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Monday, November 26, 2007

Discernment Meditation from the Sisters of Life

Anyone who desires to and has not yet visited the Sisters of Life, their next Come & See retreat will be March 13-16, 2008. If you are interested, please call Sr. Mary Gabriel or Sr. Kathrine Marie at 718.863.2264 to get more information.


“Blessed by your sacrifice, strong in your love, O Christ, our grateful voices to you we raise…” So began, in glorious harmony, the recessional song of our community’s Thanksgiving Day Mass.

On this weekend, most people take time to acknowledge the many ways in which they are blessed; they recognize what they have been given and offer thanks through prayer, leisure with family and friends, and by helping the needy.

What does it mean to be blessed? To consider oneself “blessed” still connects to the holy for most people. It means receiving Divine favor, it means receiving good things. But the original meaning of the word “blessing” meant to be sprinkled with blood, as in the Old Testament, and therefore sanctified and brought into a sacred covenant with God (cf. Exodus 24:8). Like all things of God, a blessing is relational. To be blessed by God - to be given something by Him - is to be brought into relationship with Him. And that is the greatest reason to give thanks.

Thanksgiving for the Christian, the Catholic, is an everyday event, a crucial event. “Thanksgiving” is what the word “Eucharist” means. The Lord Jesus has made Himself for us a perpetual “thanksgiving” to the Father. It is He who has brought us reconciliation - a relationship of peace- with our Father in heaven. It is He who has made it possible for us to not only receive the love of the Father into eternity, but for us to respond to such abundant love with the gift of ourselves. It is He who makes our thanks to God meaningful.

This is so stunning a reality that it requires a certain drawing back in the midst of the recognition of our many blessings to contemplate the means through which they were made possible: through the Blood of Jesus. Our blessings are true because there is still a sprinkling of blood. We are blessed by His sacrifice. Jesus’ self-offering in love is for each of us the fulfillment of all God’s promises; the gateway to His and, through Him, our, resurrection. And thus we memorialize His Paschal mystery and offer Him to the Father at each Mass. Having received the blessing of God in Jesus, we are free to offer ourselves, in blessing, to the Father. The Catechism tells us that “when applied to man, the word "blessing" means adoration and surrender to his Creator in thanksgiving” (# 1078).

Only in the context of a loving relationship, a blessed relationship, with our Lord, are we able to surrender our very lives, our natural desires, our plans into His hands in following a vocation. Only in such a context are we able to become truly Eucharistic, saying to the Lord and to the Church: “This is my body, given for you…”

It’s easy to surrender to God, to give Him our “all” in the midst of consolation. But these moments pass. Each of us also knows moments when it’s not so easy; when we’re inclined to sorrow, distrust, or rebellion, even if hidden in one’s mind and heart. These dark times can cause us to distrust our own desires to love and serve the Lord. They can cause us to suffer spiritual memory loss of the many ways Jesus has revealed His amazing love to us. They can cause us to retreat from previous and authentic resolutions to surrender all into His loving hands.

But these moments of poverty are powerful opportunities for growth! When we choose to offer ourselves in love to the Lord during these times, we can be sure that it is truly ourselves we offer Him, and even the littlest gift made in darkness becomes most genuine, most meaningful. Our relationship with the Lord, our blessing, is still true, even if we don’t feel its reality. So what do we do? When discouraged, don’t run from your prayer life, and don’t be too hard on yourself. Be faithful and even more diligent in generosity. Take the time to be attentive to how much you have received, and make a litany of thanksgiving (for everything from family and friends to education and housing to your favorite Chinese food) to God. Recognize that even the difficult times are part of His blessing. Our Lord knows how much you have to give, and He praised the widow’s mite. Don’t be afraid to offer Him your own two pennies.

We have been blessed by the sacrifice of Christ, our King. As we began this weekend conscious of His gifts, we end it conscious of His Lordship. The sovereign One has handed Himself over to be emptied and broken for us that we might be blessed, healed. He has entered our lives, He walks with us, He makes our offering worthy. As we ponder the majesty of His Kingship, as we prepare for the humility of His Advent, let us surrender everything to Him without fear. He leads the way. May Jesus Christ be praised.

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