Monday, January 28, 2013

The Delight of Using Things Up

Sometimes I need to discipline myself to not hang on my computer, but oddly enough right now, due to household circumstances, it's one of those moments where sitting at the computer is one of my only options at the moment. So I wanted to pull out this thought I've been mulling over lately, which is about a certain spiritual fruit.

I am realizing that even I know about my own spiritual journey in mere bits and pieces. I get a piece here, and piece there, and often these don't seem to make any sense in the moment. It is a bit like a jigsaw puzzle though, because then something else will come along that fits with this bit and that bit, and eventually a picture takes shape. Instead of seeing it as frustrating (to not have one certain piece at any given time that I want, in order to see better what I'm looking at), I've come to accept this as fun. It means that every day there is something to discover, and I never know just want is around the next corner.

I read yesterday (somewhere in the Interior Castle) that the only proof of real prayer is fruit in real life. I have noticed something within the last several weeks that is a definite change for me, and I think this counts as real fruit. I am no longer afraid to use things up. In fact, I rather delight in using things up.

What is that supposed to mean? I've long had a tendency to get towards the end of something, like a food product, and just not use that last bit. Like the last parsley in the bag, the last green tea in the container, the last ounce of soy sauce. The parsley would go off, and eventually I'd throw it out, but the non-perishables would just sit there for months or maybe even years.

I even had a strange relationship with the ends of songs that I would write. If it was a song I just wrote for my own purposes (which was almost all of the time before I did Unleashed) I often would leave an  unpolished ending, and just think to myself "and then it ends, somehow."

But now I have a strong and happy sense that the things that I have at my disposal are to be used to their utmost. Perhaps I subconsciously thought in the past that it was too sad to come to the end of that parsley or that green tea, because when it was gone, I would no longer have its goodness. But the truth of the matter was that I didn't have its goodness when it sat in my fridge forever, either. I had its potential goodness, but nothing in actuality.

My mind keeps going back to this woman I called my "material heretic" friend. This was a long time ago; she had some significant issues with the Church, and at the time I didn't get it that she was on a mission to infect me with the same issues. But one of the more valuable things she told me, after she drove me several miles to a grocery store to get stamps, which I ended up not buying because I didn't want to use two first-class stamps instead of an airmail stamp and waste the extra few pennies, was that atheists do things like hold on to pennies.

There is something of a lack of faith inherent in the unwillingness to go all out, to use up everything, to enjoy something until it is gone, and when it is gone to rejoice in how good it was. I think this is what one might call an expectant faith. This is a faith that knows all blessings, even little ones like fresh parsley, are gifts from God. There are always more. Even if they are not more of the same type, and even if from all outward appearances blessings fail, God knows how to bring good into my life. He has always done it in the past, so why should I let the end of something make me fear that God will change. "Although the fig tree shall not blossom and there be no fruit on the vine; though the yield of the olive should fail, and the fields produce no food; though the flock should be torn from the fold and there be no cattle in the stall, yet will I rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in my God." (Hab. 3:17-18)

As I type this, I realize this is about far more than parsley, and I recognize that this is not springing up out of my willpower or my decision to "think positively."

But this is one of those things that I find present in my life. I could say I don't even know where it came from, but I do. It came from God.

And it is funny how some of God's choicest graces can make a tear come to my eye and cause the thought to run through my head, "I'm not sure I want this...."

But I know that's just because I can't see how it connects to everything else, just yet.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

What is this Detachment Thing?

Pondering this detachment thing.

For years I have come to Scripture passages about denying oneself, and I've always gotten a bit muddied. Today I realize that when I start to think about detachment, the first thing that comes to mind is a sort of doing violence to oneself. I think there comes a moment when something that might be described as a violent effort is necessary in relationship to oneself, but generally it seems that detachment is not about doing violence to oneself.

I think often of that trip I made to Germany in high school. For part of the time I stayed with a host family. When I arrived, they offered me food, but I declined simply because I thought it was polite to not need anything. Actually, it was more than that. I thought I would be committing some kind of eternal offense, revealing myself as a hateful being, if I needed anything. So I declined food the first day, and pretty much any time they offered food to me, as opposed to simply telling me, "It's meal time now. We are all sitting down and eating." Since that was obligatory, I could accept feeding myself then, since by following the obligation I would certainly be pleasing.

I got pretty hungry.

That is not detachment. That is not denying oneself. That is doing violence to myself by refusing to admit I am a human being with human needs.

It seems that detachment has to entail deeply knowing one's need, and accepting it -- not so much as my need (all about muah) as it is about my participation in creaturely status. I need what all people need. I have this need; it is what makes me the same as everyone else. It is pride to think either that I am above needing or that my need puts me in a different class of folk from everyone else.

And after I accept that need, I then bring it to my Maker. I submit myself in my need to the One I know loves me. I also accept the instruments He puts in my life -- people, or other means like my labor, my work against injustice -- to find the provision God has already supplied for my need.

And since I know that my need makes me the same as everyone else, when I find my need supplied I do not forget that others need what I do. I do not keep taking or searching for moremoremore. I remember that I am also an instrument for others.

But mostly, I am given into the hand of God like a little loaf or a little fish. He directs my paths, He establishes both my provision and what flows from me. Detachment means to want nothing more than this.

At least, that's how I see it.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Defeating Craving with Gratitude

So, it seems to me today that a key antidote to craving is gratitude.

Makes sense, right? Craving says That is so good that I want more! Gratitude says That is so good! Thank you!

Gratitude believes, accepting the good thing as a reality: Wow. You love me. That makes me come alive. Thank you.
Craving doubts: You love me? Impossible! Tell me 500 more times and in 500 more ways and maybe then I'll finally believe it. But if I don't, you'd better keep performing for me!

Gratitude comes to rest in a humble simplicity: I needed that, and you gave it to me. Thank you! That need is met.
In craving, there is no rest: It's here now, so I'll take all I can get while I can. Who knows if I'll have it tomorrow.

It has been a life saver for me to begin each day by praying Psalm 95. I never get tired of using it as the invitatory (in the Liturgy of the Hours) and I never switch to one of the other options. I need to remind myself every day that God is God, and that we are his flock. I need to hear "Today, listen to the voice of the Lord: do not grow stubborn, as your fathers did in the wilderness, when at Meriba and Massah they challenged me and provoked me, although they had seen all of my works." Craving, I think, is a form of stubbornness. It is the insistence with which one says over and over, "Are you really sure you're God enough for me?" We're stuck, repetitively hurling this insult at a God into Whose eyes we are never bothering to gaze deeply. We do it despite the fact that God has shown us His loving faithfulness not only in the crucifixion of His Son, but in a zillion small, personal ways that one can so easily forget ten minutes after they happen.

Remembering takes gratitude. Gratitude requires faith. Faith requires humility. Humility requires, well, humiliation. It requires a response to humiliation that doesn't involve our hearts growing more stubborn and proud. It requires that we turn toward His voice when we hear it, instead of away.

Love (that God Whom we insult with our doubt) is stronger than human craving. Being satisfied requires one to calm the obsession long enough to meet His gaze and let it fill our hearts.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Detachment vs. Connection

We keep a garbage can right next to our mail slot, because a lot of what comes in the mail goes straight in there. Some of it sits on our mail table for days, weeks, or (ahem) months, until I get around to either pitching it or looking at it, and then pitching it.

But I picked up something today and read it, and two quotes contained therein hit me right between the eyes. First:

In the Child Jesus, God made Himself dependent, in need of human love. He put Himself in the position of asking for human love -- our love.  (from Pope Benedict's Christmas homily of 2011)
Then this from Edith Stein (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross) -- words to a philosopher who had asked her advice:

You cannot be helped with arguments. If one could liberate you from all argumentation, that might indeed help you. And as for advice, I have already given you my advice: to become like a little child and lay your life, with all its pondering and probing, in the Father's hands. If you cannot manage to do this, then ask the unknown God, in whom you doubt, to help you to do so. Now you are staring at me in great astonishment, for daring to respond to you with such simple childish wisdom. It is wisdom, because it is simple, and all mysteries are contained within it. And it is a way that leads quite surely to its goal.

Today is the feast of St. Anthony of the Desert. He was a guy who simply gave up everything and went to the desert and sought God for the rest of his very long life. He's the origin of the Desert Fathers and pretty much the first monastic in the history of the Church.

So, I was praying early this morning with St. Anthony on my mind and really feeling this theme of detachment. Sometimes my most profound inspirations toward prayer come literally the instant I first wake up in the morning. (God has been on my case about rising early and giving that time to Him. For good reason. That's for another post.) And I say when I "first" wake up in the morning, because I often wake up more than once. ;) (Where do you put the punctuation mark when using an emoticon, anyway?) Anyway, when I first woke up this morning, my first thought was: What if right now is as good as God ever intends External Difficulty in Spiritual Trial to get? What would be my response to that?

I have a pretty standard knee-jerk reaction to questions like this. And it is, "Ok, Lord. If that's the way you wish it, then OK." That sounds great, I suppose. But time and experience has taught me that it is actually a problem for me. Because in giving this response, I am, in a way, hardening my heart. Steeling myself is perhaps a better way to say it. I steel myself a lot. Two things happen with this. First, I toss my heart out the door like a kitty that's being annoying and I try to relate to God without my heart, as if He is all about my productivity and not my person. So on the one hand, I get a modicum of emotional relief, because pain is not there to annoy me. But I simultaneously get spiritual confusion, because there is no honest prayer without one's heart in play. All the knee-jerk reaction is about is pain avoidance.

A while back I was discussing detachment with my confessor, and I stated that other than the inconvenience of it all, I don't get upset with the idea of losing things. But as soon as God puts His finger on the people in my life, I start losing it. I know that the generation that grew up in the Great Depression in the US, or in war in other countries, tended to horde and worry about material essentials, or be weirdly frugal, etc. Well, I'm a Gen-Xer. I came home from school in 2nd grade to an empty house, experienced the divorce of my parents and the diaspora of my siblings. We had no family friends, unless you count my mother's couple of boyfriends. (That never turned out well.) I had one best friend up through adulthood. I remember one day we were discussing the problems "normal" teenagers had (not like drug addiction and things like that that "they" wanted to tell us our problems were). I was shocked at her honest revelation when she said, immediately, "loneliness." Yes. That was the pain of our generation. Or, is.

So, my non-knee jerk reaction to that early morning question. At communion this morning and afterwards, I was meditating on connection. Yes, God wants this deep connection with me. And yet, He established this Church, this ecclesia, this people called out to be together, and this is where He meets us. Connection between Christians is His idea. I often commented that I don't like people. While I know why I've said it, it is actually because the opposite is true. I don't like people because I love them too much. I crave them. I crave connection, and maybe it is like the woman who keeps 150 cans of green beans in the pantry because she's afraid of starving to death. It boils down to a simple reality: I'm scared. Do I need 150 cans of beans (proverbially speaking)? No, of course not. But to be honest, I don't always know how to dial back my heart from those 150 cans of beans to anything but completely empty shelves and starvation. The two things I know how to know are: I love these people so much that they mean absolutely everything to me, or, I am an alone, forsaken wretch, dying inside.

But at least with this painful realization of the truth of my interior life, I can actually pray. I have my heart, mess that it is. And no pain avoidance. But the only prayer I can really offer, which I did this morning in so many words, was what Edith Stein counseled her friend: "like a little child ... lay your life, with all its pondering and probing, in the Father's hands." Man, am I good at pondering and probing. This morning I spent a good long time gathering myself up and telling God I couldn't make sense of any of it. I want His will, I choose His way over my own, I trust His power, but I have no idea how to even begin thinking about how to "not love people so much." Believe me, I've been through every nuance of good and evil that's buried in that phrase a million times. There is nothing left for me but laying my life in the Father's hands, and letting Him make of it His thing.

And then there was that quote from Ben XVI. In Jesus, God made Himself dependent on human love, needing and asking for our love. Oh, man. And I know the response He most frequently gets. I know it first hand. I've been the giver and the getter of it.

Detachment. Connection. The pain inherent in dependence and need. The dysfunction guaranteed by pain avoidance. All four of these press me like some kind of a mega-vise.

Ok, now I will say it: whatever you want, Lord. I cannot make my own way, because I don't know how. I'll choose to be the little child. You make it work the way you want it.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Something. A Beginning

Something has happened.

I've been writing about this trial, this ordeal that I've been experiencing, and I've got to say it: something has happened.

It seems that what I have been able to be sure of in this last year, even though my certainty was a lot more fluttery and insecure several months ago, is that something is happening, even though I can't say what it is. I have learned to say with Kierkegaard that life can only be understood backwards but must be lived forwards.

Awhile back I kept having this sense that was different from my usual sense of "I feel like I'm just starting, again." It was a sense that I was preparing to start. Now, I think, I'm starting, again.

And I've been meditating on this. I know the sense where you think, "Gee, this has been a good day." It's not like that. Something is done. A chapter is done. I've said that before because I wanted it to be done, and I wanted "it" to be this tangible thing that I could measure that had to do with how I decided this external thing no longer bothered me, and it was going to change now. It was my sense of control saying "it" was done because I wanted "it" to be done.

The external thing is still there. I still have the sense that God is not done with that, but it is His doing, and not mine. At least a few times a week the Lord reminds me to leave it in His hands, and that He will prove His faithfulness. Today I realized that the stab of pain that has been there for nearly a year, is gone. This isn't a matter of "time heals all wounds." This is a spiritual development. This is the work of God.

Here's what I do know (because there's so much I can't explain and don't at all understand): I remember two other times in my life when suddenly, powerfully, God and His Word seemed more real to me. The first was in 1987 when I was "baptized in the Holy Spirit." The Bible and worship began to come alive to me. The second was in 1993 (or was it 92) when I officially only worshipped at Catholic Mass, had left the charismatic fellowship I loved, but had not yet entered the Church. (I think it was 1992.) There was a particular day that it hit me hard: I looked at everything God had created, especially people, and it was like I could see with heightened vision the glory of God present. I remember seeing this particular sort of slovenly dressed woman in a Taco Bell and feeling flooded with the sense of her human dignity being such an amazing, awesome thing. The love and the joy of God gushed into (through? around?) my soul. Not every day was like that, but I had many such experiences of the overwhelming presence of God, also at Mass.

And right now, in a much less emotional way but in a way no less real, deeper, Scripture speaks to me on a new level. I know, deeply, in a way that it would be a completely different sin than a sin of weakness for me to doubt, that God knows my concerns. When something stirs in me, I no longer have huge mental debates about when I should heed it as a directive from God or when it isn't that. God is a personal being who is interactive in my life. I know that. It is real.

Something has happened. I am still seeing things exposed in my heart, but it is no longer so horrific. It is with a much more gentle sense of God no longer wishing me to hug certain rotting things but to walk in strength. It's like I just want to sit still and silent with it and let it wash me over.

Dear God, I do not understand you at all. But I love you, and all I want to want is you.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Simple Meditation for Ordinary Time

This morning, my pastor preached a homily that presented three themes from the gospel that he proposed we meditate on during Ordinary Time. Perhaps I am too easily moved, but this made me shed a few tears:

  1. We can do anything in Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.
  2. We should never feel shame or guilt over past (and confessed) sins, because of God's cleansing forgiveness.
  3. After the trials and tribulations of life, what awaits us is the glory of eternal life.

These are very simple, and very basic points of meditation. But really, is there anything that is true that can't completely blow your mind if you simply allow the truth of it to soak you through and through?

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Love, Pain, Refusal, and Change

The other day I posted and wrote about the January 1st message from Anne, a Lay Apostle. My heart has been drawn back to it again and again. This morning, I wrote the following as a response, a personal echo to the message:

Most Holy Father, you are the best of Fathers. You know when my heart is grieving, and you always know why. When that grief touches and fills me, I will come to you. I come to you now. You will heal me and restore my heart to me. You give me courage and strength so I can proceed with my earthly journey. You care about my earthly journey! I ask you, Father, to be united with me in it. I ask you to remain with me through every moment, as you so desire to do. In this fellowship, I will come to walk on the path you have marked out for me -- that which not only is your best, but for my highest good as well. But it is also for the good of the world. I will help you in your deepest desire: loving the world. By faith, I hear the souls crying out to you in pain. I will bring these souls to you. I will bring them to you.

I immediately thought of 2 Corinthians 1:3-4: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and God of all comfort,who comforts us in our every affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort which we ourselves received from God." That is exactly what this message is communicating.

Then I realized that the question I need to ask myself when I am in grief and pain is whether I want my heart restored or not. I need to realize the purpose of my heart, and therefore what it means to have my heart restored. The purpose of my heart -- the purpose of my life -- is not (listen, it's a newsflash) I say, not to be all comfy-cozy. The purpose of my heart is to love.

To love and to be loved -- that's all life is for.

That's where we find fulfillment, but it is also where we find all our pain.

When love is not there for us, or we can't find it, or in our confusion we turn our back to it, we grieve. And when the love we offer is rejected or slighted, we grieve. When we refuse to be part of giving or receiving love, buried under our gruffness or cynicism or pride or aloofness is grief.

And grief starts the cycle again where we need to go back to the Father. There we find an eternal, never-ceasing fountain of love. But the Way to this love -- the way of this love -- is the cross. Jesus. He emptied Himself. If the cycle is to keep flowing through me, I empty myself, too. Regardless of rejection. Instead of refusing pain, we must refuse gruffness and pride. The power is there, in the supernatural love I have received. I must allow it to change me. I must allow it to change me.

Daily life with God the Father is all about growing in grace, beauty, and strength for this love active to be in and through us.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Personal Epiphany

Faith seeking understanding: that, I learned early on, is the Catholic definition of theology. I realize it is also pretty much how I approach my life. I have a nearly bothersome need to make sense of my life and to understand where I am and where I am going. The longer I do this, the more I realize that Wisdom, that Love, is a real person Who desires to make Himself known. Wisdom is not the result of my cleverly balancing all the spinning plates in the air and having none crash down. Wisdom is seeing that life is about being called by God, and the adventure of the response I give.

The voice through which God calls is the liturgy. The liturgy is Scripture, it is sacrament, it is the Holy Spirit active in real time, and it is one continuous action handed down from Jesus to the present day through the Church. It is the Mass; it is the Liturgy of the Hours. It is miraculous.

The way I respond to the liturgy is varied. It has varied wildly throughout my life, and yet there has always been something absolutely magnetic that has drawn me. Even as a child going to a Lutheran church, I always felt a tremendous sense of anticipation every time we pulled in the driveway. I had extremely high expectations, even though I didn't understand this at all. I think it was a craving for the glory of God. When I was very new in my journey into the Catholic Church, like less than one month, the Lord told me clearly, "I want the glorious to become common-place in your life." And I dare say this is true now. We are surrounded by God's presence always, and God constantly calls everyone. But the key is in a consistent response. The glory is there; we but need new eyes to see it.

What I'm driving at is this: I understand something today. And I'm kind of shaking my head as I write this, because I know that "understand" really means "don't understand."

My conversion to Catholicism took place during the Midnight Mass of Christmas in 1991. It took me a few days to catch my breath and come into agreement, all of me, on that, but that was the moment where God made Himself known to me. At first I thought it was nice, and then I thought it was kind of interesting, but finally I realized it was absolutely sign-value, intentional-on-God's-part meaning-filled that it happened that day. I have literally spent decades meditating on the truth of the Incarnation and its meaning for my life.

But today is the Epiphany. Four years ago today, something else happened at a Mass. It too has profoundly changed me. Stepping into my parish choir seemed innocuous enough, but from the very beginning I knew it wasn't. I knew that God was up to something. I knew He was calling. But it has only been with time that I have come to "understand" that one doesn't say "God calls me" without awe, fear, and trembling.

I look at what this feast day is. Epiphany essentially fulfills Christmas in its universal, missionary dimension. Jesus is here: heaven and earth start to shake and move in response. "All kings see His glory."

There is something in this for my life, too. The last four years have shifted the orientation of my life from pretty much minding my own business and living in my own private family hobbit-hole, to stretching my heart out and constantly pleading for the conversion of the world.

I understand very little, but I know that this is the work of God in me. I know that He has an intention with this Epiphany calling. I see His hand, and I trust His purposes. And at the same time there are so many, many things I don't understand that require me to walk by faith through the dark.

Yeah, that's it. Epiphany this year is like a light, shining out through what has become very dark. The light is Christ. I go towards Him. It matters not where I exit, what I leave behind, or where I go. I see the Light, and again, He calls.

And I tremble.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Slaves, Saints, and Colossians

This morning as I was praying the Office of Readings, the following Scripture leapt out at me:

To slaves I say, obey your human masters perfectly, not with the purpose of attracting attention and pleasing men but in all sincerity and out of reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with your whole being. Do it for the Lord rather than for men, since you know full well you will receive an inheritance from him as your reward. Be slaves of Christ the Lord. Whoever acts unjustly will be repaid for the wrong he has done. No favoritism will be shown. (Colossians 3:22-25)

Now, I'll leave off for the moment the interesting point a friend recently made, namely that we need to consider St. Paul's social admonitions in their historical social context, both when the subject matter is slavery and when it is marriage. (I think she made a valid point, but that's not my point here.) I am not a slave, and I have no human "master," but I have other relationships in which St. Paul's point resonates with me deeply. In my understanding then, the word "obey" is translated "love," and the term "human masters" becomes "all." Now I can proceed with how this struck me.

Each sentence represents something of which the Lord has been teaching me and coaching me lately.

There is this thing of the risk of the motives for one's actions being misinterpreted, and of course of simply being impure in the first place. I am sometimes tempted to simply not show love, go passive, fuggedaboutit, because someone might think I'm trying to suck up. Actually, it is usually more the case that I do something and only then realize that someone has gotten suspicious of my motives. I'm getting to the point where I can foresee a difficulty, but then still have to decide: do I shut down, or do I love anyway. This first line affirms my decision to love anyway.

The next line was one of those "stop and ponder" words. Whatever you do, work at it with your whole being. It seems to me this requires freedom, self-mastery, a joy, a simplicity, a focus, an ability to be in the moment. All of these things come only from Christ. This is the type of stuff that really spells "living in Christ." It reminds me of a quote I've heard, from one of the Teresa's. Something like, if you are praying, really pray; if you are eating pheasant, really pheasant.

Then there's this matter of inheritance from the Lord. He is the one before whom we live. He is the only one that matters, not our success or the reaction of those around us. We live for His eyes and for His merciful approval alone. He will be most generous in appraising what we do in love for Him.

Skipping just now the slaves of Christ thing... much could be said there, though.

Whoever acts unjustly will be repaid for the wrong he has done. Wow. This is one that sits like a weird warm steaming loaf of bread on the table before me. It is hard to describe the consolation this gives me, because it doesn't seem a very consoling word. I've never been much of a "justice" person. I don't go around wishing for people to get their comeuppance. I'm always about looking from all the possible perspectives, understanding, all that. I'm not claiming that as a virtue; it is just my natural bent. It is possible for this bent to lend itself towards insecurity, though. As I've written before, I have gotten myself into absurd corners where I start to justify to myself that which no one should. I can't call people to account for their wrongs. I try; it generally goes nowhere. I'm not very good at being the Holy Spirit (chuckle). But this line about unjust actions being repaid simply states God's truth. There is a fixed absolute truth. It also makes me pray to the Lord for His mercy for all of us. His mercy is that He shines His light into our darkness to draw us into repentance and a changed life, and we do penance for our sins against others, and healing prevails. We will all be called to account. If we refuse God's mercy, we are stupid. But all are given the choice. God does not ignore it when I am treated unjustly, nor when I treat others unjustly. No favoritism, either. It doesn't matter who is doing the wrong. Everyone needs to learn to call on God's mercy and to welcome every sign of it that comes to us.

Also, a quick note on the reading for the feast of St. Basil & St. Gregory. (Read it here; scroll down to the sermon entitled "Two Bodies, but a Single Spirit.") It reminded me so much of an article called "A Requiem for Friendship" by Anthony Esolen. (Long, but worth the read.) Basically, a modern is likely to read this account of the deep friendship between Basil and Gregory and think, They must have been gay. That is a sign of the deep impoverishment of our lives when it comes to friendship and spiritual fellowship in the Lord. When a deep unity and love has to become sexualized for it to make any sense -- that is a sign that we have lost something of what it means to be human.

Time to run; these are my morning ruminations.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

January 1 Message from Anne, A Lay Apostle

It often happens this way, but today it happened again. I read this message and its impact on me was huge. Actually, what impacted me was that I did what it said. I asked God the Father to be united with me today, to remain with me in every moment.

In the last two days, I had been going through some bucking-bronco type interior stuff, and I also shed quite a few tears. There was no particular reason that today should have been any different, except for that I placed my trust and faith in God the Father exactly as this word directed, and acted on it. Peace, courage and strength have followed in abundance. Palpably. And once again I am freed to focus on intercession and praying for the salvation and conversion of souls, which is my heart's one true desire.

This is the way these messages often impact me: graces that bring help that is so timely it is uncanny.

January 1, 2005*

God the Father

Dear children of the world, I will never leave you. Please consider Me the very best of fathers. Does a loving father know when his child's heart is grieving? Of course he does. If your heart is grieving, you must come to Me. I will heal your hurts and restore your heart to you. I will give you courage and strength so that you can proceed with your earthly journey. I am asking you today, though, to proceed differently. Ask Me to be united to you. Ask Me to remain with you through every moment. I want to do that for you. In this way, you will come to walk on the path that I, through Jesus Christ, have marked out for you. Dearest children of the world, please walk with Me. I need your help. I, the Almighty God, ask you now to walk with Me. There are many souls crying out to Me in pain. You must bring Me to them. Please, My dear ones, bring Me to them.

*Please note: The message of January 1, 2005 was from God the Father.  

(The cycle of messages has ended, and so last fall the DFOT groups began meditating on them all over again, starting with the first from 2004. For more on this apostolate, check out