Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Best is Yet to Come

A few Scripture passages come to mind for hope.

"You have saved the best wine until now."  John 2:10

"I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you." John 4:18

"Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you." John 16:7


It is ok if the good wine you were used to has run dry.  It is ok if the cosolations you were used to in life no longer satisfy.  It is ok if even the sense of Jesus' presence seems to fade  Because the best is yet to come.  That's how Jesus in fact works - He always has something better.  

In fact, I think Heaven will be an experience of continuous increases in joy; thinking it couldn't get any better than this we will, for all eternity, be surprise over and over and over.  

God is a God of surprises.  

And children love surprises.

God is our Father and we are His children.  He intends (if we trust Him and abandon ourselves to Him) to surprise us.  He intends to give us the deepest desires of our hearts.

However, this life is a continuous expansion of our hearts; a constant stretching and an ever deepening in our own self-realization about what our deepest desires actually are.  We know the answer of course.  Our deepest desire is total fulfillment in the eternal, unconditional love of God our Father.  

We reach points in our lives where we think, "This is it! This is happiness!"

God smiles...

"The best is yet to come."


Our times of "desolation" and our experiences of emptiness allow our longing for God to increase.  He never abandons us of course.  Never.  It is just that our desire for Him needs to be purified.  He wants us to desire Him and not just the nice feelings we get when we sense His presence or the security we feel from His power.

Pure love is what we truly desire but we cannot attain it but througn pure faith and pure hope.  They need to be pure - unadulterated by selfish desires or self-seeking (for love is the exact opposite of selfishness.) There should, ultimately, be no other reason for us to pursue pure love (God) than pure love for God.  We should love Love because He is perfectly loveable and worthy of our love!  But in our lives, because we are imperfect, we know that "Love is not loved."  Love is not loved as He ought to be; as He deserves to be. The human heart just won't be satisfied until we love with absolute purity and by ourselves we can't do it.  Often, though, we don't even realize how impure (read "mixed") our love is.  It is God's mercy that allows us to be dissatisfied with where we're at because at the end of the day...

The best is yet to come

And we need to suffer His coming (and it is a real suffering!)

"For our God is a consuming fire... (Hebrews 12:29) "...a jealous God." (Deuteronomy 4:24)

(Jesus, Incarnate God, is called the "Lion of the Tribe of Judah" in Revelation 5:5)

And as long as we allow Him to keep coming in the ways that He wants to He will not stop His offensive until He has exactly what He wants:

Your heart.

All of it.


"The LORD is a warrior; LORD is His Name."  (Exodus 15:3)

"The Lord Himself will fight for you; you have only to be still." (Exodus 14:14)

"...Let it be done to me according to Your Word." (Luke 1:38)

Let Him come.  Receive Him. He is exactly what your heart craves even if His firey love burns painfully and purifies away all the dross.  Just remember:

The best is yet to come.


Monday, May 26, 2014

Do you need some encouragement?

Several years ago I was on an 8 day silent retreat as part of the Institute for Priestly Formation summer.  We had 4 hours of prayer each day and were asked to pray with particular Scripture passages during those times; to really dive in and meditate on them. At the very end of the retreat I was talking with a Priest who asked me "Of all of the Scripture passages you had to pray with which one spoke to you the most?"  He was trying to help me get the "main point" which God had been offering to me during those 8 days of prayer and silence.  In other words, he was helping me to sum it all up.

On one of the days we prayed with a passage from John 14 which was exactly what our Gospel was today.  One verse - out of the entire retreat - stood out to me. Verse 18:

"I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you."

Now, my retreat at that time wasn't necessarily a very "difficult" or "dry" period for me.  There was much consolation and I experienced a lot of peace and healing.  So why did this verse - and why does this verse even now - stop me dead in my tracks?

I think all of us have tremendous pain in our hearts.  It would be a mercy of God to reveal it to us but, in His Wisdom, He doesn't always let us feel our deep brokenness.  There is a time, though, for everything... (Ecclesiastes 3 says so.)

It is merciful for God to allow us to feel our pain (He usually allows this pain to manifest over long periods of time - think "years") because then we realize how much we need His consoling love.  This is part of the great purification every soul has to undergo - whether here in this life or in a "purging" and purifying encounter with God's loving mercy after death which we call "Purgatory" - we must let God into our woundedness and pain and then we will be fully ready for the banquet that is Heaven.  "Nothing impure will ever enter it [Heaven.]" (Revelation 21:27)

The Kingdom of God is indeed within us and among us (Jesus Himself says so in the Gospels.)  So why don't we always experience the Kingdom of God in a "sensible" way?  Why do we sometimes "feel" like the Kingdom of God is so far away?  I think it's because we are in a constant process of becoming who we are.  We are in need of deep healing.  

Just as a scared 3 year old cringes at the pain of letting the doctor clean out a bad cut so the child of God that we are inside cringes at allowing the purity of God's love into the darkest and most painful areas of our hearts (remember hydogen peroxide?  Is there anything more painful for an open wound?  Hard to say...)  Yet, why do we cringe at that which we so desperately long for?  Because it's painful.  Love is painful when it's true.

Love and Truth go together (if either are to be authentically themselves.)  When God loves us He loves us as we actually are.  We are His children to be sure but we are not perfect.  We are works in progress.  Broken, limping pilgrims.  We are imperfect in this life.  We are "becoming" who we are.  We are in this tension of "already" but "not yet."  Christ's image is stamped within us but our sins blur that glory and our brokenness makes it hard for us to be docile to His Holy Spirit like Jesus always was.  

Happily, though, God loves us in our imperfection.  Often when we are truly experiencing the Love of God it is painful because He loves us precisely where we don't want (though we desperately need it) to be loved.  His love shines light on our darkness and that is uncomfortable.  He looks at what we think is unloveable and says "I love you precisely there - right where you are."  This sometimes is hard to accept; this "unconditional" love.  "God, You mean you love me AS a broken mess?  How is that possible?? There's nothing loveable TO love!!"  We may start to fear His condemnation and rejection.  We say things like, "This part of me can't be loved.  It's too terrible."  Yet we're desperate for God's healing love right *there*!  The heart of the broken child in us cries out, so to speak, for it's Papa but the lies tell us that Papa isn't coming and that He wouldn't want to anyway.  But what does God's Word say to that?  What does Jesus say in response to that anguished cry?

"I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you."

It is difficult to "hold still" while God is trying to love us in our brokenness.  We're very good at ignoring Him; squirming away whenever He gently brings up some dark area of our hearts which need His healing.  

God wants to meet you in the place where you think no one can meet you.  He wants to encounter you precisely in the place where you have experienced the greatest LACK of love.  *There* ...right there is where God wants you to be vulnerable with Him.  *There* - in the deepest pain - is where He wants to say "I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you."

So let Him come.  

Now it is interesting that the translation used at Mass (NAB) has that same verse rendered "I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you."  Orphans?? Wait a second Jesus, what do you mean?

You know I think it's interesting how these two translations - in some ways - can mean the same thing.  After all, what is an experience of "desolation" if not feeling as if "God has left me" or "I am alone in this struggle" or "My Father is not coming to help me.  He must not love me or He would take this away."  In various ways, desolation can be an experience not unlike what an orphan might feel like - without a Father.  

But JESUS comes to reveal the Father.  He says that the FATHER is in Him.  So JESUS sees the deepest woundedness in our hearts - and that's the place which longs for the Father's love (it is also the place which the Father's love longs for!) It's the place where we feel "desolate" as if we are "orphans."

What's your wound?  No, I'm not opening a public forum for this question.  I'm asking because you need to pray about it.  I need to pray about it.  We need to let God be Who He Is (FATHER) IN our very woundedness.  We don't experience God's Kingdom because we don't let the King come in and be what He wants to be for us - the King of Love and Our Father.

Our Father... Thy Kingdom come... Truly.

"...I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and he with me." (Revelation 3:20)

Gosh, there He goes again - wanting Holy Communion with us. We're starving for love!  Take the meal of the Eucharist, receive all that He has to give because it is all that you've ever longed for:  The Love of the Father.  Your Father.

Jesus came to reconcile the world to the Father; to bring the world back into a Holy Communion with the Father.  Won't you let Him in?  Oh, and don't worry.  You have a Mother, too.  "Behold your Mother" (John 19:27) (Isn't it interesting that He gives us His Mother precisely at the Cross?  He gives us His Mother exactly where we need her the most - in our suffering and pain.)

Jesus has thought of everything! All you have to do is say yes.  Let your Mother, Mary, take you by the hand and lead you right into the heart of Jesus and Jesus will take you home - back into your Father's Heart where you belong.

Where you belong.


Friday, May 23, 2014

So What's the Plan?

Life isn't a race.

I think, more often than not, life is more about coming to a complete halt rather than going as fast as you can.  I'm talking about "abiding."

I deeply appreciate the 13th-16th chapters of the Gospel of John.  John was the Evangelist whose mission it was to especially reveal and emphasize Christ's Divinity.  Jesus is the Son of God Who became the Son of Mary (thus becoming a Son of man) to teach us sons and daughters of men how to live our deepest identity and calling as children of God.

A thought on what it means for Jesus to be the Son of God:  Jesus is always at rest, always at home in His Father's love.  Jesus abides in the Father.  "Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me" He says.  Jesus is utterly filled with the Father's Love (aka the Holy Spirit.)  Jesus invites us in today's Gospel reading at Mass to "abide in My love" (RSV-CE translation.)  Hence, Jesus' love is the Holy Spirit which is in fact the Father's love.  To draw nearer to Jesus, to rest on His heart, is to abide in the Father's overflowing Love from Jesus' Heart.

I sense that love most intensely when I am meditating on the Word of God (the Scriptures) in the presence of the Word of God (the Eucharist.)  Jesus' whole purpose in coming to fulfill His Father's Will was to enter into a Holy Communion with us; that we might abide in His love.

All God ever wanted in sending His Son to us was to bring us back to abiding in His love to be in Holy Communion with Him.  God wants us to stop racing around.  Just stop.  To listen to what He has said to us (His Word - i.e. Jesus!) and simply receive the Love He is always giving.  To really enter into Holy Communion with Him.  To really receive Holy Communion for what It truly is:  All of God's Love. Eucharistic Adoration before and after Mass (or praying in front of the Tabernacle) prolongs and intensifies that Holy Encounter with Christ in the Eucharist; it expands our hearts even more to receive ever more of His love and grace.  

But we receive precisely what we are open to receive.  

Let us open our hearts even more!  We can turn to Mother Mary (whose receiving of the Word was the most fruitful "receptivity" in the history of mankind! So fruitful that the Word actually became flesh within her!) We can ask her to help us receive more of what we so desperately need: the Father's love.

It is one thing to be loved by God - it is another thing entirely to receive it. 

And at the end of the day that's all that matters because, at the end of any day no one wants to keep racing but everyone wants to just be loved, to abide in love (even going home to a family, which is a place to be at rest, is a manifestation of our need to "abide.")

So some people have asked me, "Matt, now that you've left this community and priestly formation, what's the next step?"

Oh... I think I'll just stay put.

"Abide in My Love."


It's a restful place to be; abiding in God's love.  I wish you would rest, too.  

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Update from the Other Side of the Pond

Well, you may have noticed (or, if you haven't, are about to as Im pointing it out in about 1 1 1 1/2 seconds) that I havent updated my blog in quite some time. I would like to coninue with it; I enjoy writing and think blogging is a great way to share what you want to share.  In my case I want to share my faith.

The reason, though, I've not blogged in a while is because I've been more focused on prayer and discernment these last couple of months.  During Lent there were beginnings of ideas that God may actually be calling me to close the door on discerning Priesthood and thus leaving the community I was with, The Missionaries of the Most Holy Eucharist

Easter was a time of surprises as it seemed that the Lord was, through various means, confirming the fact that I was to head back home.  Culminating in a beautiful pilgrmage to Lourdes and Fatima I was able to be confident that, indeed, this was God's Will.  Go back to 'merica!

(God didn't really say that to me - He doesn't have a Texan accent but you get the idea.)

So I came back home.  Going to try to listen to the Lord for the next step.  He often only shows us one part at a time anyway.

I'll remain associated with the community I was with, however.  I still firmly believe in their mission and want to help spread Eucharistic Adoration however I can but now I will no longer be discerning the Priesthood as they say.

So that's the brief update!

(Now I just need to figure out how to change my blog profile...)