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Category Archives: Saints

Making Space for Grace

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“Then for each day there is grace. Day by day, I have only to make space.”  ~Chiara Petrillo

Grace is always there. Always. It is always available.

Perhaps not in the way you want or the way you could imagine, but it is always there to carry you through.

God’s grace is always sufficient. And it provides for all our needs. But sometimes we get in the way of its reception. Sometimes we reach out for it when it is not yet available for that situation. Sometimes we try to pick and choose which means of grace we are willing to accept…or not accept.

We attempt to piece the puzzle together the wrong way. You shove this piece into that piece–a space not meant for you {perhaps just yet}–and it only ends up ‘bent’ and frustrated. It may be haphazardly shoved together, seemingly with the colors matching up, but there is not a true cohesion.

The edges of grace are meant for a certain space. Rather than demanding, rather than pushing our way in, we must open ourselves to that gratuitous gift of grace and allow it to guide us to the proper alignment. The grace must be allowed to flood in where it was meant to be.

Strength comes in making space, in trusting yourself, in truly believing that God is good and that He has only astonishing things in mind for you.

Chiara Corbella Petrillo book

This quote comes from a biography I read recently about a courageous and holy woman, named Chiara Corbella Petrillo. Her short life was an embodiment of this openness to grace. Many of the stories we hear of saintly women and men of God take place in a hidden monastery. It becomes difficult to really identify with their stories. But this one is different.

Chiara was a wife and a mother. She lived out her vocation in this world as a witness to the grace of God working in an ordinary life in an extraordinary way. Her spousal love, her parenthood, her friendships, her daily life–all were imbued by the grace of God in a deep, deep manner.

In her prayer, she sought His counsel. She listened for His promptings. And she responded to the grace He poured forth abundantly in her. Almost with an effortlessness that clearly comes from the openness of her heart in close relationship with God.

It is not easy to live a life like this. We often have strong desires, great wishes, grand dreams, but God truly knows what is best for our lives. Every aspect. Down to the tiniest second.

“We do not at all feel courageous because in reality the only thing that we have done is said yes, one step at a time.” ~ Chiara Petrillo

It is that heroic moment taken over and over again. For most of us, it isn’t a grand event that will seal our heavenly reward, but a ‘yes’ to the promptings of grace. Repeatedly. Daily.

It is easy to grumble at the inconveniences, the hardships, the downright hard disappointments of life. Or detach from the situation at hand in an attempt to ignore the suffering.

But if, instead, our hearts our open to His grace, those moments of suffering are transformed. They are transformed by the Cross of Christ into beautiful moments–moments of great grace, moments of great joy–that stand out as testimony of His Love in this world.

Whoever thinks from a distance about his situation lives it with suffering; whoever is close to it lives it with consolation, the fruit of a true wisdom. 

Let us choose then, as Chiara did, to open our hearts to the promptings of His grace. Let us believe in His Providence. Let us respond to grace with our whole hearts, embracing exactly what He gives to us in each moment.

 

{I cannot recommend Chiara’s story highly enough. If you read one book this year, let this one be it. Quotes are all from the book.}

Defending Marriage, Defending Family {The Quoteable St. Josemaria Escriva}

husband-and-wife-st-josemaria

In the national life there are two things which are really essential: the laws concerning marriage and the laws to do with education. In these areas God’s sons have to stand firm and fight with toughness and fairness, for the sake of all mankind. ~St. Josemaria Escriva (The Forge, 104)

The ruling of the United States Supreme Court today saddens me greatly. As Bl. Fulton Sheen said, “Moral principles do not depend on a majority vote. Wrong is wrong, even if everybody is wrong. Right is right, even if nobody is right.” The foundation of the family is undermined in our country by this ruling, but it does not change the TRUTH about marriage: it is a union between a man and a woman. Saying otherwise does not make it so.

The growth of healthy and happy families is reliant upon its foundation: the union of a man and a woman in marriage. Families are better capable of flourishing when the couple which comprises its foundation are growing in love together. The union becomes fruitful and multiplies. {And I don’t just mean in the physical sense.}

Defending the family means defending the truth about marriage.

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holy-steadfastness-st-josemaria

Today is the feast of St. Josemaria Escriva. It is also the 40th anniversary of his death. Fittingly, the prelature of Opus Dei {of which he is the founder} is celebrating #JuneForFamilies this month. They are offering prayers and reflections on the growth of a family, the love of a husband and wife, and the relationships that grow within amongst children and siblings.

St. Josemaria had a special influence on the establishment of our family {which you can read about in our love story} and continues to be a guiding light in our daily lives. If you have not had a chance yet to read any of his works, I highly recommend doing so. The Way, The Furrow, The Forge {or all three in a single edition} offer short reflections, most of a sentence or two, that give great insight into living as a Christian in one’s every day life. He makes sainthood attainable for the layman.

A few of my favorites reflections relating to family:

A person in love doesn’t miss the tiniest detail. I have seen it in so many souls. Those little things become something very great: Love! (The Forge, 443)

Some people bring children into the world for their own benefit, to serve their own purposes, out of selfishness. They forget children are a wonderful gift from God for which they will have to render a very special account.
Do not be offended if I say that having offspring just to continue the species is something that….animals can do too. (The Furrow, 845)

No Christian married couple can want to block the well-springs of life. For their love is based on the Love of Christ, which entails dedication and sacrifice. Moreover, Tobias reminded Sara, a husband and wife know that “we are children of saints, and we cannot come together in the way of the Gentiles, who do not know God.” (The Furrow, 846)

Your task as a Christian citizen is to help see Christ’s love and freedom preside over all aspects of modern life: culture and economy, work and rest, family life and social relations. (The Furrow, 302)

“You won’t laugh, Father, will you, if I tell you that, a few days ago, I found myself spontaneously offering the Lord the sacrifice of time it meant for me to mend a broken toy for one of my little children?”
I am not laughing. I am delighted because with that Love, God sets about mending our faults. (The Furrow, 986)

“It’s very difficult”, you exclaim, disheartened.
Listen, if you make an effort, with the grace of God that is enough. Put your own interests to one side, you will serve others for God, and you will come to the aid of the Church in the field where the battles are being fought today: in the street, in the factory, in the workshop, in the university, in the office, in your own surroundings, amongst your family and friends. (The Furrow, 14)

“If any man comes to me without hating his father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life too, he can be no disciple of mine.”
Every day I see more clearly, Lord, that family ties, if they do not pass through your most lovable Heart, are, for some, a permanent source of the cross; for others they are a cause of more or less direct temptation against perseverance; for others again, the reason why they are totally ineffective; and, for all, a dead weight which impedes their total surrender. (The Furrow, 214)

You have to learn to disagree charitably with others–whenever the need arises–without becoming unpleasant. (The Furrow, 429)

“Who said that to reach sanctity you need to seek refuge in a cell or on a solitary mountain?” That was what a good family man asked himself in amazement, and he added: “If that were so, it would not be the people who would be holy, but the cell, or the mountain. It seems they have forgotten that Our Lord expressly told each and every one of us: be holy as my heavenly Father is holy.”
My only comment was: “Our Lord, besides wanting us to be saints, grants each one of us the relevant graces.” (The Furrow, 314)

I am moved that the Apostle should call Christian marriage sacramentum magnum–a great sacrament. From this, too, I deduce the enormous importance of the task of parents.
You share in the creative power of God: that is why human love is holy, good and noble. It is a gladness of heart which God–in his loving providence–wants others freely to give up.
Each child that God grants you is a wonderful blessing from him: don’t be afraid of children! 
(The Forge, 691)

Remind others (and especially all those fathers and mothers, who call themselves Christians) that a vocation, a call from God, is a grace from the Lord, a choice made by divine goodness, a motive for holy pride, a call to serve all joyously for the love of Jesus Christ. (The Forge, 17)

Fr. Junipero Serra: A Vital Part of California’s Heritage

Sometimes I find myself complaining that the United States seems to be lacking in heavenly friends {i.e. saints of the canonized variety}. But, in truth, there are more than I realize. Actually, one happens to be resting in the terra firma {although I’m not sure how firm it is due to those shaking quakes} of Northern California.

He’s kind of a big deal here out West.

Blessed-Junipero-Serra-

 

Blessed Junipero Serra {soon-to-be SAINT come September} started the movement and founded many of the beautiful missions that run up and down the coast of California.

I’ve long had a devotion to this California missionary. He truly is “one of the founding fathers of the Unites States” as Pope Francis recently called him, having established community and culture here in California during the 1700s. These little communities erected around the missions helped in both the material and spiritual welfare of its citizens, providing refuge from an oftentimes hostile environment out on the frontier.

The Franciscans of the missions provided instruction on useful life-skills. They aided in the development of technology of the day. They provided medical services for those who were ailing. And like many of the monks who came before them, they helped preserve texts and the sacred music of the Church too. All of this in addition to sharing the Gospel of Christ with those they encountered.

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Recently, the US Senate proposed and voted to remove Junipero Serra’s statue from the nation’s capitol, claiming he wasn’t a suitable representative of California. It is a great insult to our nation’s history, and especially that of California, to even suggest removing it. His influence was great in the founding of this state, and as San Diego’s Bishop McElroy recently pointed out, he is representative of the ever-growing Hispanic population residing in our state having come here from Spain himself.

It is unfortunate that our Senate must engage in revisionist history in order to push their agenda. And all of this is happening just as Pope Francis is preparing for his trip to Washington D.C. in September to canonize Serra.

“What made Friar Junipero leave his home and country, his family, university chair and Franciscan community in Mallorca to go to the ends of the earth? Certainly, it was the desire to proclaim the Gospel ad gentes, that heartfelt impulse which seeks to share with those farthest away the gift of encountering Christ: a gift that he had first received and experienced in all its truth and beauty.”

Junipero Serra had a missionary heart. He gave up much to serve the people of the Americas and bring the Good News to this nation. I’m sure his actions were not always perfect, but his intention to bring a better life and share Christ with others was full of greatness.

Let us pray with the Holy Father for an extension of this upon our country once again as we prepare for Fr. Serra’s canonization.

“We ask the Risen Jesus, Lord of all ages, that the life of our American continent may be rooted ever more deeply in the Gospel it has received; that Christ may be ever more present in the lives of individuals, families, peoples and nations, for the greater glory of God. We pray too that this glory may be manifested in the culture of life, brotherhood, solidarity, peace and justice, with a preferential and concrete love for the poor, through the witness of Christians of various confessions and communities, together with believers of other religious traditions, and people of upright conscience and good will. Lord Jesus, we are merely your missionary disciples, your humble co-workers so that your Kingdom may come!”

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