Tag Archives: Fear

Fleeing from the Cross

Bouguereau, Compassion, 1897

Bouguereau, Compassion, 1897

Last year, Fr. Fields gave me a beautiful little prayer booklet called “Love’s Way of the Cross.” These meditations on the Way of the Cross by a German Benedictine abbot are now out-of-print, and I’m hoping to find time someday to type them up and put them somewhere on the blog. In the meantime, I’ll be sharing excerpts here and there as we wrap up this blessed season of Lent.

First, a passage from Thomas à Kempis quoted in the concluding meditation. This was the first thing I thought of after reading Ryan’s latest post: “Little Crosses/Big Crosses.” (Praying for you, brother!)

“Take courage, then, brethren, let us go forward together and Jesus will be with us. For Jesus’ sake we have taken this cross. For Jesus’ sake let us persevere with it. He will be our help as He is also our leader and guide. Behold, our King goes before us and will fight for us… Let no man fear any terrors. Let us be prepared to meet death valiantly in battle. Let us not suffer our glory to be blemished by fleeing from the Cross.”

The Imitation of Christ 3:56

Perhaps this passage strikes you differently, but it helped to remind me of two very important things: (1) We always carry our crosses together, never alone, and (2) Christ goes before us and defends us – and it is because of these two truths that we have no reason whatsoever to fear.

My prayer for all of us this Holy Week: that we would not flee from the Cross, but embrace it!

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Honesty.

It has taken me weeks months to write this post.

I’ve said from the beginning that I did not intend for this blog to turn into a virtual diary chronicling every mundane detail of my daily life. This is still the case; I value my privacy (hence the pen name), and I don’t really think you guys would find my day-to-day activities all that interesting. (Secretary by day, theology student by night – talk about life on the edge!) However, in my efforts to avoid becoming “too personal,” I’m afraid I haven’t been personal enough… and I think I’ve finally figured out why.

I wanted this blog to be positive and encouraging – “the witness of a vocation joyfully lived.” I wanted to show that discerning a vocation (i.e. falling in love with Christ) can be a beautiful, joy-filled journey – and I can still say wholeheartedly that it’s been that way for me! The problem is, lately I haven’t been feeling very joy-filled. In fact, I haven’t really been feeling “filled” with anything, except maybe bitterness, or confusion, or fear.

I’ve been having a rough go of it for quite a while now, and somewhere along the way I let myself become afraid that if I were honest about how things were going, I’d somehow end up being dishonest by misrepresenting my vocation and making it seem miserable and unappealing.

Thank goodness I have friends who are such beautiful examples of authenticity. (Kolbe, Flannery, Joan, Rita, Harry, Philomena – you guys are irreplaceable!) They have been incredibly kind to me during these difficult moments, and their unconditional acceptance of me, faults and all, has shown me that my fear of “ruining everything” with my honesty is, like most fears, silly and unfounded. Authenticity will always enhance our Christian witness, not detract from it! So, from here on out, I’ll be trying to speak (er, write) from a more authentic place.

It’s been a rough year, guys. These past few months in particular have been really, really hard, and as the date of my consecration (still set for next June) gets closer and closer, greater and greater difficulties have cropped up in just about every area of my life  – prayer, work, health, relationships. I still haven’t quite figured out how much of what’s been going on is on the natural (physical/psychological) level, and how much of it might be spiritual, but I do know that it’s got to be some combination of the two.

On the one hand, I can see that my perfectionistic tendencies, chock-full schedule and poor stress-management skills have been wreaking havoc on my health, leaving me burned-out and more than a little irritable. Fr. Savio has always tried to remind me that “exhaustion is the enemy of the soul,” and of course, he’s right. When you’re completely exhausted, just about any activity – prayer, work, time spent with friends, basically any activity other than sleeping – loses its appeal.

On the other hand, I’m in the last stretch of my formation before I’m consecrated to the Lord in a solemn, holy rite that will make me entirely His forever, and I can’t imagine that the enemy is very happy about that. He’s probably been doing his utmost to orchestrate this latest barrage of temptations as a last-ditch effort to derail my plans and get me to start doubting the Lord’s love for me. (For the record, it hasn’t worked! The wonderful people in my life have continually thwarted his efforts by going out of their way to love me in the midst of my failures and my messiness. If they can be so kind, how much more must the Lord [still] love me?)

I also know that I’ve still got tons of growing left to do before Christ makes me His bride, so it’s certainly possible that God is allowing this dryness/darkness in order to show me just how dependent I am upon Him for… well, everything.

“Nothing is more fatal in the spiritual life than the thought that we can do anything good without our Lord, and our self-love is so subtle, that unconsciously we attribute to ourselves the little good that we do, which spoils everything. Our Lord, out of love, leaves us sometimes to our wicked nature, and then we are frightened in seeing all the evil and the possibilities of evil hidden in us. It is not that we are worse than before, but that our Lord let us see the depths of evil which grace had covered. During these moments, we should act in union with God’s designs, by humbling ourselves profoundly and throwing ourselves into God’s arms.”

– Bl. Columba Marmion

Either way you look at it, it would only make sense for there to be some sort of spiritual element to these trials, underneath whatever’s been happening mentally and (perhaps as a consequence) physically.

I can’t go into much more detail than this – that would take a whole series of posts, and besides, I’m still getting used to this authenticity thing: no more fooling myself into thinking I can be perfect, no more pretending “everything’s fine” when it isn’t, no more trying to “take care of things” myself without asking for help. I’ve talked things over with my spiritual director and a few trusted friends, so there’s no need to worry (in case you’re the anxious type, like me!) about me trying to handle everything on my own. I know I’m in good hands, but I could definitely use some extra prayers.

Till next time, oremus pro invicem*–

Charity

 

* Let us pray for one another.

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St. Faustina’s Prayer for the Present Moment

Faustina photograph

St. Faustina, pray for us!

When you are discerning your vocation, it is very tempting to become fearful about the future. The saints, however, teach us that it is of utmost importance to remain in the present moment, listening for the voice of God. Only when we learn to live in the present will we know what He is asking of us and find the grace to respond to His call.

Today is the memorial of St. Faustina Kowalska, and it seemed like the perfect time to share this beautiful prayer she wrote with all of you:

O My God,
When I look into the future, I am frightened,
But why plunge into the future?
Only the present moment is precious to me,
As the future may never enter my soul at all.

It is no longer in my power to change, correct or add to the past;
For neither sages nor prophets could do that.
And so what the past has embraced I must entrust to God.

O present moment, you belong to me, whole and entire.
I desire to use you as best I can.
And although I am weak and small,
You grant me the grace of Your omnipotence.

And so, trusting in Your mercy,
I walk through life like a little child,
Offering You each day this heart
Burning with love for Your greater Glory.

— From her Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul, Notebook 1 (1)

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