Monday, August 29, 2011

I'm Suppose to do What with God's Will?!

I can't help but share this beautiful passage from St. Faustina. Tears rolled down my face as I read it because it touched me so. She writes,

"Sorrow will not establish itself in a heart which loves the will of God. My heart, longing for
God feels the whole misery of exile. I keep going forward bravely - though my feet become
wounded - to my homeland and, on the way, I nourish myself on the will of God. It is my
food. Help me, happy inhabitants of the heavenly homeland, so that your sister may not falter along the way. Although the desert is fearful, I walk with lifted head and eyes fixed on the
sun; that is to say, on the merciful Heart of Jesus."

I offer these words directly from my own heart while revelations in them strengthen my soul. I found a letter recently Stella wrote to Jesus this last Christmas. I asked her to write a card to Him telling Him of the gifts she wanted to give Him because Christmas is His birthday after all. The most precious part of her letter was the way she addressed Him. She wrote, "Jesus, You are the Star of Heaven." I thought of Stella's words when I read how St. Faustina referred to the merciful Heart of Jesus as the sun, or actually a star. How wise and poetic Stella is. When I pray I sometimes address Him with those same words. I ask for the grace to LOVE the will of God so the sorrow I carry will not reside in it permanently. I can't imagine a refusal from such a request.

I have been asking the Holy Spirit to enlighten me more on "the will of God" and what it means to love it. Generally speaking, I know the will of God is beautiful. His will is for us to follow after His Son and choose to live with Him forever in Heaven. What is not to love about that? However, it is the path asked of us to such a destination that can make LOVING the will of the Father a bit difficult. My flesh does not"feel" an ounce of love for such a road. So I ask myself, how do I truly love the will of the Father? I pray fervently for the grace to know it, desire it, accept it, and even endure it. But real freedom of the spirit can only be reached if I actually go beyond all of those things and LOVE it no matter how much my flesh cringes at it.

I wonder how I am suppose to bring God's will to me in the present, not just my future in eternity. A visiting priest at our parish said these words in a homily recently, "EVERYTHING THAT HAS HAPPENED IN YOUR LIFE IS THE WILL OF GOD." So simple, so true. If God allowed it, He willed it. Our sinful nature plays a role in choices we may have made but we have never, not once "surprised" God. He works with all the scraps I have as long as I give them. I look back at my life and am truly amazed at how much He protected me. (Maggie, think about the time we got lost in the middle of the night in Rome in those scary parts of the city. How did something NOT happen to us? It wasn't God's will.) Anyways...When I think of that homily I must look at my life and choose to love all of it, past, present, and future because my life is God's will.

As I continue to contemplate on truly loving God's will an image came to my mind. I saw Jesus standing before me holding Stella's hand. There was a curtain next to them. He laid out the sacrifice He would ask of me and said, "If you choose to accept and cooperate, I will show you the souls that will be saved." I see my Stella's face. I look at my Jesus' face. She smiles and nods almost urging me. I look into Jesus'eyes and I love Him, I love Him tenderly and profoundly. I want my daughter so badly. But I trust Him. My soul responds and somehow from a place that is all mystery, I say "Yes" although I tremble. Questions appear in my head and in my agony I ask, "What souls could possibly be worth this sacrifice?" Immediately the curtain draws back and I see two very familiar faces. I see Johnny and Gia, beaming and joyful. And immediately the trembling stops and not only peace enters me, but actually even - gratitude. For my perspective of such a request is altered. For now I feel courage, strength, and fortitude. For as a mother knows, she will go through any and all possible torments for the sake of her child. Even if it means offering up one on this earth, so she may have them all with her FOREVER. She sees and understands in full the fruits of her yes.

To me, this is how I must come to learn how to truly LOVE the will of God even when at first glance it appears horrifying. For looking at it through the example of the vision, how can I not help but love His will of love? One could wonder if there could be another way, another path to walk instead. The answer is no. There could not because if it isn't ALL it isn't Love. There couldn't be another road for Christ and He invites us to follow His footsteps. It is the only road to eternal life. (*Note the vision given is meant for teaching purposes, not to be taken literally. One could place any loved one behind the curtain. The purpose is a didactic one for me.)

So in such a scenario inspired by the Holy Spirit, I am beginning to see how I can take the first step to actually loving the will of the Father, not just when it "pleases" me, not just accept, ask for it, endure it. For as Faustina said, since sorrow cannot establish itself in a soul that loves the will of God, what then will in fact reside in such a soul? Freedom, Heaven, God. Therefore, it will be my life's goal, that is, learning to LOVE the will of our Father.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Jesus the Janitor

I'm sure what I've been thinking about recently is a pracitice many of you already do, but it's a newer one for me. I've known of it most of my life and have possibly even done it at other times; however I'm restarting it. A couple of months ago I felt like everything I read or heard mentioned a daily examination of conscience. I figured the Holy Spirit was trying to tell me something. I got the message. I started writing down at the end of the day the things I recalled I did that did not please the Lord. I was utterly amazed at how long my list was each day! It was wonderful. I told the Lord that since my list is so long I am the perfect candidate for him to drench and drown me in His mercy. So...

Life continues and I started to forget or get too tired at the end of the day to contemplate my short comings. Jesus was not pleased with this and He reminded me again. I was having a hard morning (what else is new). My compassionate husband was holding me as I was wailing. I said to him in my agony, "I just want Jesus. Where is He?" Johnny, my son, was playing, minding his own business. He nonchalantly walked in the room and said, " Jesus is over there, by the window." I asked, " Well, what is He doing?" John continued "Cleaning the windows. O, and now he's over by the mirror cleaning it...And now he's cleaning these windows and Stella's helping." I thought it was such an odd thing to say. Phillip then said, "Yes, son. He IS cleaning the windows, so that we can see better." Phillip picked up on the way the Lord wanted to use John to speak to me.

That same night I started a "Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary". In the very first passage, Mary's words were this: "I tell you, your hearts are a window to your soul; the Act of Consecration opens this window. Your soul is like a prism, it is designed by God to reflect Him. If there are any impurities in this prism, it cannot reflect the glory that was intended. To bring clarity to the soul, you must pray. Only through prayer may all impurities be dissolved."

Needless to say, after that day, after such a clear instruction, I have been fervently trying to sit at the end of each day and reflect on where I need more grace to overcome my MULTITUDE of weaknesses. I have experienced the grace to accept more and more the humility my soul longs for. After all, it is one thing to sit once and awhile and think of one's own faults, but to do it daily is a humbling yet imperative act. It does not discourage me when I do this. It aids me. I know Jesus is taking care of all the rest. I can present to him my "dirty windows and mirror" as I do at the end of the day but just as Johnny saw, it was Jesus actually doing the cleaning (with Stella's help). Therefore I approach him with great confidence. My job is to look and expose all the dirt so my saving Jesus can purify and clean the eyes of my soul. They can then reflect the glory it was intended for. The day continues as it holds much more work for me to do.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

OOPS!

Hi everyone. We were on vacation visiting my family in California. I had a post ready to type up there and I just completely forgot! I was completely off schedule up there! I will resume on this Monday August 22. Sorry about that. We had a blessed trip, thank you Jesus.

Francesca

Monday, August 8, 2011

Small Souls

Today I speak to all "small" souls. I write because of my deepest gratitude for them. I know I could not bear this time in my life without the grace they have obtained for me. The gift of a "small " soul comes in many packages. It is a gift that many do not choose to open. My heart bleeds at the blessings lost. Do we not have that saying that the greatest gifts come in small packages? I believe the smaller the package, the greater the gift. I learned and continue to learn from first hand experience, of how even the smallest of souls fulfill great purpose. A grave work was done and continues on in my life because of these very small souls.

I think I've mentioned how Stella's conception was a shock to Phillip and I, but here's the recap. Stella was conceived on our wedding night. I know that for a fact. Phillip and I waited until we were married and we also practice Natural Family Planning. I remember telling him that if my cycle showed signs of fertility on our wedding night, we would not consumate our marriage because I was not "ready" to get pregnant. I had "big" plans. The day of our wedding, I believe the Holy Spirit really convicted me and I decided to trust in the Lord. I know many people who did not get pregnant during the woman's "fertile" time. I had no strong signs either of being fertile. Anyways...we abstained for the next three and half weeks until I took a pregnancy test. It was positive. I cried for about a month as I saw my "plans" change. And just as the Lord prepared us for Stella's death, He prepared us for her life too. Days before I found out I was pregnant, I read the Scripture verse about our ways not being God's ways and our thoughts, not God's thoughts. I knew when I read it, He was telling me something. I was so frightened. I wasn't ready to put my career dreams aside and stay at home just yet. For Phillip and I knew before we married that when we decided to start having children, I would stay home.

Phillip recently recalled when I was towards the end of my pregnancy how his sister pulled him aside and told him when she was praying, she sensed the Holy Spirit tell her that God had something REALLY special in store for us and the baby. Phillip assumed she meant parenthood. His sister knew the Lord meant more. Occasionally over the last five and half years Phillip would think of this conversation and ask himself, "What is Stella going to be? What is God going to do with her?" Well, we see a glimpse of it now. She was called, like all of us, to be a saint. She didn't have to grow up and "be" anything to achieve her great worth. She is God's Stella. He created her not to find her identity and success in anything else but the marvel of the soul she was simply, made to be, just as I am His Francesca, Phillip is God's Phillip, etc. Stella loved and accepted her Creator's love. She answered her calling. It is actually the only true calling any of us have. The wisdom in a little child astounds me.

Stella as a small soul, could see the signficance of other smaller souls. One day close to Christmas she and John were talking about presents they would like. We were sitting at the table eating lunch and I was due to have Gia any day. She stopped and said to me, "Actually mom, it's okay if we don't get any presents at all." Not believing her I responded, "Oh, really." She continued joyfully, "Yeah, mom, because we are getting the greatest present anybody could ever get." "What is that?" I asked. "We are getting a new soul. And that's the greatest gift anyone could have." That moment sticks out to me perfectly. I could picture her smile with peanut butter around her mouth and her perfect little with her beautiful long fingers holding her sandwich. I smiled in return as I looked down at my bulging pregnant stomach and said, "You're absolutely right, Stella. A new soul IS the best present we could get. What a special Christmas." Again, are we not asked by Jesus to become like little children? Stella, a little child had more grace and wisdom, I, as well as many other adults have. It was a conversation I will hold very tightly to my heart for the rest of my time on earth (And yes, I have tears in my eyes).

The gratitude I experience to the Holy Spirit is unsurmountable. I am beyond thankful to the conviction of being open to life just a little on our wedding night. I gave God a crack and He swept in with blessings beyond belief, the gift of such a small soul in my daughter. I've heard a quote from a saint I think that says, "Save someone's soul, and you save your own." Stella as well as each of my children, carry much more weight than they even realize. For each one has played a gigantic part in the forming and growth of my soul and I know for Phillip's as well. They won't even know until they are all in heaven how grateful their mother is to them and their openness to being vessels for God. God used Stella from the moment of her conception and continues to use her to "save" my soul. For she has helped me turn to my sweet Jesus, the one who died so that all souls could be saved. He used such a tiny one as a gateway for a deeper conversion of heart for me. It has been in serving the small, Stella, John, and Gia, even when I didn't want to, was scared, discouraged, and exhausted, that my heart has stretched and enlarged in its capacity to love; the capacity to desire my Creator from the depths of every cell in me. And to think as I look back, I had no idea all that God was doing in me, through me, and especially, for me. I am grateful for the grace to have fully embraced Stella and the change God had in store for my life. For without full embrace to God's call, the gifts from them could not be fully revealed either.

So,I thank you God, for all the small, for they hold treasures of heaven in abundance. Help me to grow with more gratitude for the smallest and weakest in this world. For they are accomplishing the greatest of things for the Kingdom next. Help me to become more like them. And Stella, thank you. Dad and I know you have always been a unique gift to us and will continue to be forever. You were our wedding gift from our mighty God who is Love himself. Thank you Jesus for the grace to say yes to new life and grace to trust in what it would come from it. Life is good. God is great. Thank you Father for all of the small.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Our Stella Dream

"What exactly does 'venerating' mean?" Phillip asked me as he walked into the kitchen the other morning. "Uh...it means 'to adore'," I replied, "Why?" An interesting question to start the day I thought. "I just had a dream about Stella, just right now," Phillip said. My heart filled with joy as I waited for him to tell me about it. He continued, "Stella was playing all around. We were playing together and I grabbed her and picked her up and said, 'Stella, what are you doing?' And she said, 'Venerating'." This is not a word in Phillip's vocabulary - venerating. I'm not sure if I've ever heard him use that word. I thought how appropriate that Phillip would have our first significant dream about Stella. I, unlike Phillip, tend to dream often. Probably because my sleep is constantly disturbed with the children waking up at night. Phillip very rarely has dreams, or at least dreams he is conscious of. I can think of maybe one or two times where he has even mentioned that he's had a dream. My attention was heightened just when I heard him say the word "dream".

I don't believe every dream is significant. However I do believe God can give us meaningful dreams. We see this throughout Scripture. I dream all the time and I can think of two dreams where I just knew the Lord was showing me something. One of them is very relevant to what we are going through with Stella right now. In hindsight, I see it as another means of preparation for me. There are a few aspects of it that stick out to me besides the significance of Phillip being the one who actually had the dream. Stella was extremely joyful doing what she does as a child. I can picture all of it perfectly because that behavior happened often in our home. Stella would be playing, Phillip would come home, start to play with her, grab her, pick her up and ask, "What are you doing, lovey?" She would respond with various answers like, "Playing dog", or "Playing jaguar" and so forth. But this time her answer was - "Venerating". I immediately think of "to adore". I looked up the exact definition and this is what it said - "to hold in deep respect; to honor in the recognition of the qualities of excellence, holiness, wisdom, etc." It derives from the word "venus" which means "love". How lovely, how beautiful - this glimpse of our eternity is. That is what my Stella is doing with our God. What is the most striking aspect though, is that she was not hunched over bowing, or kneeling in prayer. She was joyfully playing. In my opinion since we are fully united to our Creator in heaven, absolutely everything we do praises Him, adores Him, venerates Him. When we are home, each movement, thought, exploration, play, etc. gives perfect glory to the One our hearts belong with. And in that giving without any effort, we are made complete and whole. I just wanted this week to share another piece of this journey Jesus has asked us to walk. Wasn't it such a precious moment PHillip got to share with our eternal daughter? GOOD JOB ST. STELLA!!! MOMMY, DADDY, JOHNNY, AND GIA ARE SO PROUD OF YOU!!!!!! Thank you Lord for the heaven that awaits us!