Officer Patrick O’Rourke’s wife

Channel 7 Action News interview with the wife of West Bloomfield Police Officer Patrick O’Rourke who was killed on September 10, 2012 in the line of duty during a standoff between police and a barricaded gunman identified as Ricky Coley.

This is absolutely inspiring.  Let’s keep her and her children in prayer and pray for the grace to respond as well as she is during this tragic time in her life.

Interview with O’Rourke’s wife

You must not tremble

From a letter by Father John, a Russian monk, written to a lay person (1947):

I received your cordial note.  I was happy with your last words: ‘I am not troubled at all, but peaceful’.  According to the Holy Fathers, that is how it should be: if you falter in some virtue, you must not tremble; if you fall–get up; if you fall again, get up again; and so on till the final hour of death.  O Lord, glory to thy mercy.  Great is thy goodness, that Thou has given repentance to us sinners, for Thou didst come to earth not for the righteous, but for us sinner.

You did draw up pure water, but a toad had unexpectedly got into the well.  Throw it away and the life-giving water will still be pure.

“If we meet unkindness today . . .”

Lk 9.52-53 They went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for Him.  And they did not receive Him, because His face was set toward Jerusalem.

Lk 10.33  But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him.

Of all unkind things, one of the unkindest is to refuse to give a tired traveler a place to rest.  No Indian would do that. [Note: Amy Carmichael lived in India.]  But the Samaritans did it: They did not receive Him.

When anyone has been unkind to us, what do we feel inclined to do?  How do we feel inclined to speak of them?

A little while after this unkindness of the Samaritans, our Lord Jesus told a story about kindness, and of all the people of Palestine He chose a Samaritan as an illustration of true, tender kindness.

If we meet unkindness today, let us react as our dear Lord did.

~Amy Carmichael

weep and wait

As we approach Holy Week, here is a Sunday-poem by Luci Shaw that will, hopefully, prod us all to never let anything we do keep us from running to Him for mercy–and she is full aware that this often seems the harder path to take:

Judas, Peter

because we are all
betrayers, taking
silver and eating
body and blood and asking
(guilty) is it I and hearing
him say yes
it would be simple for us all
to rush out
and hang ourselves
but if we find grace
to weep and wait
after the voice of morning
has crowed in our ears
clearly enough
to break our hearts
he will be there
to ask us each again
do you love me

Forgiveness

I just added a book to the “What I’m recommending at the moment” tab above.  This is the second time I’m reading Philip Yancey’s What’s So Amazing About Grace.  I have benefited from many of his books.  This book is about forgiveness, full of stories and full of hope.  A book that gently cuts you to the heart.  Philip is never one to skirt around the difficult questions, and that’s why I appreciate him so much.  I may not always agree with him, but I admire his courage.

A couple of excerpts:

Charles Williams has said of the Lord’s Prayer, “No word in English carries a greater possibility of terror than the little word ‘as’ in that clause.” [“Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.”]

Henri Nouwen, who defines forgiveness as “love practiced among people who love poorly,” describes the process at work:

I have often said, “I forgive you,” but even as I said these words my heart remained angry or resentful.  I still wanted to hear the story that tells me that I was right after all; I still wanted to hear apologies and excuses; I still wanted the satisfaction of receiving some praise in return–if only the praise for being so forgiving!

But God’s forgiveness is unconditional; it comes from a heart that does not demand anything for itself, a heart that is completely empty of self-seeking.  It is this divine forgiveness that I have to practice in my daily life.  It calls me to keep stepping over all my arguments that say forgiveness is unwise, unhealthy, and impractical.  It challenges me to step over all my needs for gratitude and compliments.  Finally, it demands of me that I step over that wounded part of my heart that feels hurt and wronged and that wants to stay in control and put a few conditions between me and the one whom I am asked to forgive.

“Sure that he loves you still”

The next few days I would like to feed you some quotes from St. Francis de Sales, the great writer for lay folks.  This first one addresses those of us who are overly concerned about doing everything right (another word for pride :-):

Take great care not to get overly upset whenever you commit some faults.  Humble yourself immediately before God, but let this humility be a loving humility, which will fill you with fresh confidence to throw yourself immediately into God’s arms, secure in the knowledge that God, in his goodness, will help you to change for the better.  And so, whatever be the faults you commit and whenever you commit them, gentle ask God’s pardon and tell him that you are perfectly sure that he loves you still and that he will forgive you.  Always do this in a simple and gentle manner.

Carrying another’s burdens

I have been thinking a lot about forgiveness lately.  And, why, you might ask, would I post about forgiveness the day before Thanksgiving?  If you’re like me, you probably find yourself encountering all kinds of family-linked-emotions around Thanksgiving time . . . and, also if you’re like me, sometimes that means dealing with forgiveness of past or present hurts.  Anyway, this morning during Mass the picture below popped into my mind:  I first came across this picture in a commentary on Matthew by Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis (see Books to Read tab above).  I love this picture because Jesus and Symon of Cyrene look so alike.  It’s speaks to me so much of how much Christ took on our humanity, our likeness.  But what struck me this morning in Mass is how apt a portrait this is of forgiveness.  When we truly forgive someone, we decide, in our heart of hearts–despite however we may be feeling–to carry his/her burdens (cf. Gal 6.2).  We become Simon of Cyrene to them and to Christ in them.  We help them to carry their poverty . . . which has met us in our poverty. (That’s usually why there is a need for forgiveness.) Another beautiful aspect of the depiction above is that Christ and Simon have their arms wrapped around each other.  When we truly forgive we wrap our arms around Christ in the other person . . . and His are wrapped around us in return.

Maybe you’ve already had the grace to forgive, but you have trouble with the “forgetting” part.  (That’s where I get tripped up so often.) Again, we can decide to be Simon of Cyrene.  Every time that past hurt comes up, we can decide to continue to walk side by side with that person in our life.  It may be at a physical distance, but close-in-proximity in our hearts.   Of course, this all takes the grace of God, the mercy of God, and the sure knowledge of how many times He has been that Simon of Cyrene for us, carrying much, much more weight of the cross than we every deserve.  From the Office of Readings for today’s commemoration of the martyr, Andrew Dung-Lac: “Our Master bears the whole weight of the cross, leaving me only the tiniest, last bit” (from a letter of Saint Paul Le-Bao-Tinh sent to the students of the Seminary of Ke-Vinh in 1843).

Just a further thought: sometimes that “other” person in need of forgiveness is ourselves. . . .

Let us, this Thanksgiving, beg Him for this grace, this profound grace of forgiveness, so that we may encounter Christ in every person we need to forgive.  May you each have a very, very blessed Thanksgiving.  I thank God for each of you.

What does this love look like?

 

Thinking a little bit more about yesterday’s post and the importance of overcoming the world with God’s love. . .   I think the hardest expression of loving is forgiveness, don’t you?  Charles Williams, reflecting on the phrase from the Lord’s Prayer, “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us,” has this to say: “No word in English carries a greater possibility of terror than the little word ‘as’ in that clause.” God calls us to a high standard.  A dying man’s words are chosen carefully.  According to Luke, the words most prominent in Jesus’ mind and heart as He was dying were: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”  If you haven’t had a chance to read this article mentioned in a previous post, it’s worth the time.  This priest’s ability to forgive comes only from the Holy Spirit.  And God promises the same Spirit to us, as long as we ask.

Dying words

Give me your grace, good Lord . . . to think my greatest enemies my best friends.

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I am currently reading a book by Paul Thigpen called Last Words, Final Thoughts of Catholic Saints & Sinners.  I would like to consider today a statement made by St. Thomas More while he was awaiting his execution.  He was reflecting on the life of Joseph of the Old Testament and Joseph’s response to his brothers who had sold him into slavery.  As we know, Joseph saw all that had happened to him in the Providence of God.  More wrote this just before he died:

Joseph greets his brothers
Joseph greets his brothers

Give me your grace, good Lord . . . to think my greatest enemies my best friends; for the brothers of Joseph could never have done so much good with their love and favor as they did him with their malice and hatred.