Thursday, July 28, 2011

encouragement--going deeper

 I don't know about all of you, but this summer has begun to be a time of  weightiness, heaviness, bogged-down-i-ness, langour, lethargy, ennui, malaise, and any other swimming-through-molasses sort of word you may like to add. Couple the national news, (I won't even enumerate the stories here, lest I give up on this post here and now),  the oppressive weather---

  ----and in our house, the approach of three people starting college (myself included), financial pressures of said undertakings, house projects underway, vacations not underway, midlife exercise program kicking my butt around the get the gist! SO! All of that said, you may be wondering about the title...

I can't help but see the parallels between things, and today is no different. I am currently in about my eighth  week of a self induced exercise regimen. At my age (fifty, tomorrow...yikes!), it is quite a challenge to shed stubborn mid section poundage, and overcome aches and pains that arise after particularly grueling workouts. And if you then count in the emotional waves that wash over we mid-life-type women, well, it can get quite daunting to keep going. But I did make some headway, only to very quickly find myself at a plateau. Pushing through this has been tough going, but I see that on a spiritual level, one can get just as bogged down. We can take all the right steps; pray, go to mass, adoration, amend our lives, and actively place our trust in the hands of Christ, but yet seem to be slogging across the desert in our experiential life. Not wanting to give up making progress, what should we do?

If you have been reading here much , you know of my deep affinity for the writings of Father Jacques Phillipe. The book I have been reading, In the School of the Holy Spirit, has been a great inspiration in the time which I find myself. Well, it would be terrific in any time, really..but he provides some encouraging answers to the above question.

This is a fundamental spiritual principle, found in the Gospel. Jesus speaks these mysterious words: “I tell you, that to every one who has will more be given; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away” (Lk 19:26).

In this way he proclaims one of the most important laws of life. Someone filled with resentment and unhappiness, bitter that life is not as it should be, will be deeply disillusioned. On the other hand, people who are glad for what they have received, and thank God for what befalls them will receive still more, until finally being overwhelmed by God’s generosity.
Called to Life, p.87

Hope is a choice that often demands an effort. It is easier to worry, get discouraged, be afraid. Hoping means trusting. When we hope we are not passive: we are acting.

Love is also a decision. Sometimes it comes spontaneously, but very often loving people will mean choosing to love them. Otherwise love would be no more than emotion, even selfishness, and not something that engages our freedom.
Interior Freedom, p.9

Always back to Faith, Hope and Love. Those timeless anchors. There is a wonderful passage about how loving God is the key to real and true freedom,  It begins like this:

"...If we want the (apparent) contradiction between God's will and our freedom to be resolved, we ought to ask the Holy Spirit for the grace to love God more, and the problem will solve itself."...and later.."loving Him does not constrict our heart but enlarges it infinitely."
--In the School of the Holy Spirit, pp.89-90

Very often we feel restricted in our situation, our family, or our surroundings. But maybe the real problem lies elsewhere: in our hearts.
Interior Freedom, p.20

The very act of accepting where we are now, in all it's glory or lack thereof,  IS an action. It is trust, and if we can add "joyfully" to the "accepting" part, it is now an act of love. And as stated above, hope is also an act of the will. We all know that it is hard to remove ourselves emotionally from life difficulties. It is not pretending they are not happening, it is saying, to ourselves and to God, " I trust (have faith) that You have me right here for a reason that is for my good, not to harm me but to prosper me (Jeremiah 29:11) (prosperity of all kinds, not just material) and give me a hope and a future.

God wants us to accept His love and care for us and also give Him a chance to show it! If every outcome in our lives could be linked to our own efforts, how could we give God any credit? When we give gifts to our children, we don't want them to perform some task for them, then they are not gifts any more! Also, I appreciate when my kids ask me for something they want or need. We know God knows, but he also wants us to ask! Again, then we know where our help comes from!

Even though we know we need to pray, worship and make sacrifice; we should do this in pursuit of a greater love for God, and the gifts that flow from that, I suspect, will far exceed the gifts for which we were striving.

Peace, coolness, and Mercy for our country!


                         yes. I know these are not lilies

 “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? “And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? “And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ “For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  ~ Matthew 6:25-33
Malaika's little friends, coming to visit at her handmade feeder.


  1. Hey honey, here you are talking about Faith, Hope and Love. There is a cute quote from mother Angelica that goes like this "Faith is one foot on the ground, one foot in the air, and a queasy feeling in the stomach." I got the queasy stomach part down. I guess I am getting close to being able to trust!

  2. Kelly...I am so there with you. I get like this every summer. I don't even have the inspiration or motivation to blog. But I am enjoying Fr. Jacques' writings this summer. They are real treasures and helping this soul so much.~Theresa

  3. Kelly! Happy Birthday! Tomorrow, right? (I read the fine print) Have a great day!
    And how many of us would make the 8th week marker in a fitness program in this weather? Not many, I betcha. Good for you!

  4. Thank you Julie! It's today, actually, and apparently, I have survived! Just so you don't think I am terribly heroic, I do all my working out in an air conditioned room :) And it STILL kills me. lol!

  5. Ha. Maybe I don't read the fine print all THAT well...
    Hope you had a fine birthday. Fifty's kind of a toughie, as far as milestones go. (I'm no longer on the "green side" of fifty myself) But it sure helps to have new projects and goals on the horizon to look forward to. And you are doing just that.

  6. This summer has been a terrible time for this country. Every day it seems to be getting worse. I think the insight you quoted from Fr Phillipe is well worth remember - we must always be greatful for what we have and have hope. Happy belated birthday, by the way.

  7. Thanks for commenting on my found poem at my blog. I'm not sure if you're going to go back to see my reply to you, but I had no idea it would be the first reading at mass today. What a coincidence, or as Fr. Groeshal says, there are no coincidences! ;)