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"Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart." – Luke 2:19 (RSV)

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love

Designed for Love

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If you want to identify me, ask me not where I live, or what I like to eat… but ask me what I am living for, in detail, ask me what I think is keeping me from living fully for the thing I want to live for.

– Thomas Merton

I love this quote by Thomas Merton because it gets to the heart of what questions you need to ask if you really want to get to know someone.

Essentially, there are two questions that could be asked; 1. What are you living for? 2. What is keeping you from living fully for the thing you want to live for?

I think these questions are also helpful to get to know myself; to grow in self-knowledge and self-awareness. Also, asking these questions regularly would be a good check up on my soul.

  1. What am I living for? To be united with the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus; to be united with God who is Love itself.
  2. What is keeping me from living fully for the thing you want to live for? Myself, my concupiscence, my self-love.

As a Catholic, I believe that I am designed by God for Love; to fall in love with the One who is Love itself, to strive to be united with Love (by relying on God’s superabundant grace) and to eventually be in perfect communion with the Most Holy Trinity. These major landmarks are like courtship and engagement (on Earth and in Purgatory), and marriage (in Heaven) where I am the bride and the Lord is my bridegroom.

I would say that Catholic evangelization… ought to be based upon the Eucharist in which case it’s really about falling in love in stages. It’s sort of like courtship, engagement and marriage.

Dr. Scott Hahn

Removing my sandals before the sacred ground of the other

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Christians, as missionary disciples, must practice the ‘art of accompaniment’ which teaches us to remove our sandals before the sacred ground of the other.

– Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium 169

What I have recently found over the past couple of weeks is a growing reverence and love for the Real Prescence of our Lord in the Mass. Flowing from this development is a growing sense of reverence for other people for the sake of my Lord. What I mean is that because the Lord loves every single soul, I also am learning to love them. I love who and what my Lord loves, I want what He wants.

As I notice the Lord working in my soul, I also grow in understanding that any soul that God works in is ‘sacred ground’. Only the Lord knows which souls He is working in. From what I understand about my Lord, He will want to work tenderly and passionately in any soul that allows Him to. So, to me, every person’s soul is ‘sacred ground’.

If I acknowledge every soul as sacred ground, that is where God works, then the natural response is to remove my ‘sandals’ when I am communing with them. I suppose what this means to me is to put my pride aside; to acknowledge that without God, I am nothing and I can do nothing good, and that all my merits are because of God’s grace and tender mercy. When I do this, I become free to love the other as my brother/sister, as someone searching for the same thing as I am, Love itself. I recognise that the other is also, like me, restless until our heart rests in God (St. Augustine). And so, I feel a tender compassion for the other as someone who is in the same boat as me. Most of all, I feel a great joy because I know that the person and me are both loved passionately, tenderly and infinitely by God who is Love itself.

A passionate love

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The Voice of Christ:

My child, My grace is precious. It does not allow Itself to be mixed with external things or with earthly consolations. Cast away all obstacles to grace, therefore, if you wish to receive Its infusion.

Seek to retire within yourself. Love to dwell alone with yourself. Seek no man’s conversation, but rather pour forth devout prayer to God that you may keep your mind contrite and your heart pure.

Consider the whole world as nothing. Prefer attendance upon God to all outward occupation, for you cannot attend upon Me and at the same time take delight in external things. You must remove yourself from acquaintances and from dear friends, and keep your mind free of all temporal consolation. Thus is blessed Apostle St. Peter begs the faithful of Christ to keep themselves as strangers and pilgrims in the world (1 Peter 2:11).

– Thomas a Kempis, Imitation of Christ, Book 3, Section 53

When I read this passage from Thomas a Kempis’ work, Imitation of Christ, one of my first thoughts regarding this section was that some people may think it unnecessarily harsh. This thought was soon followed by the question “why?”. Why would this passage be considered harsh?

It is commonly known that the demand of love is great. As a thought experiment, I tried reading this passage again but this time from a point of view of one lover to another. When I did this I realised that this passage is not harsh at all. Instead, I saw that it describes the requirements of a passionate love; a love desires absolute communion with the other, not out of need or desperation, but out of a sheer willingness to be a gift to the other.

Would we say that it is harsh to expect our spouse’s full attention when we’re out on a ‘date’ night with them? Would we think that it’s too much to ask for our spouse to have their hearts fixed on God and on us instead of desiring other women or pleasures of the earth? I certainly don’t think that it’s too much to ask, rather, it is the demand of love that is tenderly and passionately met.

I (try to) fix my gaze on my Lord first, my husband second, and my children (if I have any) third. Why? Because of a passionate love.

Souls that belong to God

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As a Catholic I believe that all souls belong to God. And therefore, the souls of children also belong to God. As a young married woman, I am beginning to understand that any children that my Lord gives me are not my own but are His. The souls of my children will belong to God; I am granted the privilege and responsibility of nurturing in them a love for God and all things holy.

Understanding that all souls belong to God causes me to approach other people and especially children with a deeper sense of reverence.

Christians, as missionary disciples, must practice the ‘art of accompaniment’ which teaches us to remove our sandals before the sacred ground of the other

– Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium 169

While I have no children of my own, I am an elder sister to two beautiful young girls. When I do recognise that my two little sisters belong to my Lord, I feel a responsibility to nurture in them a love for God and for all things sacred like the authentic tradition of the Catholic Church.

I do not yet understand this great mystery of how the Lord entrusts the little children into our care, but when I minister to my little sisters, I experience a deep and pervading sense of love, joy and peace.

Protect what is intimate

I read Alice von Hildebrand’s beautiful exposition titled ‘Dietrich von Hildebran, Catholic Philosopher, and Christopher West, Modern Entusiast: Two Very Different Approaches to Love, Marriage and Sex‘ recently after it was recommended by Helenka in her blog.

Alice’s article really challenged my views on veiling what is intimate in my life.

The French have a wonderful word to capture the veiling of one’s intimate feelings, out of a proper sense of shame—pudeur, a “holy bashfulness,” so to speak.

– Alice von Hildebrand, Dietrich von Hildebran, Catholic Philosopher, and Christopher West, Modern Entusiast: Two Very Different Approaches to Love, Marriage and Sex

For most of my life, I have been an open book. I rarely ever veil what is intimate in my life. Intimate things such as my spiritual life, my relationship with my husband, etc are things that I never guarded very much at all. In fact, I grasped every opportunity to talk about the intimate with friends.

After reading Alice’s article, I now realise that I was wrong in liberally sharing the intimate things in my life with others.

I am slowly learning, with God’s guidance, to protect what is intimate through prudent silence and modest dress. The mantilla is a wonderful symbol and reminder to veil carefully and with great tenderness what is intimate.

Giving

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Love is the mutual gift of self. Loving is really self-giving. So I suppose I can paraphrase St John’s words like so: With what procrastinations do you wait, since from this very moment you can give yourself to God in your heart and allow Him to give Himself to you?

I procrastinate a lot. One area that I really procrastinate in is giving of my time to others and to the Lord. I usually think that I’d rather do something else with my time or that I want to do my own thing now and giving of myself can wait.

So St John’s words really strike me because I’m reminded that giving of myself will lead to a deeper fulfillment than satisfying my own wants, counter-intuitive as it may be.

Personal accompaniment & silence

There were 2 sets of quotes that really touched me heart today because I have experienced what both talk about in my life.

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Personal accompaniment in processes of growth…

“art of accompaniment” which teaches us to remove our sandals before the sacred ground of the other (cf. Ex 3:5). The pace of this accompaniment must be steady and reassuring, reflecting our closeness and our compassionate gaze which also heals, liberates and encourages growth in the Christian life.

Although it sounds obvious, spiritual accompaniment must lead others ever closer to God, in whom we attain true freedom. Some people think they are free if they can avoid God; they fail to see that they remain existentially orphaned, helpless, homeless. They cease being pilgrims and become drifters, flitting around themselves and never getting anywhere. To accompany them would be counterproductive if it became a sort of therapy supporting their self-absorption and ceased to be a pilgrimage with Christ to the Father…

We need to practice the art of listening, which is more than simply hearing. Listening, in communication, is an openness of heart which makes possible that closeness without which genuine spiritual encounter cannot occur. Listening helps us to find the right gesture and word which shows that we are more than simply bystanders. Only through such respectful and compassionate listening can we enter on the paths of true growth and awaken a yearning for the Christian ideal: the desire to respond fully to God’s love and to bring to fruition what he has sown in our lives…

One who accompanies others has to realize that each person’s situation before God and their life in grace are mysteries which no one can fully know from without. The Gospel tells us to correct others and to help them to grow on the basis of a recognition of the objective evil of their actions (cf. Mt 18:15), but without making judgments about their responsibility and culpability (cf. Mt 7:1; Lk 6:37). Someone good at such accompaniment does not give in to frustrations or fears. He or she invites others to let themselves be healed, to take up their mat, embrace the cross, leave all behind and go forth ever anew to proclaim the Gospel. Our personal experience of being accompanied and assisted, and of openness to those who accompany us, will teach us to be patient and compassionate with others, and to find the right way to gain their trust, their openness and their readiness to grow.

– Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium 169-172

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In the silence of the heart God speaks. If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you. Then you will know that you are nothing. It is only when you realize your nothingness, your emptiness, that God can fill you with Himself. Souls of prayer are souls of great silence.

Mother Teresa

Complete submission

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I have said many times that St Therese the Little Flower is my favourite saint (after Our Lady of course). She is my favourite because her writings always help me refocus on my total power exchange with my husband and with my God.

Recently I’ve been thinking about what it means for two to “become one flesh” in relation to marriage and in communion with my Lord. I had been pondering and mulling over this in my heart for a few days and finally when I read this quote my heart knew that it had found the answer to its question.

The only way two can become one is through the mutual total giving of self to the other. In submitting without reserve to God and my husband, I give myself completely to them. In accepting the loving dominance of God and my husband, I allow them to give themselves completely to me.

Submitting without reserve is of course a very high ideal which can be reached. At the same time I will also acknowledge that it is an ideal that I fall short of for now. I believe and pray that my Lord Jesus will hold my hand and with infinite tenderness guide me towards this beautiful standard. Of course my husband will also allow the Lord to use him to teach me this along the way.

In the meantime, I will remember not to “become discouraged over [my] failings, for children fall often, but they are too little to hurt themselves very much” (- St. Therese the Little Flower)

Dear 11 year old…

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My little sister is turning 11 in a few days time! She is so blessed to have her birthday fall on the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary 😀

She is also really into the Harry Potter series at the moment, so I decided to write her a ‘Hogwarts’ acceptance letter for this special day. It’s not every day that you turn 11 😉

Dear Miss **** ***,

We are pleased to invite you to Jesus’ School of Love.

In this School we learn to live the life that we are designed for since the beginning of Time. We are lovingly, and with infinite creativity, designed by God to love Him and to be Loved by Him. This is what we are created for. And so, in Jesus’ School of Love, this is what we will learn to do; to be fully alive!

When we are who we are meant to be, we will have such a deep peace and joy that they world cannot give and cannot take away! Our lives will never be boring. It will be an adventure beyond your wildest dreams 😀

Come and join us on this exciting adventure 🙂 We are all rooting for you!

Your instructors

Your instructors will be God the Father, Jesus the Son & the Holy Spirit.

God the Father is infinitely tender and loving. Jesus the Son is unimaginably merciful and wants you to snuggle up to Him. The Holy Spirit will be the most gentle and patient teacher you will ever have. How blessed you are to have these as your instructors should you choose to enroll in the School of Love!

Your buddies

There are many many souls enrolled in this eternal School of Love. Some souls are here on earth with us, some are the Holy souls in Purgatory and the lucky last are the Saints in Heaven!

Many have been 11 years old too and will know something about the joys that you enjoy and the struggles that you face.

You can see the souls on earth! People like Mummy and Papa, your friends and family. You are talk to them face to face and ask them to pray for you 🙂

Who do you trust to guide you in this school of Love here on earth? They will be your buddies here on earth if you want them to!

The souls that you can’t see are the Holy souls and the Saints. Do you remember them? The good news is that you can ask them to pray for you too. And what’s even better news is that they are closer to God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy spirit than any of us on earth so their prayers will be even more powerful!

Which are your favourite Saints? They will be your buddies up in Heaven if you ask them to be 🙂

Also, don’t forget to pray for the souls on earth and in Purgatory. God made our hearts to love Him, and so our hearts will be restless until we rest in Him. And it is really uncomfortable to be restless that’s for sure! The Saints are already resting in the Sacred Heart of Jesus up in Heaven so they’re all good 😉

Recommended books 

 1. The Bible – Author: The Holy Spirit

2. The Imitation of Christ (for children) – Author: Thomas a Kempis, Translator: Elizabeth Ficocelli

3. The Story of a Soul – Author: Saint Therese the Little Flower

Many souls who have been enrolled in Jesus’ School of Love for a very long time have written beautiful books that are very interesting and helpful to read!

My favourite books (other than the Bible) are ‘The Imitation of Christ’ and ‘The Story of a Soul’.

‘The Imitation of Christ’ is like an instruction manual for the souls in the School of Love. The instructions are for caring for our souls so that we will bloom like beautiful flowers in God’s garden. Many Saints have followed the instructions very carefully when they were still on earth and their souls have bloomed into the most gorgeous flowers you can imagine!

In ‘The Story of a Soul’, Saint Therese (nicknamed ‘Little Flower’) tells us about her Little Way that she walked here on earth. Using the Little Way, she remained like a child and therefore allowed her instructors in this School of Love (The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit) to guide her and form her soul so that she could be united completely with God. She says that life is simple because in every moment the only question you have to ask is “What is the demand of love in this very moment?”

Included with this letter is a complimentary copy of ‘The Imitation of Christ for Children’.

Key dates

  • Start of term – This very second if you want to! Any time you are ready.
  • End of term – Never 🙂 Isn’t that awesome?!
  • Holidays – You won’t want any 😉 Trust us.

Final words

Happy Birthday! It’s not every day that you turn 11 😉 Congratulations on 11 blessed years.

May God and our Mama Mary keep you close to their hearts ❤

Love,

*** ***

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