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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

What am I? And Who are YOU?

Thus said St. Francis. I realize that today is the Feast day of St. Benedict, and while his daughter, a Benedictine Sister, inspired my post, it is the words of St. Francis that define it.

During Lent this last spring, while I was undergoing a particular trial in life, I remember that I was having great difficulty in everything, including prayer after Communion. I had so much I wanted to say to God, there was so much I wanted to hear God saying, but there was no communication whatsoever. I came close to despair, and fought that temptation with great difficulty. I felt my faith failing me. Who is God, anyway? What difference does it make?

So I knelt and looked up at the huge crucifix that graces our sanctuary, and I just considered intellectually what I'd been learning in class about Jesus Christ and who he was. What he did. For us. I considered his suffering, and I stared intently at the nails in his hands, the crown of thorns digging into his head, the blood running in rivulets I knew had been there, although they are not depicted on a typical crucifix.

It struck me, suddenly, so hard that I couldn't even breathe for a few moments. Tears threatened to overwhelm me.

My life has no meaning apart from the cross. My life has no definition apart from the suffering of Jesus on my behalf. My own suffering has no meaning without reference to Him.

And I realized it was true, and how deeply I believed it. At that time, my load did not lighten, but it was, rather, illuminated before me, allowing me to see it through the eyes of my Savior.

Tonight I was watching EWTN and something Benedictine Sister Gertrude Gillette, O.S.B said has just brought that illumination of Lent back into my present.

She was discussing relationships; we are who we are in relation to others. We all affect others and are affected by them in life, and this, in turn, defines who we are and who we become. She described how the Benedictines define themselves in relation to Christ - and so should we all.

Just as God revealed to me on that day in Lent, my life has no meaning, I am nothing, without relation to Jesus Christ. It is He who must define me, who must lead me, who must shape me into what I am supposed to become.

So it is for us all.

The the thoughts of others, the attitudes of others, good or bad, enter our souls through our senses. When we read, the words of another person comes through our eyes, our intellect, and enters our souls, perhaps changing us forever. What we hear enters our ears, passes through our minds, and becomes a part of our souls, again, potentially changing us forever. It is relational.

So we have to ask ourselves; what are we reading, not so much to consider the words, but to contemplate what we are alloing to enter into our very souls. We have to think about what we are hearing; what is going on around us, and does it glorify God and dignify us? Or does it sneer at God and trample our human dignity to bits...and how does that affect us and or ability to be Christ-like to others?

We MUST look only to Jesus to define ourselves. No other human being can substitute, and we should be looking to those who exemplify Christ as models. We need to pay attention to what we read or see or hear and take care that it is not poison we are so willingly imbibing into our very souls.

The good Benedictine Sister reminded me today to look to Christ to define my path; to look to Him to understand my trials and my suffering. To look to him to infuse virtue into my soul.

Because apart from Jesus, I am only so much dust and ashes; apart from Christ, there is no reason for me to live. United with Christ, we are instruments of God and his strength becomes ours, and in that relationship, God is glorified and our own dignity as human beings is affirmed.

So I answer these questions from the good St. Francis:

What am I? Only dust, and to dust I will return.

Who are You? My Creator, my Savior, my Father, my God, the lover of my soul, the One who knew me before I was born, who loved me even as he was tortured and suffered death for my sins, the only one who will ever suffice. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit.

What am I, you ask? Nothing, apart from God.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

"My life has no meaning apart from the cross. My life has no definition apart from the suffering of Jesus on my behalf. My own suffering has no meaning without reference to Him.

And I realized it was true, and how deeply I believed it. At that time, my load did not lighten..."

this is a wonderful post; it's true the burden is'nt lifted, but we are strengthened and His light beckons us to Him.

Martin

Adoro te Devote said...

Hi, Martin, thanks for your comment. And it is true; so often I have come to realize that the burden is not removed, we just recieve help in carrying it. I have found, though, that sometimes the burden really is lightened; God has taken trials from me, when I have prayed at a moment of desperation, but more often than not, help just comes, as you observed, in the form of strength, or even other resources.

The trials God gives us builds character and paves our path to holiness.

No wonder there's so much happening in my life...I need a LOT of character building to get me to holiness! LOL!

Terry Nelson said...

This is really a good post - worth reading over and over. This relationship thing has really been on my mind lately. Thanks Adoro!

Adoro te Devote said...

Anything for you, Terry!

Christina said...

My life has no meaning apart from the cross. My life has no definition apart from the suffering of Jesus on my behalf. My own suffering has no meaning without reference to Him.

This is beautiful!

And it's so true, He rarely takes away the suffering, but gives us the strength and support to make it through. How often I've spurned the help he's given because I wanted the problem solved.

Terry Nelson said...

I just meant I liked the post - unless you did write it for me?

Adoro te Devote said...

Terry, well, I don't always know where the "inspiration" comes from...maybe it WAS written for you, and I'm just the unwitting messenger?

God likes to do that kind of thing.