I am writing this on my train ride to Tirano and am posting it once I get to a wifi spot 🙂
I have finished my course. I left Arnoga on Sunday morning. We had a very early mass and then made our way to Switzerland. They dropped me off at a train station there and am now making my way to Tirano. From there I take a trip to Milan. From Milan, I take a train to the airport where I fly to Toulouse. From Toulouse we take a train to Lourdes, where I will check into my hotel and sleep after such a long day!
My two weeks with the Casa have been very interesting. The men there are very devoted to the Lord, which was both a powerful an challenging experience. The Lord worked a lot in my heart, revealed much of my sinfulness to me, and was teaching me some very important lessons. It was a place of grace and I must admit, I initially wanted to run away! But the Lord had other plans for me, for which I am thankful.
I wish to share two small things. The first is the idea of thanksgiving. At Mass for the Feast of the Transfiguration, God gave me an insight: we tend to be sad, frustrated, and lacking peace when we are not giving thanks for what it is we have. The smallest thing ought to move us to thank God! For the ten frustrating things we may have in our lives there are a thousand things to be thankful for! Some of it is small, some of it is great! It could be the flicker of a candle, the time we use to pray, the roof over our heads. All is a gift from God! When we start to realize that, then we begin to be joyful because we realize that the greatest gift, having the Lord immerse Himself in our lives, is the greatest gift of all. Nothing compares. This also aids us in detaching ourselves from things so as to look more fully at the Lord.
As I look past the few years of my life, I realize I had lost this! I thanked God, but it was just words, I forgot to put my heart and my will in it. Because I lost gratitude, I lost some of that eternal perspective our faith gives us! Thus when sufferings would occur, or trials, or misunderstandings, I would see it as an offense instead of an opportunity for growing in virtue and holiness. I have resolved to be more grateful to God and others. When everything is a gift, then nothing is ours, thus allowing us to receive freely from the Lord!
That leads me to my second point: the concept of abandonment. I am a planner. I like to plan and control things and when things aren’t going my way, I freak out, I complain, I revolt. I do not trust the Lord much, I have come to realize. But that is my problem, and I need to fix that. I wanted to run away from my course because none if it was what I expected, nor did I expect the Lord to do with me what He did. So I revolted! I tried to leave, but as I said, the Lord turned me around (a story for when I get to a computer).
Last night was a bit of a breakthrough moment for me. I picked up a book I have that I stopped reading a while ago, and, providentially, I stopped at the part on abandonment! So I picked it up and began to read.
The book, before I continue, is called “Searching for and Maintaining Peace” by Fr Jaques Philippe. If you have not read any of his works, I recommend them all. They are small books with lots of sections, and so are fruitful for times of prayer and meditation.
Anyways, in the book, Fr Jaques speaks of abandonment as the key to holiness. He said we are afraid of giving things up to the Lord because we want them, like them, enjoy them, etc. But, he said, we tend to fall for the trap, one which I now realize I had fallen for! We fear that if we give God everything, that He will not give us anything back. We experience it as if He is simply just taking everything. That is the Devil and we must ignore it! The Lord is faithful! He asks for everything because everything is His. But we stop there like Adam and Eve. Just like them, we refuse to give everything to God and instead hold it all for ourselves! But we forget that God will give us everything we need! We forget that once we give it all to the Lord, He will give us everything we need to bring us holiness. Yes, He may ask of things from us which He may not give back. Not because what He doesn’t give back isn’t good, but because, in our particular situation, it does not bring us closer to holiness, closer to God. There are no neutral things in life. It either brings us closer to the Lord or moves us away from Him. If He is our greatest love,then we ought to want to do everything to keep that love in our lives!
So, the Lord demands everything from us. But He will give us far more than the little bits we give Him. And then we give it back to Him, and He gives back to us, and it is an everlasting communion of giving and receiving and thus a foretaste of Heaven!
When we begin to live this abandonment, we become thankful for what the Lord does for us! We realize that all we have is a gift and that any possessions we have are as nothing in comparison with the Divine Goodness!
I am already attempting to live this. It was my first prayer off my lips this morning. When they dropped me off at the train station, and I was the only one there, and was hoping they were right about the time the train came, I refused to give into the temptation. My prayer was “Jesus, I abandon myself to you.”. When I got on the train and realized there are two Tirano stations, hoping now, as I write this, that I am going to the right one, my prayer is “Jesus, I trust in You.”. I am beginning to see that it is not difficult to live already! Maybe the Lord has different plans than I have! Who knows! It is up to the Lord, it is not up to me. There is a great freedom in that!
I write this to encourage those reading this. I also ask my friends to especially keep this in mind when they see and talk with me. If you find me forgetting these principles, please remind me. Remind me of the freedom and joy there is in abandonment to the Lord.