Armando

This is a story of hope for each one of us.

Armando is an amazing eight-year-old boy . . . .

Armando cannot walk or talk and is very small for his age.  He came to us from an orphanage where he had been abandoned.  He no longer wanted to eat because he no longer wanted to live cast off from his mother.  He was desperately thin and was dying of lack of food.  After a while in our community where he found people who held him, loved him, and wanted him to live, he gradually began to eat again and to develop in a remarkable way.  He still cannot walk or talk or eat by himself, his body is twisted and broken, and he has a severe mental disability, but when you pick him up, his eyes and his whole body quiver with joy and excitement and say: “I love you.”  He has a deep therapeutic influence on people. . . .

What [many people] do not always know is that they have a well deep inside of them.  If that well is tapped, springs of life and of tenderness flow forth.  It has to be revealed to each person that these waters are there and that they can rise up from each one of us and flow over people, giving them life and a new hope.

That is the power of Armando.  In some mysterious way, in all his brokenness, he reveals to us our own brokenness, our difficulties in loving, our barriers and hardness of heart.  If he is so broken and so hurt and yet is still such a source of life, then I too am allowed to look at my own brokenness, and to trust that I too can give life to others.  I do not have to pretend that I am better than others and that I have to win in all the competitions.  It’s O.K. to be myself, just as I am, in my uniqueness.  That, of course, is a very healing and liberating experience.  I am allowed to be myself, with all my psychological and physical wounds, with all my limitations but with all my gifts too.  And I can trust that I am loved just as I am, and that I too can love and grow.

(Jean Vanier)

When your enemy falls into your hands

Very apt advice always:

“When your enemy falls into your hands, do not consider how you can pay him back and let him feel the sharp edge of your tongue before sending him packing; consider rather how you can heal him and restore him to a better frame of mind.  Continue to make every effort both by word and deed until your gentleness has overcome his aggressiveness.  Nothing has more power than gentleness.  As someone has said: A soft word will break bones.  And what is harder than bone?  Well then, even if someone is as hard and inflexible as that, he will be conquered if you treat him gently.  There is another saying: A soft answer turns away wrath.  It is obvious, therefore, that whether your enemy continues to rage or whether he is reconciled depends much more on you than on him.  For it rests with us, not with those who are angry, either to destroy their anger or enflame it.”  (John Chrysostom)

You cannot be too gentle, too kind . . .

aa37e6a1860fcd5456dab7f05a3f6cc0

“You cannot be too gentle, too kind. Shun even to appear harsh in your treatment of each other. Joy, radiant joy, streams from the face of him who gives and kindles joy in the heart of him who receives. All condemnation is from the devil. Never condemn each other. We condemn others only because we shun knowing ourselves. When we gaze at our own failings, we see such a swamp that nothing in another can equal it. That is why we turn away, and make much of the faults of others.” ~ St. Seraphim

He makes them better by loving them

It’s midway through Lent.  You may be wanting to give up.  Here’s a reminder of what Lent is all about.  Read it for yourself . . . as well as for others.

Jesus loves as a pure gift, for the sake of nothing; he gives by taking the initiative, gratuitously . . . 

He makes others better by loving them.  Not only does he not accuse their mediocrity, although it is his full right to do so–infinitely more than we could–but he takes up their defense and gives his heart, his time, his trust.

Against Simon the Pharisee, Judas, and Martha, he defends Mary Magdalene, as he defended the Samaritan woman and Zacchaeus against public opinion or his Apostles.  He knew that if such people were weak, small, mediocre, it is precisely because they lacked the love to grow and because others did not love them enough.

What does our Lord do?  He calls forth, arouses, renews the best part in man, the part that is good and filled with hope and is always hidden in each and every person.  Because Christ loves, and shows his love in creating new and good things–and for no ulterior motive–everybody who meets him once again begins to believe, to have trust in God and in themselves.  His love is above all a pure, gratuitous gift, and in this way he manifests the Father and shows us that the first step in love is to be a source of life, and that only he who loves shares in the life of God.  “Experience has shown me too late that we cannot judge people by their vices, but on the contrary by what they hold intact and pure, by the childlike qualities that remain in them, however deeply one must search for them.” (George Bernanos)

Not only does Christ give, but he does so by making himself smaller than we are; at Christmas an infant, at the agony a beggar, and before the Samaritan woman, Zacchaeus, and Mary Magdalene, with the washing of the feet.  At every moment, Christ puts himself on a lower level than those he loves, accepts the fact that he needs them, not for the sake of some strategy or clever calculation, but to evoke in such people the best part of their being–their heart, their generosity–in order to make them capable of giving in their turn.

Fr. Bernard Bro

A kind twist

It’s time for Amy Carmichael:

“Sir Robert Ball, the astronomer, began when he was old to write the story of his life.  He made this rule for himself: ‘Try to give everything narrated a kind twist.'”

How would our lives look to us if we practiced doing that?

She goes on to say:

“Isn’t that such a beautiful rule?  Let us ask the Spirit of God to search us about this matter of giving a ‘kind twist’ to what others say and do.”

Pray for me, and I’ll pray for you.

Our high calling

Luke 6:28  Pray for those who abuse you.

In these days where we find ourselves unliked as Catholics for our stance on so many things, we would do well to heed Amy Carmichael’s advice regarding this Scripture passage–actually this is good advice regarding anyone we may find difficult:

Are there any who are making your burdens heavier than they need be?  Sometimes very small things can make our burdens feel heavier.  The temptation always is to resent this, and feel ruffled.

The Lord Jesus says to us, “Pray for those who compel you to carry burdens.”  Don’t talk about them to others, unless that talk will bear the scrutiny of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Don’t talk about them to yourself.  Look up to your Father for them.  Pray that their burden may be lightened.  (Perhaps they have some of which you know nothing.)  Pray, and as you pray, love will flow into your heart for them.

Loving with Mary

This morning as I woke up, I began thinking again about contemplating our Lord’s Passion with Mary.  I was immediately struck by the thought of how much of her time and love was spent through these difficult days in loving those that Christ loved.  Peter would surely have flown to her after his denial.  How lost John must have felt after his flight in the garden.  Mary Magdalen and Mary and Martha (and Lazarus) of Bethany would have faced their own devastation.  There was the bitter anger at Judas that pervaded them all.  And so on with all of them. But just as Jesus gave her to us through John at the Cross, so He would have been urging her in the same way (by His Spirit) to go out to those He loved so much.

Perhaps your Triduum will be filled with the demands of others and you would rather be focusing more “directly” upon our Lord.  Perhaps it is His Spirit urging you to go where His Mother is going.  In following her and loving whomever she is loving, you will in fact be loving our Lord who loves them more than you do.