Propose Love

Image

 

Have you ever gone to a incredible restaurant and not wanted to tell anyone about it? You loved going there, the food was amazing, the service was top-notch, and the atmosphere was mind-blowing. Kind of like this:

Image

 

Or this:

Image

 

But when people asked you how it was, you responded half-heartedly and didn’t give them a lot of details. Has this ever happened to you? Because that sounds like a strange situation to me. Aside from the fact that I’ve never been to one of those fancy restaurants, I’m pretty sure I would talk about it with my family and friends (and acquaintances) and show them pictures and try to get them to come with me to the restaurant. If it was a really awesome experience, it would probably be a good conversation topic with strangers too.

The reason I bring this up, is not in fact a subtle hint/invitation to go to one of these incredible places (Did it work?), but rather to talk about something else. When was the last time you shared an experience you had with Christ, or a way Christ worked in your life with other people? Why am I so quick to tell everyone about a movie that I just saw that I loved, but I won’t mention a revelation I had in personal prayer that day? When is the last time you intentionally sought someone out for the purpose of bringing them closer to God?

I forget a lot of times that the Church’s main purpose is evangelization. That means that evangelization and mission are not simply left to those who serve a year or two on NET ministry or become an SPO missionary or whose college major is Evangelization and Catechesis. Each and every one of us is called to evangelization.

Image

 

 

I don’t think I fully understood this mission of the Church growing up. I saw my relationship with Christ as very much a “me and Jesus” type of relationship. Yes, I’m supposed to cultivate an intimate friendship with Him, but after being fed and becoming faithful to those truths of Christ’s love and mercy, I’m called to share it and not keep it to myself. Not only because as a member of the Catholic Church I am called to it, but because I want to. Experiencing God in my life every single day is much better than going to an awesome restaurant or a fun party. Why wouldn’t I want to share that with people I meet in my daily life?

 

“This church with which we should be thinking is the home of all, we must not reduce the bosom of the universal church to a nest protecting our mediocrity. 

Obviously, being on mission looks different for everyone, and it looks different at each stage in your life. I am not called to be on mission right now the same as a missionary in Africa is. I was reading an article about evangelizing in daily life and I came across this quote,

“Pope Francis outlines pretty clearly the mission of the Church. We must make a proposition of Jesus to the world. We must propose Love. From this proposition the moral consequences then flow.” Proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials, on the necessary things: this is also what fascinates and attracts more, what makes the heart burn. The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant. “

In our everyday lives, we should “propose Love” in our thoughts, words, and actions. As someone once wrote, how we spend our days is how we spend our lives. If our daily actions and habits are not centered on Christ, then ultimately our lives won’t be. It is a lot easier to have a mentality of evangelization if you run a youth group or are involved in a ministry team while in college. I’m not there yet, but after graduation I’m guessing it gets harder to intentionally be on mission. But it is a simple as loving and caring for those who God introduces into your path and not being afraid to admit the huge part that He plays in your daily life. If He is so merciful to You, wouldn’t you want others to realize how merciful He is to them?

Image

 

I think we tend to hide behind the maxim, “Preach the Gospel at all times, when necessary, use words.” instead of simply using your actions to hopefully portray your beliefs, I challenge you to use your words. Our primary goal is to get to Heaven, but it is also to bring with us as many people as we can. 
 
What an amazing act of love it is that Christ died for us to live in eternal happiness with Him. Look at a crucifix. This is what Christ did for us. Now what are we going to do about it? 
 
Propose Love.
Image
 
Advertisements

Interior Mortification of the Imagination

images

I think sometimes we have a tendency to escape inside ourselves if things are not going our way. We compensate for not being satisfied in this world by going to an imaginary world inside our heads where we always make the best decisions, there are always exciting adventures to be found, and our relationships with others are perfect. I feel like we can also be stuck in the past, reliving glimpses of our lives, either exciting moments where we found happiness for just a moment, or moments where we said or did the wrong thing that we want to take back, but are still kicking ourselves for saying or doing them.

There’s only one a lot of problems with that. That world inside our head, that we make up, or are stuck in the past in, isn’t real. There is no truth to it. And worse then it being useless to continue to live in our imaginations, it can be harmful to our spiritual life.

66f5a5f942cb9a37521d1955e7bd5464

This subject of practicing interior mortification of the imagination has come up in a number of different meditational books I’ve been reading and has been convicting for me. And one point they make is crystal clear.

You can not have an interior spiritual life if you do not control your imagination.

In other words, it is vital to the life of your soul to practice interior mortification. 

Now, please don’t leave this thinking that I think imagination is sinful, and we should try to squash the imagination of little children everywhere. I think it is a beautiful gift that God has given us and should be used and exercised, but unfortunately like anything good in the world, the devil can so easily twist it into something harmful, and we should be aware of the temptations that our soul can fall into. Here is an excerpt that I found helpful when reading about this subject:

“The imagination is a faculty that is undeniably very useful to us, since the soul united to the body cannot think without images. But, to be useful, the imagination must be directed by right reason illumined by faith; otherwise it may become, as someone has said “the mad woman in the house.” It diverts us from the consideration of divine things and inclines us toward vain, inconsistent, and fantastic, or even forbidden things. At the very least, it leads us to daydreaming that gives rise to sentimentality, which is opposed to true piety.”

Here is also a definition of mortification of memory, another important interior practice:

Mortification of the memory —

avoiding useless recollections which make us waste time and which could lead us into more serious temptations.

Just like we are called, in order to avoid spiritual slothfulness, to practice daily mortification, such as giving up Facebook for a weekend, or not putting creamer in our coffee, or deciding not to eat sweets or listen to music, we are also called to practice interior mortification. I’m definitely not an expert at this – here I am, sitting in a ridiculously comfy papasan chair, drinking coffee (aka 3/4 creamer and a dash of coffee), in yoga pants and a delightfully warm thrift store sweater trying to get up the energy to think about which of those things to give up this week for mortification. Oh yeah, and I just ate two brownies. It’s really difficult sometimes.

02d5e7da8231ac55342bc65b98dbf5c4

But sometimes, my weak nature decides to be like:

fa62a051b821d73b98f312dadbafe9e3

My household at college should probably just have a jar like this:

e43b2517d2c64f77db8c7a2695aac11c

This is part of the path to holiness. So often I forget that my end goal is to be with Christ forever – to become a saint. But daily mortifications, the giving up of good things for the sake of suffering for Christ, it reminds me of what I am here to accomplish – who I am here to love. You can’t be holy without an interior spiritual life, and you can’t have an interior spiritual life without this interior mortification. It has been helpful for me, along with picking an external mortification, to pick some sort of interior mortification – perhaps deciding not to think about certain memories that tend to come back to me daily, or to not think over something I said that I wish I hadn’t. It’s been harder for me than I expected, and it will be impossible if I don’t come to Christ for help. But the results of constantly working on interior mortification is purity of heart and purity of intention, which is something that is vital to the life of the soul, which is why I will continue in my daily struggle to master it.

0e78d35c360709e3bc840a80e77115ba

{Examining Daily Joy}

Image

I don’t know about you, but I’m terrible at doing an examination of conscience before I go to bed. I wish I was better and I’ve tried to employ countless ideas to aid with this shortfall, but I either forget or I fall asleep before I ever really get to examining my day. I think part of the reason is that I lay down in bed, after a long day, and now I realize that I have to go over that long day, back through all the classes, the times when I was supposed to wake up and run but instead slept for another half hour, and list all of the things that I did wrong that day. That’s not exactly the way I want to end my day.

Image

I heard the other day that Mother Teresa’s examination of conscience consisted in asking herself where in her day that she found joy, where in her day that she did not find joy, and why that was. It has been an immense help. I won’t lie and say that I always remember to do it now, but I find that it is much more helpful and revealing to myself than the other methods I’ve tried.

For example: One day I was thinking about the times that I found joy in my day last week. One that I came up with was going on a four mile run in the morning. I’m training for a half marathon, and I had to wake up way before the sun came up because in Kansas it is ridiculously hot and muggy even when the sun isn’t out, so running before the sun comes up is my only option. It was hard to get up and it was hard to run four miles, because if you know me, you know that I’m not a natural runner. But afterwards I had found so much joy in it because it was something I had committed to doing and I wanted to do it, even though it was hard and not fun. On the flip side, later that day I ate an obscene amount of M & M’s (whoever’s idea to have a “chocolate bowl” at our house clearly knows the weaknesses of college girls) and you know what? I did not get a single ounce of joy in that moment. It told me a lot about myself and also gave me more motivation for my training.

So, if you have difficulties with doing an examination of conscience, I would recommend trying Mother Teresa’s way, because for me, it is particularly illuminating and life-giving.

Image