Monday, September 1, 2014

Mustard seed cures

{photo courtesy of Wikipedia commons}

My brother sent me an interesting post by a woman suffering from depression who shared an old Buddhist folktale.  In so many words, a woman's infant died on his first birthday and she went to Buddha to find a cure that he may come to life.  He told her to bring back a handful of mustard seeds from a village home where no one has ever died.

In vain did she search and eventually came back to Buddha with empty hands to learn that there is no life without death...death is imminent and it is something we cannot evade or escape is something we need to accept...with faith.

This woman was frantically seeking the *cure* for her son's death as the woman in the post was frantically seeking a cure for her own depression.

Many of us are suffering from ailments and look for the perfect cure that will heal them completely.  As one who has dealt with depression for 14 years, I can tell you all about the *search for the mustard seeds*...going from cure to cure hoping that this is the one thing that will help me get better.

I have been there...still there in fact.  Psychiatrists, spiritual direction, books, prayer, frequent reception of the Sacraments, and I don't know how many meds, supplements, healthy smoothies, journaling, aromatics, herbal teas, walking in nature, and most recently...a naturopathic doctor. is good to seek the best for one's health for we are temples of the Holy Spirit but where do we draw the line?  When do we come to a point of acceptance that this is being permitted by God for a greater purpose unbeknownst to us?

Of course, we can never draw the line with prayer and the Sacraments...they are health for the soul and bring us closer to God along with reading scripture and good spiritual writers and spiritual direction.  They are the foundation of any cure especially those involving psychological illnesses.

At some point, and even at this very moment, I need to come to accept the emptiness and darkness that surround me frequently.  I need to accept my psychological weakness and the insomnia that are part of my life...with peace...with trust...that God is working a greater good deep within.

How ironic that in the Buddhist folktale, the mustard seed is what he asks the woman to seek for...the tiny mustard seed that has come to be a symbol of faith to Christians.

"...for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you." 
~ Matthew 17:20

It is faith that will guide us in the darkness, emptiness, and in the work of God in us and peace in the abandonment to His Holy Will.  I don't need a whole handful of mustard seeds...only one. Jesus states above, we need only begin with faith the size of "a" mustard seed then even a very small act of genuine faith can produce surprising results.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Reflections on silence

"St. John Climacus further defines silence as, first, detachment from concern with regard to all things, necessary  and unnecessary; second, as assiduous prayer; and third, as the unremitting action of prayer in the heart. Silence does not come easily to us in our day and age. Living in our modern world, we cannot easily run away from the "world", the physical world where most of us live and work and play. But our inner desert of banality and boredom as we go about our daily tasks, the desert of loneliness that comes over all of us even when we are among our loved ones but do not feel that we are one with them, the desert of  meaningless or senselessness that confronts so much that happens to us or surrounds us in our world, all call us to a certain withdrawal. This is not an escape in a physical sense so much as it is an inner turning in solitude to meet God at our center.

"It is a true withdrawal from the senseless dissipation of our inner energies and a movement into our true self that is discovered only by a 'return' unto ourselves. It is an avoidance of the evasionary tactics which our false egos call for in order to avoid confrontation with our true self in Christ. What strength it takes at times to be honest with ourselves and come aside awhile to rest and  - in silence - hear God's Word!"

~ George Maloney SJ
"The Silence of Surrendering Love"

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Monday, August 25, 2014

Moments of Grace

Outside my window...

...the most glorious weather...a hint of autumn

Moments of listening...

...someone mowing their lawn...husband and daughter chatting in kitchen while they make breakfast

Moments of gratitude...

...the lullaby of Katydids and crickets at night
...frequent visits to the library
...healthy smoothies
...generosity of someone close to me
...surprise packages
...celebrating two birthdays: oldest son::25 and second oldest son::22
...oldest son finally got his first job in nursing
...second oldest son was accepted into one of the Physician's Assistant schools he interviewed at
...beautiful summer weather

Moments in the kitchen...

...still slacking on the dinner menus but we are eating lots of salad, flatbread, hummus, soup and whatever comes to mind when it's time to make dinner...ack!
...went to see a naturopathic doctor so now I am dairy free for three weeks and also now a huge fan of smoothies and I am having fun with the combinations...also started new supplements...I realize if the healthy food is there when you open the fridge or cabinet, you will go for need to keep it stocked with healthy choices

Moments around the house...

...not much if you don't have the money to do the repairs...but we are doing what we can...I am itching to tackle our backyard which looks like a gardener's nightmare...need to figure out a *dog AND people friendly* yard...fireplace needs autumn prepping too

Moments of reading...

...back to one of Merton's earlier journals, "Entering the Silence" ...he is good for me since I share many of his interior struggles...he is honest, raw, deeply spiritual and sarcastic which gets me a good laugh here and there
...just finished my book review on "Sacred Fire: Practicing Devotion to the Heart of Jesus" by Phillip Bulman
...Lectio: Carmelite Asceticism by Fr. Anastatius of the Holy Rosary OCD and Ascent of Mt. Carmel by St. John of the Cross (my fave)
...The Hawk and the Dove by Penelope Wilcock

Moments of Pondering...

...well...what it's like to be a *one car family* presently since our car accident July 16th (yes...Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel)...the adjustment is not as hard as I quite husband is usually home by mid-afternoon so I can usually run to the store then although I miss our morning excursions...the greatest sacrifice is not being able to get to a weekday Mass...and although my mom is stable now, I worry I won't be able to get to her if something urgent comes up...this is where my trust in God really comes in...He will provide but for now I accept the graces and blessings of being home more...there is more peace internally and externally...more time for prayer and reading and hopefully...writing...I look at it as living the *hidden life* as Jesus and Mary and Joseph did in Nazareth

Moments of prayer...

...continued healing for my mother
...direction for oldest daughter...she is working full-time and attempting some college course but is not sure what direction she wants to head
...change in job situation 
...inner healing
...all persecuted Christians

All my dear children I pray for with all my fill my heart with love:

{oldest son and I celebrating a quarter of a century...he towers a whole foot a few inches over me}

{second oldest son on his visit to medical missions in Panama...lots of good things happening in his life}

{oldest daughter looking like an elven princess along with her sweet, sensitive heart}

{youngest daughter at art show...full of innocence and joy}

Friday, August 22, 2014

Reflections on silence

"In my limited experience, I have come to realize that the necessity for silence does not apply only to monks and nuns in monasteries and hermitages: it applies to everyone.  Everyone needs to rediscover some silent, quiet space within himself or herself just to maintain basic sanity.  The simplicity of silence creates this inner space within us, a space where the integration of our scattered powers becomes possible.

"In this space, we cultivate both exterior and interior silence that fosters and builds up the inner unity of our beings.  Silence creates that wide open space within, where guided by the Holy Spirit, we can come to the knowledge and experience of the living God and where we can better apprehend the mystery of his infinite love for each of us.  Silence purifies our vision, cleanses our hearts, and strengthens and deepens our prayer.  The simplicity of silence brings light and clarity to our minds; it grants peace, tranquility, and perseverance as we toil daily.  Silence is the inner source of strength, harmony, and stability in our daily endeavors. It provides with the groundedness we need, keeping us centered, reminding us always of what the Gospels call the unum necessarium...the only one thing that is necessary."

~ Brother Victor-Antoine D'Avila-Latourrette
"The Gift of Simplicity

{Painting by Fransisco de Zurbaran}

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sacred Fire: Practicing Devotion to the Heart of Jesus {book review}

I had the privilege of reviewing Sacred Fire: Practicing Devotion to the Heart of Jesus by Philadelphia born, Philip Michael Bulman.

Honestly, even though we had our home enthroned to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and we have an image of it on our fireplace mantle as well as over our bed...I really didn't know much about the origin of this devotion and really haven't felt led to look any further.  I didn't know if I would really stick with this book...but that fear was allayed once I glanced at the table of contents and started reading the first chapter.

This book introduces devotion to the Sacred Heart as a simple way to enter into an intimate relationship with God.

This book is rich in scriptural references and even devotes a whole chapter on scriptural foundations and the Heart of Jesus. Did you know the word heart appears 1000 times in the Bible?  God's and ours.

The beginning chapters focus on the many revelations from Jesus to some of our beloved Saints beginning with the beloved disciple, St. John who at the Last Supper reclined on the very Heart of Jesus.  I was edified to see two chapters devoted to the influence of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Carmel especially St. Teresa Margaret Redi of the Sacred Heart and St. Teresa of the Andes.  These were my favorite chapters of course!

The book is not just limited to the Sacred Heart but also includes the revelations to St. Faustina on the Divine Mercy and the blood and water pouring forth from the Heart of Jesus.

The relationship between Eucharist and the Sacred Heart is also explored.

"The Eucharist is one of the primary means Jesus uses to pour out the treasures of His Sacred Heart on humanity."

The remaining chapters are dedicated to the actual devotion and the many ways one can foster this devotion in their lives.

I can truly say this book was an enjoyable read and has enlightened me and I now feel drawn closer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus asking Him to dwell within.  As St. Teresa Margaret states, "I enclose myself in Your loving Heart as in a desert in order to live in you."

Friday, August 15, 2014

Reflections on silence

Only silence guards the mystery of the journey that a person walks with God, said Pope Francis in his homily at Mass on Friday morning at the Casa Santa Marta. May the Lord, the Pope added, give us “the grace to love the silence”, which needs to be guarded from all publicity.
In the history of salvation, neither in the clamour nor in the blatant, but the shadows and the silence are the places in which God chose to reveal himself to humankind.
The imperceptible reality from which his mystery, from time to time, took visible form, took flesh. The Pope’s reflections were inspired by the Annunciation, which was today’s Gospel reading, in particular the passage in which the angel tells Mary that the power of the Most High would “overshadow” her. The shadow, which has almost the same quality as the cloud, with which God protected the Jews in the desert, the Pope said.
“The Lord always took care of the mystery and hid the mystery. He did not publicize the mystery. A mystery that publicizes itself is not Christian; it is not the mystery of God: it is a fake mystery! And this is what happened to Our Lady, when she received her Son: the mystery of her virginal motherhood is hidden. It is hidden her whole life! And she knew it. This shadow of God in our lives helps us to discover our own mystery: the mystery of our encounter with the Lord, our mystery of our life’s journey with the Lord.”
“Each of us,” affirmed the Pope, “knows how mysteriously the Lord works in our hearts, in our souls.” And what is “the cloud, the power, the way the Holy Spirit covers our mystery?”
“This cloud in us, in our lives is called silence: the silence is exactly the cloud that covers the mystery of our relationship with the Lord, of our holiness and of our sins. This mystery that we cannot explain. But when there is no silence in our lives, the mystery is lost, it goes away. Guarding the mystery with silence! That is the cloud, that is the power of God for us, that is the strength of the Holy Spirit.”

The Mother of Jesus was the perfect icon of silence. From the proclamation of her exceptional maternity at Calvary. The Pope said he thinks about “how many times she remained quiet and how many times she did not say that which she felt in order to guard the mystery of her relationship with her Son,” up until the most raw silence “at the foot of the cross”.

~ Vatican Radio 
Feast of the Annunciation
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