Translations

Sunday, July 31, 2022

SPIRITUAL DIRECTION

When the Lord has brought us to a place in our spiritual journey where we meet interior roadblocks, dryness and aridity in our prayer life, when we feel like we are in a sort of spiritual homelessness, we often seek Spiritual Direction. 

We search for someone who is learned in Sacred Scripture, who is wise in the discernment of spirits, someone who will be a holy listener, who will see beyond our feelings, who will shed light on our sufferings and help us to understand why God has declined to prevent the circumstances that bring about these trials. 

A spiritual director is someone who pledges their desire to God to spiritually adopt us, pray and offer sacrifice for us, stand in the breach for us, someone who walks in silent and awed humility alongside the Spirit of God to represent our soul. 

Someone who has suffered deeply in order to be given the privilege of being a spiritual director to one of God's chosen few.

The greatest tool in spiritual direction is the relationship between the spiritual director and the Divine.

If finding such a servant of God is difficult, we remember that the Holy Spirit is the Principal Actor in our spiritual journey into Christ, God, Who is the Divine Guest of our soul. He is never not available to direct us. He is never not Present in our soul. He can never abandon Himself. We are One in Him.

It is in, through and with His Holy Spirit that we can discern if our suffering and trials are His chosen tools to purify our soul. We learn a great deal about ourselves when we bring such thoughts to prayer. This is why St. Teresa of Jesus warns us never to leave the cell of self-knowledge. It is in that room that we discover our disordered thoughts, our hidden motives, our self-loving pride which motivates our thoughts and behaviors.

"Dig deep and find diamonds" (St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face).  

These "diamonds" that we discover can be understood to describe our interior disorders. The Holy Spirit waits to shed piercing light on these blocks to our spiritual growth into self-emptiness in Christ Whom we seek. We ask His Wisdom to name them and be healed from them. Our disorders are transformed into diamonds when we give them to Him and ask Him for the grace to use them for the salvation of our soul and to transform us into His own Image.

If an incident takes place during our day when our pride feels nipped, the Holy Spirit waits to speak to us in our evening spiritual direction meeting with Him.

We meet Him at our evening,  pre-scheduled prayer time. 

We pray.

We relate the event to Him. 

He may ask us to examine every reaction we felt during the event, be it intellectual or emotional or spiritual.

He will grace us with an awareness of what it was that niggled us in the incident. He may direct us to a particular and very pertinent passage from Sacred Scripture.

And we will begin to find evidence of a disordered thought or a deep rooted selfish feeling or wounded ego, or most dangerous of all, a spiritual snobbery ...most dangerous of all because as St. John of the Cross teaches us, spiritual pride is the most dangerous of all of the 7 deadly spiritual sins. Spiritual pride kills the soul.

In this sacred and spiritually safe space with our Divine Spiritual Director, our knowledge of self deepens, He will heal us and we will give great glory to God. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

OUR LADY OF MOUNT CARMEL

When Our Lady appeared for the final time at Fatima, she wore the habit of the Carmelite and she held the brown scapular in her hand. We ask ourselves, what is a Carmelite? Through the gift of Divine grace in the soul, the Carmelite seeks radical transformation into Divine union. Through penance, spiritual purification, hidden sacrificial prayer, offering of self in vicarious suffering for the souls of many and endless loving contemplation of the Triune God, the Carmelite seeks to mirror the heart of Our Lady: filled with self-emptiness. The hidden prayers of a Carmelite, under the banner of Our Queen, become like an underground  nuclear power house. When our prayer passes through her pure hands and when she presents our petitions to God, earth trembles, spiritual miracles happen and countless souls are won for Him.

On Saturday, July 16, the Kingdom of Heaven and all of her children on earth will pause in a silence. We will look to Our Mother, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the one who was the "world of God," the purest of His creatures who was hidden and unknown, the one who was the link bridge between the Old and the New Testament of God. The one who gave us the Incarnate Son.
 
We first meet and encounter God the Son, Christ Jesus in the event that took place in the fullness of time… the Incarnation of the Lord.

In this sacred moment, all three Persons of the Holy Trinity are present when "Jesus is linked with the Holy Spirit from the first moment of His existence in time" (John Paul II General Audience May 1998).

We read the truth of Pope John Paul II’s belief when we read the Word Himself: “I am in the Father and the Father is in me....the Spirit of truth...he lives with you and will be in you" (John 14:10; 14:17).

At the Annunciation, the Angel Gabriel saluted Mary then he asked her to allow the Holy Spirit, the power of the Most High, to overshadow her. God desired to bring forth life "by the breath of His Mouth" (Psalm 33:6). At the Incarnation, the Ruah of the Old Testament brought about "the supreme 'grace of union' in which human nature is united to the Person of the Word" (John Paul II General Audience May 1998). 

This "Ruah" Who gave Christ life in the womb, is the same Spirit Who raised Christ from the tomb. And it is the same "Ruah" Who breathes spiritual life into us, second by second.

          “For you I live and come to be. What would you like done with me?" (St. Teresa of Jesus)

Through the miracle of the Incarnation, every person whose life is brought forth "by the breath of His Mouth" is therefore invited into this "grace of union" with the Person of the Word. At our baptism, we breathe in "the Breath of His Mouth" and our soul leaps for joy and His Breath continues to request union with our souls for the rest of our lives.

St. Teresa of Jesus, our Madre in Carmel, speaks about a love which has "no self-interest at all... All that it desires... is to see... the soul rich with Heavenly blessings." In the Incarnation, we see such a love, filled with self-emptiness, in all its purity and immensity, Heaven embracing earth, all given life in Mary, the Woman who conceives the Redeemer. Mary gifted her own Fiat to this "grace of union" and she in turn gifted it too on behalf of all of us. Her voice is our voice. 

Fiat.

Mary, Miriam, proclaims her Motherhood for all generations when we look at her weaving her way silently among the wedding guests at Cana. When she locates her Son, she makes Him alert to a need: "They have no wine." As we sit there at her knee during those painful times in our journey "of union" into God, when we are dispirited, in deep spiritual dryness and darkness, her voice is once again our own... they have no more spiritual wine. Mary intercedes, Spirit Lord answers. And we are filled with grace to capacity. 

Fiat.

From Cana, Mary set the Lord Jesus on His pathway to the Cross. We encounter Him in every moment as He proclaims the Kingdom of God. When we stagger in our faith, when our prayers seem to be rote and hold no purpose, when His Presence seems far distant, when the spirit of the world assaults us, and we cry out for help from Mary, she replies with one word..."God." Every heartfelt appeal to her passes through her, as if she were a spotless window, and she reflects the Son's answer to our prayer. We follow her gaze and we find ourselves looking at the Savior, staggering with us under the unspeakable pain and weight of our sins on the road which leads to our Paradise (Mt 16:24-26).

Fiat.

When we find ourselves in our spiritual wheelchair, sitting at the pool of Bethesda, once again we turn around and there is the Lord, holding out His hand, lifting us up out of our spiritual disability (Jn 5:1-15).

Fiat.

And finally, when we are lying, spiritually paralyzed in servile fear, entrapped by our pride into an isolated place, Jesus is present and He speaks, "Your sins are forgiven... rise, pick up your bed and go home" (Mk 2:1-12). Friends whose names are unknown have "raised the roof" for us in petitionary prayer.

Fiat.

And Jesus comes. Always. 

Mary has seen our need and has taken it to God before we voice it for ourselves. She is the Watchguard of our thoughts (Lk 2:35). She is our Petitioner beyond compare. She is the Dispenser of all of the graces gifted to us by her Sacred Spouse, the Holy Spirit. She is Our Lady, Queen of Carmel. 

Your name, O Mary, is a precious ointment, which breathes forth the odor of divine grace. Let this ointment of salvation enter the inmost recesses of our souls. 

(St Ambrose)


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