#BISsisterhood Link-Up

UNCONDITIONAL

This past year my heart has been undergoing some serious growing pains. I’m learning to love. Disney doesn’t tell you how hard that is and they make you think that your happily ever after should happen in a blink of the eye. Love is slow and painful, but always the path to joy.

I am learning to say no to myself, so I can say yes to love. It’s a daily battle, but I want to keep showing up. Here’s the truth: We don’t deserve love, but we are worthy of love, because He made it so. How blessed are we that God does not tire of how undeserving we are? We are so blessed.

We are made to desire this unconditional love, because it directs our hearts to Him. Due to our fallen nature, we frequently project this need to be loved perfectly onto others, but they can never fulfill that desire, that need.

If we invite God to be Lord of our lives, if we ask for the grace to abandon our idols and make room in our heart for Him to reign, we will know this unconditional love through the gift of faith. He knows how hard it is to believe in such a love, which is why He makes His grace visible in the sacraments. As He provided the manna for our ancestors, He also gives us the daily bread in the most Holy Eucharist.

When we’ve broken communion with God through our sins and our souls, St Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 11:27-29), warns us to not approach God in our unworthiness. God knows we will fail Him, but only say the Word, and my soul shall be healed. He offers us a clean state in the sacrament of reconciliation. He is a God of mercy and just love, but He will never force His love upon us. We must approach Him with a meek and humble heart, with perfect contrition, in order to be in communion. From the cross, Jesus will beg His Father “Forgive them, for they do not know what they do”.

God is a jealous lover. He wants ALL of your heart. He will pursue you relentlessly, but never impose Himself.

Have you ever invited Him into your heart? Don’t just read about faith, act on it and tell Him: God I give myself to you with all that I am. He wants to be in relationship with you, and our earthly relationships should mirror this. I have a heart of gratitude for my love, who helps me see true Love.

 

REMEMBERING

Remembering opens the door to gratitude.

Remembering is not a means to itself, it leads us to communion. We can only open our eyes to the needs of our brothers and sisters if we first have a grateful heart. When we reflect on moments of beauty in our lives, we can more easily cultivate a heart of thanksgiving for those who fight for our freedom. In this meditation, we are drawn into communion with all those who remember.

Remembrance Day highlights this need for community and those who defend it; lest we forget. Remembrance Day was yesterday in Canada, but in your heart, make room to cultivate space to be grateful each and every day.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

John McCrae, May 1915

YOU’RE A BEAUT, YOU HEAR ME?

You, sweet sister, are the crown of creation. You are beautiful. So much so, that after God created you, He stopped. Woman is the last of His creations. There is no other creation that surpasses us in beauty. Let that sink in

There is a vicious attack on women and we are being lied to about our beauty. We are constantly being told that we are not enough, well I’m here today to say ENOUGH. Enough with the lies, enough with the insecurities, enough with the gossip, enough with the comparison; ENOUGH.

Today, find a mirror and behold your beauty. Stop, look at yourself, and remind yourself that whatever you may be feeling about your beauty is temporal. The truth of your beauty is not rooted in how you feel, but in Him.

God has made you beautiful.

I know Proverbs 31 tells us beauty is vain, but I believe this verse is in reference to exterior beauty. The beauty that radiates from our souls, there’s nothing vain about that. It comes from God, and God is Beauty itself.

We no longer dare to believe in beauty and we make of it a mere appearance in order the more easily to dispose of it.
-Hans Urs von Balthasar

Don’t let this be you. Beauty is not just your appearance. Beauty comes from God making His dwelling place in You, through the Holy Spirit. Next time you think “I’m not beautiful”, stop and repent. You are insulting God who resides in you. You are beautiful, because you belong to Him.

ALL OF ME

I struggle to show others my heart. There is a myriad of little Babushkas inside of me, all neatly hidden, but rattling if I am shaken. The exterior one is the flawless veneer of my soul, but I know that You, o Lord, are not fooled.

Could I love myself in my wholeness? You command it. I struggle to be obedient. I constantly feel drowned with the lie that my brokeness is beyond Your grace. Grant me faith God, for deep within me, You are present. Let me shed my outer layers and dwell in the interior castle of my soul.

The fact that it is made in God’s image teaches us how great are its dignity and loveliness.

-St Theresa of Avila, Interior Castle, Chapter 1

I hide from Your love when I do not pray. I cheat myself of Your grace. Holy Spirit, renew in me a fervor for communion. May I always unite my heart to the most sacred heart of Jesus. Let me believe in the dignity and loveliness of my soul.

I want to pray fervently and devoutly, as all the angels and the saints, but You humble me and I know how imperfect my love for You is. I turn my eyes to you and whisper “Lord, have mercy.”

Relationships take time and I am neglectful of ours. I want to open up. Take my imperfect desire sweet Father and guide me. Send others who will sharpen me down my path. Send me daughters of the King who will not be fooled by my exterior demeanor, but will fight to see my vulnerable heart and teach me to love it, and guide it to rest in You.

A NEW CREATION

I’ve been a dangerous flirt in the past.

Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain.

I used to get a malicious pleasure in making heads turn. I was so proud to be considered beautiful, but oh how little I knew about Beauty. I rarely ever got past a first date in university because I was far too interested in the quick, easy and cheap validation I got from dressing immodestly and going clubbing on the weekend with my girlfriends.

Thanks be to God, good seeds had been planted in me when I was in high school. I cannot give sufficient thanks to my father who would drive me every Sunday a half hour each way to Mass/Life Teen, where I was taught Saint John Paul II’s teachings on theology of the body. Those early seeds I buried deep, but were not choked.

As many who are insufficiently catechized do, I spiraled downwards quickly in university, going to Mass only every other month or so.

A ray of sunshine finally made its way to my long forgotten seeds when a friend from high school, now a campus missionary with CCO led me in a faith study over the summer holidays. I was still drinking and partying every weekend at this point, but due to my 9-5 summer job, I stayed relatively tame during the week. Had it not been for the pre-existing friendship and the convenience, I wouldn’t have taken part in this faith study.

My baptismal promises were renewed.

At the end of the study, I was asked to renew my baptismal promises. Our Father is kind and patient, and knew in all His wisdom, that for change to be permanent in me, it had to occur slowly, but I had now given permission once more to the Holy Spirit to dwell in me.

Over the next two years, I continued to be a cafeteria Catholic, but less and less as I found community. I pursued more faith studies on campus and found people who were joyful. I had not known anybody so joyful since I had stopped attending my youth group. I wanted this deep rooted joy, but sin still clouded my vision and judgement until I was made a new creation.

After two years of coaxing from friends to attend an evening of praise and worship, I encountered Christ like a hurricane. Kneeling in adoration, something I had not done for at least six years, I did something perhaps even more frightening than beholding God; I confessed my sins.

I returned into the Church after many years of wandering. The good Father that He is, He let me weep, and pour my heart out. All the shame, all the brokenness, He beheld it, but did not turn away. He took me in with such love, such kindness: I was home.

My journey has not been easy since then, if anything, it has only gotten harder, as I found out after that evening, habitual sin requires a lot of humility and grace to overcome, but with Him, the yoke is light. I have had to return to the Sacraments nearly daily ever since to remain faithful. I had been spiritually starving for so long; I need my daily bread.

Shameless flirting, among many other sins, took some time to eradicate from my life, but He makes all things new. Who knew that a young boy born in a stable could change the whole course of my life? I stopped flirting/dating (imperfectly) and let Him romance me, teaching me real love, until He patched up some of my bigger wounds and was ready to let another man have a chance to love me. Now I know that though the love of men will always fail me, His love endures.

#BISsisterhood Link-Up // DAILY

I am constantly bombarded and saturated with new information, often in the form of articles that appear on my news feed. As all information, some of it is good, uplifting and educating, some of it is heavy and hard to bear, but some are downright untruthful (i.e. heresy).

It’s really tempting for me to use this platform to be holier than though. I even considered taking an article I saw posted this morning and tearing it apart, but a four letter word is inscribed on my heart: love. Above all, daily, I choose to love. I also fail on a daily basis. I cannot love perfectly on my own, I must rely on the Creator of this love. Love Himself.

The world of mass media also has need of Christ’s redemption.

St John Paul II, The Rapid Development 2.4

In this age of mass media, are we choosing to separate ourselves from our faith when we are online? Is my identity rooted in Christ only around my Christian friends when I don’t feel challenged, or am I choosing to live authentically, speaking of the cross to all, in my words and deeds, online and in person? I want to choose love daily. I want to share this love daily.

THE POWER OF PRAYER

Moment of honesty: I still struggle to set aside a regular time each day to be still. There are different types of prayer, two of them being the Mass and Lectio divina. I’m fortunate that my state of life affords me a lot of free time and I can start my day with the readings of the day and my Blessed Is She devotional followed my daily Mass before I head into the office. When I stick to my plan of life, my mornings are awesome. My afternoons, however, are another story. By noon, I’m losing patience and easily distracted. More often than not I’ll have evening plans so I find myself rushing around after work. I’ve forgotten to plan time to pray in the evening. I use the excuse that my evenings are too unpredictable, I don’t have time to pray. I make time in the morning for very structured prayer, but I’m not doing my end of the bargain, I’m not being vulnerable and letting Him love me in stillness.

That’s the beauty of prayer: even if you only make a bit of time for it, but are consistent, your soul will naturally crave more. God wants to be in communion with us. He is not going to make it impossible for us to pray. Let’s be real, we are choosing not to pray. A prayer that has really transformed my life and ultimately led me to my conversion was quite simple: “Holy Spirit, teach me how to pray”. It takes less than 5 seconds, but if you say it with conviction, every single day, be prepared for God to enter your life like an avalanche; a beautiful, terrifying avalanche. That’s the power of prayer.

Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear. – Isaiah 59:1

He is listening. You may not hear Him. You may be in a period of desolation. You might be in desolation for the rest of your life, Mother Teresa lived out the majority of her life in desolation! This doesn’t change the truth that He is listening and waiting to love you. Be still. Let Him change your heart. Be bold and ask the Holy Spirit to teach you how to pray.

#BISsisterhood Link-Up // DISCERNMENT

I had quite a few different drafts for this post, but wasn’t happy with any of them: most likely because I lack the necessary wisdom to offer any good contribution on the topic of discernment. I will however share something I read recently in the wonderful book The Jesuit’s Guide to (Almost) Everything – A Spirituality for Real Life by James Martin, SJ. If you are unfamiliar with the notion of discernment, I would encourage you to read a book, such as this one, on the Ignatian spirituality. St. Ignatius of Loyola was the founder of the Society of Jesus, also known as the Jesuits. I know one Jesuit that a lot of people like and he also happens to be the Vicar of Christ 😉 Without further ado, here is the passage on discernment from the wonderful book I mentioned:

Try the decision on, like a new sweater. How does it make you feel? Do you feel at peace or agitated? Then, for the nex few days take the opposite tack. How does that make you feel? This is a powerful tool. Normally our minds move restlessly from one alternative to the other, jumping like a nervous grasshoper from one blade of grass to the next, never giving ourselves sufficient time to consider either alternative. But after imaginatively living with the one course of action, and then the other, certain things will come to mind that you may not have noticed before. Advantages and disadvantages become more evident with time. In a sense, you’ll see the consequences of the decision before you make it. At the end of the process, ask yourself which option gave you the most peace? Then trust your feelings and make the decision.”

There was a very specific occasion in my life where this type of discernment was quite useful. After graduating from university, I felt called to apply to NET Ministries. Every fiber of my will wanted to fight it, but I had no peace resisting this call from God. I fought His demand for quite a few months, taking a seriously long time to fill out my application. When I was finally accepted to serve with NET for a year, you can imagine my shock when I suddenly had ZERO peace with the idea of accepting their offer. What kind of joke was God playing on me? He dragged me through this intense process to essentially tell me “I asked you to apply, I never asked you to actually join”. Ends up, I really need to learn to trust God. He was teaching me obedience and humility this entire time. Through the application/interview process, I also met so many godly men working on NET. These were some of the first practicing Catholic men I had ever known personally. After years of worldly living in university and being used and hurt by men, I needed those healing healthy relationships. It was also through this application to NET that I met the mutual friend who would introduce me to my current boyfriend. This is turning out to be a rather lengthy post for a gal who started off saying she didn’t have much to offer. That’s the beauty of His grace. If we surrender what little we have to Him, He will multiply it. Whatever you may be discerning, abandon yourselves to Him; to His will. Our God is a loving Father. He is not a tyrant.

blessed is she link up

#BISsisterhood Link-Up // GOODBYE

This Saturday I am saying goodbye to the man I love. He will be flying out to the other side of the country for work for a little over two months. I always thought I was really good with goodbyes. This was before falling in love with this holy man who has taught me the meaning of vulnerability. To truly open up your heart to someone, to love, requires heartbreak. Our hearts must be broken in order for them to grow.

I’ve been a complete mess these past few weeks leading up to his departure. Crying at work, home, with friends. I even had one of those terribly movie cliché moments where I was laughing with friends, and that laughter turned into tears. I used to think this heartbreak had to be avoided at all costs. I wanted to be strong and not depend on anyone but myself. How foolish I am at times. Sisters, let your heart be broken. Only then can our sweet Father come and teach us humility. These tears have been reminding me of my deep hunger for Love. Real authentic love that does not fade, where distance is not a barrier. I can meet this love every single day in the Eucharist, in prayer. Let this time apart from the man I love teach me to love the Man who first loved me.

blessed is she link up

#BISsisterhood Link-Up // MAKING TIME

I have no difficulty wasting time. I spend a lot of time doing things that matter very little to me. Yet if I spend so much time on these things, my actions are speaking more loudly than my words.

I want to live a life where I am making time for what matters the most to me: becoming a saint. I want to make time to pray. I want to sit in His silence and let His sweet Word comfort me and bring me the peace that I so desperatly long for. I want to make time in my day to go to Mass, to perhaps meet with less friends, but be more present with the ones that I am seeing. I want to make time to nurture the talents God has given me, and to explore the dreams he has written on my heart. I want to trust that He has placed them there because He can fulfill them, whether on earth or in heaven. I need to have faith that He understands my human constraints on time and that He doesn’t ask me to do anything other than what I can physically do with the time that is given to me. That being said, I pray to have wisdom to discern how my time should be used. I want to live a life so well spent that at the end of it I feel like a squeezed out lemon. I don’t want to waste the time that has been gifted to me.