Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Believe it or not, this was the easier topic

Yes, it really is easier for me to talk about humility than many of the other posts I have bouncing around in my brain. I think because it is plainly evident that I am still so far from achieving even the smallest portion of this list, that it is pretty safe to look on from a distance. Almost as though it was a zoo animal in an enclosure, some other species with an unknowable mind.

Everything I have learned about myself and about how to walk with God in this life comes back to humility.
One can't acknowledge God's existence, ask for anything in prayer, have faith or ask for the gift of faith, or even seek out God at all - without being able to first admit that we are not the master of our lives. That we have need and that need can only be seen in relation to our smallness before the Creator of creation.

It's a relief, really, to realize I am not in charge, or in control of anything. Who wants that! Anywhere I do have authority, God has granted it though favor or through natural law, and the better I understand my authority is really just another form of servanthood, the better for everyone concerned.

I mean, take a gander at that list! It's not a question of whether I don't live up to any of the points, but HOW MANY TIMES EVERY DAY . Let's see, yes I talked about myself, and oh, curiosity! How many things/people did I Google today alone? I want to know ALL THE THINGS. And incidentally, any time I give up or cut back on social media, I find that my stress level decreases, and golly gee, I have more time and inclination to pray! And pay attention to the people God puts in front of my face! Imagine that. I am working on being able to use social media and not let it slap me around, overtake my life, pull me Alice-like down rabbit-hole-labyrinths, distract me from what is most important.

And oh boy, those small irritations. Those get me every time. And I am not by nature an irritable person, but often it is the rude cashier, or the lady that zooms in front of me as I am headed to the checkout line at the grocery store (you know exactly which one I mean, she comes flying over from your peripheral vision and never once looks at you), that will be the last straw if I am having a day with a lot on my mind.

And 7-15. I mean. They are so far from my natural inclinations so as to maybe be written in hieroglyphics. WHO DOES THOSE THINGS?

And the answer is of course, Jesus did those things. And the Blessed Mother. And many saints. And I want to do those things.

So every Friday, as part of another group of prayers I say (Auxilium Christianorum), Is the Litany of Humility.

Litany of Humility 

O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, hear me. 
From the desire of being esteemed, deliver me, Jesus. 
From the desire of being loved, deliver me, Jesus. 
From the desire of being extolled, deliver me, Jesus. 
From the desire of being honored, deliver me, Jesus. 
From the desire of being praised, deliver me, Jesus. 
From the desire of being preferred to others, deliver me, Jesus. 
From the desire of being consulted, deliver me, Jesus. 
From the desire of being approved, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being humiliated, deliver me, Jesus. 
From the fear of being despised, deliver me, Jesus. 
From the fear of suffering rebukes, deliver me, Jesus. 
From the fear of being calumniated, deliver me, Jesus. 
From the fear of being forgotten, deliver me, Jesus. 
From the fear of being ridiculed, deliver me, Jesus.
 From the fear of being wronged, deliver me, Jesus.
 From the fear of being suspected, deliver me, Jesus.
That others may be loved more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. 
That others may be esteemed more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
 That in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. 
That others may be chosen and I set aside, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. 
That others may be praised and I unnoticed, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. 
That others may be preferred to me in everything, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. 
That others may become holier than I, provided that I become as holy as I should, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.  

At first, just having those words come out of my mouth seemed kind of ridiculous. But I have come to love them, even the pain I sometimes feel when the contrast to my actual life is so great. I realize that I am asking Him who is able to do these sorts of things. To change things I can't. Even to make me willing to change things I don't want to let go of.

I realize that without some measure of humility, I will not be able to grow in the spiritual life and be the person I was created to be. Which I really want to be, if for no one else then at least for my family.

Not the least of whom are these two--
--you didn't think you were getting away without the grands--

Blessings and Peace.


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

beginning, and beginning again

“He who climbs never stops going from beginning to beginning, through beginnings that have no end. He never stops desiring what he already knows.” -St. Gregory of Nissa

“This is the very perfection of a man, to find out his own imperfections.” -St. Augustine
“To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.” -Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman

Well well, it seems I will come out of blog-retirement and throw some words at whomever would like to read them.  It has been roughly a year, and I could go all What I Did on my Summer Vacation on you, but don't worry. I don't have the strength.

What has motivated me is simply that I would like to share some of my spiritual journey. It has been quite a year in many respects, and have thought recently that some of my experiences might resonate with -someone- and so if even one person is encouraged, I will be completely happy with that.

I am not even going to attempt to go chronologically. I would drive myself and any reader crazy, and besides, since God exists outside of time, it's all good.

But really, first things first. In the post immediately preceding this one, you will see a precious newborn. Who happens to be my granddaughter. So, following Rule Number One in the Grandparent handbook, I must, under threat of losing my membership, show you updated pictures.

Image may contain: 1 person

Okay! A year in the life of a baby. Every day another milestone! I could go on.

But I mentioned some spiritual growth or some junk, so I will tell you about that.

I want to start with a period of fasting and prayer that I joined in with back in February. It is called Nineveh 90, which is a 90 day program of prayer and fasting. It is similar to a Lenten period, with prescribed prayers and disciplines. The round I joined in actually encompassed Lent and so was interesting to have Lent within a Lent.  The 90 days wrapped up on May 13, the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima. There were small groups that one could join online, which I did, and we met each week to check in and see how everyone was doing, what was a struggle, and shared prayer intentions. I got to know some lovely people, and we hope to keep up with each other online. If you follow the link you can read for quite a while on the Nineveh 90 website, there are many articles and prayers.

Those are the nuts and bolts, but it's what comes about on a personal level that is the real point. These sort of groups have many scores of people praying, which is in itself a wonderful thing. But the idea that I am but a cog in a larger movement of prayer, saying prayers here in my South Philadelphia row home; effecting change in the world for the salvation of souls for eternity--that alone gives me a sense of humble awe--and hope for all the many issues of our day and for poor souls. It appeals to my sense of wanting to DO SOMETHING for all the needs in my world and the larger world, that I otherwise would be powerless to address.( I was born on the feast of St. Martha, so--).

This period also helped me in my ability to grow in self-discipline. Out of the prayers, dietary guidelines, fasting days, exercise, limit of internet and TV for entertainment, and regular adoration and confession, I would say that incorporating prayer into my day was the best benefit. I pray at regular times throughout the day, short prayers, and say the Rosary daily, along with some other prayers I say at night. I try to examine my conscience every night, though I have fallen off of that a bit. It does make for a much better confession. Sometimes, especially in the beginning, the prayers did not_feel_very spiritual, as I had to read them until I got them memorized, but as I persevered, I began to see that simply the offering of my time and devotion was producing something in my life. Even if I didn't immediately have pious emotions, my prayers were doing the work in which they were intended. Which, honestly, is not ever to make me feel holy, but to go towards the greater will of God, which I only know but a crumb. My life, my world, my reality, while real, is not the ultimate reality that God sees. but he allows us to participate in his plan anyway. And he makes each person important to the whole, and somehow, every small act contributes, whether for good or for ill. That  is something I want to share with you in a future post.

I also want to tell more about my journey to come to know Mary better. As a convert, I did not always think of her first when I would go looking for an intercessor. Now, I try to give everything to her first. That will be a post unto itself.

Until then, I leave you ,Clementine: