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Broken? ~ Stanza III ~ Part I

June 15, 2012 by  
Filed under Becky Ward, Broken

For the earth is not our homeland,
but a testing ground of faith.
Ever onward You implore us,
as You fill us with Your Grace.

The first time I heard heaven being called ‘home’ after my conversion began, I burst into tears and sobbed like a child who had been taken from its parents, wanting nothing more than to go home.  Talk about ‘shock & awe’, our military can’t come close to what God can do!

While we are living, and have obligations to take care of, here on earth, it can be difficult to think about heaven as our real home.  I had a full-time job, helped out at my parish teaching religious education, playing the keyboard with the choir, and various other activities.  In the ‘world’ I was a 4-H leader, soccer coach, Cub Scout leader, room mother, and chaperone for field trips.  All of this was in addition to my responsibilities as a wife and mother, and the never-ending jobs that are part of being a homemaker.

I was serving.  Just like the gospel tells us to…..or so I thought.  I was so busy that I didn’t have time for a prayer life – if I had known what that meant.  A friend recently shared this definition of ‘busy’ with me and I love it!
Buried Under Satan’s Yoke

This is a perfect description of where I was even in the midst of all the service work I was doing.  It’s not that the activities were bad in themselves; they weren’t.  But they kept me so busy I didn’t have any quiet time or solitude, and these are critical for developing a relationship with God.  Without the relationship with God, my service to others was often as much for my benefit as for those I was helping; it made me look good.  People liked me and praised me, and I ate it up….patting myself on the back for being such a good person.

When we get into situations like this we need a wake-up call, and God is always willing to provide.  Are we paying attention?  Conversion (Latin for “turning aright”), or metanoia, (Greek for “rethinking”), is pure gift from the Lord which allows us to have a sincere change of heart, to turn from sin to the practice of virtue.  I remember reading the beginning pages of “Dark Night of the Soul” by St. John of the Cross.  It was during a tumultuous time in my life and my priest suggested I read this book.  I looked it up and found a website that had the whole book available to read online.  I will never forget sitting at my computer, tears rolling down my cheeks as I was reminded that I do have a soul.  This catapulted me from living in sin to desiring holiness.  As I began to actively seek Truth through Catholic books and media it became apparent that there are many souls who are fed up with what the world has to offer and are looking for something more.

The bottom line is that we do have a soul, and it will live forever.  That’s the truth!  It doesn’t change because someone doesn’t believe it.  If the soul lives forever, there are only two places it can permanently reside after this life – heaven or hell. (Purgatory is a temporary stopping point on the way to heaven.)  What does it take to get to heaven?  We need to learn about the care and feeding of our souls, and we need to learn about God.  That’s what He expects of us while we’re here.  The more we learn, the more we will love Him.  It’s that simple.  Yet simple doesn’t mean it’s easy.

Our faith is tested every single day.  Usually it’s little things at home that test us the most.  We are often kinder to strangers than to those we live with, probably because we know our family will love us even when we’re not at our best.  Yet these are the very souls we should be the most patient and forbearing with!  I have great difficulty envisioning any member of the Holy Family saying, “I’m bored!” or whining and complaining about one another like we do today.

In Romans 12:2 St. Paul says:

 “Do not conform yourself to this age (what is happening in the world in this period of time.), but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.”

We are in the world, but not of the world.  We are destined for something far greater than what we have here.  There is something deep inside each and every one of us that knows there is more.  We just don’t know what it is, or where to find it.  For many, we believe that God exists, and we know that we should give more of our time and of ourselves to Him , but for a variety of reasons we remain sitting on the fence, wondering if the payoff of taking up our cross is really worth the cost.

Love & Prayers,

Becky

This post is part of a series.  The introduction and other articles from the series can be found here once they have been published.

 

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About Becky Ward

Becky is a wife, mother of four (One in heaven), grandmother of five, and a ‘re-formed Catholic’ who, after receiving the gift of a deep conversion in 2006, and working through the Disciples of Jesus and Mary faith formation program, now considers herself to be ‘fully Catholic’ What this means is that she now, at last, understands and appreciates the beauty of the Catholic faith in such a way that she wants to share it with everyone. “I’ve heard that the Blessed Mother told a visionary, “If Catholics really lived their faith, the whole world would be Catholic.” I see the truth in this, and it is my deepest hope to be a living example that draws others to Jesus. Given the nickname Rebel-Becca by her mother, Becky strongly identifies with St. John the Baptist and his call to “make straight the path of the Lord.”, and with his role as “Friend of the Bridegroom”. The poem, “Broken?”, written through her hand, is a reflection of the journey of the soul, and Becky explains what the Holy Spirit is teaching her as she writes posts for each stanza.

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  • LizEst

    Amen, Becky.  Beautifully, beautifully said…and so true.  God bless you.  

  • LRooney

    As Frank Sheed pointed out, once we understand and accept REALITY –  God as our source and destiny, our “home”,  we are then truly sane.  At that point, we participate in the divine plan of transforming all of creation, starting with ourselves, into glory in Christ and through the Holy Spirit – to make it holy.  All of our other “busyness” without that substantial grounding is like a puff of smoke – “vanity of vanities”.  We keep trying to make them substantial, but that only adds to our “insanity”!  Only sanctity is sanity!

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  • Heather Letchford

    Thank you for your honesty and your insights. If only all the mothers around the world could read this. You have cured me of using the word ‘busy’ for good. May God continue to bless all that you do.

    • Becky313

      Thank you, Heather!!

    • LizEst

      That’s sure a great acronym! Thanks Becky!

  • evelyn

    How do you find the silence and peace if you make the time but your brain is always interrupted by every thought of what has gone on or will be happening?

    • LizEst

      That is a dilemma many of us face. We lead very busy lives. It’s often during that quiet time, that the day’s events crowd in on our thoughts. Bring those goings on and those anticipated activities to prayer. The Lord certainly knows what is in your heart and that you are sincerely trying. So, tell him you have made the time but these things are bothering you. Then, ask his help in quieting your racing mind so that heart and soul may focus on being attentive to the promptings of the Holly Spirit and listening to him in the silence of your heart.

      This takes practice and patience. You just have to keep at it. And, it may, at times, seem like you are not getting anywhere and you are ready to give up. Don’t. God is at work within you even when you see no signs of it, just like the seed that has been planted but shows no activity. When you begin to make progress in this, expect the devil to whip up the day’s activities again.

      At this point, you really have much more control, with God’s help, over these thoughts than you realize. For some, a simple “no!” is effective. For others, a scripture verse will help, something like: “The Lord is my light and my salvation, of whom should I be afraid?” Ps 27:1a, or “God indeed is my savior; I am confident and unafraid. My strength and my courage is the Lord, and he has been my savior.” Is 12:2, or “I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor power, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom 8:38-39. Learn a verse of your choosing, make it your own, use your own words to say the same things. The point is that you will use God’s Word to fight the distractions. The Lord does aid us in times of distress. So, confidently put your trust in him and someday, you may know that still small Voice of God that speaks to directly to your heart.

      He gives this gift, as he desires, to those who are faithful in seeking him. If your prayer is dry or arid, this can be a much more difficult undertaking. Don’t give up, whatever you do. And, do seek out a spiritual director, if you don’t have one already as this person will be of great assistance with difficulties such as this. If you have a director and he or she has not helped you with this, you may want to prayerfully consider a change of director. I hope this has helped a bit…and May the Lord bless you and keep you! The Lord let his face shine on you and be gracious to you! May he look on you kindly and give you peace! (cf Num 6:24-26).

      • Traci

        Thank you for that great reminder. It made me reflect on how I haven’t made enough time for Him lately. We are in charge of our own lives and we make time for what is important to us. and He is the most important…..

        • LizEst

          You are so right. I could stand some improvement in that department as well. Thanks Traci. God bless you!

          • GHM_52

            I used to be one of those busy people. One day, I became acquainted with Brother Lawrence. I learned I could be as busy as was needed as long as I used my busy-ness as an opportunity for prayer. The trick is to raise your thoughts to God often; to thank Him for giving us the ability to comply with our duties; to offer the activity to Him; and to ask Him to take charge over our work so that it may be performed as He wants it to be performed. Brother Lawrence’s example was one of the most liberating experiencesI’ve had!

          • LizEst

            GHM_52,
            Thank you for sharing Brother Lawrence’s advice. I do raise my thoughts to God in the execution of my duties, offering up the work and praying that it be done according to His will and for His glory. I could do better by thanking Him for the ability to do the work and asking that He take charge over the work. God bless you so much for imparting this counsel. It has helped me and, no doubt, other readers.

          • Becky313

            The key words here are, “I could be as busy as was needed” Many of us are busier than necessary.
            I like Br. Lawrence too, and his advice is good. Yet if we limit ourselves to this type of prayer….we lose much.
            The Catechism states (2717) “Contemplative prayer is silence, the “symbol of the world to come” or “silent love”. Words in this kind of prayer are not speeches; they are like kindling that feeds the fire of love. In this silence, unbearable to the “outer” man, the Father speaks to us his incarnate Word, who suffered, died, and rose; in this silence the Spirit of adoption enables us to share in the prayer of Jesus.”
            We must also remember the Jesus Himself often went out to pray in silence and solitude.

            Be still…and know I am God.

          • LizEst

            Becky,

            You’re right. Silence before God is important and necessary.

            I don’t believe GHM_52 is saying that silence is the only way to pray, but is passing along a helpful way to pray the work, as in the exhortation “pray without ceasing” 1 Thessalonians 5:17.

        • Becky313

          Amen!!

    • Becky313

      Evelyn,
      This may or may not apply to you. – I have ADD so my mind is rarely quiet. Yet God has drawn me to see that He has a purpose for this too. I heard or read about Blessed Mother Teresa saying her prayer was often simply remembering people’s faces before God. I believe that it is St. Ignatius of Loyola who also teaches that rather than trying to empty the mind, use those thoughts and pray for the people, issues, and circumstances that the Lord places before you. This is often how I pray.
      I got started with the rosary. I kept one of those little brochures with me so I could keep the picture of the mysteries in my mind and I kept at it. Practice makes perfect.
      Ask God for the grace to ignore any distracting thoughts and know that He wants a deep and intimate relationship with you. Ask Him to teach you how to pray…and to love Him the way He wants you to. He will draw you to the prayers and devotions He wants you to use.
      Trust in His mercy and love for you!
      This post might also be helpful: http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog/2012/03/13/how-do-i-know-thoughts-are-from-the-devil-or-just-from-my-own-mind

      • LizEst

        So true that everyone is different. What works for one person does not work for another. And, the practice of praying for those that come up in our thoughts is good advice.

        Emptying the mind of all thought is not the best policy (this is kind of a New Age philosophy). It must rest in the Lord or one leaves it open to all kinds of trickery by the devil. The Lord himself gave us the parable about the return of the unclean spirit (see Matthew 12:43-45 and/or Luke 11:24-26). It basically says that if you sweep your house [your soul] clean and don’t put God in the clean space, bad spirits can return in greater quantity and with greater evil and destructive forces than was first found there. So, it’s important to rest in the Lord rather than leaving one’s soul empty.

  • Anna

    Thank you from the fullness of my heart…exactly what I needed to hear today!

    • LizEst

      God bless you, Anna!

  • http://www.facebook.com/linny.ohara Linny O’Hara

    Reminds me of Ignation spirituality concept that the hardest decisions are not between good and evil but between two goods. How easily we fall into the “Busy” trap.

    • http://www.rcspiritualdirection.com/ Dan Burke

      Well said Linny.

    • LizEst

      So true! God bless you, Linny.

  • Cecilia

    Becky, thank you for sharing your story. About seven years ago, I, too, was very busy…husband, 5 children, home to run, teaching 5 days a week, directing a Sunday program, working in the youth program, studying & squeezing in a minimal prayer time–very busy & getting more exhausted. In my prayer time I was hearing the Lord asking me for “more prayer time” My answer: “Lord, I have so many commitments and have no more time available, ask me in a year!” That was in January and on the feast of St. Joseph in March, I had a minor stroke. God stepped in & with a small stroke of His brush, repainted my life. It was as if He said, “I have wiped out all that is not necessary and now you have more time for Me.” As you stated, all my busyness was with “good things” but they were not “His good things.” The amazing thing is that the stroke was so minor & left no visible affects that no one knows I had one. He seemed to have left the final decision up to me whether to return to the busyness or to choose Him. I chose HIm.

    • LizEst

      …and thank you, Cecilia, for sharing your story. You choose well!

    • Becky313

      Beautiful story Cecilia!! God is good.

  • http://www.facebook.com/daptak Debbie Ptak

    thank you i really needed this.i need to get off the fence please pray for me .this was really a good article becky God Bless You Debbie

    • LizEst

      Still praying for you Debbie!

    • Becky313

      Thank you Debbie…….I will gladly pray for you and so will many others from this site.
      Blessings…….

  • MarytheDefender

    This reflection fits well with this Sunday’s 2nd reading. :D

    • Becky313

      I thought the same thing when I heard it… :) …God’s timing is perfect!!

      • LizEst

        Yes, it is!

  • http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog Mary@42

    Wow!!!!, Becky…..this is truly a very, very powerful Message. We are so blessed to have you on this Website. Each time I read your Post, I learn something new……you either challenge me, confirm my convictions or powerfully remind me something I have been taking for granted……..being a Cradle Catholic for close to 74 years can very easily make one take the Divine Truth of our Catholic Faith for granted…..your Posts wake me up with a loving jolt…..the way Peter woke Jesus up when “the Apostles felt were in danger of a sinking”

  • GHM_52

    Thanks for clarifying, Liz. I did mean to offer a lifeline to those whose circumstances did not allow for much silent time. I am preparing to become a third order Carmelite and am in absolute agreement with Becky about the need for silence in order to wait for and listen to God’s voice. There is perhaps no better example of prayerful silent saints than Mary Most Holy and father Joseph! Silence is golden, indeed!

    • LizEst

      My best to you as you journey to become a third order Carmelite. How wonderful. I know there is a certain amount of reading and study involved in that. And, we are most happy to have your informed perspective among the comments. When is the happy occasion?

    • Becky313

      I’m sorry if I misunderstood your earlier comment GHM_52!! If you are preparing to become a third order Carmelite then you have obviously made changes to your life that allow you to discern God’s presence in your life….even in the midst of daily tasks. :)

      The point I was trying to make in the post is that there is ‘busy-ness’ that actually keeps us from getting to the place you are now, and we need to be aware of that.
      God Bless You on your journey to Him.

      • LizEst

        ; )

  • LizEst

    Congratulations in advance. Yes, may you be richly blessed by the Lord. I will pray for you.

  • LizEst

    Thanks for sharing GHM_52

  • http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog Mary@42

    Re-reading this powerful Post again, this is what I meant yesterday when I wrote that we Cradle Catholics, tend to take our Holy Faith for granted and at times forget that not everyone had the unmerited Grace God granted us of being born Catholics and growing up in the Catholic Faith. From childhood, as we went through the Catechism for the First Holy Communion and Confirmation, and later going through Lessons in the Catholic Faith which were cardinal in the Catholic Schools’ Curriculum, Mother Church teaches us that every aspect of our lives in a Gift from God. Our various occupations are our Charisms to serve Him. We are at all times where He wants us to be in order to serve Him. As your rightly state, Becky, “We are in the world, but not of the world”.

    So, this very old Catholic Morning Offering Prayer, sanctifies every daily activity of our various occupations and make them continuous Prayers of Adoration, Worship, Praise, Thanksgiving, Repentance, Petitions, Intercessions, Reparations and are given to us by God in order that, through them, we turn them into perpetual Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. You, therefore, need not lament that your earlier life was away from God. You were serving Him at all times but you were not aware that you could offer those very busy activities to Him and turn them into continuous Prayer.

    “Eternal Father, through the intercessions of the Immaculate Mary, Mother of God, St. Joseph and all the Angels and Saints, I offer Thee all my Prayers, desires, works, joys and sufferings in union with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, for the intentions for which He pleads and offers Himself in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, in thanksgiving for Thy favours, in reparation of my offences, and in humble supplication for my temporal and eternal welfare, for the wants of our Holy Mother the Church, for the conversion of sinners,the salvation of the dying and for the relief of the poor holy souls in Purgatory.
    I have the intention to gain all the Indulgences attached to the Prayers I shall say, and to the good works I shall perform this day. I resolve to gain all the Indulgences I can in favour of the souls in Purgatory.
    May I faithfully seek Your Will as You envision and reveal it to me in the present moment circumstances of this day. For through it, I will strive to accept each moment with gratitude as a purposeful precious Gift from Your Hands.
    Keep me from sin and all evil. May Your Grace be always with me and with my dear ones. I make my Prayer through Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God for ever and ever. Amen”

    • LizEst

      Beautiful Mary! The Holy Souls are my number one intention, followed closely by the people and intentions I’ve promised to pray for and the conversion of the whole world, then all those specific intentions and those who have no one to pray for as well as those in most need of prayer.

      • http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog Mary@42

        Yes, LizEst. The Holy Souls have a great need for our daily prayers. Jesus gave us a very powerful Prayer which He dictated to Saint Faustina Kowalska in the 1930s.

        “Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.
        For the sake of His Sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.
        Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.”

        This is the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy prayed on the beads of the ordinary Holy Rosary. It is very powerful especially when prayed at the Holy Hour – 3.00 O’clock – The Hour of Great Mercy. Jesus promised that whatever one prays for at this Holy Hour shall be granted, if it is in accordance with the Will of God….and you know what, LizEst?….the Holy Spirit inspires us and guides us on what to pray for….therefore, with total Trust we know that our prayers will be answered.

        But it is not just to be prayed at this Holy Hour, but daily and very often and for every intention and needs in our daily lives; for our families, our Mother Church, the sick, the poor, the lonely, the abandoned, the mourning, the dying, the sinners and, specifically for Peace in the whole world.
        In a Vision of Purgatory He showed St. Faustina Kowalska, He told her: “Enter into Purgatory often, because (souls) need you there (Diary No.1738). The Eucharistic Apostles of the Divine Mercy and all Devotees of the Divine Mercy Message (which is, in strict sense, not a Devotion but a way of life), and indeed all of us, are called to pray for these souls unceasingly. They are no longer able to help themselves. They solely depend us – the Church Militant – to assist them by offering for them our Prayers, Petitions, Sacrifices, offering of Holy Masses for them and the Suffrages and Indulgences which Mother Church grants us through specified Prayers, Acts of Mercy, visit to Holy Shrines and Devotions and through which God grants them partial or complete remission of their temporal punishments and receives them unto Himself.

        In another Conversation with Saint Faustina Jesus told her that when this Chaplet is prayed on the bedside of a dying person, He Himself will defend that soul at the moment of death. He will come, not as a Just Judge, but as the God of Mercy and claim that soul as His Own.

  • MikeM@Sunnyvale

    Becky, that was beautiful and it really hit home. Thank you for such a great meditation.