Category Archives: silence

Thinking with the Heart

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I have noticed that when the subject of faith, morals, and truth comes up, many resort to using emotionalism. Christians and non-Christians alike can fall into this method of communication and at times, it can be somewhat be manipulative and lack a solid foundation of reason. It is something I have been guilty of, and as the years have passed I have been working on correcting, though it isn’t easy.

Many will use emotions to justify choices or their moral preferences because it is simply easier to be subject to emotion than to reason. Do we do the same when we are trying to have important conversations with people about the faith? Do we resort to emotion first rather than providing sound information rooted in logic and reason?

I have found in my experience that what may make me feel one way may make someone else feel completely different.  This is because our emotions are completely subjective. Emotions are unique to us, and are rooted in our personality. Although emotions can help us in sharing an experience, or perhaps help others relate with what we are saying, emotionalism cannot stand up on its own in a rational dialogue with someone.

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When we use emotionalism to try and convey a truth, we may find ourselves frustrated when people do not understand us. We may feel so passionately about something, and then when we seek to explain why, our explanations will inevitably fall short. An emotional response or the way something may or may not make a person feel is not a valid consideration when approaching the truth.  I am not saying that we shouldn’t share our experiences, nor am I saying they are completely invalid. I am, however, saying that it should not end there.

Throughout history there have been countless men and women who have had an experience of God in their lives. These encounters with the Lord have helped aid them in their spiritual life and the impact that their experience had has even lead many people to the Church. These people, however, who were effective witnesses in the world, were able to not simply point to an experience but to a reality. St. Peter in his epistle reminds us to “always be prepared to make a defence to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15).

Let us always seek the truth that goes beyond emotion and to convey that to the world “with gentleness and reverence.”

http://www.ewtn.com/vexperts/showmessage.asp?number=333051

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A Lonely Place

“I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!  I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided: father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” – Luke 12: 49-53

Being a Christian can feel lonely at times.  In today’s culture you may feel ostracized by the world that just wants you to keep your mouth shut and your beliefs to yourself. Also at times, you may feel a sort of spiritual loneliness; where like David in the Psalms, you feel like God is hiding His face from you. Being a Christian is not always a walk in the park. I have personally found that one of the most painful feelings for me is wanting to share the joy I have found in Christ, but even among those closest to me, they simply do not want to hear about it. Sometimes I desperately want to be open about that part of myself with those I love who are not Catholic, but I know it will be met with silence, sarcasm, or anger. Though I still speak up in defence of the truth, I have also had to find different ways of showing that faith without words to my family and friends who do not believe or are against listening to anything that leans towards objective truth.

In our present culture, where “hate” has become the new catchphrase for anyone who stands up for objective moral truth, it is almost comical to see how much hatred the world has for authentic Christianity. Jesus warned us of the hate we would experience for loving and following Him, but He also reminds us that the world hated Him first.

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The struggle can be difficult at times, yet, we know that there is victory in the struggles that we endure as Christians. The feeling of loneliness we can encounter can become redemptive. We can come to encounter Christ more deeply by offering our suffering to Him and with Him. Saint Teresa of Avila said, “Suffering is a great favor. Remember that everything soon comes to an end… and take courage. Think of how our gain is eternal.” We must take these words to heart and remember that the lives we live here are temporary.

It is of great importance to pray for the gifts of charity, humility, and patience. Charity is one of the hardest things to practice toward someone who speaks ill of you. It can be equally as hard to remain charitable when Christ or His Church is attacked. It can be much easier to get angry than to take a breath, pray for a moment, and speak respectfully to that person. Keep in mind our Blessed Lord before Pontius Pilate. He simply spoke the truth in peace.

It can be difficult to love the people who attack us, whether it be in the online sphere or among our families, friends, co-workers, etc. It is of paramount importance that we continue to love those who hurt us. This doesn’t mean that you have to be best friends, or even get along. It may even mean ending the relationship. But, we must be willing to reach out and serve them. We must remember that they deserve love and respect, even when they don’t give these things to us. Jesus loves the person who attacks us and desires for them to be united with Him for all eternity. Our job is to show that by our deeds, and then our words.

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Remember you are not alone.

I remember years ago feeling very alone and wishing that I wasn’t. I was so caught up in myself that I forgot that I was never alone. I failed so many times to enter into prayer, to recall the saints, or to seek out authentic community. In hindsight, I wish I had been able to remember those painful hours Jesus wept in the garden. I forgot that on the cross, Jesus cried out, “my God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” Now, I understand that I can take consolation in the fact that not only can I offer my struggles, loneliness, and sufferings to Jesus, but that I can unite them with His suffering for the salvation of souls.

Pray for those that persecute you. Pray that their hearts may not be hardened. Pray that they may recognize the love in you as God’s love for them. Pray for them if they abandon you, or if you have to leave that relationship for reasons beyond your control. Leave it all in the hands of the Father. He will take care of His children.

Love,
Catholic Ruki

We should strive to keep our hearts open to the sufferings and wretchedness of other people, and pray continually that God may grant us that spirit of compassion which is truly the spirit of God. – Saint Vincent de Paul

Discerning the Whisper

The greatest glory we can give to God is to do his will in everything. – Saint Alphonsus Ligouri

Newly married and starting fresh is a struggle on its own.  In addition to this, lets add living in a new city, learning a new way of life that is filled with its own ups and downs, and learning how to love and live in a way you never have before. My life these past few months has been filled with change and I am trying to move forward as a married woman. However, all too often, I find myself asking ” What does God want me to do now?”  I think we can all relate to asking ourselves this very question and spending hours of our lives just trying to come to grips with an answer.

Quite often, the people around us are the ones we want to please most. We want our family and friends to be proud of us. We also want to make ourselves happy with the decisions we have made along the way.   There are lots of different opinions you may gather on who you should be, what you should do, and the ‘right way’ to do things. It can lead to some pretty rough internal turmoil, especially when you want to please everyone around you and also make yourself happy.

But do we pause and take a moment to ask ourselves: What would be most pleasing to God?

Trying to hear a solid answer is hard. We are hesitant and we make excuses for ourselves to try to run from the path that looks too demanding. We are faced with decisions in our career, our vocation, our friendships, and our family. Sometimes we just don’t really feel motivation to pray for help or to just listen.

Time and time again, I think of how Mary and Joseph imitate this submission and humility to the will of God. We can all recall Mary’s great “I do” to the will of God when she accepted the role of mother to the Messiah. Fatherhood was thrust upon Joseph practically overnight just as he had decided to dismiss Mary after he had found out she was pregnant. The angel came to him and told him to not be afraid and to take Mary as his wife. He show great courage in doing that, but also in fleeing to Egypt and keeping them safe there to protect Christ from Herod.

We can learn by their example that the calling for us will be great. It might be hard, and it might be nothing like we could have ever dreamed of.  God wants the very best for us. Ultimately, He wants us to be holy, happy, and to be with Him for all eternity. If we truly want to achieve what will be ultimately good for our souls then we must seek to have souls that are in tune to the will of God . In Uniformity with Gods Will, St. Alphonsus says ” Those who love God are always happy, because their whole happiness is to fulfil, even in adversity, the will of God.”

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The other day at mass, I prayed to God so that I would know his will, and that he would give me the strength I would need. I had been frustrated, scared, and tired of waiting for a response that was direct obvious. In prayer, I said ” God, I want what you want for me. I know what I desire in my heart, but is it what You want for me? Over and over again, I heard Him in my heart say:

” My Child, why do you worry? Trust me, and do not be afraid.”

Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake;  and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.  When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.  1 Kings 19: 11-13

It can be hard to hear that voice of God sometimes. We truly need to quiet our hearts. Like children, we ask ” Are were there yet?” and “Why?” and “Where are we going?” But we must learn to be patient and to listen. We must unceasingly pray. Frequently go to confession. Go to adoration. Be with Him and listen to Him. Rest your heart in the hands of Christ. Ask of Him everyday that the will of God be done. Be ready to lay down your life for the sake of His will.

God provides for every living thing, and he will provide for us too ( Matthew 6:26). Offer to Him all your suffering and rejoice in it, for it is in redemptive suffering we are able to give our lives to God.

Love,
Catholic Ruki

Below are some resources that may aid you in discernment.

https://www.crossroadsinitiative.com/library_article/954/Please_God_not_Men_Augustine.html

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/alphonsus/uniformity.toc.html

According to Saint Ignatius, we must be aware of how the spirit moves within our hearts when we reflect on the choices before us. Check this article for more information on Ignatian Spirituality and how it can help us discern the will of God.

http://www.peterkreeft.com/topics/discernment.htm

Fighting Fear

One of the most difficult struggles in my life has been a fight with self worth. Over the years, I’ve suffered with body image and anxiety. I have suffered with negative body image and anxiety for years, especially during my fragile high school years. I was afraid of not being enough for people, and anytime I felt that I did not suffice, I would cave in on myself.  It eventually lead to a deep , private depression.

It wasn’t until not long ago that I finally saw that it was a spirit of fear that was constantly attacking me.  It was even making me question myself as I prepared for marriage. I  was afraid of just about everything: what family and friends would think of me, how I was going to cope with being married and living in a city where I didn’t really know many people, and I was even more afraid of the wedding night, particularly of my body being seen and being rejected for not being beautiful. It was painful to be so afraid of the vocation I had tried so hard to prepare myself for.

Looking back at everything I can see that Satan was and still is trying to steer me away from true freedom that is only found in Christ. He has tried to make me feel worthless in the eyes of those that I love, and even in my own eyes. He had tried to push me into the ground and has kicked me down over and over again. I had been fooled by the world that I wasn’t beautiful, and that I wasn’t going to be enough for my friends, my family, or society.

But why should I be afraid? Is it not true that God did not give me a spirit of fear, but of love? In his letter to Timothy, St. Paul urges the church in Ephesus not to have fear:

For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline. Do not be ashamed, then, of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God, who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace. ( 2 Timothy  1:6-9)

Do not be afraid to be who you are; not in the sense of who you are in and to the world, but who you were made to be in Christ: Holy.  Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said, “The world promises you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.” It is easier for us to run away from the challenges in our lives; but God gives us strength to take on those challenges.

The spirit of fear will make us afraid of redemptive suffering, which is so incredibly powerful. He seeks to hold us back from true freedom, which is total reliance and trust in the will and plan of God. Fear of God’s divine love and mercy can lead to sin, and eventually destroy us.

We must pray for an exorcism of the spirit of fear whenever it should try and enter our lives. Pray to St. Michael and to your guardian angel for protection. Pray to our Blessed Mother who will protect you under her mantle. Offer up your suffering to Christ so He may use it to give you strength. I pray for all of those who deal with fear on a day to day basis. Please pray for me too.

Love,
Catholic Ruki
Enjoy this Family Force 5 video, which recently has been a song that really hits home calling on Christ as our Saviour.

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