WOO HOO! Family Mission Trip here we come! Engagement! Action! Encounter! SMILE!
The picture above is a “selfie” taken last week on a Family Mission Trip to Yonkers, NY. I dropped my cell-phone and the screen was shattered so I could not see what I was shooting-- just a vague picture of the hat on my head, as I wanted to see if I should buy it from the vendor outside of the Church who had no mirror. When I returned home and downloaded the pictures from the trip onto my computer, the image of the REAL Our Lady of Guadalupe beautifully appeared in the picture just behind my right shoulder. She was hanging inside of the Church! And a little glimpse of Jesus over my left shoulder was also captured by the lens! My celestial Posse! God is always at work, watching over us, blessings us, speaking to us, even if we are not aware of it at the time.
My dad used to tell a joke: ”At breakfast, the chicken was involved, but the pig...HE was COMMITTED!
Are you a chicken or a pig? Do you like to write a check or get your hands dirty? Honestly, I used to be a chicken. I would be “involved” as long as I didn’t REALLY have to do anything too personal. But now, I can, by God’s grace, say I am a delightfully happy pig! I LOVE to physically get involved, really roll up my sleeves, get in there, engage and interact.
At breakfast, both chicken and pigs make a “successful meal.” But how and why can someone go from being a natural born chicken to a very blissful pig? We must experience a life-changing moment-- a switch in our thinking-- and see that true blessings can and will come if we actually serve and encounter Him in others. When we give of ourselves--not just of our bank accounts, not just out of our excess, and not just to the “others” that are like us-- but really give and make a true self-sacrifice, we are happy and blessed.
How do you experience transformation--metamorphosis? How do you gain clarity and perspective on a subject? One way I have found very helpful is the practice of prayer and fasting. Weak as my efforts are in this area, you can read about how God got my attention and truly transformed me HERE in Chapter 5 Metamorphosis in Metamorphosis of a Soul. I’ll share some of the lessons and benefits that can be gained through prayer and fasting.
Do you fast? Do you know how to fast? Do you know why we fast?
According to the Catechism, fasting and abstinence “help us to acquire mastery over our instincts and freedom of heart.” (CCC 2043)
While most of us are familiar with fasting, especially during Lent, and some throughout the year choose to abstain from meat on Fridays, in our modern world outside of the Church, if people fast at all it is usually for a physical benefit. And while you can read about the multiple benefits of fasting, true Biblical fasting always centers on a spiritual purpose. Through it, we voluntarily refrain from something good, like eating, as a spiritual discipline designed to tame the body so that we can concentrate on higher things.
God can and will use the fast for His purposes if we are seeking Him during the fast and offering up all that we are sacrificing to Him. If we decrease, He miraculously increases. Personally, during a fast, I feel as if the tide of my soul washes out and I am left to see what “shells” are lying on my beach--some very beautiful, and some that are still in need of God’s handiwork work--all tenderly shown to me by my loving Father.
There are many ways to fast, not just from food. Perhaps try one of these this week:
Fast from your pride. Take the back seat. Have the “last word” but let it be, “Sorry.”
Fast from complaining-- yes, bite your tongue and offer it up to God.
Fast from the radio or television, just sit in the quiet and turn your glance heavenwards or read a great spiritual book.
God loves you whether you fast or not, but just as we need to flex and stretch our physical muscles to break them down in order to build them back up, every now and then, we need to flex, by God’s grace, our spiritual muscles, and deny ourselves what comes “naturally” in order for God to show us new and better things that He wants to build up inside of us.
“If anyone would be a follower of mine let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.” Matt 16:24
Am I in need of change? Are there things You would like to do inside of me that I can not do myself? Do I need to make adjustments in my routine in order for You to show me this? Would You like for me to fast and pray-- even if it is not Lent? Show me Lord, all that You would have for me! Give me a heart that desires to please You more and more! Open my eyes to see You and my ears to hear You when You speak! Make me in tune with the ways of You and if that means self-denial in some way in order to be more sensitive to You, please give me the grace, desire and ability to do it. I love You Lord--make me all I can and should be--make me more like You.
I ask this in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.