Embracing God’s Boundaries

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Embracing God’s Boundaries | In our connection to God and fully seeking to respond to his love for us, we now come to the concept of embracing the boundaries he sets for us | #Friends #GrowingCharitytoUprootGreed #UprootGreed #GrowingCharity #TipsforConnection #GreaterPeaceJoyandfreedom #Joyfreedom #MargaretVasquezs #GrowingVirtue #ModelofHonesty #TipsforConnection #OpennesswithGod #KnowingGod #ValuingGod #EmbracingGod’sBoundariesEmbracing God’s Boundaries

In our connection to God and fully seeking to respond to his love for us, we now come to the concept of embracing the boundaries he sets for us. We’ve discussed morality as God’s protection over us since he is our all-loving creator. The Ten Commandments are the starting point of these boundaries. They lay out for us, in the most foundational way, how to live under the umbrella of God’s protection. He’s not lying in wait for us to break his law so he can zap us. Rather, as the good shepherd, he provides safe pasture, knowing what we need and what truly nourishes us.

And so, we move from the Ten Commandments to the Beatitudes. It would have been too much for these teachings to have come in any other way than by the mouth of Jesus, who made them incarnate for us. He has called us to follow in his footsteps, not just to obey the rules but also to be one with him. He whom we are called to espouse forever in Heaven is our crucified love. In the Gospel of John, Jesus told us:

If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own, but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you. Remember the word I spoke to you, ‘No slave is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (John 15: 18 – 20).

Obedience to the law will be empty and confounding, but taking up our crosses and following him will lead to the deepest intimacy. Rules for the sake of rules lead to turning inward. Receiving the boundaries, he sets for us as coming from the heart of our all-loving Father rather than from a place of control leads to boundless life and gratitude.

As a therapist, I have seen others longing or even adamantly determined to obtain an end they cannot see, which would be disastrous. It’s been humbling because I know the Lord has seen me do the same. At times, he’s said no to my petitions, and I’ve taken it as rejection, proof of a lack of love, when in truth, it is quite the opposite. Not only that, but he’d rather risk being misunderstood by me than give me anything other than what is the absolute best for me.

Our Lady of Lourdes told Saint Bernadette Soubirous, “I do not promise you happiness in this world but in the next.”1 We know the Lord has our eternal good in mind for us. Whatever limits he sets or requires of us in this life, or whatever he might ask us to endure is to our ultimate and perpetual good. In her book, Crucified Love, Ilia Delio writes of God’s goodness, “This nature of the good underscores a Trinity of eternal love whose immensity of divine goodness is such that no greater good can be thought.”2 Put simply, if we think something is desirable or a good idea, it is only a shadow of the goodness of God.

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. Have you ever taken care of children or a pet and experienced the child or animal seemingly regarding your protection as meanness? Describe the experience from your perspective as the caregiver and consider God acting in this way toward you.
  2. What might be preventing you from seeing that God’s limits for you are in fact his protection?
  3. Do you tend to see God’s law as what he wants from you or what he has for you?
  4. If you look at God’s law as what he wants for you, why do you think that is?

Prayer

“Most high, glorious God, enlighten the darkness of my heart and give me, Lord, a correct faith, a certain hope, a perfect charity, sense and knowledge, so that I may carry out your holy and true command.”3 – St. Francis of Assisi

Action Step

Consider your life. In what area do you tend to feel God is asking the most from you? Ask him to show you what he has for you in that same area.

Journaling/Further Reflection

Spend some time considering the paradox of a personal cross as a mysterious gift and note what comes to you here.

Scriptures for Meditation

Proverbs 3:5-6

Psalm 16:11

Psalm 119:105

Luke 9:23

1 Thessalonians 5:18

Hebrews 10:36

May the Lord give you peace!

Margaret

Valuing God

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Valuing God | In taking up this section on valuing God, something a friend of mine once said to me comes to mind, “God can’t be a priority.” Her point was that he is all; he is the only priority | #Friends #GrowingCharitytoUprootGreed #UprootGreed #GrowingCharity #TipsforConnection #GreaterPeaceJoyandfreedom #Joyfreedom #MargaretVasquezs #GrowingVirtue #ModelofHonesty #TipsforConnection #OpennesswithGod #KnowingGod #ValuingGodValuing God

In taking up this section on valuing God, something a friend of mine once said to me comes to mind, “God can’t be a priority.” Her point was that he is all; he is the only priority. Consider the passion of our Lord: if Jesus’ commitment to us wasn’t absolute, things could have turned out radically different. He could have abandoned the cross at any point. However, because he is consumed with love for us, there was nothing to evaluate or reconsider. He didn’t need to do a cost/benefit analysis as to whether we would respond well to the love he would show to us and the graces he would merit for us.

Do we value the Lord the same way? If we don’t start from a firm understanding that he knows us and has the big picture of this life, and the next, perfectly in view, then we are likely to have a honey-do list for the Lord. If we don’t realize the depth of his consuming passion for us personally, then we’re likely to default into relating to him out of servile fear. Without realizing that the limits he sets for us are a manifestation of his protection for us, we’ll treat him like a vending machine, dispensing the grace we need to accomplish our plans, since we presume we have to look out for ourselves. We’ll be insulted, angry, and feel rejected and abandoned when his way is not our way.

When we relate to the Lord by valuing him for who he is, not what he does or what he can do for us, we’re able to remain consistent. Though we may struggle with painful emotions at times, our regard doesn’t ebb and flow based on how we evaluate his performance. It’s a stance of submission to his wisdom, but primarily an acceptance of his infinite passion.

Let’s not cheat ourselves out of the greatest romance the world has ever known and the greatest lover for whom we could ever long by focusing on the ‘how’. When we keep our focus on the ‘why’ of letting the all-loving God love us and loving him in return, the details don’t take care of themselves, they are taken care of by him according to his infinite wisdom and in a way that will, one day, blow our minds.

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. Do you tend to relate to God with a focus on what you want him to do? What is it you find yourself wanting from him?
  2. Do you consider he has more for you than your limited understanding can figure out or ask? Why or why not?
  3. Do you find it difficult to trust his love for you? Why or why not?

Prayer

Most high and glorious God, lover of our soul, we thank you for who you are and that you are trustworthy. Please help us to receive your love so completely, that we may lose ourselves and thereby find ourselves in your heart. We ask all this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Action Step

Consider making the intentions of Jesus’ Sacred Heart your only intention for this week and consider what his intentions might be.

Journaling/Further Reflection

Ask the Lord to show you if there are any areas of your life where you don’t believe his design and power are capable of accomplishing anything greater than your own hopes. Ask him to show you why this is difficult for you to trust him with and what he wants you to know about it.

Scriptures for Meditation

1 Chronicles 16:34

Psalm 63:1

Psalm 71:8

Psalm 1:6

Habakkuk 3:17-18

John 4:24

Knowing God

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Knowing God | Knowing God is crucial.  We've already been discussing connection to God and mostly it’s been about who he is and how he is toward us | #Friends #GrowingCharitytoUprootGreed #UprootGreed #GrowingCharity #TipsforConnection #GreaterPeaceJoyandfreedom #Joyfreedom #MargaretVasquezs #GrowingVirtue #ModelofHonesty #TipsforConnection #OpennesswithGod #KnowingGodKnowing God

Knowing God is crucial.  We’ve already been discussing connection to God and mostly it’s been about who he is and how he is toward us. We see he is personal, knows us perfectly, desires for us to experience profound intimacy with him, cherishes us beyond measure, and operates in our best interest, (which is far better than we could ever hope for or imagine).  He protects us and provides for us always and perfectly in the ways necessary to draw us to him.  When we stay within his loving boundaries, we remain in him and under the shelter of his wings. If we move out from under his protection by sin, he immediately takes us back, time and again, when we turn back to him in repentance.

We can miss all this.  We can believe God wants something from us that we really can’t give him. We can live our lives with the burden of assuming he is harsh and demanding and his love must be earned. If we wear the lenses through which we perceive him as distant, we will interpret events as though he is cold and uncaring. There are all sorts of different versions of imperfect lenses, but only the ones of truth help us see him clearly and experience him accurately.

If someone close to us is misunderstood, we might be surprised or maybe even a little defensive of them. That’s because we know them, who they are and their heart, and we readily come to an accurate understanding of their behavior in a given circumstance. We have to begin with an understanding of God as all good and all loving when we consider the circumstances and events of our lives, or we’ll misunderstand who he is. If we don’t start there, we will never be able to understand what he does or allows to happen. We can’t interpret him through the lens of our limited understanding of circumstances, but rather we need to remain trusting of who he has revealed himself to be when times are difficult.

Inevitably, life has times of trial and challenge. Sadly, we can be so fearful of displeasing God we can sometimes rush to a conclusion without starting from a right understanding of who he is. We can feel so lonely, isolated, and forgotten.  We might put inordinate pressure on ourselves to earn his love, when the truth is he is madly in love with us. Our lenses, like the lenses of a pair of binoculars, can be adjusted. As we grow closer to him, the focus continues to become clearer. He is infinitely loving and good, so there is always room for greater clarity in our vision of him. This clarity is gained as it is in all relationships, by spending time together in open communication. It is not enough to know about him. We must seek to know him and to open up to him in return. This relationship requires us to reciprocate.

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. When you find yourself struggling in life, through what lenses are you usually viewing God? (e.g., aloof, demanding, etc.)
  2. Why might you see him that way?
  3. What aspect of God’s goodness is the most difficult for you to internalize? Why?

Prayer

Watch Cory Asbury’s video for his song “Reckless Love”1 at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sc6SSHuZvQE.

Action Step

Write yourself a note or letter about who God truly is that you can read when you are in difficult times.

Journaling/Further Reflection

Take some time to reflect on your note or letter from the Action Step and ask the Lord to reveal to you what he particularly wants you to take to heart.

Scriptures for Meditation

 

Psalm 46:10

Psalm 119:10

Jeremiah 9:23-24

John 17:3

2 Peter 3:18

 

May the Lord give you peace!

Margaret

Openness with God

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Openness with God | The human body is made up of about seventy percent water. Water is necessary for healthy energy levels and flushing toxins and plays a key role in the proper functioning of our whole system | #Friends #GrowingCharitytoUprootGreed #UprootGreed #GrowingCharity #TipsforConnection #GreaterPeaceJoyandfreedom #Joyfreedom #MargaretVasquezs #GrowingVirtue #ModelofHonesty #TipsforConnection #OpennesswithGodOpenness with God

The human body is made up of about seventy percent water. Water is necessary for healthy energy levels and flushing toxins and plays a key role in the proper functioning of our whole system. We need it for refreshment on a hot day, for cleansing of dirt and sweat, and it is essential to our lives and the lives of the plants and animals we consume for nutrition. Water is crucial. When a water source is stagnant, we know to be suspicious of it because it can more likely be a breeding ground for bacteria and parasites.

Jesus doesn’t just tell us he will give us water or that he will give us flowing water. He says he will give us living water! This water is his very life! His only requirement is that we be open by acknowledging our need for him. To ask him is the only thing the woman at the well had to do (John 4:4-30), and all we have to do is ask him, too.

For some of us, it’s difficult to express our needs, even to Jesus, because we experienced pain when we were vulnerable in the past. If others have used our vulnerability against us, it can make us feel weak and unwilling to admit our need. Perhaps we’ve asked the Lord in, but we keep him sequestered to the foyer of our hearts and make other rooms off limits to him. Maybe there is a particularly messy room we think we haven’t sufficiently tidied and are ashamed to let him into, or a room we are too scared to enter at all. Jesus honors our desire for control of our own inner self, and knows we need to pace ourselves.  When we allow Jesus to bring his living water to us, even if it is only to the foyer, he can begin to heal our wounds, calm our fears, remove our shame, and establish his spring of living water in the depths of our being.

Our need for this living, flowing water is as essential to our souls as clean water is to our bodies. Jesus constantly and eternally supplies us with this heavenly water.  We only need to remember it is there and draw from him. Living water would, of course, be flowing. Let’s not stop the flow with sandbags and dams of sin and pain, but allow Jesus free reign to flow into every area of our minds and hearts, and through us to others.

Wherever we are on our journey, however long we’ve been walking with the Lord, there is more to open to him because he has so much more of himself for us. We are known intimately, treasured unconditionally, and he is solicitous to protect us. He makes himself vulnerable and accessible to us at every moment, every day and night. All we need to do is to open up and ask for more of him.

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. In what ways and at what times do you experience the greatest ability to be open to the Lord?
  2. What areas are the most difficult to open to him? Why?
  3. In what areas would you like to experience greater openness with him? Tell him.

Prayer

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your love.

  1. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created.
  2. And you shall renew the face of the earth.

Let us pray.

O God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit,

did instruct the hearts of the faithful,

grant us in the same Spirit to be truly wise

and ever to rejoice in his consolation,

through Christ our Lord.

Amen.1

Action Step

Ask the Lord to show you if there are areas of your life and your heart you have not yet opened to him or which he desires to fill even more fully with his living water and then give him permission to give you his life in these areas.

Journaling/Further Reflection

When Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well, it was noon, the hottest part of the day and the time people were least likely to draw water – she was hiding. She was hiding because of her shame, but he longed to bring his light to her areas of darkness so she might live in freedom. Ask the Lord to show you if you hide in any way because of shame. Spend some time writing to the Lord inviting him into these areas. Take time to receive him into those rooms.

Scriptures for Meditation

Job 13:15

Psalm 119:18

Matthew 16:24

Luke 24:45

Romans 12:2

James 4:7

Revelation 3:20

God’s Openness

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

God’s Openness | The God of the entire universe, who is all-knowing and all-powerful, is open in relating to us. One of my favorite scripture verses is from the short little book Baruch, “Blessed are we, O Israel; for what pleases God is known to us!” (Baruch 4:4) | #Friends #GrowingCharitytoUprootGreed #UprootGreed #GrowingCharity #TipsforConnection #GreaterPeaceJoyandfreedom #Joyfreedom #MargaretVasquezs #GrowingVirtue #ModelofHonesty #TipsforConnection #God’sOpennessGod’s Openness

The God of the entire universe, who is all-knowing and all-powerful, is open in relating to us. One of my favorite scripture verses is from the short little book Baruch, “Blessed are we, O Israel; for what pleases God is known to us!” (Baruch 4:4). How amazing it is that he chooses to make himself known to us! Not only does he reveal who he is, but also what pleases him. There is tenderness in his self-revelation and, given our free will, vulnerability. What if we didn’t know how to please him who loves us so personally and intimately? How we’d long to know how to bridge that distance!

Throughout time, we see God stooping further and further to show himself to us. Knowing we would many times reject him, he still so desires a relationship with us that he became incarnate. In doing so, he manifested who he is to us in a manner to which we could relate. Of all the ways he could have done so, he came as a tiny, helpless baby and has made himself even more vulnerable – to the point of a gruesome crucifixion and death. Finally, he remains in the Eucharist, where he hides his majesty in bread and wine. In the late 1600s, Jesus revealed his sacred heart to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. He asked her to remind us how much he loves all mankind and how he longs for our love.

It’s important for us to take note of the Lord’s openness with us. He starts from a place of seeing each of us as his dear children who are very good. He treasures us beyond measure, promises to provide for and protect us, and to work all things for our good (Romans 8:28). He gives us the freedom to choose or refuse him, and then intimately bares his heart to us. He wants an intimate relationship with us, but only one of our free choosing. He is omnipotent but doesn’t force himself on us. The Lord, who can easily go through locked doors, chooses to stand at the door of our hearts and knock (Revelation 3:20).

When someone knocks at our door, we can ignore it, dismiss the person, speak to them through the closed door, open it and talk to them on the porch, welcome them in as a guest, or bring them in to live with us in deep communion. What is our response to the Lord? He has knocked and continues to knock daily. It is up to us to answer.

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. What comes to mind when you think about God’s openness with you?
  2. Is there anything about his vulnerability that surprises you? If so, what?
  3. Is there a particular memory, thought, or emotion that comes to mind in considering Jesus opening himself to you?

Prayer

Most high God, omnipotent Lord of the universe, we give you thanks and praise for revealing yourself to us in the expanse and beauty of creation. Thank you for making yourself known to us in an infinite number of ways. More than all this, we are humbled and in awe of how you empty yourself for us and open yourself to us, longing for our love. Please give us eyes to see you and ears to hear you knocking at the door of our hearts, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Action Step

Spend a few minutes each day with the concept or an image of the Lord opening himself to you. Thank him and ask for the grace to let him in more deeply.

Journaling/Further Reflection

Consider the Lord opening himself totally to you. What is moved in your heart when you think of this? Wonder? Delight? Fear? Confusion? Tell the Lord and ask him what he wants you to know.

Scriptures for Meditation

Isaiah 53:7

Zechariah 9:9

Luke 2:4-7

John 6:54-57

John 13:5

John 19:31-37

2 Corinthians 8:9

God Provides Boundaries

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

God Provides Boundaries | The reason we started with the concept of connection to God was so we could have a clear understanding of the fact he is with us, knows us intimately, values us for who we are and sent his Son to save us by emptying himself on the Cross | #Friends #GrowingCharitytoUprootGreed #UprootGreed #GrowingCharity #TipsforConnection #GreaterPeaceJoyandfreedom #Joyfreedom #MargaretVasquezs #GrowingVirtue #ModelofHonesty #TipsforConnection #FEARLESS #fearless #Prayer #GodProvidesBoundariesGod Provides Boundaries

The reason we started with the concept of connection to God was so we could have a clear understanding of the fact he is with us, knows us intimately, values us for who we are and sent his Son to save us by emptying himself on the Cross. He is continually emptying himself in the Eucharist and pouring his graces and mercy upon us, which draw us into the life of the Trinity. He makes his home in us through baptism and animates us by his Spirit. We cannot let go of this foundation as we consider this section on boundaries. If we do, we risk having a very distorted image of God.

As the author of life and our creator, he knows what limits are good for us, foster our health, and lead us to deepest intimacy with him, our fulfillment, and our prince of peace. The same way he set limits for the ocean, knowing what is good and necessary to foster life, so does he do for us. There is something very different, though, about his boundaries for us. He has given us free will, which means we can choose to embrace him and be embraced by him. We can run to our Father’s loving and protective arms or we can refuse them and their protection for us.

Our free will allows us to choose whether to abide by his law. We may choose to see his law as a set of rules that he requires us to follow, but the danger in this is it can very quickly lead to bitterness, judgment, and resentment. This was the mindset of the older brother in the story of the prodigal son who could not tolerate the father’s mercy. The father’s goodness caused him outrage, which revealed his own lack of connection to his father. He was obeying the rules as boxes to check off and a way of keeping his nose clean. This clearly did not lead to a depth of intimate relationship and certainly prevented him from being a conduit of grace to his brother. It’s difficult to imagine the older brother had much satisfaction in life beyond his self-righteousness.

There are times I have to refuse to give my dog things because I know they would not be good for her. Her limitations of language and understanding prevent me from being able to explain to her why I can’t let her go off-leash near traffic or why I can’t let her eat food that would be unhealthy for her. Sometimes, it hurts to say no to her and I have to remind myself it is for her own good. Indulging her desires, knowing they would be dangerous or deadly for her, would actually be an act of selfishness, not of love for her. How much greater the chasm between God’s understanding and ours! How much more does the Father know about what is good for us! His law is consistent because his wisdom is perfect and his loving protection is unwavering. Of course, we can choose to see God’s boundaries as requirements, because they do require our free response. The much fuller truth is that his law is first and foremost a providential and protective gift. We can respond with grudge or gratitude.

Blessed Julian of Norwich, a 14th century mystic, was gifted with revelations from our Lord himself. From what was shown to her she wrote Revelations of Divine Love in which she shares a profoundly compassionate and merciful thought, “God sees sin as pain in us.”1 He knows partaking of forbidden fruit makes us sick and it excites compassion from his heart. When we wander off he seeks us out and waits to embrace us when we turn back to him. He has already prepared for our return home to him by the mercy he offers us and which he longs for us to experience. He bathes our wounds, even those of our own making.  He’s just that good.

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. Do you experience the sacrament of reconciliation as a time of fear and shame, or as a time of intimate reunion with God?
  2. Why do you think you experience the sacrament of confession the way you do?
  3. What strikes you as the greatest difference in seeing God’s boundaries as for us versus something that he wants from us?
  4. Does considering that God’s limits are an expression of his love change how you see his law and/or how you see him?

Prayer

All good and loving Father, your protective arms reach out to embrace us and keep us safely on the path to eternal joy with you. Thank you for your infinite mercy for the times we’ve chosen our understanding over your boundless wisdom and goodness. Please give us the grace to follow Jesus, the way to you. In his holy name we pray. Amen.

Action Step

If there are any aspects of morality with which you struggle, ask the Lord to show you how it is an expression of his loving protection for you.

Journaling/Further Reflection

Do you most often experience God’s law as gift or as demand? Consider if this might be based on your past experiences of limits from parents or early caregivers. Ask the Lord what he wants you to know.

Scriptures for Meditation

Deuteronomy 28:1

Deuteronomy 30:19

Joshua 1:8

Psalm 119: 165

Jeremiah 29:11

Ephesians 2:4-9

Prayer

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Prayer | Personal prayer is essential to internalizing the radical, profound intimacy the living God wants to experience with us. His love for us is infinite. It might be easy to read the last line and agree with it in our head, but in our heart still feel less than adequate, rejected, or forgotten | #Friends #GrowingCharitytoUprootGreed #UprootGreed #GrowingCharity #TipsforConnection #GreaterPeaceJoyandfreedom #Joyfreedom #MargaretVasquezs #GrowingVirtue #ModelofHonesty #TipsforConnection #FEARLESS #fearless #Prayer #fearlesschapter6 #fearless6Prayer

Personal prayer is essential to internalizing the radical, profound intimacy the living God wants to experience with us. His love for us is infinite. It might be easy to read the last line and agree with it in our head, but in our heart still feel less than adequate, rejected, or forgotten. Our mind might be able to quickly categorize the statement as true, especially if we grew up in church, have studied Theology, or are religious or clergy. Yet, absorbing the Truth – God – is a lifelong process, one we will likely continue throughout eternity. It is not enough to know the description of God or how he desires to relate to us, even Satan knows the truth. We must make ourselves available to that relationship by spending time exposing our heart to him who exposes his heart to us.

There are many ways to pray, spontaneous intercession, praise and worship, the Rosary, litanies, or Mass.  Contemplation is a quiet type of prayer in which we allow the Lord to permeate us at the core of who we are and transform us into him.  To go to the source of water – a spring or a river – and draw water, but not consume it and allow our bodies to absorb the minerals and hydration would still leave us weak and dehydrated. St. John of the Cross talks about the importance of such prayer. He says,

Learn to abide with attention in loving waiting upon God in a state of quiet. Contemplation is nothing else but a secret, peaceful, and loving infusion of God, which if admitted, will set the soul on fire with the spirit of love. 1

Contemplation is spending time drinking in the living water of God’s self-gift to us by being present to the Lord who is present to us. This is fundamentally being before him in quiet availability with our hearts open to his heart. He dwells within us through Baptism and we receive him in the Eucharist, but contemplation is the process of being infused with him.

Because contemplation is personal and intimate prayer, St. John says it is “secret.” It is taking time away from other people, activities, and things, and being “in a state of quiet” paying attention to God and waiting on him. In that kind of waiting, we make time and space to let our hearts become available to be infused by his “spirit of love.”  This love sets our souls on fire. The caveat is that we must grant him permission to permeate us in order for this to happen. As we know and have seen in the connection figure, he is within us at our deepest core. We aren’t trying to get him inside us from out there somewhere. Rather, we are allowing him to saturate us from the inside out.

Just like any relationship, growing closer and allowing someone into our heart and life is a process. The more we receive God, the more we love him in return, the more we feel safe with him, and the more we open ourselves up to him. In opening more, we permit him to more truly, fully, and deeply transform us and our lives. In relationships, we tend to reveal the good things about ourselves first. When the other person accepts us at that level, we have the courage to share some of our frailty with them and hide less of our weakness. Eventually, we feel confident enough in their good will toward us that we share with them our shame and pain. The same is true of how we grow in relationship with the Lord. This is why it takes time. It’s not a limitation in him but in us, and one with which he is perfectly patient and persistent. He always calls us more deeply into his peace and love, and it requires vulnerability to respond to his invitation.

Shalom, the Hebrew word for peace, has a much richer meaning than we are used to. It doesn’t simply mean the absence of conflict and stress. It is about wholeness, fulfillment, completion, and perfection. Jesus is the prince of peace. For this reason, it makes sense that spending time admitting him more deeply into every aspect of our lives draws us into deeper wholeness. It also draws us to holiness as we become more imbued with him. Thus, growing deeper in prayer can lead to us becoming more in touch with our brokenness or woundedness. This is an act of God’s love and mercy because he desires to make us whole, but it requires courage on our part to allow him to do so.

Spending time in quiet certainly can seem to amplify the noise we may have inside us. Sometimes that noise is busy-ness. At other times, it may be that we are using internal noise to drown out pain. I remember a time in my life when even a moment of quiet was intolerable. I had to always have external sound turned up really loud to overcome the cacophony of chaos inside. I’d get in my car and immediately turn the music up and get home and instantly turn the television on. The expression ‘peace and quiet’ sounded crazy to me because quiet was anything but peaceful. As our own wounds are healed, the noise within ceases. We relate in less painful ways toward ourselves, and others. We put up fewer and fewer obstacles to the flow of God’s love into us and through us to those he puts in our lives. The process and cycle of connection continues to deepen on all levels.

In order to succeed in the practice of contemplation it is helpful to make frequent use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Just as in any relationship, we are capable of participating with another even if there is something out of order between us, but it is much more intimate when the conflict is resolved. The same is true for our relationship with God.  Resolving conflict by confessing our sins is the first step to repairing and building anew. Starting from a state of conflict will only start us off from a place of noise, rather than a place of quiet. In addition, when we practice contemplation with God it can be helpful to find something simple that can hold our attention on him. For some that may be a scripture or a title of Jesus. For others, it may be an image or statue of him that we picture in our mind or have present with us. The point here is not to busy our mind, but to open our heart to his love in a state of receptivity.

Questions for Reflection/Discussion

  1. Do you find yourself avoiding being still and quiet with the Lord? Why or why not?
  2. What is the internal noise you might be trying to drown?
  3. Have you ever considered that prayer requires courage? What are your thoughts on this?
  4. Have you found a key that opens the door to prayer for you? What is it? (Scripture, image, etc.)

Prayer

Lord, thank you for your infinite love for us and for desiring us to live in the fullness of that reality. Please grant us the grace to receive this truth more fully into the depths of our mind and heart and be set ablaze by the fire of your love so our lives can give your warmth and light to all those we meet.

Action Step

Spend some time finding a scripture, quote, or picture that draws you into a sense of God’s love.

Journaling/Further Reflection

If you have a sense of disquiet when you go to pray, ask the Lord to show you why that might be and ask him what he wants you to know about it.

Scriptures for Meditation

1 Kings 19:9-12

Psalm 37:7

Psalm 63:2-4

Matthew 6:5-8

John 7:37-44

2 Corinthians 4:18

 

May the Lord give you peace!

Margaret

Valued by God

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Valued by God | God’s love for us is unlike any other. As covered in the previous section, God created us and so knows us and loves us intimately. Now consider he does so knowing he will always be giving to us far more than we could ever begin to repay, far more than we will even be able to comprehend | #Friends #GrowingCharitytoUprootGreed #UprootGreed #GrowingCharity #TipsforConnection #GreaterPeaceJoyandfreedom #Joyfreedom #MargaretVasquezs #GrowingVirtue #ModelofHonesty #TipsforConnection #FEARLESS #fearless #ValuedbyGodValued by God

God’s love for us is unlike any other. As covered in the previous section, God created us and so knows us and loves us intimately. Now consider he does so knowing he will always be giving to us far more than we could ever begin to repay, far more than we will even be able to comprehend. He is not just a good father. He is our heavenly Father. He is God and adopts us as his own. This means he chooses us freely, knowing everything about us, good, bad, and ugly.

At times, we experience circumstantial relationships, like the interaction with a clerk in a store or wait staff in a restaurant. Both parties know the primary purpose of the encounter is an exchange of goods or services. Such times can be transformed into healing and evangelistic encounters when we take the time to see and acknowledge the human being before us truly. We may also experience personal relationships where the message is conveyed that the other is mostly interested in what we can provide them, for example, if someone relates to us for our looks, money, status, or because they want us to do something for them. When interpersonal relationships take on a transactional dimension, it can be quite painful. It can leave us feeling treated like an object or as a means to an end. This is the absolute opposite of God and how he relates to us. Rather than giving to us for what he can receive from us, he gives to us, desiring our capacity for him to increase so we may receive more and more.

Jesus, who is total fullness, emptied himself (Philippians 2:7) in order to become one of us.  He desired to redeem each of us by his self-sacrificing love, already knowing how we would blow it.  Not only that, but he chooses to seek us out when we are lost. He is the good shepherd and leaves the ninety-nine to find us, as we hear in the Gospel parable (Matthew 18:12-14). His love for us is not transactional or because he needs something from us. He cherishes us as surely as a shepherd would treasure a lost sheep once he found it.

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. Recall a time you felt valued for who you are and not for what you could give or do. What stands out about it to you?
  2. What image of Jesus helps you to conceptualize his unconditional love for you?
  3. What makes it difficult for you to fully accept the fact that God values you for who you are?

Prayer

Heavenly Father, you are the Good Shepherd who seeks us out when we are lost. You put us on your shoulders, delighted to bring us home. We thank you for your faithful love for us, which far exceeds anything we could ask or imagine. Please heal us from the lies we have believed that we are not valuable for ourselves, but only for our performance, looks, or what others can get from us. We ask you for the grace to experience your delight in us and that you always watch for us just as the prodigal son’s father watched for him, and ran out to him “while he was still a long way off” (Luke 15:20). Thank you for the immensity of your tender love for me personally. Please give me the grace to accept this love ever more deeply. Amen.

Action Step

Recall an image from scripture that helps you see God’s value for who you are (the creation account, the lost sheep, the lost coin, the prodigal son, etc.). Post a reminder of this somewhere you will encounter it throughout the day (on your phone, in your car, on the bathroom mirror, etc.). Allow this image to be a reminder that your value is inherent because of who God is and who he made you to be.

Journaling/Further Reflection

Ask God to help you identify any blocks within you that might prevent you from believing and experiencing the way God cherishes who you are. Ask him what he wants you to know about that and then note what he puts on your heart.

Scriptures for Meditation

Isaiah 43:4

Matthew 6:25-34

Luke 12:6-7

John 3:16

Romans 8:28

Titus 3:4-7

May the Lord give you peace!

Margaret

Known by God

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Known by God | As we begin to take a look at our connection to the Lord, we start with the fact that he deeply and personally knows us. Ideally, we would have had a sense of being known (seen and heard as an individual who is very good) by our parents and caregivers as children | #Friends #GrowingCharitytoUprootGreed #UprootGreed #GrowingCharity #TipsforConnection #GreaterPeaceJoyandfreedom #Joyfreedom #MargaretVasquezs #GrowingVirtue #ModelofHonesty #TipsforConnection #FEARLESS #fearless #KnownbyGod #part4Known by God

As we begin to take a look at our connection to the Lord, we start with the fact that he deeply and personally knows us. Ideally, we would have had a sense of being known (seen and heard as an individual who is very good) by our parents and caregivers as children. When that happens, it naturally creates a schema in our minds by which we are able to mature more smoothly and with a positive self-concept. The experience of being regarded as an individual who is seen and heard personally as very good, the way God sees us, becomes the basis for how we view ourselves.

For those of us who did not have such an experience as a child, it’s never too late. The Lord knows each of us in a deeply intimate way and that’s a good thing! He sees each one of us with all the beauty he deposited within us.  We each delight his heart in a very special way no one else does or ever can. You are made to reflect an aspect of his magnificence in a way no one ever has or ever will. You are not a number to him. Scripture tells us he has even counted the hairs of our head. He is the most loving father there ever could be.  He has called us to be his children. With him as father, it’s never too late to have a great childhood.

Oftentimes, we hear or read about having a personal relationship with the Lord. Do we consider he knows us each, personally? That is the starting place. He is the one who has initiated our relationship. Imagine how a good parent delights in their newborn or toddler. Such joy is not in what the child can do for them, but simply for whom the child is. God delights in each of us the same way. He sees in us unique characteristics of his own design. His father’s heart is filled with love at the sight of each of us.

This is the heart of God. This is the well from which he wants us to draw living waters. The well of his heart is infinite, superabundant and will never run dry. There is always a deeper intimacy he has for each of us and for which he longs. Intimacy with him is the source of deepest fulfillment. He longs for us to experience being known by him. He desires to give us this gift, his love, himself. Learning to draw this living water of his love is a process. Drinking these life-giving waters takes time in prayer and conscious effort. When so much noise clamors around us, it is necessary to remind ourselves of the presence of God so we can be lifted above the noise.

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. Is there a way or a place you experience God’s love as personal?
  2. At what times is it particularly challenging to remember the Lord is with you?
  3. Is it difficult for you to believe God sees you as an individual? Why?
  4. What is something that draws you into deeper intimacy with God?

Prayer

Pray Psalm 139.

Action Step

Find a way to remind yourself throughout the day of the Lord’s presence with you.

Journaling/Further Reflection

Consider how you did or did not feel known as an individual who was very good when you were a child. Invite the Lord into whatever memories come and ask him what he wants you to know. Note what comes to mind.

Scriptures for Meditation

Jeremiah 1:5

Nahum 1:7

Psalm 139

John 10:14

John 10:27

May the Lord give you peace!

Margaret

Chosen for Divine Intimacy

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Chosen for Divine Intimacy | Chosen for Divine Intimacy. God chose each of us individually out of all the possibilities of people to create, redeem, sanctify, and call into a relationship with himself for all eternity. I remember hearing that there is a one in 400 quadrillion chance for each one of us to be created | #Friends #GrowingCharitytoUprootGreed #UprootGreed #GrowingCharity #TipsforConnection #GreaterPeaceJoyandfreedom #Joyfreedom #MargaretVasquezs #GrowingVirtue #ModelofHonesty #TipsforConnection #FEARLESS #fearless #ConnectiontoGod #ChosenforDivineIntimacy #FEARLESSChapter3 #ChosenforDivineIntimacyFEARLESSChapter3Chosen for Divine Intimacy

It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you… – John 15:16

FEARLESS Chapter 3 Chosen for Divine Intimacy. God chose each of us individually out of all the possibilities of people to create, redeem, sanctify, and call into a relationship with himself for all eternity. I remember hearing that there is a one in 400 quadrillion chance for each one of us to be created. Yet, it wasn’t by chance but by the intentional choice of the Lord of all creation. Not only did he choose for us to exist, but to exist within him, and he desires to permeate us with his presence completely. Such an intimate relationship can only be hinted at by the intimacy of marriage.

We are conceived first and foremost in the Holy Trinity and are members of the Holy Family with Jesus as our brother. Anyone who truly knew and understood this would most certainly choose him, and yet he tells us it was rather he who chose us. Our task is to internalize the fact that we are chosen, and the life that results is a life of ever-deepening gratitude and joy.

He longs for us, and with him is where we belong. He is the Prince of Peace, and we are made for Him.  As we accept his choice of us and live ever more fully and deeply as members of his family, we experience his reign over us and are permeated by and become instruments of his peace, bringing others more fully into their citizenship in his Kingdom.

This is the starting point, the foundation. He gave it all, even his life and his Holy Spirit, to show us that he will go to any lengths and do all that is necessary to be with us always and forever. Everything else hinges on this foundation, that we were personally selected by he who is all-good, out of his infinite love, that we might be transformed by love and live in union with him.

Every other hope for being chosen pales in comparison to the belonging we have had from the moment of conception. Internalizing and responding to this fact is to be the bottom line of our relationship with him.

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. What do you think when you consider the fact that you don’t have to try to be chosen but that you are already chosen by God?
  2. How do you feel knowing that bringing the possibility of you to reality was a distinct and intentional choice of God?
  3. Does knowing this change how you see yourself?  God?  Others? Life?   If so, how?

Prayer

Heavenly Father, Creator of all things and my Creator thank you for choosing to bring me into existence to share your life and love for all eternity.  Please give me the grace never to forget that fact about myself and to relate to others in a way that acknowledges that same dignity.  Amen.

Action Step

Put a note on your bathroom mirror to remind you that God has selected you.

Journaling/Further Reflection

Consider what would be different if you lived completely out of the truth that you are God’s choice, and jot down what comes to you.

Scriptures for Meditation

Isaiah 43:1

John 15:16

Romans 8:29-30

Ephesians 1:3-4

Connection to God

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Connection to God | FEARLESS Chapter 2 Connection to God. Jesus is the bread of life.  He is the food for which we are made. What does food do? It nourishes us, gives us energy. Good food makes us healthy, bad food makes us sick, poisoned food can even kill us, but without food we would die a painful death. Fundamentally, food satisfies us. We eat so that we can live | #Friends #GrowingCharitytoUprootGreed #UprootGreed #GrowingCharity #TipsforConnection #GreaterPeaceJoyandfreedom #Joyfreedom #MargaretVasquezs #GrowingVirtue #ModelofHonesty #TipsforConnection #FEARLESS #fearless #ConnectiontoGod #FEARLESSChapter2 #ConnectiontoGodFEARLESSChapter2Connection to God

FEARLESS Chapter 2 Connection to God. Jesus is the bread of life.  He is the food for which we are made. What does food do? It nourishes us, gives us energy. Good food makes us healthy, bad food makes us sick, poisoned food can even kill us, but without food we would die a painful death. Fundamentally, food satisfies us. We eat so that we can live.

Communion – deep, personal, intimate connection with God – is essential to being healthy and vivacious rather than sick, malnourished, and dying. If our connection to God is only in physical reception of the Eucharist and not in spiritual intimacy, then we are missing out on that for which our soul is ultimately yearning and seeking. He has so much more to offer us than for us to just go through the motions of receiving him. He longs for us to unite ourselves to him fully in every aspect of our person. He wants every facet of us to be nourished and healthy.

We are made for healthy food, but if we do not have access to it, we are still driven to eat. Eventually, we’ll settle for chips, a candy bar, or a soda because our hunger demands to be fed. If we don’t make planful and intentional choices, we will run the risk of making impulsive ones. It is the same way with being fed spiritually, emotionally and relationally. We are made for God who is infinite. Only he can fully satisfy our hunger. If we aren’t feeding on him in all of these ways, who or what are we consuming? Whatever or whomever it is, it won’t fill us because it isn’t able to, no matter how hard we or they try.

If we treat the spiritual life – our communion with God – as dessert or a side dish, nothing will be smooth, peaceful, or fulfilling for very long. Ultimately, we’ll be making unrealistic demands of our very nature as we seek to be patient, understanding and committed to others. We have to be fed first. We cannot give what we don’t have. To try to do so is like jumping off a building and expecting to fly. If we are hoping to be fed by others, we are setting ourselves, and them, up for an impossible task that is bound to end in stagnation, dependence, resentment, or destruction.

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. In what way(s) do you feel like you’re running on empty – emotionally, spiritually or relationally malnourished?
  2. In what way(s) do you find yourself trying to be fed elsewhere? How is that working out?
  3. In what new way(s) can you allow the Lord to feed you?

Prayer

Lord, we are made for you and you generously empty your infinite self for us at every moment. Please bring us to deeper awareness of our need for you and your desire to be our fulfillment. We thank you for longing to answer this prayer beyond our wildest hopes. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Action Step

Before you check your phone in the morning or get out of bed, ask the Lord to fill you with himself and spend a couple of minutes receiving his love before your feet even hit the floor.

Journaling/Further Reflection

Ask the Lord to show you in what area(s) you are running without his nourishment and how he wants to be your sustenance so you can start to live your life from a place of fulfillment. Note what he puts on your heart.

Scriptures for Meditation

Luke 18:1

John 14:6

John 15:5-7

1 Thessalonians 5:17

Jude 1:21

 

May the Lord give you peace!

Margaret

Connection Overview

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Connection Overview | FEARLESS: Chapter 1 Connection Overview. What is so important about connection and why pair it together with the concept of holiness? We don’t have to look far to see how God regards community. He models it for us in the Holy Trinity | #GrowingVirtue #ModelofHonesty #Friends #GrowingCharitytoUprootGreed #UprootGreed #GrowingCharity #TipsforConnection #GreaterPeaceJoyandfreedom #Joyfreedom #MargaretVasquezs #GrowingVirtue #ModelofHonesty #Friends #GrowingCharitytoUprootGreed #UprootGreed #GrowingCharity #TipsforConnection #FEARLESS #fearless #ConnectionOverviewConnection Overview

FEARLESS: Chapter 1 Connection Overview. What is so important about connection and why pair it together with the concept of holiness? We don’t have to look far to see how God regards community. He models it for us in the Holy Trinity. We see their love, unity and order in relationship to each other. Each knows, values and respects the others. There is diversity and perfect unity. When God the Father sent his Son into the world, Jesus did only what he saw the Father do (John 5:19).  After his Ascension Jesus sent the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of adoption, to bring us into the family of God as brothers and sisters; sons and daughters of our heavenly Father. The Spirit gives us the power to live the life of God. He animates us to make God visible, to incarnate God in our lives.

So much does God desire to be connected to us and for us to be connected to each other, that he condescends to humble himself so far as to transform bread and wine into his body and blood. He remains with us in all the tabernacles of the world, even enduring coldness and indifference, to be with us always so we might know we are never alone. Charity and unity are intimately tied to the Eucharist.  His love for us feeds our hunger for union with him.  The more we consciously and intentionally relate to ourselves and each other with such compassion, the more we draw nearer to him and each other.

In the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), when the older brother complains about the younger son’s return, he tries to disassociate himself from his overindulgent brother. The father sought to reconcile the older son to himself, and to bring him wholeness in his relationship with his brother.

It is very important to the Lord that we have communion with him and with each other. God is not just the father of each of us; he is our father. We are siblings. ‘Father’ is a title that not only defines our relationship to him, but also to each other. He is the hub and we are the spokes on the wheel. As we draw closer to him, we draw closer to one another. He desires to draw us all to himself and to each other.

Being united is essential to the nature of the Most Blessed Trinity. It is who they are. It is not an activity. That is to say, their unity is about being, not about doing. Because it is who they are, it is how they relate. It is not a tactic or strategic approach. There is no ulterior motive. Relating in healthy connection to ourselves and others is both holy and fosters wholeness. It is imitation of God.  He set before us life and death and longs for us to choose life, because such things draw us more deeply into the fullness of how he made us to be and the joy of the life he has for us. The Greek word teleios means both wholeness and holiness. Living in healthy, loving, respectful connection calls us to growth on human and spiritual levels. It helps us to make our love of God manifest in our own lives and to those around us.

It stands to reason we are the most fulfilled and at peace when life is lived the way God intended. Science reveals to us that God wired into our physical being a need for social connection. In his TED Talk about social connection3, neuroscientist Matthew Lieberman, Ph. D., tells us that connection to each other even impacts our physical health on a day-to-day basis.

The final aspect of connection is personal integration, connection to self. It’s not something we talk about much, but it is something impacting all of us constantly. Our connection to ourselves is this mode. If we are patient, kind, and understanding toward ourselves, it is going to be much easier for us to relate to our neighbor in the same way. Likewise, if we believe we are lovable, it will be much easier for us to believe God loves us. In fact, I’ve seen time and again that most of us don’t sin because of faulty theology, but a very erroneous ‘me-ology’. That is, our lack of acceptance of ourselves and our belief that we are not worthy of the Lord’s intense, intimate, personal passionate desire for each one of us is what leaves us worshipping all sorts of other gods, in an attempt to medicate our pain, loneliness, and emptiness. We must begin to shift how we see ourselves in order to begin to believe the truth of how God sees us. When we consciously and intentionally stand under the truth of how God sees us, we begin to more fully understand the depth of his passion and compassion for us. Only this will truly satisfy the longing of our hearts.

All three of these dimensions of connection – connection to God, self, and others – are crucial for wholeness and holiness in our lives, much like the legs of a tripod provide balance. Connection to God is the perfection of intimacy and provides us with the essential basis for being truly known and accepted. In this way, we have a firm foundation for self-knowledge and self-acceptance. Then, in truly loving ourselves, we can best be conduits of his love to others. It makes no sense to be harsh and demanding with ourselves for most of our waking hours and then expect the comparatively small amount of time spent in listening to God’s voice to renew our minds.

May the Lord give you peace.

Margaret

 

FEARLESS

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

FEARLESS | FEARLESS Preface & Intro. Many years ago, I noticed that healthy connections to God, self, and others are the foundation of peace and fulfillment in life. Without these connections, we perpetuate lies in our minds that become the basis for our self-talk and how we relate to others | #GrowingVirtue #ModelofHonesty #Friends #GrowingCharitytoUprootGreed #UprootGreed #GrowingCharity #TipsforConnection #GreaterPeaceJoyandfreedom #Joyfreedom #MargaretVasquezs #GrowingVirtue #ModelofHonesty #Friends #GrowingCharitytoUprootGreed #UprootGreed #GrowingCharity #TipsforConnection #FEARLESS #fearlessFEARLESS

Preface

FEARLESS Preface & Intro. Many years ago, I noticed that healthy connections to God, self, and others are the foundation of peace and fulfillment in life. Without these connections, we perpetuate lies in our minds that become the basis for our self-talk and how we relate to others. These lies chip away at our ability to perceive and receive the truth of God’s love for us and leave us feeling like he is far away. With a faith rendered full of holes, we are anxiety-ridden and depressed; we find ourselves perpetuating a cycle of disconnection within ourselves and with those around us.  The remedy is simple. Four scripture-based essentials (respect for boundaries, inherent value as God’s children, recognition of the goodness with which he made us, and openness) are all that is necessary for healthy relating to God, self, and others.  These essentials lead to the abundant life Jesus came to give us. This revelation led me to write this book. I encourage you to pray through it and allow the Lord to minister the truth of his love to you.

Introduction

I’m writing this in the time of lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic. We are being bombarded daily with dire forecasts about the connectedness of humanity.  If we carry the virus, we are told we risk making others sick. Social media is plastered with posts and memes that speak of people longing to once again relate closely. Post after post gives people tips on how to cope with the loss of social contact.  We long for connection. The pandemic of disconnection is far more deadly and far less recognized in our world than any virus.

As a licensed professional clinical counselor and trauma therapist, I’ve practiced intensive trauma therapy with clients of all ages for the past 14+ years. Time and again, I’ve witnessed that the deepest and most damaging human experiences come from fractures in connection.   These fractures leave people isolated, their ability to relate to themselves and others, broken. I’ve been blessed to practice and further develop a highly effective method of treatment. The approach treats the traumas first.   After the trauma is healed, the need for healthy connection invariably comes to the forefront, but knowing how to build these connections is not always a given.  I have watched people expend great fear-based energy trying to control rather than to truly connect, exacerbating their own suffering and the suffering of those around them.

For more than a decade of providing therapy, the most profoundly positive and healing experiences people have shared with me are times they felt connected to God, to others, or to themselves. Over and over again regardless of age, gender, socio-economic background, cognitive level, or any other factor, connection, true, authentic, healthy connection, is the antithesis of trauma. Connection is what we are made for and the climate in which we all flourish.

Real communion, I came to understand, is consistently fostered by boundaries, recognition of value and acceptance, and being seen and heard as a unique and precious individual. These form the core of connection.  They flow throughout sacred scripture and synergistically provide the sense of safety necessary for vulnerability and trust. When these ways of being are operating, people are truly able to perceive and receive each other in love, peace, and joy. These same factors are necessary for a healthy relationship to self and to the Lord, as well. When we know the four elements of healthy connection and why and how they fit and work together, we are able to build on solid ground and to navigate compassionately when relationships become challenging.  Without this knowledge, we can easily lose peace and focus.

Accepting the intimacy of the Blessed Trinity residing in us, we start from a place of fullness with our connection needs met to overflowing.  We are perfectly known, valued, and protected by our all-loving, omnipotent God. His perfect love dispels and replaces our fear. (1 John 4:18) It is essential, and commonly most difficult, for us to accept and imitate such love as we relate to ourselves. The healthier our self-talk and integration of his love, the safer we feel, the less others are viewed as threat or competition, and the more his love flows through us to others. That unshakeable assurance we have in God’s love, transforms our hearts and minds. Such fearlessness flows outward into every aspect of our lives. It is the superabundance of God’s infinite compassion for us that is the truest way to find both sanity and sanctity. This is that same Deep Well from which the saints drank. He is no less available to us when we make ourselves available to him. Much of the focus of therapy is often about identifying lies we believe about ourselves which stem from painful experiences. While this can be a crucial step to healing from the past, it’s imperative for us to adopt a new way of relating for the future. We must begin to relate to ourselves, God, and others the way the Lord does for the truth of his love to transform our minds and lead us into his abundant life.

Jesus’ identity was firmly rooted in being the beloved Son of the Father (Connection to God). He thoroughly internalized that identity (Connection to Self) and he related to others in a way that allowed the love of his Father to flow through himself to them in deep compassion (Connection to Others).  Connection to God, to self, and to others is the ever-deepening work of a lifetime. It is not bad news that we haven’t arrived, but rather something to embrace. It’s not that we aren’t good enough or are still broken if we have room for formation in these areas. Rather, it’s the profound reality that God is infinite and being permeated by his all-loving presence is a process. There is always more of him – more love, more peace, more joy. This is really good news!

As I dug into writing this book and was looking for scriptures for each section, scales fell from my eyes. I had previously seen the four connection principles of boundaries, valued, being known, and openness as a ubiquitous pattern, and mentally and spiritually sound. What struck me was that all of scripture is bursting with these concepts, too. I called a friend and told her my find.  Without missing a beat she responded, “That makes sense.  Scripture is all relationship”.  My jaw dropped. That’s it! These connection principles are how the Lord relates to us and how he teaches us to relate, as well. Is it any wonder that they lead to wholeness and freedom?

May the Lord give you peace.

Margaret

Vocations and Integration

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Vocations and Integration | Vocations and Integration with Fr. Jonathan McElhone, TOR. Margaret:  Do/how do you see a lack of human and spiritual integration in people today | #GrowingVirtue #ModelofHonesty #Friends #GrowingCharitytoUprootGreed #UprootGreed #GrowingCharity #TipsforConnection #GreaterPeaceJoyandfreedom #Joyfreedom #MargaretVasquezs #GrowingVirtue #ModelofHonesty #Friends #GrowingCharitytoUprootGreed #UprootGreed #GrowingCharity #TipsforConnection #GreaterPeaceJoyandfreedom #TheStruggleisReal! #InterconnectedPsychology&Spirituality #InterconnectedPsychologyandSpirituality #VocationsandIntegrationVocations and Integration

Vocations and Integration with Fr. Jonathan McElhone, TOR.

Margaret:  Do/how do you see a lack of human and spiritual integration in people today?

Fr. Jonathan McElhone, TOR:  People are afraid to make mistakes. At times, I’ve seen people confuse their vocation with their salvation. Vocation is tied to our mission, our path toward holiness. Salvation is connected to how I receive God’s love and mercy in my life. Confusing these leads to the belief that God will be disappointed with me if I choose the wrong vocation.

Margaret:  How do you see a lack of human and spiritual integration in people today?

Fr. Jonathan:  IDENTITY – so often, people are concerned with what others think of them and their identity, and in the midst of the cancel culture, they are afraid of being rejected.  This often leads them to hide their authentic spirituality.  With the instant news/social posts of videos, snippets, and soundbites, which often attack the dignity of the human person, published from an ‘agenda,’ people become afraid to even speak the truth or speak honestly.

At times, people over-spiritualize and romanticize to an extreme what they think they need to do to ‘please’ God. For example, St. Francis of Assisi had severe fasts, which some speculated led to his early death.  Yes, self-denial is necessary in the spiritual life, but doing so should still respect the dignity of the human person.

Margaret:  Is human and spiritual integration necessary, especially for the living out of one’s vocation?  Especially in religious communities?

Fr. Jonathan:  YES!  My own experience as a Franciscan, where fraternal life holds an important place, I’ve witnessed a direct connection between my spiritual life and how I am able to embrace and live out my Franciscan vocation and vise versa.  When I’m responding well to the graces of God’s love (close in prayer, not always feelings), it is so much easier to accept my identity as a child of God, offering me a perspective on how I see others and situations. It is easier to live in the truth of the light of Jesus.   If I find myself far from the Lord (struggling with sin), then often I’ve witnessed my response to others and even my own self-narrative becomes much less life giving.

Margaret:  What are some of the qualities/aspects of someone’s life you look for in potential candidates?

Fr. Jonathan:  A person of prayer, actively seeking holiness and a life conformed to Christ Jesus and has a generous heart. I look for someone who is mature, well integrated, who doesn’t make discernment about emotions, or fantasies.  Do they have a clear understanding of their own identity as a child of God? Are they aware of their own strength and weaknesses, and willing to address and work on those weaknesses (TOR charism of ongoing conversion).  Are they open to formation, instruction and correction? Do they seem like a person who could embrace and live the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience?  Do they get along well with a wide diversity of people?  Do they really want to serve the Lord (or are they looking for a free ride)?  Are they educatable (MA degrees).  Do they have important life skills and experiences (laundry, cooking, holding a real job, finances, etc.)

Margaret:  Any recommendations (human and/or spiritual) for young people to be prepared to live out a religious vocation?

Fr. Jonathan:  Grow deeper in prayer daily, participate in the sacraments regularly (more than once a week).  Get to know yourself, strengths, weaknesses, talents, gifts à live out of these.

Stop only thinking about discernment and actually do something: talk to a priest or religious, visit a community, get involved in ministry, go on a mission trip, etc. Action gives the material for the heart to discern with. Both the heart and the mind are required for healthy discernment. Evaluate your heart after an action and look for the fruit of the Holy Spirit, especially peace and joy.

Margaret:  How can interested men contact you regarding discerning a vocation to the Franciscan TOR Friars of the Province of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus?

Fr. Jonathan:  The best way… website: Franciscanstor.org and click the tab “Vocations contact” where they can submit contact info and I’ll be sure to reach out to them quickly.

Interconnected Psychology & Spirituality

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Interconnected Psychology & Spirituality | Have you ever wondered if psychology and spirituality are interconnected?  I hope so!  Sadly, some people actually think that they are at odds with each other.  That couldn’t be further from the truth.  The Lord made us body, mind, and spirit | #GrowingVirtue #ModelofHonesty #Friends #GrowingCharitytoUprootGreed #UprootGreed #GrowingCharity #TipsforConnection #GreaterPeaceJoyandfreedom #Joyfreedom #MargaretVasquezs #GrowingVirtue #ModelofHonesty #Friends #GrowingCharitytoUprootGreed #UprootGreed #GrowingCharity #TipsforConnection #GreaterPeaceJoyandfreedom #TheStruggleisReal!  #InterconnectedPsychology&Spirituality #InterconnectedPsychologyandSpiritualityInterconnected Psychology & Spirituality

Have you ever wondered if psychology and spirituality are interconnected?  I hope so!  Sadly, some people actually think that they are at odds with each other.  That couldn’t be further from the truth.  The Lord made us body, mind, and spirit.  He made us as a whole person.  We are the ones who separate these fields from each other.  That happens in academia because each one of those areas – the physical, emotional, and spiritual – have so much content to learn and understand.  It can take a lifetime of education to specialize in one.  Then, the areas we study tend to become the areas in which we work, and our focus can get even more narrow and specialized.

I’m grateful that my undergraduate degree is in Theology because when I later studied for my master’s degree in counseling, I had a spiritually sound understanding of the human person.  It provided me with a foundation I simply wouldn’t have had if I had studied from only a psychological perspective.  I do believe that Jesus is the answer to whatever real question we have and is the solution to all human suffering.  Interestingly, my study of counseling, my post graduate study of trauma, and working for so many years specializing in deep human suffering has only increased that belief and not in an abstract, but quite specific ways.  I’ve had the opportunity to learn things about the person, human behavior, human dynamics, human suffering, and healing that I cannot imagine not knowing.  This knowledge has benefited me on my personal journey, and it’s become my passion to be able to share it with others.

There’s a priest who has referred numerous clients to me over the years who once told me that he prays for me and my ministry everyday at the altar right after he prays for his own family.  He said that by how people have benefited spiritually from addressing their emotional woundedness, he has come to understand that what I do and what priests do have a great deal to do with each other.  In other words, he was able to see how inextricably interwoven psychology and spirituality are and that removing the blocks of dysfunction and pain facilitate growth in the spiritual life.  Doesn’t that make sense since the spiritual life is the most important relationship we will ever have?

Over the past year I’ve been providing a human and spiritual integration workshop to religious communities, deacons, parishes, dioceses, and seminaries.  I always hear the same type of feedback that priest shared with me.  Because I’ve had so many requests from individuals wanting to access this workshop, I’m now making it available online.  One is coming up very soon, November 6-9 for a couple of hours each evening. There are additional online workshops scheduled after the new year and other in-person workshops in the process of being scheduled.  If you’d like to know when these take place, sign up to receive emails from Sacred Heart Healing Ministries at sacredhearthealingministries.com.  I’d love to have you join us!

May the Lord give you peace!

Margaret

How to Talk to Mean Voices

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

How to Talk to Mean Voices | In the last episode, we discussed the importance of compassionate self-talk.  So, what do we do with that pesky self-commentary that can be mean or discouraging?  Should I ignore it and think happy thoughts? | #MargaretVasquezs #GrowingVirtue #ModelofHonesty #Friends #GrowingCharitytoUprootGreed #UprootGreed #GrowingCharity #TipsforConnection #GreaterPeaceJoyandfreedom #Joyfreedom #MargaretVasquezs #GrowingVirtue #ModelofHonesty #Friends #GrowingCharitytoUprootGreed #UprootGreed #GrowingCharity #TipsforConnection #GreaterPeaceJoyandfreedom #TheStruggleisReal! #HowtoTalktoMeanVoicesHow to Talk to Mean Voices

In the last episode, we discussed the importance of compassionate self-talk.  So, what do we do with that pesky self-commentary that can be mean or discouraging?  Should I ignore it and think happy thoughts?  NO!  That voice will fester like a splinter, getting more painful.  Ignoring it won’t solve things and may exacerbate the situation.

Have you ever been around a toddler and seen how they are when they are ignored?  They get louder.  They can be quite resolute in their dedication to being heard.  It’s amazing, though it can be annoying to witness such motivation and determination.  Frequently, the need they’re trying to express can be simple and when they know they’ve been heard compassionately, it moves toward the situation being resolved.  They may not necessarily like not getting their way, but when they know they’re safe, heard, and presented with an alternate plan, they can begin to align themselves with it.  Contrast that with when they are ignored and the unnecessary intensity and drama that can take place.  Ultimately, a peaceful resolution still requires them to be acknowledged and addressed compassionately.

For this reason, when we have a negative commentary about ourselves going on in our minds, the best course of action is, yet again, compassion!  That’s right.  Stay consistently in that compassionate mode if the thought is that I did something stupid or that it was ridiculous for me to forget something; that is just an emotion I am experiencing.  There is still the ‘I’ of me that can respond to that emotion compassionately.  Why would I do such a thing?  Well, because the Lord tells me to love myself.  Also, that emotion is coming out of a misguided desire to help me do better in the future.  Being put down, beat up, and demoralized by myself won’t accomplish that desire any more than a loud and angry coach will motivate a little league baseball team to want to keep playing their best.

When those self-destructive emotions go through my mind, I can speak to that part to thank it for working so hard and acknowledging that it is trying to be helpful.  Then, I can let it know that I – the compassionate me – am taking care of the situation.  I can ask it if it would be willing to let me handle things with compassion and see how it goes.  You may be surprised how willing it is to try it in a new and loving way.

Denial is never a good plan.  Instead, remain compassionate.  Love casts out fear way better than intimidation does, and everyone does better when they are loved.

May the Lord give you His peace that surpasses all understanding!

Margaret

 

 

 

How to Talk to Yourself

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

How to Talk to Yourself. When most of us hear about communication workshops and the like, we immediately think of how to relate to others peacefully and effectively.  Would you believe that is actually the end point of communication, not the beginning? #MargaretVasquezs #GrowingVirtue #ModelofHonesty #Friends #GrowingCharitytoUprootGreed #UprootGreed #GrowingCharity #TipsforConnection #GreaterPeaceJoyandfreedom #Joyfreedom #MargaretVasquezs #GrowingVirtue #ModelofHonesty #Friends #HowtoTalktoYourselfHow to Talk to Yourself

How to Talk to Yourself. When most of us hear about communication workshops and the like, we immediately think of how to relate to others peacefully and effectively.  Would you believe that is actually the end point of communication, not the beginning?  Two critical steps come before speaking with others.  Without these two parts of the foundation, relating to others will only be so effective for so long.  These two essential ingredients are listening to the Lord and talking to ourselves with the same compassion He has toward us.

God is love and is all-good.  He loves us with a tenderness that is beyond our ability to fathom.  Yet, all too often, we agree with this truth intellectually but completely disregard it in practical application.  Remember that in the Scriptures, Jesus told us to love our neighbor as ourselves.  That means that loving ourselves is key.  Yet, to have any true and healthy idea of what love is, we have to look to Jesus, who is the image of the Invisible God.  I’m called to imitate Him in His compassion, patience, and understanding, even as I relate to myself.

Sadly, there was a time many, many years ago when spiritual writers would use the term ‘self-love’ to mean selfishness.  That was really unfortunate because there is a leftover attitude that it makes sense for Jesus to love me, but then I should go beat myself up in my thoughts and deeds toward myself.  Then, we expect to be able to love our neighbor well because somehow that is holier than being loving toward me.  It simply doesn’t work or requires an extraordinary amount of effort to make the constant mental shift from a negative, condemning voice that beats me up if I forget something but is patient with another person if they forget something or struggles in some way.

To believe that God loves me, I have to be living as though I love me.  Love doesn’t mean entertaining my every whim or desire.  We know the Lord doesn’t relate to us in that way, either.   It does mean that I can’t make a perfect performance, some sort of golden calf that I have to be a slave to to earn love.  If I do relate to myself in that way, the chances are I’ll relate to others the same way and may even begin to believe that is what God’s love is like.  That could not be farther from the truth.  His love is unearned and unchanging.  The power and strength of being loved give us the freedom and ability to hit the mark a little closer each time.

So, be compassionate when you’re going about your day and commenting to yourself on what you’ve done or how you’ve done it.  As you examine your conscience at the end of the day, don’t forget to affirm yourself for the effort you showed and how you responded to the Lord’s grace.  That isn’t pride; that is being loved to you as the Lord commands you.

May the Lord give you peace!

Margaret

Greater Peace, Joy, & Freedom!

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Greater Peace, Joy, and freedom! | Below is a Self-Evaluation regarding the pillars of connection.  I share this tool with you to help you find the areas where the Lord may have even more profound peace, joy, and freedom for you | #WholnessHoliness #MargaretVasquezs #GrowingVirtue #ModelofHonesty #Friends #GrowingCharitytoUprootGreed #UprootGreed #GrowingCharity #TipsforConnection #GreaterPeaceJoyandfreedom #Joyfreedom #GreaterPeaceGreater Peace, Joy, and Freedom!

Greater Peace, Joy, and freedom! Below is a Self-Evaluation regarding the pillars of connection.  I share this tool with you to help you find the areas where the Lord may have even more profound peace, joy, and freedom for you.  This is not a weapon to use to beat yourself up, but is meant to be an aid for you to know better how to focus your prayer in a way to remove the blocks from receiving God’s love.

Human & Spiritual Integration Self-Evaluation

Chosen:

  • Do I lack a sense of belonging?
  • Do I feel insecure or self-conscious?
  • Do I feel or am I told I lack self-awareness?
  • Am I frequently at odds with others?
  • Do I have prejudices or judgments in my heart towards other individuals or groups of people?

 

Known:

  • Do I feel forgotten, abandoned, or rejected by God when things don’t turn out as I wish?
  • Do I find myself being self-critical and unforgiving toward myself?
  • Do I find it difficult to pay attention to others?  Am I easily annoyed by others?

 

Valued:

  • Do I struggle with scrupulosity?
  • Do I find myself focusing on the externals in spirituality and religion?
  • Do I focus on the law’s letter rather than the law’s spirit?
  • Am I preoccupied with my looks, image, success, etc.?
  • Do I need expressions of gratitude and/or affirmation from others, and the lack of such robs my peace?
  • Am I saddened at the success of others and see others as competition?
  • Do I find it challenging to share the spotlight or credit with others?

 

Boundaries:

  • Do I experience morality and prayer primarily as what God wants from me more than what He has for me, as a gift?
  • Do I struggle with perfectionism, negative self-talk, being self-critical, or overextending myself and have difficulty resting or relaxing?
  • Do I struggle to set boundaries or to respect the boundaries of others?
  • Do I find the need to control others?
  • Do I experience boundaries from others as rejection, or do they anger me?

 

Openness:

  • Do I struggle to pray from my heart with authenticity and honesty?
  • Do I avoid self-reflection?
  • Do I fear my weaknesses being seen by others?

Discipline and Discipleship

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Discipline and Discipleship | Why does discipleship conjure up such a beautiful sentiment for most of us, but discipline not so much? | #WholnessHoliness #MargaretVasquezs #GrowingVirtue #ModelofHonesty #Friends #GrowingCharitytoUprootGreed #UprootGreed #GrowingCharity #TipsforConnection #DisciplineandDiscipleshipDiscipline and Discipleship

Why does discipleship conjure up such a beautiful sentiment for most of us, but discipline not so much?  If you’re like me, you might feel like discipline is about how you are not good enough, that something more is going to be required from you, and you already feel like you’re at your limit. By contrast, discipleship can make us think of sharing intimately with the Lord and participating in His mission.

In the book of Hebrews, we are told that the Lord disciplines us because we are His children.  Discipline is because we are deeply and dearly loved.  It’s how He aligns more closely with Himself and fine-tunes us to His voice.  Only when we are submitted to the Lord’s discipline are we ready to be commissioned for more intimate service.  Put another way, only when we follow the Lord’s footsteps closely are we prepared to lead safely.

When the archangel Gabriel appeared to Mary, she did not say “yes” because he did not ask her a question.  He told her what was going to happen.  She submitted to the Lord’s way.  The same is true of us.  The Lord does not ask our permission.  Loved ones are taken, we get ill, things don’t go as it seems they ought to, all without the Lord asking if that’s ok.  However, we are called to submit our mission to the Lord’s mission.  We submit, that is, we put our plan under (sub) His and leave it to Him to order things rightly according to His infinite wisdom and goodness.

Sometimes, stretching in charity or generosity will not feel very natural at all.  That does not mean we are being inauthentic.  The truth is that we have a concept of ourselves based on where we are and how we are feeling today.  Only the Lord knows who He made us to be and what He is fashioning us into.  He is the Potter.  We are the clay.

Let’s submit ourselves to discipline in our lives so that we may be aligned more closely to the Lord and get under the spout where the glory comes out!

May the Lord give you His peace!

Margaret

 

Parenting as God Parents

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Parenting as God Parents | Parenting is a tall order.  Not only does it mean forming little minds and souls while keeping little bodies protected and provided for but parents image God.  How we relate to little people as parents or in roles of authority becomes how they perceive the Lord | #WholnessHoliness #MargaretVasquezs #GrowingVirtue #ModelofHonesty #Friends #GrowingCharitytoUprootGreed #UprootGreed #GrowingCharity #TipsforConnection #ParentingasGodParentsParenting as God Parents

Parenting as God Parents. Parenting is a tall order.  Not only does it mean forming little minds and souls while keeping little bodies protected and provided for but parents image God.  How we relate to little people as parents or in roles of authority becomes how they perceive the Lord.  Because they perceive us as all-knowing and all-powerful (even though we are NOT), how we interact with them becomes how they perceive He Who is really all-knowing and all-powerful.  This can be done in a beautifully good way, as St. Therese of Lisieux’s parents imaged God for her.  Through her autobiography, Story of a Soul, the reader can see how she so naturally transitioned from being related to in a loving way that she came to understand that she is lovable and then could so easily perceive God as loving her deeply.  It was the reception of that love that filled her and strengthened her interior life. So, when it was lacking externally from uncharitable experiences from her religious sisters, she could maintain her peace.

In psychologist Madeline Levine’s article, Raising Successful Children, she explains that being overly protective and controlling of children does them no favors.  It can cripple them emotionally.  It’s the sweet spot of setting high expectations, being available, and attentive but letting go that is most beneficial.  When we focus on controlling the external results, a child loses motivation, comes to see themselves as incapable, and can become fearful of trying because of possible failure.

On the contrary, when we foster the internal development of the child – focusing on the development of character rather than external results, a child develops a self, an interior sense of who they are as someone who can struggle through obstacles and so is capable to handle the challenges that life might put in front of them.

I know this can be easier said than done if we were neglected in some way as children.  We can want to catch them before they fall.  Also, if we see their achievements as a reflection of who we are, we can try to live vicariously through them.  Let’s consider, though, how God parents us.  He has set high expectations of us by calling us to love Him, ourselves, and one another.  He is always available to us and yet respects the free will He has given us, and He doesn’t interfere with that.  As we choose the good it is not just the good result that is good, the choosing itself is good.  It’s the exercise of virtue and freedom when we had the ability and option of doing otherwise that is so precious.  It’s not just winning the good fight that is good.  The choosing to fight the good fight is where the victory begins.  Otherwise, we wouldn’t be persons.  We would be robots.

If you struggle to allow your child the good struggle that will allow him or her to develop interiorly, ask the Lord to show you what fear might lurk behind that.  Good Father, please give us the grace to parent as you do and so endow the children you entrust to us with truly free wills that are capable of choosing the good, especially You who are the greatest good.

May the Lord give you peace.

Tips for Connection

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Tips for Connection | Following are some very practical ways you can approach parenting to give both you and your child a sense of predictability and peace.  Know that if you are a new parent, these will be easier than if you have not been parenting in this way and make the switch to them | #WholnessHoliness #MargaretVasquezs #GrowingVirtue #ModelofHonesty #Friends #GrowingCharitytoUprootGreed #UprootGreed #GrowingCharity #TipsforConnectionTips for Connection

Tips for Connection. Following are some very practical ways you can approach parenting to give both you and your child a sense of predictability and peace.  Know that if you are a new parent, these will be easier than if you have not been parenting in this way and make the switch to them.  It is normal and natural for a child to test boundaries that are set for them.  It’s part of how we learn.  Eventually, a child will learn that the boundaries you set will hold (if you stick to them) and there will be less and less testing, just as we only drop things intentionally when we are very little.  Once we see that when dropped an object will fall to the ground, we know that the law of gravity pertains to us and we don’t wonder what will happen if we drop something.

Parenting Tips

  • Address only the “wise”/cooperative part of the child from your true self.

 

  • Do not make the child responsible for your emotions. Relate to the child out of calm compassion and encourage him/her to take responsibility for his/her emotions.

 

  • Be calm and assertive. If you cannot be and stay calm and assertive, look at and address why you cannot.

 

  • Affirm and accentuate the positive minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour, and day-by-day.

 

  • The child fundamentally wants to feel safe. When behavior is oppositional, angry, and defiant simply state and reassure emotional/physical safety.

 

  • Give free choices between true options whenever possible and affirm the choice that is made.

 

  • Create “no fail” situations that do not have any objective other than BEING one-on-one together with the child. This is time to develop relationship – not to reprimand or give directives.

 

  • Have and keep clear house rules with clear privileges and consequences that all caregivers enforce.  This prevents a sense of unknown/unpredictable for caregivers and child.

 

  • Focus on affirming and enjoying them rather than being afraid of or for them or controlling their behavior. The better he feels about himself the more he will control his own behavior.

 

  • If you expect her to fail, she probably will.

 

  • Be the leader. Do not wait for your child to set the tone for the day.  Treat oppositional behavior directly and immediately with the agreed upon consequences and then move on.  If you’re holding a grudge, deal with yourself and what that’s about.

 

  • Being frustrated is normal. Be frustrated with the behavior and not with the child.  If he becomes frustrated with himself as well, his behavior will only worsen and compound the problem.

Know that unaddressed trauma – even traumas that happened in the womb or as an infant can cause many confounding emotional and behavioral problems.  If a child is consistently in crisis, even behaviorally, that may indicate a need for trauma therapy.

Parenting is so important.  Consider that you are imaging God for your child.  How you represent the Lord far more than what you say about Him will come to be how he or she understands God.  It’s a noble calling and crucial to the forming of a world of peace.  May God bless your efforts with His own grace and strength, He who is Father of us all.

May the Lord give you peace.

Margaret

 

Diligence Overtakes Sloth

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Diligence Overtakes Sloth | One of the cardinal or key virtues, that of fortitude, helps us in the forming of the virtue of diligence.  Being diligent means being consistently oriented toward the good.  It helps us take the desire and aspiration for good and make it practical and real | #ChristonPodcast #Christon #podcast #WholnessHoliness #MargaretVasquezs #GrowingVirtue #ModelofHonesty #Friends #GrowingCharitytoUprootGreed #UprootGreed #GrowingCharity #DiligenceOvertakesSlothDiligence Overtakes Sloth

Diligence Overtakes Sloth. One of the cardinal or key virtues, that of fortitude, helps us in the forming of the virtue of diligence.  Being diligent means being consistently oriented toward the good.  It helps us take the desire and aspiration for good and make it practical and real.  The strength (fortitude) when exercised in very human or even seemingly mundane duties forms a habit of diligence.  We become consistent in our ability to choose the good.  We know God is the greatest good and so the exercise of actual movement in the direction of choosing the good is essential.  How amazing to think doing our daily duties, when done out of love for God and as a way of exercising self-discipline and diligence can help us in our spiritual lives.

By contrast, sloth is an apathy towards the good and can even end us up with a lack of desire for spiritual things.  The giving in to the lack of discipline can be a slippery slope.  Rejoicing in the Lord and delighting in Him isn’t just a saying.  It’s a real injunction we ought to take seriously and follow with constancy by choosing the good for love of Him.

We tend to think about and move towards what we keep in the forefront of our minds.  We can think about uprooting any of the vices but how beautiful when we ponder the love, goodness, and beauty of the Lord.  There’s a supernatural attractiveness toward Him because He is the ultimate good.  As we allow these things to fill our minds, hearts, and speech they become that much more what animates our lives in all areas.  We look back after some time and see how far the Lord by His grace has brought us.  The pressure isn’t on us to transform ourselves.  The Holy Spirit is the Sanctifier.  We simply need to cooperate – work with – His grace and allow Him to transform us from glory to glory.  When we give the Lord our five loaves and two fish, He multiplies our meager offerings.  Let’s trust in His goodness and power to do far more than we can ask or imagine!

May the Lord give you peace!

Margaret

Growing Charity to Uproot Greed

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Growing Charity to Uproot Greed | Charity is the virtue that wars against greed.  Generosity can be used interchangeably with the word charity.  Perhaps charity has become so overused that we can forget the real meaning | #ChristonPodcast #Christon #podcast #WholnessHoliness #MargaretVasquezs #GrowingVirtue #ModelofHonesty #Friends #GrowingCharitytoUprootGreed #UprootGreed #GrowingCharityGrowing Charity to Uproot Greed

Growing Charity to Uproot Greed. Charity is the virtue that wars against greed.  Generosity can be used interchangeably with the word charity.  Perhaps charity has become so overused that we can forget the real meaning.  We give to charities which do good to those in need and are called to be charitable or kind toward others.  We don’t hear the word generous used so often in so many ways.  So, it can more readily bring to mind the image of someone giving to a point of sacrifice in a way that is unexpected and moving.  That is how we are called to give, and it is also how we are called to be in our interactions with others.  That means it doesn’t just pertain to the giving of material goods but also the giving of our time and attention in acknowledging others, affirming the good, expressing value of the other, and so on.

St. Francis of Assisi cautioned his brothers against ‘appropriating’ anything as their own.  This is the attitude that underpins a generous heart.  When we stay rooted in the fact that everything we are and everything we receive is a gift from God, we are able to give of our goods and of ourselves in a way that doesn’t count the cost because we know we are not the ones who paid the price.  It was paid by the Lord.

This fundamental attitude helps to fix us in a stance counter to greed.  Generosity focuses us on allowing the flow of God’s goodness to flow through us.  Greed seeks to get for ourselves.  The Lord has so made us for generosity and charity that we receive a physiological benefit from it.  When we act in charity, are the recipients of a charitable act, or even witness a charitable act a hormone called oxytocin is released within us that fosters further acts of love, trust, and friendship.  Oxytocin is the physical basis for the warm, fuzzy feelings we experience when we see or experience loving interactions between people.

May the Lord make us conduits of His infinitely generous love!

And may the Lord give you peace!

Margaret

 

Meekness, Uprooting Anger

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Meekness, Uprooting Anger |Growing in virtue is what happens when our conscience becomes more and more penetrated by the truth that the Lord perfectly provides for and protects us within the loving boundaries of how He has called us to live.  We needn’t struggle and strive to earn a sense of value.  He poured His very Self out for us to reveal His love for us and redeem us | #ChristonPodcast #Christon #podcast #WholnessHoliness #MargaretVasquezs #GrowingVirtue #ModelofHonesty #Friends #Meekness,UprootingAnger #Uprooting AngerMeekness, Uprooting Anger

Meekness, Uprooting Anger. Growing in virtue is what happens when our conscience becomes more and more penetrated by the truth that the Lord perfectly provides for and protects us within the loving boundaries of how He has called us to live.  We needn’t struggle and strive to earn a sense of value.  He poured His very Self out for us to reveal His love for us and redeem us.  He knows everything about us, far more than we could ever hope to know ourselves because it is He who made us and created us in love!  This is the foundation of living a life of Divine Intimacy.  These truths are the superabundant supply for what our hearts are longing.

Transformed by this reality, we realize we don’t need to protect ourselves.  We become less and less fearful and self-reliant for protection.  Eventually, we come to realize that regardless of what tragedy might ever befall us, the Lord will use it for our good.  I think of the example of St. Stephen being stoned and how Scripture tells us his face was like that of an angel while it was happening.  His was a tremendous example of not responding in anger but meeting circumstances with meekness.

Meekness is said to be “strength under control”.  He found that strength by remaining united to the Lord trusting in His protection that is so thorough death has no power over it.  He patiently endured the ignorance, violence, and hostility knowing he didn’t need to rely on himself.  He trusted instead in God.  That can sound extreme!  What?  We can even die, and God is still in control, in charge, and using even that for our benefit???  Absolutely!  That is exactly the example Jesus gave us!  He trusted in His Father and now sits at His right hand in glory for all eternity.

We, too, can grow in meekness and let go of the burden of self-reliance when we stay grounded in the reality of Jesus’ love for us.  Let’s not feel like we need to engineer our own sanctification.  It’s a lie and a trap.  Self-reliance is self-reliance.  Let’s instead rely on the Holy Spirit Who is the Sanctifier!  Let’s seek to surrender to Him in everything and so be transformed by Him through whatever comes our way.

May the Lord give you peace!

Margaret

 

Friends in High Places

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Friends in High Places | Sometimes in life, we can feel quite lonely for reasons that might be physical, emotional, or spiritual.  Perhaps we are living far away from support, need to travel a lot, or perhaps we recently lost a loved one | #ChristonPodcast #Christon #podcast #WholnessHoliness #MargaretVasquezs #GrowingVirtue #ModelofHonesty #FriendsinHighPlaces #FriendsFriends in High Places

Friends in High Places. Sometimes in life, we can feel quite lonely for reasons that might be physical, emotional, or spiritual.  Perhaps we are living far away from support, need to travel a lot, or perhaps we recently lost a loved one.  We can feel emotionally alone, as though no one understands us.  Our circumstances can leave us feeling isolated.  We can feel spiritually isolated because we find ourselves in the circumstances it seems our friends don’t understand.  Any of these types of loneliness can be very painful.

The truth is that we’re never alone.  We know our Lord sees and knows all we are enduring.  Yet, when the suffering is great, it can be helpful to have the awareness of someone who was not divine praying for us and cheering us on.  Thankfully, there are saints of all ages, all walks of life, and who were challenged in just about any way you can imagine.  They responded to the grace the Lord held out to them and in doing so chose to grow through hard times rather than go through hard times.  The same God who extended such grace to them extends grace to us that is just as powerful!  He is unchanging and is All-Powerful!

A couple of years ago a friend and I were chatting in a coffee shop, and I was sharing about how much I really love Simeon, the old man in the temple when Jesus was presented to and dedicated to God.  He had been promised that he would not die until he saw the messiah.  How many babies must have been brought in on a regular basis and dedicated to God.  Yet, on the day Jesus was brought in Simeon knew that he knew that baby was Jesus!  He was so sure that was the fulfillment of God’s promise that he prayed, telling God he could now die happy because God had done what He said He’d do for him.  That is amazing!  How in touch with the Holy Spirit must he have been to see that so clearly!  It’s not like Baby Jesus had a neon flashing light on Him.

When I shared this with my friend, she said that Simeon must be really devoted to me.  What???  Isn’t it that I’m really devoted to him?  She said the way she thinks about it is that in Heaven they are so filled with charity and knowing what we’ll endure or be called to in this life they are drawn to us and decide to commit to praying for us.  Wow!!!  That made so much sense to me and at the same time it has also given me a tremendous sense of being really cared for by the saints – our heroes and big brothers and sisters who are committed to pray for us.

You are not alone!!!

May the Lord give you peace!

Margaret

Humility Month

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Humility Month |In 1675, Jesus appeared to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, revealed His Sacred Heart, and asked for a feast celebrating His Heart in June.  There are so many things in the image of the Sacred Heart for each one of us to receive personally and to imitate| #ChristonPodcast #Christon #podcast #WholnessHoliness #MargaretVasquezs #GrowingVirtue #UprootingVice #HumilityMonthHumility Month

Celebrate June – Humility Month!

Humility Month. In 1675, Jesus appeared to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, revealed His Sacred Heart, and asked for a feast celebrating His Heart in June.  There are so many things in the image of the Sacred Heart for each one of us to receive personally and to imitate.

First, the fact that the King of Kings, the Most Majestic One, reveals Himself to each one of us is mind-blowing.  What a tremendous gift that is far beyond what we could ever ask!  Secondly, His Heart is offered to each of us personally and in a very real and specific way in the Eucharist.  Also, we see His Heart crowned with thorns reminding us of the mocking and belittling He endured from the soldiers during His passion.  Another thing we see is that His Heart is pierced with the lance because He so completely emptied every drop of blood and water for us.

He held nothing back.  His Heart is mounted with the Cross that He transformed from a sign of torture and suffering to a sign of victory, reminding us that if we bring our sufferings to Him, He will transform them and us.  Finally, we see the roaring flame, which represents His passionate love for each of us.  It consumes Him and brings Him from Heaven to earth, and by it, He fits us for Heaven.

We can seek to imitate each one of these same aspects of His Heart, exposing our hearts to Him, offering them to Him we each one of our sufferings for Him to transform us by the fire of His Love and affect His victory in us and through us.  He calls us to Him saying that He is meek and humble of heart and will give us rest for our souls.  We do not need to rely on ourselves!  That is a sure recipe for anxiety!  Let us rely on Him, who is all-loving, all-good, meek, and humble, totally with you and totally for you!

Let’s let every time we hear ‘pride’ this month be a reminder to us of where our pride leads us and yet the humility of the Lord’s own Heart to which He longs to draw us.

Jesus, meek and humble of Heart, make our hearts like Yours!

May the Lord give you peace!

Margaret

 

Growing Chastity and Uprooting Lust

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Growing Chastity and Uprooting Lust | We are bombarded with lustful images daily.  Billboards, commercials, song lyrics, and the like are often filled with impurity | #ChristonPodcast #Christon #podcast #WholnessHoliness #MargaretVasquezs #GrowingVirtue #GrowingChastityandUprootingLustGrowing Chastity and Uprooting Lust

Growing Chastity and Uprooting Lust. We are bombarded with lustful images daily.  Billboards, commercials, song lyrics, and the like are often filled with impurity.  It can be difficult to live lives of purity and chastity.  Yet, it is that to which we are called.  Why does God ask that of us?  It’s because He is very invested in our freedom!  He was from the beginning when He created us with free will, and even when man failed and turned away from Him, He sent Jesus to restore our freedom.

Sometimes, we can get the idea that lust is true freedom, but that is a lie.  Lust is a counterfeit attempt at the connection that leads us to compulsive and even addictive behavior.  Ted Bundy is a notorious serial killer who said that it was his early childhood exposure to pornography that led him into deeper and deeper bondage.  Ultimately, the desire to possess and use another human being for his own gratification led him to kill many people.

Chastity is expressed differently according to our state in life.  If we are married, it is being faithful to our spouse and sexuality, being oriented toward self-gift, and proper reception of the other’s gift of self.  On the contrary, lust is about taking rather than giving or receiving.  It is disordered and is about pleasure for the sake of pleasure.

How are we supposed to find the strength to live in such purity when we are surrounded by the sexually impure and when our culture is so accepting of lust as though it is normal or even good?  It is too much for us to do on our own strength and gratefully, we don’t have to.  Instead, when we turn the desire for intimacy and connection to the Lord and accept the infinite power of His love for us which is far more than we could hope for or imagine, we are filled to overflowing.

That might be difficult to believe if you have become immersed in impurity.  Instead of hiding in shame, expose your need to the Lord, who already knows and loves you more than you can believe.  Let Him know your need and use the occasions of temptations as reminders to you to ask for His help.  He will hear your prayer.

May the Lord give you peace!

Margaret

 

Growing Gratitude, Kindness

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Growing Gratitude Kindness |Envy is the vice of wanting something that isn’t mine| #ChristonPodcast #Christon #podcast #WholnessHoliness #MargaretVasquezs #GrowingVirtue #UprootingVice #GrowingGratitudeKindnessGrowing Gratitude, Kindness

Uprooting Envy

Growing Gratitude Kindness. Envy is the vice of wanting something that isn’t mine.  Which is actually wanting something contrary to what the Lord knows will lead me to the joy, peace, and contentment He has for me.  When we don’t stay rooted and grounded in love like St. Paul tells us to in his letter to the Ephesians, we can quickly get off track and end up in such self-defeating and relationship-disrupting behavior.

King David gave into envy when he wanted Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba, for his own.  He didn’t value her rightly by lusting for her and certainly didn’t value Uriah properly by sending him to the front lines in battle so that he would be killed.  Before that, he failed to stay rooted in God’s love for him and the knowledge that the same God who protected him from Goliath when he was a shepherd and provided for him to be an anointed king was providing for him.  Instead, he went outside of God’s boundaries seeking to provide for himself.

Another example from Scripture is the older brother in the parable of the prodigal son.  He was so envious of what his brother had received and may stand to receive in the future that he refused to go inside and celebrate his brother’s return.  Because of his envy, he lacked gratitude for the safe return of his brother to a relationship with himself and his father.  That lack of gratitude led to a lack of kindness towards his brother and father.  We can see why gratitude and kindness go together as virtues.

The Lord has so made us for acts of virtue that our bodies respond positively to them.  In a very real sense, the wages of sin are death, and virtue leads to life.  When we show kindness, receive kindness, or even witness kindness, oxytocin (one of the four feel-good hormones that foster love, trust, and friendship) is released in our bodies.  Being grateful feels good.  It brings light, peace, and joy.  Being envious feels bad.  Our bodies cry out to tell us what we are and aren’t made for.

If you struggle with envy, take some time to praise and thank the Lord for the revelation of His beauty and power in whatever it is you value.  This will get you back to being grounded in the Lord’s love and valuing things rightly as flowing from Him for His glory.

May the Lord give you peace!

Margaret

Growing Humility Uprooting Pride

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Growing Humility Uprooting Pride |Scripture tells us to choose the way of humility rather than pride.  It tells us that God favors the humble and humbles the proud| #ChristonPodcast #Christon #podcast #WholnessHoliness #MargaretVasquezs #GrowingHumilityUprootingPride #GrowingHumility #UprootingPrideGrowing Humility Uprooting Pride

Growing Humility Uprooting Pride. Scripture tells us to choose the way of humility rather than pride.  It tells us that God favors the humble and humbles the proud.  Jesus even came to give us an example to follow.  His whole earthly life was, from first to last, a wondrous showcase of profound humility.  He emptied Himself and took on our humanity, was born in humble circumstances to poor parents, associated with the lowly, washed feet, and was buried in a borrowed grave.  We are told that is the example that we are to follow.  Yet, if we rely on our own ability to act with humility, we immediately fall into pride.  So, how is this to happen?

Fortunately, the Holy Spirit is the Sanctifier!  We are called to respond to God’s grace, not to be the source.  When the Lord told Peter to put his nets out on the other side after he’d fished all night and caught nothing, it required an initial act of humility to respond to a carpenter’s advice about fishing.  Yet, when His grace-filled Peter’s nets to the point of tearing with 153 fish, he grew in humility, even falling at the Lord’s feet and asking Him to depart, confessing his own sinfulness.

When we experience suffering, powerlessness, and insults, we can turn in fear to reliance upon ourselves, but that will ultimately lead to anxiety, shame, and feelings of disconnection from the Lord, ourselves, and others.  That only fuels the vicious cycle as our fear increases and around and around we go.  However, if we respond to suffering by sending our roots more deeply into God’s love for us, it is readily apparent that He is the one to rely on, our hearts are lifted in gratitude to Him, and we experience a sense of intimacy with Him.

We can have confidence – literally being ‘with faith’ when that faith is in Him rather than ourselves, knowing that His power is able to do anything, even though frail instruments like ourselves.  He is all-powerful and loves us more deeply than we can ever imagine.

May the Lord give you peace!

Margaret

Freedom from Pornography Part 2

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Freedom From Pornography part 2 |Steve Pokorny, founder of Freedom Coaching (Freedom-Coaching.net), joined me to discuss his mission to set the captives free from the addiction to pornography| #ChristonPodcast #Christon #podcast #WholnessHoliness #MargaretVasquezs #freedom #FreedomFromPornography #FreedomFromPornographypart2 #part2Freedom from Pornography Part 2

Interview with Steve Pokorny

Freedom from Pornography Part 2 with Steve Pokorny, founder of Freedom Coaching and author of Redeemed Vision:  Setting the Blind Free from the Pornified Culture, sat down with me to finish our discussion.  Make sure you check out Part 1 from last week to hear how Steve himself ended up addicted to pornography.  It’s amazing how the Lord uses those who have struggled and suffered to minister to the very people who are struggling the way they once did.  He, indeed, is the Redeemer!  Find Steve’s site at Freedom-Coaching.net.

He lost his father and mother to cancer, so he was desperate to learn how to pray.  He began to have a relationship with the Lord but hadn’t yet opened to Him the area of pornography.  He moved in with his aunt and uncle.  He was highly involved in school but didn’t feel known for who he really was.  He was living in a sexual silence because he wasn’t being educated on human sexuality.  His identity was being chipped away at by his addiction to porn.

Steve highly recommends the document Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality.  It’s only by living in the truth that we are set free.  He was in the seminary in Cleveland, OH, for four years and still didn’t receive proper healthy sexual formation.

Steve met a girl he really came to care about, and his love was unrequited.  He tried to cope with the apparent rejection by way of pornography.  He discerned out of seminary, taught for a year, and then ended up at the Franciscan University of Steubenville.  The Lord broke into his life at a Festival of Praise at FUS.  He was coming to know the Lord’s love and his identity as God’s son.  The Father’s love broke in and changed his desire to lust after women to want to serve them.  He ended up backsliding and wondering if it that freedom had been a mirage. He ended up finding Theology of the Body but living with the struggle towards porn.

Steve shared that he went through a week of intensive trauma therapy with me and that through the experience, the Lord set him free from the guilt and shame he was carrying and from the addiction to pornography.

No matter your struggles, the Lord can set you free and redeem the pain for your good and His glory.  There is nothing beyond His reach.

May the Lord give you peace!

Margaret

 

 

Freedom From Pornography

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Freedom From Pornography |Steve Pokorny, founder of Freedom Coaching (Freedom-Coaching.net), joined me to discuss his mission to set the captives free from the addiction to pornography| #ChristonPodcast #Christon #podcast #WholnessHoliness #MargaretVasquezs #freedom #FreedomFromPornography #part1Freedom From Pornography

Part 1 Interview with Steve Pokorny

Freedom From Pornography with Steve Pokorny, founder of Freedom Coaching (Freedom-Coaching.net), joined me to discuss his mission to set the captives free from the addiction to pornography.  He grew up in Cleveland, OH, suburbs.  His father was a Vietnam veteran and suffered from its lingering effects, particularly depression.  He was an attorney and worked long hours.  He got caught in a get-rich-quick scheme, and, to his knowledge, he had lost a lot of money, after which he attempted suicide.  He did not complete the suicide attempt but remained without short-term memory because of the damage.  He was very impaired and was moved to a nursing home.  This left Steve very disconnected from his dad from the time he was five years old.  This drastically interrupted his ability to connect to his father.

One day as a boy of 12 years old, he found in the middle of his street images of hard-core pornography.  He had had no education about sexuality or education.  He shared with other kids about the images and ended up selling them images to his friend for $20.  For Steve as a boy, there was a space in him that created a perfect storm.  Lust, anger, control, and fear were layered within him.  He points out that lust leads to violence, as many serial killers start out with exposure to porn.  It also leads to the violence of abortion.

For Steve, pornography was a poisoned apple that was dropped into an area of hunger.  He was thirsting to have his masculinity affirmed.  He felt fatherless, even though he had some good men in his life.  He was searching for a connection and was left to settle for a counterfeit.  This worsened things even more by filling him with shame.  The shame left him afraid and hiding from the people he needed.  Dr. Vincent Felitti once said in a talk I heard, “You can never get enough of what almost works.”  He didn’t feel comfortable in his own skin and found it difficult to connect with others.  He ended up feeling pain or numbness with feelings of guilt, shame, and self-hatred.

Make sure you turn in next week to hear Part 2 to hear how the Lord set Steve free and moved him into ministry to others!

May the Lord give you peace!

Margaret

Repentance Those Hurt by Church Leadership

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Repentance Those Hurt by Church Leadership |Repentance is important, especially if you have been hurt by church leaders| #ChristonPodcast #Christon #podcast #WholnessHoliness #RepentanceThoseHurtbyChurchLeadershipRepentance Those Hurt by Church Leadership

Repentance is important, especially if you have been hurt by church leaders. I was away from the Church for a number of years because of the abuse I suffered at the hands of Church leadership.  Maybe you or someone you love is in that same place in their walk.  During that time, annual programs welcomed Catholics back to the Church.  I felt that there was a step missing, that of acknowledging the hurt done by those in leadership.  This is what we extend to you today.

If someone in Church leadership offended you, I am so sorry for your pain or abuse.  Those in Church leadership have every bit as much of an ability to hurt people as anyone does.  People are still people, no matter what title they hold.  However, because of the roles they hold, those in leadership can wound us in the depths of our person, in the core of our spirituality.  They are meant to represent the Lord, so it can almost make us feel like God abused us, as crazy as that may sound.  Sometimes, even sacred art, music, and sacramentals can become triggering.

Repentance Heals

On behalf of the Church, Fr. David Tickerhoof and I acknowledge the pain and hurt you’ve endured and ask for your forgiveness.  We don’t want you to remain separated anymore.  No matter how little you might think you are, you are a crucial part of the Body of Christ, and we need you!  No member of the human body is disposable, and nor are you.  You are an essential member.

You actually have a special ability to minister to others who have experienced pain.  I remember something the Lord told me at one point when I was suffering because of those in the Church.  He said, “Everything you want from the Church, I want you to be that for the Church.”  It immediately refocused me on the Good Shepherd rather than the sheep.  Please return and extend that compassion you deserve to receive to those who are in the spot you were.

This Easter, we invite you to consider coming back to the Lord.  It doesn’t mean the hurtful way you were treated is right or doesn’t matter.  I invite you to think of that as our Good Father bringing you back into His House.  He can restore.  He does make ALL things new.

May the Lord give you peace!

 

 

What Is the Baptism in the Holy Spirit?

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

This week Margret Vasquez shares that the lord promises us power and delivers it through his spiritActs 1:8 “But, you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you…”

Do you feel like you need power?  The Lord promises it to us through His Spirit coming upon us!

If you grew up like many of us did without exposure to such language or experience, you might be wondering just what the baptism in the Holy Spirit is and how it differs from the sacrament of Baptism.  We receive the indwelling of the Holy Trinity at our baptism.  I heard an analogy once from Fr. Hal Cohen, S.J. who had a glass of milk and squirted chocolate syrup into the glass – a big, heavy dose of chocolate syrup – which collected at the bottom of the glass.  He said that was like receiving the indwelling of the Blessed Trinity at Baptism.  Then, he stuck a spoon into the glass and stirred it vigorously until the chocolate was thoroughly mixed with the milk.  It was no longer milk with chocolate syrup.  It was now chocolate milk.  He said that mixing/transforming process was like the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

 

The Holy Spirit is such a precious and much needed gift of the Father and the Son.  He is generated by the love between them and sent to us to bring us into Their very life.  It’s the whole point of this life, and all eternity for that matter.  The purpose of the baptism in the Holy Spirit is to equip us with the spiritual gifts we need to live a supernatural life of grace with a deeper experience of the Lord along with gifts for ministry to others, as well.

 

Many times, the experience of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit brings people to a deeper conversion, greater sense of intimacy with the Lord, hunger for prayer, and the Scriptures and the Mass really take on a deeper meaning and brings us into a more profound realization of the fact that this life is passing away and we have a much more beautiful home that awaits us.

 

If you are longing for more in your relationship with the Lord, ask Him to stir up within you the Holy Spirit who came to dwell in you at your baptism.  Perhaps you may want to check out prayer groups in your area or the Encounter school to get plugged into others who are seeking the Lord in the same way.

 

Thank you, Lord, for the great gift of Your Holy Spirt!  Come Holy Spirit!!!

 

May the Lord give you peace!

Overcoming Blocks to God’s Love

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Overcoming Blocks to God's Love: This week Margret Vasquez shares that despite the fact that God loves us infinitely and intimately, sometimes the experience of it is distant. #cahtolicpodcast #catholictherapist #faith #catholicpodcast #christianpodcast #God's love #overcoming

Overcoming Blocks to God’s Love

Overcoming Blocks to God’s love is important, but God’s love is key to the spiritual life.  As we’ve discussed in the past couple of shows, He loves us infinitely and intimately and sent Jesus to reveal His love for us, to make it manifest to us in a real way we could see through the incarnation we celebrate at Christmas.  Yet, despite this fact, many times we can struggle to cling to this notion, and sometimes the experience of it is distant.

In simple terms, we can divide the blocks to God’s love into two categories: internal and external blocks.  Predominately, the external blocks tend to be associated with a lack of human maturity, and the internal ones are related to a lack of spiritual maturity.

Overcoming External Blocks

Examples of external blocks can be things like preoccupation with worldly concerns, and lack of focus on the true purpose of this life.  We can be so consumed with coming and going to and from work and tasks of the day that we forget the goal of this life is really about our relationship with the Lord.  It can be easy to forget Him if we don’t make a concerted effort to keep Him central.  He is invisible and doesn’t often speak audibly, so it requires tuning our senses to a spiritual setting, like switching a radio from one of human transmission to spiritual transmission.  As we learn to see Him in the tasks, relationships, and gifts of the day, to hear Him in the leading of His “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:11-13) we grow in human maturity and become more available to the experience of Him being Personally present to us in the day-to-day.

 

Internal blocks can come from woundedness that causes us to doubt His goodness or the fact that He loves us deeply and cares for us intimately.  He wants to touch every area of our lives and our being and draw us into union with Himself.  Hurtful messages we received from painful relationships or situations can leave us doubting this or walled off in a misguided attempt at self-protection.  We may also have a lack of appreciation for God’s love.  We might assume the time where God was involved with people ended after the Acts of the Apostles or is only in the rare exception like in the lives of canonized saints.  The truth is that the Lord’s love is always present to us and He longs to bring us ever more deeply to a place of living in the full joy, and peace of that reality.

 

May the Lord give you peace!