Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Sing a New Song!

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, known as the Little Flower, was a girl who was attracted to Jesus at a young age, fell completely in love with Him during her days as a Carmelite sister, and lived her short life of 24 years only to love Him and serve Him. Early on, Thérèse got discouraged whenever she read long treatises or complicated spiritual documents that promised a plan for getting closer to Christ.

Paraphrasing her words, she said: “I’m too little for any of those fancy ideas. I’m like a little toddler just starting to take her first steps. I look up and there I see my Mommy at the top of a large staircase. I want nothing more than to run to Mommy but I can’t even walk yet. So I try to lift my little leg to climb the first step and I fall back down and cry. But Jesus (who is my Mommy at the top of the stairs) sees me trying to lift my little leg and comes running down the stairs to pick me up and take me to Himself. He comes, picks me up in His arms, and dries my tears. All I have to do is try to take a step and He comes to me out of love, He does all the rest.”

Once as a little girl, Thérèse found a finch, a tiny bird that had fallen from its nest and couldn’t fly. She took it home and placed it in the same cage as her pet canary. As the new bird got stronger and stronger, she tried to sing. But the finch’s song is not like the canary’s, and so just a few peeps came out. Each day the canary would sing her beautiful song and the young finch would listen and then try to imitate it. Eventually, to Thérèse’s surprise, the finch succeeded! She learned to sing like the canary. She had listened and tried to imitate the other bird’s song for so long, that it became her song too.

Thérèse would say, this is what we must do with Jesus. Just stay close to Jesus each day, listen closely to the music He makes, and try to imitate it. In time we’ll find that the song of His heart has become our song as well.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Love Anyway

I came across this and was struck by its simple but profound challenge:

People are unreasonable, illogical and self-centered.
Love them anyway!
If you are kind, people will accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway!
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and real enemies.
Succeed anyway!
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway!
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway!
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway!
People really need help but may attack you if you try to help them.
Help them anyway!
Give the world your best and it will hurt you.
Give your best anyway!

In the final analysis, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Hey Baby!

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Christmas past: As I was coming home by plane one December, I settled in my seat and was praying. I had my eyes closed and was lost in thoughts of God. At one point, I got the strange sensation that God was watching me pray. The thought made my smile, God felt so close.

Eventually, I opened my eyes and was startled to see a baby there! There she was, little one year old Victoria, in her mother’s arms in the seat in front of me, resting on her mother’s shoulder, and staring right at me with a tiny smile. With a big pink ribbon in the few strands of hair she had and an adorably chubby face looking up at me, Victoria made me wonder:

Does God look at us through the eyes of others? Does God do that? If He wanted an unclouded vision of world, would God find one by looking around at the world through the eyes of a baby? I’d never had a reflection like that before, God peeking out at me, delighting in me, through a child.

It was a reflection that led me to think about Christmas. Why does God choose Incarnation? Why does He choose to enter our world in little Jesus, a flesh and blood, tiny baby?

As I thought about it, I imagined that at least part of the reason is to reveal what His love for us is really all about. When you think about it, God’s love really is, in a sense, very child-like. It is undiscriminating. It is for everybody. A little baby, like Victoria, loves you no matter what you do, and just thinks you’re wonderful.

A baby doesn’t judge. Leaning over the crib of a new baby, we can do no wrong. Their innocence inspires us to do silly things, make goofy faces and noises because we know that they will love every minute of it, they will never reject us, they will see only good in us, and delight in us.

Kind of like God does.

God delights in us. He chooses to look at us even now with the eyes of child. He never gets cynical, never gives up on us. He chooses to see the best, to hope for the best, to call us to the best and He invites us to do the same with others.

May God give us all the eyes of a child, to look for and to delight in the good that surrounds us each day. Have a blessed Advent and Christmas season!

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Friday, June 16, 2006

Looking up to the Stars

“Ideals are like stars; you will not succeed in touching them with your hands, but like the sailor who has set out deep on the waters, you choose the stars as your guides, and in following them, you may reach your destiny, find your way home.” -Carl Schulz, USA Senator from Wisconsin

We are all on a journey. And sometimes it can be a rough one. It’s so easy to get tossed around by the waves of life that we can find ourselves completely lost. We need stars, fixed points in the sky that aren’t subject to the movement of the waters, by which we can navigate our ships and make our way home.

For Saint Francis and Saint Clare of Assisi, the life of Christ and his Blessed Mother were their stars, their ideals. No matter how high the waves may get, no matter how crazy or difficult life may become, like the saints, we too can look up to these stars to rise above it all, to feel their constancy, to enjoy their beauty as they shine brightly against the dark sky, and to make our way home.

Noise !!!

It’s a noisy world, especially for anyone living in the city. Yelling, fighting, jack-hammering, traffic, sirens... and that's just outside. Inside our homes our electronic appliances battle to be lord of the manor. When was the last time we made it through a half hour without hearing from a computer, a blender, a phone, a washing machine, a radio, an ipod, or a television? Even our conversations with one another can sometimes feel like little more than just a bunch of meaningless noise.

If we're not careful, we can get so accustomed to noise that silence can terrify us. We may find ourselves rushing to flip some sort of electronic switch to create some type of sound whenever the slightest void is left in our noise-filled day.

Don't get me wrong, a lot of the sounds I mentioned are good sounds (like conversation, music, etc.) but even good things can hurt us when we allow them to block us from the Highest Good, when they leave us with no space inside us to hear the voice of our God.

The truth is, in silence we hear best. God's Holy Spirit is inside each of us, speaking to us, just waiting for us to finally slow down and listen. It's a voice that speaks about love and about peace and it's a voice that is more than ready to teach us the ways that we can come to experience both.

But first we have to decide to listen. We need to make the time and the space necessary to quiet our souls down, to get away from the noise of the world, at least for a little while, that we may hear the voice of Love inside.