Saturday, May 31, 2008

Running on Fumes

Yesterday was the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Renewed a simple offering of suffering, spoken interiorly but with the heart, during the Consecration.

It is a prayer from the Raccolta: Heart of Jesus, Victim of Love, vouchsafe that I become a living, holy, pleasing holocaust in Thy sight.

An old monk from an abbey told me three and a half years ago to pray this and it would bring joy. Well, the joy is one thing--but he neglected to mention it would also secure more suffering! Guess that is the point!

My dear Lord! A visit to an adult child and family tested the little gain of energy following the major depletion of six weeks prior. A comment was made, noticing less energy than the year before. Well, the body does age! But it is more than that. The attitude was commended, but was told that the adult child could always tell when the pain was worse--that there was a kind of pushing through which made the sufferer seem a bit ingenuine.

Perhaps so! It is one way to describe it! I suppose it is ingenuine to experience agony and act chipper (as possible) at the same time. But, the adult child was told that this is what Jesus asks of us, and the Scriptures throughout: I say it again, rejoice! Count it all joy.... Pick up your cross daily and follow Me. Sow with tears; reap with joy. I explained the path in which one is to practice the virtues, and to attempt to mask personal suffering if possible, and if not possible, to at least offer it with love to Jesus for His use--and then that is the joy of the whole matter of suffering. It is more blessed to give than to receive.

The prayer renewed yesterday (and off and on throughout the year, with the vows of suffering fully renewed and received by a priest on the Feast of St. Pio) DOES ask the Heart of Jesus to secure that the petitioner be a holy and a pleasing holocaust in HIS sight.

Once more, we have to consider how Jesus views matters of life, of suffering. Yes, the petitioner asks to be made, also, a living holocaust. So the pain is going to be best utilized when one is alive. That is sort of like the Scripture that states that hope which is seen is no hope at all. A body that is dead does not feel ripping pain in its members! It is feels no pain at all.

But being a living holocaust (in HIS sight) means more, for the interior, once more, is what God views. The interior lives on, and it is in the interior where unadulterated joy can exist despite the exterior pain. And the interior joy can exist within the soul, despite the interior mental and emotional pain which many people experience--so many people.

The saints such as Joan of Arc whose feast day was yesterday, also, became living, holy, pleasing holocausts in His sight. And they had the interior joy, and that manifested in peak experiences of suffering, and manifested from the interior to the exterior through a countenance or words, or no words but essence.

Forgiveness is the fertilizer of joy. It seems so. Forgiveness allows love to grow, and there can be no joy without love. And the action of fertilizer within a plant is not visibly seen--not the action. But the reaction is observed in growth, in the beauty of fresh leaves, of blooms, of inches on branches, pine flowers turning to cones, of tiny fruits forming, then burgeoning into luscious edibles. Jesus points out the tiniest of seeds grows into a mustard plant which can become more like a tree.

Well, energy welled up three days ago, finally, and then the body was called upon in the line of duty--and it was a rather joyful matter, yet once more quite demanding physically. So now the body is in physical agony, and the thoughts must be kept moderated, for the abode is in disarray, laundry needs to be folded, counters cleared. And there is little energy to "do."

The body actually burns with pain, particularly with nerve pain shooting here and there like flames licking the legs and the heat filling the torso. The head fills with the smoky dizziness that can accompany an expenditure of much energy, pushing through on few fumes.

It is at times like this, that one must calmly reflect upon the prayer offering, and know that Jesus has vouchsafed the soul what it asked. Living? Check. Pleasing? Hope so. Loving? Didn't think so but from what other source than God-Is-Love did the body and soul manage the past few days of being called upon in active charity? Of course it is God and His love that did so! Holocaust? Yes, check.

Then, one must reflect on nost so much the burning pain or the fact the body is running on fumes, but must see in the rear view mirror and the side mirrors, that the breath remains, the heart beating, and the day dawns green with hope albeit through fog-smoked windows.

Not so painful running on fumes, for joy is in the fumes, too. Just don't step on the gas at this point!

Friday, May 30, 2008

More on Bruised Reeds....

Well, perhaps--just thoughts. No authoritative answer on why a bruised reed He will not break!

However, it does seem that bruises have the particularly quality of providing humility. They are a humbling wound, injury, mark. They come often from humbling bumps, hits, internal injuries, hidden and unknown causes that one cannot pinpoint, as well as from, sadly, abuse.

A bruised eye can come from a fall, walking into a door edge, or being hit in the face.

Bruises are unattractive injuries. Often they cannot be seen by others, but yet they are painful when touched. They color up and change into ochre-looking, under-skin ponds of blood and other bodily fluid, drying up sub-skin tissue. In the case of interior bruises, they are felt and not seen. The suffering is not visible to others, and there is no sympathy unless one explains.

The Lord does not break humble souls. He stretches them, it seems. Humility allows the bruised soul assurance of the Lord's love; and love is expressed in humble suffering.

Jesus was bruised but not broken. Not a bone was broken!

Anyway, it seems a consideration. And bruises are thus more appealing for the spiritually desirous victim soul, for the virtue of humility surfaces once more as a definite benefit and grace. There is a balm in the humble bruise.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A Bruised Reed He Will Not Break

Had to remind myself of this just now. My, the pain is searing. The energy is nearly non-existent. Might have to get back in bed in a bit. Morning Mass had message of selfishness--how we become very drawn into the smaller picture rather than seeing the large view of God. Jesus did tell Peter and the others that they will drink the cup He drinks--but to sit at His right or left is God's prerogative.

Last night it seemed in reality, that I am dying. It is not a sudden death, but there is an obvious decline within the last year. An adult child noticed the decrease in energy and the greater effort to endure, to gut it out and keep going. The attitude was not faulted, thankfully, for there is still the little chant: I'm a happy, positive, upbeat, inside-out-joyful, Eucharistic Catholic. Around non-Catholic family members I do not add the final two words, out of charity, for they would balk at any of the words, then. They do not comprehend. It is the being a Eucharistic Catholic that makes the other words a possibility in actuality.

Took three over-the-counters this morning, spread out before and after Mass. In the prayer while receiving the Host, in a rare intercession (for me), I prayed for myself, that the Lord would refresh me and help me endure. So much for selfishness and the homily pointing out how easy it is to remain self-focused! My prayer was an act of desperation, and I know this priest would understand.

His point, however, is quite thoughtful. He prays prior to Mass and prepares well in advance, asking the Lord to give him insights as to what He would like him to preach. So this morning, the insight came that we carry much anger, hatred of others, and self-focus--to the exclusion of being able to view God's expansive sight.

As for recent (self) concerns that I have not love, or that I am frighteningly detached, this morning a good dose of pain and through the night, reminds me that one who is dying, who is drained, is like the lawn mower yesterday that started to slow, then sputter, then get a spurt and cut a few more feet before its healthy growling became a weak whining, and then silence. It was out of gas.

A bruise is a slow kind of dying. The cells have been injured on the inside, and die, and gradually the bluish red turns greenish blue and fades to yellow brown. It seems that my body has an inside-out, over-all bruise. The life source is waning. The bruised reed is not going to break, for bruises are platitudinous and not like an arm or leg that can be snapped. But, the point is, a bruise can weaken an area of the body, and in that weakened area, there is vulnerability.

The Lord will not break the soul at its innocent, vulnerable spots. Yet He allows the vulnerable spots and the bruises. These spots with bruises are a visible reminder (most often from the inside out but sometimes visible to self and others from the outside in) that the soul must take rest to heal; and then must avoid that which causes bruises, if possible.

Now, if the bruises come from encounters unavoidable, then the soul must simply have faith that the encounters will not break it, for the Lord will not break a bruised soul.

Can anyone break a bruised soul? Not really. It might seem like encounters with others and circumstances from the world--or even the faults and consequences of the self--can break a soul. But the Lord is over all, and a soul cannot be broken. It can be condemned, but who causes it to be cast into Hell? The self.

For those who suffer and who offer their sufferings, who have agreed to the sufferings for Jesus to utilize as He will and if He wills, the bruises can be continuous and all over, even internal. Maybe especially internal bruises. But the soul who turns to Jesus with its black eyes and bruised kidneys is reassured that it will not be snapped in two or more pieces.

Bruises can take a long time to heal. Sometimes they even effect internal bleeding. Well, a victim cannot be considered a victim until it loses the last drop of blood! I have not suffered yet unto blood....

When the bruises drain the body of seemingly the last drop of energy, and the blood seems anemic, it is best to not have a huge list of chores, but to develop a realistic plan for the day. Perhaps it is a day to pray, to doze, to tidy up one small area or two, with breaks, and to do smile exercise rather than plant ground cover or paint a door frame or run an errand.

Smiling does not take much muscle but is known to be rather healing, and if the smile is turned to the crucifix on the wall or a statue of the Sacred Heart, or even to the picture of the Sorrowful Mother or Virgin in Prayer, the Lord and His mother see that the victim soul is still trying to adore and be joyful.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Sufferings of Liturgical Abuse

Perhaps this is a stretch for some to comprehend, but there is genuine suffering of soul and mind and body when one goes to a Catholic Church in which the Mass is mangled, the Sanctuary not representative of what Pope Benedict XVI has requested/mandated of all Catholic Churches--and the gestures in the Mass not what the USCB have agreed upon.

There ought to be a site as in a consumer complaint site, to forewarn unsuspecting Catholics who move or visit and attend Mass. At least they ought to know what is in store for them, if it is going to mean suffering. Mass attendees, beware! Scammed from a liturgically safe Mass! Ripped off by disobedience in fellow Catholics and clergy! Well, it is a thought.

Surely Jesus would desire the anguish of liturgical abuse and the underlying disobedience to be offered in reparation for sins and for souls--whatever Jesus can use it for.

Such disobedience, according to mystics and saints and the Blessed Virgin Mary, grieve and offends our Lord Jesus Christ. It ought to grieve and offend all Catholics, lay and cleric and religious, dead and alive.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Just Suffering

Noticed some internet information regarding victim souls, and a prayer of St. Catherine of Siena. I am reading her biography but have not come to the section on her stigmatization.

Regardless, I noticed other information that mentions that victim souls are chosen by God and are not that common. But, it seemed that these were commenting on those victim souls with the stigmata. There was some distinction between offering up suffering and being a victim soul. Well, there is, as has been written about in a previous blog. But, there is far more room for victim souls in our world, and souls ought to remain quite open to this vocation.

On a personal note, my suffering has increased quite a bit lately, and in this I can tell that my body has less resiliance, is more weary, and is facing more unknowns.

These unknowns are the vulnerability of keeping up a place to live, of visiting when asked and expected, of becoming more stabilized in the vocation with faith in that as the vocation. It is in the vulnerability of not knowing if one can endure, or what will be next--if the body will recover a bit more energy or not, if the body will be able to endure the suffering, if the attitude and emotions will strive for praise and joy and attain that (or maintain a decent level).

All is a trust in the Lord that is beyond the trust previously demanded of the soul. The detachment in many areas has grown stronger, sometimes rather frighteningly so--or surprisingly so, at least. The progression continues, and the mind is not sure it even takes note--and is sure it does not take note of many details but rather lets them float across the mind, not lodging in nooks and crannies, but simply floating on and out from whence they came in the busy world.

It is just suffering. Not just--but suffering that is just to endure, to be given, to offer. It is justifiable suffering, a kind of suffering that is of justice of God.

I am too tired to explain that, for it is just suffering, and that seems enough. Perhaps I will look up the word "just" in the dictionary, or anyone reading this who wants to comprehend it better, can do so, also.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Suffering Heightens Self-Awareness

This is not necessarily a good effect of suffering. But, one must turn it into a positive through prayer and love. One must at times force the suffering outward, to turn it to Jesus who is without and within, as we are within His Sacred Heart.

Jesus is without among human beings all over the earth; and He is within their souls, knows their minds, and is aware of their emotions and actions. As He is with ours.

So in time of suffering, such as today when the pain is even affecting the feet very much, and there is gardening to do and watering of the Samaritan Dogwood whose leaves are withering from too much wind in a recent planting, the pain is offered to Jesus for all the thoughts of others, for their souls, for the Church, for the confessor who this morning took time to listen, to advise, and to gently lead the soul into some self-awareness that was positive.

The positive aspect was the fact of the sense of too much self--too much self-awareness. Too much selfish sensitivity. From a negative can come a positive, and the positive must remain a force to push upward and out, like the perennials beginning to peek through the warming soil, or the buds on the Jeanne d'Arc Rose of Sharon, thankfully showing signs of life when a week ago it was feared to be martyred by the winter judgment.

For any who would think a Victim Soul of the Sacred Heart of Jesus ever comes to a point of suffering well, of suffering selflessly, of having it all together and pert-near all the answers: Not so. The suffering creeps in like weeds whose roots were never totally expunged, or like weeds whose roots were yanked fully out, but the seeds had already dropped for more weedlets to grow. The Victim Soul of the Sacred Heart must be a diligent weeder as well as a persevering gardener. What flowers can bloom or leaves unfold if the soil is overrun by weeds?

Yet, the weeds persist until the gardener is no more, and they persist for the next gardeners.

The over-the-counter pain medication, doubled up, is helping some, and this victim soul must bundle up to the wind and chill of this May day, and return to a pathway to be planted in ground cover called "Green Carpet." It is said that green is the color of hope.

It is hoped that this victim soul will pray much for others, offer every ounce of added pain radiating from tendrilled nerves, to Jesus for His use with the billions of souls living and dead with whom He resides--many of whom reside in Him.

For pain of all types can draw one inward to self, and that self can choke charity, and that self can reap negativity in a quick-wilting effect. One must create room for the cross to grow in a healthy manner, and the best soil is that within the Sacred Heart.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

What Makes a Victim Soul: the Spiritual Da's Thoughts

The spiritual da the other afternoon agreed with what had been written in the previous blog about how one knows if one is a victim soul, and if a victim soul is different than one who offers up sufferings, in general.

He said a victim soul is different than those who generously and kindly but simply offer up suffering (and suffering is never "simply" suffered!). He said that in a vocation, a person is chosen by God and the person agrees and accepts. Being a victim soul contains these elements, then.

Offering sufferings is very good and what we are expected to do, but the vocation of suffering steps further into a kind of contract as well as covenant. It requires God's action, God's choosing, God's approval and His acceptance, as well as ours.

Offering it up--our sufferings--is like scattering wildflower seeds in a field. Having the vocation as a victim soul is like being a young Butterfly Magnolia tree that is cultivated early on (often without realizing it), and then potted, and then planted in a deep hole with soil amendments, and then fertlized and grown as a kind of specimen that is pruned and expected to bloom and provide other specific expectations throughout the four seasons.

All are God's creation and function within His will. The seeds grow into many beautiful wildflowers, blooming at different times of the spring and summer and into fall, and some re-seed for the next season and some wither for their offering is finished by All Saints Day or before. They are appreciated, beloved, and glorious--individually and en masse.

The tree grows into what it was created and planted and groomed to be, also. But it is rooted in a different manner and is hardened off for the duration of its God-willed function.

Is one better than the other? Of course not! But the nature and purpose and cultivation and effect are different.

Does this help to comprehend a bit? The wildflowers from seeds offer fragrance as does the Butteryfly Magnolia; but the wildflowers are variegated and various and vulnerably fleeting contrasted to the more singular expectation of the Butterfly Magnolia. (Or perhaps it would have been better to have utilized the Kousa Dogwood with its small pinkish-blood cross, veined within the snow-white bloom.)

Within the flowers and the trees of God's created power and will, they themselves do not consider too much what they are but humbly and obediently live their destinies in His kingdom.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Victim Soul or Not?

A loving, suffering soul left a comment with questions on another blog, but I felt it fit best in victim soul content as opposed to the hermit category. I did respond on that blog, some, but prayed and waited and have a bit more to contribute, such as it is.

This is the comment with questions:

My life seems to be one of suffering. Even though I have suffered my whole life, I feel that since I found Jesus (many years ago), my sufferings have increased but also I have had so many more blessings too. How do I know if Jesus wants me to be a victim soul? If I offer myself to suffer could that be wrong? (I have actually offered already many years ago, but I am not sure if He took me up on it- I definitely suffer but am I a victim soul? I don't know.) Lately I feel like I find myself wondering what can I do for God? What am I doing? Am I supposed to offer myself for others or did I just assume that? I actually abhor the thought of suffering and I am a hypochondriac. I suffer from much anxiety and always have since my childhood. I have numerous health issues. How do I know if I am given these from Jesus or not? I am afraid to be self- supposing and assume Jesus wants me to be a victim soul for I am very prideful and so far from perfection that I don't feel I can trust my own self or my motives. Are they my self-serving motives somehow or HIs? I actually believe He wants all souls to be united with Him, but I feel so unworthy. I can picture others being called but not myself. My failings and sins seem so apparently visible to me that they cause me suffering. I am also a mother. Should a mother offer herself in that way? For I feel guilty that I have asked for suffering and my husband and family are of course affected by my life. My children especially have been afflicted with health problems and this in turn feels like a sword in my heart. I can imagine no other worse way to suffer than to see my children in pain- what if I have indirectly asked for this by offering to suffer? Lastly, Is being a victim soul the same as offering up our sufferings. We are taught to offer it up, that all souls suffer to win souls. Is that the same as being a victim soul? I do hope you will reply. I am in agony just over wether I am doing the right thing or not. Many times I feel restless in my faith like there is an upheaval of sorts going on in my soul but I have no idea why. I feel so very alone. It's not like I have a hand book or know a community that has this charism. My husband is a lukewarm catholic (he hasn't been given the gift of faith and seems to choose what suits him and doesn't worry much about salvation) and my extended family are atheists. I feel alone and have no-one to turn to about the matter.

After a few days of prayer and pondering, the first response is that I don't know. I don't know who is a victim soul or not, but the soul will know if God needs the soul to know. Once, someone realized they were a mystic. The Lord then asked, "Why do you need a label?"

So, whether or not one is a victim soul, might not matter as much as living out the modality of a victim soul, which, like a hermit, has certain "givens." One is that the person offers whatever suffering comes--offers this with gratitude for Christ to use as He wills. This might be for reparation of sins of particular souls, of one's own soul, or of unknown souls. The victim soul does not need to know. Perhaps Jesus will decide to let the person know, however. And whatever. But another given is that one vocation will not preclude or interfere negatively with another vocation, such as marriage. The daily duty must continue, and a sacramental vocation such as marriage would not be jeopardized--at least not by God!

That is why it seems reasonable that there are degrees within the vocation of victim soul. Does the suffering come from God? Well, would it come from the devil? If one does not have a peace with the suffering, or is taking pride in the suffering over a period of time, and discovers that the suffering is a manifestation of the psyche, then it probably is not from God. But even sufferings of the mind and emotions can be utilized and offered to God, even if they are not per se from God--or the underlying motives are confused and not holy (pride, desire for recognition, or other pathologies, etc.). It seems from my limited experience, that when something is tainted by the devil, there is no better way to flush the evil out than by telling God that you aren't sure if the suffering is from him or not, but that regardless you are offering it to Him, and are acknowledging it all to be His and His alone.

Of course, one can simply ASK God if the suffering is from Him, and then wait, pray, and in time one will have an answer.

Is it right to ask for suffering? Well, the saints did. St. Peter asked to be crucified upside down, which would bring even more suffering. He had a reason for this penance, this act of submission and humility: witnessing that he is unworthy to be crucified in the manner of Christ. It was some mortification, huh?

Is being a victim soul the same as offering up our sufferings? The vocation as a victim soul is a vocation. Offering up our sufferings seems more an act that might not include a full-rooted vocation. However, as I have previously written and suggested five levels of vows as a victim soul, even if situational, one can surely be a situational victim soul. What is required in a vocation, however, is a call. The call can be subtle, over time, or immediate and loud and clear. If there has been a long-enduring sense that one is being asked to suffer on behalf of souls, and if there is a desire for this which is not from an emotional or psychological pathology, then chances are that is a call.

One can test calls, of course. Pray. Ponder. Continue on in daily life with doing one's earthly duty. Are the dishes being washed and laundry folded and put away? Are family needs being met? Is the prayer life stable, Mass attendance regular, confession on-going, spiritual direction sought and accepted? Someone with a vocation seeks advice from the priest, confessor, spiritual director--to help discern the vocation call. Then, one continues to live, and over time, especially with suffering and the vocation as a victim soul, God will give affirmations along the way. Even something like hypochondria can be a suffering worth offering to Jesus for reparation. However, victim souls do not take pride in their sufferings and so seek alleviation to the sufferings.

This is perhaps one of the best discernment tools. If the suffering can be alleviated by medication, therapy, or other mortal means (which are given by God Who gives us all good), then the person will know that at least the suffering was situational, for a certain period of time. That would eliminate, at least for that time phase, being a primary victim soul or even a secondary one.

Perhaps it is best to keep in mind that God would not desire the soul to fret about it too much. One can ask to be a victim soul, and God will either say "yes" or "no." If one has offered to suffer, and one suffers, then in time there will be some kind of peace and affirmations as to the vocation's validity.

Again, it probably isn't so important to know if one is a victim soul or not, but to have faith that if one offered to suffer and is suffering, that at least that has been allowed by God. Even if the sufferings are not so much physical, they can be offered with love and joy. Even if the sufferings are spiritual in nature, they can be offered with love and joy.

Perhaps the distinction between "offering it up" and being a "victim soul" is that there is a kind of agreement between the soul and Jesus in the vocation aspect. The victim soul has offered first or been asked first, either way, and the person has some indications that Jesus has accepted the offer--or the person has told Jesus that the person agrees to the suffering, to this vocation. A vow given and received by a priest helps dispel the doubts, for the priest would have spent time going over the situation with the person making the vow.

Sometimes a person might make a private vow before the Tabernacle, or in the night in bed! But, it does seem very prudent to then discuss this vocation with a priest who has some understanding of suffering and of victim souls. Read many books of victim souls, but do not think that any path will be the same. And, one must not let the imagination take over, for that is the devil's playground--once the gate is opened to emotions and imagination.

Trust that the Lord will let you know, when and where and how He deems you need to know if you are a victim soul or not. In the mean time, suffer to love and love to suffer.

I pray this answers the questions, somewhat, or at least gives some ideas as to how to proceed, for the person who wrote such a lovely, heartfelt comment with questions.