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“This is the way to become a new creation in Christ Jesus. The old way of being will pass away and we will be made new in Him." -2 Cor. 5:17-18
March 2020Here at Women of Grace we are busy preparing for our upcoming events, additional webinars on insightful and inspiring topics, and a host of other outreaches to help us live our call as Catholics in the world today, none of which would be possible without your prayers and financial support. Please visit our website (womenofgrace.com) to find out all about our upcoming events, including our annual Women of Grace Retreat at Malvern Retreat House in July.
It’s hard to believe we are already closing in on the halfway mark of Lent. How would you evaluate your Lent thus far? It’s a good question to ask at the mid-way point. It’s never too late to adjust, begin again, or even start over should you need to.
Life being what it is, I have often found it beneficial to come up with a plan and a strategy to help me enter more deeply into the Lenten season. In years past, I have planned and strategized how to “give up” certain foods or treats (don’t buy them), activities and recreations (don’t go to them), habits and behaviors (don’t do them). One year I even gave up going to the mall (don’t drive by it). That was my longest Lent ever!
Along with the exclusions, I have often added a few inclusions: more time in prayer and study, going to adoration more frequently and performing additional acts of charity.
This year, I have devised a new plan centered around behaviors that start with “C,” as in Cross. Together, they are acting as a compass leading me through this holy season. The goal has been to implement some and eliminate others. I’ll leave it to you to figure out which is which!
Here are a few:
» Carry On
In the end, the purpose is to advance in becoming what the cross is all about – LOVE. Recall that it was because of His love for us that God gave us His Son, and it was out of the Son’s love for us that the Son chose the Cross. Two passages from Scripture tell us as much: For God so loved the world that He gave His Only-Begotten Son, that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but have everlasting life John 3:16), and There is no greater love than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (John 15:13).
As Christians, we are called to live Christ, to be His presence in the world, to be His love among men in all of the diverse circumstances, situations, and nuances of our daily lives. Jesus tells us:
This is my commandment: love one another love as I have loved you (John 15:12). And this, It was not you who chose me, it was I who chose you to go forth and bear fruit. Your fruit must endure… The command I give is this, that you love one another (John 15:16,17).
Both remind me of yet another passage. Given to us through St. Paul, this one shows us the way to love: Love is patient, love is kind. Love is not jealous, it does not put on airs, it is not snobbish. Love is never rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not prone to anger; neither does it brood over injuries. Love does not rejoice in what is wrong but rejoices in the truth. There is no limit to love’s forbearance, to its trust, its hope, its power to endure … Love never fails … There are in the end three things that last: faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these is love (1 Cor. 13: 4-7, 8, 13). This is the way to become a new creation in Christ Jesus. The old way of being will pass away and we will be made new in Him (2 Cor. 5:17-18).
Lent is 40 days long. Researchers tell us it takes about six weeks to engage a new behavior. My hope is that implementation of my “C” words will help me overcome vices, grow in virtue, and better become Christ’s love in the world today.
It’s been a lofty goal to be sure, but why not think big for the Lord? We can never arrive at our destination if we never set off.
Let’s sojourn together through this holy time no matter or plan or strategy. Together we can do great things through the Lord!
As always, I faithfully remain...
As I write this, we are just coming to the close of the Octave of the Christmas season. We are still basking in the gift of Jesus Christ, Our Lord, who came to us again in a humble manger to enter our hearts anew.
With hearts full of praise and thanksgiving, we seek to acknowledge the great gift of our salvation; and yet, because God cannot be outdone in generosity, our gratitude itself becomes a conduit through which He dispenses an abundance of ongoing grace.
Expressing this very reality, St. Therese of Lisieux said:
It is the spirit of gratitude which draws down upon us the overflow of God’s grace…for no sooner have we thanked Him for one blessing than He hastens to send us ten additional favors in return. Then, when we show our gratitude for these new gifts, He multiplies His benedictions to such a degree that there seems to be a constant stream of divine grace ever coming our way…This has been my own personal experience; try it for yourself and see.
How was it that St. Therese could be grateful to God for all things – even the most painful and difficult? Perhaps it came from a sure and certain knowledge that God is about every good thing in our lives (Eph. 1:3), and that He is always giving us spiritual blessings because it is of His nature to do so. He is perfect love, and perfect love gives all. Therefore, we can be certain that every bit of every day is infused with precisely the graces we need to meet every joy and every challenge.
This knowledge led St. Therese, as it has all of the great saints, to acquire a supernatural outlook, a way of seeing all things from God’s perspective. Supernatural outlook helps us discover the blessings in the midst of sorrows, the joys in the midst of contradictions, the consolations in the midst of desolations. And in so doing, we discover the rich treasure that God indeed “works all things to the good for those who have been called according to His purposes” (Rom. 8:28). With the scales removed from our eyes, we can see the blessings and beatitudes God is giving us, and this leads to an ever-deepening realization of His beneficence -- grace upon grace tumbling down upon us wrapped in the packaging of our life’s events.
Gratitude, praise, thanksgiving open the heart to the reality of God’s love for us and His interaction with us. As we enter this New Year and decade, let us take St. Therese’s advice to “try it” for ourselves that we might “see.” Let us ask her to intercede for us, that we might act with faith and trust and supernatural outlook. Let us ask her to help us see the blessings God is bestowing, even when they are shrouded in the garment of suffering. Let us ask her to help us praise God for these blessings so that our eyes can open to all of the grace He is giving us. In this way, we will enter that “constant stream of divine grace ever coming our way” and experience a greater depth of the abundant life that Our Savior comes to bring us (John 10:10).
Please pray for our mission as we enter this New Year together. I look forward to keeping you updated on our projects and plans as the year unfolds. May the abundant life of Jesus Christ be yours and may God bless you!
With gratitude and love in the Two Hearts,
"True charity consists in putting up with one's neighbor's faults, never being surprised by his weakness, and being inspired by the least of his virtues."
-St. Therese of Lisieux
Can we love our neighbor as we love ourselves even when he is irksome, irritable, annoying, or just plain grumpy? How do we show the true face of God's love despite the battle raging within us.
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