Wednesday, June 30, 2010

God who is so near

I'm not sure where I'm going with this post. This morning's reading from Medjugorje Day By Day struck me so hard, it's been burning inside me all day. I'm just going to put it up and maybe comment after. Here it is:
June 30
The miraculous
Concerning the miracle of a fire that several hundred people saw burning on Mt. Podbrdo, but which did not consume anything, the Gospa said:

The fire seen by the faithful was miraculous. It is one of
the signs-a forerunner of the great sign (FY 10-28-81).

In the Gospel of Luke, we see the miraculous healing of a crippled woman:
Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And
just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her
for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand
up straight. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said,
"Woman, you are set free from your ailment." When he laid his
hands on her, immediately she stood up and began praising
God. (Lk 13:10-13)

Reflection: A striking miracle occurred in Medjugorje involving a forty-three-year-old Italian secretary and mother of three, Diana Basile. Multiple sclerosis had been diagnosed in 1972, along with total urinary incontinence, perineal dermatitis, blindness in one eye, difficulty in walking and, to compound matters, a severe clinical depression. In May of 1984, a friend persuaded Diana to join a pilgrimage group going from Milan to Medjugorje.
On the evening of May 23, she was in the church and a friend helped her to climb the steps to the side chapel where the apparitions were then occurring. From the records kept at the parish in Medjugorje, here are her own words:
At that point I no longer wanted to enter the chapel...but the door
was opened and I went in. I knelt just behind the door. When the
children came in and knelt down...I heard a loud noise. After that
I remember nothing, except an indescribable joy and certain epi-
sodes of my life passing before my eyes as though on film.
When it was all over, I followed the children, who went straight
to the main altar of the church. I was walking just like everybody
else, and I knelt down just as they did. It didn't actually occur to
me that anything extraordinary had happened, until my friend
came up to me in tears.

Diana's cure had been instantaneous. Later that night she found that she was no longer incontinent, and the dermatitis had completely disappeared. Her right eye, useless for 12 years, had regained perfect vision. The following day she walked the six miles from her hotel in Ljubski to the church in Medjugorje, and later climbed Mt. Podbrdo. (END OF REFLECTION)

To be honest, I don't understand how I know that Our Lady is appearing and miracles are occurring in Medjugorje. Years ago I may have been skeptical about the whole long running event, but not now. I have never been, and may never get there. A priest we know once said that Medjugorje is for the non-believers to go to and believe. We who have been so touched by Our Blessed Mother need no apparitions to feel Her presence. I apologise for being so long, and I don't know if this recounting of the June 30 meditation will stir anyone else but me. But this morning, this reading, along with others seemed to peel away a layer inside , as if a bit more of me became more open, more vulnerable, more humble. (Too many more's, I know!) Let me finish by saying, by asking us all to be more silent, to listen deeply with our inner self, to hear the call of Our God who is so near.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A plea.

What a week.

H and I have been on a working vacation this past week, getting ready for the renting season an old Victorian beach house we have on Martha's Vineyard. We bought it 12 years ago with money H's Dad left her. Turned out to be a good investment. It's old, 1930's or so, (no one really knows) so it always needs lots of work. Imagine leaving your house on November 1st and not seeing it again until April. And then you only see it for one or two Saturdays a month, until you take a week off in June to make it spit spot for your first renters on July 1st. Tons of stuff to do, you can just imagine. But whatever, no big deal, we do it every spring. But being on vacation means each day starts out with Mass, with Rosary before and after Mass. Monday thru Thursday. (No Mass on Friday.) For me, who isn't able to go to Mass during the week this is a real blessing. A good friend of ours on the island, Margaret, is the founder of Little Children of Mary, a group led by her that brings relief supplies to Haiti. This is her 15th year doing this great service, and since the quake her efforts have been doubled. A very spiritual woman, very Marian and a very devoted to Our Lady of Medjugorje. She leads the second Rosary, which is very attuned to Our Blessed Mother. It is a great gift from God that He has surrounded me with such prayer-filled and spiritual women. But no men. In my parish here in CT for men to show their spirituality in anything more than Evening Prayer once a week is rare. In our Secular Franciscan community we have only five men in a group of over thirty. It's just the way it is. Men, at times have a lot of baggage that we just keep piling up on top of ourselves, so much until we cannot move or think straight. And then the crushing weight of the world chokes out the voice of Our Lord. It is so sad.
Isaiah: 55, 6
Seek the Lord while he may be found,
call Him while he is near.
I know that I was like the men whom I speak about once. Most of my life was like that. Hearing the Voice but never listening. Never acting on what I heard. Not knowing it but being chained to the world around me, the world of man and not the world of God. Not knowing that they were the same! God is all around us, they say, well, why can't I see Him? Because I failed to look for Him. If I hadn't let go of my inner chains (and they were chains, believe me!) hadn't asked God to just be closer to me, to open my ears to Him, if I hadn't been touched by his Grace I would still be carrying around the weight of my world, instead of God carrying me. What I'm trying to say is brothers, let go of this world, the sports channels, the ambitions for power, the darkness of lust. That's not what we're here for. When you hear His voice, harden not your heart. If you think you hear Him in the sounds of nature, talk a walk and listen. Look closely at everyone you meet, Jesus our Brother is there, return the love that He showed us on the Cross.
Love is the key,
Love is the key.
Oh my Lord and my God,
hear my prayers of nothingness
as I plead for my brothers,
trapped as I once was,
lost in the smoke of this world.
Lord, give them the strength
as you gave me,
to cast off the heavy burden,
to take on the yoke that is light.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

...a deeper faith...

My posts seem to be fewer and far between and to be honest, I don't know if I'll be able to continue to find the words to express this inner journey. On top of that each post I write takes me hours to finish, and right now at this stage of my life I just don't feel I have the time to compose a quality post.

But I like posting.

I like posting and it also helps to hear the different views that we have concerning our own personal journeys and others. In a world that's growing darker, it's good to see light shining, however dimly. And the darkness comes from the countless souls who are turning away from God. Never mind all those that never acknowledged his voice to begin with. I'm concerned, but what can I, or any of us do, really? We can give a good example, be true witnesses to the faith, and pray.
But to be true witnesses, how hard is that? At times for me almost impossible. I always feel I'm a good witness in my mind, but as soon as I'm in disagreement with someone or something I forget who I am and fall away to my old ways. I forget I'm Franciscan! I'm more concerned with the log in my neighbors eye than the wooden beam in mine. Today's Gospel. To maintain the Face of Jesus to all, to avoid the 'forked tongue', these are aspects of my life that challenge me every day, and I mean really challenge me. And I know why. We can do nothing without God. We cannot do anything alone. I haven't given myself up to Him completely, yet. How can I do it? Why do I hold on to control, onto my way of thinking, onto my worries about money or work or whatever? Why? Because I'm holding onto this world, that's why, and my mind isn't focused enough on the world above.
Matthew 6:24-34. "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear." That is pretty radical stuff. But what is He asking us? What is God asking us? He's asking us for everything. To give up our cares to Him. To trust Him. To have deep faith. How can I give of myself so completely and still maintain the responsibilities of a father, a husband, a provider? I must find the deep faith. Oh Lord God, why do you ask of things I have no answer for? How can I follow you fully when I fling my own wall before You? Please, O God my God grant me the grace to tear down those walls, tear them down and never build again. My Lord and God, I pray to You.

Friday, June 04, 2010

To be humble...

Today in Medjugorje Day By Day our B.V.M. speaks of humility;

Dear children, today I call you to humility. These days you

have felt great joy because of all the people who have come

here, and to whom you have spoken with love about your

experiences. With humility and an open heart, continue to

speak with all who are coming.

After reading this and the reflection afterward I couldn't help but see how often I fail in my search for my own life in humility. Being Franciscan humbleness should be almost second nature, and most of the time it is, as long as it's easily attainable, a virtue with no struggle. And I have come a long way in following the footsteps of St. Francis, and ultimately Our Lord Jesus Christ. But I fail, even as I write this I have failed, because in the back of my mind I'm wondering if anyone will read this, and if not, why not. What kind of humbleness is that??!! Some things in life take more strength to overcome, but I'm fooling myself, it is not strength in the way we think of strength. The strength I speak of is a grace from God, which we must ask for and then reach for and grab. Too often we (I!) complain and take the easy way out of a tough situation, knowing full well that in asking for I will receive but I don't ask, for what reason I haven't figured out yet. If we know God is there for us, why would we hesitate to ask for His gifts, to show our love for Him? I don't know. I guess I'm still mostly stuck in this world, and not striving hard enough for the next. And that brings me back to humbleness and humility, and lack thereof. I find myself making strides spiritually, and then dryness. But I believe the dryness, the distance from God is there for a reason, and that might be to give us time to contemplate what has taken place (in our life) and not to let a spiritual event slip away. Do not be lukewarm and Go deeper. Two sentences that I heard in Adoration months ago that I can hear today as clear as then. Two guideposts in my life. Sometimes I'm afraid of both those sentences, those, to me, sacred instructions from above because in following those to the spiritual end I'm not sure where I'll be going, and I'm not sure if I'm ready for that road, yet. The more we contemplate God, the closer we come to Him, the mystery of Him deepens. The baggage I find myself carrying on this road is enormous, and it wears me down. Lord, help me to loosen my own bonds! Give me the grace of humbleness and humility to make clear the road that leads straight to your heart.

Oh Lord, help me to more clearly Seek Your Face...