Breaking Through the Looking Glass

Dying to self for love of Jesus Christ. Beth's retreat at the Community of St. John, Princeville, IL. February 2016
Dying to self for love of Jesus Christ. Beth’s retreat at the Community of St. John, Princeville, IL. February 2016

Last month I attended my first silent retreat. It was the beginning of Lent…the beginning of a new awakening in my soul. I’d like to highlight some of what I learned in the silence.

In the crisp breeze of an early February morning a rooster sounded off in the distance. I took a breath of the cool, clean, farmland air. I was ready to start my first full day of this retreat. I walked through the forest to the simple, yet beautiful chapel to say good morning to Jesus. As I adored the Blessed Sacrament, I began to cry. I realized how I allowed my life to become so hectic and loud. The devil is tricky in this way…he enjoys seeing us busy and distracted because we become easy targets to be plucked away from Jesus in subtle, yet deadly ways. I had not even known I was becoming the older brother in the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32).

Between our silence in Adoration, Liturgy of the Hours with the Brothers of Saint John, and solitude, we learned so much from a wonderful woman, Sister Marie, who focused our retreat on the parable of the lost son. I improved my knowledge of this parable even after hearing it countless times before.

Sometimes I need to take a step back, take a breath of fresh air, and realize that I am still such an infant on my faith journey. How about you?

I brought a book I’d purchased at the 2015 Feminine Genius Conference that I honestly planned to read and be done with by now, a year later. Funny how the Holy Spirit works on the perfect timing for everything, even down to a simple book and the perfect time to read it.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

The book was My Vocation is Love: St. Therese’s Way to Total Trust, by Jean Lafrance. I read the whole book while in solitude that weekend. I highly recommend it to increase your love life…but not in the sense that society portrays.

The Little Flower has always been with me in my life. She chose me long before I realized she had deemed me as one of her little sisters! I am so grateful for her little way. Through her help this year, I have really been able to break through another obstacle to come closer to Jesus Christ. That obstacle is me.

My soul, she says, desires only this science…I understand so clearly that only love can make us pleasing to God, and this love is the only good I ardently desire. Jesus is pleased to show me the road that leads to this divine furnace, and this is the road of the surrender of the little child who sleeps without fear in its father’s arms… (St. Therese discovers the road to abandonment).

This tells me I must break through the allegorical looking glass. I need to abandon myself, realize I am absolutely nothing, and cling to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, because I love Him. For without His Love for me, I wouldn’t exist, and without my love for Him, He would not be able to fulfill His purpose for having created me. I must abandon myself for love of Him. This, my friends, is not as easy as it sounds. Yes, we love our families and our friends. Some can even love those who persecute or violate them; yet, how many times have we failed to show true love to thy neighbor, through our thoughts, words, or actions (or lack thereof)?

…Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me. (Matthew 25:40)

I am finding myself having such a strong desire to listen to Him even more so than I did before. As I participated at Mass recently, He spoke to me through this scripture to continue on the path to abandonment just as St. Therese did. Maybe this will strike you as it did me to let go of material things and simplify my life and schedule.

Brothers and sisters: I consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have accepted the loss of all things and I consider them so much rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having any righteousness of my own based on the law but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God, depending on faith to know him and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by being conformed to his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. … (Philippians 3:8-11).

During this Jubilee Year of Mercy, we must strive to be humble like the prodigal son; we must be obedient like the older brother; we must be merciful and loving like their father. (Luke 15:11-32). We should strive to rejoice in finding that lost coin (Luke 15:8-10) through dying to our selfish desires and abandoning all of the rubbish. Cling to Jesus, just as a little child sleeps so comfortably in its father’s loving arms because we should want to be that one lost sheep (Luke 15:3-7) whom He drapes over His shoulders to bring back Home.


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