Spread the Light of Love, not the darkness of division

Heavenly Father,

I am so sorry for my words last night.

We have friends visiting from out of town. They’ve been here now for several days and we’ve gotten all our catch-up conversation out of the way. As the evening wore on and our words became less guarded, the conversation turned to politics and our relationships with our respective relatives. As it did, the frustration I have felt with several of our kin just spilled out, raw and unguarded.

My husband and I stand pretty much alone in our family on most issues of our day. With next year’s presidential election, these issues are already heating up. Our family once again is coming face-to-face with the deep fault-lines in our respective world views. During less political times we manage mostly to ignore them or paper them over in attempts at family unity.

Facebook exacerbates the problem for us. It can be a terrible force for separation and division. People are less guarded there in their comments. One relative, in particular, feels driven to re-post others’ misguided, thoughtless, and ill-informed memes and opinions. As much as I would like to remain ‘above it all’, the endorsements quickly feel personal and alienating and divisive. Ugh. I understand why some go into convents and monasteries, taking vows of silence and severing contact with the outside world.

But, those were only the triggers. My poor judgment and incontinence of speech are more the problem here. I’m disappointed in myself and ashamed for allowing these distant postings to drive my own behavior. In doing so, I’ve hurt You, gracious Lord, and been a poor example of what it means to be one of Your chosen ones. None of us, last night, was blessed by my comments, and this morning, I am more frustrated and angry after giving voice to my frustration than I was before. Not because what I said was untrue, but because I surrendered to the temptation of…what?…whatever sin this would be. Gossip? Not really. Bearing false witness against one’s neighbor? Not really, because it was all true. So what is the sin? Submitting to the luxury of venting in a safe space? Maybe. If nothing else just talking too darn much!!

So, I apologize, Father, and beg Your forgiveness. And I’ll go to confession and ask for Your absolution and You, in Your grace and love for me, will forgive me and wash me clean once again. And I will try to be better.

But I need Your help, Holy Lord, to overcome whatever this is that causes me to lash out about people and issues that frustrate me. Help me not only to control my words and my emotions and my behavior better, but if there is better way to address these concerns and to deal with them (writing here, maybe?), please direct my action to Your purposes and Your service.

Reaching out to change the minds and hearts of the particular person (people) involved have only made relations worse in the past and would likely result in a full severing of communication. So I pray Father that You take these concerns, and bless them with Your grace and love. Help me to be more detached from ignorant, hurtful words and actions, and more focused on You, who are my first love. These situations make me realize how often I fail You, fail to be that person You intended me to be.

You created me and called me to help carry Your light out into the world. All I seemed to be spreading last night was the darkness of division.

I am sorry, Lord. Please forgive me.

All my day is Yours, Lord…But this time right now, when I am able to write with You without fear of interruption

My dear sweet Lord,

All of my day is Yours for You to do with as You wish, according to Your will. At my best all my time begins and ends with You — seeking to serve You better, being the person You created me to be, learning to discern Your will for me, sharing Your Light as I go about my daily responsibilities.

I am only ever able to be anywhere, do anything as a result of Your grace, Holy Father.

But this time right now, when I am able to write to You without fear of being interrupted, when I can focus on our conversation and lose myself in Your Way is most precious. I pray You bless this time to Your purpose. Draw me closer and closer to Your perfect heart. In Your good time, I pray You’ll prepare me for greater and greater holiness.

Your words — the words You give me here as I transcribe them — fill me with such wonder. Every so often they let me glimpse, just for a brief moment, the woman You created me to be, the woman I know You love so very much. And for just that brief moment, I come to love her too.

Capturing these words — these thoughts and images that You share with me — are rather like lines in a sketch, where the artist must ‘feather’ in images, defining and refining the light as it glows through the shadows.

So, too, for Your words here. I don’t always capture them just right the first time, do I, Father. Instead, when I’m seeking Your voice and Your grace through my writing, I have to ‘feather’ the words and images, which You place in my heart. Often Your Light is revealed only as I fumble for a while with darkness and shadow.

And then, as if by some miracle of Your grace, there, hidden in some unsuspected phrase, I’ll be surprised by a beautifully constructed thought, or be blessed by the goodness of Your mercy or understand more deeply a new, yet foundational truth, which insight could only have come from You.

Glory to You, my precious Lord, for this time alone together.

All of my day is Yours

My dear sweet Lord,

All of my day is Yours for You to do with as You wish, according to Your will. At my best all my time begins and ends with You — seeking to serve You better, being the person You created me to be, learning to discern Your will for me, sharing Your Light as I go about my daily responsibilities.

I am only ever able to be anywhere, do anything as a result of Your grace, Holy Father.

But this time right now, when I am able to write to You without fear of being interrupted, when I can focus on our conversation and lose myself in Your Way is most precious. I pray You bless this time to Your purpose. Draw me closer and closer to Your perfect heart. In Your good time, I pray You’ll prepare me for greater and greater holiness.

Your words — the words You give me here as I transcribe them — fill me with such wonder. Every so often they let me glimpse, just for a brief moment, the woman You created me to be, the woman I know You love so very much. And for just that brief moment, I come to love her too.

Capturing these words — these thoughts and images that You share with me — are rather like lines in a sketch, where the artist must ‘feather’ in images, defining and refining the light as it glows through the shadows.

So, too, for Your words here. I don’t always capture them just right the first time, do I, Father. Instead, when I’m seeking Your voice and Your grace through my writing, I have to ‘feather’ the words and images, which You place in my heart. Often Your Light is revealed only as I fumble for a while with darkness and shadow.

And then, as if by some miracle of Your grace, there, hidden in some unsuspected phrase, I’ll be surprised by a beautifully constructed thought, or be blessed by the goodness of Your mercy or understand more deeply a new, yet foundational truth, which insight could only have come from You.

Glory to You, my precious Lord, for this time alone together.

Who am I?

She cried out to me,

“Tell me who am I?”

Who are you, my daughter?

You are many things …
And yet,

Nothing at all,
until to give yourself away
to each of these things

You are your parent’s daughter
Your sister’s sister
You are friend to a friend
Spouse to your spouse
Mother to your children

You are a protector of small things
And a lover of sweet memories

You are the hands and ears and voice and
Heart of our Lord here on earth,

And at Your very best, my child,
You are a child of God and
A slave to His will.

On evangelization

Dear Holy Father,

I was listening to Bishop Barron on evangelization this morning as I walked at the gym. He emphasized how we are all called to evangelize and went ahead to define some of the parameters of how and when and with whom.

You have tried to lead me on this in the past. I don’t know if I’m just thick or whether You’re not ready for me to venture out in the ways I have attempted, but I continue to feel a fair bit of confusion about the how and when and with whom aspects of it all.

I feel pretty certain that You have taught me that ‘I can’t show what I don’t know.” That I need my own training first before I can speak confidently about Christ.

And I feel like I have tried to demonstrate my love for You by my actions and what it is I spend my time and talent and treasure on, by how I live my life. So far, so good. But it feels there is more that I could do, should do to engage others and encourage their query about how You might fit into their lives.

Several instances come to mind of when I have stepped out with the tiniest of little toes to test the shallowest of waters of others’ receptivity.

Relatives

My sister, in particular, responded to me in a recent conversation saying, ‘I wish you wouldn’t talk that way. I don’t know how to talk with you when you talk like that.’ I don’t remember precisely what we were talking about, but it had something to with my faith experience. That time and a couple of others she’s made it clear that she doesn’t want to engage with me on the subject of faith. I haven’t told her yet that by saying this, she’s preempted from our relationship the most important part of my life and who I am. I probably will at some point, but it has so far seemed a hard message to deliver (for me) without seeming accusatory.

I thought about a homily from Bishop Barron that I’ve heard recently on how to speak about our faith. His suggestion is to lead with beauty and that goodness and truth … maybe even unity will follow. I have yet to understand what this means for me or how to apply this in my own speech.

Close Friends and Family

For reasons that You and I have discussed before, Father, I have begun to wear a chapel veil whenever I’m in church in Your presence. It feels right. It has an almost healing effect. It helps me to feel more humble, to act and think with greater humility and charity, to remember to continually put my ego away, to be hidden, to focus all my attention on You, to allow Your word, Your spirit to find a more welcoming home in me.

As would happen, we attended church with friends and I wore my veil. It was noticed. But it quickly became obvious that it was not a topic either of them were comfortable mentioning or asking me about. You intervened and gave me an opportunity to broach the subject with the other wife while our husbands were off somewhere. She was polite, but showed little curiosity about this most important, sweetest part of my life. So there was no further chance to discuss these small ways that I am being drawn closer and closer to You. It often causes me to feel disconnected and detached from people who have been some of my closest friends over the years.

Several months later: Maybe the veil and other ways I demonstrate my love for You are just seeds planted and the rest is up to You. Wanting to continue to not only have a role of some sort in others’ growth in their relationship with You, but to be somehow credited for it, is just my ego getting in the way of Your purpose. If feeling alienated or divided from others is an outcome of sin, then the sin in this case must be my own egotistical need for power and influence. Instead, I should be thankful for the opportunity You gave me to share my faith and leave the rest to You. Thank you, Father.

Others

Several years ago when You first engulfed me with Your overwhelming love for me, I began a blogging website. I practiced it for a couple of years. But my energy for it dried up. I’ve since been certain that I had allowed this work to become more about me and not nearly enough about You in my life.

Now, today, several years hence, I’m still sorting how to You want me to proceed. Starting and stopping doesn’t feel right. One of the lessons I feel You have been trying to teach me, Holy Father, throughout the years is if I’m confused or lack clarity of Your purpose, it’s probably not time yet to venture out.

So, heavenly Father, I pray that You help convict my spirit for how to move forward. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

——————————
Two months later:

Hallelujah. Thank you, Father,

You answered this prayer at last night’s vigil service. Our priest, in persona Christi, spoke of how we are called to evangelize and to spread the good news. It felt as though he was speaking directly to me when he spoke of the new technology You have given to the world. Through the internet we all have an immense opportunity to reach people far flung throughout the world. He said we might not ever know who benefits from our work or our words. Their effect may not even be felt until long after we’re gone from this earth. He said it was a holy calling, just as You have been trying to say to me here. He spoke to me — You spoke to me — loudly and clearly.

And I sat there transfixed. I’ve heard it all before, of course, but this time it clicked. I knew it was You speaking personally, directly to me, answering my prayers for spiritual direction and clarity.

Thank you Father.

You can’t teach what you don’t know, Can’t lead where you won’t go

My gracious Lord,

You were so close…You felt so close…throughout our Lent this year. It was truly a holy Lent, and I give thanks for it. I’ve wanted to hold on to the feelings of consolation that I felt. But that’s not how this works.

Life intervenes once again, demanding my attention for tasks I postponed during Lent. I am both relieved to “get back to normal” and missing that special focused time with You. Maintaining that level of focus requires an aestheticism that I don’t feel called to, and yet…am I not?

The zeal for writing here, for allowing my complete focus to be on You, my voice lifted only to You is a tricky thing. I still fall far too easily into writing about me, rather than to You. And yet, I sense Your hand guiding me to keep trying, to continually return to You as my only audience. I felt Your desire for me to write with this great unknowingness, with this complete lack of presumption for Your purpose, this trust that You’re here with me…I felt Your desire for me to learn Your desire for me, to allow myself to trust, to submit, to fall into Your waiting arms. So be it.

As I write, then, I open my heart to Your word for me and leave to You their purpose.

I have to say there are times as I begin, that it seems like I’m talking to myself, but I pray, oh Holy Father, that You give me the grace — that most undeserved, but most precious gift — to hear and to write with Your words.


I had occasion to spend time with people whom You have placed on my path — new friends from church, neighbors, family.

My prayers for our daughter and her fiance and their plans for marriage, seem to be bearing fruit.

I didn’t know what to ask, Father, for them, except that You move their hearts to include You in their wedding plans. That You help both of them to see beyond the party of the wedding, to include their shared love of You in their planning.

I think they intend to, but their unspoken intentions are easy to lose sight of. I pray that You continue to work on their hearts and help them to lean on You. As they grow closer and more trusting in one another, I pray that You help them grow in their trust in You.

Any lack of faith or loving sentiment for You in our daughter’s life is most certainly my fault. I tried to place her in environments where she would learn about You from others more able to show her the way. As I have tried to describe in other places — we can’t teach what we don’t know; we can’t lead where we won’t go. I have not been perfect, or even very good, when it comes to my understanding as she was growing up. Neither my words or my life experience to that point were very helpful. I’ve often thought I exposed her to just enough religious upbringing to inoculate her from the true church. Still, she has a sweet and loving and just heart. She loves You and she knows You love her. Strengthen her in her faith, Father. Nurture those little seeds that I know You have planted in her, and help both her and her fiance to grow strong in their love for You.


Our neighbors invited us to a small, last minute gathering for dinner. And we were invited to an Easter gathering of new friends from church including two Dominican nuns. The differences between the two groups were striking.

With folks from church I probably spoke too much (something I hope You’ll continue to help me overcome). With our neighbors I felt almost muted with no strong desire to use my voice at all. There was a familiar sense of long-ago times when I didn’t know what to say or how to act in groups, feelings that were always accompanied by the discomfort of not fitting in even as I knew I didn’t much want to fit in.

This most recent experience didn’t have this particular discomfort, so much as there was a certainty that I don’t have much in common with them and didn’t wish to spend much time there. I’ve been praying pretty regularly for our hosts who are both fallen-away Catholics. Maybe You have more to show me with them as time goes by, but I’ll wait to follow Your lead, if it’s something You feel strongly about me participating in.

Our older daughter and her son continue too as sources of interior conflict and sadness. She periodically shuts us out of her life — literally: not keeping appointments; avoiding calls and messages, even when we said we were worried and intended to call the police if we didn’t hear from her. When we did call the police to ask that they check on her, she became very angry with us and hasn’t communicated since. I vacillate between feeling as though we are doing everything we can — we pray for her multiple times daily, give money and time and counsel and sympathy — to little effect. And feeling as though she may not be fully in control of her situation due to possible addictions, trauma at birth affecting her in ways we don’t understand. Yet, even if all those things are true, how does it help? Sympathy and love are already part of our automatic responses. Frustration and giving up and letting go are there too…praying You, Father, will have mercy on them and lead them to people or resources that will help them find their way to You. What else can we do? At 42 years old she was beyond our control and even our influence long ago…but maybe not beyond our prayers. I pray so.

So I bring all these concerns to You, Holy Father, as we move forward from this year’s Lent. Please look kindly on us, accept our gratitude for all Your consolations during Lent and throughout our lives, and take these sadnesses and concerns into Your holy care. If there are ways that You want me to walk, people You want me to seek out, to care for, please let me know. For now, this writing You’ve asked me to do blesses me. It allows me to feel Your touch, to hear Your words for me. Maybe for others, too? As Thomas Merton said, ‘I don’t know if my actions are pleasing to You, but I hope that my desire that they are pleasing to You, does in fact please You.

I pray that You continue to help me empty myself of myself, so that more and more Your light may shine through me to others. Help me ‘to give what You ask, and to accept what You give, with Joy and and big smile,’ as Sister St. Teresa of Calcutta used to pray.

I love you Holy Father and Your son, Jesus Christ, and pray that together with Your Holy Spirit, You three will continue to bless me and keep me, and those loving ones about me, in Your care.

I ask these things in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

I died to myself

Oh my heavenly Lord,

I walked alone surrounded by demons and snakes
And You protected me.

I turned to You in fear
And you showed me your presence.

I called to You in my misery
And You heard me.

I cried out in sorrow
And You comforted me.

I searched for You
And You showed me Your way.

I called Your name
And You embraced me.

I rejoiced in Your presence
And You fed me.

I died to myself
And You took me to be Your own.

Hallelujah

Calling me

Holy Spirit, I’m drawn once again to online expression. To share with others my personal conversations with You and my Holy Father, who created me and who loves me and who yearns to be part of my life. 

It’s odd how intimidating communication can be if it has been left too long dormant. How to start again an old conversation; how to catch up? Best not to let this ground lay fallow for so long. So I will just begin where I am and leave blank, for now, the intervening time from my last visit.

Putting my prayers — my conversations with You, Holy Lord — on paper to reconsider in light of different events or to savor at a later time or to share seems always to have lasting grace.

I pray, heavenly Father, as we get going here again in this place that You guide my thoughts and my words…and my hands, as it happens…to those purposes that You have for me and this work. 

In Christ’s name I pray that You help me to empty myself of myself, so Your light is able to shine through my writing. Help me to seek not personal recognition, but rather to be a vessel for You and Your purposes. 

I pray that these conversations with You, these intimate words between You and me might bless others as You continually bless me. 

Amen

The Fullness of Spirit

Such wisdom in this post…I felt moved to share it. Thank you Bernadette!

somebodylovesmeblog

For a few years now I have been feeling something that I could not put my finger on, or explain to myself or anyone else.  Experiencing my mom’s last few days with her, before her death, intensified that mystical feeling within me.  Those days with my mother, truly a blessing, could only be described as overwhelming, intense love; a fullness in the physical space around me, spilling over into the interior of my heart and spirit.

That is the word to describe the feeling…fullness.  Since I have become closer to Jesus, and filled with the Holy Spirit, my being feels more dimensional and “full.”  No matter what is happening in the world, or around me in my personal life, that fullness inside me helps to keep me grounded in The Truth.  It helps me to look past whatever the physical or material reality is, and try to look at things…

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Focus on Love

As we begin our final march toward Calvary, I pray each of you have enjoyed a fruitful Lent. I began reading the Word Among Us earlier in the year. It provides the daily readings and accompanying meditations for U.S. Catholic Mass.

One meditation instructed that we should ‘focus on Jesus on the cross and imagine the LOVE that put Him there.’

As I read this, I realized that I always focus on all the sin that put Him on the cross, and maybe most especially, on my sin that added to His pain and suffering.

It feels entirely different to consider too the love — His love — with which He sacrificed Himself and forgave us.

Meditating on His love builds to my sense of sorrow and penitence, adding an even stronger sense of humility. I found with that humility I experienced a growing desire to allow His love to fill me so full that through His grace it will just spill over and pour out upon all I meet.

Blessings on you and yours this Easter. I pray that your journey brings you closer to Him and His peace.