Posted by: wordofthevine | February 6, 2019

Go Out Into the Deep: Follow Your God Given Passions!

One day, a title of a TED talk caught my eye. I’ve written about being inspired by talks on YouTube before but this one, “Don’t Follow Your Passions” caught me off guard. I have spent the last ten years encouraging others to recognize their spiritual gifts, to find holiness and meaning in life, by noticing the passion in their lives. I felt amazed that I was sitting there, a woman at mid life, listening to a twenty something expert telling me and his audience how to find meaning and purpose by ignoring my passions. He said things like: “When I was much younger…before I had life experience”… He talked with authority about his findings in exploring this topic for the last three years. I was skeptical and kind of resentful. I have seen a turn around especially within the Church in ignoring the wisdom forged through the decades and bringing in those in their twenties as the experts. We may feel desperate in trying to reach out to the Millennials so we turn to their peers for expert advice. Don’t get me wrong, I am the mother of some wonderful young adults. I often like to learn from them and respect them very much, not as experts but as other informed people with something to share.

What was Benjamin Todd getting to in encouraging us not to follow our passions. What he was really saying was, don’t be self focused. Consider what’s really important in life, for others. Find something that, yes draws your attention, but also makes an impact in the lives of others. Don’t remain on the surface of life but touch on what matters. For those of us who have been in the trenches trying to raise the next generation and impact our parishes and Churches to draw all into deeper relationship with God, isn’t this what we have been trying to share? Whether you feel like going to Mass or bringing God’s will for you into your decision making, you are wired with deep spiritual impulses within you. God is calling you and you won’t find fulfillment until you step in sync with these spiritual passions that are, by nature , focused on what’s really important in the world and in the lives of people. We, as parents, have spent considerable time trying to help our offspring to hook into their interests, maybe it’s football, Taekwondo, riding horses etc, not as an end itself for your life work, but as a way to learn about yourself, enjoy something but be able to move into what’s really important to God and to the world. Our Faith in God and involvement in church helps move us off of the surface of life to truly living for others. Our deeper passions are how God leads us to His will for us. ~ Mary

Posted by: wordofthevine | February 4, 2019

Who Inspires You? How Can You Carry This Onward?

One of my mentors is new Venerable Concepcion Cabrera (1862-1937), a mother, a mystic, a wife and the foundress of The Five Works of the Cross in Mexico in the last Century. Venerable Concepcion had an amazingly deep and faithful relationship with Jesus in experiencing spiritual unity with Jesus that surpassed Saint Teresa of Avila and many other Saints. She did this by fulfilling the ordinary duties of a wife and mother and by being faithful to her daily prayer time, Mass and the Sacraments. She shows us a new kind of holiness for many, if we did not choose to enter a convent or to become ordained, feel like second class citizens in the Kingdom of God.

Concepcion shows us all that holiness inspires holiness! We need to take a crucial look at our own lives to determine what God has placed within our reach and inspired within us to impact the world. We each possess the capacity for sainthood which we develop through ordinary faithfulness to ordinary decisions of our day. We have to let ourselves be moved by life and by the lives of others to love.

Yesterday, after hearing the report that we were to experience unprecedented low temperatures, the lowest temperatures ever recorded in Iowa, I broke down. Even though I complain about what the deer population behind my house does or can do to decimate my garden each summer, I felt so worried and sorry for the wild life. I drove to a farm store, because we have many in Iowa,  and bought corn to put out for them. I’m sure my neighbors wondered what had gotten into Mary when it was 10 below zero, I was out behind my house shoveling the snow in the woods so I could put out the corn. I shoveled until my hands hurt and it was time for lunch. Immediately as I turned to look out back, I saw the deer herd which initially appeared to be missing what I had just put out. I prayed, “Lord, help them find the corn.” It was the smallest one, at the bottom of the food chain that had gotten kicked out of the pack. He found the path I had scooped and led the others to jackpot!

Let the smallest, or who appear so ordinary, to lead us to our spiritual jackpot, by following the “road less traveled” that God has inspired from within us. Like Venerable, and soon to be Blessed, Concepcion Cabrera shows us, God can do amazing things with us if we are faithful to means before us and when we follow his inspiration! What about you? What has God placed at your fingertips? ~ Mary

Posted by: wordofthevine | February 1, 2019

Sainthood and Spiritual Gifts!

We can all learn from the example of the Saints and of saintly people when we try to grow in loving others. As Saint Catherine of Siena wrote in her classic work, The Dialogue, “I have given many gifts and graces, both spiritual and temporal, with such diversity that I have not given everything to one single person, so that you may be constrained to practice charity towards one another…I have will that one should need another and that all should be my minsters in distributing the graces and gifts they have received from me” Dialogue I:7.

We each have to take the time to recognize the call in our lives from God and to recognize our unique charisms to fulfill this call. It is not as one priest told me that it is not necessary for each to discern their charisms. He stated that “Charisms will just be their excuse for not helping. All just have to roll up their sleeves and pitch in!” Part of what he says is true, we have to say yes when others need our assistance. We each may not have a gift for service but we have to take our turn “setting up chairs” for the church dinner. What he is missing is that once we discern our charisms or God given spiritual gifts associated from our Baptism, we can serve the Body of Christ so much more efficiently and impactfully. The Church today needs us to manifest Christ’s power in specific ways.

This is how God built the Early Church. He manifested His power through individuals to the wider circle of life. Right now, we hunger to experience this same healing, empowering love of God in action which will counter act some of the difficult actions of some in the Hierarchy. Do not get me wrong, I love the Church but we have been wounded by the bad choices of a few in key positions at the Vatican and with some of our Shepherds. Jesus is working to renew the Church through the example of all and especially the laity! ~ Mary Kaufmann

Posted by: wordofthevine | January 30, 2019

Finding Your Passion as a God-Given Gift!

I awoke early today, for today I was not going to work as a hospital chaplain because of the record setting -60 below wind chill, and started riding my bike in my basement. I turned on a youtube conversation about finding your passion and purpose in life. I am passionate about assisting others to recognize their spiritual and personal gifts that are part of each of our personal vocations. (Check out my retreat, Spirit Alive, on my ministry website, Incarnate Institute.) I found Scott Dinsmore doing a TED Talk entitled, “How to Find and Do Work That You Love”    and happily listened and finished my workout. I was enthralled.

I often have found that God leads me to creative adventures like starting Incarnate Institute, a retreat and conference ministry over ten years ago. I have traveled all over the USA and Canada doing faith based conferences but at times struggled wanting a local circle of ministry. Hence for the last five years, I have also worked at local hospitals as a Certified Hospital Chaplain while I kept Incarnate Institute going. I could relate to Scott’s feeling that he was supposed to offer ministry helping people find their passion and purpose but at times, it was discouraging and lonely. He had temptations to quit until he found the power of cultivating a “can do” attitude by surrounding himself with others being successful doing entrepreneurial endeavors. Once he changed his attitude, he found his ministry growing by leaps and bounds. For me, this also included giving God credit for using others to encourage him. God had a plan for Scott’s life as he does for mine and for yours.

After that short 17 minute TED Talk, I searched YouTube again to see what else this inspiring young person had shared. I found that about a year after making that talk, in 2015, Scott Dinsmore died while climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. I felt startled and really sad. He had stirred something inside of me; and I had been touched by his passion. I was left thinking: “It was a really good thing that this young man followed the pull in his heart to offer his perspectives because his time on Earth was short. I see this as a message to me also, to step out fearlessly and securely to fulfill God’s will for my life. At times, I have struggled in limited roles as a hospital chaplain and wondered why I have not felt fulfilled just doing that? God has placed a call in my life to reach out of my immediate circle through offering retreats, conferences and spiritual direction. What about you? Do you struggle to find meaning and purpose? Check out Spirit Alive and this short TED Talk. ~ Mary

 

 

 

 

Posted by: wordofthevine | December 25, 2018

Many times, when we try to make our lives a living sacrifice with Jesus for others, we still carry a deeper question. Isn’t the sacrifice of Jesus complete to save us? We may feel presumptive, thinking that we can offer anything more for the salvation of the world.

What we find is that as we grow spiritually, we feel a greater love and intimacy, a connection with Jesus. Jesus told Blessed Concepcion Cabrera (using the work of Father Richardo Zimbron Levy, M.Sp.S. in his book Priestly People 190) “It is not that my sacrifice is insufficient. It is that the essence of my Gospel is that all be ONE WITH ME. This is the supreme goal of the Word made flesh, of the Eucharist and of the action of the Holy Spirit in my Church.”

Jesus has a deeper heart felt goal for the world. He told Concepcion, “When Christians truly become one body with mine, one blood with mine, one heart with mine, and one sacrifice with mine, then the face of the world will change and the Father will be gloried by all humanity. May all people Do this in Memory of Me.”

Through the spirituality of Blessed Concepcion, we see that all Christians possess a truly important call, to love Jesus with their all and to follow the lead of this Love, to offer their ordinary sacrifices with Jesus for the salvation of the world. Protestants and Catholics together are called to this deep and sacrificial love as a redeeming force for the world.  This Christmas, how could you incorporate this call in practical ways? ~ Mary Kaufmann

 

Posted by: wordofthevine | December 23, 2018

Intimacy with Jesus according to Venerable Concepcion Cabrera

Blessed Concepcion enjoyed a personal intimacy with God that we can learn a lot from. When Jesus encouraged her to offer her life for others as a sacrifice, she had some really understandable questions.

Using the work of Father Richardo Zimbron Levy, M.Sp.S. in Priestly People, we see Concepcion question Jesus, “But, Lord, doesn’t it please you when I offer you to the Father through the words of my prayer?” Jesus answered her, “Yes, I like that. But human speech is not always necessary; what flows from the heart is enough. Thus you will see that what I am asking of you is actually easier. Simply live a pure life, detach from earthly matters, offering me to the Father and offering yourself with me for the salvation of the world. An in this priestly action, forget yourself and just love, adore, and unite yourself to me.”

So, this Christmas, ask the Lord for the grace to simplify yourself and center yourself to live consistent with your deepest convictions: of loving God. Do this more than just for yourself, do it because others will benefit spiritually and depend on your generosity. ~ Mary Kaufmann

Posted by: wordofthevine | December 21, 2018

Loving Jesus this Christmas with Blessed Concepcion Cabrera

What we celebrate this Christmas is something that we can continue through out the whole year. Blessed Concepcion Cabrera shows us the power of living a life in the world as baptismal priests. Jesus showed her that both the ministerial priesthood and the baptismal priesthood are to complement and support each other as unique participation in the priesthood of Christ.

Using quotes from Concepcion’s journal summarized by Father Richardo Zimbron Levy, M.Sp.S. in his book Priestly People, Jesus showed her that, while he delighted in her prayer of using words that honor him, he was showing her an easier way to live a life of holiness, of offering the ordinary sacrifices that crop up in life for the good of the world. When Concepcion (aka Conchita) questioned Jesus about how she would continually offer Jesus to the Father while she attended to her family, Jesus showed her an easier way. He told her, “Whoever loves me remembers me, and the more you love me, the more frequently you will remember me. Furthermore, it is not necessary to use words to offer me to the Father. It is enough to have a simple interior gaze with this intention, full of love and tenderness for all people. This is enough for the Father to lavish graces upon the soul that offers me and to dispense these same graces upon all humanity(189).”

What about you? Have you ever seen your own life a priestly life, one that by loving God and remembering that he is with you through the ups and downs, you become able to offer your life as a sacrifice which can liberate graces for others. If we see something disturbing in the news or about our Church, we don’t have to throw our arms down and complain. We can turn lovingly to God and not waste the goodness of the present moment as an offering. Remember this the next time you do ordinary and often boring tasks or get to continue to love someone who may not treat you well. ~ Mary Kaufmann

Posted by: wordofthevine | December 20, 2018

Christmas and the Cross with Venerable Concepcion Cabrera

Concepcion and the Living Cross of the Apostolate of the Cross

Maybe you’ve noticed that I have not posted many things for awhile. I have been in a difficult spiritual place, where my sense of God has gone away and I really feared that I wasn’t pleasing God in my prayer life. Team this with a move across the State of Iowa in order to direct a department of spiritual care for a Catholic hospital, away from my support system and spiritual director, I felt weak spiritually. In the midst of this, I continued to be faithful to prayer and desire for God but I reminisced about fervent times. Maybe you can relate to such times in your own life.

Now I sense that God continues to move me and ground me. He has brought me back to an awareness of my mission and love for  God and my spiritual mother, Venerable (and soon to be Blessed)  Concepcion Cabrera. A wonderful book, Priestly People by Father Richardo Zimbron Levy, M.Sp.S. summarizes Concepcion’s experience of winter in the spiritual life. Concepcion called this difficult spiritual time as “sorrowful union” as she found herself with Jesus in his union on the Cross where he bleated, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.” In the midst of this sorrowful, cold union, Concepcion wrote, ” Oh, Jesus, in the midst of my coldness, I love you! Hidden in your apparent disdain, I love you. In my doubts, in my struggles, in my pain, I love you.

Father Zimbron Levy interprets this for us writing, “we discover how Concepcion’s love had been purified through the path of suffering until it had become a total and selfless abandonment, firm and irrevocable” (53).

Maybe this Christmas, in the mixed experience of both joy and struggle, we can find that God is similarly forming and gifting us! Our job is to let God have us, to surrender all to him! What is one way you can give yourself to God this week?  ~Mary Kaufmann

Posted by: wordofthevine | December 16, 2018

Christmas with Blessed Concepcion Cabrera, Day 2

From every Saint, we can learn new dimensions of holiness and of the nature and reality of God. Blessed Concepcion Cabrera shows us that we each are called to profound holiness. Let’s not waste the time we have on Earth but garner everything as a means to encounter God and to reflect His love.  Concepcion experienced the Mystical Incarnation, a grace beyond mystical marriage, one that the very fruitfulness of God becomes present to others from the soul’s union with God.

Concepcion writes, as it is quoted in You Belong to the Church, (11)  ,”The Father loves this mystery of Love (The Incarnation) so much that He delights in reflecting it, realizing it mystically in some souls…From all this He makes a channel of graces for the world, communicating a most pure fruitfulness that engenders souls for heaven.”

This Christmas, let us pray for a resolute heart to seek Jesus with new intensity and purity so God can touch us as He wills with the power of the Holy Spirit.  Let us ask God to make each of us as a channel of graces for others and the Church.~ Mary Kaufmann

 

Posted by: wordofthevine | December 13, 2018

Christmas with Blessed Concepcion Cabrera!

For nearly the last twenty years, I have been attracted to the life and writings of Blessed Concepcion Cabrera (1862-1937). Her beatification will be celebrated May 4, 2019 in Mexico City. What has attracted me? Maybe it has been that she was a wife and mother, a wonderful example that life in the world can lead to holiness of exemplary nature. I am a faithful Catholic, a professional chaplain in healthcare ministry and a mother of six young adults so my life in many ways has some similar dimensions as Concepcion.

She experienced deep graces of union with God, the mystical incarnation, a grace where she was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit in much the same fruitfulness as the Virgin Mary. Christ became present in her soul so profoundly that Concepcion loved others with the living presence of God. She had an uncanny knack of carrying and imparting Jesus to others that she came in contact with, like a living monstrance.

As we approach Christmas, we can reflect on Concepcion’s words in order to become fruitful this Christmas with Jesus. He wants to come into the world through each soul that is properly disposed. Concepcion wrote, “Mystical incarnations also come from this divine overshadowing, so little meditated and appreciated; from the fruitful gaze of the Father, who coming to rest in this special priestly manner on the soul, communicates to it, being that He is with him a single Divinity, as in Mary.

As complicated as this may seem, Concepcion helps us appreciate that the Spirit of God desires to reach out and touch His creatures. She describes that the Holy Spirit overshadows the soul bringing the fruitfulness of the Father in a way that brings great benefit to the interior life of the person in greater wisdom, of purity and of a fruitfulness that can impact other souls with God alive within.

This Advent, meditate on the divine overshadowing of Mary which produced Jesus. The Lord is inviting us to take part in this same grace, a big part of what we celebrate this Christmas. For more on Blessed Concepcion Cabrera go to http://www.apcross.org/index.htm.

 

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