Tag Archives: inspirational quotes

Still Learning Perfect Joy from St Francis

St Francis of AssisiOne of my spiritual guides, St. Francis, continues to school me in this important life lesson: Perfect joy. As such, I’m resurrecting, polishing, and expanding a vintage post (2012) from my days at CCC of America.

I am more than just a bit acquainted with St. Francis. I attended a Franciscan school, have TOR (Franciscans, Third Order Regular) friends, and have even visited Assisi. In the event you are not acquainted with him, St. Francis of Assisi was the son of a prosperous merchant with dreams of Knighthood; yet called by God to rebuild the Church.  Reflecting once again on a powerful homily (at the Dominican Priory I might add), I know that I have so much more to learn from the Saint whose feast we celebrate today, October 4th.

At morning Mass a few years back, Fr. Scott was sharing a story from “The Little Flowers of St. Francis”.  Brother Leo and Francis were talking one cold December day when Brother Leo began wondering — of what does perfect joy consist?  The whole story is found here, but St. Francis began his response explaining all the things that one might consider perfect joy, but are not. Then he proceeded:

“If, when we shall arrive at St Mary of the Angels, all drenched with rain and trembling with cold, all covered with mud and exhausted from hunger; if, when we knock at the convent-gate, the porter should come angrily and ask us who we are; if, after we have told him, ‘We are two of the brethren’, he should answer angrily, ‘What ye say is not the truth; ye are but two impostors going about to deceive the world, and take away the alms of the poor; begone I say’; if then he refuse to open to us, and leave us outside, exposed to the snow and rain, suffering from cold and hunger till nightfall – then, if we accept such injustice, such cruelty and such contempt with patience, without being ruffled and without murmuring, believing with humility and charity that the porter really knows us, and that it is God who maketh him to speak thus against us, write down, O Brother Leo, that this is perfect joy…”

I knew that day at Mass, as I still do today, that I have a long way to go in my strivings for sainthood. While Fr. Scott also mentioned that St. Francis did have an “interesting definition of perfect joy”, I know the core of St. Francis’ message. How do I know it? Because he finally tells Brother Leo what perfect joy consists of, after miles of bantering in the cold as they walked.

“Above all the graces and all the gifts of the Holy Spirit which Christ grants to his friends, is the grace of overcoming oneself, and accepting willingly, out of love for Christ, all suffering, injury, discomfort and contempt; for in all other gifts of God we cannot glory, seeing they proceed not from ourselves but from God, according to the words of the Apostle, ‘What hast thou that thou hast not received from God? and if thou hast received it, why dost thou glory as if thou hadst not received it?’ But in the cross of tribulation and affliction we may glory, because, as the Apostle says again, ‘I will not glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ Amen.”

Of all the things that we could try to do, become, or gain in order to obtain perfect joy, here St. Francis reveals the simple yet challenging truth. Perfect joy consists of bearing all that occurs to us amidst our daily sufferings with “patience, joy, and charity…thinking of the sufferings of our Blessed Lord, which we would share out of love for him.” Yes, perfect joy is as simple and as hard as accepting our Cross and sharing in Christ’s sufferings with patience, joy, and charity.

St. Francis still has much to teach me about perfect joy. But I hope you take comfort, like I do, in the beauty of our Christian faith. It is God who does the work in us. We do not have to try and climb the ladder towards perfection by our own strength or make the mountains move. HE gives us our crosses and then He tells us what to do with them (Mt 11:28-30):

* “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,* and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

HE gives us his yoke if we come to him. In return, we find rest and learn from the master of meekness and humility. He will give us all the grace needed to carry our cross, and if we allow it, through our suffering we will share in His suffering, as well as share in His GLORY. [Romans 8:17: “and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him.”] The Lord will do the work of transforming us to become the persons He is calling us to be through the daily carrying of our cross, and living out our vocations right where He has us.

The cross of Christ brought his suffering and revealed his glory. Transformative. There are many heavy crosses and burdens in our world – we need not look far to be confronted with suffering. And of course, we intimately know our own sufferings. So does God. We are not alone in our suffering – He is near to the brokenhearted. [Psalm 34:18: “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”]

St. Francis, pray for us on our journey. When we struggle to accept the crosses God gives us, help us to experience God’s mercy and grace. May we find our rest in him, and perfect joy in his plan for our lives.

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Keeping Still In A Frenzied World

inspirational scriptures

The past several months have been brimming with activity. Much of life for everyone these days feels like this – a frenzy of hustle. In my younger days, hustle and flow was my routine – push it until it is done or it breaks me, whichever comes first. But the Lord has been taking me down a new path, teaching me that there is a time for everything, and everything in its time. Not that I still do not get after things, but He has been showing me to put more of a strategy and wisdom into what I do, when, how, and who.

Relocating to our new city of Austin is an adventure and exciting, yet intermingled with the sadness of moving on from our beloved Dallas home and community. And then there’s just sheer exhaustion. But the joy of even sitting in a home of boxes, and the peace of a beautiful yard that was lovingly planted before our arrival, it makes all the sacrifice and struggle worth it. The yes to the open window and desiring a home where more blessings can be outpoured outweighed the tears in closing the door that was no longer where we were called to be. I still miss my Dallas friends and family very much. And my Louisiana and Michigan friends and family for that matter. #sigh

Bigger picture though, there is one. I’ve become a student again (Teacher = God), being taught a lot lately about something that I don’t do very well, keeping still. And keeping silent (or at least trying harder to) when there is every desire and reason not to be. I come from a line of people that work hard and are industrious, and we are not afraid to tell you what is on our mind, so raw hustle is in my nature. But it can become at odds with the humility with which the spiritual life needs to be nurtured.

Inside it is like a tug of war most days. Ego: I want, I need, me, me ME! Spirit: Relax, surrender, let GOD do it!

If my Grandma called you a hard worker, you had won her respect. It’s in my DNA – go, go, GO! If I don’t know how to do something, I work until I figure it out. If I set a goal, I chase that sucker down. If I am on a mission, kindly move aside or you’ve been forewarned.

And then boom, a week from moving, a silly distraction and I misstep into a badly sprained ankle. Noooooooooo.

Years of horseplay and sports, and I nab my first sprained ankle comes right when my hustle was in full swing. Now I realize that there are far greater physical sufferings that my community may be dealing with (I am praying for you!), but I do not like to compare, as I’ve read and it’s resonated that “comparison is the thief of joy.”

I’ve had on my big girl pants for a good deal of the past five weeks, yet the inability to walk for me right when that big dream we’ve been readying ourselves for at least the past five years to enjoy, well, it has brought me to the cross in a new way. Even after only experiencing just a taste of it temporarily. I have deeper understanding and appreciation for the suffering of the immobile, particularly my Mother when Bone Cancer robbed her of even being able to cross a room without aid. #deeprespectandprayers

It becomes even more painful when the noise of our age comes into play. The world tells us we need to work harder, faster, better, stronger. We need to stretch and press and go after everything and be more. You need to accept, go with the flow, do not question the world but be accommodating and always be whatever is the current thought or expectation of the day. Pull yourself up and make yourself something that the world cannot deny. Get after it!! And yes, we need to do our part. Yet what did the Lord tell the Israelites in their fear and complaining.

“The Lord himself will fight for you, you have only to keep still.” – Exodus 14:14

God wants to do everything for us, but there are moments when we must keep still and allow Him to do it. How must we participate in this act?

By giving our consent, “Lord, fight for me.”

There is a discernment as well as spiritual + mental maturity that comes into play here. Knowing when to move, when to be still. When to speak, and when to be silent. When to fight for something, and when to walk away.

I’ve had to fight my way through many things in life, and as the only girl in my family with three older brothers, my brain programming says, “Fight for it.” But in reality, the surrender to lay things down and leave them in the Lords hands to do the bidding is the source of my true battle. Can you relate?

The Lord has shown his glory and power many times throughout history, but people take it for granted. There is so much happening in the world right now that reveal deep woundedness that is festering and bleeding out. There is a darkness that can feel as oppressive and obstinate as Pharoah and the Egyptians.

But was it not the Lord that raised up Moses? Didn’t he take the Israelites, HIS CHOSEN PEOPLE, through slavery, forty years in the desert, and through the Red Sea? And in the end, HE TRIUMPHED!

Much has been in my mind and heart these days. The time for writing is scarce, yet the Lord moved in my heart to share a bit for now.

Holy Trinity, Sweet Mother Mary, fight for us!!

Taking on one more thing whenever I feel stretched often may feel like a monstrosity, but in these times, God has been moving in mysterious ways. I look forward to sharing more about a great work that has been developing out of established partnerships with a small, faithful, uber talented group of people that I deeply respect and admire. Stay tuned for that.

Until then, I pray that God will remind you of his power and glory, and that you will allow him to fight for YOU.

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Daring to Begin

GloryShakespeareQuote

It’s Monday…again. Woke up and tried to start it off right making Nutriblasts (today = Spinach, Blueberries, Banana, Strawberries, and Maca Powder) for me & my Guy, then putting together one of my favorite quotes to share.  As someone who works hard to overcome my tendency to procrastinate, this is one of my go to quotes for motivation.

It’s time to re-focus myself in prayer, and then really get after it.  Let’s make it a great week!

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