Superhero in the spiritual life

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“but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’  I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.  Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with 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 Corinthians 12:9-10

“Mom, what is your favorite superhero?” a question my youngest daughter asked me as we walked to feed the turtles. 

At that moment, I’m not sure I had a great answer for her because I never really thought about who my favorite superhero was.

The Avenger movies are quite popular these days.  There are so many it’s hard to keep track of all the Marvel movies starring our childhood superheroes.

Who is your favorite superhero?

Webster defines a superhero as a fictional hero that has extraordinary powers, in other words superhuman powers. The image of being a superhero has swept through our minds since childhood as we imagined ourselves saving the world from the villains.  As we became adults, we developed a different image of a superhero.  Our superhero within us involves doing everything we can for our families, always being strong and never giving in to or revealing weakness. Being vulnerable has no room within our superhero world – US.  I think we have an idea that being vulnerable and being weak limits our abilities to protect ourselves and our families.

In 2 Corinthians 12:9, St Paul tells us that Jesus says “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.”  Jesus tells us that He is enough.  He is our superhero but it’s in our weakness that His extraordinary powers are made “PERFECT”.

My life has never been easy.  I have always worked hard to achieve the goals I made for myself.  I became independent and goal driven at a very young age.  My superhero essentially became myself.  Jesus was not prominent in my life as a child.  Growing up, I had to always be strong for myself, my mom, my sister and brother.  As I became a wife and then a mother, being weak and vulnerable was not an option.  In the early days of my marriage and motherhood, Jesus was still not the focal point in my life.  Reality in my life was that being weak and vulnerable was the opposite of survival.

Today, my world is different.  Christ is in my life and although revealing my weakness and vulnerabilities is the scariest thing for me, I know that it is in this weakness that Christ dwells within and makes me strong.

WHY? 
  • He says so in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.  When He says so, I’m certain He means it….
  • If I break down what I know of my faith and trust in God, I know that when I am strong, I cannot allow Him to work within me because I am unwilling to surrender myself to Him.  It is in my weakness that He does His best work in me.  It is in the vulnerabilities that I am most open to surrendering all I am to Him and allowing Him to fill me with all He is.

I wish that made me less afraid of being weak and vulnerable.  Simple fact is it doesn’t but I know it is essential in my spiritual growth, especially when it comes to placing my past behind me and moving forward in life.  Now, I don’t want you to take away that when we have to be strong against worldly things or defend ourselves against harmful acts that we should be weak and not do what is necessary.  I think in those cases, it’s a matter of opening oneself up to surrendering to God to aid in such circumstances to guard us against sin and against harm.  I think that is what St. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:10 – it is an acceptance, contentment with our weaknesses that allows us to depend on God to be with us in these moments, for Christ to dwell within us, to be our superhero living within.  It is in our weakness that we are strong, we are truly a superhero through Christ who gives us strength.

I think if my daughter were to ask me today who my favorite superhero is, I would answer with great clarity that it is JESUS who lives in me and gives me strength to overcome all things.

What about you?  Who do you say your favorite superhero is?

 

Gratitude – A mountain of graces

“Gratitude is the thing that brings us the most grace…I have learnt from this experience; try it, and you will see. I am content with whatever God gives me, and I show him this in a thousand little ways.” St. Therese of Lisieux

Do you desire a love with God that is beyond anything you could ever imagine?  If so, I want to invite you to focus a little on gratitude.

Have you extended gratitude to God for all things – the small stuff, the big ones, the joy, and the suffering?

I’m sure each of us find it easy to give God gratitude for the joyful moments in our lives.  But what about those moments that are tough, that hurt within us, wash our faces in tears?  These moments are a bit more challenging to offer gratitude to God.  I’m sure 90 % of the time we question God in these circumstances.  I’m definitely guilty as charged.
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St Therese tells us that gratitude brings us the most grace.  St Ignatius of Loyola also tells us in his prayer of gratitude that when we are filled with gratitude for all things, we will love and serve God in all things.  My dear sisters and brothers, that also means our pain, our suffering, the things we don’t like or appreciate, and the moments we aren’t feeling appreciated.

Think about that for a moment.  Imagine how you felt when someone did something nice for you and you extended thanks to them, appreciation for what they did.  I’m sure it brought joy and love into your heart as well as theirs.  Do you think the love and joy was filled because of their act of kindness, your act of gratitude or both?

If God is the creator of all things and is present in all things, do you think He is present within the moments that hurt, anger, and disappoint?  If God allows you to suffer, do you think He loves you less?  Do you think He is more present in those moments – those when you need His strength the most?  I’m pretty certain He was present on the cross, the greatest moment in history that endured the most suffering.  By our Christian faith, we do offer Him thanksgiving for this, the moment He laid everything down to save us.

Why wouldn’t we offer gratitude for even those not so fun times when we are at our worst?  If we offered gratitude during the rough circumstances in our lives, would we feel more loved instead of disappointed, lost and unloved.

I want to circle back to my first question at the start of the blog…. Do you desire a love with God that is beyond anything you could ever imagine?  If you answered yes, then why would you not try offering gratitude in all things, even the worst moments, just as St Therese and St Ignatius suggest?  What do you have to lose?  Face with the person who angered you?  What about a love so great that satisfies every ounce of your being beyond anything you could fathom – THE LOVE EXCHANGED BETWEEN YOU, YOUR CREATOR, YOUR REDEEMER, AND YOUR SANCTIFIER?  Give it a try, you may be surprised at the graces you receive.

 

A desire so great

“The hope of truth and of freedom is already ours, dearly beloved, but if we are to attain truth and freedom in reality we must endure and persevere.” St Cyprian

What are your greatest desires? Do they consist of happiness and love?

St Ignatius’ spiritual discernment focuses on the things that bring us life and closer to God. God places deep desires within us, which align with His will for us in our lives. Our deepest desires may be found in a number of things. They may be seen in the smiles of your children, your spouse, your grandmother, a parent, friends, nature, even the most soothing sounds. It is in these things which bring life to our spirit, drawing us closer to God, that sync us to hearing God in our lives.

I invite you to pay attention to all things that make your heart smile.

As I write this, I am sitting outdoors, listening to the sounds of nature surrounding me. Peaceful surrender to what God wants me to hear and understand as I sit and write. Nature usually is my go to place to surrender and hear God speak to my heart. It’s a place where I can get in touch with my deepest desires. Sometimes I wonder if it’s the life surrounding me that draws me to the life of God within me.

In several of my recent posts, I’ve referenced the song by Tauren Wells, “God’s Not Done With You.” This song has so much meaning packed in it. Today as I listened to it, I began to contemplate my choices in my life. I have always been very practical and safe in making decisions, yet many of my choices led me down paths that may not have been very practical and safe. As I listened to the song, I realized that my choices make an imprint on my story, but God is still the author of my story. God will take these imprints and continue to write my story. To ever think He is done with my story would be spiritual detriment, spiritual hopelessness.

As we endure and persevere in our lives, God gives us hope. This hope leads us to freedom as we surrender trust in Him, allowing Him to author our story despite our choices. I always like the image of the shattered piece of pottery that has been glued back together and placed on display as a beautiful piece of art. I can imagine the broken pieces in my story being glued together and transformed into something even more beautiful than it was before. I could claim that I was the one who mended the pieces together, but I know the artist was God and it was His hands that picked up each piece, felt my sorrows and gently placed them together with the bond of His love. Even in the broken pieces, God transforms our desires into reality.

He creates a masterpiece through our desires that He has planted within us, a desire for Him – to love and be loved.  God’s desires for each of us is written in our hearts and they are revealed in many different things in our lives.  Openness and awareness are the only requirements from us.  As we unveil our deepest desires, we feel God’s presence and understand His will.

heart shaped clay pot
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In a few posts, I’m sure I’ve mentioned often how my spiritual director will ask me if something I’m discerning brings me life. If we follow the things that bring us life, we feel most connected to God’s presence. Why? Because these are our deepest desires that come from God. When we are discerning, this is the path that is most aligned with God’s will – and the story He is writing, MY STORY AND YOUR STORY.

I invite you to ask yourself, what are my deepest desires? What makes you feel most alive in your life?

“Whatever you are doing, that which makes you feel the most alive…. that is where God is.” St Ignatius of Loyola

The cross and the sun rays

“The Eucharist is the Sacrament of Love.  It signifies Love.  It produces love.  The Eucharist is the consummation of the whole spiritual life.”  St. Thomas Aquinas

When I started this blog I really wanted to write about how God has moved me along my journey, and to do so in a way that is relatable to the reader in their own journey.  Lately, my posts have been a lot about me personally and so I hope they are not too boring and there is some fruit for you as you read how I have been discovering and discerning God’s movement within me and my journey.

Have you pondered your crosses, Jesus’ Cross, and the Eucharist and how all of these relate to your relationship with Jesus lately?  I invite you to do take about 10 minutes or longer if you need to do this.

This was probably not my intention today but I’m not sure that my intentions are always aligned with God’s intentions.  So, I want to share my day with you.

As I was on my morning walk reflecting, I was thinking about my journey, in particular the good that has prevailed in my journey. Looking down, as I often do when I’m in deep thought or conversing with God, I stumbled upon a cross on the pathway, which I usually do at some point in my walk. I smiled and something told me to look up. I did. The light rays from the sun were brightly shining towards me as I looked up – a bright blinding light. Of course the light didn’t blind me but it opened my eyes to truly look at all the moments God has shined His light upon me, to see the light that illuminated the cross.

This very same day, I went to the Adoration chapel at our church, which is only about 5 -10 minutes from work, depending on the traffic lights.  After praying for a little bit, I started to read a little from the book “Irresistibly Drawn to the Eucharist.”

“The Eucharist makes man divine, it purifies him and makes him holy.  He will always find everything he needs in the Eucharist, since it is the Nest of all that is holy, pure and divine.  You, my daughter, have not been purified as much as I need you to be.  You need me and you need to be made one substance with the Cross.  you have to lose yourself in it, be one with it, so that you can be united with your Jesus.  You see, my daughter the eucharistic rays are the ones that purify and unite the fastest, but they only go through souls that have been turned into the Cross.”

That last sentence sort of struck me and I thought just may be God is trying to tell me something and I should meditate a little on this before the Blessed Sacrament.  I began by asking Jesus about this – what does this mean for me and my journey?  Sometimes He needs a little time and I need to be patient…. but today I was like okay, I don’t have much of a lunch hour, you’re gonna have to move a little quicker in letting me know what You mean here.

I’ve read this book before, probably twice.  And I’m sure both times I read this passage viewing the cross that Jesus picked up and carried and was crucified on.  As I sat there, I started to recall my walk – the cross and the sun rays and thought to myself perhaps this is more personal to me this time.  What if God is trying to dig deeper in my recent discovery in my heaviest cross.  Maybe, God wants me to see that I can’t pray my cross away. I can’t expect to process and deal with it and it goes away. My cross is part of who I am. In my last blog I wrote that I am diving into a season of discovery. What if I told you that the very thing I was praying for in Adoration before reading these sentences in Irresistibly Drawn to the Eucharist was this search to discover myself. One of the things I have learned through spiritual direction and my journey is to pay attention to everything. Each encounter is a little piece of a puzzle or a directional marker on the map in the journey.

This last few weeks have brought great clarity to me.  You see, my cross has uncovered strength, courage, love and joy. I began a search for purpose when I picked up this cross.  What I found was a God who rescued me.  I found a courage to leave a relationship that was unhealthy.  I walked along a path that was trying at times but each trying moment God provided tools to strengthen me and push me forward.  I found a community, a family that pours out love and joy into my life.  I discovered that motherhood is a lifelong lesson of selfless love and bears great joy in the smallest of moments.  Most of all I realized that God is always with me, carrying me when I need to be carried and providing me with everything that I need to bear my cross.  Because of His immense love, I want to be united to Him.

It is through embracing this cross that I am united to Christ. It is important to point out that through my recent boulder flipping experience these past few weeks that this cross cannot be a burden as I carry it. It must only be a part of the journey, a part of my identity of who I am in Christ – not who I am in that cross. My cross is what has produced the fruits of my labor. And now the fruit is ripened and free to enjoy.

It’s the identity of my cross with the sacrifice of Christ in the Eucharist that I am united to Christ. As I continue to ponder what this statement means to me, I realize that as I absorb my own cross as part of me, embrace it for the fruits it has produced, I will receive the greatest reunion with Christ in the Eucharist.  I must say I am looking forward to going to Mass, more than normal, to receive Jesus this week.

An added bonus – when I hopped in my car to drive back to work, the song on the radio was “Haven’t Seen it Yet,” by Danny Gokey.  Listen carefully to the lyrics…. “Cause it’s only in His love that you’ll find a breakthrough.”  I’ll close restating St Thomas Aquinas that the Eucharist is the “ultimate” Sacrament of Love.