A Note on This Blog

For the past few weeks the meditations I’ve been posting have been ones that I write weekly for my young adult listserv. That’s why, as you may have (maybe? no? oh, ok) noticed, they are a bit more pastoral and less personal in tone. Though the listserv is certainly less accessible than a public blog on the internet, for whatever reason, maybe because I know so many of the people on the list, it feels more intimate, and so I leave out some of the personal life details that I tend to include on posts here. I’m generally happy with that, since I’d like to eventually promote this blog more, but for now I enjoy keeping it semi-private.

I hope to increase the number of posts per week so that I can include some reflections that might not be as pertinent to the listserv, while trying to keep the tone of the blog homogeneous. We’ll see how that goes. In the meantime, if you have any spiritual ruminations you’d like to read about here, let me know. I’ve been working my way through The Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena very slowly, and hope to write more about her insights as I get closer to being received into the Third Order of St. Dominic next month.

Advertisements

The Pearl of Great Price

caravaggio-call-st-matthew1 

Then Peter said to him in reply,
“We have given up everything and followed you.
What will there be for us?”

Matthew 19:27
 

You’ve got to love Peter’s boldness here, but at the same time it’s difficult to resent his question. Some of us have given up huge things for Christ–“houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands” (Mt 19:29). I think of a Missionary of Charity (Mother Teresa’s sisters) I met in Harlem a few years ago who told me on her latest visit to her family, they had finally stopped acting as though she had died and were speaking to her again. For some of us, perhaps the sacrifices have been slightly less drastic: we no longer go out with the same groups of friends, or our co-workers tease us sometimes, or we wake up a little earlier to pray. There are certainly times when we repeat Peter’s question, even subconsciously, “What will there be for us?”

 
Let’s pose the question a little differently: “Who will there be for us?” or maybe, “For whom did we give up these things? Who are you, Lord Jesus, that I gave up these things for you?” Sacrifice has significance when it is borne from love, and so to understand sacrifice, one must understand for whom one is sacrificing. It’s like a woman in labor–the pain makes more sense when she finally sees the face of her child. Similarly, when we seek the face of Christ in prayer, adore Him in the Eucharist, imagine His life in the rosary, the sacrifices we make for Him suddenly make sense, perhaps seem inadequate, and hopefully inspire even deeper love, a love that increases our desire. For how, Jesus, can I love you if you do not help me, if you do not make me want to love you? And so love feeds on more love, the desire to love God grows as loving him grows, and our love leads us to a deeper wanting. And so we begin to lose track, as this process continues, of what exactly we have given up, of how difficult the sacrifices were, as we throw ourselves headlong into this mysterious life of love, where Christ is the sweet balm of our pains–He, who is the reason, the one who led us to give up everything, is in turn, strangely, wonderfully, our reward, for He is everything, “all in all” (1 Cor 15:28).

St. Clare’s Prayer

stclareassisi

These few weeks in August contain some of my favorite saints’ days– St. Dominic, St. Lawrence, the martyrs of Auschwitz, St. Edith Stein and St. Maximillian Kolbe, and St. John Vianney. Yesterday I heard a homily on St. Clare on her feast which was simply based on her last words: “Blessed be You, my God, for having created me.”

I’d argue that this is the most pro-life prayer I have ever heard. It goes much deeper than saying “thank you” for her life, which, perhaps, is a prayer that many of us are able to say. It also says, “thank you for making me, you are blessed because, in my small beauty, you are shown to be an almighty Creator.” There are many of us who struggle with loving ourselves, and by this I don’t mean the vanity or pride that can lead to sin, but rather, a feeling that we are unable to be loved. These can be caused by wounds, sin, our upbringing… whatever hurt we bring to the table, however, God still offers us the same thing he offers our brothers and sisters: life and freedom in Him.

If I am honest with myself, I know there are days when I cannot pray St. Clare’s prayer. But as Christians I think we should strive to say it, to thank God for our creation and for making us exactly who we are, rather than wondering why we are not as good as/as holy as/as successful as the next person. Holiness is a choice, and you’ve got to work with what you’ve got, trusting that God gave you the capacity to reach the heights. Because He certainly did, He who said, “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (Jn 10:10).