“Some believe that faith and salvation come with our effort to look for, to seek the Lord. Whereas, it’s the opposite: you are saved when the Lord looks for you, when He looks at you and you let yourself be looked at and sought for. The Lord will look for you first. And when you find him, you understand that he was waiting there looking at you. He was expecting you from beforehand.
“This is salvation. And you let yourself be loved. Salvation is precisely this meeting where he works first. If this meeting does not take place, we are not saved.”
If you’re like me, one of the things that you battle–especially during a season like Lent–is discouragement. You just keep failing at whatever. Fr. Jacques Philippe, as always, has something encouraging to say, something doable.
The real spiritual battle, rather than the pursuit of invincibility or some other absolute infallibility beyond our capacity, consists principally in learning, without becoming too discouraged, to accept falling occasionally and not to lose our peace of heart if we should happen to do so lamentably, not to become excessively sad regarding our defeats and to know how to rebound from our falls to an even higher level. This is always possible, but on the condition that we not panic and that we continue to maintain our peace.
One could, then, with reason, enunciate this principle: The first goal of spiritual combat, that toward which our efforts must above all else be directed, is not to always obtain a victory (over our temptations, our weaknesses, etc.), rather it is to learn to maintain peace of heart under all circumstances, even in the case of defeat. It is only in this way that we can pursue the other goal, which is the elimination of our failures, our faults, our imperfections and sins. This is ultimately the victory that we must want and desire, knowing, however, that it is not by our own strength that we will obtain it and, therefore, not pretending that we can obtain it immediately. It is uniquely the grace of God that will obtain the victory for us, whose grace will be the more efficacious and rapid, the more we place maintaining our interior peace and sense of confident abandonment in the hands of our Father in heaven.
I just started reading Pope Francis’ book, The Name of God is Mercy, and I’m already hooked. Here’s a little bit from the “To the Reader” section by the editor, Andrea Tornielli. He’s describing Pope Francis’ comments on part of the first draft.
“We discussed the difficulties of acknowledging ourselves as sinners, and in the first draft, I wrote that Francis asserted, ‘The medicine is there, the healing is there–if only we take a small step toward God.’ After reading the text, he called me and asked me to add ‘or even just the desire to take that step.’ It was a phrase that I had clumsily left out of my summary. This addition, or rather, the proper restoration of the complete text, reveals the vast heart of the shepherd who seeks to align himself with the merciful hear of God and leaves nothing untried in reaching out to sinners. He overlooks no possibility, no matter how small, in attempting to give the gift of forgiveness. God awaits us with open arms; we need only take a step toward him like the Prodigal Son. But if, weak as we are, we don’t have the strength to take that step, just the desire to take it is enough. It’s already enough of a start for grace to work and mercy to be granted in accordance with the experience of a Church that does not see itself as a customs office but as an agent that seeks out every single possible way to forgive.”
This is so important to know and remember.
A Year in the Word: God Loves You. Remember That!
The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior; he will rejoice over you with gladness and renew you in his love. He will sing joyfully because of you.
So humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you.
—1 Peter 5:6-7
More than anything in the world, I wish I could convince people that God loves them. It’s the reason I’m a missionary, the heart of every talk I give, the subtext of every chat I have with a small child: I want every person I meet to have a sense of the passionate, all-consuming love of God that I’ve had some small taste of.
As Christians, we hear that message over and again, but it’s been castrated, whitewashed and ground down until it means nothing. “God likes you,” or perhaps, “God is mildly fond of you.” Love has become some vague sense of approval instead of the stern-as-death, burn-away-your-sins, wild rejoicing love Scripture tells us of. And “God is friendly” doesn’t change lives. It doesn’t heal broken hearts or pull addicts from the miry pit or give anyone a reason to wake up in the morning. It doesn’t make saints.
So if there’s one thing I want us to come away with at the end of the Year in the Word, it’s a conviction that we are deeply, powerfully loved in a way that has to change our lives. There isn’t much you find more often in Scripture than this and many of my favorite verses (Isaiah 49:13–16; Isaiah 62:4–5; Song of Songs 4:7; Romans 5:8; Isaiah 54:10–11 to name a few) are just God finding yet another way to tell your heart how inestimably precious it is to him.
You read the rest here.
In this Year of Mercy, it is important for you to remember that the Shepherd is looking for you, not just everyone else. We are all, in some sense of another, lost sheep. Let Him find you.
“The Gospel tells us that the Lord went in search of the lost sheep. How are we to understand this search? . . . Now if anybody seeks anything earnestly, it is not in one little corner only, but in every corner and place till he finds it. And so God seeks you–let him find you everywhere he may look, in all circumstances of your life. Whatever shame comes on you, know that that is the place in which God is looking for a gentle and meek soul; therefore suffer yourself to be constantly trodden underfoot until you have well learned your lesson of meekness.
“God is looking for a poor man; therefore if anyone will take from you your money, your property, or your friends, let him do so, that you may be found poor by God, who is looking for you in just such a state. . . . Whatever happens to you from friends or from foes, nay from your very mother or sister–no matter how it comes or from whom, all whatsoever that comes to you prepares you for God’s searching and finding.” (John Tauler)