Interior Peace Journey
Overall Goal: May the peace of Christ reign in your hearts (Col 3:15). The goal is to help people cultivate and maintain a life of interior peace amidst the different seasons of their spiritual journey with God. We’ll do this by first helping them be attentive to and respond to the different movements/promises of God in their spiritual life and then, encourage a type of response that will open them up to receive the most graces. By helping people be attentive to God’s action in their ordinary life, they will hopefully cultivate a deeper trust, deeper surrender and live a deeper interior peace.
Week 6: Joyful Hope- Finding meaning to your experiences.
To find peace in transforming your thorns into helping others who experience your pain.
Goal of the Week: Discover God’s Promise: I will give meaning to your life
Our Response: Invite God to work through you to help others
Quote: "It is not for His gifts that I continue in prayer but because He is the true life. It is not so much by hope but by bonds of love that I am drawn. It is not for gifts, but for the Giver that I ever yearn. It is not glory I aspire to, but it is the Glorified one I wish to embrace. It is not by the desire for life, but by the remembrance of Him who gives life that I am ever consumed. It is not for joyous passions that I yearn, but it is because of a desire for Him who is preparing them that my heart bursts out in tears. It is not rest that I seek but it is the face of Him who offers rest that I seek in prayers." St. Gregory of Nyssa
Response: The greatest service we can render our neighbor is to sanctify ourselves! In doing so we become a powerhouse for the distribution of graces to others. This Tremendous Lover
Quote: "Our words ABOUT God are not healing. You must bring him to others as a result of your loving Him. Then your words and your presence will be useful. We must first suffer the coming of Christ ourselves in order to minister to others. Then you will be a type of Christian who will be able to endure the wounds and the suffering and the darkness of others and bring light to those people." Deacon Keating
Response: We forget that love is not about what I can get but about what I can give. To truly love is to give without a sense of being deprived. A sheer gift of self, does not leave one in distress, but rather in a state of joy.
Quote: "Great and holy ideas and deep convictions often influence others only through the attractiveness of those who embody them. A truly holy person, by divine grace, without even speaking, exudes the delicate perfume of the flowers of graciousness, equanimity, joy, simplicity, and serenity. Such a person attracts others by her gentle influence and prepares them for God's approach, which she eventually obtains for them through her prayers." Elizabeth Leseur
Response: Have peace that God can draw good even from our faults. So great is the mercy of the Lord that He uses our faults to our advantage! This also becomes a source of tenderness and mercy toward others. I, who fall so easily, how can I permit myself to judge my brother or sister? How can I not be merciful toward him, as the Lord has been toward me? - Fr. Jacques Philippe
Quote: "You are a vessel of honor. I know your desire is to be shaped by me, to be used by me. That is what I created you for, to be a vessel of honor. I want to fill you up with my love, my hope, my blessing, and pour your out to quench a thirsty world. Even on those days when you feel broken and empty, I can still use you, as long as you are firmly held in my grasp. I chose you because you have seen your own brokenness and have given every shattered piece to me. No one can become a vessel of honor without emptying herself, let me hold you, let me fill you." His Princess.
Response: "If I am still not able to remain at peace when faced with difficult situation, then it is better that I should begin to strive to keep this peace in the easier situations of everyday life: to quietly and without irritability do my daily chores, to commit myself to doing each thing well in the present moment without preoccupying myself with what follows, to speak peacefully and with gentleness to those around me, to avoid excessive hurry in my gestures. The first steps on the ladder of sanctity could very well be those of my own home." Fr. Jacques Philippe
Quote: "We can 'work for Him' that is, we can choose what we want to give Him, what we want Him to like, what we think He needs and desires from us. Or we "do His work", meaning, we can ask Him what He would like and do what He desires. 'Do His work', no matter how repugnant it may be to us." Fr. Thomas Green - Darkness in the Marketplace.
Response: What are the ways I "work for God"? Am I giving Him what He really wants and desires? "I learned long ago that God's purpose in redeeming us is not to primarily make our lives happy, healthy, or free from trouble. God's purpose in redeeming us is to make us more like Jesus."Joni Eareckson Tada
Quote: "Love of God lived in its fullest sense leads to a most selfless dedication to the neighbor." Henri Nouwen - Genesee Diary
"When we reach out to help others who struggle, our suffering comes full circle. Our thorns have anointed us with purpose." Mary Ann Froehlich
Response: "'Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing' 1 Thess 5:11 We surely know that we can be huge gifts to each other, and that we can also be the source of great happiness. Lord, help me to be an encouraging person, one who gives life rather than diminishes it. Please bless those who have been full of encouragement for me, and help me notice all the small and large ways that I can be encouraging and supportive to others. What wonderful opportunities I will have, not only to bring a blessing to others, but also to receive blessings" Joan Guntzelman
Quote: "Each of us is the one who must live in such a way as to make it evident that she knows she is loved. A woman who knows she is loved can do anything. This is a woman's strength. If a woman feels unloved, she is weak. She still can do, but not in the way that she can if she knows she is loved. Nothing is too hard to a woman who knows she is loved. Well...we are! We are loved deeply by God. We must deepen our knowledge of that." Mother Mary Francis - Come Lord Jesus
Response: Does your Sabbath recharge your batteries - or drain them? Try this experiment. Plan a Sabbath (rest day) experience that meets the following biblical criteria:
*You will truly rest
*You will focus on God without distraction
*You will leave your burdens behind and certainly not add to them
*You will remember how God has cared for you in the past
*You will not work in any way and enjoy complete rest.
*You may even pamper yourself but make sure other are being pampered too
*Include experiences of solitude and silence
Mary Ann Froehlich
Week 5: When God seems silent.
"Is the moment of most profound silence the moment of God's most profound presence?" Barbara Brown Taylor
Goal of the Week: Discover God’s Promise-- I will ask of you only what you can give
Our Response: Be Still and Know. Deeper Surrender
Quote: "Whereas for a long time, the spirit acted so clearly through my flesh, now I feel nothing. I have lived with the expectation that prayer would become easier as I grow older. But the opposite seems to be happening. The words 'darkness' and 'dryness' seem to best describe my prayer today. What are the darkness and dryness about? What do they call me to? Are they signs of God's absence or are they signs of a presence deeper and wider than my senses can contain? Maybe the time has come to let go of my prayer and my effort to be close to God, my way of being in communion with the divine and to allow the Spirit of God to flow freely in me." Henri Nouwen
Response: "We often misinterpret God's call to wait and be patient as His silence. We need to learn to accept God as He reveals Himself to us. His work is often imperceptible and slow." Mary Ann Froehlich
Quote: "If God withdraws and conceals himself, we ought not to question why He hides, or worse, interpret his hiding as a sign of losing His love. We should beg only that He reveals His hiding place so that we may go there in search of Him. We should have no thought of losing our beloved's love, only of finding Him again. Contemplative Provocations" - Fr. Donald Haggerty.
Response: Jesus promises, "I will ask of you only what you can give". With that in mind, let's renew our trust in His way of accompanying us. In the daily experience of our miseries and faults, it is not so much a question of our making superhuman efforts to completely eliminate our imperfections and our sins, as it is a question of knowing how, to recapture our peace when we have fallen and to avoid sadness and discouragement, which can be mixed in with our own pride because the ideal image that we have of ourselves has been brutally shaken. What is more pleasing to God? Is it when, after experiencing a failure we are discouraged and tormented, or when we react by saying, "Lord, I ask your pardon, I have sinned again, I trust in your Mercy" -
Fr. Jacques Philippe
Quote: "Silence before a God who is now more hidden seems to imply being alone simply with self. Contemplative prayer can seem at first like a conversation that arrives at a sudden awkward silence, without words or thoughts. We are unaccustomed to this absence of speech and at first dislike it. The emptiness can seem without purpose. But all those confusions are simply symptoms. They await an insight. Our own silence is not disagreeable to God, it does not repel Him. He listens to the longing deep within our soul. With God we must learn a new language of love in which words are often unnecessary. Contemplative Provocations" - Fr. Donald Haggerty
Response: "Perhaps the greatest challenge in a time of dryness (and the silence of God) is that we have to trust that love exists deeper than feeling and that the best prayer may be the prayer in which nothing seems to be happening. We have grown accustomed to looking for special experiences or signs to indicate spiritual growth. Now we are called to simply rest in a loving presence without exception." Seeking the Beloved
Imagine God is holding us close and giving us rest from all that is distressing us.
Quote: "A dry desire to love is not at all an absence of love. On the contrary, the dryness is like smoke rising up from a hidden region of fire within the soul. The lack of feeling is only what is consciously experienced. There is a thirst beneath the feelings, a thirst inflamed in the heart of the desert. This aridity slowly carves a wound, a cauterization at a concealed depth of soul which burns away any inclination to seek one's own satisfaction in love. "Contemplative Provocations - Fr. Donald Haggerty
Response: "Though you feel like you are endlessly waiting, you are slowly healing on God's timetable. In the meantime, turn to the Psalms. They have been called the heart of the Bible. They are the most powerful model for communicating with God. Pour out your troubles to God, practice being completely honest with God.
God hears all poured out agony, but he longs to be something more than a celestial pacifier. He wants people in their suffering to come to Him. For He Himself is the gift we really need." John White.
Quote: "God draws us into the desert. The desert is the place of silence, of solitude. It is the absence of the exchanges of daily life, its noise and its superficiality. The desert is the place of the absolute, the place of freedom, the place of grace where we encounter God. Great things have their beginning in the desert, in silence, in poverty. It is not possile to share in the mission of Jesus without sharing in the desert experience, its poverty, its hunger, its silence. Let us pray that He will lead us into the desert and that we will find that deep silence in which His word will abide in us." Pope Benedict - Journey to Easter
Response: "Prayer is not a time when we have to entertain God with holy thoughts of worthy sentiments and words. Prayer is nothing other than being present to God so that God can give to us. The only thing that matters is that we believe this and stay there with Him, regardless of how we feel or don't feel." Ruth Burrows - The Essence of Prayer
Quote: "God's language is silence. Silence gives us a new outlook on life. He requires us to be silent to discover Him. Jesus spent 40 days in silence before beginning His public life. We need to be alone with God in silence to be renewed and to be transformed." Thirsting for God.
Response: Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10
"Peace will never come until we have accepted in totality all that is involved in our suffering, even facing and accepting the fact that the sorrow that has struck us so suddenly may never be removed. Acceptance is taking from God's hand absolutely anything He chooses to give us, looking up into his face with love and trust." Margaret Clarkson
Quote: "One thing that causes us to lose peace is a lack of certitude, the troubling of conscience that is experienced when it is necessary to make a decision and we are not able to see clearly and we experience God's silence. We are afraid to make a mistake that may have disturbing consequences, we are afraid that it may not be the will of God." Fr. Jacques Philippe
Response: 1) Allow time for mature reflection. 2) Know that sometimes, He simply leaves us free and sometimes, for reasons of His own, He does not manifest himself. 3) When the Lord leaves us
goodwill, the right intentions, but in no way does He demand that we would be infallible and that all of our decisions would be perfect!
Week 4: The Art of Waiting for God
Goal of the Week: Discover God's Promise- "I will always be with you."
Our Response: Deeper Patience and Perseverance
Quote: "What strikes me is that WAITING is a period of learning. The longer we wait, the more we learn about Him for whom we are waiting. Advent leads to a growing inner stillness and joy allowing me to realize that He for whom I am waiting has already arrived and speaks to me in the silence of my heart." Henri Nouwen, Genesee Diary.
"Patience is not mere passivity and lack of control over events that happen to me, but rather an active and growing engagement with God’s work. We wait with a sense of promise for something to be received with our cooperation. The farmer waits patiently for the seed to sprout and eventually bear fruit. A mother waits for her child to be formed in her womb and to be born. We enter into the experience of the present moment, even if it involves pain, with a trusting attitude that God is at work. In our anxiety, the temptation is to run away from the place we are rather than remain steadfast. We hope according to God’s promise, not just for our specific wishes, but according to his will." Nouwen
Response: "Our God is a God of peace. He does not speak and does not operate except in peace, not in trouble and agitation. Often, we cause ourselves to become agitated and disturbed by trying to resolve everything ourselves, when it would be more efficacious to remain peacefully before the gaze of God and to allow Him to act and work in us with His wisdom and power. Remember, God only leads up one step at a time. Interior Peace" Fr. Jacques Philippe
Quote: "We are to go into the chamber of our heart and we are to AWAIT the word that rises from within our heart. We receive it in gratitude. Here's the simplest formula for interior prayer. Go into your heart and wait for the word to rise within you." Deacon Keating.
Response: "Not only must we be careful to want and desire good things for their own sake, but also to want and desire them in a way that is peaceful. Our wanting must always be caring, peaceful, patient, detached, and abandoned to God. It should not be impatient, hurried, restless, or irritated waiting. A desire that causes us to lose peace, even if the thing desired is excellent in itself, is not of God. It is God who converts us and causes us to grow, not our nervousness, our impetuosity and our impatience." Fr. Jacques Philippe
Quote: "Seek Jesus! Let your life be a continual sincere search for Him, without ever tiring, without ever abandoning the undertaking, even though darkness should fall on your spirit, temptations beset you and grief and incomprehension wring your heart. These are things that are part of life here below, they are inevitable, but they can also be beneficial because they mature our spirit. We must never turn back even if it should seem to you that the light of Christ is fading. On the contrary, continue seeking with renewed faith and greater generosity" - JPII
Response: "Practice peace and patience in our own faults and imperfections - It is the enemy's tactic to banish peace from our heart because he knows that God abides in peace. Avoid fighting the wrong battle, which we believe is the battle to vanquish all our faults, never to succumb to temptation, and to have no more weaknesses or shortcomings. The real battle is to learn to maintain peace of heart under all circumstances, even in the case of defeat. It is entirely the grace of God that will obtain the victory for us in our spiritual journey." - Fr. Jacques Philippe, Interior Peace
Quote: "While we wait, we cannot say to Jesus, 'I desire you to come, but I do not permit you to come as you are. Don't come with your wounds, don't come with your suffering, don't come as you are.' We have to open wide the gates and permit him to come as He is. He will not storm the gates. He has to be let in freely." Come Lord Jesus - Mother Mary Francis
Response: "Our Lord often approaches us through the presence of others. Let us apply this principle then to a desire that we have that those around us would behave better, that this desire would be peaceful and without distress. How many people lose their peace because the want, at any price, to change those around them? We must reason, if the Lord has still not transformed this person, has not relieved him of such and such an imperfection, it is because He puts up with him as he is! He waits, with patience, the opportune moment. Then I must do likewise. Why be more demanding and impatient than God?" Fr. Jacques Philippe
Quote: "You are being readied for forms of prayer in which your soul will have no other attitude than that of waiting in kind passivity, a profound quiet, making no effort to reason, to imagine, to understand, but gently loving your God with a peaceful will." My Other Self.
Response: "Freedom, detachment and trust make room for God to enter more deeply into our lives. The work I had been unable to do in ten years was done by Jesus in one instant, contenting himself with my good will, which was never lacking." The Fulfillment of All Desire - Ralph Martin
Quote: "One may continue in God's presence, not only by hearing Him, seeing Him or speaking to Him, but also by WAITING to see if it may please Him to look at us, to speak to us, or to make us speak to him, or yet again, by doing nothing of all this, but by simply staying where it pleases him for us to be BECAUSE it pleases him for us to be there." My Other Self.
Response: One abandons oneself completely or not at all. The measure of our interior peace will be that of our abandonment, consequently of our detachment. "All things were given to me from the moment when I no longer sought them." St. John of the Cross
Quote: "I had the fantasy that one day God just might break through the hard shell of my resistance and reveal himself to me in such an intensive and convincing way that I finally would be able to let my "idols " go and commit myself unconditionally to Him. We want God to appear to us in a way that our passions and desires work, but these passions make us blind to His presence now. Focus on the ordinary part of yourself and realize God's presence there. "Henri Nouwen, The Genesee Diary
Response: "God asks for everything, but he doesn't necessarily take everything. The devil, in an effort to prevent us from abandoning ourselves to God, causes us to imagine that if we put everything in God's hands, God will effectively take everything and 'ruin' everything in our lives! Very frequently, the Lord asks only an ATTITUDE of detachment at the level of the heart, a disposition to give Him everything. But he doesn't necessarily 'take' everything. And if God requires effective detachment of us, He will have us clearly understand this in good time, and He will give us the necessary strength." Fr. Jacques Philippe
Week 3: Thriving Through Thorns.
Developing Interior Strength Amidst the Difficulties of Life
Goal of the Week: Discover God’s Promise- "I will give you everything you need to reach eternity"
Our Response: Deeper Faith, Deeper Trust
Quote: "You have given yourself entirely to Our Lord and He has taken you at your word. It is not a small thing to give oneself unconditionally to Our Lord. He sees right down to the bottom of our heart. So, have courage! I tell you that you are on the right path, and that in suffering with patience, and love, you are glorifying our Lord, and doing His holy Will at present." Suffering with Christ.
Response: Write down all the things that take away your peace. If we seek peace "as the world gives it", then it is certain that we will never know peace, but trust in the enduring peace that Jesus gives us. "In the world you will have trouble, but take courage! I have conquered the world"(John 16:33).
Quote: "Consider the workings of Divine Providence and think that the refusal you meet with now is only God's strategy to increase your faith and fervor. Remember how He acted towards the Canaanite woman, treating her harshly and refusing to see or listen to her. He seems to be irritated by her importunity but in reality he admired it and was delighted with her trust and humility." Magnificat Reflection
Response: The first obstacle is that, as long as we have not experienced concretely the fidelity of Divine Providence to provide for our essential needs, we have difficulty believing in it. We cannot experience this support from God unless we leave Him the necessary space in which He can express Himself. Unless a person with a parachute does not jump out into the void, he cannot feel the cords of the parachute support him. - Fr. Jacques Philippe Interior Peace
Quote: "Don't strain to make things perfect. Life in the present order will never be perfect, so don't stretch to put everything right, to order all persons and things once and for all. Life is about living in the balance of the unbalanced, the imperfect, the never finished, the never totally secure, never quite happily ever after. We have to learn to live with the mess." This Blessed Mess - Patricia Livingston.
Response: "If I am not capable of doing great things, I will not become discouraged, but I will do the small things. Sometimes, because we are unable to do great things, heroic acts, we neglect the small things that are available to us and which are, moreover, so fruitful for our spiritual progress and are such a source of joy." Fr. Jacques Philippe.
Quote: "It is a simple fact of life: there will be difficulties, setbacks and disappointments. For some people, there will be rejection; for others, there will be tragic losses. For still others there will be inexplicable suffering. No one is immune from pain; it is part of the package that comes with life." Gordon T. Smith
Response: "This pain is the offering we lay on the altar "My sacrifice is this broken spirit, you will not scorn this crushed and broken heart" (Psalm 51:17) God understands and is tender with our broken hearts. He is the perfect parent who wraps His arms around us and never let’s go as we weep. Crying caused by deep emotion releases different chemicals and is one way our bodies dispose of toxins, cleansing us from tension and distress. God intends for us to cry as a way to heal our pain." Mary Ann Froehlich
Quote: Do not hesitate to love deeply. You might be afraid of the pain that deep love can cause. When those you love deeply reject you, leave you, your heart will be broken. But that should not hold you back from loving deeply. The pain that comes from deep love makes your love even more fruitful. Every time you experience the pain of rejection, you are faced with a choice. You can become bitter and decide not to love again or you can stand straight in your pain and let the soil on which you stand become richer and more able to give life to new seeds. The more you have loved and have allowed yourself to suffer because of your love, the more you will be able to let your heart grow wider and deeper. Thus, the pain of rejection can become fruitful. Yes, as you love deeply, the ground of your heart will be broken more and more, but you will rejoice in the abundance of the fruit it will bear. Henri Nouwen Inner Voice of Love.
Response: "More often that we think, God may be asking a question in the midst of a day's strain and irritations. "Will you lay down your life for me?" If we do not realize that He waits for our answer even in small sacrifices, we soon forfeit the path towards a deeper love for God." Contemplative Hunger - Fr. Donald Haggerty
Quote: "You wonder what to do when you feel attacked on all sides by seemingly irresistible forces. Waves that cover you and want to sweep you off your feet. Sometimes those waves consist of feeling rejected, forgotten, misunderstood. Sometimes they consist of anger, resentment, or even the desire for revenge and sometimes of self-pity and self-rejection. These waves make you feel like a powerless child abandoned by your parents. What are you to do? Make the conscious decision to move the attention of your anxious heart away from these waves and direct it to the One who walk on them and says, 'It's me! Do not be afraid!' Keep turning your eyes to Him and go on trusting that He will bring peace to your heart". Henri Nouwen - Inner Voice of Love.
Response: The most common reason for which we could lose our sense of peace is a fear of certain situations which touch us personally and in which we feel threatened, apprehension in the face of present or future difficulties, fear of lacking something important, of not succeeding, and so forth. To preserve peace there is only one solution, we must rely not on human securities, but on God alone. Look at him and say, "God of peace, I rest in you!" Have confidence that He is very close to you and will put your soul at rest.
Quote: "God is not an employer. God does not work in our lives to make us more productive but to bring us closer to Him. God is more concerned with who we are than with what we do. He is our Father, not our boss. Effective business managers remove obstacles from their employee's paths so they can be more productive and accomplish the most possible. God is a different kind of leader. He often puts obstacles in our path so that we learn to trust Him." Mary Ann Froehlich
"The cross is where we learn to love. It is the source of life. Mary draws us to the cross, which gives life." Fr. Juan Pablo Duran.
"It is often out of the brokenness of our lives that God reveals his choicest beauty and blessings. He makes of our thorns a crown, and of our dark nights a path upon which his love shines with an uncommon radiance." Henry Gariepy
Response: "Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I'm just glad that thorns have roses." (Marteau). "Think about the roses that God sent you through a difficult season of your life. When have you been a rose in a troubled person's life?" Mary Ann Froehlich
"God comforts us not to make us comfortable but to make us comforters." John Henry Jowett.
Who have you comforted because of the comfort you have received from the Father of compassion?
Week 2: Season of Pruning. External Purification.
Goal of the Week: Discover God’s Promise: I will always tell you the truth
Our Response: Prayer of Memory. Don’t deny in the darkness what you’ve seen in the light
Quote: "Our relationship with God brings us to a place where a deeper work in our heart is called for if we are able to continue our spiritual journey. It is in this desert experience of the heart where we are stripped of the protective layer of the roles we have played. Healing, repentance and faith are called for in ways we have not known previously. We face a wide and deep chasm that refuses us passage through self-effort. It is God's intention to use this place to eradicate the final heart walls and obstacles that separate us from Him." The Sacred Romance - Eldredge
Response: "Ask yourself from time to time, could I give this up at once if I knew it to be God's will? Can I leave this here and now without being distressed?" My Other Self.
Quote: "Pruning never feels good. What I know of the vinedresser is His goodness and character. What I don't know is His methods, His means, and His timing. If I know He is good, it makes it easier to go through the process. The vinedresser is never as close to the vine as when He's pruning it." Abiding Together Podcast
Response: Focusing on God's goodness is what gives strength to trust. Write down 5 encounters with God's goodness this past weekend.
Quote: "Pruning is for the purpose of health and for the plant to thrive and bear fruit. Daily pruning is necessary for the plant to continually grow. If it is left unattended, and overgrown, it can take years to restore." Abiding Together
"Purification and fruit belong togeher. Fruit and love belong together. The true fruit is the love that has passed through the cross, through God's purification. 'Remaining' is an essential part of this. Perseverance, patient steadfastness in communion with the Lord amid the vicissitudes of life. Initial enthusiasm is easy. Afterwards though, it is time to stand firm, even along the monotonous desert paths that we are called upon to traverse in this life." Benedict XVI
Response: Questions for Personal Reflection: Do I want to grow? Or stay the same? What kind of fruit is my life bearing?
Quote: "The vinedresser is the one who does all the work. Your soul is in God's hands. He loves it. He looks upon it unceasingly and He makes it pass through the states that, in His wisdom, He sees to be necessary for it. As the ground has to go through the death of winter and the grain to die before bearing fruit, so your soul needs to go through the wine press of temptation and weakness that Christ may make it bear His virtue and divine life. No virtue is solid if not built upon the compunction and true knowledge of our misery.
I see that you are seeking God with sincerity. I tell you in all simplicity that I believe God loves you dearly and that the little worries of this life form that portion of the cross of Jesus which is to unite you to Him." Suffering with Christ.
Response: How do we know if we're bearing fruit and taking up our cross? The answer…we make ourselves available for it to happen. It's the fruit that lasts and brings peace.
Quote: As our prayer life matures, we become more aware of being the clay in the hands of the potter. The clay can do nothing to transform itself into an object of beauty. But it can be soft, pliable, sensitive to the potter's touch. The clay is never broken by anything the potter may do to it, unless the clay has become hard and rigid. Once it begins to resist the potter's touch, to push against his shaping, it will be in danger of breaking. As long as we are content with our hardened shape, the attempts of the potter to refashion us and to transform our ugliness will seem very threatening and frightening to us. But as we begin to realize what we really are and what we might be, the breaking which is necessary for transformation, while still painful, is no longer threatening." Fr. Thomas Green- When the Well Runs Dry.
Response: To find solid footing in the spiritual life, we need to take a moment to ask ourselves, "what behaviors are hindering my growth as a loving person at this time in my life?"
"What is the spirit of love calling me to change in my relationship with God and others?" In answering these questions, it is important not to push for answers but to be patient and live with the questions, allowing the Holy Spirit to be our guide. - From Seeking the Beloved
Quote: "We can stay in love (and persevere through the pruning) because of one magnificent gift of God: Memory. We now house within our memory the experience of our first seeing (falling in love, beholding the beloved). Through our memory, we always have access to the first grace of finally letting God love us. We always want to be in a disposition of receiving His love. We want to stay in love by way of His presence loving us. His presence is always available to us. To stay in love with God is not a magic trick. It's a choice to remember and to stay within that presence." Deacon Keating
Response: Go back to some of your first or strongest memories of your relationship with God. Nourish yourself on the truth personified in God's goodness toward you.
Quote: "The decision to make is simply to say yesto God drawing us deeper. He calls us to let go of the security of our own insights and of our feelings of His presence and let Him draw us to something new, to a more transforming and less consoling prayer, prayer that is more like surgery than like a birthday party. Whatever is happening is all part of putting on the Lord Jesus. Provided we are generous and sincere, we should have somewhere deep within ourself a strong sense that He is truly working His will. Even if it is interiorly dry, somehow this is a dryness that is burning out of us everything that is not Christ. So, whatever is happening, it is the Lord, what we need and desire most is the discerning love, that we can be happy with whatever He is doing, as long as it is the Lord doing it." Thomas Green - Vacation with the Lord
Response: With total trust in Him, prayerfully read Matthew 6: 25-32 and hear Jesus speak these words to your heart:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat [or drink], or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span? Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them. If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all."
Week 1: The Season of Wooing. God’s relentless pursuit.
Goal of the Week: Discover God’s Promise: I will always love you and will never withdraw that love.
Our response: Receptivity of heart. Pondering those experiences for later acts of trust.
Quote: I have called you by name, from the very beginning. You are mine and I am yours. You are my Beloved, on you my favor rests. I have molded you in the depths of the earth and knitted you together in your mother's womb. I have carved you in the palm of my hands and hidden you in the shadow of my embrace. I look at you in with infinite tenderness and care for you with a care more intimate that that of a mother for her child. I have counted every hair on your head and guided you at every step. Wherever you go, I go with you and wherever you rest, I keep watch. I will give you food that will satisfy your hunger and drink that will quench all your thirst. I will not hide my face from you. You know me as your own and I know you as my own. You belong to me. Henri Nouwen
Response: Let God love you! God's embrace and God's love makes us holy. We can only allow, receive, and do eveything we can to remove obstacles, to be attentive to God's will, which is always intent on our good, on making us capable of receiving Him. Ruth Burrows - The Essence of Prayer
Quote: I never want you to doubt my commitment to you. I am the lover of your soul, so let me meet your every need. I long to set you free from searching for false love and acceptance in the wrong places. Let me hold onto your heart and fill you up with eternal love. Then you will feel my Holy Presence and fall in love with Me. His Princess
Response: Questions for Personal Reflection: How can I let Jesus act in me? How can I permit the grace of God to freely operate in my life?
Quote: God does not conquer our hearts except through the excess of love. Cantata of Love.
"His gaze upon the depth of our soul is steady and secure! It reaches own to depths within our souls that we cannot perceive. The presence of His eyes rests upon our soul permamently." Contemplative Hunger
For God, to gaze is to love, and to work favors. God's gaze works 4 blessings in the soul: it cleanses the person, makes her beautiful, enriches and enlightens her. It's the effect of a God who is constantly gazing at us, whose eyes anticipate, radiate, penetrate and elicit beauty. He does not simply look at the beautiful, His looks makes a person beautiful. The Impact of God.
Response: A necessary condition for interior peace is what we might call goodwill (or purity of heart). It is not perfection, nor sainthood achieved, but a habitual determination to always say "yes" to God, in the great things as in the small things. Fr. Jacques Philippe - Interior Peace
Today, try to say "yes" to God in all the things you hear Him asking of you.
Quote: If a person is seeking God, much more is her Beloved seeking Her. God is an approaching God and our main job will not be to construct but to RECEIVE. The key word will be not so much "achievement" as "space". Making space for God in order to receive. The Impact of God
Response: Receptivity means (in part) a rejection of every impulse of anxiety about our relationship with God as though it has to be established, inherited, or summoned to us. When we ask, "what can I do for God?" there is only God's answer, "Nothing, beloved! Only receive with glad heart what I give, that is...myself. The greatest gift you can give me is the trust that lives by this truth" - The Essence of Prayer - Ruth Burrows
Quote: Yes Father, my soul proclaims your greatness, and my spirit rejoices in you! You are good and kind, loving and compassionate toward me. You know who I am, and you understand my weakness. You delight in how you created me and you never cease to teach me how to live the life you have created me for. Daily you come to meet me with mercy and strength. Daily you supply what I lack and help me when my own ideas and abilities are not enough. Father, you forgive me when i cave in (again!) to temptation, every time! You meet my repentance with your pardon and you surround me anew with your love, compassion and tender mercy. I rejoice because you are slow to anger and never hold a grudge. You always show me mercy when I don't deserve it. I am amazed because you delight in me. You meet me with peace, wisdom and direction. The strength of your arm holds me, lifts me up and gently moves me forward at a pace that allows me to breathe again. Your promises give me hope. You give me the reassurrance that I am loved even when I feel frustrated by my weaknesses. Father, how good you are. I try to be faithful to you. I pour out my heart to you and you pour out your love on me. Word Among Us Magnificat Reflection
Response: Consider your souls like the image of a surface of a lake, above which the sun is shining. If the surface of the lake is peaceful and tranquil, the sun will be reflected in this lake; and the more peaceful the lake, the more perfectly will it be reflected. If, on the contrary, the surface of the lake is agitated, undulating, then the image of the sun cannot be reflected in it. The more our soul is peaceful and tranquil, the more God is reflected in it, the more His image expresses itself in us, the more His grace acts through us. Fr. Jacques Philippe