“For me prayer is a surge of the heart, it is a simple look towards Heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.”
-St. Therese of Lisieux
I can see how faith in God, can have the appearance of foolishness. Sitting in the pew this morning, I understood, how this can be seen as ridiculous. Priests and alter servers parading around in ritualistic garb, ringing bells, worshiping a disc of unleavened bread, and cup of wine. Reading words from ancient authors, like nothing is new under the sun, since it’s writing. Monogamy and denying carnal desires that are natural, and who cares with whom….to what purpose? Confession, don’t get me started. Ok most people can understand helping our fellow man, but this whole sacrifice thing? One may think, how does self denial do anything? It doesn’t make sense.
I have to admit sometimes it seems all surreal to me also. That is, until I remember, what I can’t deny …..Mystery.
There is so much mystery in our world. We are willing to give answers to things we don’t understand, and sell them as truth, rather than experience an almighty omnipotent, omnipresent, eternal Father, who loves us without limits. The Mystery has placed Himself, the Answer within us, and marked us as His own. We have only to seek. Once we find Him, we become aware that He is bigger than our capacity of expression. Then, everything we do that is “foolish” makes sense, more over it is not near enough an interpretation, of what happens inside of us, His beloved humanity. We are inept artists, when trying to depict The Creator….toddlers using finger paints, trying to paint like Da Vinci ……and so, maybe it does look foolish.
“Remember the past with gratitude. Live the present with enthusiasm. Look forward to the future with confidence.”
St. John Paul II
My son asked, “Aren’t you going to punish me”? I replied that I wasn’t. He said, “I’m sorry.” I answered, “Dear boy, I forgave you already, but thank you for saying you’re sorry.” He wanted to know, why I forgave him, before he said he was sorry. I told him, because that’s how God shows us mercy, and as a parent, I think I should do the same. I told him that I know what his weaknesses are, and that he tries really hard to do what is right, and that I can forgive him for the things that don’t come easy for him. Just like God is merciful to us, when we fail. I asked him who he thought saying “sorry” was for, if I had already forgiven him. He said, “Well it must be for me, so I can forgive myself.”
I thought, wow, this forgiveness thing just makes sense to this little boy. It’s easy for me to be merciful to my son, so easy, and God’s mercy infinitely surpasses mine. I think that I have to remember that, when I see my failures everyday. … that my Father sees my effort and successes too.
It seems, for me at least, to be so much easier to fathom our Father”s love and mercy for me, when I realize how effortlessly I love my children. I want my children to succeed. I don’t want them to lose heart over their struggles with their weaknesses. I want them to know my love for them, even if they mess up. I want them to know that I know their shortcomings, and that doesn’t change my love for them at all. In fact, it inspires me toward mercy.
If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask Him.
“The nation doesn’t simply need what we have. It needs what we are.”
St. Teresia Benedicta
I’m having a very busy week, so I will leave you with the thought that has been lingering with me for several days now.
So Jesus addressed this parable to them. “What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert, and go after the lost one until he finds it? And when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy and, upon his arrival home, he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them, Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people, who have no need of repentance
After this reading, in his homily Father said, something like this. When you go to confession, it is you, who are the lost sheep. It is you, who Jesus has found. It is you, who He carries on His shoulders, with great joy. It is because of you that heaven celebrates.
“Listen and attend with the ear of your heart.”
My Mom and I loved Molasses Cookies. They were soft, rich and a different kind of sweet. They had the flavors of ginger bread and spice cake, and were sweetened with dark brown sugar and molasses. It is an “old fashioned” combination of spices and sweeteners that may not be familiar to more modern palates. These cookies take me to my youth and Mother. Inspired by the cooler air, I made them, and with my first bite, I went back to a more simple time.
I’ve experienced this same sort of thing…a sip of cider…the smell of my Dad’s pipe tobacco…a gust of wind that as a child I imagined was a greeting, an embrace, or a playful tap from God. Even today a blustery day makes me think of our Creator. I enjoy reliving that simple, youthful experience of His touch. Memories can bring comfort, sadness, or joy, but the moments are cherished. They can bring people from our past to our present through our senses. What an incredible gift our Creator has given us.
Thanksgiving and Christmas can be so difficult, when I think about how much I miss my parents, or even those who aren’t nearby, but I’d rather have the memory than not, and celebrate them, maybe with a batch of cookies.
Old Fashioned Molasses Cookies
4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups Molasses
1/4 cup sugar
Heat oven to 350F. Sift together first six ingredients. Melt shortening in saucepan large enough for mixing cookies. Stir in molasses and sugar. Cool. Beat in egg. Gradually add flour mixture. Beat about 20 strokes (I use an electric mixer). Shape into balls (golf-ball size). Place on greased baking sheet. Bake 15 minutes or until cookies have lightly browned.
Do not lose your inward peace even if everything seems to be going wrong. What is anything in life compared to peace of soul?
St Francis de Sales