Autumn is the perfect season for change: a transition from warmth to cold, from sunny days to clouds. A solitary leaf dances effortlessly when it falls from the tree. And our attention is placed upon the color and grace of the changing leaves, the eye-catching beauty. But once shed of all its finery, why do we ignore the tree? When stripped down to their trunks and limbs, we can see the tree’s true shape. Each is a unique shape too, a personality of sorts. There is a type of beauty in the barrenness found nowhere else in creation.
I pray that, as the leaves turn from green to gold and the trees fall barren, that I too will change my colors, let go of whatever inhibits me from following God, and be barren.
When I go to prayer with my agenda, it is like an orchestra that is simply a collection of noisy instruments wanting to be heard. When God works in the soul, it is like a conductor bringing together beautiful music, having already cleaned the instruments and tweaked their tuning. He brings them into one voice: His.
So, when I begin to pray I ask myself…who is setting the agenda?
On October 7, 1571 the Holy League under direction of The Blessed Virgin Mary won the battle to save Lepanto and all of Christendom. Their weapon: the Rosary.
This is our Lepanto moment. The Holy League wasn’t an army. It was a coalition of forces brought together by Pope Pius V. Today, in prayer, we now are that coalition of forces fueled by the Holy Spirit and directed by Our Blessed Mother. We are facing a battle far greater than Lepanto. Do we believe?
In the small elementary school of my childhood, there was a bench outside the principal’s office where the ‘bad’ kids sat after school. As soon as class was out at 3:30, they headed to the Goof-Off bench and sat. Their moms were called and told to expect them to be late coming home; the kids were told to stay there 30 minutes, and everyone went home including the Principal and staff. Amazingly, the kids sat on the bench as required!
We obeyed because we accepted that there are natural consequences for our actions. It would frankly be stupid to think otherwise, and even as kids we knew that. We built steadfastness when accepting our natural consequences. Own it. Do it. Learn from it. Move on.
Do I accept consequences today?
September 29 is the feast of the Archangels Sts. Michael, Gabriel and Rafael. Then October 2 is the feast of our Guardian Angels. We are always surrounded by the angels, yet often feel that we are abandoned with no help in sight. Take heart with the example of St. Frances of Rome (1384-1440)! Although she wanted to be a nun as a young girl, she married at age 12 and lived out her vocation through her relationship with God with prayer. She watched 2 of her 3 children die and had to live with the prophetic knowledge of her daughter’s impending death. Just as we are called to do, she remained obedient to the magisterium in spite of great tribulation in the church and world. Without her faith, she might have become a bitter woman lashing out about the Pope and in continual need of shopping therapy. Instead, she joyfully set up a hospital in her home and purposefully sought out the most sickly people of Rome.