“Live in peace and joy, my dear daughter. Our Lord looks at you and he looks at you with so much love and compassion; and the weaker you are, the more his love for you grows warm and tender. Never harbor thoughts which would go in reverse direction. If these thought come and pester you, pay no heed to them; turn your mind away from them and cling to God with a humility that is bold and courageous. Speak to him about his sacred and indescribable goodness which pours itself out on us, loving our small and week, poor and abject nature, despite all its infirmities.” (St. Francis de Sales)
You can find–and listen to–the latest talk from Witnesses to Hope by going here.
Jerry Sitter, in his outstanding book on loss, A Grace Disguised, writes about the sudden loss of his wife, his daughter, and his mother, all in one tragic car accident. We all suffer loss and Jerry writes so well about what is common to all of us in our losses. Here is one sampling:
Loss forces us to see the dominant role our environment plays in determining our happiness. Loss strips us of the props we rely on for our well-being. It knocks us off our feet and puts us on our backs. In the experience of loss, we come to the end of ourselves.
But in coming to the end of ourselves, we can also come to the beginning of a vital relationship with God. Our failures can lead us to grace and to a profound spiritual awakening. This process occurs frequently with those who suffer loss. It often begin when we face our own weaknesses and realize how much we take favorable circumstances for granted. When loss deprives us of those circumstances, our anger, depression, and ingratitude expose the true state of our souls, showing us how small we really are. We see that our identity is largely external, not internal.
Finally, we reach the point where we begin to search for a new life, one that depends less on circumstances and more on the depth of our souls. That, in turn, opens us to new ideas and perspectives, including spiritual ones. We feel the need for something beyond ourselves, and it begins to dawn o nus that reality may be more than we once thought it to be. We begin to perceive hints of the divine, and our longing grows. To our shock and bewilderment, we discover that there is a Being in the universe who, despite our brokenness and sin, loves us fiercely. In coming to the end ourselves, we have come to the beginning of our true and deepest selves. We have found the One whose love gives shape to our being.
Praying for you, that through whatever loss you are experiencing right now, that you might know the fierce love of God for you.
Advice from St. Francis de Sales that is always timely–and contains one of his best jewels:
“Persevere in overcoming yourself in the little everyday frustrations that bother you; let your best efforts be directed there. God wishes nothing else of you at present, so don’t waste time doing anything else. Don’t sow your desires in someone else’s garden; just cultivate your own as best you can; don’t long to be other than what you are, but desire to be thoroughly what you are. Direct your thoughts to being very good at that and to bearing the crosses, little or great, that you will find there. Believe me, this is the most important and the least understood point in the spiritual life. We all love what is according to our taste; few people like what is according to their duty or to God’s liking. (Letters of Spiritual Direction)
“Let God’s promises shine on your problems.” (Corrie ten Boom)
We all have times when our soul doesn’t want to sing. Here’s what to do–from Chiara Lubich.
When the soul doesn’t sing, then something is occupying it and this something should immediately be given to God.
The suffering could be brought on by external things (and these are more easily overcome by souls who want to love Love); the sufferings could be within us (scruples, doubts, melancholy, temptations, emptiness, homesickness).
They all need to be given to God.
The quicker the giving, the sooner love descends into our hearts.
“Nada te Turbe”–“Let nothing disturb you” (Teresa of Avila) sung by a virtual choir of Carmelites!
Translation of lyrics:
Let nothing disturb you
Let nothing disturb you,
let nothing frighten you,
but God stays.
Pacience reaches it all;
he who has God
God alone suffices.
Lift your thinking,
raise up to heaven,
let nothing anguish you,
let nothing disturb you.
Follow Jesus Christ
with an open heart,
and, no matter what may come,
let nothing frighten you.
See the glory of the world?
it is not everlasting,
Yearn for the celestial
that lasts forever:
faithful and rich in promisses,
God doesn’t change.
Love it the way it deserves
but there is not fine love
without the patience.
Confidence and alive faith
let the soul mantain,
that he who believes and hopes 1.
reaches it all.
Although harassed by hell
one may see himself,
he who has God
will defeat its rage.
God being your treasure,
you lack nothing.
Go, then, wordly goods
go, vain happiness;
even if everything is lost
God alone suffices.
Fr. Barron aptly describes God’s irrational love for us:
Jesus’ original audience must have been puzzled indeed when they heard one of the Lord’s better-known parables for the first time. “What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one . . . ” Well, they probably thought, precisely no man! Sheep were a precious commodity int he ancient world, and no shepherd worth his salt would willingly risk ninety-nine in order to find one. The Lord’s follow-up story would most likely have left them equally confused. “What woman having ten coins and losing one would not . . . sweep the house, searching carefully until she finds it? And when she does find it, she calls . . . he friends and neighbors and says . . . ‘Rejoice with me.'” The coin in quetion was of very little value, less than a penny. For that minuscule amount of money, she would turn her house upside down and then, upon discovering it, would call for a party? Her friends would think her mad.
And thus we come to the point. Jesus speaks of the God who loves us lavishly, extravagantly, exuberantly, even, dare I say it, irrationally. Think of the father of the Prodigal Son, who violates every canon of justice and right order when he welcomes back (with a party!) the child who had spurned him. One way to sum up the good news of the Gospel is to say, quite simply, that the Father of Jesus Christ is crazy about us.
Pointing you over to A Holy Experience today:
He points a finger at me, shakes it like a wand, like a prayer, like shaking me awake.
“I need to talk with you.”
Gordon’s on his tiptoes, looking for me through the lunch crowd, punctuating each word high in the air with his left pointer finger. “I’ve got a question for you.” He’s stabbing the air. I feel poked in the chest, pushed up against the back of my chair. I reach for water, something to wet a thick, scratchy throat.
A question? What kind of question? Why ask me a question? How can he ask anything of me — and think he’d get anything worthwhile?
I live in the curve of questions, sheltered under and arch of mystery, all my declarative periods couched with a questioning mark.
I know little and answers elude me and my world is wide expanses of wondering andseeking is the way I find my way. Gordon’s scanning to see if there’s an empty chair at my table.
He’s carrying his plate high, his lunch, a green salad, a pulled pork sandwich, baked beans. I lay down my fork, all those tines.
“But…” Can he hear me over this din? “I won’t have answers.”
You can read the rest here.