Posted by: wordofthevine | January 19, 2018

How to Let the Mystery of the Incarnation Overwhelm Our Lives!

You may wonder, “What does she mean by this…the mystery of the Incarnation can overwhelm my life? Do I want this to happen and is this possible?” The answer is, yes! We do this by cultivating the “cloister of heart” that I wrote about yesterday, that familiar place where we notice God with us and we turn to Him to wonder about the days experiences. We also let the living presence of God within us change us by learning to live more and more moments of the day in His light. To do this, we need to slow down, become accustomed to the questions and the reactions that bubble up inside of us when we cultivate a receptive attitude and approach to life.

As an aid to this, read the following words from a “saint in the making,” Venerable Concepcion Cabrera (1862-1937). She wrote about a mystical experience that she had with Jesus one day about the mystery of the Cross and of redemption, a key part of the mystery of the Incarnation. She penned in her journal, “The plan of Redemption unveiled itself, as if it were before my eyes. I beheld it as through a magnifying glass and under a flood of light. In this field of vision, all illuminated, there stands out two poles: at one end is the immense and incomparable Love of God for man; at the other pole, man, a multitude of human beings called to love God, who reject Him. Between the two poles stands the Cross to which Christ is nailed between God and men (p142).”

As I wrote in chapter three of my book, Awakening a Life-giving Heart, “We are called to offer our lives as a bridge of grace for others by interceding for them. In this way, we grow holy ourselves, and find union with the Sacred Heart of Jesus.” What about you? Have you ever thought that if you slow down, notice the ups and downs of your day today as little “workers” for you, sacrifices that you could live intently for the spiritual growth of others?~ Mary

Posted by: wordofthevine | January 18, 2018

A Cloister of the Heart?

Concepcion and the Living Cross of the Apostolate of the Cross

The Lord offers each of us an invitation to go about our ordinary experiences being aware of his presence with us. When we do this, day after day, we form a centered place within, a place of union with God that even outside activity can’t shake or move us away from. Many saints or “saints in the making,” like Venerable Concepcion Cabrera (1862-1937), a wife, a mother and a mystic from Mexico, show us how to form this “cloister of the heart.”

We see this notion confided to Concepcion by Jesus recorded in her personal journal, The Account of Conscience:

I want to make of you a saint know to me alone. I want your to be a model of hidden virtues, with nothing different externally about your life from the outside. I want your eyes fixed on me. you are to live cloistered in the very inner sanctuary of your soul, for that is where dwells the Holy Spirit. It is in this sanctuary that your must live and die. There are your delights, your consolations, and your repose. You must never leave this inner sanctuary, even in the midst of your outside obligations. This constant interior recollection will facilitate all these activities in the measure you practice them in God’s presence. In this sanctuary, which no one else sees, is found true virtue and the contemplation of God and the dwelling of the Holy Spirit.”

What about you? Are there some simple daily habits that you can undertake that will bring you back inside to God as you go about your daily activities? Venerable Concepcion would glance towards God and then sweep the floor. She would walk through a doorway and invite the Lord to go with her. ~Mary Kaufmann, Director of Incarnate Institute.

Posted by: wordofthevine | January 10, 2018

Loving Attention to God: How to be a Spiritual Powerhouse!

In past posts, we discussed the prayerful practice of Loving Attention to God. Loving Attention to God was developed and promoted by (1859-1938), who founded the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit, a robust community of priests whose charism is spiritual guidance of souls, especially for priests. Fr. Felix shows us how the heart of a man can be formed by adversity and be a model for all of us in the spiritual realm.

His practice of Loving Attention to God was forged in the crucible of very difficult times during the Mexican Revolution, and proved very effective in forming people who were united in Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit to press onward towards the Kingdom, a resiliency we need in America today. All that was necessary to practice Loving Attention, according to Fr. Felix, was to regularly direct and redirect the glance or focus of your mind/heart towards God as you go about living. This glance was a prayer. He encouraged his community members and us today, to be like a sunflower that constantly turns towards the sun. We can cultivate this sensitivity to God by asking God for the grace to do this and by deciding to invite God into our simple moments of living with our desire and our “focused awareness of Him.” In this, Father Felix shows us what we’re capable of, as men, and as humans with his admonition to “live this life of prayer.”

One experience in the life of Father Felix illustrates the transforming power of this simple practice of Loving Attention to God. One night, as an army chaplain in Columbia, Father Felix was caught in a very dangerous situation. During an armed conflict, Father Felix walked onto the battlefield himself. He helped the wounded on both sides and shared, “How much I saw in those suffering people, the face of the suffering Christ, especially in the wounded enemy.”

Through this simple practice of Loving Attention, of drawing his gaze towards Christ in the midst of every thing, Father Felix show us how to take on “the joy, hope, grief and anguish of people of our time…as followers of Christ.” ~Mary

Posted by: wordofthevine | January 7, 2018

Finding the Gift: God Alive Within Us.

Sometimes I think we need to break out of our normal routines in our prayer time and consider how truth from other traditions may inspire us. I was reading The Gift, Poems by Hafiz and found a poem that really touched me. Maybe it is because I have been deeply formed and touched in my life experience of being pregnant and bringing forth new life. In fact, I can look back and consider that I was either pregnant or nursing for an entire decade. My husband and I are the parents of six young adult kids.

The poem that touched me was, Stop Calling me a Pregnant Woman,  by Hafiz. It goes, “My Master once entered a phase that whenever I would see him he would say, “Hafiz, How did you ever become a pregnant woman!” And, I would reply, “Dear Attar, You must be speaking the truth, But all of what you say is a mystery to me.” Many months passed by in his blessed company, but one day, I lost my patience. Upon hearing that odd refrain, I blurted out, “Stop calling me a pregnant woman!” And, Attar replied, “Someday, my sweet Hafiz,all the nonsense in your brain will dry up, like a stagnant pool of water beneath the sun. Though if you want to know the Truth, I can so clearly see that God has made love with you and the whole universe is germinating inside your belly. And wonderful words, such enlightening words will take birth from you and be cradled against thousands of hearts.”

I realize that God uses framework from our everyday life to teach us spiritual realities. He also wants us to realize the profound holiness and union with him that he is leading us to if we seek him wholeheartedly. If we do, He will let us find him and find transforming union with him. The world is awaiting our transformation. ~ Mary

 

Posted by: wordofthevine | January 2, 2018

This New Year: Become a Heart Ablaze with the Love of God!

Venerable Fr. Felix Rougier,

“A hundred men like this will put the world on fire” Father Alberto Mir, S.J.  Who was Fr. Alberto Mir, S.J. speaking of? Father Alberto Mir, S.J., a founder himself of several religious congregations during the Mexican Revolution, and spiritual director to Ven. Concepcion Cabrera was referring to Ven. Father Felix Rougier, M.Sp.S., the Founder of the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit, a contemplative, apostolic order of priests, founded in Mexico, December 25, 1914. The charism of the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit’ is spiritual guidance of souls, through spiritual direction and sacramental confession, particularly those of ordained priests. This emphasis of the Missionaries, towards spiritual direction of priests, respects the order of the Church. They wish to light the spiritual fire of ordained priests, so they can be the impetus to light the hearts and minds of the laity with the fire of Christ. In this new year, we want to stir this same fire in our own hearts so others can find God with us and be touched with this love. For ourselves too, we want to identify anything this year that has gotten in the way of God and our growth in God.

The life of Fr. Felix shows us what will happen if we believe and even more experience the Love of Christ for ourselves.  In a letter to a fellow Missionary of the Holy Spirit, dated June 22, 1926, Father Felix wrote, “Men and women hardly believe God loves them. How many priests, men, and women, even religious, do not believe in the real love of Jesus. This is a great suffering for Jesus’ Heart which is so loving, so delicate, so infinitely sensitive.” Jesus wants us to exercise faith that he is present with us as we go about our day, as He is ready and waiting to gift us with spiritual gifts that we need in the moment, if we ask Him.

In this new year,we want to become like Ven. Father Felix Rougier, hearts ablaze with this personal experience of the Love of Jesus. In the next few posts, we will explore some specific practical aspects of the spirituality of Ven. Fr. Rougier, so we can help set the world on fire with the Love of Jesus, and can console the Heart of Jesus, who notices our every movement towards Him. Let us ring in the new year with this apropos intention.

Plan to join us tomorrow for facebook live on Word of the Vine facebook page for a live reflection on growing spiritually using my book, Awakening a Life-giving Heart, from 7-8 PM, CST. ~ Mary

 

Posted by: wordofthevine | December 28, 2017

Holy Innocents: and Holiness of Life

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Innocents, the feast commemorating the martyrdom of infants boys in Bethlehem by Herod. These infants, who died in Christ’s place were the earliest Christian martyrs, show us that our call is to walk in the footsteps and place of Christ, to take on his mission and let our lives reflect His.

Using the writings and spirituality of Venerable Concepcion Cabrera de Armida, we see that our call is to cultivate a purity of life through the virtues where we become more able to have the constant presence of God with us. Missionary of the Holy Spirit priest, Father Luis Ruiz Vazquez, M.Sp.S., a member of the order inspired by the life of Venerable Concepcion, writes that what we try to live out as the Holy Innocents did is a “mutual communion of love, of a constant identification with Christ in every instant and circumstance of our lives.” Father Vazquez encourages us to learn how to do this by living “the chain of love” inspired by Venerable Concepcion.

To learn more in what this means for your walk with Christ, join us for a live discussion with Incarnate Institute facebook live, Wednesday evenings, January 3- February 7, 7-8 PM, CST. We will use my book summarizing this spiritual way called, Awakening a Life-giving Heart: Insights for Women who Pray for the Church.

Posted by: wordofthevine | December 26, 2017

How to Truly Celebrate Christmas All Year

Let us celebrate Christmas with an awareness of new possibilities. The Lord desires that our life acquire a new dimension this year. We are to become fruitful for others by living a new way of spiritual vitality. A special companion for me in understanding and living this call has been Venerable Concepcion Cabrera de Armida (Conchita), a wife, a mother of a large family and a mystic alive during the last century.

Her prolific writings, some 8000 pages in her spiritual diary, The Account of Conscience, show us that holiness is within the reach of all states of life. In fact, today, we are living in the age of the laity, where the world is awaiting a new advent of graces liberated into the World when the seemingly ordinary Christian begins to take their call to holiness of life seriously.  This Christmas, we celebrate that holiness is not just for priests and nuns but for all of us.

Father Luis Ruiz Vazquez, M.Sp.S., a priest in the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit, an order of priests inspired by the life of Venerable Concepcion Cabrera, writes “We reach this (holiness of mission) by learning how to confide in Jesus lovingly, by adorning Christ, by having a growing confidence in God and believing in God’s power(18)” in Priestly Oblation of Christ and Priestly Dimensions of Baptism in Concepcion Cabrera de Armida.

To learn how to live out these practical principles of holiness, join us for a weekly pick-me-up when we read and discuss this in my book, Awakening a Life-giving Heart: Insights for Women who Pray for the Church. Join us through Incarnate Institute facebook page. Incidentally, although the title of the book quotes, insights for women, the book benefits both women and men who desire to grow in contemplative life to live out the Spirituality of the Cross.

Posted by: wordofthevine | December 24, 2017

How to have God’s Favor Rest on Us this Christmas

Imagine that you hear it, maybe ever so softly, the sound of the angels singing in Bethlehem, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests (Luke 2:14)! Servant of God, Archbishop Luis Martinez, in Meditations to Prepare for Christmas, tells us that the angels not only sang this 2000 years ago to the shepherds, they can sing it now in our hearts if we prepare “a complete Bethlehem,” an abundant loving intimacy with Jesus this Advent season.

St. Joseph, the simple man of Faith, has shown us the power of discerning God’s will for us in the midst of the moment, and of responding to it fully. Martinez told us that, like St. Joseph, we do not always need to understand the why of the events of our lives. We only need to know what and when, in order to fulfill God’s will.

Martinez shared that the last part of following God’s will and forming our hearts as a “complete Bethlehem,” is to have our hearts be like Mary’s heart, so Jesus can really be born in our hearts this Christmas. According to Archbishop Martinez, “More than the manger from which He taught the world most eloquently about humility, more than the faithful and prudent servant (St. Joseph), our Heavenly Father had to carefully prepare Mary… a heart so full of tenderness, totally forgetting and denying its own self and ready for all sacrifices, so it would be capable of understanding the bitter pains and intimate joys of the Heart of Jesus.” In the great mystery, Jesus remained in the “bosom of the Father while He came to our world.” Jesus was often lonely on earth although He was outwardly surrounded by people for “He bore in His Heart such great mysteries, such deep secrets…he needed a heart that was made to beat in unison with His Divine Heart,” the heart of a mother…Mary. Mary shows both men and women the power of forming an open heart for God.

When we learn to cultivate inner intimacy with Jesus, we, like Mary, become able to beget spiritual life to others through our prayers, sacrifices, insights and our emotional availability to them. Emmanuel comes through us!  How profound! Jesus, not only wants to gift us this Christmas with His presence in our hearts, He wants to make us gifts to others in our world. As Martinez describes this, “When the love of God passes through the tiny prism of our hearts, it breaks into many pieces [the love of a friend, a parent, a lover, a minister]. Still it is the one love that the Holy Spirit pours into our hearts, and it is a perfect, although remote, image of the Divine Love. ” This Christmas, let us receive this Love, Jesus, and hear the echo the angels…“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests (Luke 2:14)!

 

Posted by: wordofthevine | December 21, 2017

The Infant Christ and New Possibilities for Holiness!

One of my patients with hospice collects nativity scenes. Although she told me that in her prime, she would display 90 nativity scenes during the Christmas holidays, now she only had about 10 in her apartment. She had given her kids the remainder. She got me thinking that we can appreciate the mystery of Christmas, the coming of Christ, son of God in as a baby for our salvation. We need to appreciate the profound and transforming reality that we have within our reach at Christmas. Christmas isn’t a “lifeless statute” but a living reality we can learn to live out through out the year. Our Baptisms are powerful and truly a gift that we can renew that keeps on giving.

We come to a deeper awareness of our Baptisms through unearthing the insights that Christ shared with Venerable Concepcion Cabrera de Armida (Conchita), a contemporary wife, mother and mystic who started the Works of the Cross at the height of the Mexican Revolution. She helps us understand the intimacy Christ wants to have with us through His incarnation. Her words, though profound, offer us a practical and everyday, moment by moment plan for holiness.

Through Concepcion’s perspectives, we see that Christ’s living spark that we celebrate in the manager can spark and come alive within our heart, life animating our mission in the world. This year, as you decorate your house for Christmas, and display a nativity scene, spend some time meditating on the infant of Christ. Beg for a new sensibility of love that will bring you to feel as your own the difficulties and even sins of others. We ask for this,  because from the core of our being and lives, we can learn to love God, like Concepcion did, in the name of others to gain graces for them. Keep this in mind when you bemoan that some family members seem away from God and the Church. Enter into the mystery of Christmas. In your littleness, offer your life for the needs of others. Moment by moment, pain by or irritation by irritation, don’t waste anything that life offers you today. Jesus, alive among us, gives us new possibilities for holiness by allowing us to offer our difficulties and prayers with His for those that need it the most around us.

To learn more, join us for a live discussion on Wednesday evenings, January 3-February 7, 7-8 PM, CST through Incarnate Institute on facebook live. ~Mary

Posted by: wordofthevine | December 19, 2017

Our Spiritual Journey and Weight Gain

I sat down and prayed, “Lord, help me come to peace with my weight!” I have not had to struggle earlier in my life to maintain my weight so much but not now. For a number of years, I had been chasing and racing around after 6 kids with an active family life. I notice that now life has simmered down but my weight has gradually crept up. I haven’t liked that. I should know how to work with this. I have had to become more astutely aware of what I am yearning for and am hungry for. A good sign that I’m eating not much more than I need is that I have time everyday where I am pretty hungry, especially first thing in the morning and about meal time. When I grazed through the day with little snacks bits here and there, I didn’t notice these hungry periods but did the weight gain.

Servant of God, Catherine Doherty, a lay woman, mother and founder of Madona House,  challenges us in Poustinia: Encountering God in Silence, Solitude and Prayer that to grow spiritually too, we have to become people comfortable with emptiness. She says, “We begin to understand the emptiness which must take place in us, the depth of surrender of our will to God’s. He (one who seeks God alone) become so empty that he is simply one who carries God(112).”

Maybe this is why, in mid-life, when God is helping us mature spiritually, he allows this struggle with our weight. He wants us to figure out how to seek him from the depths of our being by allowing “emptiness” to become a regular part of our daily tempo. Working with our appetites, eating and weight is a spiritual discipline that brings growth and abundant fruitfulness! What about you? Do you find managing your weight and appetite a struggle to surrender all to God? ~Mary

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