and every person we meet: As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.[5] [Jn 13:34] both during his life and after his resurrection: Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? [Acts 9:4]
    • He was also explicit about how I am to treat them: For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ [Mt 25:35-36]
    • And my reward: And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because he is a disciple—amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward. [Mt 10:42]
  • In case I plead prejudice and exclude someone from my love, Jesus teaches me (a) in parable a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight. [Lk 10:33] and (b) in action: How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink? [Jn 4:9] that my neighbor [Lk 10:29] includes everyone.
  • And what is God’s will: Whatever town you enter and they welcome you, eat what is set before you, cure the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God is at hand for you.[Lk 10:8-9] (a) welcome; (b) making friends; (b) show them tangible evidence of God’s Kingdom; and (c) welcome them into God’s Kingdom.
  • Come, we have work to do: You will not finish the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. [Mt 10:23]

But external work is not the only thing to which God calls me. He first calls me to discipleship, to listening, to learning, to prayer. Jesus cautions me about being anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her. [Lk 10:41-42] “Pray as if [since] everything depends on God; work as if everything depends on you.” [Augustine] For me, this is a particularly important point. I tend to focus on doing, on accomplishing, on finishing. I tend to forget that in everything, especially in the Kingdom, depends on God…I am simply a servant and not a very obedient one at that…Jesus warns me against pride and hubris in action: When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do. [Lk 17:10] The only way I can stay focused and humble is prayer, relying on God, understanding that all I have in resources comes from God, realizing that I can jump up and down until the cows come home, but without His grace, without His help, without His being there before me, being there from the beginning, being there knocking at the door, I might as well be blowing against the wind.

Another obvious clue of God’s will, but one I have overlooked is that it comes packaged with every temptation; it is constant, ongoing, always before me. With every temptation comes an equal grace in the form of an invitation to choose to do His will. If I consider how may of these zing by me every hour, I should have no problem seeing God’s graces swirling in multitudes around my head.

There is also a correlation of the will of God with the experience of consolations and desolations in my life. These are also constantly present, though some, if not much of life, takes place in the middle of this spectrum where neither is consolation or desolation is obvious. On the other hand, as Ignatius points out, if I am trying to follow the will of God, around me is peaceful and serene and temptations are fraught with anxiety and frustration. Such peace and serenity is indeed consolation, though unfortunately often so prevalent as to be unnoticed and “expected” rather than a gift to which I have no entitlement and which is worthy of awe and thanksgiving.

If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. [Lk 9:23] The interesting twist to this doing God’s will is that by denying myself and taking up my cross daily, hourly, minute by minute, second by second, and following Him, I find that my yolk is easy, since it is shared by Jesus, and my burden is light, since He has borne the weight of my sins, and I will rest in green pastures and find eternal happiness in heaven.

Do this…and this…and this…and this in memory of me.[1 Cor 11:24; Lk 22:19]

[1] Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

[2] This is the question Ignatius sought to address through the discernment of spirits, both in discerning the major decisions in Your life and in determining which way you are being tempted in consolation and desolation.

[3] Even what Jesus says, He attributes to His Father: I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and speak.[Jn 12:49] Indeed, at the Last Supper, He tells his Apostles who have been with Him three years: If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him…[Jn 14:7] and He goes on to repeat what He had told them earlier: The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works. [Jn 14:10]

[4] To fulfill all righteousness: in this gospel to fulfill usually refers to fulfillment of prophecy, and righteous-ness to moral conduct in conformity with God’s will. Here, however, as in Mt 5:6; 6:33, righteousness seems to mean the saving activity of God. To fulfill all righteousness is to submit to the plan of God for the salvation of the human race. [NABRE Note on Mt 3:14-15] This is in keeping with Paul’s interpretation of salvation as faith in Jesus Christ, God’s plan for salvation, rather than judgment on adherence to the Law or moral conduct in conformity with God’s will.

 

The Frontiers of Belief

3 So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.[1] Jn 20:3

All we know initially is that Peter, the leader, and the other disciple who is unnamed but who is so firm in Jesus love that this is the name he goes by,…these two hearing Mary’s tale, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him,” have been told a number of alleged facts:

  • The tomb has been tampered with;
  • the body is gone;
  • the unknown “They” seem to have done it.
  • the location of the body is unknown
  • but it is presumed that the body still exists somewhere, i.e. there is no inkling that the body is no longer just a body, but that Jesus is alive, He has been resurrected.

On the basis of this story, they, presumably want to see for themselves.  Thus they

  • go out and
  • come to the tomb.

Each day at dawn I follow Peter and John out.  I have heard the facts at least 69 times, realized them myriads of times more.  Empty tomb, body gone, the unknown “they,” location unknown, but do I still not believe He is alive, is with me always, is in the Eucharist, is in every person I meet, is in me?  Do I go out incredulous or believing, one of the faithful or one of the unfaithful, blessed because I have not seen but believed or standing by my sinful self.  The tomb isn’t going anywhere, it is always there, witnessing against me or for me, presenting me with the opportunity to expand my reality to what is and not limit myself to what my senses can register.

It is obvious, even to the most callous atheist, that all cross that threshold wander about in the unseen, the unverified, the other, to some degree.  We believe in the future, that we will be breathing and alive for the next minute…though there is nothing to confirm this.  We believe that when we flick the switch, this power we call electricity will be released and manifest itself in light, in heat, in a new and different reality.  We believe that if we plant a seed, tend it, water it, that it will come to life, release its potentiality, become what it was meant to be.  We believe that the seemingly hard, “impenetrable” surface of this desk is actually made up of atoms which, though clustered together to the naked senses, have vast spaces between them.  We believe that there is meaning to the words we speak, to the virtues and vices we describe.  We believe that there is cause and effect, there is relationship, there is “isness” which we witness and define as being, as existence.

Here we come to a frontier in the realm of belief, and many have closed their minds and hearts to reality beyond this point.  I have come to the tomb again today.  Thanks be to God, He has given me the eyes of faith to see reality beyond what the senses or even the mind can reach.  I pray for the grace to live in the company of angels and saints, to talk to You, God, my Father, to You, Jesus, my risen Lord and Savior, to You, Holy Spirit, the oft forgotten actor who enables me to see.  In thanksgiving and adoration, I worship You, Holy Trinity, God of power and might, sing Holy, Holy, Holy…and am content.  Amen.  Alleluia!!!

[1] Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Running….away

2 So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.”[1] Jn 20:2

So she ran…the beginning of the running sequences.  Lord God, You are very patient, while I am very impatient.  This is a “now” era; immediate satisfaction is the criterion of timeliness.  Sad, for You are everywhere and every when…It is not Your fault, God, I am so self-centered as to demand my time vs His time.  For the graces of prudence and patience to know we follow Your time and the trust to follow You. When I wander away from the You in our relationship, the 2nd person, and begin preaching to the imaginary throngs in the 3rd person He and Him…I fall into distraction and pride.  Save me from preening and strutting and help me to give all credit, glory, honor, power and praise to You and You alone…and to know in my heart of hearts that I am nothing…I am not “I am”…I am “who be.”  You hold in being, gave form and life, gave faith and grace, and continuously give all.  I am no thing; without Your constant life-support, I cease to exist.  Grant me the grace to always and everywhere remember that and be humble. Running can be associated with many different moods, different motivations, different reasons…some rational, some instinctive, some emotional.  Help me run when You call, when You express Your will, when I am to “obey,” “to listen to” You and open myself up to whatever You have in mind.  Help me be prompt in responding to Your call, Your inspiration, Your breathing into me that I may do Your will. and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved  She goes to the head of the Church and John.  I, when I am lost and cannot find Jesus, should go to the Church, to love of God, to contemplate true reality. Holy Spirit, guide me, help me, lead me, teach me, inspire me, comfort me, console me.  That I may know and love You, Jesus and our Father as You will me to do so.  Amen.  Alleluia!!! [1] Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

My grace is sufficient for you.

Why is this so difficult. Perhaps it is because I can’t see for forest for the trees…because I think I am a tree, in fact, the tree, around which the forest grows….  Perhaps because the delusion I know is more familiar, more comfortable, more “me,” at least as I think of myself to be, than the reality that I don’t know, don’t wish to know, wish to forget, wish to disinherit, wish to reject outright…but find that I can’t do that because it is me, the real me, the literally little, truly old me, the me that I work so hard to avoid, to overcome, to gloss over, to pretend I don’t know him, to laugh off, to kill off…but painfully I know in my heart of hearts that this is the “I am” of me, the real me that God gave me at my conception, the real me that was born, was baptized, the real me that I have been trying to hid in the closet ever since.

Perhaps we all have to come out of the closet, not the closet of sexual identity, though perhaps that may be part of it, but the closet of sin, of rejection, of attempted suicide of the real me by the false me…every day in every way, trying to run farther and farther from “it”, from me, but, to my horror and ever growing fatigue, is not only running along side me, but I find it is me…running.

Is there a difference between real sin and the delusion of sin in falling short of my imagined false image…All delusion, all falsehood, all lies, whether verbal or actual, i.e. lived out in act, is sin…it is rejection of the Truth, it is rejection of God’s goodness, it is rejection of God’s love, it is rejection of the gifts that God has given me from the moment of my conception until now, it is me clinging to the illusion of my mind rather that the reality of my cross.  For my cross is no more nor less than my life, not as I think I am, not as I want it to be, not as I imagine it is or should be, but my life as God graces me with here and now, with no soft lights, no make-up, no cameras, no fancy clothes, just life.

Mary, His Mother states that through the cross, God is being glorified in every person.  The miracle that God created is that by accepting God into my life, by allowing Him to determine what I do, what I say, what I think, who I am, I not only give Him the greatest glory, because I am not rejecting any of his glorious gifts which manifest Him to the world…but I also, though His divine providence, am carrying my life, my cross. I am not only coming ever closer to my greatest happiness, but I am living at this moment, in this place, with these people in this happening my greatest truth, my greatest reality, my greatest happiness.

Do not be afraid to carry it, Paul, my grace is sufficient for you….the more I can live His life, His love, His Truth, His Goodness, and the more I can shed, can die to the self I think I am, I wanta be, I imagine myself to be, I slave to be, I have sold my soul to be [though fortunately God has bought it back, has demanded it back, for it was obtained under duress, under false pretenses, illicitly, immorally, imprudently, pridefully, sinfully]…the more I can reject Satan and all his works and all his illusions…the more I can just be who God made me, the more I praise God, I reverence God, I serve God, I love God…and the more I love and serve everybody…since we are all in the same boat, the same ark, the same Body, the same creation, since we are all the same,… period.

My Son is with you and he will help you. Let us find, through the steps to Calvary; the roadway of our own true lives.

Help us throw off the picture of Dorian Grey that we carry around with us…this was the picture that Zachariah had of himself and his wife which he couldn’t let go of when Gabriel told him it was false and God had another reality for him, a reality of parenthood.

Help us adopt the reality of Mary that processed the words of Gabriel and, when confronted with a mystery, asked humbly what new reality was going to be given her by God.  She, too, was told, my grace is sufficient for you.