Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Road to Emmaus

Today the Gospel reading is one of my favorites: the story of the two disciples who walk to Emmaus, meeting the risen Lord on the way.

“Now that very day two of them were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred. And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.”
Luke 24:13-16
Too often on the journey of life we find ourselves “downcast” and feeling alone, afraid and uncertain of what the future holds. But all the time, Jesus is with us, even when we do not recognize Him. He promised that He would be with us always, and He keeps His promises.
How do we learn to recognize His presence?
We have the Scriptures, which Jesus Himself explained to the disciples on the road. This is the Word of God, “living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword,” as St. Paul writes.
We also have the great gift of His Real Presence in “the breaking of the bread”—the Eucharist. Every single day, we can run to Him for nourishment and strength. He waits for us in every tabernacle in the world, and is made present at every Mass.
There are countless other ways to see the Lord in our everyday life, if we have eyes that are open to His grace—a song that speaks to our heart, a moment in prayer, a message from a friend, a smile from a friendly face …

Thomas Merton wrote a beautiful prayer for those who are uncertain of where the road leads and whether Jesus walks with them:

O Lord God, I have no idea where I am going, I do not see the road ahead of me, I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and that fact that I think I am following Your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please You does in fact please You. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire to please You. And I know that if I do this You will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore I will trust You always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for You are ever with me, and You will never leave me to make my journey alone.

While he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, "Were not our hearts burning (within us) while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?"
Luke 24:30-32

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Lately I've had a longing in my heart of hearts. It was a heartache for so many things that for a while I wasn't sure exactly what it was.

I miss my best friend, my kindred spirit, who is now 2,360 miles away from me. I miss the glorious, beautiful times in college ... friendships, praise and worship, reading literature over tea, goofy dance parties ...

But my longing isn't just for the things of the past. I'm also waiting for what the future holds. I'm waiting to answer my life's calling, my vocation. I'm longing for the happiness, and yes, even the suffering, that such a gift of self will bring. Longing and waiting and hoping.

I've come to realize that all the missing and waiting that we feel in our lives, whether for the past or the future, is all the same. All of our wanting, in the truest sense of the word, can only be filled with one thing - Christ, and our communion with Him in Heaven.

When I miss my friends, I'm missing the glimpse of heaven I found in them. When I remember a beautiful memory with the pain of knowing that moment of happiness is gone, I'm remembering heaven. When I await the beauty of the life ahead of me, I await heaven.

In his novel "Til We Have Faces," C.S. Lewis wrote ... "It was when I was happiest that I longed most ... The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing ... to find the place where all the beauty came from.”

My one prayer is that each of us may realize that all of our wanting is for Him and the place He prepares for us. We are incomplete without Him, and no one else can satisfy. We're never really ourselves until we come face to face with Him.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Love is all you need

Isn't it funny how we set out to teach something and end up learning something instead? I spent much of my weekend preparing for my Sunday school class--baking heart-shaped sugar cookies for my students to decorate, looking up Scripture verses about the love of God, and searching for images of the Sacred Heart of Jesus online.
As I found myself in the midst of so much LOVE, I began to realize that maybe the Lord was trying to tell me something. I couldn't help but see that His words and His heart overflowing with love were meant for me.
"You have lost the love you had at first," says Revelation 2:4. In all of my hustle and bustle to schedule holy hours into my week, help my family at home and perform duties like preparing a Sunday school lesson, I had forgotten the "one thing" that was necessary.
All I need to know is that my Jesus loves me infinitely and died for me. My heart cries out to love and be loved by Him. He is all I want when I go seeking in the world.
My grown-up mind scoffed at this fifth-grade Sunday school triteness, but my heart answered yes.
And this Valentine's Day, His love is all I need.

“The prayer of the Church venerates and honors the Heart of Jesus just as it invokes his most holy name. It adores the incarnate Word and his Heart which, out of love for men, he allowed to be pierced by our sins.”

~CCC 2669

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

It's one of the most difficult prayers I've ever prayed. I'm repulsed by the idea with all that's in me ... but the deepest part of me desires it.
HUMILITY. When we pray for it, I don't think we realize what we're asking, and what it means for us. It means rubbing mud on our faces like St. Bernadette at the grotto. It means stripping ourselves of every protection, like St. Francis did in the town square of Assisi.
This week I had a huge deadline at work. My boss was relying on me to get a number of projects finished, and when it looked like I may not be able to, I hesitated to tell her. I was afraid to admit that I wouldn't be able to complete them.
So this morning, when I finally did tell her, she was frustrated that I hadn't told her sooner. I was on the verge of tears, but I was more upset at myself than at her. Why couldn't I just admit that I was running out of time?
The funny thing is, I pray the Litany of Humility every morning after my rosary. "From the fear of being humiliated ... From the fear of being despised ... From the fear of suffering rebukes, deliver me Jesus."
What I admire about so many saints is their ability to wear their brokenness on their sleeves. But that takes guts. It takes a certain carelessness with my pride and a caring only for what the Lord sees in me. Jesus, meek and humble of heart ... grant me the grace to desire it!

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart,
Hear me.

From the desire of being esteemed,
Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved...
From the desire of being extolled ...
From the desire of being honored ...
From the desire of being praised ...
From the desire of being preferred to others...
From the desire of being consulted ...
From the desire of being approved ...

From the fear of being humiliated,
Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being despised...
From the fear of suffering rebukes ...
From the fear of being calumniated ...
From the fear of being forgotten ...
From the fear of being ridiculed ...
From the fear of being wronged ...
From the fear of being suspected ...

That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I ...
That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease ...
That others may be chosen and I set aside ...
That others may be praised and I unnoticed ...
That others may be preferred to me in everything...
That others may become holier than I,
provided that I may become as holy as I should …

Monday, February 7, 2011

Monday morning ...

... the epitome of what it means to be a faithful disciple.
On Sunday morning, it's easy to say we follow Christ. We dip our fingers in holy water, genuflect by our pew and sing songs of praise with a congregation.
But on Monday, we drive to work alone. We're sleepy and a little grumpy. We bregrudgingly hold our eyes open on the way to the office and order our grande lattes at Starbucks with a scratchy voice.
This morning when I woke up, I was tempted to put on my "Monday mood." But when I set my mind on Christ first, that changed everything. I jumped out of bed, resolved to leave early for morning Mass. I couldn't do that on my own! When we're open to it, God's grace can transform our ordinary day into something extraordinary and joyful.
I still went to Starbucks, because my body still wants to be in bed, but my heart was singing! The sky was filling with light and a praise song played on my radio. I knew that with the Lord's help, I could conquer all the piles of work at my desk!
Sunday mornings do matter ... but I know that the Mondays of our life are what prove where our hearts truly lie.