Reflections on Notebook Four: 237-262

We continue to the fourth notebook that Saint Faustina filled with reflections and revelations from Jesus.  As we enter into this notebook, allow yourself to seek God in the silence.  This chapter begins with Saint Faustina revealing that she was experiencing a “dark night” (Diary #1235).  She lacked the sensory feelings of closeness to God.  By analogy, it would be as if you were in a dark room filled with treasures and someone told you that all the treasures of this room were yours.  You could not see them but you trusted the person who spoke about all that was around you.  Knowledge of these treasures filled your mind even though the darkness hid them from your eyes.

So it is with God.  Saint Faustina loved our Lord with all her heart and with every beat of her heart.  She knew His closeness and love.  But it appears that she could not sense this through her human senses.  This gift of darkness allowed her to enter into a relationship with God on a spiritual level far deeper.

Seek this depth of relationship with God as you read through this chapter.  Move beyond a desire to feel close to God and allow yourself to become close to God.  He wants to enter your heart on a much deeper level than you ever knew possible.  Be open to the newness of a relationship shrouded in darkness and allow the Lord to communicate His Mercy to you on this new level of love.

Reflection 237: The Darkness of Faith Purifies our Love

Many of the great saints, including Saint Faustina, experienced an interior darkness in their relationship with God.  This is quite a mysterious experience.  As a soul grows intimately close to God there are numerous consolations and feelings of love along the way.  However, there comes a point on the spiritual journey when God hides Himself.  This is not on account of any sin on the part of the person; rather, it’s God’s way of entering much deeper into the person’s life so as to sustain them without the help of emotional or even spiritual consolation.  The soul is plunged into a darkness that can be quite painful.  But in this darkness, the person is invited to know God with a new silence and surrender.  The communication it receives on this new level is beyond words and beyond human experience.  There is a knowledge of God and His Divine Will, but not an experience of Him.  The soul is invited through this darkness to choose God and His Will despite the absence of any feelings or spiritual consolations (See Diary #1235).

Most likely your prayer life has not brought you to this experience of darkness.  But even though few enter into this level of communion with God, it’s good to be aware of it and to understand the experience that the great saints had.  Knowing that this is the path of holiness will allow you to set aside desires to feel the love of God in exchange for a desire for God Himself.  God is not a feeling; He is a Trinity of Divine Persons.  Seek to love Him no matter what you feel and your relationship will grow deeper than you could ever imagine.

Lord, at times I do not understand Your perfect love for me.  When I feel close to You I am so very grateful for this experience.  However, I pray that you give me the grace to love You even when I do not sense Your presence.  Please purify my faith, dear Lord.  Jesus, I trust in You.

 

Reflection 238: Fidelity in Times of Darkness

Though Saint Faustina and many other great saints entered into a unique spiritual darkness, defined by St. John of the Cross as the “Dark Night of the Soul” and the “Dark Night of the Spirit,” we all will experience a certain “darkness” of one form or another in our walk of faith.  Our darkness may not be the result of the extraordinary purification of the soul that takes place on the journey toward perfection, but our response must be the same.  No matter what we go through in life, when challenges arise we must speak the words spoken by the great saints, “Thy Will be done!”  Holiness is all about doing the Will of God despite any confusion or apparent obstacle in our lives (See Diary #1237).

Reflect upon the level of conviction you pray that prayer, “Thy Will be done!”  Do you mean this?  Can you say it with all the powers of your mind, will and soul?  Have you chosen the Will of God above everything else in life?  Embracing the Will of God in times of trial is especially fruitful for a life of faith.  When temptations set in, especially temptations toward despair, you must reaffirm your commitment to God’s perfect Will.  Reflect upon this holy act today.  Say those words and mean them as completely as you can.  Nothing in life should ever deter you from making this your daily prayer.

Lord, may Your Will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven!  I make this my prayer today.  I offer it to You with complete confidence and total surrender.  I choose You above all things and make Your Will my own.  I love You, my Lord.  Jesus, I trust in You.

 

Reflection 239: The Seal of Mercy

Every great saint exemplifies some aspect of the goodness of God.  Some live lives of exceptional detachment from worldly riches, some serve the poor with unwavering commitment, some live lives of deep prayer, some have mystical revelations, some write volumes of books revealing the depths of faith, but all are called to bring forth the Mercy of God in one way or another.  The Mercy of God must be like a seal, stamped upon your heart.  God’s Mercy will shine forth from your life in the unique way that He has chosen for you.  The “seal” of God’s Mercy will become unique, shining forth as a gift given only through you.  Be open to the ways that God has chosen to shine forth from your life.  Allow that seal to become radiant and visible to all and you will witness great things take place by God through you (See Diary #1242).

Reflect upon your heart being sealed with the permanent and visible seal of the Mercy of God.  In what ways do you discern that the Lord wishes to radiate His Mercy from your life?  What are the concrete ways that His Mercy in Heaven is to come down to Earth through you?  Seek the particular and concrete manifestations of God’s Mercy offered through your life.  Committing yourself to these visible and real manifestations will enable you to become a powerful instrument of His Heart in our world.

Lord, I love You and deeply desire to allow You to manifest Your Mercy through my life.  I choose You as the source of all goodness in my life and give You my heart to seal with Your compassion and love.  Shine through me, dear Lord.  Jesus, I trust in You.

 

Reflection 240: Sweetness or Bitterness in Life?

Which do you prefer for your life?  Daily sensory experiences of sweetness or bitterness?  In other words, do you desire to take delight in the many aspects of your daily life or do you desire that the daily duty you fulfill leaves you with a certain bitterness within your senses?  For most people the answer is simple.  “Sweetness” is much better.  But is it?  Interestingly, the experience of sweetness or bitterness in life is not a good guide toward a life of holiness.  At times, even sin can taste “sweet” to us while acts of holiness can be “bitter” at first. Understanding this will allow us to move deeper into our embrace of the Will of God.  Our goal must be to seek His Will purely for the sake of His Will.  We must have no preference regarding the delight or suffering that comes as a result of embracing His Will.  If God’s Will requires great sacrifice, leaving us with a sensory experience of suffering, then so be it.  If His Will draws us to an exchange of love that leaves us with a sweet delight, then so be it.  Though it is hard to arrive at a level of total detachment, we must strive for it.  His Will and His Will alone must be our focus.  In His Will alone do we discover His abundance of Mercy (See Diary #1245).

Reflect upon the difference between God’s Will and the delight or distaste you feel from embracing it.  When His Will calls you to sacrifice, you will find it to be a sort of “bitter” experience.  Bitter in the sense that it may challenge your senses.  Do not worry about this.  Seek His Will in all things and the joy in your heart will ultimately overshadow all other immediate experiences you have.  His Will opens the door to His abundant Mercy.

Lord, I seek Your most holy Will about all things.  Help me to choose Your Will no matter how difficult or how delightful it may be.  Purify me, dear Lord, and give me a single focus in life so that my embrace of all You call me to do will bring forth Your perfect Mercy.  Jesus, I trust in You.

 

Reflection 241: Remedying Your Particular Sins

How do you overcome your sins?  Every sin is different and requires specific prayer and sacrifice so as to detach from them.  Three common sins are: those of the flesh, those of anger and those of pride.  Each one of these sins can be overcome but may require special attention.  If you struggle with sins of the flesh, try to fast.  Give up that which is delightful to you on a physical level by fasting from various kinds of food or drink.  For sins of anger, try to do some good deed or speak some kind word to the person with whom you are angry.  Pray for them and speak the words of Jesus on the Cross, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”  And for sins of pride, try to bow down prostrate before our Lord in prayerful humility, emptying yourself before Him.  Seek to offer these specific remedies for the sins you struggle with and the Mercy of God will be poured down in abundance (See Diary #1248).

What are the specific sins you struggle with?  Make sure that you regularly do a thorough examination of conscience, focusing on each one of the Ten Commandments in detail or on the seven capital sins.  Once you have identified the main sins you struggle with, especially those that are habitual, seek a holy remedy for them.  Penance for sins is like medicine.  You need the right medication for each illness.  Be open to the ways that God reveals to you these “medicines” for your soul and take them without hesitation.  Each penance you do will open up the door of Mercy in a new and profound way in your life.

Lord, I know that I am sick on account of my many sins.  I am weak and in need of healing.  Help me to see my sins and to face them with Your Mercy.  Give me the means of overcoming them so that I may draw closer to You.  I love You Lord, free me from all that keeps me from You.  Jesus, I trust in You.

 

Reflection 242: True Beauty Uniquely Shining Through

It’s been said that “beauty” is in the eye of the beholder.  In other words, some say that the definition of beauty depends upon the subjective preference of one person or another.  Though there may be some truth to this on a more superficial level, on a deeper level true beauty comes from God and is objective in every way.  It’s not dependent upon our personal preference; rather, it depends upon God.  The more something or someone resembles God and His Mercy, the more beautiful it is.  This is important to know in regard to our souls.  We all want to be perceived as “beautiful” by others.  But we must also understand that this is only possible through a life of holiness.  And what’s amazing is that the beauty of each person is unique.  In Heaven, we will not all be the same; rather, the uniqueness of each person will shine forth the radiance of God in a special way, unique only to that person.  Seek to allow the beauty and splendor of God to shine forth through your life so that you will be an instrument of His glory (See Diary #1251).

Do you desire to be beautiful?  Perhaps this is a question more easily answered by women than men, since it is a word more common to women.  But reflect upon the question.  As you do, try to look at beauty from a different perspective.  On the deepest level, it’s not a natural physical attractiveness. True beauty is a sharing in the glory of God and allowing that glory to shine through your soul as light shines through a prism.  Seek to let God shine through you so that the beauty of God will bless others with His Mercy in a unique and profound way.

Lord, You are the glory and splendor of my soul.  Your beauty is awe-inspiring and radiant in every way.  Come live in me and shine through me so that others will see Your transforming beauty in my life.  I offer myself to You, dear Lord, as an instrument of Your glory.  Jesus, I trust in You.

 

Reflection 243: Jesus’ Special Gift to Those He Loves

How would you treat someone you love?  Typically, with family or very close friends we desire that which is best for them and that which makes them happy.  God desires the same for each one of us, but we may be surprised at what God sees as the source of our happiness and what He deems to be best for us.  Furthermore, though God’s love is perfect for every soul, it’s also accurate to say that God’s love deepens for those who draw close to Him.  It’s not that His love changes, it’s that His love is received and encountered on a deeper level.  When this happens, God is able to manifest His love in a profound way.  And when God’s love is received by a soul on the deepest level, it’s often a love that calls that soul into suffering.  If that surprises you just think about the Father’s perfect love for Jesus.  The Father, in His perfect love for the Son, called Him to the Cross.  But in that Cross, Jesus’ human soul was able to manifest the love of the Father in the most profound way.  This is a mystery hard to understand, so if it’s difficult to immediately grasp do not worry.  Just know that God often allows great spiritual suffering in the lives of those who have been drawn into a deep intimacy with Him (See Diary #1253).

Reflect upon the perfect love of the Father calling His Son to the Cross.  Sit with that and seek to penetrate its meaning.  If you can understand how the love of the Father could call the Son to this sacrifice, then you will begin to understand God’s perfect love for you as He calls you to a life of sacrifice.  Do not think that God’s love will make your life “easy.”  His love will make your life glorious, but most likely through suffering.

Father, the mystery of the sufferings of Jesus, Your Son, is beyond my comprehension.  Help me to understand Your mysterious Will more fully and to see that suffering in this life is often a sign of Your love.  Keep my eyes on the Cross in all things, dear Lord.  Jesus, I trust in You.

 

Reflection 244: Working Until the End of the World

If you labor, day and night, spreading the works of God, this is good.  Good fruit will come from your commitment to serve the Will of God and to spread His Divine Mercy.  But we should also realize that God is able to use us to spread His Mercy until the end of the world.  How?  Only God knows.  But He does desire to use you for this purpose.  Some, like Saint Faustina, were used to set in motion devotion to Divine Mercy and that devotion will continue until Jesus returns.  Others, and perhaps most of us, are called to contribute to the perpetual work of Mercy in various other ways.  For example, one act of charity will bring about a good in another’s life that could change them in such a way that it will set in motion an eternal work of Mercy. Or consider your prayer for those entrusted with special responsibility such as praying for the Pope, bishops or priests.  Or consider the fact that your holiness achieved here and now will be magnified in Heaven and will enable you to intercede for the Church for all time.  Be diligent now in your work of spreading the Mercy of God but also be aware that this work must continue on into eternity.  Focus on this as your goal and God will use your present labors in unimaginable ways throughout time (See Diary #1256).

When you think about the work that God has entrusted to you, do you see it as something that can have eternal consequences?  Do you see yourself as a “link in a chain” by which God desires to strengthen the Church throughout time?  Be open to this goal and allow the Lord to use you in ways you could never dream up yourself.

Lord, my life is Yours.  I give myself to You for the purpose of spreading Your Mercy now and for eternity.  Use me as You will, dear Lord.  I offer myself as a willing instrument of Your Mercy in our world.  Jesus, I trust in You.

 

Reflection 245: Severity Postponed

It’s important to know that Jesus has every right to bring forth His justice here and now.  He has every right to be severe with us on account of our sins and to bring eternal judgment upon us.  This truth is often forgotten on account of His Mercy.  But we should never forget this fact.  It’s important to remember this because unless we understand the absolute right that God has to execute swift and irrevocable judgment on the world, we will never understand that His restraint is an act of immeasurable Mercy.  The Mother of God is especially entrusted with the responsibility of praying for His Mercy and pleading on our behalf that her Son’s wrath be withheld.  God gave to her this responsibility of intercession for us and He listens to those prayers.  He also calls each one of us to pray for Mercy in the world and, though our prayers are not as powerful as the Mother of God, they can be if we place them in her Immaculate Heart.  Giving our Blessed Mother our prayers magnifies their power and transforms them into an instrument of unfathomable grace, holding back the hand of the Justice of God (See Diary #1261).

Do you understand the right that God has to bring sudden and severe judgment upon you?  That may not be pleasant to think about but it’s important to understand.  Ponder this fact today.  Believe it and know that He withholds His judgment on account of His Mercy.  Seek the prayers of our Blessed Mother, this day, and offer her your own prayers.  Through your prayers, offered through her intercession, God’s justice is withheld and His Mercy will be bestowed in our time.

Dearest Mother, I offer you, this day, all my prayers, works and sacrifices so that you may in turn offer them to Your Son.  Please pray for me and for all your children that the justice of Your Son will be withheld as His Mercy is poured forth.  Jesus, I trust in You.

 

Reflection 246: Upon Receiving Holy Communion

What do you do after receiving Holy Communion?  Do you go back to your pew in a distracted way, with your mind wandering, paying attention to others around you, and failing to encounter our Lord on an authentic spiritual level?  Or do you allow that moment to be a moment of true prayer and communion with God?  If the truth is the former, just be honest with yourself and with God and use this realization for an opportunity to reexamine your approach to this most sacred Gift!  The moment after Holy Communion is a treasured moment in which each soul is invited to be consumed by Him who was just consumed.  In other words, the act of receiving Holy Communion is not just the physical act we do, it must also become something God does to us.  We must choose to not only consume our Lord, we must also allow Him to consume us with His Mercy.  There is no better time to do this than the moments after receiving this priceless Gift.  This is accomplished by making your life an oblation to God.  An “oblation” is an offering, and the reception of Holy Communion must become a moment in which we completely offer ourselves to our Divine Lord (See Diary #1264).

Reflect upon the last time you received Holy Communion.  What was that experience like?  Did you have a complete focus on what you were doing?  Did you offer yourself to our Lord as an oblation of love?  Did you place yourself into the hands of our Lord in a sacrificial way?  Did you allow our Lord to consume you with His merciful love?  Ponder these questions and commit yourself to this depth of offering.  If you do, Holy Communion will become the greatest act of Mercy in your life.

My Lord and my God, I give myself to You with total abandon and surrender.  My life is Yours, dear Lord.  I give myself to You without reserve as an oblation of love.  Jesus, I trust in You.

 

Reflection 247: The Blessing of Those with Needs

If someone in your family were seriously ill, or in prison, or in some form of grave need, would that be a burden to you or a blessing?  Think about it.  Do those with special needs make your life more difficult?  If this question were answered on a purely practical level the answer may be, “Yes.”  But if it is answered on a more spiritual level, the answer is that those who “burden” us with their particular needs offer us an opportunity for great holiness.  This is the case because those with special needs call forth from us a response of charity, compassion and the service of Mercy.  If we see them as a burden, we are missing an extraordinary opportunity for grace.  God often allows others to suffer and impose a holy burden upon us so as to allow us to manifest His Mercy.  Seek out these special souls and offer them the love, care and Mercy present in the Heart of Jesus (See Diary #1268).

Who has God placed in your life?  More specifically, who is it that carries a special suffering, illness, weakness or difficulty that requires extra care from you?  It could be a sick child, a depressed spouse, an elderly parent, a manifest sinner or a friend in need.  Whoever it is that comes to mind, try to see them and their needs as a graced invitation from our Lord to manifest His love and Mercy.  They are a far greater blessing to you than you will ever realize.  Allow their needs to evoke the compassion and care in the Heart of Christ through you.

Lord, please give me a heart like unto Yours.  Give me Your perfect Heart of Mercy and compassion so that I may manifest Your perfect love for others.  Help me to see all people as a gift and to recognize their infinite dignity.  And as I seek to love them, I thank You for the blessings I receive in this selfless act.  Jesus, I trust in You.

 

Reflection 248: Unlimited Resources

Imagine if you found a source of unlimited natural resources by creating a machine that transforms only a small amount of oxygen into an unlimited amount of energy.  All you had to do is turn on the machine you created and the energy is generated endlessly.  That would be quite an invention.  But something like this does exist on a spiritual level.  The “oxygen” it runs on is our misery and sin.  And the “generator” is the Heart of Jesus.  The “energy” it produces is God’s endless Mercy.  If we could only understand this then our world would be flooded with this supernatural resource to an infinite degree.  We must realize that God transforms our misery in life when we offer it to Him.  In fact, this is His burning desire.  His Heart longs to transform your misery into His Mercy so that your own life will be filled to abundance and so that, through you, the world will be filled to abundance.  Give to God your misery and sin and let Him endlessly transform it (See Diary #1273).

What do you think about your own misery and sin?  Do you hide it, cover it up, ignore it and pretend it doesn’t exist?  Do you go through life presenting the illusion of a sin-free and misery-free life?  Some do this and others go to the opposite extreme, wallowing in self-pity and manifesting their misery for all to see as if their misery were a badge of honor.  Neither approach is helpful.  The only helpful approach is to surrender your sin and all misery to the Heart of Jesus.  You can do this.  You simply need to make the choice to do so.  Do it today.  Begin to make this act of total surrender and you will discover the miraculous power in the Heart of Jesus to transform everything into Mercy.

Oh Heart of Jesus, I run to You with my misery and pain and I surrender my sin to You, dear Lord.  Please transform it into Your Mercy, enabling this gift to become a source of endless grace.  Jesus, I trust in You.

 

Reflection 249: The Fruit of Suffering

Only after someone has suffered greatly do they begin to understand the good fruits that can come forth from such suffering.  In and of itself, suffering is the result of our fallen human condition.  But because Jesus entered our human condition, embracing all suffering and redeeming it, suffering now has great power when freely embraced by us and united to the sufferings of Jesus.  One good fruit that can come from suffering is spiritual knowledge.  When suffering is embraced in Christ and offered to Him as a sacrifice in union with His own Sacrifice, we will find that our suffering clarifies life, puts it in perspective and may even give us the spiritual gift of insight into the souls of others we encounter.  This gift of knowledge of other souls will enable us to see their needs and offer the Mercy of God to them in the particular way they need it.  Do not be afraid to allow your sufferings to transform you and bestow this gift of knowledge upon you along with the many other gifts God wishes to bestow (See Diary #1277).

Reflect upon how you deal with your own sufferings.  Whether it is a small discomfort you feel or an intense interior pain, everything we experience in life can be redeemed and transformed so as to transform us.  If you believe this then try to consciously embrace every discomfort and every suffering you endure as a sacrifice to God.  Offer it to Him and then allow the purifying effects of this free embrace to produce an abundance of good fruit in your life.

Lord, so often I run from my suffering and deny the redeeming effects that the free embrace of my sufferings can have upon me.  Give me courage to say “Yes” to the crosses I am given and to be open to the spiritual fruits that they can produce in my life.  I give all to You, dear Lord.  Jesus, I trust in You.

 

Reflection 250: Praying Face Down to the Ground

When you pray, how do you go to our Lord?  It’s certainly good to offer Him your entire day in loving devotion and to speak to Him throughout the day as to your closest friend.  But there are other times when our prayer must be intense and should be expressed with intensity.  One way to do this is to literally fall down prostrate before our Lord.  In the silence of your room or in an empty church, look for an opportunity to pray in such a way.  The “intensity” must be one of complete submission to our Lord.  It must be prolonged and self-emptying.  To pray in such a way is a beautiful act of love and is a way of worshipping God as He deserves.  Though we could never offer perfect worship of Him, our attempts at doing so as completely as possible pleases Him and enables Him to draw us close to His Heart which is filled with an abundance of Mercy (See Diary #1279).

Have you ever prayed in a position of prostration before our Lord?  If you have, keep doing it.  Look for an opportunity to do so every day.  If you have not, then this is a good time to start. Do not worry about what you are to say and do not worry if it feels uncomfortable at first.  Just get down on your knees, bow down to the ground, and express your love for our Lord.  Stay there and try to make an act of total surrender.  The Lord will receive your act of worship and draw you closer to His Sacred Heart of Mercy.

Lord, I do fall down prostrate before You and offer You my entire life as a selfless gift for Your glory.  I give all to You, dear Lord, and I pray that I will hold nothing back.  You are my God and my all.  I love you and surrender my life to You.  Jesus, I trust in You.

 

Reflection 251: The Inner Dwelling of Your Heart

The Lord desires to come to you and make His dwelling within your heart.  But when He comes to you, what does He find?  What is the condition of your heart?  Some hearts are like a fragrant rose garden.  There is light, beauty, magnificence and radiance.  It’s a place of peaceful repose and a place made holy by the presence of our Lord.  Other hearts are like a dark prison cell, cold, isolated and dreary.  These are the souls who are trapped in a cycle of sin and have failed, over and over, to allow the Lord to enter in.  But He does choose to enter your heart, no matter the condition.  Be it a fragrant field of roses or the darkness and isolation of a prison, the Lord wants to enter (See Diary #1280).

Ponder the inner chamber of your heart.  What does this dwelling place look like?  Be honest and reveal this hidden place to our Lord.  If your heart is more like a dreary dungeon, cold, dark and isolated, then know that you, more than any other, are invited to receive the Mercy of God.  He desires to come to you and open the door to that prison in which you feel trapped and isolated.  He does not shy away from you in this darkness and will enter in.  But when He enters, He does so to break you free.  He desires to transform your soul into a place of sweet delight.  This takes work, surrender, honesty, humility and trust.  But God can do all things and can transform the most wretched soul into a garden of beauty and love.  His Mercy produces the soil, the Sun, the seed, the water and everything needed to recreate the inner chamber of your soul.  Ponder this fact and begin your transformation today.

Precious Lord, I give to You the inner chamber of my soul.  Come and rest within me, transforming my heart into Your holy dwelling place.  I give to You, dear Lord, all that I am and all that I have.  Recreate me and make me new.  Jesus, I trust in You.

 

Reflection 252: The Apostolate of Mercy and Acceptance

Some people are deeply troubled in life and cannot seem to sort out their difficulties.  They are “needy” in the sense that they are constantly seeking something to offer them consolation.  They may believe that riches or other forms of earthly consolations are what they want but what they do not realize is that the Lord is the answer to all their needs.  These wandering souls must become the focus of our mercy.  One way we offer the Mercy of God to them is through our gentle presence, offering an accepting heart and listening ear.  When those with heavy burdens in life discover that we care for them and wish to listen to them, they will often seize the opportunity to open up their hearts to us, revealing their wounds and troubles.  It is not so much our responsibility to do the healing or to solve their problems.  Our responsibility is most often to simply let them know we care and understand.  This act of love and acceptance is an act of extraordinary Mercy flowing from the Heart of Jesus through us (See Diary #1282).

When you encounter others who are troubled and heavily burdened in life, how do you treat them?  Do you treat them with judgment and disgust?  Or do you listen to them, seek to understand them, and offer an accepting and compassionate heart?  Reflect upon this question and think about those whom God has placed in your life who need to know God’s love and acceptance through you.  Do not neglect this act for you are called to be an apostle of the Mercy of God.

Lord, I offer myself to You as an apostle of Your merciful Heart.  Give me a true compassion and acceptance for those souls in most need of Your Divine Mercy.  Help me to listen to them, seek to understand them and be there for them as a representative of Your Sacred Heart.  I give myself to You, dear Lord.  Use me as You will.  Jesus, I trust in You.

 

Reflection 253: The Response of Total Gratitude

What should our response be to God?  Often times we become self-consumed in our relationship with God.  We focus in on our troubles and needs.  These must be given over to God and let go of.  When we do this we will discover that we begin to see the glory and goodness of God at work in our lives and we will begin to be filled with the utmost gratitude toward God.  Gratitude must consume us and fill our minds and prayers.  We must allow gratitude to take over our passions and feelings and every part of our being.  This is what we will do for eternity.  Heaven will be one eternal act of thanksgiving to God for His goodness and Mercy.  When we can turn our eyes away from ourselves and focus in on God, this gift of gratitude will begin to direct our lives (See Diary #1285-1286).

Are you grateful?  You will be grateful only if you allow yourself to see the countless gifts that God lavishes upon you every day.  It’s easy to allow self-absorption to cloud our vision of these countless blessings from God.  But if you can turn your eyes toward Heaven and see the truth, you will be amazed at God’s infinite goodness.  Do not let yourself miss out on this glorious discovery of all that God does for you day and night.  Do not close your eyes to the abundance of His Mercy.  Reflect, today, upon whether or not you allow yourself to see His merciful love lavished upon you and upon others.  Fix your gaze upon this Mercy and allow this realization to foster within you a profoundly grateful heart.

My Lord, I thank You for all that You have done in my life and I thank You for all that You will continue to do in me.  Help me to become increasingly aware of Your merciful love and the countless blessings You bestow upon me and upon all Your children.  As I see Your handiwork all around, fill my heart with sincere gratitude.  Jesus, I trust in You.

 

Reflection 254: Divinization

Our calling in life can be described as a call to divinization.  What does this mean?  It means that God came to Earth and took on our human nature so as to draw us into His very life.  We are, in a sense, called to become God.  This idea of “divinization” was common among the early Church fathers such as Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Athanasius, Clement of Alexandria and St. Augustine.  It’s not that we are to become God in the sense that our nature becomes divine, this would be a heresy.  Rather, we are called to become God in the sense that we are to share in His divine life, becoming one with Him in perfect unity.  It would be as if God were an Ocean and we were a drop of water plunged into that Ocean.  Though the specific particles of the drop of water representing us remain that one drop, it is absorbed by the waters of the Ocean representing God.  Our union with Him must become so complete that God lives in us as we live in God (See Diary #1289).

Reflect upon your calling to become divinized.  This concept goes to the heart of our Christian vocation in that it expresses the powerful unity we are called to have with our merciful God.  He wants you to share in His life and to become one with Him in every way.  Though this may be hard to comprehend, you must accept it as your calling in faith.  Reflect upon this concept today and tell our Lord that you give yourself to Him so as to become one with Him and to share in His very life.

Lord, please come to me and divinize me in accord with Your perfect Will and abundant Mercy.  I thank You for calling me to such a glorious and high calling in life and I accept this invitation from You.  My life is Yours, dear Lord, transform me, consume me and do with me as You will.  Jesus, I trust in You.

 

Reflection 255: The “Blessing” of Sin

This may seem like an unusual title.  How can sin be a “blessing?”  True, strictly speaking sin is an offense against God and has the effect of separating us from God.  Thus, sin is not a blessing in the strict sense.  But God is All-Powerful and can use everything for His glory, even our sin.  Sin could be spoken of as a blessing only in the sense that when we see our sins, acknowledge them, humble ourselves before God and beg for His Mercy, He bestows it in superabundance.  In the end, the effects of the humility of repentance do far greater good than the damage done through sin.  God can repair the damage immediately, and when He does so, He offers a Mercy that not only heals but also elevates us closer to His Heart.  Allow your sin to be turned into a blessing by the power of God and you will be amazed at His endless Mercy (See Diary #1293).

Reflect upon the attitude you have in regard to your sin.  Too often you may deny your sin, justify it or turn a blind eye to it.  This is a profound mistake for two reasons.  First, doing this keeps you from repenting.  Second, a failure to humbly repent leaves you without the abundant Mercy of God.  Foster within your heart a burning desire to see every sin you commit.  Seek to become aware of every sin, even the smallest imperfections.  Attentiveness even to your spiritual imperfections will enable you to humble yourself before God in such a way that your honesty and thoroughness will bring countless blessings to your life.

Lord Jesus, Son of God, have Mercy on me a sinner.  Lord, I do see my sin but I also realize that I do not see it clearly enough.  Please give me the grace to see my every sin, even the slightest imperfection, and then give me the grace to humbly repent with a sincere and contrite heart.  I trust in Your abundance of Mercy, dear Lord.  Jesus, I trust in You.

 

Reflection 256: Doing Your Best

Blessed Mother Teresa is often quoted as saying that God asks us to be faithful, not successful.  In other words, we are called to offer our best to the Lord, striving to be faithful to His holy Will, and then leave the rest to Him.  At times it may appear that our “best” does not produce the desired good fruit that we desire.  Perhaps an attempt you make at reconciling with another failed.  Or perhaps you put your heart and soul into some apostolic work and it never appeared to take off in the way you had hoped.  There is great freedom in the realization that all we are called to do is be faithful, not successful.  “Success” is measured by God, not by human standards.  We are truly “successful” only when we are faithful to the Will of God and diligent in committing ourselves to His divine work.  If we are faithful in this way, nothing else matters.  Do your best and leave the rest to God (See Diary #1295).

Reflect upon your level of commitment to the Will of God.  Committing yourself to God’s holy Will is not the same as committing yourself to perfect success in all you do.  Even if everything you do appears to end in failure, you please God when you are faithful to Him without worrying about the results.  God sees your heart and wants your good works to be offered to Him and done in accordance with His Will.  Nothing else in life matters.  Seek fidelity above success and you will delight the merciful Heart of our Lord.

Lord, I give myself to You for Your service and glory.  I commit myself to all that You call me to do and pray that I may serve Your Will in fidelity and diligence.  Use me, dear Lord, as You will and help me to leave the rest to You.  Jesus, I trust in You.

 

Reflection 257: The Long Term Plan of God

When you seek to serve our Lord with your whole heart, you may find that He speaks to you about His daily Will.  It may not be completely clear, but you may have a sense that He wants this or that from you.  God does not typically present you with the entire plan He has for your life all at once.  Rather, He offers bits and pieces as needed.  Believing what He calls you to do each day requires faith and trust in His gentle voice.  The truth is that God does have a perfect plan for your life if you will only listen and respond one step at a time.  In the end, from Heaven, this will all make sense and you will see the incredible wisdom of our Lord.  However, for now the big and full picture may not be as clear.  This is God’s way of drawing you into a relationship of daily dependence and daily surrender.  The key is to be faithful each and every day to what you sense our Lord saying.  If you do this, little by little, His glorious Will unfolds in your life, and through you His Mercy is bestowed upon the world (See Diary #1300).

What do you sense our Lord calling you to do this day?  Whatever it is it may not make perfect sense right now.  Trust His gentle Voice and inspirations today and follow His promptings.  Do what you hear Him command you.  If your sense of His Will seems unusual, speak to another about it so as to make sure it is from Him.  But in the end, if you seek to fulfill His daily Will you will discover that the road He takes you down is glorious and achieves His glorious purpose for your life.

Lord, I desire to serve You with all my heart.  Give me the grace of an open mind and heart so that I may discern Your gentle Voice calling me into Your perfect Will.  My life is Yours, dear Lord, do with me what You will.  Jesus, I trust in You.

 

Reflection 258: The Closeness of God

Where is God?  It’s easy to think of God being in Heaven or some far off place, looking down upon us and guiding all of creation in accord with His holy Will.  This is true, but it’s not the full picture.  God is perfectly “transcendent” in that He is way beyond us and beyond the created world.  But He is also perfectly “immanent” in that He lives within us.  When you pray, seek Him especially within your own soul.  Remember that when you receive Holy Communion, God makes your soul a tabernacle.  He enters in and remains within unless He is excluded on account of sin.  Seek His divine presence within your soul and you will discover the intimacy of His abundant Mercy (See Diary #1302).

Reflect upon the image of a tabernacle.  Within that sacred dwelling the full glory of God exists in veiled form.  But He is there, alive, radiant and glorious.  Now see your soul as this tabernacle.  See Him coming to you to make His dwelling within you.  God desires to fully live within you, making your heart the place of His gentle repose.  Spend time today seeking our Lord within.  Talk to Him, listen to Him, and commune with Him.  Let your heart become alive and radiant with His holy presence.  For within your heart is the presence of God.

Lord, I thank You for coming to me and making my heart Your dwelling place.  I thank You for Your perfect love and care and I pray that I may discover Your divine presence in my life more fully each and every day.  I am Yours, dear Lord, make my soul radiant with Your eternal glory.  Jesus, I trust in You.

 

Reflection 259: The Beauty of the Humble Soul

What is it that makes someone beautiful?  More than anything else it is the virtue of humility.  Humility is exceptionally attractive.  Though some may not be that impressed with the humble soul at first, over time, humility will draw even the most arrogant and self-centered person to itself.  It’s hard to ignore the deep attractiveness of a humble soul because God is intimately present in that person.  In fact, it could almost be said that God would do anything that a humble soul asks.  It’s as if humility imposes an obligation upon God to bestow extraordinary graces through their lowly heart.  Humility is a complete self-emptying of oneself before God and others.  The result is that the person “disappears” and all that is left is God.  God shines through the humble more radiantly than the person filled with the greatest talents.  Humble yourself before God.  The lower you go, the more God shines through and the more His Mercy is bestowed (See Diary #1306).

Do you seek to be humble?  Or do you tend to exert yourself and make yourself the center of attention?  The irony is that, as the Scripture says, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted” (Lk. 14:11).  So many of the great saints are perfect examples of this in that their focus was love of God and love of others, but in the end these great saints were often lifted high for others to see.  Seek to be one of those great saints by humbling yourself this day.  Ponder humility and convince yourself of its value.  Through it the beauty and Mercy of God will shine forth.

Lord, I know I am full of pride at times and that pride keeps me from admitting this fact.  Please humble me and help me to lower myself before Your infinite majesty.  Give me the grace to seek you above all things and to give You all the glory and honor.  Jesus, I trust in You.

 

Reflection 260: The Enormity of Small Acts of Love

Do you want to do amazing things in this world?  Do you sometimes have grandiose ideas and dreams?  Sometimes we have more secular dreams of wealth and fame, and sometimes we may have dreams of doing extraordinary things for God and for the Church.  But these do not have to be dreams because each and every one of us is called to extraordinary things.  The problem is that we often misunderstand what “extraordinary” is all about.  So what is it about?  It’s especially about doing small things with extraordinary love.  Every one of us can do this every day all day.  Our lives are filled with opportunities to do “small things.”  It may be cooking or cleaning, shuttling kids here or there, caring for the yard, completing tasks at work, or daily casual conversation with others.  Every one of these tasks offers us an opportunity to love with extraordinary love.  And if you do every small act with great love, then your love will be great and God will do extraordinary things through your life, bestowing His Mercy on many (See Diary #1310).

Think about the small things you have to do today.  How can you do these simple tasks with exceptional love?  Many things we do are done with distaste or indifference.  We can fail to see value in the small monotonous activities of our day.  This is a mistake.  Look for ways to do everything as an act of love and as an offering to God.  Be devout and intentional in each opportunity you have and your dreams of greatness will become a reality on account of the Mercy of God shining through your life.

Lord, I give to You, this day, every small act I perform.  Help me to find value and meaning in even the smallest service.  I pray that my love for You will increase in countless small ways so that I may be a holy instrument of Your abundant Mercy.  Jesus, I trust in You.

 

Reflection 261: Jesus Hidden in Others

Imagine if Jesus came to you in poverty, hunger and cold and He asked you to care for Him.  This experience might startle you and cause you to question if this person really was Jesus.  But it is Jesus.  Jesus comes to us every day in the person who is in need.  It may be that we encounter someone who is homeless, hungry and in need of clothing.  If this is the case then this is Jesus.  But there are many whom we encounter every day who have a different form of hunger and thirst.  Many are starving for love, understanding, compassion and attention.  They may present an exterior that is unwelcoming, but inside they are our Lord, seeking to receive mercy from your heart.  Do not hesitate to see our Lord present in every person you encounter.  Lavish the mercy of your heart on them, especially the most pitiable soul, and you will have lavished your love on Jesus Himself (See Diary #1312).

How do you treat the poor and the beggar?  Start by thinking about those with physical needs but move deeper to consider all those who carry other needs.  Think about the hard of heart, the sinner, the proud, the arrogant, the person filled with anger, etc.  Every person you call to mind is our Lord coming to you for a taste of the mercy of your heart.  Whatever you do to the least of these, you do to Christ.  Do you believe this?  If you do then this belief must have the practical consequences of you showing mercy to everyone, especially those whom you find most difficult to love.  Ponder this practical question today and make a commitment to seek out our Lord in the next “beggar” that you meet, no matter how undesirable they appear.

Lord, I love You and I realize that I must seek You out in each person I encounter.  Give me the eyes to see You and a heart to love You.  As I love You in others, dear Lord, allow the mercy in my heart to give you a sweet delight.  Jesus, I trust in You.

 

Reflection 262: The Rule of Love or Justice

We cannot escape the Hand of God.  He is the one who sustains the Universe and keeps all things in being.  Without His constant care we would cease to exist.  But we remain under His providential Hand in one of two ways.  Either we are guided by the “rule of love” or by the “rule of justice.”  The rule of justice is God’s way of guiding our lives when we turn away from Him.  We cannot escape His justice here or at the time of death.  When we sin, especially in a serious way, we become slaves to our sin on account of the justice of God.  He leaves us to experience the imprisonment of sin on account of His great Mercy.  It is Mercy in that the ill effects of His justice are imposed so as to call us to repentance.  But those who live under the rule of love are blessed to live on a whole new level.  These holy souls bask in the Mercy of God and are freed from the effects of sin.  They experience the numerous fruits of the Spirit and act in accord with the holy Will of God (See Diary #1315).

Which rule do you live by?  Are you regularly falling from grace and encountering the justice of God in your life?  Or are you striving to live by His rule of love?  Wherever you find yourself today, know that it is a gift of God’s Mercy.  Allow His justice to redirect your life when you fall, and seek to embrace the full outpouring of His Mercy.  The Lord will never leave you, but it’s up to you how you will experience His Mercy.

My Lord, I desire to be filled with Your merciful presence in my life.  I pray that I will daily turn from my sin and experience the freedom and joy that comes from living by Your rule of love.  Help me, dear Lord, to always make the right choices in my life so as to be drawn into the abundant life You have in store for me.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Table of Contents

Reflections on Notebook Five: 263-326


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Divine Mercy

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