Joining up with Jen a little late this week as we get a move on cleaning out our house...
New Year's Resolutions...who's in and who's out? I have to admit I've never been one for making a list of resolutions as we ring in a new year, mostly because I know my resolve is weak. Honestly, it seemed that any resolutions made at the start of the year are likely ongoing projects anyway.
This year, I was reading something Ann Voskamp wrote that really struck me deeply. She said we needed only one resolution: Jesus. More Jesus. Speechless. How often I am spinning my wheels, running around like a headless chicken, when the answer is so simple. More Jesus. Sing it with me now:
Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and its righteousness. Then all these things shall be added unto you. A-llelu-alleluia.
That is (and always should have been) my only resolution. The more I become a woman of God, the more I become His daughter, His disciple, the more the rest of my tasks, goals, and life in general will be ordered as it should be. The more I hand over my worries, cares and troubles to Him, the less chaos will rule my heart. Sounds simple enough, right? Now to figure out how to go about falling deeper into Jesus...
Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ. ~ St. Jerome
This seems simple enough on the surface. Jesus is the Word of God, so in absorbing the Scriptures, we absorb Him. My trouble is staying consistent. I could read the daily Scriptures, but I find that I need a little something to help draw me into reflection. Perhaps a little daily Lectio with the Gospel, perhaps a small devotional, perhaps just sitting quietly with the Word...do you have any practices that help you make Scripture a meaningful daily habit (beyond reading and moving on)?
The Blessed Mother
"Do whatever He tells you." ~ Mary
I always joke with those who question invoking Mary's aid in prayer that the fastest way to a Jewish boy is his Jewish mother. In all seriousness, it wasn't until much more recently (this Advent) that I gained a deeper understanding of the connection that exists. It was actually through the use of the Newsboys' "Adoration" lyrics in a reflection that it hit me.
I'm here with the others who saw the heavens testifyMary continually invites us closer to her Son. She also is the impetus in Scripture behind the beginning of Jesus' public ministry. "They're out of wine." In a quiet, gentle way, she opens the door for Jesus to bring us what we need.
Now I hang back in the shadows I want to come close, I want to know
She sees me shivering here; She smiles and with a nod
I walk through the mud and straw to the newborn Son of God
The Least of These
“Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these
who are members of my family, you did it to me.” Matthew 25:35-40
Mother Teresa always referred to the poor as Jesus in distressing disguise, and her umbrella for "the poor" was large and wide. The lonely, the unborn, the elderly, the hungry, the homeless, the ill, the spiritually lost...poor is not just an economic status. The more we open our hearts to the "least of these," the more we open our hearts to the Lord.
Body, Blood, Soul & Divinity
Before I was Catholic, but attending Mass, of course I was not permitted to consume the Eucharist. I share in the story of my conversion that while others see this exclusion as divisive, not being permitted to consume the body and blood of Christ spurred something of a greater desire in me to know Him. It drew me to desire Christ, when then led me to seek Him more intentionally, which then led me into His Church. The Eucharist still draws me closer to Jesus - how much closer can we get than to physically become one with Him every time we consume the Eucharist at Mass? How much more intimate that gaze of Adoration? To have the real presence of our Lord become one with us - is there any more powerful union in the universe?
|Image from Wikicommons|
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our
sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:8-9
An image came to mind as I was praying during Advent about how to better resemble Christ. It is as though we have made a painting of ourselves on top of another painting. God created the original painting in His image, but we have added our own strokes through our choices, decisions, words and actions. Throughout Advent (and really the whole of our lives), God begins to wipe away parts of the newer painting. He wipes, we wipe, until in the end the image that remains is that of His Son. This is the efficacy of confession. Every time we fall, every time we go astray with our brushes and muck up His masterpiece, the Lord is there waiting to take us in His arms and brush us off. We have to humble ourselves to approach him in our brokenness, to admit that we are indeed fallen and in need of saving over and over and over again. There is no shame in that admission - we are all in the same boat!
|Image from wydcentral.org|
The Holy Father(s)
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter,
‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’
He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’
Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my lambs..." John 21:15
I think it goes without saying that our current Holy Father, Pope Francis, is sending the world into a faster spin with the very visible way in which he encourages everyone to know Jesus, to love Jesus, and to emulate Jesus in our lives. The thing is, that though not all our Popes of recent have had his panache, they have all in their papacies used their gifts and charisms to draw the faithful into a greater communion with Christ, whether in heart, mind or body. Pope Francis gives us no small collection of points to ponder and the two before him have left us a plethora of reading and witness that opens the door to a closer knowledge of Jesus and ourselves as mirrors of His image as well. Now if only I could find the time and focus for more reading!
|Image from Happy Saints.|
"The witnesses who have preceded us into the kingdom especially those whom the Church recognizes as saints, share in the living tradition of prayer by the example of their lives, the transmission of their writings, and their prayer today. They contemplate God, praise him and constantly care for those whom they have left on earth. When they entered into the joy of their Master, they were 'put in charge of many things.' Their intercession is their most exalted service to God's plan. We can and should ask them to intercede for us and for the whole world." Catechism of the Catholic Church 2683
Nope, I'm not talking New Orleans football here, though I'm sure they have their own merits. When we start to wonder if we are making any progress in our relationship with Jesus, or whether our lives look at all like ones who claim kinship with Christ, the lives of the saints give us a glimpse into the struggles of living in close relationship with Jesus as well as what it looks like to leave the imprint of that friendship on the world. In a special way, the saints, who continue to live on in eternity, join together with us in their prayer. We call on them to help us along our journey, to be our special advocates with Jesus, imploring Him on our behalf. I have begun the year with a novena to Mary, Undoer of Knots, and while I have often contemplated this, I think this will be the year of consecutive novenas, not only for myself, but for those who have asked our prayers and for the world in general.
If you have a special novena or prayer you like, please let me know in the comments. Maybe we can join together in a novena sometime in the near future!
After all of that, the short story is simply this: more Jesus.
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Rahki, regarding a way to get deeper into the scriptures, what worked for me was a variation on lectio divina. I would start by identifying was on my heart at the time (did I want God's reassurance? was I wondering what I could offer that's most valuable to Jesus? did I want to know how to be a better friend?). Then I would find one or two key words that would help me do a scripture search on that topic to find out what God has to say about it. I would find all the scriptures I could that spoke to the topic (pretty easy to do using an online Bible search site like biblegateway.com), and write them down in an order that seemed to me like an unfolding of what God wanted to reveal to me. This one thing has served as the foundation for my relationship with God throughout my whole life. I have many journals from years of having done this type of scripture study.ReplyDelete