A Year-End message from Ms. Angelyn Dee to her prayer group and for the whole of Marian Solidarity
Dear Fellow-Members of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Circle,
I have been pondering Resela’s question to us three days ago: “In times of suffering, how can we ensure that we don’t get angry at God or give up our faith and abandon Him?” Another way of putting the question is “How can I trust God and remain faithful during times of trial?” I thought it would be most appropriate to share some thoughts with you on this last day of the year- a day in which we look back and give thanks for all the blessings God has bestowed on us in 2017. How timely also that our “Walk to Eternity” with Jeff Cavins ended on the last week of the last month with Gratefulness! Very providential.
These truths/tips are good to keep in mind in order to have an “attitude of gratitude” even in trying times:
1) Everything is a gift.
EVERYTHING. God does not need us, but He made us so we can share forever in the eternal exchange of love that He is- Father, Son and Spirit. This is incomprehensibly incredible! He did not have to do this, but He did … out of sheer love. We cannot earn this love; it is gratuitous gift. He owes us nothing but gave us everything, therefore gratitude should be the first attitude of our hearts. We must recognize and acknowledge, in whatever way we can, the truth of God’s goodness and generosity to us.
2) God promised us eternal life, not an easy one.
In fact, He said the road to life would be narrow and steep, and to follow Him we must deny ourselves DAILY and pick up the cross. There is a saying that disappointment comes from having expectations, and grave disappointment comes from having false expectations. Therefore, we must never expect that being faithful to God will result in a smooth and easy life. A recent witty piece sent to me promised health, success and prosperity for those who ‘entrust the plane ride of their life to Captain Jesus.’ This is a false message and expectation. The Good News is not ‘health & wealth’.
Jesus did not promised us a pain-free life, but His peace, joy and abiding presence. Our Lady said to St Bernadette, “I cannot promise you happiness in this world, only in the next.” Therefore, when trials come, our attitude should not be “Why me?” but “Why not me?” A poignant example of this is Fr Peter Chiang. When recently diagnosed with lung cancer, he simply and immediately responded, “Why not? Jesus has suffered everything for me, now I can suffer something for Him.”
3) Praise and thank God DAILY
(Fr. Anthony’s recommendation). Start the day praising God; end the day with thanksgiving. The church prays this way in her daily liturgy of the hours. If we don’t pray daily or praise and thank God habitually, when trials come we will not be able to pray, let alone praise and thank Him simply for who He is (as Job did). In fact, we may curse Him.
St Ignatius’ Examen is the one thing he asked his Jesuits to do daily; actually, twice a day: noon and night. It is not only a good way of seeing how God is acting in our day but also recognizing the motives behind our actions- whether they are pure or tainted with self-love.
Here is an explanation of the Examen: http://www.manresa-canada.ca/articlesonprayer/articlesonprayer_method_examen.shtml
(Notice the first line: “The most abominable sin Ignatius could imagine was the sin of ingratitude.”)
4) Put God (or the Mother of God) at the CENTRE of every trial.
Making Him/her the centre takes the focus off ourselves.
- When my friends abandon me: “Lord, you were abandoned too. I unite my pain with yours. Thank you for never abandoning me.”
- When my family is ungrateful: “Lord, how you suffer from the indifference and ingratitude of those whom you died for. Thank you for letting me taste a drop of your sorrow, which I offer to you for those who don’t love you.”
- When my loved one is suffering: “Mother Mary, you watched your son’s agonizing torture and death with complete trust in God. Help me in my distress and sorrow. Help me to trust in God’s plan and to surrender to His will.”
- Etc., etc.
5) Frequent the sacraments
… which are fountainheads of grace, the Eucharist being God Himself- the source of all grace.
6) See suffering as an opportunity
… to console God, repair sins, convert sinners, beget peace, mature spiritually and become holy. The angel at Fatima asked the three shepherd children to make everything they could a sacrifice, and to accept and bear with submission the suffering which God would send them for the reparation of sins, the conversion of sinners and to bring about God’s peace. Our Lady also asked them if they were willing to offer themselves to God and bear sufferings, and she taught them a prayer to say when doing this: “O Jesus, this is for love of you…etc.,” which we pray this at the start of every circle. Sister Lucia wrote that the angel made them understand “who God is, how much He loves us, the value of sacrifice, how pleasing it is to God, and how, because of it, He converts sinners.” What an incredible opportunity suffering brings to save souls, including our own!
7) Ask for help.
Do not be shy or self-sufficient. God made us to be interdependent, not independent, in order to unleash His love.
8) God suffers with us.
He is not looking from a distance, indifferent to our sorrow, or worse, in glee (which is how we sometimes picture Him). We are all part of His body, and when we suffer, He suffers. We are never alone in our suffering. He will carry us through.
9) Jesus, I trust in You!
Pray this repeatedly. Jesus told St Faustina that what gives Him the greatest joy is a soul that trusts in Him completely. Trusting in Our Lord during severe trials must give Him immense joy!
10) Be detached and holy indifferent to all created things. Be attached only to God’s will.
(This one is challenging.) Only an empty vase can be filled with water. Only a soul empty of self can be filled with God.
St Alphonsus Liguori: “How does it happen that so many pray and go frequently to Holy Communion and still make no considerable progress in the love of God? Doubtless the reason is because the heart is full of self-esteem, of vanity, of self-will, and of attachment to creatures. He, therefore, who wishes to arrive at the perfect love of God must practice poverty in spirit,be detached from worldly possessions, from temporal honors, from his fellow creatures, and from himself.”
St Ignatius: “Therefore, we must make ourselves indifferent to all created things, as far as we are allowed by free choice and are not under any prohibition. Consequently, as far as we are concerned, we should not prefer health to sickness, riches to poverty, honor to dishonor, a long life to a short.” (Spiritual Exercises # 23)
Real-life examples of detachment and holy indifference here: http://fatherbroom.com/blog/2013/03/ignatian-holy-indifference/
Our example par excellence is Our Blessed Mother:
“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.”
Please feel free to share any “tips” you may have that will help us remain faithful to God in times of trial.
Sincere wishes for a new year filled with God’s joy, peace and presence, come what may!
Happy 2018! Happy Feast of Mary, Mother of God!
Sincerely in Jesus through Mary,