Journey with us...

Journey with us...

Monday, August 29, 2016

The Little Virtues: Humility

Another aspect of Salesian Spirituality which we are amazingly challenging are the "Little Virtues".  The little virtues are humility, gentleness, and simplicity.  These three virtues form a sort of basic groundwork for our charism and our way of life. In reflecting on these virtues, I found myself thinking of them as three basic relational steps:

  1. Embrace your true self (humility)
  2. Embrace others as they are (gentleness)
  3. Interact with genuineness (simplicity


Each of these little virtues has great deal of depth and so I would like to simply focus on one at a time.


Humility

Might as well get this tough one tackled first!

So many of the saints speak of this virtue and each one highlights a particular way of looking at it.  It can be seen as looking at all your bad points, or interpreted as being sure you are never thought well of.  But these ideas are not the truth of what any of the saints is saying!  St. Francis de Sales speaks very clearly of our need to know our faults and failings, but also to know our gifts and talents.  Humility, as St. Vincent de Paul (a close contemporary of Holy Father) says, "is nothing but truth and pride is nothing but lying".  Our Holy Father would certainly agree as he encourages us to see ourselves as God sees us.  Humility for St. Francis de Salesis (in my own words): To see ourselves, both the good and the bad within us, as God sees us and to embrace it! 

While beginning to prepare this post, I was amazed to hear what was being read in the refectory about this (now past) Sunday's Gospel (Luke 14:1,7-14):
"We often say that we are nothing, the worst of men, the world's refuse.  But we would be sorry to have someone take us at our word or spread our own account of ourselves.  On the contrary we make a show of retreating and hiding, so that someone may run after us and seek us out; we pretend to want to be the last, seated at the foot of the table, but only in order to move 'humbly' to the head.  True humility makes no pretense and speaks no tone of humility.  For it desires not merely to hide the other virtues, but first and foremost to hide itself... let us not cast down our eyes without humbling our hearts, let us only seem to wish to be last if we have the real desire for it."
I thought to myself, boy! This sounds perfect for the post I am writing.  It is just what St. Francis de Sales would say.... then the reader said "And that was taken from Introduction to a Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales" (Book III, ch 5).   So the Lord really seems to wish this little post to come to you now and Holy Father has even provided us with his own words to sit with.  What could I possibly add to that?!

Just one thing, an oft-quoted phrase of our dear St. Francis de Sales:
"Be who you are and be that well" 
AMEN


Saturday, August 27, 2016

Meditation

In looking through some papers in my cell (the monastic term for your bedroom), I came across a few notes from the book, Live Today Well, by Fr. Thomas Dailey, O.S.F.S.  (See the video below to learn from Fr. Dailey himself about this book)

These notes, I thought, would be perfect for a blog post!  We will see how the Lord leads... but perhaps more than one blog post will stem from his insights!

First, I want to share a simple way to approach meditation, Salesian style!! Father has broken the process down into 5 main steps: Presence, Imagination, Consideration, Affection, Resolution.

Presence
This is a brief period to put your mind in the correct place.  Think about the reality that God is everywhere... God is within you!  Yes, God is really and truly there with you as you begin your time of prayer.  It can be helpful to picture Him sitting beside you, sitting in your heart, or gazing upon you from Heaven.  Find an image that helps you to simply place yourself in the presence of God.

Imagination
Now that you have God with you, enter into a scene with Him.  Perhaps this is a Bible story or something going on in your own life.  It really is easiest to place yourself into a Biblical story and take note of what is happening. This will encourage an encounter with God, which is the main goal of meditation.

Consideration
Now that you are in the scene with God, consider more deeply your surroundings.  How are people reacting?  What is God doing? What are you doing? What sounds do you hear?  Sights do you see? How do you react to the situation?

Affection
In your own reaction, look more deeply at how the scene is affecting you.  Are you inspired?  In what way?  Do you have an emotional response?  What does this response teach you about God or about yourself?

Resolution
Finally, how can you make this interaction with God into something concrete to take through your day?  Perhaps you were standing there as Jesus raised the little girl from the dead.  What things in your life will you allow Jesus to resurrect today?  How can you act in such a manner as to help someone else "get up"?

While this is a very abbreviated version of how to meditate, I find it quite helpful.  Depending on how much time you have to pause for prayer, each of these "steps" can be shorter or longer.  You may find that even in a 10 minute space of time the Lord will speak and show you a little "flower" (remember our spiritual bouquets?) you can carry through your day.




Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Behold

Behold!!

What do you think of when you hear this word?  Behold the Lamb of God... Behold Him who takes away the sins of the world...

I am currently looking more in depth at the Gospel of St. Matthew from a Visitandine lens.  This little interjection caught my attention because Jesus said to St. Margaret Mary, "Behold this Heart". In Matthew it is first used to introduce the appearances of the angel to Mary and to Joseph. These moments were huge!  Mary becomes the Mother of God, Joseph allows his heart to be moved to take Mary into his home and to be the foster-father of Christ, to take his family to Egypt, and to bring his family home to Nazareth.

Joseph respond to these "behold" moments immediately.  It brought me to think of the movement of my heart when Jesus says, "Behold this Heart"  this Heart which "has so loved men".  One of our sisters was given an opportunity to go the Paray le Moniel for a conference on the Guard of Honor (a few years ago) and one of the speakers highlighted the depth of this phrase.  Jesus, your Love, your God, has come before you holding out His Heart and begging you to love Him because His Heart is burning with Love and burning with desire to be loved in return.

Imagine, if you will, your spouse (or someone with whom you are very close) coming to you with a pleading look in his or her eyes.  They look at you with an intensity of suffering and desire.  They say to you,
"[your name] I love you!  Look!  Look at my heart (at this they reach into their chest and pull out their heart, beating visibly before your eyes), Look at my heart which does so love you!  Will you love me in return?"   
How would you respond to this?  Of course you love them, so why such a deep plea?  Why?  Because for Jesus so many to whom He pours out his love do not love Him in return.

Therefore, for a Visitandine, for any lover of the Sacred Heart, each time we see this word, "Behold", our hearts should see that beating Heart of Christ, longing for our love in return, longing for that immediate response to His call just as Joseph responded to the message of the angel and Mary respond with her famous "Fiat".  So too shall we respond with that immediate love.