Virtuous Defeat

I read a quote today from St. Catherine of Sienna that essentially said we cannot defeat evil with evil but must defeat evil with virtue. I was struck by how profound that is especially in our modern world where so few strive for holiness and virtue. Where it can feel like the only way to beat evil is with evil. It can be so tempting for me to want to be cruel in return when I have been treated cruelly because it feels like justice and is gratifying only for the faintest moment. Because instead of offering up my sorrows I’ve dragged another down into that mire and it doesn’t change anything except me, and it’s a change for the worse.

To fight evil with virtue is what I want to do in my heart but I confess it’s tempting to see that as ineffective. In a world of self sufficiency and control it can be tempting to believe that if you don’t play by the world’s rules you won’t get what you want in the end, you won’t achieve your goals. With virtue and walking the virtuous path you may face persecution and obstacles but you learn the lesson I am still learning to totally trust in God and where He leads you. To trust that even if you don’t see the fruits of your virtue and if others remain the same He still sees you and will reward you. But I confess to you also that I don’t want to become mercenary about receiving a reward I would like to be virtuous simply because I ought to be. It’s the way God designed me to be and it’s the only way I’ll experience not only true love but true life. Please pray for me!

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A new hope

Today I was thinking about how the love of God is something truly special. We hear that phrase tossed around so many times that it’s easy to forget the power behind the words God loves you. But Gods love is unlike anything I’ve ever known because God is love and His love is so powerful it transforms all things into Itself. It doesn’t destroy my darkness it transforms it into light simply by being unquenchable light that no darkness in the world is powerful enough to extinguish. Justice could destroy but mercy makes new. It’s making me new. And all I have to do is step into the light and come home.

The Trouble with Most of Us 

I have been doing a lot of spiritual reading lately for groups I’m part of and I keep seeing the phrase “most of us.”

Usually, when someone uses the phrase “most of us” in spiritual reading it is not because they are about to give most of us a compliment.

“Most of us” are not holy like the saints were.

“Most of us” do not pray enough.

“Most of us” don’t understand the beauty of the Mass.

“Most of us” don’t take the hard road.

I live in the world just like you. I meet and interact with the very souls intended in the phrase “most of us.” However, I do not see the same phenomenon described by the spiritual authors. I often find that as much as I respect some of these authors and even benefit from their teaching I cannot share the attitude they take toward the nameless masses. Because I know for a fact that to God there are no nameless masses or generalized groups of ordinary people- God calls each of us by name. He knows every hair on our head. He loves us each profoundly, sincerely and uniquely as the work of His own Hands. When God looks at the world He doesn’t see trends or demographics, He does not gaze at “most of us” but into the heart and soul of each and every man. He knows us perfectly and loves us perfectly not in spite of our weaknesses but in the midst of them. And I am convinced that the revelation of His love for each of us will be infinite and without limit, all the more so if we have been seeking Him too.

When I think about my faith I do not think of most of us, the other masses who are not as good and may never be anything of consequence to earth (as if there was a correlation to heavenly glory). I tend to think of all of us and our universal call to be holy. I think of all of us in our searching for a purpose of life that I believe can only be found if you accept the invitation to know God, love God, and serve God as well as your neighbor.

I do not think that holiness is something that will or ought to elude most of us. I think it is something intended for all of us that requires nothing from us but our “yes” to the transformative love that God seeks to give us. We are called to seek, the success of our efforts to grow in holiness is a product of God’s abundant grace, either the graces needed to overcome our own natures or the grace to keep going when we don’t.

Perhaps most of us will be intimidated when we first start to think of this. Most of us will feel like running and hiding. Most of us will fail many times at loving God, self, and neighbor. Most of us will have moments of doubt and temptation, where we feel like quitting the whole endeavor…

But I believe each of us can become the person God calls us to be because He loves us, He will give us every grace we need in His perfect timing (and not a moment before!) but perhaps most especially because He gives us each other.

My walk with God received a unique twist around 2014, I had an interior conversion within my practicing of the Catholic faith and that twist was a burning desire not just to get to Heaven myself but to take absolutely everyone with me. Because I realized that as much as real love can frighten people at the outset by its demands of selflessness, sacrifice, and suffering,  to view love as sheer suffering and misery is to see only half the picture. While it is true that in love another’s suffering can become your own suffering, in love their joy also becomes your joy.

So not only will I be “happy” when I get to Heaven by the mercy of God (I use quotations because any word expressing happiness I know will be an inadequate  understatement) but when you get there and experience this “happiness” for yourself I will feel it as profoundly as I did my own because I love you and pray for you constantly. Each and every one of you.