Posted by: wordofthevine | February 1, 2018

What the Virtues Teach us About Holiness.

For me, often when I hear about the virtues, I sometimes tune out. How exciting. Sometimes, they have seem more life the dos and the don’ts of the spiritual life rather than something so real and impactful. While I know we have to be resolute for holiness and often structure holiness by ordering our practical choices so we can better manage our behavior, we have to practice the good choices, we also receive the inspiration and capacity to make good choices through particular graces.

Venerable Concepcion Cabrera, Mexican mystic, wife and mother received a lengthy teaching from the Lord called, Of the Virtues and Of the Vices.  In this collection on the virtues, Concepcion receives the words, “In the harmonious union of these virtues is where interior silence rules, a silence that nothing can disturb, the tranquility of a would empty of its own love, that doesn’t think anymore except in terms of loving of sacrificing itself for the beloved. The Holy Spirit blankets it, feeds it and gives it life. In this tranquil calm of the divine garden or field of the virtues, this is the place where the soul, emptied of all that is not God, tends toward Him and intimately unites itself with Him. It is here the ego finds its total fulfillment , and the soul, through sanctification of love, breathes only God.”

Think about your own life and approach to being virtuous. Do you actively seek good habits so you can radiate the loving presence of God to others, or does the spiritual life seem like a process of just following the rules? For more, join us for a discussion on February 7, 7 PM, CST on facebook live with Word of the Vine facebook page. ~ Mary Kaufmann, Director of Incarnate Institute.

Posted by: wordofthevine | January 29, 2018

The Power of Getting Organized for God!

If you are like me, you go to work, you care for family and do the ordinary activities of daily life. To find God, we have to be intentional. In the spiritual life, we don’t want to just wing it and give God the left overs of our lives. He wants to be center stage and frankly, we feel best when we order our lives around God. There is a part of us that is “restless until it rests in God” as St. Augustine writes.

Servant of God, Elisabeth Leseur formulate flexible daily goals, weekly goals and a monthly practice of a day of reflection. For example, without leaving her bedroom, she picked a day each month to slow down, to pray more and to reflect on her relationship with God and his guidance. In this way, step by step, Elisabeth became a master at radiating Christ to others without speaking directly about him, while she quietly offered the suffering they may have caused for their very conversion.

Think about your own way of relating to others. Are you a blessing to others in the way of Elisabeth Leseur, or could you begin to be today~ To learn more about how to take this the next step further, join us for facebook live using my book, Awakening a Life-giving Heart, Wednesday evening, 7 PM, CST through February 7. ~ Mary Kaufmann, Director of Incarnate Institute.

Posted by: wordofthevine | January 26, 2018

Venerable Concepcion Cabrera: Living Heart to Heart with Jesus!

So often when we think about Saints, we think of priests and nuns. I hope this is changing in our present era when the Spirit seems to be moving withing the lay person to give us poignant examples of holiness. Venerable Concepcion Cabrera, a wife, a mother and a mystic is a woman who show us the power of ordinary life in the world as a means of union with God and holiness. I have had a devotion to Venerable Concepcion or “Conchita” for a number of years. Maybe it’s because I also am a wife and mother and serious about my spiritual life that she has become a trusted friend. I know that so often, I benefit by reading how God broke through her ordinary life to inspire her to truly fulfill her role.

Saint Thomas Aquinas coined the idea that “grace builds on nature.” This means that God breaks through our ordinary moment to transform us, to inspire us and to raise up what we do here and now to lead us to holiness. He did that for Conchita.

In reading the Cuenta de Consiencia or her journal in Spanish from January 11, 1907. She writes about being concerned with arranging schools for her children arranging their clothing and expenses but in the midst of this sensing God calling out to her with divine interior touches that were living and that she felt with a force in her soul. That night, after her family was settled down, she sensed God touch her heart to heart with an extraordinary effect. She wrote, “In my soul there is an uneasiness for perfection. I am happy in this life of obedience. My soul has thirst or desire that my will be united with God.”

When I read her diary, I feel a fire burn within my soul to give God everything in my life also so he can act through me in unison with me as I interact with my family. What about you? What do you notice inside when you read the words of Concepcion? Find God with you in the midst of your ordinary moments. ~ Mary Kaufmann, Director of Incarnate Institute.

Posted by: wordofthevine | January 25, 2018

Is My Life Enough? How Holiness in Everyday Life Leads to Heaven!

I often hear this question from people who are dying, as their hospice chaplain: Is Heaven that I’ve been believing in real? And, have I been faithful enough to God and others to reach Heaven? While we want to look at our lives head on, being honest with ourselves to identify patterns of living that can deaden our spirits, most of us underestimate the power of our simple human choices to love and do the next most obvious thing. Holiness in everyday life involves the mundane choices of everyday life.

If we look at the writings of Servant of God Elisabeth Leseur (1866-1914) we see the impact that our simple choices to be loving in the midst of the moment. She wrote: “It is only in heaven that we will realize how wonderfully God made use of the labor of these little workers: the multitude of small duties, the daily acts of self-sacrifice, the acceptance of pain offered to the Heavenly Father, poor worthless metal transformed by God into gold for others, that pure gold of love enriching others and ourselves.”

To hear more of this discussion, join us on Wednesday nights, 7 PM, CST for facebook live through Word of the Vine facebook. Ask yourself, what are the daily acts of self-sacrifice that God is asking of you? ~ Mary Kaufmann, Director of Incarnate institute.

Posted by: wordofthevine | January 23, 2018

How Carrying our Crosses can Make a Practical Difference for Others

As we grow in union with Jesus by being faithful to daily prayer, by intentionally cultivating virtue by our simple daily choices, one by one, and by asking for this great grace of union with Jesus, we fulfill a desire in the heart of Jesus: for fruitful union with us. He awaits our free yes, but comes to us through the simplest even slight openness we present to him. Venerable Concepcion Cabrera, the Mexican mystic, mother and spouse that we have been exploring the last few posts shows us truly the outcome that we can each expect from this daily dance of growing intimacy with Jesus. While all of us are not mystics, the mystics as Venerable Concepcion is, show us each with greater clarity the beauty and the depth that we each can reach with God.

Jesus told Concepcion, and us too, that we can follow the way of the Virgin Mary to obtain our greatest spiritual fruitfulness. Jesus told her: As a reflection of Mary, because of your unity with Me, you are mother, give birth to Me and to the ordained priesthood. Embrace your treasure, immerse yourself into its abyss and let yourself be embraced with its love; live by its life; let yourself be penetrated by its myrrh, empty yourself before your all; unite yourself closely, ineffably, with your only love.

The treasure Jesus was referring to was her union with Jesus. With our simple daily yes, Jesus penetrates us at the core with this life-giving essence, the dynamics of His own life active in our own. While Concepcion prayed for renewal of the world by renewing the ordained priesthood, each of us will be empowered for a unique mission in the world and the Church facilitated by union with Him. Through the ordinary ups and downs of our lives, as we endure suffering patiently, we become hollowed out to be conduits of grace to those the Lord shows us to intercede for.  Ask yourself, where is the Lord leading you to pray and intercede? You will be guided with Jesus alive inside you! ~ Mary

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


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