Friday, May 30, 2014

Embracing Persecution; Preparation for Pentecost

What a glorious sunrise!  What love of God!  What love of His Word and His Head and Body, living and breathing within, night and day!  

I awaken with gratitude and consider His love for all of us, and of His merciful grace.  I recall a time many years past, while praying prior to Mass.  Very much aware of my entrapment in a particular sin, and a terrible one, and of having tried to escape and humanly unable, I asked Jesus, "How can you love me?"  

Immediately He replied, "Because you are so pathetic."

Three months later, God gave me the strength to extricate myself from that particular sin.  He is mercy and grace, and His timing and will are His alone.  All is His, including the pathetic.

This past year has been most challenging, and I was pathetic throughout.  I am pathetic still.  His grace and mercy endured when it seemed I, the pathetic human who knew I ought to respond better and endure heroically, could and did not.  There was much persecution, this time from those of earth I love the most--and a stripping back and sense of great abandonment.

In that abandonment, amidst great trials and hardships, something changed within my soul.  A temper tantrum of a child the other day, reminded me of my own childhood tantrums--and also how one day they stopped.  I explained to the youngster  how an elder sister taunted without our parents knowing, and once in peak frustration--out of control as children [or adults] can be, she would tattle.  One day I realized who was the one being punished, and the cycle would not end until I changed the outcome.  

So I stopped reacting.  I embraced the taunting as if hugging thin air, for it was just taunting and nothing more nor less, simply nothing worth my effort, thought, or emotions.  I took pity without realizing, and began loving my sister more.  Of course, all this was the Holy Spirit helping a young child who could not consciously analyze the situation but who could still change the outcome.

That lesson worked then, but over the years it would be repeated over and over.  I am still learning the lesson after being tricked in my human way, to react in emotion or thought to persecutions of various types from various persons and situations.  

Even though I have read the words of Jesus, particularly the direct ones in the Beatitude of blessed are they that are persecuted for His Name's sake, I mostly did not connect the reality that most types of persecution I receive are due to His Name's sake.  If Christian, persecution may be traced to our love of God and desiring to be His, even if we are pathetic in our very human efforts.

What is it about us that invites persecution?  Figure that out, and we most likely will find it is our love of God, as the root cause.  We see time and again in the news, persecutions of people due to their lives lived as children of God even if the outer circumstances may seem unconnected.  

What makes some people embrace persecution?  Surely it comes with an awareness of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, especially knowledge, understanding, wisdom and counsel.  Add some fortitude in the embrace, and there can be strength to run toward the persecution and to love the persecutors.  Of course, this most often if not always is done by the soul, within the soul's inner senses, inner emotions, inner understanding, inner intellect, and inner will.

Persecution becomes thin air and nothing that is going to alter our security in God, and not what we are going to be worrying about on our death beds.  Persecutors for whom we pray and decide to love, are souls given God's mercy.  Suddenly so much good is wrought from what otherwise had been or would be, upset and ugliness.  There is great power, exceeding freedom--holy blessedness--in embracing persecution.

As I praise God for giving repeated life opportunities in being persecuted, the lesson includes learning not to be a persecutor.  Prayer, and love of God in Himself as viewed in mankind, will avert persecution.  Some of the most painful, difficult persecution can come from those we love the most and those we least expect could or should be persecuting us or others.

I consider Jeanne d'Arc today on the anniversary of her death by burning at the stake.  She was accused of being a heretic and witch, when her problem was being a mystic and messenger of God.  As a spiritual director once adjured at a time of some very painful persecution:  "Meditate on the life and death of Jeanne d'Arc...and remember that it was Catholics themselves who helped throw wood on the fire."

On this second day of ten in preparation for the Feast of Pentecost, I pray that all hindrances within the darkest recesses of my soul be illuminated by the Light of Christ so that I may assist in my pathetic human ways, of bringing them out into daylight, then to conquer them, thus conquering my self, knowing all is by His power and might.  

I pray my soul is emptied of lurking hindrances to all that is not God.  I pray that on this coming and on each Pentecost renewed and remembered anew in spiritual reality, the Holy Spirit pour into my soul whatever graces in whatever amounts the Lord God wills.

I pray this for my soul and every soul.

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