The reason the early Christians were known by their love is because they were vessels of His love. Jesus is counter cultural, and to be His Christian we must be too. We must be Love.
As a young adult I began hearing people talk about the family of choice—our friends. The notion is that we get to choose our friends and they become our family. The implication is that we don’t get to choose our real families and so we are ‘stuck’ with them. An assumption is that we can cease being part of the birth family when we replace it with enough friends. This, of course, is false. While harm is never God’s will, belonging to our family is His design for our salvation—it is our family of Gift. He also would not place us into circumstances without the grace needed to thrive in holiness.
Faith is the gate through which grace enters. We must personally decide whether to be a grace vessel or a grace blocker. There is no partiality in God. He can only give of Himself 100%. The reason we do not receive the effects of that 100% is in us, not Him. I cannot change the past but I can change me today, asking God that I may truly desire they (and I) bask in His glory in Heaven.
Our soul is like the face of a cliff face. Our wounds are the crevices that give the fingertip space to the enemy to hold onto us. And that’s all he needs. Sometimes the smaller crevices run the deepest too. That is why the answer to any distress or conflict, whether spiritual or non-spiritual, is always our relationship with God. The pain of love far surpasses the pain we cling to in our hearts. This letting go, per St. Francis de Sales, is how we become “the instrument of our martyrdom”.
Reflecting upon marriage and families, it became clear that when couples divorce, they give up on Hope. At some point, their own natural optimism isn’t sufficient to sustain the marriage. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the US was in epidemics of depression, anxiety and loneliness. Suicide was the 2nd highest killer of our youth and young adults. A significant number of depressed teens said they had no adult in the home to talk to. Meanwhile divorce rates ranges from 40-80% depending upon the population and cohabitation—lack of commitment altogether—is on the rise. While some sort of family unit remains, family unity risks extinction.
Many people are currently in despair having ‘hoped’ to regain their pre-pandemic lifestyle. Yet with all this said, do we really want to return to our old way of living?
Devotional prayers are a beautiful part of Catholic heritage and culture. These provide us the words to express our deepest heart-felt emotions. These can also be a great launch into meditation for building relationship with God. There is risk, however, that the devotions themselves might become the subject of our adoration and not God. In recent history, this was a spiritual illness throughout the Church that unfortunately influenced the later rejection of devotions altogether. Just praying in the name of Him isn’t the same as knowing Him.