Friday, June 24, 2011

God helps write the path of our life

People ask me how long it takes to write a column. It depends, really, on who is doing the writing. When I write it takes about a week. When God writes, it can be in as little as an hour. God usually writes the funny ones, and I tend to lean toward the more reflective ones. I’m not sure what that says, except that maybe God does indeed have a sense of humor.

Usually, if I just take a moment to ask, He gives me something to write. It’s when I deliberate back and forth on the columns I write, that it can be a very hard process. The truth is, God’s hand is in all of it.

I think it works that way in our lives as well. When we just ask God what His will is, or in which direction we should go, He will help us write the path of our life. It is when we try to go it alone that we really struggle. I must tell you, it is definitely much easier to work with God.

If you have put that part of your life on hold that is related to religion, I would encourage you to make the move toward God. Take that step out of your comfort zone and discover how truly amazing it is to live a life in Christ. Why not explore what other people have found to be so life-giving?

We all seem to live different degrees of faith. Some people are weekly Mass goers and that seems to be enough for them. Some are occasional attendees, and they think they’re doing pretty well. Others pray alone, outside of a faith community.

Then, there are those who seem to fully embrace everything God.

The important thing is to respond to God’s call, because He calls each of us. Then, once you have responded, go with it. See where he leads you. Be open to the possibilities.

It is not likely that God is calling any of us to a lukewarm faith. The barest minimum will not suffice if we hope to have a deep relationship with our Creator. It is a beautiful thing to love God and to experience His love for us.

What are you waiting for?


Friday, June 17, 2011

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta and pride

Speaking of the admiration of people, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta said, “It is true crucifixion.” (Come Be My Light)

She had been asked by Father van der Peet, a priest who knew her well, how she handled her celebrity. He said that she gave him various answers, but the most beautiful for him was an acknowledgement of the recognition of her nothingness. That God had given her a great grace in this awareness.

It may be difficult to understand how the admiration of others can be a crucifixion, but it is important to realize that this is not a false piety. When others give you credit, and your primary concern is giving glory to God, it is very easy to slip into pride. The problem of pride runs very deep and touches many facets of our life. It cannot be avoided—temptations are, and will continue to be, with us daily. The best we can do is pray for resistance to them and protection from them, because the trail they set us upon can lead us farther away from God. And that is the scary part.

From a gleeful moment of self-satisfaction it is a very short trip to pain. Blessed Teresa was fortunate to have the gift of conviction of her nothingness.

In Come Be My Light, she painfully understood that “The work is God’s work and not our work, that is why we must do it well. How often we spoil God’s work and try to get the glory for ourselves.”

“This possibility frightened her,” the author says, noting that “she prayed constantly to be protected from this presumption.” The awareness of her nothingness was her protection,” according to Father van der Peet.

Whenever our thoughts dwell on the goodness of our action, or whenever we internalize the praise we receive, very soon, we can be sure, self-adoration, or at the very least, self-absorption, will follow. This is, of course, the exact opposite of the model Jesus left his Apostles to follow. There is no room for self-righteousness in the plan of God in spreading his message of salvation for all.

To imagine that the possibility of this frightened Blessed Teresa, is to understand the great danger pride can be to our holiness and the success of evangelization. We would be wise to follow her lead and pray against it, because it does not lead to God, but a self-determined alienation from God.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Do you have the Attitude of a Servant?

In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus asks, “Who among you would say to your servant who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here immediately and take your place at table?’ Would he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat. Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink. You may eat and drink when I am finished’? Is he grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded? So should it be with you. When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.’” (Luke 17: 7-10)

At first read, this passage might sound a little heartless. Where’s the kindness and compassion toward the servant? But, when you delve deeper into the message, the implications of it being cold disappear under the profound message our Lord is conveying.

• First we notice that the servant is simply doing his work.
• Next we realize that the servant’s work wasn’t complete when he finished the plowing and sheep tending.
• And finally we can see that the servant was obliged to continue his work until the Master’s needs were fulfilled.

You may be wondering what this passage means for us. How can we relate to this at all? Well, it does, in fact, transcend time and is actually very applicable to us.

See yourself as God’s servant. Not in a slave-like manner, but under the aspect of loving service. Got doesn’t use us for utilitarian purposes, like little soldiers sent to carry out a task. No, we are called to the work we do in His name, and our response is one of joyful service rising out of our love for God.

So, then, no matter the work we do, the Attitude of the Servant that we should adopt is one in which we are not seeking praise, nor do we despair when humbled, because we are simply doing the work we have been called to do. We continue in our efforts because we love God, not for any self-seeking purpose.

In regards to the servant’s work not being done with the plowing and sheep tending, we understand in our own lives that we need to continue through to the end in the work we do for God. No half-finished job here. We don’t get to quit when we are tired, bored, or uninterested. Our work is work that must be continued until there is no more we can do. We will leave our aprons on throughout our entire life.

What is this work that we are called to do from our place in the Church?

The Gospel of John, Chapter 15: 13-17 states it quite clearly:

“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.”

We give of ourselves, and through our love for God, and the grace He gives, we witness to the Gospel and cooperate with him in helping others turn toward him. Ultimately, we love, and our lives reflect His love. When we do this with the heart of a servant, without any self-seeking, then we find joy in saying: ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.’”

What is God calling you to do?