16th century mystic John of the Cross once wrote: “Silence is God’s first language.” Now, I’m a firm believer that God comes to us every day in any number of ways, through the bubbling laughter of our children, the joyous harmony of a choir, the hustle and bustle of a busy day, even the anguished cries of a broken heart.
But there’s something special about silence. Continue reading
When you think of a “holy” person, what image comes to mind? Perhaps you think of a priest, deacon, nun, or other clergy. Or that person in your parish who attends daily Mass. Or the volunteer who devotes his or her time to soup kitchens, food pantries, and other charitable organizations.
When you imagine a holy person…do you ever picture yourself?
To be holy is to be like God. Doesn’t that seem kind of lofty? How on earth could ordinary ol’ me achieve such a thing? The answer lies right in the question. Holiness doesn’t come from the “earthly” world. It’s not something we earn, or work towards, or deserve. It’s a gift from God. As St. Paul writes in his letter to the Ephesians, “God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love.” (Ephesians 1:4)
God chose us. How beautiful! Continue reading
Not long ago my friend told me a story of a time she cleaned out a large pantry in her house. She found spices that had been there since she was a child. Many had grown dull and lost their flavor. Clearing them away left room for something new and different, and she had fun looking up recipes and shopping for spices she had never tried before.
She related this experience to being in a “rut” in her spiritual life. For so many years, she had done the same things in exactly the same way: church once a week, confession once a year. Her prayer life had become stagnant and lost some of its “flavor.” She desired to spice up her spiritual life by trying some new things. She joined a women’s faith group at church. She volunteered to read at Stations of the Cross during Lent. She opened herself up to whatever spiritual opportunities might fall into her path.
This time of year can bring on the doldrums. The excitement of Christmas is fading away and spring seems a long way off. Long, dark, cold days seem to run into one another. Have you been stuck in a prayer life that is safe and predictable? Have you become complacent in how you live your faith, or perhaps even rigid in your way of doing things? Our loving God desires us to constantly grow in our faith. Jesus calls us to renew our relationship with Him as we journey ever closer to the Father.
Faith is not a standing still.
Look for ways to add some spice to your spiritual life this season. Try something new. Pay attention to the Holy Spirit whispering into the quiet, dormant, cob-webbed corners of your heart. God is trying to “ruffle your feathers” in ways you may not expect. It may feel a bit unsettling, but like my friend, be open to it and see where God may be leading you.
Embrace the journey!
Yesterday’s liturgy marked the official end of our Christmas season. What was the best gift you received this year? I was lucky to get a Fitbit® and I’ve been having so much fun with it. Since December 26 I’ve walked the equivalent of 70 miles. Hard to believe, but a great feeling! As I watched my boys happily examining their Christmas bounty, it got me thinking about gifts from my own childhood. The one that sticks in my mind is from 1978. All year I wished and hoped for the “Pretty Changes” Barbie doll. She had a series of hair extensions, hats, and accessories allowing you to change her look from day-to-day. I was filled with joy to find her under the Christmas tree, and she was by far the best gift I got that year.
Several months later, in a minor tussle with my older sister, my doll’s head broke off. Feeling awful, my sister valiantly tried to glue it back on, but didn’t quite get it on straight. As a result, my Barbie had a thick and stubby neck, and permanently looked smugly off to the side, never meeting the gaze of her Barbie doll friends.
I lost my enthusiasm to play with “Pretty Changes” after that. She was broken…and I had no use for broken things. Continue reading