Tuesday, January 10, 2006

THE POWER OF LOVE

JMJ
INTRODUCTION:
My dear 8 o’clock Chaplet friends,

This blog is overdue, for it should’ve been written awhile ago, and for one reason or another I have not posted it. It actually began November 24, 2005, when for the 1st time I had begun to entertain the possibility of leaving the 8 o’clock chaplet, which I began to seriously consider until St. Lucy’s Day. This post is about reconciliation. The last semester was stupid and shameful in so many ways. I think most everyone has had a breakdown and a realization about themselves and what happened since break. I think everyone is afraid of the future in some way. By writing this blog, (most of the sentiments published here I wrote in my journal), I want to show you guys what I saw happen to the 8 o’clock chaplet.

Now, St. Lucy’s was the day I ran all over campus to get people to say the rosary, when at least half to three quarters of the 8o’clock chaplet had no interest in doing so, or praying in particular. The Thursday night chaplet at 8pm had disappeared, and I saw by that time that we all were ceasing to live as Catholics by how we acted, how we carried ourselves, what our goals were, and even in what we found permissible to watch. In fact, I had someone shamefully laugh at me for trying to find people to pray the rosary. The spiritual condition of everyone was terrible, and as everyone lost their spiritual compass and bearings on True North who is Christ, everything fell apart. Such was the wretched condition of the 8 o’clock chaplet at least from NOV 24 until the Christmas break.

So I was tempted to abandon the blog. On St. Lucy’s day I decided to stick with it, go to daily Mass, go to confession, and say the rosary more often than the once in a blue moon habit I had made of it. Holiness is a lifetime occupation. It consists of getting up every time you fall, and asking god to help you do better. It’s shown in deeds, and unless the walk matches the talk, piety and pious intentions ring terribly and scandalously hollow. Good example: You can’t watch a movie that offends your faith, justify it, and be excited about the purity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, because your own Mother sees your hypocrisy. I’ll move on.

HERE IS THE POST:
We can only last as friends if we live in charity with each other! There is no alternative to showing charity towards your neighbor, and charity is the virtue most central to our lives. Charity is the virtue by which all our souls are judged. We are judged upon the measure of the charity in our hearts for God and our neighbor. The sheep and the goats are separated by this rule of charity. The whole law of God is summed up into the two greatest commandments given by Christ! They are commandments to Love! The virtues of our Catholic life: purity, chastity, humility, prudence, obedience, etc. are all directed toward helping us live that life of Charity (love). God is love, and we become more like God by imitating that supernal virtue: Charity. For, I WARN YOU ALL. YOU WILL LOSE ALL LOVE, IF YOU HAVE NO LOVE FOR YOUR NEIGHBOR!

Now, I want to tell a short little story about a friend of mine who loved me so much, he could calmly save me from my own confusion and self-hate. This wise friend, (I thank God to have so good and wise a friend as he), kept his head on his shoulders, when I had lost mine. I had become so crazy, and distraught by everything that was going on, that I erupted before him in a stream of rage, mixed tears, and curses feeling so helpless and lost, that I thought that I had even lost his friendship. Yet, this good young man showed how much he loved me, by seizing me by the shoulders, and told me, “You fool, you have not lost my friendship.” That act of love was like a purifying waterfall for me, for beforehand I would’ve very much prefered to indulge some act of dramatic cowardice just short of leaping off a cliff into the Shenandoah. I’m exaggerating to a degree, but the utter atmosphere of confusion, backbiting, suspicion, uncharity, hatreds, revulsions, etc. in which I had participated had made me wild enough to damn the sight of Christendom, and never wish to return. Yet, my friend saved me, and that is the power of love.

Friends, we all live in the Communion of Saints. We cannot treat each other as the rest of the world treats each other. Our bonds are love, and willingly we fashion them. The saints themselves have joy measured by the degree of love which they possessed in their hearts for God and men. We cannot love God unless we love our neighbor too. And that doesn’t mean nice thoughts, that means hard solid acts of love, even when it feels unpleasant or the last thing on earth you want to do. Mother Teresa took care of lepers, who were pretty disgusting. She didn’t do it feeling joy in her heart, but did it out of love, overcoming her natural feelings of revulsion for the wormy flesh of the dying. It’s just as commendable to do an act of love for someone who has offended or hurt us. For some reason, it’s easier to see Christ in a dying leper, than it is to see Him in an enemy or one who has hurt or offended us. No kidding, and I think the saints would agree.

The group was alienated by lack of charity, and mutual misunderstanding (willful in most cases). The unfolding couples were not the cause of the rift among friends. Rather jealousy, bitterness, and suspicion created wide breaches and divisions, corrupting charity. It was the poison of uncharity that alienated everyone. We were all wrong, and needed to REALIZE that we are sinners burdened by miserable sins in need of God’s transforming grace. Pride is the great dam man sets up before the transforming grace of God.

So, when you’re in love, learn this! Love requires ACTION! It’s not a feeling, you don’t have to need feelings to be in love, or know you are in love. If you feel that you can’t live without the other person, that’s just attraction, but it’s not love. You’re not in love if you feel that you will die without the other person. That’s merely selfish attraction, because love is about the other, not you. Love is dying to yourself for the other person, and seeking their good, even at the sacrifice of your own. Love requires the sacrifice and gift of self to another through deeds. Love requires patience, understanding, sacrifice, fidelity, gentleness, kindness, generosity, and forgiveness. Nobody has these down, and they take a lifetime to learn. We learn from Our Savior who is the Perfect Lover of the Church. We are meant to persevere in these virtues to be brought deeper into holiness.

Here is my final lesson: I wrote this word for word on November 24th.

For those who are dating: If you engage in these problems, and lose your charity, you will lose it in your relationship as well. Soon, you will cease to learn and discover about the other, and problems will become the center of all conversation and interpersonal discovery will cease, and the relationship will wither. Only a renewal of love, reliance upon grace, and renewed dedication to deepening friendship can save such a situation. LOVE TOWARDS OTHERS OVERFLOWS AND FILLS INTO ALL OTHER RELATIONSHIPS AND LOVES.

IN CONCLUSION:
Everyone, last semester was pretty bad, but it only means that this semester has so much beautiful potential. Let us learn from the past, to go more joyfully and confidently into the future. Everyone has had their confidence shaken. Considering what we all went through, that’s understandable. We all need to take the step to renewing our relationships with one another. We went through the fire. I predicted that this chaplet would be tested in some way back in August. But now we’ve come through. Everyone needs to try to reconcile themselves, and renew their charity. It’s as simple as “I’m sorry, and please forgive me for anything that I’ve done to offend you in any way, let’s be friends.” Don’t say that you’ve tried a million times to forgive and reach out either. I doubt you’ve done it 77 times like our Lord told St. Peter, but Our Lord was saying that you’ve never forgiven or reached-out enough, so keep on doing it. HAVE CONFIDENCE! This semester’s going to be great! We can only go up. As true friends, we shall help each other become saints, we shall support each other in what we do, and we shall make happy memories to laugh upon that long night of sorrows, which shall seem so short and foolish as we look back upon it singing and laughing. God brings all things to good! God bless, and see you guys soon. I plan to see you all together at 8 on Thursday. Smile!

8 comments:

  1. Peter
    Since when were we all fighting? I noticed that the chaplets stopped but it seemed like everyone was still going to mass, receiving the sacraments and praying regularly. I didn't realize that their was any sort of falling out. i for one have never met a more charitable andChrist centered group of people which is one of the reasons I choose to be one of yours and everybody else's friends. Granted we're not perfect. God knows I have my faults. (Really, you have no idea.)But that doesn't mean aren't getting better.

    Now, I have the tendancy to ignore it when bed things happen and retreat. I also have trouble reading the signals that tell we someone is upset or something has happened, or that I should know something. I'm not very good at reading faces. So, this could be why I missed all this "confusion, backbiting, suspicion, uncharity, hatreds, revulsions" and so on. Maybe I am so involved in the evil myself that I simply didn't notice it. But I don't think so. The Chaplet I know is filled with kind and loving people, many of who would give their last breadcrumb to help you.

    Maybe I'm naive. Maybe my confidence in my friends is unfounded. But I think not. You saw that you were going to throw yourself off of a cliff. You should have seen me last semester. I for one made a significant improvement in this one and my friendship with you and everyone else is not the least of the reasons. I have another friend, yet another member of the Chaplet, who confessed to me that his/her involvement with this group helped him/her get through some very tough moral problems. I for one am sure I am the most selfish member of this group and I don't behave as bad as you make it sound.

    I guess we could all improve though. I for one would like to have the 8 o'Clock Chaplet back. I guess we could all try to improve ourselves. That's a lifelong quest that we'll never really quite finish though. We are only human so we should be careful what to expect. We will alway fall short of where we should be. But that's never an excuse to give up, turn to dispair and selfish self pity or to abandon the best influences that we have in this material world.

    Peter, you post both distress and gives me hope. I am distressed to find that you see so much wrong with your friends and that you nearly gave up on them. I am glad to see that you are through that and that you are willing to continue and keep trying.I am also relieved to find out for certain what was that was plaguing you every time I saw moping around near the end of the semester. You really hade me worried. I glad above everything else to see that you are better now.

    God Bless.

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  2. PS. It just occured to me that you may have been refering to the love triangles and the like from last semester. Yes, that was messy. I've made it a point never to date within the group. Dating close friends is just like one of those classic blunders like dating people from work.

    God Bless.

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  3. Andrew, that is very true what you have said about the chaplet. The 8o'clock chaplet is the best thing for us. I'm glad I stuck with it, for the worst act of cowardice on my part would have been to give up. And I do believe that this Chaplet and last semester has been a great blessing to us to reflect on who were we, and to learn how to make ourselves better. In fact, it is a great grace to learn so much about ourselves, and not give up within the context of the 8 oclock chaplet. Among a number of us, the real problem was that many of us had really ceased to be ourselves, and less than what we should have been. Most of the time, the problems were subtle in making themselves known. But begorrah with that, it's in the past and that is where it should stay. That is the past, and the bright full happy future lies before us! So, Andrew, it is my hope that better than before we can triumph together as friends at anything that comes our way!

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  4. Ha, ha! Moping around! Yeah, I did alot of that. It actually makes me laugh to think about that! See, I thought it was bad at the time, but now for some reason I just find it funny! Maybe it's the word moping. Gee, at the way I was going I could've changed "peachy" to "mopey". It's just a funny thought! Boy that made me smile!

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  5. Last year was a year of growing and learning. Last year, we made our friends; this year, we were given the choice as to whether or not we would keep these friends. Last semester just served to remind us that we still have a lot of growing up to do, that bad things do happen, even at Christendom. As the good Lord said, "Where two or three are gathered in my name, there's bound to be trouble."

    It was during this semester that I had a growing dislike for, and an eventual fight, with my best friend. Although we made up, it was only with the help of my numerous other friends, and a little bit of suffering. But I learned something from it. One, friendship is a lot like marriage, with its own sets of troubles and tribulations. We may hate and curse each other to Hell, but this in no way stops us from being friends. Like true love, friendship is not based on feelings. We started out by liking one another, but that was just the beginning; that helps us become friends, but it does not help us stay friends.

    We have much growing to do; we must mature spiritually and emotionally. It will be a struggle, but I assure you the rewards will be worth it.

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  6. Are you guys accepting new chapleteers? Even if, say, we had to make it a charter group that prays on Wednesdays, because of a Thursday night class?

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  7. JMJ
    Everyone is welcome to join us for our 8oc! And yes, if thursday is a problem for some, then i vote that wednesday would be awesome!

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  8. I think that was the biggest problem for the 8 o'c, the fact that it was on 8 o'clock on Thursdays. Face it, all of us have forgotten the chaplet before. Last year, on any given Thursday, we've usually only had 5 - 7 people there. Sometimes we all were, but not eveyone was there everytime. We set it up at that time because it worked for everyone last year. This year people had class, I had to work, and such. The problem may be as simple for some as changing the time.

    Others may need to have a big conversion.

    PQ, don't worry, not everyone was fighting. I can see that some of what Peachy said was true. But, at least after I got back, I tried something new. I stayed out of other people's lives. I still care about everyone. But I've found I can't fix everyone's problems and I have to deal with my own first.

    I know some people had a really hard time this semester. Personally, last semester was my own little Inferno as I think it may have been for you, PQ. For others it was first semester last year. Pick your semester and there are people going through Hell.

    I hope once school starts up again, we can find out who's all interested in the chaplet. I think I'll put something up on The Commons, so we can compair scheudels.

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