Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:11
One of the things I have enjoyed about this “timeout” is the opportunity to read a little and watch videos that make me laugh, make me think and help me grow in discipleship. This week I’ve come across two very holy, humble women who seemed to have a message I needed to hear. St. Faustina and St. Catherine of Siena were pretty “big deal” women. Their lives were filled with devotion, service, humility, courage and obedience. The way they loved and served the Lord and his people was simply astounding.
I was thinking about how much God must have loved these ladies and I wondered what I should to do to make him love me more. I began to make a list in my head of all the things I need to change and all the places I pale in comparison. I decided they must be in a completely separate category; one where they were doted on and revered by those on earth and in heaven. I mean, that would only make sense because both St. Faustina and St. Catherine had visions and messages from God and his Son. The saw, they heard and they physically felt his presence so surely he loved them dearly. It’s true, he absolutely did, but he loved them in the same way he loves you and me. Their response to his love is where the huge difference lies. They drew closer and closer to him no matter the cost. No matter what craziness was going on in the world around them, he was absolutely the only thing they thought about, focused on and lived for. Despite their complete devotion to him they were not always shielded from the hurts of the world. I was so surprised to learn that despite her amazing faith and interactions with the Divine Mercy Jesus, Faustina’s superiors wrote in her file three sharp words. Mother Superiors notes described her as; “No one special.” Wow, can you imagine a woman as incredible as St. Faustina being described that way? I think I would have been tempted to say, “Hey Sister, how many times has Jesus appeared in your room to chat? No one special my foot!” St. Catherine was humbled powerfully as well. God spoke to her and said, “I am who am; you are she who is not.” Talk about a truth that cuts you to the quick…Bam! I am, you aren’t! I know she knew this absolute truth but it would have been nice to lead with, “I am God and you are my beautiful daughter who serves with your whole self!” Judging by my reaction to these humbling zingers, it’s pretty clear to see why they are the saints and I am not!
Their stories contained a little “get over yourself” lesson for me. I have a tendency to see thing through the lens of “look what I’m doing for you God.” These ladies devoted their complete existence to him and I bought extra groceries for the food bank, prayed a few more Rosaries and volunteered to lead morning prayer a couple times a week and I think that makes me seem sparkly to God. Sheesh, I’ve got work to do! Their stories reminded me that it’s not my “doing” that makes the Father love me, it’s my “being.” We are called to serve and pray but mostly we’re called to just BE. Be his, Be still, Be humble and BE as close to him as we possibly can. Every experience that humbles us or stretches us or causes us to struggle is a moment to turn to him and be loved by him. He doesn’t need me to put on a show to earn his love, he just needs me to show up and let him love me…through the struggles, disappointments, uncertainty and all the humbling events that allow me to become small enough to fall in the shadow of his greatness.
A Seed To Plant: Read a little about a saint or two and ask the Father how he might be using their example to help you grow in faith.
Blessings on your day!
…Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her. Mark 10:42
Do you ever feel like you are at war with yourself? You try to do the right things and live up to the expectations but some days it just feels like you fall short…I hope that’s not just me! I had a lousy day; one of those look under every rock of your life and not really like what you see kind of days. I suppose it’s good to take an honest inventory of your life from time to time but sometimes it’s painful to be honest with yourself. What I came to discover is that I’m probably like everybody else with some good qualities and some not so stellar ones too. As I was thinking about this “battle with self”, I remembered a Gospel story about two sisters who had a battle right in front of Jesus. I could relate so perfectly to this story and the constant struggle to do the right thing for the right reason. As I re-read this Gospel I realized that I can be both sisters; Martha and Mary.
This epic sister conflict reveals the perfect model for our lives as faithful servants! It’s easy to read this Gospel and take sides, but the truth of the matter is we all have an inner Martha and an inner Mary. It’s also easy to read this Gospel and make Martha out to be the “bad guy” sister. Really, can you imagine having the guts to whine to Jesus about cooking and serving! In Martha’s defense, the most important guest of all time was in the living room and there sat the chief helper star struck, completely shirking all sense of responsibility and duty, I’m not gonna lie, I think I would have been a bit irritated myself.
As a Disciple of Christ our vocation includes the Martha stuff like cooking, cleaning and serving. It also includes the Mary stuff like devotion, attentiveness and focus on the better part. This Gospel should inspire us to be a balance of both sisters. We need to realize that when the cooking and serving are done as a prayerful offering to God, it is a powerful form of prayer and devotion. We also need to realize our Mary moments of complete and uninterrupted prayer have to be carved into our daily schedule. I need to read this Gospel several times and balance my Mary and Martha! I need to read this Gospel several times to realize my battle is normal and as long as I keep plugging along trying to do the right thing and keep it all in balance, God will notice, and thank goodness he rewards us for attempts and not just perfection!
A Seed To Plant: How can I make my Martha tasks like cooking and serving more of a prayerful offering instead of complaining about it and feeling unappreciated? How can I be more attentive and focused on Jesus like Mary? How can I find balance and have patience with myself?
Blessings on your day!
The secret of happiness is to live every day moment by moment and to thank God for what he is sending us everyday in his blessing. St. Gianna
This school year if off to a fabulous beginning! I have a room of all girls and they are an absolute joy! They are a group that can be candid, honest and open about the things we’re reading and learning. We started the year reading the Max Lucado book, Make Every Day Count. The girls divided up into groups and are taking turns teaching their peers about the author’s ten strategies for living faithfully and joyfully. They have taken their work seriously and are teaching each other some great stuff.
One of the chapters began with the diary of a dog. It highlighted the dog’s daily schedule and it was filled with excitement over the simplest things. It sounded something like this: 5:00 am Oh Boy time to get up, 5:02 am Oh Boy time to go outside, 5:10 am Oh Boy time to eat, 5:15am Oh Boy time to crawl up on the couch, 5:16 am Oh Boy, time for a nap, 6:00 am Oh Boy time for the little humans to get up and play with me. It went on throughout the whole day and every event began with the words “Oh Boy”. You could almost feel his tail wag with excitement as the girls read that part of the book to us. It made us think!
The point of the chapter was to challenge us to look for the flowers of our days and not the weeds. Lots of things are going to happen throughout the course of a day and some of them will be pleasant and some of them not so much. The girls and I made a decision to use the dogs “Oh Boy” line before doing simple or unpleasant things. For the rest of the week in our room you could hear things like, “Oh Boy, time to do handwriting.” or “Oh Boy, time to take a test.” One of my favorites was, “Oh Boy, time to come in from recess and learn some more stuff.” They say it with enthusiasm and silliness and every time one of them says it, the others join in and repeat or they just smile and giggle a little as they get ready to do that task they really aren’t all that excited about.
The “Oh Boy’s” are a dose of positive attitude at the right time because I sure can get cranky or pouty about the same tasks that need to be done again and again so I used the line at home. “Oh Boy, time to do the laundry (I’ll be washing the same clothes for the 50th time).” and “Oh Boy, time to prepare a meal.(That will be gone in fifteen minutes leaving nothing behind but a mess and the thought of doing it all again in a few hours) and “Oh Boy, I get to sweep the floor. (Which I will need to do again tomorrow because people will walk on it and track in grass, dirt and who know what else.)
I caught myself doing the “Oh Boy” thing all wrong and realized I was missing the point. All of those things are my opportunity to serve the people I love the most. Cooking, cleaning, grading papers, planning lessons, sweeping the floor…all of it is designed to give me the chance to love and serve God by loving and serving the ones he’s given me to tend to. When I got my heart straight my “Oh Boy” changed. The smile goes deep when I say “Oh Boy, I get to serve my family” or “Oh Boy, I get to serve 22 lovely young daughters of God.” or “Oh Boy, I get to grow in holiness by cooking, and cleaning instead of doing mission work in a jungle.” Positive perspective is powerful and “Oh Boy, I’m so glad he straightened up my heart and my thinking.
A Seed To Plant: Follow the lesson the Middle Lovely ladies taught and use the “Oh Boy” line in front of your not so terrific tasks this week. I’ll bet it will make you smile!
Blessings on your day!
He must increase, I must decrease. John 3:30
Every once in a while I get overwhelmed about all the things I’m not getting right. I can get lost in questions like; have I prayed enough, have I served enough, am I gentle, generous and merciful enough. Then come the list of shortfalls; the times I judged when I should have loved or doubted instead of trusted or gossiped when I was called to understand or re-focus. It would be easy to stay stuck in that funk and decide growing in holiness is just too hard but then I realize the evil one is at work in all these thoughts because the Father certainly doesn’t want me stuck in the mess. I think he allows my thoughts to go there so I can acknowledge my shortfalls, ask forgiveness and invite him to come blasting into my humanness and make me better.
After I pray my way through one of these funks I often think I need to charge out into the world and do some mighty good for God to make up for all my knuckle headed thoughts and actions. I’ll often make a giant list of all the things I am going to change and fix and avoid completely. Recently as I was plotting my giant moves toward holiness I came across this quote from St. Francis de Sales; “Great occasions for serving God seldom come, but little ones surround us daily.” Talk about an abrupt hault. I find God’s timing and humor amazing so I threw my giant list away and started a little one.
Growing in holiness means growing in humble service. St. Francis reminded me that I’m not called to a life of contemplative prayer. God isn’t asking me to build an orphanage or hospital or stamp out world hunger before bedtime. He’s asking me to serve in tiny ways again and again and again. So on my list of tiny things for the week I’ve added thing like being patient with slow drivers, pouring someone a second cup of coffee, saying hello first, texting or emailing at least one note of encouragement, letting someone go ahead of me in line and saying a quick prayer of blessing for anyone who irritates or inconveniences me.
Funny thing, as I began to pray with my list of little things, I could already feel the thoughts shifting from me and all my stuff, to others. I suppose that is exactly what we’re supposed to do and I’m quite grateful to St. Francis and the words he wrote more than 400 years ago for putting things in perspective.
A Seed To Plant: Write down these words from St. Francis de Sales and begin to make your own list of little things to do this week.
Blessings on your day!
“For behold, I have made you small among the nations…” Jeremiah 49:15
Here’s a little fun fact for you. Each tower of the Golden Gate Bridge contains more than 600,000 rivets. That’s a lot of rivets! Now you may be wondering what on earth that has to do with anything but if you read a little further it may have a lot to do with you! This little tidbit of seemingly unimportant information grabbed my attention when it was followed by the phrase, “and not one of them does something on it’s own.”
Each rivet is absolutely important but not a single one of them demands recognition for the job they do. I’d never look at a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge and say, “Oh my, look at rivet number 432,000…isn’t that an awesome rivet!” Instead, when I look at all those rivets I realize they are an integral part of something amazing but it isn’t completely dependent on any one rivet. They each work together for a greater purpose. I offer this post today both as a reminder and as a comfort.
The reminder is about service, humility and the work we have in our discipleship. I can do all kinds of personal things to grow in holiness but if I’m not using my time, talents and treasures to serve others, I’m not a rivet thats building the Kingdom of God on earth. The Ten Commandments are divided into two groups; Love God and Love Others! We are called to do both. One rivet won’t hold up a bridge any more than one person can singlehandedly build the Kingdom. This little tidbit has given me cause to consider how important a rivet I think I really am. As I type, it’s early Sunday morning and I’m watching the sun come up through a giant airport window. It’s a stunning view and I’m so happy to be on my way to Texas to do the work he’s called me there to do, but I have to be careful not to think that makes my rivet any shinier than the next guys. After all, if they build a bridge with only one rivet who would trust it? As I think of those 6000,000 rivets, I’m reminded that strength for good work comes when the work is done by many, each doing what they are called to do, in the way they’re called to do it, all for the Glory of God not to be noticed as a standout.
The comfort of this little thought is that the weight of the task doesn’t rest completely on one person’s shoulders. We don’t have to carry the weight of the world. We don’t have to be in charge. We don’t have to know everything, understand everything, and battle all the woes of the world on our own. God surrounded us with lots of other rivets to share the journey and the work of our discipleship. We were made to be in communion with others for lots of different reasons; God is so smart! So relax, look around and find the rivets near you and trust in their support. I have the great pleasure to teach in a school made up of a group of really awesome rivets! On any given day we pray, laugh, think and sometimes cry together offering the support, love and assurance needed to build God’s Kingdom through our vocation as teachers. Look around, who are the rivets near you?
Those rivets in the Golden Gate Bridge work together to support more than 112,000 vehicles a day. I’d say that’s a fabulous example of combined effort. The question is, where is God calling me to be a rivet!
A Seed To Plant: Take some time in prayer to consider the kind of rivet God’s calling you to be. Ponder a bit on the ideas of service, humility and comfort from this simple post.
Blessings on your day!
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