Sunday, October 30, 2005
The word that I heard in my heart from Jesus, "John, look at me. Just look at me."
So, I spent most of my time with Him gazing on Him there in the Monstrance.
A lot can be said about a person by what is in their eyes. Some eyes are filled with love and compassion, others gentleness, some are filled with purpose and determination, and still others are filled with anger, bitterness, and hatred.
The eyes are the windows to the soul goes the cliche. Indeed, our daughter Anne-Marie has a unique ability to look deeply into our eyes, and the eyes of others. She looks right through us to the depths of our being. There are really only two responses to her gaze, put up a wall, or allow her in.
There are times where I too need the loving gaze of Lucille. I need the affirmation of her love for me that shows through clearly in her eyes and the way that she looks at me. The same is true with the Lord. There are times where I need Him to look deeply into me and take up residence in those deep places.
But, yesterday, things were different. It was His call to me to look at Him, that drew out the love in my eyes, in my heart, and in my soul for Him. Through my eyes I held Him as a child very close to my heart to keep Him warm and let Him know that He was safe with me. Through my eyes I looked upon the teenage boy who so needed the love in the eyes of His Father. Through my eyes I stood, with tears in them, and watched helplessly as He passed by on the Via Dolorosa. Through my eyes I offered what I could, love, joy, gratitude, and presence.
It is this last one, presence, that we crave so much! Only when one is present to the other will we discover Love! Love is what we crave, and yet love is what we need to give most of all! What an awesome paradox.
Saturday, October 29, 2005
"I passed your word on to them, and the world hated them, because they belong to the world no more than I belong to the world. ... They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world." John 17:14,16.Our gifts and talents bring us into the world. In my case, it is my gift of being able to understand mechanical things, tear them down, rebuild them, put them back together, or repair and rebuild broken automobiles, or a broken computer's hardware and/or software.
"Do not love the world or what is in the world." 1 John 2:15
Because of these gifts I have worked in the automotive industry for a number of years. In the last six years or so since the late 1990's I have been working in the computer industry, with Lucille and I starting our own business in the spring of 2003.
As a result of my gifts and talents, from a young age I developed a passion for cars, and then for designing and building high performance North American automobiles. I loved working with them because I was able to tangibly see and experience the results of my labours.
To me, a number of automobiles and automobile engines that have been produced over the years are works of art. The mid '60's big-block Corvette as well as the new C4 and C5 are definitely there, the Shelby 427 Cobra and Carrol Shelby's life and influence on the automotive industry, the Dodge 426 Hemi engine, and the 1996-1999 Ford Taurus V8 SHO (I own one ;)) all come to mind. If I put down every vehicle that I admire and why this list would go on for a while! Needless to say, there are a number of great expressions of human ingenuity and works of art within the automobile industry.
Later in life, I also became passionate about the technology industry. I was able to understand its complexity and bring about the results that I was looking for by studying it.
I enjoy my work exploring the constantly changing technology industry. I enjoy working with high performance servers and workstations, their operating systems, and the sometimes very complex applications that run on them. I love making these very complex environments run smoothly. It is a very difficult task that one needs to stay on top of not unlike one's spiritual life! Very complex networking environments, to me, are works of art. Whether they are in the spirit of Salvador Dali, Rembrandt, or Picasso I'll leave up to you! ;)
These passions have provided me with the opportunity to witness to Jesus Christ in industries that can tend to be quite devoid of Christ and His Light.
These passions have also provided me with the opportunity to struggle with who possesses what. That is, am I possessed by my passion for cars and computers and other things, or do I control my passions for these things. That to me is the key difference between being of the world - that is possessed by passions, things, and wounds; and being in the world - that is at least struggling in prayer to work with the graces provided by the Holy Spirit to remain in control of my free will and my passions. To be living in the spirit of God and not enveloped by my "fleshly desires" (Romans 8:1-13) is another way to put it.
I realize that there is a lot more to the passions and struggling with them. St. Augustine in his treatise on Marriage and Concupiscence speaks of the struggles with our earthly or desires based in the flesh. It is through reading and praying over this treatise, as well as identifying with him in his Confessions that I came to understand the need to cooperate with God's grace to remain attached to Him alone. It is St. Augustine, to me, who is the model of one who eventually cooperated with grace to overcome his passions and attachments.
The struggle with my passions is ongoing. By prayer, vigilance, discipline, and cooperating with the Holy Spirit I am able to keep them in check. I am able, by grace, to see my life and all of the things in it as being instruments, or vessels if you will, to bring glory to Jesus Christ.
St. Augustine, pray for us. Pray that we learn to keep our passions and desires in check. Help us to discover the giftedness of our passions and their purpose. Help us to become pure and holy just as you did. Help us to learn and discover the true meaning of God's creation.
St. Augustine's Treatise on Marriage and Concupiscence.
Scriptural references to the struggles between the flesh and spirit can be found here.
Carrol Shelby's life and web site.
Friday, October 28, 2005
"In his anguish he prayed even more earnestly, and his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood." Luke 22:44I have been blessed to help a new friend out in his carpentry shop. I say new, because I have met him in passing a few times, but never had a chance to get to know him. After spending an afternoon talking with him a week ago about many things including my thought of helping him out. I figure it would be good to hone my skills, and provide a measure to fall back on if our business slows down a lot which it traditionally does over Christmas and the New Year.
At one point we were talking about the "staff" t-shirt that I was wearing. It was from my days of volunteering to chair a committee for a big city marathon. The task I had was to recruit some people to help me place a medal around the full marathon runners necks who cross the finish line. On average there were a couple of hundred that would make the full course.
I did this for six or seven years, starting not long after my conversion.
The state that most of the runners were in after running the twenty some-odd miles varied to some degree, but almost always they were so pumped up, and so deep into their running rhythm that they had to take a long time to unwind. Where is this going you may ask?
It was during the very first race that I saw someone, an older fellow, finish the race with this rather large streak of blood on his shirt just around the left side of his chest. It was around heart height and the blood had seeped down the shirt towards the bottom. I saw six people cross the finish line with various sizes of blood patches on their left side that day.
Later on in the day when I inquired with one of the medical team as to why these people had the blood stains, it was explained to me that when the body is under a constant and extremely high level of stress that the pounding of the heart can cause the capillaries in the skin above the heart to explode. Thus, the patches of blood.
I went home that afternoon in a sense of awe for what Jesus suffered in the Garden. His sweat was as drops of blood. Given the intensity of what He was struggling with, the realization, I am sure, that He was indeed about to pay the price, He must have "ran" a great number of marathons that evening.
We all approach a forthcoming time of suffering, from the simplest needle for a flu shot, to an operation to receive an ostomy pouch, to cancer treatments, to alzheimers, and more with fear and trepidation.
"Father, not my will but yours be done." Luke 22:43
To embrace suffering and in turn to offer it to Jesus to in some way share in His suffering, that is to participate in our Redemption (Mystici Corporis 44), is the call and most especially a particularly human dignity. That is right, dignity. One who embraces their suffering deserves our deepest support and gratitude. For, it is their prayer in suffering that will have a great influence with God the Father. Miracles can happen, and they do through the power of those prayers!
Lord Jesus, I give You my suffering and pain. I offer it to You, as small as it is, as an offering of love. Please accept it and bless it. Thank You Jesus for the gift of suffering. Thank You for blessing me with an opportunity to share in Your Cross. I love You!
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
It was Lucille's second trip and my first. We were taking the opportunity to take a trip before "Little Pea" was born. We were about five months into our first pregnancy at that point.
Lucille had spoken to me on many occasions about her experiences during her first trip to Medjugorje. I listened to them with essentially a grain of salt. In fact, it was with great difficulty that Lucille convinced me to go in the first place! My decision was based on her desire to go and not mine. I essentially went because she wanted to.
Near the beginning of my Journey with the Lord, I had some bad experiences with some individuals who had been there and to other shrines around the world. When I had sat down with them to listen to their stories and experiences I found them pretty neat. But what happened though, was that I got a sense that some of these people's faith was reliant on going to these Holy Shrines, and in speaking about "miraculous and prophetic" things.
I struggled with that because in my perspective one needed only to have a deep and personal relationship with Jesus Christ. My relationship with Him, in my experience, was built on spending time with Him in prayer, meditation, contemplation, and before the Most Blessed Sacrament.
So, there I was, on a plane flying across the ocean for the first time. I was cranky and frustrated. It wasn't until we were done with the plane rides and sitting on a bus heading for Medjugorje that I began to relax a little. It was beautiful in that part of the world.
With the encouragement of Lucille I began to enjoy the ride, listening to her stories about her previous trip. When we arrived in Medjugorje it was getting dark. We were pointed to our hotel and eventually our room. The room was fresh, yet sparse and simple. I liked it.
And then Our Lord and Our Lady started to break the hardness of my heart. This trip was for Lucille, and I offered up as such. I did not expect anything in return. However, they had other plans. ;)
Please note that the Church has not ruled on the validity or legitimacy of the Apparitions in Medjugorje, so what I am sharing is strictly from my perspective, that is Personal Revelation.
One little miracle was on our first visit to the church. It was close to the regular time that Our Lady appears to the visionaries. The rosary is paused at sometime just after 6 PM while the apparitions happen. It was during that time that Little Pea made a big jump in Lucille's womb. We were both very much surprised by that experience, and it influenced our choice of the name, Anne-Marie for Little Pea when she was born. Anne-Marie has indeed been our little miracle baby. She demonstrates an amazing faith and relationship with our Lord.
Another little miracle happened later on during our stay, we were there about a week or so, when Lucille and I were with the group listening to Sister Clare Marie of the Oasis of Peace Community share with us about her faith and what brought her to Medjugorje in the first place. During her sharing my heart caught fire. A number of key things were said by Sister Clare Marie that helped me to let go of all of my anger and frustration and for the first time in a long time my heart was completely open and on fire. After the talk, while walking back to get our ride back to our hotel I shared with Lucille about what was happening. I wanted my heart to stay open, especially with Lucille.
There were a number of other little miracles through our stay there. However, they were not necessarily the focus nor the reason for our visit there. They were only the triggers. What they triggered was a renewed hunger to spend time with the Lord. Everyday we were there we were in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, celebrating Mass and receiving Communion, praying the rosary, and building our marriage relationship in the Lord. We were immersed in an ongoing spirit of prayer and conversion. The Confessional lines were huge, people raced into the church for Mass so they could get the front seats, the spirit of reverence for the Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament was amazing, and so much more.
As I look back today at how that trip had an effect on each of us, our marriage, and most especially our relationship with our Lord, I can see some fruits. We began visiting our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament in a local parish that had Perpetual Adoration. Sometimes together, sometimes on our own we made a point to visit. We started to pray the rosary as a family. We aimed to pray everyday, but we were not always successful. We tried to get to daily Mass when schedules permitted. These things are still going on today. I have since forgiven those who were originally involved in turning me off from places like Medjugorje, and my heart has healed.
While places like Medjugorje are great to visit, and can succeed in drawing us closer to our Lord Jesus, Our Lady, and the Saints, I still see the greatest miracle that exists anywhere in the world is the Mass. It is the Lord Jesus Christ who comes to us in His Body and Blood to feed us and strengthen us for this Journey of life. It is also the Lord Jesus Christ who remains completely vulnerable while exposed in the monstrance on the altars of the world. What a truly amazing gift it is that I can go and pay a visit to Jesus personally in our Perpetual Adoration chapel here in the diocese anytime.
Our Lady is a good Mother. She knows very well what is best for her children. And thus, I try and listen to her, "do whatever he tells you." John 2:5
Why is that? Rarely do I go to a Catholic church where I experience everyone singing together. Don't get me wrong, singing isn’t the only thing that defines a person's faith but it can play a significant role in intensifying your faith experience at church.
I believe as Catholics, we have a lot to learn from one another. And yet, "bridging that divide" per se between Protestants and Catholics is not an easy task. As Catholic, I find for the most part my belief system to be so diverse thus making it more difficult to connect with someone from another Christian church. Some beliefs are the same but are the reasons always the same for believing strongly in a certain value?
On the subject of being alive in my faith, truly alive in my faith, the event that comes to mind was the faith I experienced in Medjugorje. Never have I experienced my Catholic faith so strongly in such a universal way within the community. The people there, were alive in their faith. It seemed like the air, trees, flowers, and birds were so much more beautiful and alive. Never have I sung the songs at Mass, lifting my heart in praise and worship and my whole being as during my two trips to Medjugorje. My heart wanted to jump out for joy at the words that were sung because people around me were also doing the same. Their faith and mine were equal, universal singing to our Lord with all our might. My heart was so completely open to Jesus like never before throughout all of the Mass. When I came back to my ordinary life in Canada, what struck me right away when at Mass was the difference that I sensed within the celebration. I yearned to experience what I experienced in Medjugorje. Fortunately, I did have similar experiences at a few events, mostly conferences or pilgrimages attended here in Canada. At church I would experience the depth of faith mostly at celebrations for the Most Blessed Sacrament. I relished every minute because I knew how rare this experience was for me.
It has always been my heartfelt hope and prayer that someday with the intercession of Our Lady that we will all come to a point of being completely open in our hearts to proclaiming, singing, rejoicing in our Catholic faith!
A good Medjugorje web site.
Sunday, October 23, 2005
The Scriptures talk about being faithful in the little things before being rewarded with greater things. And, on the flip side, I have heard it said that it is ultimately the little things that kill a marriage. The latter point I have heard first hand from a number of people whose marriage unfortunately did not make it.
Then there is the sense that I have of the relationship between Our Lady and St. Joseph. Remember, St. Joseph carries those lilies for a reason! His heart was pure, and he remained a virgin until his death. Thus the lilies in the hand of the most gracious gentleman in human history. But also consider that he lived with, worked for, and protected one of the most beautiful Women in human history, the Mother of our Lord!
If single, then Our Lady should figure prominently as the model of how to treat the ladies around you. Treat them as you would treat Our Lady. If married, then the eyes and heart of St. Joseph should take prominence in the treatment of your wife.
Here are some practical suggestions of some of the little things that one can do to let your significant other know that they are loved and respected:
- Open any and all doors that you can for her.
- For a car that has a remote, unlock the doors, but still approach with her on the passenger side and open the door for her. This also gives you a chance to check the car to make sure it is safe. Once she is seated, close the door and make sure it is secure.
- If I am carrying Anne-Marie after we have gone together somewhere as a family, I will still open the door for Lucille and make sure she is seated comfortably before closing it.
- Drive safely while the family is in the car. They are the greatest treasures in the world. Drive safely when they are not in the car, we need to keep in mind that they need us to arrive home safe and sound. Take a defensive driving course.
- Make a point to put time aside for an evening date. Surprise her by making meal arrangements and perhaps researching a movie she would enjoy seeing. Arrange for the sitter if there is a need without her knowing. Candle-light dinners are a great way to cultivate the love and bond. Make a point to not talk about the kids if you have any!
- If artistically inclined, draw a little card with some words of love and devotion in it. If not, buy her a card that reflects who she is. Do this once in a while to let her know that she is thought of and loved.
- Every once in a while, not too regularly so that she can be surprised, buy her a dozen roses. If possible, bring them home when she is not around and arrange them for her so she will be pleasantly surprised.
- Cook a family meal on the weekend. If you don't know how to cook learn or take lessons. The lessons could be something that you do together too!
- After you have children, make a point to arrange to give her an afternoon off at least once a month. Have enough milk and anything that may be needed to keep the child(ren) comfortable. It will be good for her to get a break, and good for you as a father to bond with your child(ren).
- Once the kids are sleeping, put on a favourite song that you both enjoy and reach out to her and dance. Take dance lessons together, or join a dance club.
- Once the kids are sleeping, and you two are alone, take her hand and dance. Listen to your hearts for the music and rhythm of the dance.
- Or, cuddle up on the couch and sit quietly enjoying each other's presence. Watch the occasional movie together too.
- Hug her, kiss her, look into her eyes and show her with your eyes just how much you love her. Do this regularly, but not so much that you both become desensitized to the expression of love between you.
- (Slightly off topic and yet not) Start a tradition that the entire family hugs together! We call it a "Grug" or Group Hug. It's Grug time!
- Give her a hot rose oil foot massage. Those feet carry you and your children's entire world around on them. Take care of them!
- Give her your sweater or jacket if she is cold.
- When the cold season sets in, keep a blanket in the back seat of the car. On those cold evenings you can tuck the blanket around her legs and waist to keep her warm until the car is heated. If it is winter, you can wrap her up! She will appreciate this big time!
- Make a commitment to spend an hour a week in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament to pray for her and for your family. If a Perpetual Adoration Chapel is not available, there will likely be a parish around that is open for prayer in the afternoons on a Saturday or Sunday. Most pastors would be happy to accommodate a request to spend time in prayer at the church.
- If health permits, fast for her once a week.
There are many other ways that one can be a chivalrous man. Ultimately, to me, it is important to cultivate in my life the needs that are important to Lucille. That means making timely (as the Lord calls) sacrifices for Lucille.
E5Men is a site dedicated to fasting for the women in a man's life.
Here is a definition of chivalry.
There are a couple of other items that came to me later. Both of them are very important:
- Help her with her to get her coat or sweater on.
- Affirm her. Make it a regular practice to tell her how good she is at being a great wife and mother.
Friday, October 21, 2005
I sensed the word, "in the womb". When I opened my heart to that word I saw in my contemplation a little ball embed itself into the womb and slowly develop into a little child. As the child grew I became aware of the little one's surroundings. There was the dim light from one side, the gurgling that was pretty much constant, the warmth of the fluid around the child and the resistance of that fluid as the limbs moved about in it. I sensed the child's deep spirit of peace. The little one was at home.
In the background of my mind and heart I've been chewing on that word and the contemplative moment for a few hours now. And here are some of the insights that the word and that moment have given me:
"At this time the disciples came to Jesus and said, 'Who is the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven?' So he called a little child to him whom he set among them. Then he said, 'In truth I tell you, unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven. And so, the one who makes himself as little as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven." Matthew 18:1-4Jesus says that we must become, "like little children" in order to receive the Kingdom of Heaven. And not only that, the more we become "little" like a child, the greater will be our reward in Heaven.
The vision takes this call of Jesus one step further. For, the little one in the womb is indeed the littlest of all children. The child in the womb is dependent on their mother for absolutely everything. The umbilical cord brings nourishment and removes any wastes. The fluid in the womb provides an excellent buffer zone to protect the child from possible hurt. Along with the gurgling, the mother's heart beat would provide a constant and rhythmic sound in the child's environment. That heart beat would be filled with love for that child.
This image brings to mind the spiritual and mystical relationship that St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Therese of Lisieux, St. John Marie Vianney, and many others like them had with God. They lived in total relationship with God, completely abandoning themselves to Him. God provided their sole source of nourishment, He cleansed them with the Blood of Jesus to remove the waste of sin, and God provided their purpose in life. Like the little one's utter dependence upon their mother while in the womb, the saints recognized their complete and utter dependence on God.
The saints were almost completely at peace with their life because they recognized that God's hand was there. Like the little one in the womb, God's hand may not have been readily apparent, but, like that same child in the womb, they trusted fully that He was indeed working in them. Even in the midst of the deepest of struggles and depths of aridity in their spiritual lives, they still maintained a thread of connection with their God. The umbilical cord!
And, like the child growing in the womb, the saints became supple to the working of the Holy Spirit to grow deeper in their relationship with God. They continued making decisions that led them deeper and deeper until it was time to be "born".
I am confident, that like parents who are ecstatic with their new little child that just came into the world, God, the saints, and the angels all greatly celebrate the arrival into Heaven of another child of God.
And finally, I sensed two calls from the Lord.
The first is to learn to abandon ourselves to Him. To embrace the humility and purity we need to be fully attached to Him.
In Psalm 46:10 we hear the Lord say, "be still and know that I am God". The second call from Jesus is to listen in the stillness of our own heart for the beating of His Most Sacred Heart. "I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you,..."
Thursday, October 20, 2005
Mary, you carried Jesus for nine months. You know first hand the worries and concerns of an expectant mother. Lucille is now 15 weeks into our pregnancy, Mary please intercede for her and for Pitou. You experienced giving birth to our Lord in a strange place with no outside help but St. Joseph. Pray for us to have a safe pregnancy and birth.
St. Joseph, please pray for me to be a good and holy husband and father. Help me to learn how you managed to provide for your little family. Teach me to have the same look of love that you had for Mary and Jesus. Teach me to be as obedient to God the Father as you were.
Thank you Mary and Joseph for your awesome witness to the graces to be found in family. Thank you both for being such great parents to Jesus.
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
For one, a number of years ago I met someone at the local Folk Festival. When I struck up a conversation with her, we talked about what she was doing. She was, it turned out, a teacher in one of the local Catholic schools. I played dumb and asked her if that meant she was Catholic and she went to church. She said that she was a Catholic, did not go to church but that she did have a relationship with God. I changed the subject and basically small talked until we parted ways.
That scared me. What exactly does that mean for the children that she was supposed to be witnessing her Catholic faith to in the school?
For the good and holy Catholic friends of mine who have finished their education degree I am not so worried about. However, since I also worked for a few years in and around the Catholic school system after my conversion I certainly believe that my concern for the spiritual safety of my children are valid.
Today, friends of ours told us how their 9 year old has been affected by one of his teachers reading True Ghost Stories in the class. This is in a Catholic school! The teacher is going to read the entire book! He is having nightmares and some pretty scary spiritual experiences.
Our children need to be equipped to deal with Satan and his angels by fully embracing the Cross and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ! Not fed garbage that takes them away from Him!
From the CCC:
2116 All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to "unveil" the future. Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone.
2117 All practices of magic or sorcery, by which one attempts to tame occult powers, so as to place them at one's service and have a supernatural power over others - even if this were for the sake of restoring their health - are gravely contrary to the virtue of religion. These practices are even more to be condemned when accompanied by the intention of harming someone, or when they have recourse to the intervention of demons. Wearing charms is also reprehensible. Spiritism often implies divination or magical practices; the Church for her part warns the faithful against it. Recourse to so-called traditional cures does not justify either the invocation of evil powers or the exploitation of another's credulity.
"In him, in bodily form, lives divinity in all its fullness, and in him you too find your own fulfillment, in the one who is the head of every sovereignty and ruling force." Colossians 2:9-10
To me, a Catholic school should be focused on forming our children in the image of Jesus Christ. This means teaching them about the saints, teaching them about the Sacraments, teaching them to Adore the Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament, daily Mass, Scripture studies, the study of Patristics, modesty as they are gift to be shared with their future husband, wife, or kept for Christ, humility not self-esteem, the mystics and their methods of prayer, discernment of spirits, individual confession, spiritual direction by qualified priests, and most especially parental involvement in their studies, school, and spiritual life!
Is that too much to ask? Far be it for me to request a so called Catholic school teach my children to actually be a holy and faithful Catholic! (I am being only slightly facetious here) Bishops take note!
In my mind and heart the above ideal Catholic school would solve the vocations "crisis", the population decline "crisis", and maybe even improve the environment as the children would be learning to be good stewards of creation too! There would be so many other material and spiritual benefits!
Pray for our children who are in so called "Catholic" schools. Pray for our children who are being indoctrinated in the public schools. Pray for us parents who may have lost their perspective on who should be the most important in their lives and not the what. Pray for the teachers who try and buck the system by living a holy Catholic life in order to witness to their pupils. Pray for the teachers who knowingly or unknowingly bring Satan and his teachings into the school to poison our children.
Jesus, deliver us from evil please! Protect and guard us from the evil one and his minions!
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
I was researching a topic and stumbled upon a site that talks about Dissociative Disorders. They used to be called Multiple Personality Disorders.
That probably triggers a curiosity about the topic that I was researching eh? The research stemmed from something that I needed to do that was very difficult. It was essentially a letter to my past.
For the most part, through the healing grace of Jesus Christ, the strength and perseverance of my adoptive father (long story), the guidance and healing touch of two fantastic psychologists - one a priest and the other a layman (many years), and the support of some very close friends that I have come to heal much of my past.
You see, I still bear many physical scars on my body from the abuse that I experienced when I was growing up. They are a constant reminder of that past. I also bear the mental/emotional scars from the huge volume of emotional and verbal abuse that spanned many decades and still happens sometimes to this day. There were other forms of abuse as well.
So, I was kinda feeling sorry for myself, and falling into a depression.
I was jarred out of it when I came across the Dissociative Disorder site. Why? Because people who have these disorders experienced abuse on a magnitude exponentially beyond what I experienced.
The first thing that hit me when I found that site, was the need to pray, to plead, to beg God to protect people from being abused in any way. The next, was to reach out and share some of my experiences with the hope that others will find that hope! For, there is hope, and it is found in Jesus Christ, in finding a supportive friend or a group of friends, in good professional counseling and prescription drugs if need be, and in discovering that once the wounds were healed, those scars could be a source of comfort for others.
When we speak of walking in the footsteps of the Master, there are hundreds of thousands of us who have lived, are living, and will live the Cross, Passion, and eventually Death through the abuse we have experienced. And the hope: we will live the Resurrection!
Jesus, bless us with humility and gentleness. Thank You Jesus for the gift of this life, for indeed life is a gift.
The Dissociative Disorder site I came across.
Speech of Mother Teresa of Calcutta to the National Prayer Breakfast, Whatsoever You Do...
That Scripture from her speech title is Matthew 25:31-46.
"All true Christian life ... must begin with a deep yearning to become a new man in Christ, and an inner readiness to 'put off the old man' [Eph. 4:22-24] - a readiness to become something fundamentally different." Transformation in Christ, Dietrich von Hildebrand. Pg. 3That yearning, to one such as myself who was brought up with essentially no religion, was like the Psalm of David says,
"God, you are my God, I pine for you; my heart thirsts for you, my body longs for you, as a land parched, dreary and waterless." Psalm 63:1
Having just met Him (1988), I discovered that I was thirsty for God, indeed the ground of my being was deeply cracked and lifting, ever so parched because of His absence in my life.
I was a slave introduced to the possibility of freedom. I wanted so much to embrace and experience that freedom! I wanted to be a free man!
A strong desire must fill us to become different beings, to mortify our old selves and rearise as new men in Christ. This desire, this readiness to decrease so that 'He may grow in us,' is the first elementary precondition for the transformation in Christ. It is the primal gesture by which man reacts to the light of Christ that has reached his eyes: the original gesture directed to God." Transformation in Christ, Dietrich von Hildebrand. Pg. 5Once the Light of Christ was seen by me, I ached for it to fill the huge dark void within me. How can I describe the darkness and that pain? I cannot.
But, my response was quick and sure: figure out as soon as possible, how I could have Him fill that void with His Light. That became my quest!
Our surrender to Christ implies a readiness to let Him fully transform us, without setting any limit to the modification of our nature under His influence." Transformation in Christ, Dietrich von Hildebrand. Pg. 5
I made a commitment to Him in those early days that had a few different facets. One was to open myself to Him as fully as I was capable so that I would become a saint! The second was to be brutally honest with Him, a select few around me, and myself. I had to be, or I would have ran away.
He truly blessed me for that commitment to Him, despite the many times I managed to run away!
Monday, October 17, 2005
The full import of that Call addressed to the Christian is not always fully appreciated; what God expects from us is too often minimized and taken lightly. Transformation in Christ, Dietrich von Hildebrand. Intro. XXWhat does God expect from us?
Jesus gave us the Golden Rule: Love God with my whole heart, soul, and mind; and love my neighbour as myself. That must be part of what He expects?
Jesus said that I need to take up my Cross and follow Him. Is that too part of what He expects?
The Scriptures speak of the crucible, of gold refined in fire, of running the good race. Are these elements also part of what He expects?
I think that what He expects is actually very simple. He even gives us a clue: "Unless we become like children, we shall not enter the kingdom of heaven". (Matthew 18:2-4)
Father, I am Your child!
Sunday, October 16, 2005
Some will say that it means that they can indulge in whatever they want whenever they want to. Drugs, drinking, sex, partying, living life to the "fullest", and the list goes on. This is, to me, the essence of the "freedom" being preached in the various forms of media as well.
When I was out and about, sometimes living my life on the street in my late teens early twenties, I watched people around me destroy themselves doing some pretty crazy things. In a way, it was those "lessons" that taught me to stay away from things like hard drugs and some of the lifestyles those individuals were living. Believe me, my guardian angel still worked very hard at keeping me from death and destruction!
I am going to be over simplified here, but, what is the essence of addiction? To me, it is the inability to say, "NO!" To put it another way, it is the loss of control over one's life or some aspect of their life.
And that brings me back to those who claim they are living a life of total freedom. If one is totally free, then one should be able to say no to anything. I have heard it said that there is no reason to say no in the first place because what they would say no to is something they want. Oh really?
The first step in the Alcoholics Anonymous 12 Step program is to recognize that one is powerless over their addiction to whatever it is.
So here is the challenge to those who claim to be truly "free". When the next opportunity comes to drink, take drugs, have sex (matters not if the person is known), smoke, or pick a fight, or (name your poison), try and say no. Try and abstain.
Then, be honest with yourself and examine the thoughts and feelings that hit you when the decision to say no happened. They may surprise you. And, if you end up doing whatever it is anyway, I hope and pray that at some point step 1 will become a reality. Believe me, I have been there.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him forever in the next. Amen.
Alcoholics Anonymous web site.
The 12 Steps at Wikipedia.
Saturday, October 15, 2005
This morning I was up early, so I headed out pretty much right away. I ended up spending an hour and forty minutes with the Lord today.
His word to me was, "I love you John. I love you so very much that I am here for you. I am always waiting for you."
It was important for me to hear Him say that because my time spent with Him was mostly filled with struggles and distractions. It seemed like for every moment I was able to focus on Him and make an effort to open myself, there were a hundred moments more where I was lost in some thought or distraction.
This struggle at times brings out the realization of just how hungry I am to have the Lord fill those places within me that do not belong to Him yet. I so very much want to be completely filled by Him, to be permeated by Him, to reach the point where, "...it is no longer I, but Christ who lives in me". (Galatians 2:20)
From a different perspective, I want to be consumed by the Living Flame of Love! (St. John of the Cross). St. John of the Cross is my favourite saint. And it is he, along with Saint John Marie Vianney - whose name I took when I became Catholic, and St. Therese of Lisieux that are role models for learning how to let go and be consumed!
St. John of the Cross, teach me to abandon myself to the Living Flame of Love. St. John Marie Vianney, teach me to embrace the person that I am and help me to learn to love myself. St. Therese, help me to learn to focus on the little things and help me to do them well for love of our Lord!
Our Lady, Queen of Good Counsel, teach me to share in the gift of discernment that you used when the Angel Gabriel appeared before you. Teach me also to abandon myself to the will of the Father just as you did when you said, "Yes!" to the request to conceive by the power of the Holy Spirit, Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Thank You Jesus for the gift of Your time this morning. Thank You for Your Presence in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the altar!
An online Adoration "Chapel" can be found here.
Friday, October 14, 2005
After the game I had a decision to make, do I cut through town which means heading into the heavy traffic or do I head in the opposite direction to avoid traffic?
I took the long way home, heading towards the outskirts of the city and then cutting across near the top to get home in what turned out to be a short period of time.
During that trip, I was given an inspiration to make a turn that took me further out than I was anticipating. As it turns out, the road that I was on when that inspiration hit was actually closed at the intersection with the road that cuts across the top of town.
The Lord works in mysterious and wondrous ways!
So too is it in my spiritual life. There are times where Jesus takes me on some sort of side trip where I don't have a clue as to why He is showing me what He is, and why He is taking me in the direction that He is. I find that at times it is a lesson in obedience. I listen and obey. Other times, there is a neat gift waiting for me near the end of that side trip.
Don't get me wrong, I do struggle and sometimes get very frustrated with Him! But, after some time listening to Him, and to those that love me and support me in my family, I tend to take a deep breath and let go. Most of the time! ;*)
Ultimately, I need to understand that Jesus has what is best for me in mind when He calls me to do something. And, with St. Faustina, I sometimes need to say repeatedly, "Jesus, I trust in You!"
Jesus, teach us to trust in You. Teach us to be grateful for whatever You give us, and whatever You allow to come our way. Help us to be patient. Help us to be supple to the working of Your Holy Spirit in us. Thank You Jesus for the gift of this life! Thank You for the little things You do for us, like that inspiration to turn! Thank You Jesus for the gift of You!
Thursday, October 13, 2005
My recommendations to the Synod on how to deal with these 'shadows' presuppose the maintenance in the Latin Church of the ancient tradition and life-giving discipline of mandatory celibacy for the diocesan clergy as well as the religious orders. To loosen this tradition now would be a serious error, which would provoke confusion in the mission areas and would not strengthen spiritual vitality in the First World. It would be a departure from the practice of the Lord Himself, bring significant practical disadvantages to the work of the Church, e.g. financial, and weaken the sign value of the priesthood; it would weaken, too, the witness to loving sacrifice, and to the reality of the Last Things, and the rewards of Heaven. ... Cardinal George Pell: Fifteenth General Congregation*
To me, as a former seminarian, the charism of celibacy is a very important aspect of the diocesan and religious community priesthood. It is very important to give witness to a world that has lost perspective on the value of the human person of the love and sacrifice that is celibacy.
The priest receives an indelible mark on his soul when he receives Holy Orders. He is Jesus Christ, in persona Christi. It is Jesus who sits with me in the confessional and pours the healing salve of His Blood into the wounds created by my sin. It is Jesus who heals in the Anointing of the Sick. It is Jesus who acts to bring the whole congregation to the Father, and feed us with His Body and Blood during the celebration of the Eucharist. With the exception of marriage where the couples confer the Sacrament upon each other, it is Jesus Christ who acts in the Sacraments.
The priest holds the awesome power of heaven in his hands! He can bring Jesus Christ to us in the Eucharist at any time of the day or night. He holds the power of sharing the riches of our redemption in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
I do not believe that a married clergy would solve the so called vocation "crisis" in the Church today. I do believe that there are three very important aspects to increasing vocations though.
One is in the bishops. And, I do believe that our local Archbishop has taken a step in the right direction by opening a diocesan Perpetual Adoration Chapel. That is one place that young men and women will be able to take the time to listen and subsequently "hear" the call to a vocation in the priesthood or religious life. There, they will form a deep and lasting relationship with the Lord. The Archbishop speaks regularly to the young about discernment and being open to a vocation. He is a very holy man and we are blessed by his presence in our Archdiocese.
The second is in the priests themselves. I have been blessed to have met some very happy and holy priests. And therein lies a key witness to the gift of priesthood. Men who live their vocation deeply in love with Jesus Christ, who love to give witness to the Gospel, and who love sharing the Sacraments with all of us. A powerful and positive witness to just how great the life of the priest and religious can go a long way to inspiring the young to consider that vocation.
And the third and last element is here at home. We the laity are very much responsible for the dearth in vocations too. Again our archbishop has encouraged us to give witness to our children, to, "live our faith deeply and longingly for the Lord". We must live a culture of vocation in our homes. Do we talk to our children about priestly and religious life as a viable option? Or do we avoid it at all costs? Do we demonstrate to our children by our words and actions the sacredness of the priesthood? Do we encourage our parish priest to feel welcome and visit with us? We must bring our children before the Lord and encourage them to listen to Him. Through Mass and especially in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, the Scriptures, writings of the Saints, and our relationship with the Lord our children will learn to hear His voice.
One of the fruits that I have seen as a result of my stay in the seminary is that quality of the men discerning their vocation. These are men considering the life as a diocesan priest. Men who have lived their lives chastely and understand the charism of celibacy and the gift that it is for the Church. They are men formed by the theology of Pope John Paul II. They are the men who will go on to inspire many other young men to really give the vocation of priesthood a serious thought. I believe it is because they have begun to truly understand the indelible mark they will receive in Holy Orders and that they also have begun to understand the meaning of in persona Christi. They understand that it is Jesus Christ who works in them!
*Cardinal George Pell Quote here. Fifth paragraph.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
We also prayed for a nickname for our first little one while in the womb. We came up with Little Pea because she was like a pea in a pod being nurtured and kept safe by Lucille.
I was hit with this deep urge to lay my hands on Lucille's tummy and pray over our little one in the womb daily. Somehow I realized that this was very important for me to do as a father: to pray for the health and growth of my child and most especially place a father's spiritual protection around the child and mother.
It was also important for me to welcome our little addition to the family. It wasn't hard, I was grinning from ear to ear when we saw the confirmation of what we already knew: the test showed positive. Some of the first words out of my mouth were, "Welcome to the family!"
So too it is with our newest edition to the family. We have nicknamed this little one Pitou (Little Person - pronounced peetoo) or I sometimes juxtapose the name and say Toupie (top - pronounced toopee).
We pray over our newest little one often and we talk to them a lot. I try and make a point to affirm Pitou with love and welcome as often as possible. Given my own womb experience this is especially important to me. We are also making a point to introduce Pitou to Anne-Marie. She has begun to figure out what we are saying! It is pretty cool, and we are hoping that this early introduction will prepare her for the time when her little brother, sister, or the twins (runs in Lucille's family and we are hoping!) come home.
We believe in the sacredness of the person from conception to natural death. We also believe, and have first hand experience, of our ability to be not only physically present to our child in the womb, but spiritually present to them as well. The child in the womb too, as we have experienced, also makes themselves physically and spiritually present to us. Especially later on in the pregnancy.
The communion of persons living the Sacramental reality of marriage is a very deep and mysterious thing. Much like the communion of saints there are some pretty neat ways that we can be available to one another in the Sacrament. In discovering these ways, we sometimes experience the spiritual and mystical elements of the Sacrament's graces. This root goes down into the deepest aspects of who we are (Theology of the Body, Pope John Paul II).
The Holy Spirit is Who ties us together in the Sacrament, and as in all Sacraments, we, the married couple are the visible sign of an invisible grace given. Our children are the fruit of that grace and of our love. We make sure to affirm them with that knowledge as often as we can!
Please pray for the successful delivery and the health of Pitou, our newest member of the family.
My reflections on the first pregnancy can be found here.
My reflections on the Lord's healing of my own experiences within the womb is here.
Monday, October 10, 2005
Father, we thank You and praise you for the gift of Your wondrous creation! We thank You most especially for giving us the gift of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Thank You Father for willingly giving Him to us with the full knowledge that He would be crucified by us.
Thank You Jesus for redeeming us! Thank You for the generous gift of suffering and then dying for us. Thank You for showing us the way, the truth, and the life. Thank You Jesus for the gift of the Sacraments that deepen our relationship in You.
Thank You Holy Spirit for dwelling in us. Thank You for inspiring us to open ourselves fully to a deep, loving, and meaningful relationship with the Father and Jesus. Thank You for bringing us closer to the Father and Jesus through the gift of Your action in the Sacraments, Scripture, and the Church.
Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit, thank You for the gift of love that we share in You. Thank You for the gift of our marriage and the fruit of love in our marriage: our children. Thank You for the roof over our heads, for the cars that get us to and from the places we need to go, for the food that we eat and the clean water we drink. Thank You for the warm clothing we wear.
We praise You Most Holy God for the many blessings You bestow upon us in this life. Thank You for calling us to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. Thank You for the daily Crosses we bear and the sharing we have in the suffering of Jesus. Thank You for all of life's events and the people that You place on our path, the good and the bad.
We give glory to You Most Holy God by our lives.
It is so very important to go out as a married at least once a month and to make it an outing priority #1 in front of going out with friends or family even if it just for an hour walk or a two hour movie. At times when things get busy with work, it is amazing how just a walk for a half hour or more rejuvenated my relationship with John. With kids around, I think it is really easy not to make the effort to go out alone as a couple.
I think part of that comes from feeling very secure in your married relationship which is not a bad thing of course but I feel it can be a bad thing if the relationship is not being properly nurtured. Sometimes we may not realize the effects lack of nurturance can have on the relationship. Slowly, we pull away from each other, the affection dwindles, communication breaks down. We just don't have fun together. The relationship becomes stagnant, motionless and doesn't grow. I think that this is an area where a women is more sensitive in detecting the stagnancy of the relationship but of course not always.
For me (and I think a lot of women are the same), I need to feel close to my husband on all aspects of my being, the emotional, spiritual, and physical. The first two are what nurtures the physical. I need to have time to only focus on him without the distraction of our sweet child. I can compare this to having an hour each week in front of the Blessed Sacrament. I also need time alone with Jesus and feel close to Him and that is number 1 next to my husband.
I can still remember a priest from our parish telling us when we were engaged to always keep that spirit of courtship that we possessed as engaged couple alive and to carry it into our marriage. I understand his statement so much better now. When we were engaged I felt like we would always remember this feeling and love we had but I know now it takes a lot of work to keep it going further and deeper into the marriage.
Our date was great as always. We talked, laughed, and held each during a very good but intense movie. I am looking forward to our next date.
Here is John's point of view.
Ever have a night where you wake up and not only your mind is throwing things at you but your body and spirit is too?
These especially when what woke you was some powerful dream?
Tonight is one of those for me. After spending some time praying to gain control, I got hit with a series of memories from my pre-teen and early teen years.
I used to get night terrors from about 10 years until I was about 14. These terrors did not stop when I woke, but continued into my waking world with a terrible presence in my room and an inability to breath. I was told by my mother to pray, but I didn't really know what that meant at the time.
Because of the terrors, I learned to shut down any and all access to dreams. I did not dream at all after that.
About a year after my conversion in 1989, my first spiritual director Father John and I spent some time on this. He prayed over and blessed me for the healing of my mind, body, and spirit so that I would learn to be open to dreaming again. We spent a lot of time on two points in Scripture: Matthew 1:20 where it came to Joseph in a dream that he was not to dismiss Mary, but to take her as his wife; and Matthew 2:13 where again in a dream Joseph was called to take Mary and Jesus into Egypt in order to keep them safe from harm.
I learned to trust that Jesus would protect me as I opened up again and I eventually began to have dreams again. Most were good, a few spoke to me about current circumstances, some made absolutely no sense at all, and some where disturbing. Whatever the dream, I always brought them to prayer and spiritual direction.
Today, it is rare that I remember my dreams. When I do, I will sometimes write it down if it was still clear enough (I started journaling just after my conversion). I would then spend time in prayer asking Jesus if the dream had any significance or not, discern it with Lucille, and bring it up with my spiritual director. If the dream was not clear, I would generally let it go.
It was in a dream several years before I met Lucille, that I saw the silhouette of a lady in a second floor window holding a white fluffy cat. I could tell by the silhouette that the lady had long hair and that she somehow carried a weight of significance for my life, but that was about it. It turned out that Lucille had a white fluffy Persian cat that she was very fond of around the same time that I had that dream! Lucille also has beautiful long and dark hair! The Lord works in mysterious ways eh?
I also know, that in those times where I catch some form of glimpse into my dream world, that I usually have had an excellent sleep that night! Tonight, and nights like this are the exception to the norm.
Lord Jesus, we pray for those who suffer from some form of insomnia. Bless them with sleep, bless them with a deep resting place in their dreams. Lord Jesus, please deliver those who suffer night terrors! Bless them with Your peace and send your Archangel St. Michael to protect and guard them from all harm. Thank You Jesus for hearing our prayer.
Saturday, October 08, 2005
Lucille sometimes needs to remind me that she needs to be romanced. She needs to feel that I still have a romantic love for her. She needs to have us spend exclusive time getting reconnected to each other. She needs to receive the gift of me and my time freely and out of love for her.
I, on the other hand, tend to place the romantic aspect of our relationship much further down on the list of priorities. So, indeed I need to be reminded of her needs.
This is especially true when we had our first child. We did not get any exclusive time together for a long time after Anne-Marie was born! When we both realized this and Anne-Marie was old enough, we made arrangements for someone we trust to sit with her.
We went out for dinner and had an awesome time. We made a rule that we would not talk about Anne-Marie and about parenting if we could help it. We managed somewhat to do that, but eventually we didn't get too far on that one at first! ;)
The beauty of that date time though, was being able to look into her eyes, to hold her hands across the dinner table, and to just be in her presence. We then made a commitment to try and get out on a date at least once a month. We haven't been able to make that happen as often as we had hoped, but when we do get out we have a really good time.
My dad is coming over to sit Anne-Marie this afternoon and this evening. So, we are off. I booked us into this amazing Thai restaurant for supper, and then I am going to take her for a Bubble Tea and a movie. She was very pleased when I let her know that I had made the reservations! Sometimes I won't tell her anything about the date at all as Lucille has this amazing curiosity bug that gets really cute when I drop a hint about a surprise but won't say anything more!
So, to you husbands, and soon to be husbands my advice is this: Pray to the Holy Spirit to attune your spirit to the romantic needs of your wife. Pray that the Holy Spirit truly trains you in the art of woo till you both sing together:
Indeed, God is good!
My love is a sachet of myrrh
lying between my breasts.
My love is a cluster of henna flowers
among the vines of En-Gedi.
-How beautiful you are, my beloved,
how beautiful you are!
Your eyes are doves.
-How beautiful you are, my love,
and how you delight me! (Song of Songs 1:13-16)
Here is Lucille's point of view.
Friday, October 07, 2005
I write about how fortunate I am because I sometimes hear or read of women with pregnancy complications such as a lady I met through my prenatal swimming class. By the way they call the class "Aquabellies" which I found rather cute. This young lady was talking about how she couldn't keep any food down in her first trimester and ended up being in the hospital. Then other complications arose lately now that she is 37 weeks. She wanted to go to a certain hospital for the birth but was told to go to a specific hospital that deals with high risk pregnancies. I just pray that everything turns out okay for her and baby.
You never know what can happen when giving birth even though you pray for the best. You never know if your baby will be premature or be totally healthy. John and I know by experience because I needed to stay in the hospital for 5 days with our first child because our daughter was diagnosed with aspiration pneumonia. I can't imagine what it would be like for those who need to stay in the hospital with their little one or ones a lot longer or worse case scenario, leaving the hospital without their baby or babies in their arms at all. Luckily, we had no serious complications after we left the hospital. Thanks be to God.
What a neat movie!
Duchovny plays Tom Warshaw as an adult, and Anton Yelchin plays Tommy Warshaw as a young kid turning 13 in 1970's New York, New York.
When the movie starts, Tom has a son who will be turning 13. To Tom, that is the age where one goes through a rite of passage. So, he sits down with his wife, to share with her what happened to him when he turned 13.
From there we are introduced to Tommy (Tom's younger self), and his best friend Papass (Robin Williams) who is slightly mentally challenged. We share in some of their adventures as well as some of their struggles. Many laughs and some tears too.
We also share in the many good and bad things that happen to and around Tommy.
Without giving away anything, the movie is, in my opinion, very well acted and directed. The cinematography is very well done, with each shot capturing the mood and beauty of the moment.
The story is excellent. There are many of us who can relate to the younger Tommy as well as how he deals with events as they unfold. There may be even more of us who are in the position of the adult Tom that need to reflect on how we have or have not dealt with our past. The story holds its focus very well, keeping us very much involved in the young Tommy's world. I found it very easy to be immersed into the story as it is very believable.
Something that is important to our family is what we could call a kid rating. This film easily receives a 4 out of 5. I agree with the PG-13 for the film, and that parents should check it out before inviting their kids to see it. I would not have a problem with early teenagers watching it.
The movie provides many themes and scenes that provide an invitation for conversation with our children.
You can find the movie at Amazon:
House of D - US
House of D - Canada
Thanks for supporting us!
Thursday, October 06, 2005
"But anyone who is the downfall of one of these little ones who have faith, would be better thrown into the sea with a great millstone hung around his neck." Mark 9:42Everything we think, say, and do has consequences.
Jesus here reminds us that He is very protective of His little ones.
We are His little ones!
And thus, we must take care of each other! We must also protect each other!
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
I must admit, I am feeling like Peter right about now.
It takes a great act of faith to believe that Jesus will indeed be reaching down to me when the storm rages within.
Sometimes I am too focused on the storm and its effects to even take notice of His hand that is right beside my face.
Trust, man what a difficult thing at times!
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
Monday, October 03, 2005
In order to give the complete self to another one must make an act of trust. To one who has been abused on all levels of being as I have, means that act of trust has even more weight. To me, that is in essence what true vulnerability is: to give the complete self to my spouse and trust completely that she will not crap, stamp, crush, tear apart, etc. that gift.
And that, my friends, is where Lucille excels! It takes a tender and gentle heart to sense and realize how to earn the trust of one with a history such as I. The honesty and mutual vulnerability that I see in Lucille, as well as that very special look she gives me every once in a while are all very important to me. But most especially, it is the way that she has treated me right from the start: with mutual respect and dignity. She has fostered the love that began to grow between us with such grace. I realized fairly early in our relationship that she was indeed a daughter of the Father! What a special grace! :*D
Truly I am blessed to have Lucille as my wife. And, truly I have been blessed by the Lord to have received the healing and strength from Him to be the person I needed to be when Lucille and I first met.
She was and is worth all of the struggles and pain in the healing process. She is indeed my best friend for the way she treats me is like no other human alive or dead has ever treated me!
Lucille, thank you and I love you! ;)
Sunday, October 02, 2005
And yet, my marriage depends on it.
I have made a commitment to Lucille. Part of that commitment is to give myself as a gift (I am slowly learning to see myself as one) and the other part is to receive the gift of her.
If I refuse to be vulnerable, our relationship will die. I will have essentially refused to give of myself to her, and refused to receive the gift of her.
The Lord works in mysterious ways, as He has put Lucille into my life and she understands this aspect of commitment. And a neat thing about that is, she understands my struggles with vulnerability and is very patient with me. She is always prayerfully supporting me as I struggle to learn.
Being vulnerable to me is an important part of the Sacrament of Marriage (CCC 1616, 1617). It is the opening of one's self completely to our spouse just as Christ did on the Cross. And therein lies one of the sources of Sacramental Grace.
Saturday, October 01, 2005
In her writings we find the ultimate in simple faith. Her autobiography, Story of a Soul has sold millions of copies in many different languages.
During her life as a nun she suffered greatly due to illness. She did not however, mention to anyone that she was suffering. When her illness became known, she continued to suffer patiently out of love for God. Her illness worsened until her death on September 30, 1897 at the young age of 24.
"...thus began, as was her desire, a new phase of apostolic presence on behalf of souls in the Communion of Saints, in order to shower a rain of roses upon the world." The Life of Saint Therese, Vatican News Services.It is said that those who have a particular devotion to St. Therese will receive a bouquet of roses in response to asking St. Therese for a favour or intention. I must admit that it has happened to me on several occasions when I have turned to her for help or support. Here follows is the first time that I received a bouquet from her. This was also the first time, through a brother seminarian, that I came to really know St. Therese.
On this very day (October 1), during one of my two years in the seminary (mid 1990's), a brother seminarian and I were discussing St. Therese and her life. He had a particularly strong devotion to St. Therese as he shared in her charism of mystical simplicity and humility. We spent the afternoon sharing our experiences with our favourite saints, him St. Therese who is a Carmelite, and I St. John of the Cross who is also a Carmelite. It was a blessed time.
At the end of the afternoon, we went down to pray the Divine Office with the rest of the community. After Evening Prayer we went to the dining room for supper.
During the meal, my brother and I sat together to continue our conversations. Sometime during the meal, the entire dining room (it was quite large) filled with the scent of roses! The scent was very strong, as though someone had placed a bouquet directly under everyone's nose. Our brother seminarians stopped their eating and looked around to see where the scent was coming from. After a few moments everyone pretty much got back to their meals. My brother seminarian and I had already figured out where the scent had came from, it was a gift to all us from St. Therese on her feast day!
Later on, he and I offered a prayer of thanksgiving to God and St. Therese for that gift of love and affirmation. For me, it reinforced in me the need to learn more about the life of St. Therese and her particular way of living the Journey with the Lord.
Her Way became very important to me about four years back. I was in two consecutive car accidents about six months apart. In one I was rear-ended and the other one I was broadsided by someone on a cell-phone who ran a red. Both accidents left me racked and in extreme pain. I was just starting to heal from the first when the second happened.
Here I came face to face with living in extreme pain 24/7. This pain was extreme during the extensive massage sessions and physiotherapy sessions. The massage went on for over 18 months total and the physiotherapy went on for 6 weeks straight about half way through that 18 month period.
I had two options: get bitter and cranky and share that with those around me, or decide to share that suffering with Jesus at the Cross and making the suffering redemptive. This is where St. Therese came in. She was with me through the whole ordeal, encouraging me and supporting me during the most painful of times.
St. Therese helped me stay focused on Jesus hanging on the Cross, and she coached me on how to offer my suffering for specific needs and intentions of those around me and sometimes names of strangers that she shared with me. Ultimately, she showed me how she was very thankful for the suffering in her life. It was her offering of love to Him and it was an offering of love for her sisters in the convent as well as the many other intentions the Lord brought to her.
Indeed, I did learn that lesson. Before entering the doctor's office for my hour of very painful massage therapy, I would offer a prayer to Jesus giving Him what I was about to go through. During the tough times I would turn to a crucifix and offer that suffering and pray for support to make it through the pain.
I was blessed to essentially stay bitter free! :*) It took time to heal, and also to forgive the drivers in both incidents, but I managed with the grace of God to do so. It took time to let go of the anger and rage that at times brewed within me too. It took a constant vigilance to keep myself focused on Jesus.
Thanks be to God for those experiences. Thanks be to God for the gift of St. Therese who was there to teach me about how to suffer for the glory of God. Thanks Jesus for gifting me with such a small share in your Passion!
The Vatican's press release on the life of St. Therese can be found here.
An excellent article by Fr. John Hardon on the life of St. Therese can be found here.