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Monthly Archives: January 2014

Chapter 5 – He Seeks Rest in God, and Pardon of His Sins.

Chapter 5 – He Seeks Rest in God, and Pardon of His Sins.

Oh, how shall I find rest in you?  Who will send You into my heart to flood it, that I may forget my woes and embrace You, my only good?  What are You to me?  In Your pity, teach me to speak.  What am I to You that You demand my love, and if I do not give it are angry with me and threaten me with great sorrows?  Is it then, a slight sorrow not to love You?  Oh, alas! for Your mercies’ sake, O lord my God, tell me what You are to me.  Say to my soul, “I am your salvation.”  When I hear this word, may I run an lay hold of You.  Hide not Your face from me. Let me see it, though I die, for I shall assuredly die if I do not see it.

The house of my soul is narrow; enlarge it, that You may enter in.  It is in ruins!  Repair it!  It has in it that which must offend Your eyes.  I confess and know it.  But who shall cleanse it, or to whom shall I cry, but to You?  Lord, cleanse me from my secret faults and spare Your servant from the power of the enemy.  I believe, and therefore I speak.  Lord, You know.  Have I not confessed against myself my transgressions to You, and You, my God, have forgiven the iniquity of my heart?  I do not contend in the judgment with You, who are the Truth; I am afraid to deceive myself, lest my iniquity lie against itself.  Therefore, I do not contend in judgment with You, for if You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?

Do we have the strength, like St. Augustine, to ask God to come into our heart and change us?  It’s so easy and comfortable to stay where we are – follow the rules, do the right thing, just do what we’re supposed to do and stay between the lines where it’s safe.  When we give ourselves to God, though, when we turn our lives over to Him completely and say, “Change me!  Fit me to Your will!” — that’s when the fun starts!

When we put ourselves into God’s hands and trust Him, when we allow Him to take away all that isn’t of Him, we invite Him to be an active part of our life.  He cleanses us of our sins and then fills us with His grace.  Nothing we do is “too bad” or too far beyond where His mercy extends.  He wants us to be with Him and to love Him so, when we are contrite, He forgives us and brings us back into His fold.

So, do we stay safe and just do the bare minimum, settling for just being “good”?  Or, do we have the courage to reach out for more?  Do we have the courage to ask God, “Come into my heart!  Make me the person You designed me to be!”  Giving your life over to God is like getting on the scariest, wildest, most fantastic ride you’ve ever seen; but it’s also incredibly rewarding and something you will never regret.  Are you ready to get on board?  Are you ready to let Him in?

Deo Juvante, Jen

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2014 in Confessions

 

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Confessions, Book 1, Chap 4 – The Majesty of God is Supreme, and His Virtues Inexplicable

Confessions, Book 1, Chap 4 – The Majesty of God is Supreme, and His Virtues Inexplicable

What are You then, my God – what, but the Lord God?  For who is the Lord, but the Lord?  Or who is God save our God?  Most high, most excellent, most powerful, most almighty, most merciful, and most just; most hidden, yet most present; most beautiful, and most strong; stable, yet mysterious; unchangeable, yet changing all things; never new, never old; making all things new and bringing age upon the proud, though they know it not; ever working, yet ever at rest, still gathering, yet lacking nothing, and maturing; seeking, yet possessing all things.  You love without passion; You are jealous without anxiety; You repent, yet have no sorrow; You are angry, yet serene; change Your ways, yet Your plans are unchanged; recover what You find, having never lost it; never in need, yet rejoicing in gain; never covetous, yet requiring interest.  You receive over and above, that You may owe – yet who has anything that is not Your’s?  You pay debts, owing nothing; remit debts, losing nothing.  And what have I now said, my God, my life, my holy joy – what is this I have said?  Or what do any say when they speak of You?  Yet woe to those who keep silence, since those who say most are as the dumb!

Wow.  What did I say in my last post about God being a paradox?  And yet, can’t you just see how all this is true?  We can say, it is impossible to be both of any of these seemingly opposite attributes, yet God IS these things, He IS the impossible.  Oh, how truly great is our God!!

Deo Juvante, Jen

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2014 in Confessions

 

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Confessions, Book 1, Chap. 3

Confessions, Book 1, Chap. 3

Chapter 3 – Everywhere God Wholly Fills All Things, But Neither Heaven Nor Earth Contains Him.

Do the heaven and earth then contain You, since You fill them?  Or do You fill them and yet overflow, since they cannot contain You?  And where, when the heaven and earth are filled, do You pour forth that which remains of Yourself?  Or indeed, is there no need that You who contain all things should be contained by anything, since those things You fill, You fill by containing them? For the vessels that You fill do not sustain You, since even if they were broken, You would not be poured out.  And when You are poured out on us, You are not cast down, but we are uplifted.  You are not dissipated, but we are drawn together.  But as You fill all things, do you fill them with Your whole self, or, since all things cannot contain You wholly, do they contain part of You?  Do they all contain the same part at once, or has each its own proper part – the greater more, the small less?  If this is so, then is one part of You greater, another less?  Or are You wholly everywhere, while nothing altogether contains You?

Are any of you wondering, along with me, what we’ve gotten ourselves into?  What is St. Augustine trying to say here?

What I see, as I read over this a few times, is the great paradox that is God.  He is beautiful, mysterious, merciful, just, all knowing, all seeing.  As we humble ourselves and give up more than we ever thought we could, He grows in us and fills us with more than we ever could have imagined.  Before we know God, we are unhappy and anxious, always scurrying around trying to fix everything for ourselves; trying to find the perfect thing that will make us happy – the perfect diet, the perfect car, the perfect person.  When all these things fail, we realize that there must be something more.  We find God and realize that, by giving up all of those worldly things that we were chasing, and seeking only Him, we realize that He was the only One who could truly make us happy all along.  We empty ourselves of everything, but then we get filled back up with even more.

This reminded me of something else too.  When I was reading Imitation of Christ, there was a passage about how it seems sometimes that some get more in this life than others.  Kempis tells us though, if we fill a container to the top, can it hold any more?  If we have two containers of different sizes, can they hold the same amount?  If one holds less, but is filled to the top, is it any less full than the larger container?  Of course not – THEY ARE BOTH FULL.  In the same way, God gives us each what we are designed to have.  Just because one of us has less and another more, if we are full of His grace and love, shouldn’t that be enough?

This was a very thought provoking passage.  I will definitely be reading it a few more times and thinking on it more.

Deo Juvante, Jen

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2014 in Confessions

 

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Mass Readings and Homily, Sun., Jan. 26, 2014

For the last couple months, I’ve been sharing our Sunday Mass readings and homily message on a message board I belong to.  I’d like to share them here too.

We had the opportunity to visit St. Mary’s in Bismarck this weekend. Our readings were Isaiah 8:23-9:3, Psalm 27, 1 Cor 1:10-13, 17, and Matthew 4:12-23 

The Gospel reading this Sunday showed how the prophesy from Isaiah was fulfilled by Jesus settling in Capernaum: “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death light has arisen.” We also heard the calling of the Apostles in this passage. And in the New Testament reading, St.Paul instructs us to always remember that we belong to Christ and Christ alone. The people had been arguing that they belonged to Paul or Apollos or Cephas, and Paul reprimands them, reminding them the Christ is not divided. Rather, it is Christ Who died for us and we should remain united in Christ, regardless of who has brought us the message.

The priest saying Mass focused on being called to follow Christ and preach the Gospel. He reflected on how Jesus spoke with passion and conviction wherever He went. We hear this in the Gospels when various people remark about the authoritative way Jesus taught, but we also must realize it when we think of the Apostles leaving everything they have – home, family, work – to follow Him. We too are called by Christ to follow Him. We should go forth into the world with passion and conviction also. Throughout history we see people like David Koresh or Harold Camping who gathered followers to their ways of thinking. People sold all of their worldly possessions, left their families, and went after these men. Why? Because they taught with passion and conviction. We all seek after the Truth and are naturally attracted to people who seem to possess it. Therefore, we must boldly proclaim the Gospel, preaching it to all we know and teaching Christ’s message through our very lives.

***Side note: Father didn’t say this but I’ve heard it many times and want to pass it along. Preaching the Gospel doesn’t have to mean bringing Jesus into every conversation we have. The way we live our lives on a daily basis – the things we say (and the things we don’t!), the decisions we make, having a sense of peace and joy even the face of adversity, etc. – will show Jesus’ true message of love and mercy far more than anything we can every say.

“always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you,” 1 Peter 3:15

Deo Juvante, Jen

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2014 in Mass Readings

 

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Confessions, Book 1, Chap 2

Confessions, Book 1, Chap 2

Chapter 2. That the God Whom We Invoke is in Us, and We in Him

But how shall I call upon my God, my God and Lord?  For when I call on Him, I ask Him to come into myself.  And what room is there in me, where my God can come – God who made heaven and earth?  Is there anything in me, O Lord my God, that can contain You?  Indeed, do heaven and earth which You have made, and in which You made me, contain You?  Or, since nothing could exist without You, does every existing thing contain You?  Why, then, do I ask that You come into me, since I, too, exist – I who could not exist if You were not in me?  Why do I say this?  Because even if I were in hell, yet You would be there also.  For if I go down into hell, You are there.  I could not exist then, O my God, could not exist at all, unless You were in me.  Or should I not rather say, I could not exist unless I were in You,”from whom are all things, by whom are all things, and in whom are all things.” (Romans 11:36)

Even so, Lord, even so.  Where do I call You to come, since I am in you?  Or whence can You enter into me?  For where beyond heaven and earth could I go that my God might come there into me, who has said, “I fill the heaven and the earth?” (Jeremiah 23:24)

I had to read this through a few times, and then had to pause and think.  Then I read it a couple more times.  God truly is always with us.  When we are in a difficult situation or feeling down, we call on Him – but is He the one Who is far away and needs to be called back?  Or have we wandered away somehow and are now calling to Him to come find us and bring us back, only to realize that He was right there with us the whole time?

This reminds me of when we have toddlers.  So often our plans don’t match up with their’s and they resist going where we would like them to go.  More than once I’ve watched a frazzled young mom playing, “catch me if you can,” with her toddler, trying to get him to come with her, he thinking it wildly funny to run away from mommy while mommy gets more and more exasperated.  When my kids were that age, what I found worked better was to simply walk away.  I wanted to go left while Baby wanted to go right, I said, “OK, good bye!” and started walking away.  I never went far, a few steps usually, and more often than not the child came running.  Once in a while though, the child was still resistant and stood there a few moments more.  I would continue to walk away, but then duck around a corner where I could see him but he couldn’t see me.  For a moment or two he would stand there, feeling triumphant, but then panic set in as he realized he was alone.  About the time the lip started to quiver and that first, “Mommy?” was uttered, I would reappear and assure him that I was there.  Of course, I usually had to throw in, “Maybe next time you will come with me!”

How often are we that toddler?  Life is not going the way we envisioned it and we stubbornly dig in our heals and insist on going our own way.  We can feel pretty good about ourselves for a while.  But then, the day comes when we realize we have made a mistake.  Our loving Father was right after all and now we are all alone in the big world.  We call out to God, repenting of our stubborn pride and asking Him to come to our rescue.  No sooner are the words on our lips than we can feel that loving hand resting on us, consoling us; the Good Shepherd was always right there, just around the corner, waiting for us to realize anew how much we need Him.  How good is our God!  Always there, always waiting, always loving.  He Who loves us beyond all telling, beyond anything we could ever comprehend.  My Lord and my God!

Deo Juvante, Jen

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2014 in Confessions

 

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Confessions, Book 1, Chap. 1 – part 2

Confessions, Book 1, Chap. 1 – part 2

I realized last night, after I posted, that I should have introduced this better.

I am transcribing the great work, “Confessions of St. Augustine,” written by St. Augustine of Hippo around the year 398 AD.  I struggle with the more common translations that use “thee” and “thy” so I found a Modern English Version by Hal M. Helms (1986) that is more readable yet seems to keep the spirit of the writing.  I haven’t read this yet so I am experiencing it for the first time myself.  I hope you enjoy it.

Deo Juvante, Jen

Confessions, Book 1, Chap. 1 – part 2

Grant me, Lord, to know and understand which of these is most important, to call on You or to praise You.  And again, to know You or to call on You.  For who can call on You without knowing You?  For he who does not know You may call on You as other than You are.  Or perhaps we call on You that we may know You?  “But how shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed?  or how shall they believe without a preacher?  And they who seek the Lord shall praise Him.  For they that seek shall find Him, and those who find shall praise Him.” (Romans 10:14)  Let me seek You, Lord, by calling on You, and call on You believing in You for You have been preached to us.  My faith calls on You Lord, the faith You have given me, the faith You have breathed into me through the incarnation of Your Son, through the ministry of the preacher.

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2014 in Confessions

 

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St. Augustine’s Confessions, Book 1: Infancy and Boyhood to Age Fifteen, Chap. 1, part 1

Chapter 1: He Proclaims the Greatness of God, Whom He Desires to Seek and Invoke, Being Awakened by Him.

You are great, O Lord, and greatly to be praised. Great is Your power, and Your wisdom is infinite.  And man would praise You; man, who is but a small particle of Your creation; yes, man, though he carries with him his mortality, the evidence of his sin, the evidence that You resist the proud; yet man, but a particle of Your creation, would praise You.

You awake us to delight in your praise; for You made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.

**Edited to add chapter headings that I found at New Advent.  The translation is still the Modern English Version by Hal M. Helms, published by Paraclete Press

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2014 in Confessions

 

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