Monday, September 29, 2014

On the Feast of St. Raphael

Since today is the Feast Day of the Archangels, I found myself reflecting on the Archangel St. Raphael, and the fact that he is both the patron saint of relationships (specifically, matchmaking and marriages), and also a patron of healing. As I was reflecting on this at Mass today, I started thinking about the connection between those two things, and how they can be intertwined. Most especially, I think it is interesting to think about how it is often through relationships that we are brought healing. Relationships, the love and affection that we share with one another, are the most valuable things we have as human persons. As such, there is the capacity to experience great pain in broken relationship. In reflecting on the connection between healing and relationships, one most often thinks about the healing FROM a painful relationship; but what about the healing that is brought to us THROUGH a flourishing relationship? The truth is, I think one of the great gifts of healthy relationships, even those that are just temporary (such as some dating relationships), have the opportunity to bring not only joy and love into our lives, but profound healing as well.

When we are in a relationship, whether its a friendship, a dating relationship, relationship with a sibling, relationship with a spouse, we have the opportunity to speak healing into another's life. I do not mean this in a clinical sort of way, but through the transformative power of interpersonal connection. By the way we love the other; by the way we affirm the dignity of the other; by the way we challenge the other to use their gifts; by the way we speak hope where there was darkness - healing enters in. I think this is such a beautiful, but perhaps under recognized, dynamic within relationships. The fact that we have the ability to minister to others we are in relationship with, and bring healing to the wounds of one another -simply through our presence and our love - is a very powerful thing.

To be perfectly honest, I think even within the context of dating relationships that eventually fizzle, we can encounter the healing effect of the other. Just as within a positive dating/courtship relationship have have the ability to bring the other person joy, affection, and love, I think that we can also be used by God as an instrument of healing to one another. Somehow, in a mysterious way, we can achieve a greater wholeness, through our dating encounters and friendships and experiences along the journey. Certainly, pain and heartbreak can also be threaded in relationship loss. But I think if we look closely enough, we can also see how healing and growth was a part of the best relationships too - and recognize those parts of relationships that were in fact, redeeming and restorative to our soul. Ultimately, these experiences bind us up into the person we are meant to become.

And so on this Feast Day, through the intercession of St. Raphael, may we thank the Lord for all the ways He has brought us healing through our friends and family and relationships. May we be made whole and help others on their path to wholeness. May we be instruments of the Divine Healer to all He puts in our path.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

To walk on earth

 A beautiful reflection from St. Teresa Benedicta (Edith Stein), that I think is very fitting for Lent.. .

"Only those who are saved, only children of grace can in fact be bearer's of Christ's cross. Only in union with the divine Head does suffering take on expiatory power. To suffer and to be happy although suffering, to have one's feet on the earth, to walk along the dirty and rough paths of this earth and yet be enthroned with Christ at the Father's right hand, to laugh and cry with the children of this world and ceaselessly to sing the praises of God with the choirs of angels, this is the life of the Christian until the morning of eternity breaks forth."  ~ Edith Stein, HL 91-93

Saturday, March 15, 2014

What holds you back?

In the Lenten season, it is easy to focus on external practices. Most especially, to let our Lenten devotion be predominated by the penances we choose. No chocolate. No TV. No meat. etc. Fasting and strengthening our self-discipline are extremely important things for us to cultivate, this is true. But it is so easy to stop here, at the more material penances, than to use the season of self-denial to really probe into further introspection.

Something God has brought to the forefront of my heart this Lent, is to look at the things inside my heart that hold me back from Him. Is it chocolate? Is it the radio? Is it meat? I can definitely over indulge in these things, and there is plenty of room in my life for more discipline. But there are far, far deeper things that are holding me back from truly allowing myself to feel the love of God.

For starters...

lack of trust
not truly believing I am worthy of the love of God
not enough thirst for holiness

I think God is calling me to begin to let go of THESE things in my life.

How do you even begin to give up "lack of faith in God"? I'm just going to guess that this is not something that can be completely rooted out in 40 days. But, if I allow God to take a shovel to the soil of my heart, and begin to loosen the soil around these weaknesses...this is progress. After all, it's only by getting rid of these dark weeds that suffocate a chance for complete surrender to God, that there will be room for His love to truly take root and reside.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Time to write again

Any artist or creative person knows that art output can be seasonal. We have seasons of prolific production; more often we have seasons of stark dryness, amidst our best intentions. Sometimes we should push ourselves to write, create, and produce through the dryness. Other times, there is an inner voice that tells us to "be still." Likewise, sometimes there are so many intense, confusing, and energy-consuming events going on in our lives, that we desire to ponder, sift, and sort it all out internally. That's ok. When the springtime of creativity comes upon us again, we will know it, and we will have a new found desire to write, to paint, to sculpt, to sing - to sing our songs aloud again - the tunes and stories being all the richer after a deep season of creative winter.

All this to say, I think it's spring again for me. Something inside me is moving me to write again. I can't promise perpetual profundity, but at least I'll be writing. Thanks for coming along for the journey - hopefully I can devote at least a little time each week to writing here!