2/5/2017 2:14:00 PM
Broken? - Stanza II
Come Lord Jesus to repair us,
with Your gift of healing love.
Send Your Spirit to prepare us,
for our home in heaven above.
God is love. I had a taste of the truth of this statement once while in adoration. It was just a glimmer, lasting only a fraction of a second. Yet in that moment, I knew that God really is love.
For most of my life I had a hard time accepting the fact that God really created us, each individually, but He did. His involvement in our creation is not just in some indirect biological context, as I used to think, but He wills each and every soul into being. There are no souls, (no babies), who are ‘accidents’. In Matthew 10:30 Jesus tells us, “Even all the hairs of your head are counted.” This indicates a God who must be very close and attentive; it’s an incredible statement. During my formation I learned that every word in the Bible is there intentionally and has meaning. In light of this, I am left in awe and wonder, pondering the beauty of God’s love.
In the last post I mentioned that the Church teaches against certain things because they are evil and contrary to nature. Since they are evil they can hurt us; when we choose evil over good we sin, and sin separates us from God. Often we can’t see or understand that we’ve been harmed, but our soul knows, and if we don’t confess it and repent, it will eventually make itself known, one way or another; for me it was a mid-life crisis.
It was a big help for me to learn early in my formation how active the devil is in our everyday lives. We don’t hear much about the devil anymore…..and I’m sure he would be quite happy if we forgot he was real, because when this happens moral truths become foggy and confused. This is how I came to accept that while I believed that abortion was the taking of an innocent life…..perhaps it wasn’t my place to make that decision for another woman. After all, she will have to live with her decisions, good and bad, like the rest of us.
Morality is not a democracy! (Matthew Kelly)
One of the realizations that came to me through healing was that it’s not just my beliefs or opinions here, but the universal laws of God – and what is morally good for me, is good for my brothers and sisters too. Anything that is not good for me, is not good for my brothers or sisters, either. Abortion hurts! It hurts a lot of people, and yet it is fiercely defended as a right. As I progressed through my formation program and actually read what the Church teaches about abortion, chastity, using contraceptives, and other issues like these, where we think the big bad Church is trying to take our freedom away from us with all its rules, I discovered that the teachings really made sense. My experience has been that through loving surrender and obedience to the laws God established, I have been set free! This is remarkable because it’s the opposite of what we think is true. We think that following rules is restrictive and limits our freedom, but only because the devil is telling us so. “God’s holding out on you……”
Through God’s healing love I have learned that I need to do my part to share the truth about these evils with others – through discernment and with love – because they’ve been duped too! There are eternal consequences to our choices, and it’s not charitable to watch someone ‘skipping and dancing’ down the road to perdition (indulging in destructive and selfish behaviors), and not do a thing to stop them. With all my heart I want heaven for everyone; even if it costs me in this life!
So, what is it about us that needs repair? When we sin, we lose sanctifying grace and damage our relationship with God. Less serious, or venial sins, do less damage than do serious, or mortal sins, which turn us away from God. Where do we find sanctifying grace? In the sacraments. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) defines sanctifying grace as:
“The grace which heals our human nature wounded by sin by giving us a share in the divine life of the Trinity. It is a habitual, supernatural gift which continues the work of sanctifying us – of making us “perfect”, holy, and Christlike.” (1999)
The word sacrament comes from sacramentum, which “…emphasizes the visible sign of the hidden reality…” (CCC 774) God knew we would have trouble with the supernatural part of our faith, and so He gave us the sacraments in visible form to remind us of the hidden reality which they represent. When we receive the sacraments frequently we are strengthened through grace (God’s action) and are better able to live as we should.
When we love someone, truly love them, we would never do anything to harm them or cause them sorrow or disappointment. It’s not in the nature of love to do this. Real love is demanding; real love is sacrificial; just look at a crucifix. God is perfect love, and He wants to share that with us; that’s what the “perfect” in, “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48), is all about. The saints weren’t perfect people, but they loved perfectly in many different ways; there are examples for each of us in the lives of the saints, and like the Bible, what they teach us is timeless.
Sadly, many souls have never experienced real love, what with the breakup of families today, and the casual way relationships are entered into and ended on a whim. If we’ve never experienced the natural love family members should have for one another, how much value can we place in a God that is love? If the only example of love a child ever gets is through an abusive and chaotic home life, how can they possibly see God as good? Yet God can heal even these.
One of the most beautiful parts of my formation was learning that, through prayer, when the time is right, we can go back to the most painful events in our lives and find Jesus there! Often crying for/with us, He will help us to forgive; He will teach us what we gained through the experience, He will lead us to pray for those responsible, and for those who are currently suffering similar trials.
The Holy Spirit is our internal guide, the Advocate that Jesus sent to “…guide you to all truth….” (John 16:13), and when we pay attention, we can discover an old friend dwelling deep in our hearts. The Holy Spirit does guide us, in dozens of ways….and each of us will know Him a little differently because He truly is our personal advocate; here to help us. We just need to listen, and for most of us that means being taught how to listen.
This is where faith formation and spiritual direction come in. Through the process of learning tried and true principles of the spiritual life and allowing God to form, or mold us, we begin to understand that the various ‘voices’ we hear internally may not be all ours. God may be speaking to us in these voices and so too, the devil. Underestimating the influence that the devil has in the physical world, and on each of us personally, is one of the biggest stumbling blocks I encountered on my faith journey. At first this was scary, but then I learned that the evil one can’t do anything without God allowing it. I didn’t need to be afraid of the devil, but needed to accept the fact that he is real, that he wants to prevent us from making it to heaven, and that he has many ways of distracting us from that objective.
In John 14:18 Jesus tells us: “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” God showed His great love for us through Jesus, and because in His humanity, He could not be everywhere at the same time, He had to leave, but He sent us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit truly does dwell in our hearts……and it is entirely possible to feel one’s heart ‘burn’ as described by the disciples on the road to Emmaus. As our internal guide, given at baptism and strengthened through the sacrament of confirmation, the Holy Spirit leads us, draws us, attracts us, to those good things that we need in order to be prepared for heaven.
I had not heard of the concept – or need – of being prepared for heaven until I was close to 50 years old. We all know the scriptures about being prepared because “He comes like a thief in the night……” but I had never taken the time to reflect on what that really means. We have the choice and the ability, to live our lives in such a way as to allow us to go straight to heaven when we die; completely bypassing purgatory!! In my upbringing purgatory was kind of assumed to be an automatic step prior to heaven. I was also led to believe that although we should use the saints as role models…..I was never going to be one! What is a saint? My confessor recently told me, “A saint is simply a soul in a state of grace.” St. Therese of Lisieux has some good advice about being prepared here: Teaching on Purgatory
One of my favorite songs from the Liturgy of the Hours includes the following words:
God has promised,
Christ preparees it,
There on high our welcome waits!
It’s the Holy Spirit working in us that inspires us to leave sin behind; it is He who consoles and strengthens us through trials and darkness, and it is He who encourages us and gladdens our hearts, even in the midst of difficulties. He strips us of our attachments, enables us to focus solely on Jesus, and, filling us with abundant love and consolation, leads us to our eternal home.
Love & prayers,
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