the sanctuary of silence

I drove to a newly-constructed church today. It has a new Blessed Sacrament Chapel as well. You know how sometimes, you can hear the buzz from the electric lights? Or the humdrum of the air conditioner? Well, there was none of that in this chapel. It was utterly silent.

A few men came and went. But for about an hour, I had just two elderly ladies as steady companions.

The walls in the chapel were bare white…

The sunlight was cascading in…

You could hear a pin drop in there.

It was utterly glorious.

But what’s up with my generation? Well, I can tell you what’s all around it: NOISE. Smart phones, tablets, portable music players, satellite radio, news  streams, instant messaging…. and the old-fashioned cable and radio. Consequently, there is never a moment we can really hear God.

I intentionally try to quiet that noise from our entertainment-focused, work-obsessed society. And even then, it’s still my voice that’s the last thing to go. It’s my often my overthinking that I have to get rid of last.

But just being in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel WITH Our LORD, in silence, for more than 15 minutes… is already so counter-cultural as it is… and is so different than what I’m used to.

Be still and know that I am GOD.

Be still and know that I AM.

Be still and know.

Be still.

Be.

That last line, “Be”?

Well, that’s where He finds me.

Author Matthew Kelly often refers to something he calls “The Classroom of Silence.” I’d like to re-coin that phrase to “The Sanctuary of Silence.”

I truly believe that in the quietest of moments, God speaks to us.

I’m still learning how to detach completely from thinking about my duties and my anxieties and my racing thoughts.

I’m still learning how to listen.

I’m still learning how to be— so His Spirit can get into me! (Well, more, and even deeper, that is.)

How frustrating, and how utterly romantic. I know I will die trying. But His words to me are worth the relentless effort, so long as I am courageous enough to persist!

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The view I had waking up among millions of teen and young adult pilgrims at World Youth Day 2011 in Madrid, Spain. It was the morning that we were to meet the pope (he was to drive through the crowds on a gigantic airfield). It was insanely quiet. Upon waking, I smelled an intense scent of roses (often a sign of Mother Mary’s presence– I was pleasantly surprised and delighted!)… and I heard God in the most inaudible way. There He was, somehow conveying to me: “Good morning, my beloved daughter! I love you!”

 

I would be straight up lying…

…If I were tell you that being a saint in the making is easy.

…If I were to tell you that being 20-something, that being young and in a world that screams, “WEALTH! PLEASURE! POWER! HONOR!” (as Fr. Robert Barron says) was easy.

…If I were to tell you that trying to: embrace a life of virtue, work to my full capacity as God’s handmaiden, overcome daily insecurities and anxieties, be chaste with my boyfriend, be patient with my family members, trust the LORD with all my heart, and smile through the trials in life… was a simple walk in the park.

These are all challenges for me. Yet this is why God has given me grace. God’s grace makes us holy; yes, it sanctifies us. But grace comes at a cost. We don’t earn it, but we have to say YES to it. That is the cost. Are we willing to let grace work in us?

Jesus requires change. He requires discipline. He requires sacrifice. And He accomplishes it through grace.

Does grace always simply float into you, like a nice breeze? No. Sometimes, grace cuts into you, strikes you like a bolt of lightning, shakes you up and to the core.

But even in the latter, we have to remember: ALL the time, grace will pulse straight to the heart, and do it Eternal Goodness, not eternal harm.

Living in the world and OF the world– following it, just doing “whatever”: now that harms your soul.

But living in the world and NOT of the world, with Christ within you, with GRACE in your soul– either in a calm way, or in that aforementioned crazy-making way: now THAT leads you to eternal joy.

So why settle for excitement that fades, for the promises from our world that will always be broken?

I am set for a greatness that will last. I am bound to a God who will keep His promises, even after the darkest of hours.

His Light WILL shine! His Kingdom WILL prevail! And how blinding, how radiant, how glorious it is!

I am a twenty-something in this world, and it’s incredibly hard not to listen to it sometimes. It’s incredibly hard not to listen to my own weakened nature sometimes. But I have grace: I have Christ within me!

I am a saint in the making, and I am nothing less.

…Now, THAT is the truth.

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Love

If I could explain it fully, I would. At times, there are no words. It is that powerful, perplexing, mysterious.

But three scenes come into mind.

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Love: When Jesus was standing on Mt. Tabor, shining brilliantly like the sun. A son Himself.

There Jesus is, looking up at God the Father. There God the Father is, looking down at Jesus.  “This is my Beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased!,” God the Father echoed.

Do you know how loved you are?

You are a beloved son or daughter of God. No matter what you’ve done, no matter where you’ve been. He wants you back always. Don’t forget that you need to be cared for and doted on and loved by Him.

Being a child. How else did Jesus find the strength to carry His Cross up Mt. Calvary? How else will you find the strength to carry your Cross on your earthen journey?

Love: When Jesus hung on the Cross. Perfect Love, never committing an offense, dying that we may forgive those who have offended or hurt or hated us, that we may seek the forgiveness of those we have offended or hurt or hated.

Hanging on a cross, dying to Himself, to the world. Sacrifice. How else could Jesus bring life to the world? To show the hurting heart what true love looked like? To show the hating heart what true love looked like?

Jesus would die for only you if you were to be His only faithful disciple! Imagine that.

Love: When Mary stood at the foot of the Cross, looking at her beloved Son.

A mother’s love… they ask: what can beat it?

Mother Mary, the most obedient and humble and beautiful woman who ever walked the earth. The most loving mother any child could ask for… willing to watch others murder the most perfect child any mother could have.

She didn’t interfere. She stood back, in humility, as painful as it was, as pierced as her heart was. By a sword.

She loved her Son Jesus, yet she loved us just as equally, as she allowed us to murder him, that we might know True Love.

Imagine that: a mother allowing her son to be murdered for you, her other child.

What is love? At times, I am at a loss for words. But I can tell you what it looks like.

In my own experience dating and being “courted,” I can tell you that I’ve also seen these sides of love. With my family, both nuclear and extended, I’ve seen these sides of love. In my friendships, I’ve seen these sides of love. With clients, with strangers…

So let us let love abound, and let us not be afraid of how hard and raw and hurtful it may feel at times. It just may transform the world.