…Christ came, not only because of our need as a fallen race to be redeemed, but as the firstborn of all creation to teach us how to live. One cannot teach life except by getting a wounded heart, a wounded spirit, not without being bruised…
We must study to learn how to identify … the bruises of the heart and the spirit with the Passion of Christ., who did not love us without getting bruised in the process. We have those soul-shaking lines from Holy Scripture, almost too exquisitely acute to bear: “With his stripes we are healed.” (Is 53: 5). His wounds have not healed us of our need of being wounded but of the wound of our self-centeredness. His woulds have called us to come our of self, to be made strong in suffering. This is to identify with the Passion of Christ.
…[and] the responsibility that the Passion of Christ enjoins upon us. We dare not underestimate the strength we have once we have been redeemed in love by Jesus. When we make promises to God, we can disavow the power put into us to observe them faithfully. When we are given by God any circumstance, any work to do, any suffering to sustain, we are also given the power and the strength to do or to suffer it. So when remembering and focusing in our identification with the Passion of the Christ, we need also to make active his own mandate through the inspired word of his apostle, that “in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions” (Col 1:24). What is lacking in Christ’s Passion in me? It is my own bruises of body, of heart, of spirit, bruises of disappointment, bruises of frustration, bruises of misunderstanding, bruises of ingratitude, bruises perhaps of rejection. Aware of this, remembering, focused, identified, we can truly pray, “Passion of Christ, make me strong!” We dare not pray it unless we are prepared to accept the responsibility of having the strength of the Passion of Jesus given to us.
… [we] identify our own bruises as making up what is wanting in his Passion. We begin to join our own hesitant refrain to his great theme: “What is not necessary that I suffer this?” Was it not ordained that I should suffer for all the world? Was it not ordained that I suffer for the benefactors who befriend us and for those who think our life a waste? “Passion of Christ, make me strong!” Yes, it is a dangerous prayer. For if I ask to be made strong in this weay, I will be made strong and have to abdicate any further right to say “I can’t.” In this prayer I deliver up to Christ my former right to say “I cannot do it.”
Mother Mary Francis, PCC
Here’s an excerpt from “3 Reasons to Intentionally Pray: Jesus, I Offer This to You”… from CatholicMom.com
When I was growing up and going through some trial, well-meaning Catholics would tell me to “offer it up.” For a very long time, I didn’t understand what benefit that might bring until I learned that my offering something to God was not about what I was doing with it, but what God did.
In recent months I’ve been using this simple prayer throughout my day: “Jesus, I offer this to you.” I pray it when facing some kind of trial or frustration or problem. Nobody likes to go through unpleasant stuff. Yet offering these moments is lot like praying that beloved and familiar short prayer from the Divine Mercy devotion: “Jesus, I trust in you.”
Many Christians pray the Morning Offering – giving the whole day to Christ. That’s a very holy prayer. Yet Jesus also desires our hearts to come to him throughout the day, as St Paul says, “to pray without ceasing (1 Thess 5:17).” Giving over both large and small difficult moments to Christ is one way to fulfill that prayer.
Here are three good reasons to pray with intention: “Jesus, I offer this to you.”
1. What is difficult for me can become a blessing for others.
“Jesus, I offer this to you.” This is much more than Jesus making lemonade from our lemons. Offering up our concerns in much greater than some kind of pious wishful thinking. This is trust that that graces from Christ’s Cross flow even now. Our trial of the moment may remain, but we ask God to use it for good. Through it, graces are unleashed and we participate in Christ’s saving work on earth.
When I suffer something in my own body, I’m painfully away of my own body and blood—the value of my own life and mortality. In some small way I take in the purview of what Jesus suffered for me.
Recently, I prayed as I sat in the oral surgeon’s chair to receive a dental implant — the process that inserts a metal screw inserted into my skull to hold a future porcelain crown. The procedure is a bit jarring. I experienced the disconcerting physical pressure of the drill without the unpleasantness of pain, spared as I was by painkillers. As the dentist drilled into my bone, my little prayer, “Jesus I offer this you” brought about that very image of Jesus’ suffering the nails being driven into his flesh and bones, His being impaled without any anesthesia.
Jesus trusted in His Father to forgive his executioners (Cf. Luke 23:34) and to bring forth something good and holy from his excruciating suffering. Trust and offerings go together.
The key to offering something up to God builds upon the trusting foundation we have in Jesus.
This week on Among Women, in our first segment, we look at a miraculous conversion story taken from the life of St Catherine of Siena wrought through the power of prayer. In a similar vein, in our second segment, we meet a modern woman with her own story of transformation.
Life with Jesus Christ has the power to change every aspect of our lives. University of Miami Campus Minister Michelle Ducker candidly shares her life and work in this extended interview. Michelle’s story shows us that when we let Jesus do the heavy lifting, he’ll heal our hearts and minds and bring us joy, truth, and true beauty — the kind that shines from the inside out! Michelle reflects on several years of her life, including her walking away from a modeling career, dealing with illness, and wrestling with body and self-image issues. Today she shares what she has overcome in and through Christ, and how she walks with others so that they may experience friendship in Christ, and discover true beauty and love.
Steve Nelson’s Everything Estaban blog continues to intrigue me with the Catholic Photo Challenge. The theme for this week’s challenge is from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
“322 Christ invites us to filial trust in the providence of our heavenly Father (cf. Mt 6:26-34),
and St. Peter the apostle repeats: “Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you” (I Pt 5:7; cf. Ps 55:23).”
For this photo challenge, capture a scene or event that expresses joy in a carefree moment. A scene when you, or someone else, is living in the moment, not fettered by worries or needing to be in total control.
Anyway, since I’m caregiving and not really keeping my usual schedule, I had not planned on participating in this current challenge until something unexpected happened after Mass yesterday. This was a photo I just happened to snap — without even trying to do the challenge… but it just happened to work out that way.
I attended Sunday Mass at my parents’ parish which is St Joseph the Worker — a combined collaborative of St John’s in Clyde, St Patrick’s in Savannah, and St Michael’s in Lyons, NY. Dad and attended Mass at St John’s today. Since my mother is still in the nursing home getting rehab, I decided to take a few photos of the church for her, since it has been several weeks since she has been at Mass in this church.
After Mass I was busy taking photos of the tabernacle and the major statues very quietly as the church emptied out. As I focused my lens in on the statue of St Joseph, a woman quickly stepped into my frame just as I pushed the shutter. It was not until I looked at this later on, did I realize that this would make a great depiction of “filial trust in the providence of our heavenly Father.”
From top to bottom… within the artistic rendering of the statue we first see Jesus gazing confidently (with filial trust) into the eyes of St Joseph, his foster father. What a model for us!
Then, in the lower portion of the photo we see this darling woman placing her own filial trust in her patron, St Joseph. She prayerfully lights a candle as she trusts Joseph’s spiritual fatherhood — after all, he is the Patron of he Universal Church — with her special intention.
Finally there is the implicit and ultimate to call to you and to me — as stated in CCC 322 above — to trust in the providence of our heavenly Father. St Joseph was the Heavenly Father’s choice and provision for his Precious Son, Jesus. Joseph, the gospel attests, was an upright and just man. He was a humble follower of God whose own filial trust in God allowed him to carry out his vocation as the earthly father of Jesus.
This photo reminds me that both Jesus and Joseph trusted the Heavenly Father to provide for their ultimate good. Those are pretty good endorsements. May we all aspire to such deep and abiding and childlike trust in our Father, “the one who searches hearts (Rom. 8:27)”.
The Church’s proclamation on the family finds its foundation in the life and preaching of Jesus, who lived and grew up in the family of Nazareth. He attended the wedding at Cana, which he honoured by performing the first of his “signs” (cf. Jn 2:1-11) and presented himself as the Bridegroom who unites himself to his Bride (cf. Jn 3:29). On the cross, he gave himself up with a love to the very end and, in his resurrected body, established new relationships among people. By revealing the fullness of divine mercy, Jesus allows man and woman to recover that “principle” according to which God unites them in one flesh (cf. Mt 19:4-6) and for which — by the grace of Christ — they are enabled to be faithful to each other and love each other forever. Therefore, the divine measure of conjugal love, to which spouses are called by grace, has its source in “the beauty of the saving love of God made manifest in Jesus Christ who died and rose from the dead” (EG, 36), the very heart of the Gospel.
Jesus, in assuming human love, also perfected it (cf. GS, 49), giving man and woman a new manner of loving, which has its foundation in the irrevocable faithfulness of God. In light of this, the Letter to the Ephesians has identified in the married love between a man and a woman, “the great mystery” which makes present in this world the love between Christ and the Church (cf.Eph 5:31-32). A married couple possesses the charism (cf. 1 Cor 7:7) of building up the Church with their spousal love and the task of the procreation and rearing of children. United in an indissoluble sacramental bond, the spouses live the beauty of love, fatherhood and motherhood and the dignity of participating, in this way, in God’s creative work.
Throughout the centuries, the Church has maintained her constant teaching on marriage and family. One of the highest expressions of this teaching was proposed by the Second Vatican Council, in the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, which devotes an entire chapter to promoting the dignity of marriage and the family (cf. GS, 47-52). This document defined marriage as a community of life and love (cf. GS, 48), placing love at the center of the family and manifesting, at the same time, the truth of this love in counter distinction to the various forms of reductionism present in contemporary culture. The “true love between husband and wife” (GS, 49) implies a mutual gift of self and includes and integrates the sexual and affective aspects, according to the divine plan (cf. GS, 48-49). Furthermore, Gaudium et Spes, 48 emphasizes the grounding of the spouses in Christ. Christ the Lord “comes into the lives of married Christians through the Sacrament of Matrimony,” and remains with them. In the Incarnation, he assumes human love, purifies it and brings it to fulfillment. Through his Spirit, he enables the bride and groom to live their love and makes that love permeate every part of their lives of faith, hope and charity. In this way, the bride and groom are, so to speak, consecrated and, through his grace, they build up the Body of Christ and are a domestic Church (cf. LG, 11), so that the Church, in order to fully understand her mystery, looks to the Christian family, which manifests her in a real way.
-Instrumentum Laboris, par. 2,3, & 4-
“The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization” (in preparation for the Synod on the Family this fall)
Jesus understood human life — all the messy physical realities of being human. Jesus wasn’t simply God playacting at being human. Here’s an earthy example: Last year a vicious stomach flu tore through my Jesuit community. Despite vigorous hand washing, it hit me one night. Without going into details, it was the sickest I have ever been… As I hunched over the toilet for the fifth time that night, I had a surprising thought: Jesus did this. Admittedly, he did not contract a norovirus in a Jesuit community, but Jesus certainly got sick. He got hungry. He ate. He drank. We know, explicitly from the Gospels, that he got tired, as when he falls asleep in a boat on the Sea of Galilee. The physical realities of human life were not unknown to him.
Fr James Martin, SJ, Jesus: A pilgrimage.
by George Herbert (1593-1633)
Love bade me welcome; yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-ey’d Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,
If I lacked anything.
‘A guest,’ I answer’d, ‘worthy to be here':
Love said, ‘You shall be he.’
‘I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear
I cannot look on Thee.’
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
‘Who make the eyes but I?’
‘Truth, Lord, but I have marred them; let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.’
‘And know you not,’ says Love, ‘who bore the blame?’
‘My dear, then I will serve.’
‘You must sit down,’ say Love, ‘and taste my meat.’
So I did sit and eat.
Take this to your next prayer time… imagining Jesus saying these words to you…
Become very quiet. Reach out your hand so that I might enfold it in both of mine. Do you feel the love and tender care transfer itself through this contact? Now, as if you were blind, turn with me to face the future, and step out knowing complete trust in me to leave you on your way. Relax in the peace of that assurance. When you have the least temptation to panic because of your darkness, quietly recreate this sequence in your mind to again realize the actuality of my guiding presence alight with love.
From Learn From Me.. He speaks, we listen, by Helen M. Ross
“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.
And they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it. Amen.
Mark 16: 15-20
Attributed to Dosso Dossi [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.
Can you imagine yourself in the crowd watching Jesus ascend?
Can you hear his words upon exiting?
Are you moved enough to preach about his message?
The new evangelization rises and falls with all of us sharing our stories of coming to know Jesus, to encounter the Lord of Love in a personal way. I’m happy to dive into the Among Women archives to bring you the inspiring stories of these Catholic women! You may wish to bookmark this post to come back to it!
AW 178: New Life in Christ – When an unplanned pregnancy interrupts this successful single career woman’s life plan, she returns to the faith of her youth and discovers God’s plan for her in a new way. Listen!
AW 43 A Chat with Amazing Catechist, Lisa Mladinich – Get to know the founder of Amazing Catchechists, author Lisa Mladinich, who tells the story of her reversion to the Catholic faith. Listen!
AW 40 Becoming a Catholic - This episode talks with Earline Tweedie, a former Methodist, now a Catholic, by way of the RCIA. Also inspiring is her sharing her story of mothering a son with Down’s Syndrome. Listen!
AW 1 — The Among Women Premiere - (and there’s a part two) Join me on my very first podcast from March 2009, and after I overcome the jitters, listen to Virginia Kimball, a PhD in Mariology today, discuss her life and growth as a Christian, and her eventual return to school in midlife to study theology. Listen!
AW 131 The Vocation Story of a Young Nun — More of a memoir of her faith journey, Sr Emily Beata Marsh FSP, one of the newest members of the Daughters of St Paul describes her vocation experience and her recent vows. Listen!