Reflection 267: Justice or Mercy?

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It is proper to speak of both the Justice of God as well as His Mercy.  They are not opposed to each other.  His Justice will be dealt to those who refuse to repent just as it was dealt to the angels who refused to serve God.  But, for now, is it more proper to say that God is Merciful.  In fact, the evil one would love for us to become consumed with the idea that God is only Just and that He imposes His judgment upon us continually.  When this idea is accepted, it is hard to understand that God actually withholds His Justice as long as we are open to His Mercy.  Seek His Mercy, believe in it and run to it.  Do not doubt it for a moment.  Know that God offers it day and night and never tires of lavishing it upon you.  When you are faced with the fear that comes with facing His Justice, turn your eyes to His Mercy and you will be able to easily turn from all sin as you bask in the rays shining forth from His Heart (See Diary #1338).

Which of these two images of God do you reflect upon more often?  Are you frightened by God’s Justice?  Or are you consoled by His Mercy?  Both can be useful but never at the expense of the other.  We should never presume on God’s Mercy and we should never become fixated on His Justice without immediately remembering His Mercy.  Ponder His Mercy today more than anything and you will have no need to fear His Justice.  Let your heart experience His love and turn to Him with full confidence and trust.

Lord, I am aware that You are Just and will issue Your Justice upon me if I fail to turn to Your Mercy.  Therefore, I do turn to Your Mercy.  I seek it with all my heart.  I love You, Lord, and I desire to love You more.  Give me the grace to open my eyes to Your radiant Heart and to be open to all that You wish to bestow.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Novena to St. Thérèse, the Little Flower
September 22-30

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Featured Image above: Christ Weeping Over Jerusalem by Ary Scheffer, via Wikimedia Commons

Reflection 266: Discouragement in the Face of Sanctity

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Do you want to be a saint? Hopefully the answer is “Yes.”  But what about this question: Do you think you can become a saint?  This may be more difficult to answer.  It’s easy to dream of sanctity and to desire it, but when faced with the task of achieving it, discouragement can easily set in.  Discouragement comes when you see the high call of holiness and conclude that you will never be able to achieve it.  You may become fixated upon a certain fault and give up, thinking that you are destined to remain lukewarm and that’s it.  You may feel as though you are a nice person and that will have to suffice.  But God has great plans for you!  He not only calls you to be a saint, He knows you can become one.  The key is to allow His Mercy to become so clear to you that you begin to realize sanctity is possible.  Holiness, or sanctity, is not achieved because we are good; rather, it’s achieved because God is merciful and we have chosen to fix our gaze upon that Mercy.  Never doubt the truth that you are both called to be a saint and that you can become a saint (See Diary #1333).

Reflect upon these two questions today.  Do I want to become a saint and can this be achieved in my life?  Look for ways that you get discouraged at the thought of holiness.  Whatever it is that is causing discouragement in you is false.  It’s not the truth.  Let the Mercy of God appear before your eyes and realize that His Mercy is able to be received by you.  And when you are open to receiving the Mercy of God, you will begin your journey to true sanctity.

Lord, I do desire to become holy as a result of Your abundant Mercy.  Remove my struggles with discouragement and help me to have hope in Your power to change me.  I give myself to You, dear Lord, and I trust that You will make me a saint.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Novena to St. Thérèse, the Little Flower
September 22-30

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Featured Image above: Saint Kosmas And Saint Damianos, via needpix.com

Reflection 265: The Danger and Blessing of Passions

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God created us with passions.  These can be either great blessings in our Christian walk or they can become great snares.  It all depends on what controls each passion.  Passions of anger, for example, can either be used for good or ill.  When anger takes over and the source of this anger is a wound or lack of mercy toward another, then we become bound by this sin.  But holy anger is a gift from God in that the Lord may inspire us to be “fierce” in one act or another.  A parent protecting an innocent child from danger or the direct confrontation with evil may require a certain holy anger as a supporting force.  Sexual passions are the same way.  When they are used for marital union in accord with God’s design, they are holy.  When they are the source of adultery, self-gratification, or any other form of lust, they do us great damage.  Seek to be free from unruly passions and allow the Mercy of God to so consume them that these natural gifts are given over to the service of love and the Will of God (See Diary #1331).

Are your passions under the control of the powerful Mercy of God or do your passions control you?  This is an important question to honestly answer.  Passions, when they become strong and untamed, can be hard to control.  But when properly surrendered to God, they become a great motivating source of love.  Reflect honestly upon your struggle with your passions.  Know that God wants to turn them into a great blessing and a source of much mercy in your life.  Turn them over to Him, over and over, through prayer, fasting and Confession and the Lord will bring order and stability to these natural gifts.

Lord, I offer You my heart, my soul, my body, my mind and my passions.  Please bring order and stability to me in every way and use me as an instrument of Your holy and passionate Love.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Novena to St. Thérèse, the Little Flower
September 22-30

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Featured image above: Christ Cleansing the Temple by Bernardino Mei, viaThe J. Paul Getty Museum

Reflection 264: A Retreat With Jesus

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Have you ever made a retreat?  Some are privileged to take time away from the busyness of life so as to spend an extended time listening to our Lord and being in His merciful presence.  Others find it hard to find even a day to enter such a retreat.  Regardless of whether you have or have not had this opportunity, know that you need time alone with Jesus.  It is not possible to speak to Him only during your busy day and maintain a proper relationship with Him.  The depth of the relationship desired by Jesus requires time set aside solely for Him.  Seek these opportunities and do not neglect them.  It is through moments of extended prayer and reflection that life is clarified and the Will of God is made manifest (See Diary #1326-1327).

When is the last time you spent an extended amount of time alone with our Lord?  Perhaps it was only an hour in the chapel or in your room, or perhaps it was longer.  Think about how much time you give to Him.  We often can find plenty of time to watch a movie, go shopping, or engage in some other recreational activity.  The truth is that if we make time alone with our Lord a priority in life, it will happen.  We will find the time and our time with Him will be abundantly fruitful.  Ponder the level of priority that you give to these moments of quiet reflection with our Lord and recommit yourself to making them the most important part of your life.  If you do so, all else will fall into place as His Mercy is poured forth.

Lord, I desire to make You the number one priority in my life.  I desire to make time for You on a daily basis and to find an extended period of time for You regularly.  Help me to have the will to do this so that I may bask in Your presence and allow You to sort through the difficulties I face in life.  Jesus, I trust in You.

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Featured image above: Adoration Room of Francis Xavier Church

Reflection 263: God as Your Helmsman in the Storm

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Imagine being a small child on a small boat in the middle of the sea.  A storm sets in and you cannot see land in any direction.  You are tossed and turned in the waves as they cover the bow with each crash and you wonder how you will survive.  Now imagine that your dad is also on the boat with you.  He tells you to sit and hold on and that all will be well.  He is confident and in charge and shows no fear.  The confidence that your father exudes calms you and you trust that he will keep you safe.  This is an image of our lives.  When we face a crisis we must realize that we are but a child in the midst of the stormy sea in need of our Merciful Lord.  It would be foolish for a child to try to take charge of the boat.  It would also be foolish for us to try to direct our own lives.  We need the steady confidence of Jesus to put our hearts at rest.  The Lord must be your Helmsman whenever the waves begin to rise.  Do not doubt His ability to handle everything in life (See Diary #1322).

What do you do when the storms of life set in?  Do you panic?  Do you try to take control and handle things on your own?  Or do you turn your eyes to the strength and confidence of our Lord and let Him take control of the situation?  Turning to Jesus is not simply a matter of sitting back and doing nothing.  Rather, turning to Him in abandon is an act of the greatest trust.  That trust, when all seems chaotic and overwhelming, opens the door to His peace and keeps you safe and still no matter what comes your way.  Reflect upon the way you handle difficulties in life and make the conscious choice to turn to the Divine Helmsman to direct your life through the storm.

Lord, I turn to You in confidence and choose to put my full trust in You.  I know that You can handle all things and that Your love and care will keep me safe.  Increase my confidence in You, dear Lord, and help my heart to always remain at peace.  Jesus, I trust in You.

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Featured image above: Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee by Ludolf Bakhuizen

Reflection 262: The Rule of Love or Justice

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We cannot escape the Hand of God.  He is the one who sustains the Universe and keeps all things in being.  Without His constant care we would cease to exist.  But we remain under His providential Hand in one of two ways.  Either we are guided by the “rule of love” or by the “rule of justice.”  The rule of justice is God’s way of guiding our lives when we turn away from Him.  We cannot escape His justice here or at the time of death.  When we sin, especially in a serious way, we become slaves to our sin on account of the justice of God.  He leaves us to experience the imprisonment of sin on account of His great Mercy.  It is Mercy in that the ill effects of His justice are imposed so as to call us to repentance.  But those who live under the rule of love are blessed to live on a whole new level.  These holy souls bask in the Mercy of God and are freed from the effects of sin.  They experience the numerous fruits of the Spirit and act in accord with the holy Will of God (See Diary #1315).

Which rule do you live by?  Are you regularly falling from grace and encountering the justice of God in your life?  Or are you striving to live by His rule of love?  Wherever you find yourself today, know that it is a gift of God’s Mercy.  Allow His justice to redirect your life when you fall, and seek to embrace the full outpouring of His Mercy.  The Lord will never leave you, but it’s up to you how you will experience His Mercy.

My Lord, I desire to be filled with Your merciful presence in my life.  I pray that I will daily turn from my sin and experience the freedom and joy that comes from living by Your rule of love.  Help me, dear Lord, to always make the right choices in my life so as to be drawn into the abundant life You have in store for me.  Jesus, I trust in You.

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Reflection 261: Jesus Hidden in Others

Imagine if Jesus came to you in poverty, hunger and cold and He asked you to care for Him.  This experience might startle you and cause you to question if this person really was Jesus.  But it is Jesus.  Jesus comes to us every day in the person who is in need.  It may be that we encounter someone who is homeless, hungry and in need of clothing.  If this is the case then this is Jesus.  But there are many whom we encounter every day who have a different form of hunger and thirst.  Many are starving for love, understanding, compassion and attention.  They may present an exterior that is unwelcoming, but inside they are our Lord, seeking to receive mercy from your heart.  Do not hesitate to see our Lord present in every person you encounter.  Lavish the mercy of your heart on them, especially the most pitiable soul, and you will have lavished your love on Jesus Himself (See Diary #1312).

How do you treat the poor and the beggar?  Start by thinking about those with physical needs but move deeper to consider all those who carry other needs.  Think about the hard of heart, the sinner, the proud, the arrogant, the person filled with anger, etc.  Every person you call to mind is our Lord coming to you for a taste of the mercy of your heart.  Whatever you do to the least of these, you do to Christ.  Do you believe this?  If you do then this belief must have the practical consequences of you showing mercy to everyone, especially those whom you find most difficult to love.  Ponder this practical question today and make a commitment to seek out our Lord in the next “beggar” that you meet, no matter how undesirable they appear.

Lord, I love You and I realize that I must seek You out in each person I encounter.  Give me the eyes to see You and a heart to love You.  As I love You in others, dear Lord, allow the mercy in my heart to give you a sweet delight.  Jesus, I trust in You.

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Featured image above: Beggar with a Ukrainian Lyra  by Nikolay Svishchev-Paola, via  Wikimedia Commons

Reflection 260: The Enormity of Small Acts of Love

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Do you want to do amazing things in this world?  Do you sometimes have grandiose ideas and dreams?  Sometimes we have more secular dreams of wealth and fame, and sometimes we may have dreams of doing extraordinary things for God and for the Church.  But these do not have to be dreams because each and every one of us is called to extraordinary things.  The problem is that we often misunderstand what “extraordinary” is all about.  So what is it about?  It’s especially about doing small things with extraordinary love.  Every one of us can do this every day all day.  Our lives are filled with opportunities to do “small things.”  It may be cooking or cleaning, shuttling kids here or there, caring for the yard, completing tasks at work, or daily casual conversation with others.  Every one of these tasks offers us an opportunity to love with extraordinary love.  And if you do every small act with great love, then your love will be great and God will do extraordinary things through your life, bestowing His Mercy on many (See Diary #1310).

Think about the small things you have to do today.  How can you do these simple tasks with exceptional love?  Many things we do are done with distaste or indifference.  We can fail to see value in the small monotonous activities of our day.  This is a mistake.  Look for ways to do everything as an act of love and as an offering to God.  Be devout and intentional in each opportunity you have and your dreams of greatness will become a reality on account of the Mercy of God shining through your life.

Lord, I give to You, this day, every small act I perform.  Help me to find value and meaning in even the smallest service.  I pray that my love for You will increase in countless small ways so that I may be a holy instrument of Your abundant Mercy.  Jesus, I trust in You.

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Featured image above: Pieter il Giovane Bruegel’s art by  Pieter Brueghel the Younger, via Wikimedia Commons

Reflection 259: The Beauty of the Humble Soul

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What is it that makes someone beautiful?  More than anything else it is the virtue of humility.  Humility is exceptionally attractive.  Though some may not be that impressed with the humble soul at first, over time, humility will draw even the most arrogant and self-centered person to itself.  It’s hard to ignore the deep attractiveness of a humble soul because God is intimately present in that person.  In fact, it could almost be said that God would do anything that a humble soul asks.  It’s as if humility imposes an obligation upon God to bestow extraordinary graces through their lowly heart.  Humility is a complete self-emptying of oneself before God and others.  The result is that the person “disappears” and all that is left is God.  God shines through the humble more radiantly than the person filled with the greatest talents.  Humble yourself before God.  The lower you go, the more God shines through and the more His Mercy is bestowed (See Diary #1306).

Do you seek to be humble?  Or do you tend to exert yourself and make yourself the center of attention?  The irony is that, as the Scripture says, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted” (Lk. 14:11).  So many of the great saints are perfect examples of this in that their focus was love of God and love of others, but in the end these great saints were often lifted high for others to see.  Seek to be one of those great saints by humbling yourself this day.  Ponder humility and convince yourself of its value.  Through it the beauty and Mercy of God will shine forth.

Lord, I know I am full of pride at times and that pride keeps me from admitting this fact.  Please humble me and help me to lower myself before Your infinite majesty.  Give me the grace to seek you above all things and to give You all the glory and honor.  Jesus, I trust in You.

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Featured image above: The Pharisee and the publican by  Gustave Doré, via Wikimedia Commons

Reflection 258: The Closeness of God

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Where is God?  It’s easy to think of God being in Heaven or some far off place, looking down upon us and guiding all of creation in accord with His holy Will.  This is true, but it’s not the full picture.  God is perfectly “transcendent” in that He is way beyond us and beyond the created world.  But He is also perfectly “immanent” in that He lives within us.  When you pray, seek Him especially within your own soul.  Remember that when you receive Holy Communion, God makes your soul a tabernacle.  He enters in and remains within unless He is excluded on account of sin.  Seek His divine presence within your soul and you will discover the intimacy of His abundant Mercy (See Diary #1302).

Reflect upon the image of a tabernacle.  Within that sacred dwelling the full glory of God exists in veiled form.  But He is there, alive, radiant and glorious.  Now see your soul as this tabernacle.  See Him coming to you to make His dwelling within you.  God desires to fully live within you, making your heart the place of His gentle repose.  Spend time today seeking our Lord within.  Talk to Him, listen to Him, and commune with Him.  Let your heart become alive and radiant with His holy presence.  For within your heart is the presence of God.

Lord, I thank You for coming to me and making my heart Your dwelling place.  I thank You for Your perfect love and care and I pray that I may discover Your divine presence in my life more fully each and every day.  I am Yours, dear Lord, make my soul radiant with Your eternal glory.  Jesus, I trust in You.

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Featured image above: Holy Family Catholic Church (Columbus, Ohio), via Wikimedia Commons