Help, my soul is cluttered!

With Lent fast approaching, here’s a favorite of mine from the archives….

clutter

I hate clutter.  I have it stashed in closets and spare drawers all around my house.  I tackle a pile whenever I have time, but somehow more always seems to accumulate.  One of the great goals of my life is to one day own nothing that I do not truly need, or do not enjoy for its beauty.

Today, I learned that there is a worse place to collect clutter than in your house.  It was during confession this afternoon that Father mentioned to me that we should all try to declutter our souls this Lent, because they are truly the house which God most cares about.  I immediately knew that God was answering my prayers about what I should concentrate on this Lent..

On the way back to my car, it occurred to me that tackling the piles of clutter in my house would be the perfect penance to join with my spiritual decluttering.  As I sort through clothes, photos, vacation mementos, stacks of greeting cards, religious articles which arrive in the mail (and I can’t bear to throw away), etc., I can meditate on the comparisons between household clutter and spiritual clutter.

When clutter is visible in my house, it detracts from the beauty and order of my home. A big stack of mail and catalogs on the kitchen counter is stressful to see. Clutter which I have stashed out of sight still disturbs my peace.  I know it’s there, waiting.  If guests are staying over, I sometimes dash off to the guest room to see if any clutter needs to be removed and reassigned.  🙂

And, there’s always forgotten clutter, like when you open a seldom used cabinet and find a stash of paper napkins and salt and peppers packets from long ago take-out dinners.

Do you ever move clutter from place to place?  I do.  It would be funny if it wasn’t so frustrating.

The bottom line is that no matter how clean my kitchen may be or how sparkling the bathrooms are, the memory of clutter somewhere else never allows me to truly feel like I have everything done and can totally relax.

And, what if I should die suddenly!  Oh my!  Someone else would have to go through all my stuff….maybe even my super clutter-free sister-in-law.  Gasp!

I see so many parallels here to what the clutter of petty faults, neglected duties, self-absorption, concern with the world, time wasted, etc., can wreak in our souls.

All of these things disquiet us, steal our peace and keep us distracted from God.  Just as it is more difficult to relax in a cluttered home, it is also much harder to be with God in solitude and silence in a soul which is littered with “stuff.”

Years ago I used to stop at a church to visit Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. This church had a golden tabernacle, but I was annoyed that it often seemed dusty on top. “How can they allow all of this dust to accumulate on Jesus’ house?”  I would complain to myself.

One day, God seemed to say to me, “I don’t mind that dust nearly as much as I mind the dust on your soul.”    Of course that was true!  I was worrying about dust that mattered little to God, when His Own dwelling place in my soul needed much more attention.

I am going to take an in-depth inventory of my soul this Lent.  I will ask God to show me where the most clutter is hiding, and I’m going to be sure to write it down so that I can remind myself often.  I am not talking so much about sin, but rather more of its underpinnings…those little habits and attractions and distractions which keep us less centered on God.

And, I will also make a list of clutter projects to tackle around the house for the next 40 days….the clutter I’ve been avoiding the longest.

I will ask the Immaculate One to help me with my project.  She, who is without the slightest stain, is the perfect one to clearly see where the overlooked dust and clutter reside in my soul.  I also think she will be happy to help me better organize things here at home.

Yes!  It is time to declutter!  Anyone else out there want to join me?  Spring cleaning for  houses and souls….not in that order!

In her spiritual classic, The Interior Castle, St. Teresa of Avila gives the description of a soul in the state of grace:

It is that we consider our soul to be like a castle made entirely out of a diamond or of very clear crystal, in which there are many rooms, just as in heaven there are many dwelling places.   …..We realize that the soul of the just person is nothing else but a paradise where the Lord says he finds his delight.  (Interior Castle, Chapter 1, no.1.)

I pray that this Easter, our Risen Jesus will  find in your soul…and mine too, a most pure and sparkling diamond in which to dwell!   May His Radiant Light shine clearly in and through us, and out to the whole world!

 

What will this Good Friday be like for Jesus?

holy-face3What will this Good Friday be like for Jesus?

We know that on that first Good Friday, He was mocked, beaten, tortured, nailed to a cross, and gave up His Life…after shedding every drop of His Precious Blood for our salvation.

Only a single apostle of the twelve remained with His Mother and the holy women, to witness His agonizing death.

But now, it is 2000 years later.  What will Good Friday be like for Jesus?  Will hundreds of millions of Catholics and other Christians fast and abstain?  Will our churches be crowded to overflowing with loving souls who have come to remember, to express gratitude for His Sacrifice, to receive Him adoringly in Holy Communion?

Was Jesus sustained in His suffering by the awareness that all He did would not be in vain?  When He Who is Love Itself freely handed over His entire Being to the torturers, was He comforted by the anticipation of all the love which would flow back to Him from myriads of souls in the ages to come?

Did He, Who so loved to call Himself the “Son of man,” clasp to His Sacred Heart the Divine dream that all men would accept the Infinite Mercy which flowed from His Wounds?

 What will this Good Friday really be like for Jesus?

On Palm Sunday, our priest told us that extra parking had been arranged with a school down the street for the overflow crowds at the Easter Sunday Masses.  Then he added wistfully, “Please try to attend some of the Easter Triduum services.  The church is always half empty.  Please come…”

Jesus is God.  He knew it would be so….even 2000 years ago.  Even as He suffered as no man has ever suffered, He saw the empty churches, the people celebrating with friends on their “holiday.”  He saw “spring break.”  He saw the indifference, the ingratitude, even the hateful blasphemies.

But He saw you too.  He saw you on your knees, waiting to reverence the wood of the Cross.  He saw you approaching to receive Him in Holy Communion.   You comforted Him.  Your love made all the difference.

And He knows you won’t forget about those who don’t understand yet.  He hasn’t given up on them either.  He won’t force them to accept Him, but He will accept your prayers on their behalf.  In the Divine Economy of Love, He gives us His hands to unbind.  Our love, prayers and sacrifices can merit graces which sweetly and mysteriously move hearts, while free will remains intact.

What will this Good Friday be like for Jesus?

The Savior of the world, burning up with Love, which is constantly rejected and trampled upon, sometimes pierces the veil between Heaven and earth to beg love from his creatures.

“Behold this Heart which has so loved men, but which is loved so little in return.”  He sadly revealed to St. Margaret Mary.

To St. Faustina, He brought extraordinary promises of Divine Mercy to anyone who calls upon Him.  “The flames of Mercy are burning Me….”

The Divine treasuries are empty now, it would seem.   What else do you give, when you have given Your Only Begotten Son, the Beloved Son in Whom You are well pleased?  What else do you do when You have watched Him being tortured to death by creatures who could not draw one breath without You?  What do You do when You have come over and over again to the Saints, begging that they tell the world of Your Love?

What will this Good Friday be like for Jesus?

Let us make it a day of consolation for Him.  Let us join our Blessed Mother at the Cross, and fall on our knees in adoration of her Divine Son.  Let us slake His thirst for Love with grateful remembrance of all that He suffered for our sake.  And let us tell Him what He most longs to hear:  Jesus, I love You!  Let us say it from the depths of our hearts, over and over again.  Jesus, I love You!

And, Jesus gives wondrous gifts to those who come to the Cross!  To His executioners, He gave forgiveness and begged His Father to pardon them.  To the good thief, He promised Paradise.  And to the faithful Apostle John, He entrusted His precious Mother.

He will not forget that we have come.  On our last day, as we lie upon our final cross, He will come to us.  He will hold us close and cover us with Love and Mercy.  He will receive our last breath, our last word of love, and carry us away to His Father’s Kingdom.

What are you (and I) doing this Good Friday?

(First posted March 27, 2013)

Come walk with Jesus…

Let us walk with Jesus on this Lenten journey.  He is, after all, the Way, and there is no other way to Eternal Life.

In the beginning was the Word and the Word  was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through Him, and without Him, nothing came to be. What came to be through Him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it.

And the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us, and we saw His glory, the glory of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-5, 14) NAB

jesus-looking-from-sky

I AM THE WAY AND THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE

Mother of Sorrows…..

Michelangelo's_Pieta_5450_cut_out_black

Mary, Mother of Sorrows, after all your had witnessed, after all the torture you had seen inflicted upon your Precious Son, they were not yet finished with Him.

Standing beneath His dead Body, you must have hoped that He would soon be taken down and laid in your arms so that you could tenderly wipe His Face and cover it with kisses mixed with tears.

But no, your agony had not yet ended. Even with His death, they were not finished ravaging His Sacred Body. A soldier thrust a lance into the very Heart of Your Son. Oh Mary, surely your whole body quivered in horror and how deeply you must have experienced those long ago words of the prophet Simeon, and a sword shall pierce your own heart…

PRAY FOR US O HOLY MOTHER OF GOD!

Learn from Me….

O THE HUMILITY OF JESUS WHO KNELT TO WASH THE FEET OF HIS APOSTLES –
HIS SACRED HEART AFLAME WITH LOVE AND JOY IN SERVING HIS OWN CREATURES!

Giovanni Stefano Danedi public domain

Giovanni Stefano Danedi
public domain

O my Jesus, when I look at You upon Your knees, how I despise my prideful heart. You are Love poured out, not a drop held back. How beautiful You are, my Jesus! It is no wonder that your Eternal Father let His praise ring out from the Heavens: This is My Beloved Son, in Him I am well pleased…

Jesus, Your Life is the Book I must study. Let me memorize Your every word and deed. All perfection is contained therein.

O Jesus, I believe that You cherished this night of Love which began with You on your knees washing feet like a slave, and ended with You on your knees, sweating Blood in Your Agony.

In the midst of it all, You gave us Your Greatest Gift, Your Own Body and Blood to become our Food and Drink, to sustain us for this journey here on earth. You gave us Your Real Presence, to dwell with us always. And You rejoiced to give away, Your very Flesh and Blood!

IS THIS NOT INFINITE LOVE?

Rescuing Lent……

THANK YOU to everyone who so kindly expressed thoughtful concern and promises of prayer upon the sudden illness and death of my sister. I will be forever grateful for your goodness and generosity. I hope to respond to each comment individually over the next day or two.

Below is a post about one of my “favorite” Lenten seasons. Each one is different, as you know. This one was shared with a friend. I call it my Lent of “flowers.”

How is your Lent going?  Are you keeping all of those penances and promises?

As I see the mid-point of Lent fast approaching, I realize that I have not been as faithful and consistent as I had hoped, with all of my Lenten resolutions.  In fact, I can only remember one Lent when I felt I made it to the finish line, keeping all of my promises.

I call it my Lenten Springtime, or the Lent of flowers.

About 15 years ago, I met someone who had recently returned to the Church after an absence of over 30 years.  He was very excited and on fire with his re-found faith, but was a bit intimidated by Lent, and had no idea what he might do for penance.  He wanted to choose something very difficult…almost to punish himself, it seemed, for his years away from the Lord.

So, I suggested that together, we offer an extra 1000 prayers and/or sacrifices to Jesus throughout the 40 days of Lent.  That meant a total of 25 offerings each day between us.  He was delighted with the idea of one thousand sacrifices, and we decided to express each offering by a flower of our own choosing.

Making an extra holy hour for example, could be a beautiful long-stemmed red rose, or a magnificent white orchid, while saying an extra decade of the rosary might earn a sunny yellow daffodil.

My friend and I soon became ingenious at collecting our daily tally…..we left food unsalted,went thirsty for an hour, took cool baths/showers, etc.  We scored gorgeous roses with sacrifices like holding our tongue when treated unjustly, or going out of our way to be nice to someone we didn’t especially like.

We thought up so many penances as well as good deeds to accomplish, that I’m quite sure our guardian angels must have gotten in on the fun.

Each night, we exchanged emails recording that day’s bounty of flowers.  As Easter approached, we were filled with joy, seeing that our goal was in sight.  We worked extra hard during Holy Week to be sure that we would not fall short at the last moment.

When Easter morning finally arrived, we printed out our very long list of well over one thousand flowers of all kinds, colors and fragrances.  With great joy and excitement, I received Jesus in Holy Communion, and presented to Him this lovely spiritual bouquet.

It was a simple Lent, a joyful Lent, a Lent shared with a friend recently renewed in his faith.  Yet, the prayers, the sacrifices and penances had all cost  us….but we hadn’t felt it so much, since our focus was on gathering the most beautiful flowers for Jesus.

Like every season of life, each Lent is different.  But that Lent seemed just about perfect to me.  In a way, it reminds me of Therese who as a little girl, liked to count her sacrifices on a string of beads.

Sometimes when attempting all of those grown-up, demanding and challenging Lenten practices seems to weigh us down, burden and discourage us, it might be a nudge from the Lord to return to the simple things of a child….like gathering flowers.

So if your Lent is in need of a bit of “rescuing,” there is still plenty of time to assemble a truly gorgeous bouquet.

But you can be sure that even if you can only manage a bunch of wildflowers, He Who numbers the very hairs of your head will receive them with the greatest Joy!  And one day in Heaven, you will see those very flowers, eternally fresh, fragrant and beautiful at the feet of Jesus.

(First published March 12, 2012)

Let us cover the Face of Jesus with kisses of love and repentance….

This is a re-visit of a poem shared in Lent, 2011. May we all do what we can to console Jesus during His Passion, in a world that has seemingly forgotten Him.

judas

(Picture taken at the entrance to the Holy Steps of Jerusalem, now in Rome, Italy)

Oh my Beloved!
You know the pain,
The pain of rejection —
Of wondrous love refused.
You do not discount my pain,
Though it is nothing beside Your Own.
Ah, this pain, does it not
Make me more like You,
My Jesus?

No heart ever loved like Yours,
Yet you were betrayed by
An intimate friend.
You laid down Your Life
For Your enemies.
Who can measure Your Love?

O my Adored God,
Let me fix my gaze upon you — unceasingly.
In Your Beautiful Face,
I will find strength to bear
My little crosses.
No one could ever betray me
Like You were betrayed.

I come to the Garden,
Running ahead of Judas.
I kiss Your cheek, wet with tears.
My kiss tells You of my love,
My trust, my desire to
Be faithful to You.
When the Betrayer comes,
Remember my poor kiss……

Meditating….on me!

JesusMary

I went to the Way of the Cross last night, but I had to apologize to the Lord for my attitude.

Until about two years ago, the nearby parish used a beautiful, scripturally based version of the Stations of the Cross.  The priest led the opening prayer for each station, and that was followed by a beautiful meditation from the Old Testament, and then a prayer addressed to Jesus, in which His Suffering along the Via Dolorosa was remembered.  Each station ended with the traditional Stabat Mater.

Then we got a new pastor.  He introduced a contemporary format of the Way of the Cross.  To put it quite simply: It is dreadful.  Instead of meditations on the Sufferings of Jesus, we are led to focus on a  lesson from the Life of Jesus as applied to our own lives.

For example, it is briefly mentioned that Jesus was cruelly treated, but the meditation is on how we treat others, and is followed by a prayer that we might be more charitable, etc.

This in itself is not a bad thing.  But somehow it does not draw me into thinking about all Our Lord suffered for me and my sins.  And, I really want to think about that.

I remember often being moved to tears when using our former Way of the Cross booklet.  Last night, instead, I was actually annoyed the entire time, and found myself not even wanting to pray along with the congregation, for the prayers were all about us, and I so wanted to think about Jesus.

Even the words of the beloved Stabat Mater were changed to be in keeping with the “me” theme.

My husband did not accompany me last night.  He stopped going two years ago, after about two weeks of the new Way of the Cross booklet.

I realize that a better person than I would have done their best to keep their eyes on Jesus no matter what.  I know that I could have offered up my dislike of these particular stations. But, I am so very tired of everything having to be about us, and so little about God. Couldn’t we at least focus on Jesus, and Jesus alone when commemorating His Passion?

And, I have noticed the dwindling numbers who now attend. The rich passages from the Old Testament which were used in our former booklet were such food for meditation, and anyone, at any stage of prayer or the spiritual life could have found meaning and beauty in them.

After last night, I realize that I must drive an hour to our parish in the city, and attend the Stations there next Friday. I know they will be about Jesus, and not you and me… and my husband will once again attend as well.

Does anyone else have this problem? What form of the Way of the Cross does your parish use?

My favorite will forever be my Catholic School booklet by St. Alphonsus Liguori, with the beautiful color pictures of Jesus.

I can still hear our hundreds of children’s voices echoing:  / I love You, Jesus, my love; / I repent of ever having offended You. / Never let me separate myself from You again. / Grant that I may love You always; and then do with me as You will.

Be with Me…….

 THOU SHALT NOT TAKE THE NAME OF THE LORD THY GOD IN VAIN  (Exodus 20:7)

agony

In a way, Lent began for me a day early….on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, the Tuesday on which Mardi Gras always falls, but which is also the Feast of the Holy Face of Jesus.

And I wrote a post about this Feast, which although dedicated to the Holy Face of Our Lord, is more focused on making reparation for the blasphemies committed against the ineffable Name of God.

And sadly, there are so many.  It occurred to me that reverence for His Name is so important to God that He used the second commandment to forbid any profanation of this Holy Name.  The only prohibition placed before this one was the forbidding of the worship of false gods.

This awareness has remained with me in a deep way since that Tuesday before the start of Lent.  How often do we hear God’s Name used in exclamation….and now famously as an abbreviation in text messages, Facebook and e-mails?  Yet, that is only the beginning, for there are so many who deliberately utter the Holy Name of God and the Precious Name of Jesus in blasphemous ways.

How this must pain the Heart of God, Who loves us so much.  So, in a tiny effort to make reparation, I have tried to say often the Name of God and of Jesus, with tenderness and utmost reverence. And when I do, I like to imagine that it is like a little kiss that I place on the cheek of my Father in Heaven.

As always, I wanted this Lent to be perfect.  And as usual, it has been far from that!  I am on my third round of medication for a virus I cannot shake, and the constantly changing weather has set my head to pounding with severe migraines.

So all those extra holy hours I was planning, together with daily Mass and extended prayer time have not yet come to fruition.

But, I have heard a little voice in my heart, and that little voice says:  Be with Me.

I have heard those words before, many times through the years.  Be with Me.  I even have them written across the top of a page in my bible.

This morning, I read the following from the Hymn at Morning Prayer:

Maker of all things, all Thy creatures praise Thee;
Lo, all things serve Thee through Thy whole creation:
Hear us, Almighty, hear us as we raise Thee
Heart’s adoration.

I read them and tears came to my eyes…because they are not true.  We are not all praising God.  In fact, I cannot remember a time in my life when God has been so little praised and so very much mocked and blasphemed.

If you have not heard about the most recent Saturday Night Live skit, you may want to Google it.  Suffice it to say that they made a mockery out of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of the Son of God.  I caught snippets of it on a news show, and most heart breaking of all was the laughter of the audience which could be clearly heard.

Be with Me.

Has Our Lord ever been lonelier?  Is this not the Agony all over again?

I find myself wondering how much longer God will put up with us.  Are we not crucifying Him again?

And so…I cannot keep many promises this Lent.  But I will try to keep these two:  to recall often His Most Holy and Blessed Name with all the praise I can stir in my heart.

And, to not leave Him alone….the One Who pleads:  Be with Me.

Yes, my Jesus, I will be with You.  Call to me, for I am weak and I will forget.  Remind me that nothing I have to do is more important than taking a few moments to comfort You.  Let me spend my Lent….and my life, just being with You in the silence of my poor heart.

(To register a protest against the Saturday Night Live “skit” you can contact them at this address:  For SNL, contact Jennifer Salke: jennifer.salke@nbcuni.com  — contact info provided by The Catholic League)

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Jesus entrusted to Sister Mary of St. Peter an act of praise and reparation which He called The Golden Arrow, saying that those who would recite this prayer would pierce His Heart delightfully, and heal those other wounds inflicted on Him by the malice of sinners. It is recommended to be prayed on the 33 beads of the Holy Face Chaplet (or rosary beads may be used.)

MAY THE MOST HOLY, MOST SACRED, MOST ADORABLE, MOST INCOMPREHENSIBLE AND UNUTTERABLE NAME OF GOD BE ALWAYS PRAISED, BLESSED, LOVED, ADORED AND GLORIFIED, IN HEAVEN, ON EARTH, AND UNDER THE EARTH, BY ALL THE CREATURES OF GOD, AND BY THE SACRED HEART OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST IN THE MOST HOLY SACRAMENT OF THE ALTAR. AMEN.

Worthy is the Lamb….

BEHOLD….Infinite Love, Divine Humility, Perfect Obedience!
How beautiful Jesus is in His Passion and His Death, the Greatest Act of Love the world will ever know.

He did not have to suffer like this, only one drop of His Precious Blood would have been enough to redeem countless worlds. But He chose to shed every drop of His Blood, that we may better know the extravagance of His Love for us.

Behold that Love!

Note: This video contains explicit footage from Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ.

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