"Walking in the way and the love of the Lord"
“What really matters in life is that we are loved by Christ and that we love Him in return. In comparison to the love of Jesus, everything else is secondary. And, without the love of Jesus, everything is useless.” ~Pope Saint John Paul II
Wow, Pope Saint John Paul II said it so well; not sure if there is anything left to say.
But I will try ...
The ultimate purpose of our life is to love.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” ~ Mk 12:30
Love God!! Love God with a pure and humble heart. Empty yourself before Him. When we let go of ourselves and allow Our Lord to use us, His graces will flow! When we empty ourselves, we will discover something beautiful. We will be filled with a joy so abundant and powerful, so natural that our real selves will shine. We will be moving along on our spiritual journey letting our love show...ready to use our gifts for the love of our God.
As it was written by Saint Faustina in her diary, “The Lord answered me, “My daughter, love has brought Me here, and love keeps Me here. My daughter, if you knew what great merit and reward is earned by one act of pure love for Me, you would die of joy. I am saying this that you may constantly unite yourself with Me through love, for this is the goal of the life of your soul. This act is an act of the will. Know that a pure soul is humble. When you lower and empty yourself before My majesty, I then pursue you with My graces and make use of My omnipotence to exalt you.” (Saint Faustina Diary, #576)
Listen to these words again, “Constantly unite yourself with Me through love, for this is the goal of the life of your soul” Love unites us, love binds us together, humble love calls God to pursue us with His graces. We are blessed and made whole by His love.
We hear this verse below all the time, but this time I want you to read it slowly. Reflect upon these words, reflect with humility, reflect with emptying of self.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
We all have that kind of love in our hearts; the choice is to let it out and into the world.
“Truly, every person was created with a desire and need in his or her heart to love God and feel His love. But it is what we choose to do with this desire—act upon it or ignore it—that draws us closer to the Father or away from Him. There are three specific reasons the Lord placed this desire for Him in our hearts. First, when we enter into a loving relationship with God, He is able and willing to offer His wisdom to guide us (James 1:5). Second, when we accept the Father’s love, we will be open to becoming the people He created us to be, living to our fullest potential. And third, when we embrace the Lord’s love, we will begin to see people and circumstances as He sees them—from the vantage point of His love. In light of this, why would anyone choose to refuse God’s love? If you are ready to reap the benefits of God’s perfect love, reach out to Him in prayer today. Ask Him to help you overcome the hindrances so that you may rejoice in His everlasting and tender care.” ~ SOURCE: In Touch Ministries
Let us pray,
Lord, I know my love is not perfect for You. I know you have placed the desire within me. Help me, this day, to open my heart more fully to You. Purify my love for you, allow me to love You above all things. You deserve my total and pure love. I thank you for the joy you have blessed me with, may I share this joy with others. If today, I do not feel your love, allow me to trust in you. Allow me to know Your love is there and is always there for me. Allow me to choose Your love and to accept it with open arms. Allow me to understand and feel Your mercy. Thank you, Jesus. Jesus I trust in You because I know that in my heart and in my soul, Love is all that matters.
Day 7 ... Los Arcos to Logrono ... 30 kms, 19miles
Today was one of our first full sunny days. Sunny but blessed with lots of clouds and cool breezes. Still it made for a long day into Logrono. Those last few kms are always a killer.Your body is tired and your brain knows it is close. So guess what, the body aches a little more than usual. For me, the most mental part of the day is those last few kms.
So here we were, about 4 kms outside of Logrono. Luca who was walking with us and from Argentina, decided to start calling Albergues to make a reservation because it was getting late in the day. Due to the number of pilgrims on the path nowadays, it doesn't hurt to make a reservation. This is when I learned that some Albergues take reservations.
As we continued walking in the late afternoon with the sun beating down on us at this point, we were all ready for a shower and a bed. We kept hearing Luca say, "Ok, Gracias" each time you could hear the disappointment in his voice. He kept trying one right after another. Only to find out that every Albergue and some of the smaller Hotels were booked for the night. We then realized it was a Saturday, this big town had a lot going on this weekend, and this town had no rooms. After walking for seven days, we had picked up our own little pilgrim family. There were eight of us. Which made it even harder to find a reservation, but you know what? We never thought of splitting up, we were a family and we were going to do this together!
We walked into Logrono with tired feet and a weary heart. We stayed positive and headed to the Church. We all had heard, when there are no beds, go to the church.
I will never forget the moment we knocked on that door. We were tired, hot, sleepy, thirsty, hungry and just wore out. I remember looking at the gentleman when he opened the door, we probably had desperation in our eyes. I believe I even held my hands in a prayerful manner as we asked if they had a bed. He said, "he wasn't sure he had 8 beds, but some could sleep on mats." He then said, "come on in and relax, while we see what we can do" He led us into a room, I think I floated into it.
I didn't care if we had to wait, it was air conditioned with chairs. We sat, took our shoes off and some of us even headed to the showers.
I remember sitting there and saying a short prayer. After about 30 mins, the gentleman came into the room and said he had 6 beds and they could put two of us on mats. We had are own little celebration. Now for the big surprise, the cost. Nothing! Donation only! It also included a community dinner, breakfast and a private prayer service in the church after dinner. It was absolutely perfect, we couldn't ask for more.
We were fed an amazing dinner of Paella. We ate as a family, shared where we were from, and sang a song for prayer "Ultreria"
After dinner, we gathered in the choir seats of the church for our prayer service. They handed out prayers in all different languages. We each took a turn saying a prayer in our own language. This community of the church was overwhelming. To hear all the prayers said in all the different languages, English, Spanish, German, Italian, Korean and even more! It was beautiful.
Tears of joy were definitely streaming down my face and many others!
After prayer it was time to clean up the kitchen and head to bed. We all took turns washing and drying. When one was washing, we formed a massage line. Everyone was getting their shoulders massaged! We all learned who gave the best massages.
Here again, the Camino has reminded me to always trust in Our Lord. He always takes care of us. Jesus, I trust in you!
Even when we didn't think there was a bed for our head, all we could do was walk. Moment by moment, step by step we made our way into Logrono. Praying every step of the way, trusting that all will be well. Not only was it well, it was beautiful.
So let us remember, when its looking like the path is getting difficult.
step by step,
prayer by prayer
trusting in Our Lord.
Our Lord will give us an answer better than we could imagine.
He always makes a rainbow out of a storm!
By: Fr. Thomas Rosica
Standing in the middle of the present day city of Nazareth is the mammoth Basilica of the Annunciation, built around what is believed to be the dwelling of Mary. In a grotto-like room at the heart of the basilica is a small inscription on an altar. It reads, "verbum caro hic factum est," here the Word became flesh. There, it is believed, the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, and her response changed the world forever.
Imagine yourself in Mary's place, asked to say "yes" to a divine plan so vast, so profound and so seemingly impossible that you cannot comprehend it. "How can this be?" she asks, bewildered. She is rooted in the faith of her ancestors, and yet now an angel has appeared in the midst of everyday life, extending a startling invitation. "You have found favor with God," the angel says, "and you will conceive and bear His Son." Will she accept?
It is Mary above all others who can teach us what it means to live by faith, and how to respond when God's providence disrupts the daily course of our lives, overturning its rhythms and expectations. Despite her fears and uncertainty over how this promise could be fulfilled, she still answered "Yes." Are we able to respond to God this way?
When we reflect on the Annunciation to Mary, and her acceptance of the angel's message, we also reflect on our own vocation -- our own calling from God. In the Lord's Prayer, we pray, "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven" -- an echo of Mary's "Be it done unto me according to your word." Each time we commit ourselves to embracing God's call and accepting His will, we mark a new point on the path of our relationship with Him. For the rest of her life, Mary pondered her extraordinary encounter with God, turning the weight of the angel's message over and over again in her heart. From the manger to the cross, Mary's life was radically changed -- her relationship with God profoundly deepened -- the moment she said "Yes."
Mary received and welcomed God's Word in the fullest sense -- becoming impregnated with it, and bearing it to the world. Angels might not appear in our doorsteps, but we do encounter God in each of our daily prayers, and he whispers to us a similar invitation: Will we accept His love and bring it joyously to those around us? Will we trust in His providence, even when we can't see the path ahead? Amid the noise of everyday life, will we listen for and embrace his call?
When making his pilgrimage to the Basilica of the Annunciation, Pope Benedict XVI offered this prayer to the humble Virgin of Nazareth. It speaks for all of us who likewise seek to accept God's will with joy:
Mary, Mother of the "Yes," you listened to Jesus, and know the tone of his voice and the beating of his heart. Morning Star, speak to us of him, and tell us about your journey of following him on the path of faith.
A question for today:
When have I felt that God was calling me to something greater than myself? When have I succeeded, and when have I failed, in accepting His will? What was the outcome of those situations?
Written by Gail Rodgers
Lord, I want to trust you, but I don’t know how!
When life throws that curve ball and you have the wind knocked out of you, what do you do? Where do you turn?
When we were kids we used to put a small hole in each end of an egg and then blow the contents out. The egg looked like any other in the bowl, but it was hollow. When pressure was applied to it, it broke easily into shattered pieces. I often think of that egg as I field life’s curve balls and as I watch others do the same. A hollowness in our souls will leave us feeling shattered from the pressures of life.
When a relationship becomes strained, when illness robs your days, when your stomach churns with the stress of unpaid bills, when the unexpected happens, do you crumble like a hollow eggshell or do you know where to find strength for your inner soul?
God’s Word, the Bible, has principles for living. Principles written for us by the very God that created us and understands the hollowness that can creep unbidden into our souls. This is not merely positive thinking or visualization, this is help from the God of the universe, the same God that sent His son Jesus to be the source of everything we need to face the curve balls of life.
Listen to the promise for you that comes straight from the heart of Father God:
“May the God of hope
fill you with all joy and peace
as you trust in him
so that you may overflow with hope
by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Did you hear it? Joy, peace and hope offered to you by the God of hope!! This is not just a promise to “get by” or to be a “survivor” – it’s a promise of overflowing with hope – of being filled with joy and peace!!
Sounds a bit like fluff doesn’t it! Is it really possible to be pulled from the pit of despair and overflow with hope? Yes but it’s supernatural, it’s God’s part, He does it when we do our part.
And what is our part? It’s that little phrase sandwiched in – between the promise of being filled with joy and peace and the promise of overflowing with hope – our part is an individual thing – “as you trust in Him”.
But how? How does one trust? In the storms of life I find people desperately wanting to trust this God that offers hope, but simply not knowing how to when the waves are coming fast and threatening to pull them under.
God even gives us the formula in His Word. Listen to it – it comes from the book in the Bible named “Lamentations”:
“Because of the Lord’s great love
we are not consumed,
for His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
Great is His faithfulness.”
Lamentations 3: 22 & 23
When trouble strikes and our hearts grow faint we so often forget the great love our Father in Heaven has for us and we begin to doubt the goodness of God toward us. When that happens we begin to be consumed by our stress and our fears and begin to blame God. When we follow God’s formula and recall His great love for us, reminding ourselves daily of His compassion toward us, our hearts gain strength.
God knows the daily need we have to remember His kindness toward us in the middle of our unkind circumstances, so He calls us to focus on it every morning. His compassions that never fail us are His resources to carry us through our day and all the hard points in our present storm. Has hope, peace and strength vanished in the wind of your storm? His peace, His strength, His wisdom, His understanding, His hope will become yours as you ask Him for it – supernaturally His source of whatever you need today will become yours.
As you lean into His great love for you today, and lean on His resources you will not be consumed, you will not be crushed like the hollow eggshell. You will find Him faithful step by step by step – that’s trusting.
Never doubt the love and the goodness of God to you. He doesn’t promise a storm free life but He does promise to be the anchor in the storm so that you will not be overcome!
Trust Him daily. Trust Him hourly and learn to trust Him moment by moment. His resources will not only get you through but you will truly grow to experience Him as the source of hope overflowing “by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Try Him. Trust Him. He is our faithful God!
By Gerald M. Fagin, SJ
Mary at her Annunciation models faith for us. She shows us that faith is more than assent, but is also trust, commitment, obedience, and submission. Mary trusted in God’s promises, was obedient to God’s word of invitation in her life, surrendered to the mystery before her, and committed herself to be part of God’s plan of salvation in Jesus.
At the same time, we can easily romanticize the Gospel scene—Mary is at prayer, an angel appears, and she says a faith-filled yes. The Scripture also tells us that she was deeply troubled and wondered what the angel’s greeting meant. Certainly the angel’s explanation only left her with more questions and concerns. She did not say yes because she fully understood or had all her questions answered. She said yes in faith and trust. We do Mary a disservice to think she had some infused knowledge that dispelled all her doubts. She was a young woman of extraordinary faith. The “yes” at the Annunciation was not the first “yes” in her life nor would it be the last.
The really significant yeses in our lives also demand a great deal of trust and openness. We cannot know all the implications of them. We respond to the gift of God’s call in our lives. We say yes in hope and trust. Like Mary, we say “yes” to something being born in us that must grow and mature and take a shape we cannot predict. We are called to that depth of faith as we contemplate the story of the Annunciation and all the stories of the life of Jesus in the rest of the [Spiritual] Exercises. We are called to trust, obedience, surrender, and commitment in our own lives. We will hear an invitation to share in the work of Jesus and respond and live in faith.
Living in faith demands surrender to the stories of God and Jesus recorded in the Scriptures. Christian faith especially demands that we let the stories of Jesus shape our minds and hearts. Paul Wadell says that to live in faith means that we “appropriate these stories, striving to embody their viewpoints, values, and vision as our own. To assent to the truths of faith portrayed in the Scripture is to allow them to become the interpretative framework for our world.”
Wadell feels we need these narratives “to mold and shape us, especially in the attitudes and virtues of Jesus.” Ignatian imaginative prayer on the Gospel stories is a powerful way to grow in faith by putting on the heart of Christ. As Jesus trusted, obeyed, surrendered, and committed his life to the Father, we are to respond in the same way. All the contemplations on the Gospels throughout the Exercises foster growth in the virtue of faith that empowers us to trust God and commit ourselves to service.
Excerpt from Putting on the Heart of Christ: How the Spiritual Exercises Invite Us to a Virtuous Life by Gerald M. Fagin, SJ.
Prayerful Path/Mary Maddox
Saint James, pray for us that we may be willing to leave everything to follow Jesus as you did. Help us to become special friends of Jesus as you were. Amen