Saturday, July 28, 2012

Loving Christ in the Other

(I know this is a bit long, but I felt compelled to share it. How de we truly see each other? Do we love what we see? This passage is from Michael E. Gaitley's Consoling the Heart of Jesus. I highly recommend reading it along with the passage I've posted below.)

"The merciful outlook is a way of giving drink to the thirsty. It gives a cup of love to another and to ourselves as we make our pilgrimage through this desert of life to the Ocean of Love, the Holy Trinity. I said it provides a cup. The merciful outlook is not a gushing bucket of smother love. It's a cup. It's a simple thing but beautiful to a thirsty heart. It's a subtle way of seeing others - not an intense staring - that communicates to them a simple and sincere message, "I delight that you exist." this modest expression of real delight in the very existence of the other will often be for them a refreshing cup of love, a cup that helps to quench their thirst and point them along the way to the Eternal Fountain of delight-filled Love that alone truly satisfies.

Now, some people may be getting troubled at this point. They may be honing in on how the merciful outlook is a way of seeing others with delight, which may cause them to think, "Wait a minute, delight is a feeling." (People often get nervous about feelings.) In fact, they may be saying to themselves: "He's not suggesting we're always supposed to be feeling delight in others, is he? After all, what matters is not what we feel anyway, right? What truly matters is simply that we choose to love, that we will it." In response to such thoughts, I'd say, "Yes, it's true that sometimes love must be expressed without feeling. Sometimes it's simply a dry but firm decision of the will." (Thus we've all probably heard the expression, "Love is a choice.") However, I'd also say that love simply as a choice is not the ideal. Ideally, love ought to be felt.

Think about it. Unless we ourselves feel love for the other, will our love still carry the warmth that touches hearts?...People are good at distinguishing felt love from forced love. The merciful outlook just doesn't work without true feeling - and it can't be faked. Phony smiles that say "You're just so special!" (gag) do not work. Thus, an important question arises, "How do we feel delight in others?" This question brings us to the essence of the merciful outlook.

Felt delight in others, expressed in the merciful outlook, stems from grasping the truth and beauty of who the other authentically is. And who is the other? The other is Christ. Yet I don't mean te other is Christ in an over-spiritualized kind of way. (There's no ghost-like Christ hiding behind the other's ear.) No, the other is Christ. Christ is not hiding. The other is Christ insofar as he's a member of Christ's Mystical Body (or, if he's not a Christian, he's a prospective member of Christ by virtue of his being made in the image of God and calle dto full membership in Christ's Body). Of course, the other is not the same as Christ the Head of the Body. Still, to be a member of Christ's Body is to truly be Christ. Regarding htis point, it's helpful to reflect once again on Chirst's startling words to Saul (later St. Paul), who had been persecuting Christians, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" (Acts 9:4). The Lord didn't say, "Hey, Saul, why are you persecuting my followers?" Rather, he said, "Why are you persecuting me?" 

So the member of Christ's Body is Christ. The word "is" here is important. The merciful outlook I'm proposing takes it seriously. For this outlook aims to discover the other person as a unique member of the Body of Christ. As a member (or potential member) of Christ's Body, the other person shows forth an utterly unique facet of the mystery of Christ. I'll now say more about this, for this is precisely that in which we should feel our delight when we delight in another person. It's also what helps turn the over-spiiritualized outlook into the merciful outlook.

A Christian ought to delight in Christ. He ought to have drunk deeply of the beauty, goodness, and glory of Christ Jesus. He ought always to be eager to have more of Christ, that is, to know him more fully so as to love him more deeply. Well, the members of the Body of Christ help us to know and love Christ more. I say that because each and every human being is created in the image of God and given a vocation to manifest by his redeemed existence a facet of the beauty of Christ in a way that no other human being in the cosmos is capable of doing. What an amazing vocation each person has! No wonder Christ longs for us to become saints, for a saint is someone who most perfectly fulfills this vocation. A saint manifests the unique face of Christ he or she is called to be. Thus, a saint helps reveal Christ to us, and Christ is so beautiful in his saints...

We really can have the merciful outlook. The saints have it, and we're called to be saints. We're called to see as they see. And how do they see? They see as God sees. And how does God see? He sees the beauty of what he created (see Gen 1:31). In an unrepentant sinner, he still sees a vocation to greatness even if it's tragically entombed in a hardened heart. Amazingly, when such a sinner recognizes that God sees this greatness in him, he begins to come alive. Such is the gaze of God. Such is the power of mercy. Such is the meaning and power of the merciful outlook. It draws out the good and brings back to life. It's a God-like gazing on others that draws out their good and brings them into the new and more abundant life.

Sometimes this God-like gaze is terrible. It's terrible not in the sense of "that movie was terrible" but in the weighty sense of that "terrible day" when Christ comes again on the clouds of heaven with trumpet blasts (See Mt 24:30-31). For the merciful outlook does indeed bring with it a kind of reckoning. It's not yet the "terrible day of reckoning" - thank God - but it's like it. For the person who receives the merciful outlook from another sees reflected in the eyes of the other the words, "You are great." However, these words are also a call to greatness. For, while the greatness is truly there - the other person sees it! - it's not fully there.

The person who receives the merciful outlook knows that the greatness he sees reflected back at him in the eye of the other is tragically not all there in him, because he can also feel the gaze of his own "inner eye," his conscience. This inner eye makes him tragically aware of not being who he's meant to be, which is terrible. Yet it's not despairingly terrible. For there's still the gaze of the other, at least in memory, constantly echoing the words, "You are great." So the person feels himself in the midst of the terrible drama of having to choose either to be the person he presently is or the person he's called to become, either the person of mediocrity or the awe-inspiring person he was destined to be from before the foundation of the world (Se Mt 25:34; Eph 1:4) ...

The merciful outlook...makes a strategic choice to go for what St. Ignatius would call "the greater good." It chooses mercy over justice and trusts in the power of mercy to bring an even greater good out of evil....the merciful outlook ideal is definitely high: to delight in each person we meet. That's not easy. It's not easy to delight in the people we see every day. It's not easy to find treasure in people day in and day out, especially when there's a lot going on. It's not easy, and we often don't do it. Of course we'll fail - but we'll also succeed, and the successes are worth the pain of failure. So yes, to the extent that our duties allow us, we should try to reach our ideal. It's not possible to live perfectly, but it is possible to live. Why? Because people really do have an amazing beauty that comes from being the unique members of the Body of Christ they are (or are called to be). Even if we see them every day for the rest of our lives, there's no exhausting their richness. 

But how do we know this? How do we know all that beauty is really there? After all, most of the time it might seem like it's not there. People are people - and, frankly, we do seem to be a motley crew. Moreover, the day-in, day-out people, especially those we live with and love, quickly seem to lose their mystery. One test shows that each person is an inexhaustible beauty: death. Someone we know and love suddenly dies. Just as suddenly, they're not so mundane. Suddenly, we easily see past their annoying aspects and remember the irreplaceable gift that they were - and in fact, as we remember them, we often find we love those aspects that annoyed us and wish we could experience them again...there was a treasure in the beloved that no one can replace...and we rightfully mourn the fact that this side of heaven, we'll never encounter it again. We rightfully weep because there's a hole in the cosmos, a reflection of Christ's face that, here, we behold no more.

So wonder and delight at the beauty of another is something real - we surely feel it's absence after someone we love has just died. It's not something too "romantic," though we may indeed be setting ourselves up for disappointment if we expect to feel it all the time. Still, we can try. We can ask for the grace. We can continue to draw close to Christ, especially to the suffering of his Heart, and hope that he'll make our hearts more like his.

The Heart of Christ. yes, that's the goal. As members of his body, we share his Heart. We can love with his Heart, the Heart that always sees the treasure (and the suffering) of each person, the Heart that always sees his image in another, the pierced Heart that knows at what terrible price the other has been made so beautiful."

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Lily of the Mohawks

"I am not my own; I have given myself to Jesus."
~Blessed Kateri Tekawitha

Blessed Kateri Tekawitha was born in 1656 near what is now Auriesville, NY. A Mohawk, her parents died from smallpox when she was very young. Raised by her tribe, smallpox also had a damaging effect on Kateri as well, leaving her eyesight impaired and her face scarred from her own struggle with the disease. 

When Kateri was a young adult, Jesuit missionaries visited her village and inspired her to be baptized and received into the Catholic faith; she was 18 years old. The Jesuit missionaries, among the first of the North American Martyrs, were later killed. Shortly after, Kateri was also driven away by her own tribe. Two years later she died in 1980, but not before giving herself completely to Christ in holy virginity. She was 24 years old.

Shortly after her death, her smallpox scars miraculously disappeared. Fr. Pierre Cholenec, who administered her last rights, said, “This face, so marked and swarthy, suddenly changed about a quarter of an hour after her death, and became in a moment so beautiful and so white that I observed it immediately”. Pope Pius XII declared it as an authentic miracle in 1943. Many pilgrims at her funeral were also healed. Bl. Kateri Tekakwitha also appeared to at least two different individuals in the weeks following her death. In 1980 she was beatified by Bl. John Paul II and later this year she will be canonized on Oct. 21st. Known by many as the "Lily of the Mohawks" she will be the first Native American saint.

*Most information taken from

Thursday, May 31, 2012


‎"In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, and she entered the house of Zechari'ah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry,

"Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord."

And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm, he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts, he has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity for ever."

 And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her home."

 ~Luke 1:39-56

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

He truly is Strong Enough To Save

For all of you, and whatever you're going through.
Just remember, The Lord is protecting you.
"Be not afraid!"

Via the Ironic Catholic

Passing along from a fellow blogger:

"Many of you know my husband and I are adopting a little boy through Reece’s Rainbow, a Christian ministry that advocates for the international adoption of kids with special needs. We anticipate completing that adoption within the next month or two. In the meantime, we’ve been going through a bureaucratic ropes course (so to speak) to move forward on this. Alex is totally worth it, but I admit, it has been grueling. Kind of like doing five years of taxes with PMS while in line at the DMV.

I met Vera (her website) through the support group for those adopting from our hoped-for son’s home country in Eastern Europe (we can’t name the country online, sorry!). Vera and her husband Joey were trying to adopt another little boy, same age…but towards the end of their paper trail, found out the child was suddenly not be available for international adoption after all. After a few months of trying to find clarity on what was a complicated family court situation in his country, they were advised to give up hope on adopting this particular child they had loved and prayed for. Not knowing what else to do, they grieved, and just tread water for a few weeks.

But that desire to adopt, that sense someone was out there and meant to be in their family, caused them to look again. And they saw 4 ½ yr old pig-tailed Harper (not her real name).

...and knew. She’s the one. They made quick inquiries—truly? She’s available when she’s 5? Actually, they were told, she’s available NOW. Because she has HIV and HepC…two diagnoses that are manageable on their own, but together, require very savvy medical care to keep in check. They’ve been told Harper is a sick little girl and needs better medical care asap. Vera and family are almost entirely ready to go paper-wise--the dossier is being sent this week--and they have paid thousands out of pocket for nearly all costs to this point. But they had expected to have a few months to fundraise and gather resources for travel and facilitation fees. To get Harper the medical care she needs as quickly as possible, they need to raise about $15,500 in...two months.

Like most families adopting kids with special needs, the problem is not really how to afford to care for the kids once home: decent medical insurance helps a lot with this, and there are federal rules for what people need to earn to be able to adopt. People who choose this kind of adoption think it to death, trust me! Vera and family are ready to love Harper and provide good care for her. But the costs of international adoption—well, no one I know has that kind of money lying around. We are able to complete our adoption through the incredible generosity of friends and family. Look, God can do this. But He needs His people’s help. Another woman who has just adopted through RR (Jennifer Doloski) and I schemed to run a fundraising giveaway for Harper. Everyone, the situation is serious, but this part of it is going to be fun—as it should be, because we all get to be part of saving a little girl’s life. We’re celebrating, people!"

*Read more here:
Great way to help out someone in need. And some cool prizes to win too.