St. Monica Parish

St. Monica Parish
Why I Pray! Jesus is present in the Tabernacle. He promised to never leave us and his promise is true.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Sacrifice? What's that?

"God's ways are not our ways!" How true!! We want comfort; God wants us to suffer and sacrifice (not exactly, but close!) We want to be exalted; God wants us to be humble! We want everything; God wants us to give up everything! We want to be filled; God wants us to be emptied! We are blind; God wants us to see! We are deaf; God wants us to hear! We are dumb; God wants us to have knowledge and understanding! We are weak; God wants us to be strong! We are sinners; God wants us to be saints! Unless you have tried to live God's way instead of your own way, you will never know the power and peace and joy that comes from God's way of life. To be willing to live on our knees in prayer is a very different life. True prayer is a safeguard. It's time consuming and will bring us out of ourselves and into the life of God. True prayer is not trying to get through prayer making it a meaningless struggle. True prayer is a longing to be with our Creator and Redeemer for the lover always longs to be with the beloved and the beloved always longs to be with the lover. God longs to be our one true love, but allows us to have other loves and then waits ever so patiently for our return to him. For it will come, if not now while we live, then eventually at our death.

We seek comfort in things. God asks us to sacrifice and maybe even suffer a little. Many experience suffering by choice and some not by choice. Those who go to the gym know how to suffer in order to improve their bodies and their weight. They come back feeling so much better about themselves if they stick to it. Those who spend time in prayer, at Mass, in Adoration suffer in order to improve their souls. They too come back feeling so much better about themselves if they stick to it. Anything that is worth having is worth suffering and sacrificing for.

We want to be exalted. God asks us to humble ourselves. Instead of taking the first seats, take the last and then you will be invited to come into the front row. How hard it is to humble ourselves. To take the last place when we really want to be first. But when we humble ourselves, that is when we realize our nothingness and God's greatness. That in spite of our nothingness, he loves us as if we were all he ever needed. God is our lover and we are the beloved! And when it comes to humility, what are we teaching our children today? That self-esteem is most important and it only depends on them. Is God anywhere in the picture? It's like a math equation that has its own answer because God has been removed from the equation. For several generations it's been thought best to remove the creator from every aspect of life in order to allow ourselves to live as we please. But we forget that death is inevitable and we are taking a bigger chance than betting on the lottery by living our lives as we please instead of following the natural law.

We want everything. God asks that we give up everything. God is everything so if we place God first in our lives we do have everything - everything that we will ever need to live the best life. But if we place everything on this earth first in our lives, we'll come eventually to realize just how temporal it all is. Nothing is guaranteed. Our homes could burn down and we could lose all the material possessions, but if we do not lose our lives we have everything. Our friends and relatives could die and leave us empty and lost. But with God in our lives, we have everything because we trust where they are and that we will see them again. God has promised and he keeps his promises. But, do you believe?

We want to be filled. God asks us to empty ourselves. We fill ourselves with food, beverages, social lives, vacations, material possessions and yet we never feel full. There is just one more thing that we need. God's request is to empty ourselves of all in order for him to fill us with himself. God is love. He can only fill us when we are empty - empty of all our supposed needs.

We are blind, deaf, and dumb creatures, so very weak. But God is so very strong and his desire is to give us everything we will ever need in order to live a good and holy life so that at the end of our lives we will come straight home to him. Many today think that Jesus died on the cross to forgive us our sins and as a result they can continue to live a sinful life because in the end Jesus will forgive us everything. But the truth is we have to recognize the sin in our life in order to earn forgiveness and redemption. Our lives will be forever changed once we do this in honesty and trust. It is how we live this life on earth that will determine how we live eternity. Jesus has plans for each one of us, but we need to see, hear and think in order to have the knowledge and understanding to live out those plans in our daily lives. Grace is available in abundance to those who open themselves up to God's presence. God has the power to heal, forgive, and change us, but few respond to this power. Few give God the time of day. Our mind is a baggage trough filled with worldly thoughts, fears, anxieties and ways to make ourselves feel better. Very seldom does God enter into our thoughts and if he does it's only to question rather than trust.

So if God is love then he must love. He cannot do otherwise. Why did he create us if not to love us? And if a father and mother desire the best for their children, how much more does God desire for us? It's worth finding out. As we progress through this new year and all the promises we made to keep our bodies healthy and fit, wouldn't it be great to also keep our souls healthy and fit. It's worth trying and it can be done just by picking up a good book by one of the saints. Find out how they lived their lives! Remember they were human too, just like you and me. Some suggestions - St. Terese of Lisieux, St. Theresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, Padre Pio, Blessed John Paul II and so many others. Some apologetic writers - Scott Hahn, Peter Kreeft, Patrick Madrid, and so many others. We are what we eat and so too, we are what we read! Blessings in Carmel from a Carmelite!!

What do we seek?

Today's first reading in The Liturgy of the Hours was from the book of Sirach and these two lines struck me.

"Call no man happy before his death,
for by how he ends, a man is known."

We judge success so differently from how God judges it. Our culture sees success today as having just two children, preferably a boy and a girl, a comfortable home, a good job, lots of vacations, and all the comforts that life offers. We have lost the sacrificial lifestyle that brings us out of our selfish natures and into a willingness to give up our attachments. Jesus told us that we must take up our cross and follow him. How many today are willing to do this? It's a cross for a young couple to not use contraception, but rather to learn natural ways to avoid pregnancy and yet be willing to accept another child if this does not work. It's a cross to buy only what one can afford and not extend the debt because of one's desires and wants. It's much harder to pay only for what one needs and to know what that is. To carry the cross is hard, but we never have to do it alone. God is always with us. He proved his love by sending his only son to die for us. What greater love is there? He also gave us a special gift in his mother Mary who teaches us "To do whatever he tells you." Mary models for us how we should and can seek God's will in our daily lives. We must become prayer warriors for without prayer we are weak and easily influenced by the lies of the evil one. It is only through a deep and committed prayer life that we come to know the truth and it is through the truth that we shall find eternity. God is pure love and he is always seeking us, but we must be willing to open ourselves to receive this love. We must seek him as well! God bless!