Aim your soul for the Highest! |
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, with one week before Lent
I am happy and feel blessed to be able to share with you again what the Holy Spirit asked me to meditate on and convey in words. This can only be done by placing one's heart totally in God's Divine Will.
It is the disposition of our heart that directs us towards Holiness, that full cooperation with God to perfect us in His Image and Likeness through the working of the Holy Spirit. So many of us have this pre-conceived notion that Saints are those who are born that way-perfect. We have this notion that unless we spend our entire lives on our knees in rapt prayer, we shall have a very long stay in purgatory, for we are not "good enough". None of us are "good enough" to warrant Heaven. That's why Our Lord came and gave us the fullness of the Commandments in the Eight Beatitudes, and in the Two Great Commandments. Love God with your whole being, and your neighbor likewise.
We are not to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, but as God loves us, and Loves our neighbor. This is not beyond our reach, my dear brothers and sisters, and I am so certain of this, that the Holy Spirit prompts me again and again to address this subject with you. I am the poorest of all God's children, I am a sinner. But God has taught me in the silence of my heart and soul that I am called to Love!!! Not a simpering, emotional LOVE, but a lively LOVE that comes from the very Heart of God!!! St. Therese took on the HEART OF GOD, not because she was worthy to do so, but because she understood with absolute clarity, that this was God's Will, not only for her, but also for all of His Children. Her way was simple and direct. It was not composed of difficult penances, of severity of spirit, of a gloomy disposition. She sang of her confidence in the Merciful Love of God for her, and she taught this in her writings.
If there was every a Saint of the Common People, it was and is St. Therese of the Child Jesus. She did not one extraordinary thing in her entire life. She cooperated with the graces given her by God, and she learned at an early age to TRUST with ABSOLUTE CONFIDENCE in Him as a LOVING FATHER. She was so convinced of this that she called God "Papa", and while others laughed, she took them to task for their doom and gloom dispositions. Her own sisters learned from her, and so should we.
Yes, there is Purgatory. No, we cannot comprehend what this is like. My own understanding of this is such: The suffering of Purgatory is the knowledge of God so full, that our soul so longs for His Eternal Presence that we can't wait to be brought into Heaven, into the Beatific Vision. We know we are "saved", that Heaven will be ours, but we have to wait. And, yes, Purgatory is a place of final purification. But Purgatory is not obligatory, my dear brothers and sisters. Believing that you are "doomed" to Purgatory no matter how hard you try to be good is fatalistic. It rejects the MERCIFUL LOVE OF GOD, and it relegates us to the position of "slave" not that of a "Child of God."
Are you aiming for Purgatory, or for Heaven? This is a crucial question you must ask yourself in the silence of your heart and soul. This is the matter for meditation and contemplation, especially as we approach the Season of Lent.
If you believe you are doomed to Purgatory, then somehow you've shut out the work of the Holy Spirit to perfect you now, in this earthly valley of tears, and you are looking "down", not "up" at God. This seems to permeate our society today. We do not look "up", but rather we have our eyes cast down. Or, there's the other extreme which is that of" I'm going to Heaven no matter what, because there is no such thing as sin, the devil, hell, or Purgatory. Both extremes are wrong!!!
St. Therese understood that. She did not worry about tomorrow. She rose each day, and went to bed each night, as a child held in her Father's arms. She set about the tasks of each day, not with a pessimistic spirit, but with a sureness of HOPE. She accepted the grace God gave to her one moment at a time. She accepted that she, of herself, was nothing. But she understood and taught that it was her very nothingness, all her faults, failings, character flaws, etc., that permitted the GLORY OF GOD to shine through her to the rest of the world. Her sisters knew, as she approached the end of her life, that their sister was truly a SAINT (Capital S). St. Therese knew this herself, and spoke about it in humility, always with the GLORY going to GOD, and never to herself. She also spoke about Purgatory. She said it would not matter one jot to her if she had to spend time in Purgatory until the end of the world. She would be content, she said, knowing that she had not been mistaken in realizing that LOVE was her vocation within the heart of Holy Mother Church. She taught that!!! Our vocation, our primary one above all others, is to be LOVE in the Heart of Holy Mother Church. Not a sentimental love, my brothers and sisters, but a JOYOUS LOVE OF SELF-SACRIFICE, A SPIRIT THAT IS COMPLIANT TO THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
We must strive, each day, to attain Heaven!!! To do anything less is to deny the Word of God, and the work of the Hoy Spirit, the Sanctifier. St. Therese was not "perfect". She became perfected by the grace God gave to her one moment at a time. Yes, she did not live long, and she suffered terribly in the last months of her life. But even this, she embraced with JOY. She did not despair, she did not "presume", and she did not think that shooting for Purgatory was the only avenue to travel. She taught that we are called, each one of us, to the Our Father's home, and that to desire less, to work for less, is unbecoming of a child of God. She saw her imperfections even in the last weeks and moments of her life. Yet, she rejoiced, knowing that in these imperfections God was at work, even though her "trial of faith" was tested up to the moment of her death. She persevered!!! That's what we're supposed to be doing.
There is a world of difference between the sin of Presumption, and the JOY OF HOPE and ABSOLUTE CONFIDENCE in GOD!
You are not called to Purgatory, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, and neither am I. We are called to Heaven, into the Beatific Vision. It is not the "reward" that we should aim for, but rather the LOVE, which we shall receive, and which we shall then be able to return to this earth for all of our brothers and sisters. Don't tell yourself that you're destined for Purgatory. That's self-defeating, and denies the Holy Spirit His right to perfect you in this crucible of suffering. Aim for Heaven, believe in Heaven, believe in the Mercy of God to get you there, not because you are worthy, but because you allowed Him to LIFT YOU UP out of yourself, into the realm of PURE LOVE, INFINITE.
Please, dear reader, acknowledge that you can't just sit idly back and "presume" that you are going to Heaven. You must work toward that goal at each moment, but our work is a work of JOY, because it comes supported by FAITH AND HOPE, and culminates in LOVE OF GOD for HIS SAKE. All things are possible to God. Only we set limits on Him, where He has none.
Next week on Shrove Tuesday I will complete this sharing as we prepare to show God our heart by living this love during Lent. Until then, I remain
your very little sister in Christ, who loves and prays for each of you every day,
For past installments by Cyndi Cain, see SYMPHONY OF SUFFERING Archives
February 20, 2001
volume 12, no. 51
Cyndi Cain's SYMPHONY OF SUFFERING column