Sunday, July 27, 2014

Heliotropium Part 4 of 5

     When will my prayers be answered ? Why does God delay in revealing His Will for me? How should I respond to the Divinely ordained outcome of the events in my life, even if they cause me loss and disappointment?
   Book 4 of Heliotropium~Conformity of the Human Will to the Divine emphasizes the contrast between the person who strives to please God by surrender to His Divine Will and the person who craves the satisfaction of their own will. The true test of our desire and love for Him comes when God says "NO!" Fighting against His Will results in temptations such as: anger at God, despair, self pity, negligence of prayer and contemplation, rejection of God, and abandonment of the Blessed Sacrament. Within the house of such a soul blossoms resentment, cynicism, anxiety and doubt.
     The heart set upon the satisfaction of the self will develops a blind amnesia with regards to the irreversible consequence of habitually rejecting God's will. The choice to fulfill the self will instead of accepting that of The Father leads to bitterness, vengeance, loss of faith and finally, ultimate separation from God's love, the eternal perdition of hell. Conversely, suffering endured in this life, so often experienced by holy obedience to His commands, leads souls to blissful, eternal union with the Almighty. The glorious rejoicing praise offered to God by His holy suffering saints reminds us that "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." (Proverbs 9:10) 
     During it's glorious blossoming, the face of the sunflower is visited by many bees which use the pollen to produce sweet honey. Is this reminiscent of our great zeal when first we commit to surrender to the will of God? As the sunflowers develops, it reaches the point at which the weight of the seeds causes it to face downwards. It is at this point that the seeds are most ready for harvesting, to be stored for replanting for next year, or consumed. Birds, squirrels and other animals feast on or store (to prevent starvation during the long, cold winter months) the delicious protein rich miraculous food from God. Each seed planted is transformed by God into yet another beautiful seed laden sunflower. One sunflower alone can generate a host of golden beauty in subsequent years. Cannot our acceptance of each loss be a seed planted which, over the course of our lives, radiates glorious praise of our Eternal Father?
     In the midst of helping our dear friend, our family was presented with a frightening test of faith. I found myself drawing upon what I have learned from my friend as he patiently and hopefully awaits the conclusion of his ordeal. He continues to exhibit nothing less than true contentment and submission to the Will of God. Moreover, his concern for our family's welfare superseded his preoccupation for his own. An act of self sacrifice on his part spared a loved one from harm, though it brought misfortune upon himself. He never ceases to amaze us in his rejoicing at the positive outcomes in the lives of those around him. We are daily humbled by his patient, unwavering trust in the miraculous intervention and powerful intercession of Jesus and Mary.
     From the fourth part of this five part masterpiece, I have learned the necessity of longstanding patience, with a heart overflowing with praise and adoration, while enduring suffering and loss. May my unceasing prayer be "Thank you Jesus. Thy will be done."

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Heliotropium Part 3 of 5

     When looking back and looking ahead, do I daily capture the beauty of each event in life within my heart as a mental photograph which will become the mural painted upon my heart by God? Why do I gravitate towards the tendency to resist God's will as if I know better than He? How could I be so arrogant, so egotistical? How could I ever believe that striving for my will instead of God's would make me happy?
   Book 3 of Heliotropium~Conformity of the Human Will to the Divine emphasizes obedience to God in all things and complete submission to His Will. The result of union of our will with that of God is true happiness, referred to in this book as "Heaven out of Heaven".
     While helping our friend through grief, sorrow and uncertainty, it is we who have been most spiritually enriched. We are daily amazed as he peacefully faces the unknown with a humble, unwavering surrender to God's Will. His patient and kind words testify to a heart filled with gratitude for the mercy and intercession of Jesus and Mary. Like Saint Paul, my friend daily experiences Divine contentment amid earthly misfortune.
     Looking back on events that preceded the present, I am in awe at the seeds of God's design planted within seemingly unrelated events. He is the Supreme architect of all life. Seeking and accepting His Holy and Perfect Will in all of life's twists and turns lead to the greatest happiness. For this reason the Holy Martyrs, rejecting earthly comforts and self adulation, greatly rejoiced in their sufferings for the glory of God.
     From the third part of this five part masterpiece, I have learned that our greatest happiness in life can only come from pleasing God. I have learned how immensely pleased Our Lord is by our total obedience, which far surpasses any humanly schemed offering. When I ask God, what He wants of me, I know without a doubt that He most desires obedient conformity of my will to His. May my unceasing prayer be "Thank you Jesus. Thy will be done." 
     This wonderful book, can be purchased at TAN Books.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Heliotropium Part 2 of 5

      What if I don't get "what I want?"  What if God's will differs from my desires?  How can I be truly content under these conditions? How can I recognize and follow God's will?
     Book 2 of Heliotropium~Conformity of the Human Will to the Divine helps us to daily recognize and desire God's  will. It stresses the importance of asking His will before impulsively embarking upon any task.
     As each day of assisting our friend passes, we experience ups and downs, waiting and rushing, good news and bad news, assurance and doubt. Our only tranquility comes from surrendering our efforts to the will of the Father. Reverent, contemplative daily recitation of the most Holy Rosary graces us with the beautiful example of Our Holy Savior and His Sweet Mother's complete surrender to the Divine Will generously flowing from our Almighty Father's heart. We are daily reminded that moment to moment acceptance brings about more peace than the futile struggle to enforce our desired outcome. Not knowing when or how things will turn out, we are mystically strengthened in our capacity to face the unknown. We are repeatedly surprised by the joy that comes from voluntarily embracing God's will, especially since the ultimate conclusion of each turn of events remains beyond our control. Releasing our tight controlling grip allows us to endure, with compassionate empathy, the singular aspects of our friend's sorrows instead of interfering with God's holy and infallible design. Relinquishing the impulse to battle against God's plan, we are trustingly participating in His marvelous, loving design for all involved.
     Openness to the guidance of the Holy Spirit has sweetened our tears and filled us with hope. We are becoming free to bask in the warm light of the Divine Mercy of Jesus. The the nagging cacophonous lament, "Why?" loses its relevance as it is sublimely transformed into the euphonious hymn "Yes!"
     From the second part of this five part masterpiece, I have learned to attend to well-defined indicators that our will is conformed to the will of God and why He is closest to us at times of sorrow. An invaluable spiritual exercise, that I pray would honor and glorify Our Blessed Lord, is to endure adversity in prayerful, grateful silence. May my unceasing prayer be "Thank you Jesus. Thy will be done." 
     This wonderful book, can be purchased at TAN Books.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Heliotropium Part 1 of 5

     Heliotropium is the Latin name for Sunflower. "Helio" is the Greek word for sun. "Tropos" is the Greek word for turn. From morning until evening, the sunflower follows the path of the sun in the sky, as if reaching up to Heaven in unceasing prayer. Written by a German Jesuit Priest, Jeremias Drexelias, the classic book, Heliotropium~Conformity of the Human Will to the Divine, was first published in 1627. It is divided into five "Books", the first of which I will review in this post.
      The primary motive of this work is to help the faithful Catholic Christian to live according to the truth that ALL events, good and bad, come from from God. Contrary to contemporary belief, the will of God is manifested in tragedy as well as joy. Insisting that God's will is represented only in good prevents us from recognizing His will. It is human nature to obscure our perception of God's will within the shadow of our own desires.It is to our eternal detriment to prevent ourselves from recognizing and obeying His will. Everything He allows is designed to draw us closer in love with Him. It is our nature to desire only pleasant events in our lives. An apt comparison, presented in this work, would be to eat only desserts. This would make us ill. Additionally, how could we love God of our own free will if He enticed us with pleasantries? Would that be true love? If this were so, our love would be dependent upon getting what we want. If we love him at times of loss and distress, that is truly a free will choice of love. Consider the sublime examples of Padre Pio, Mother Teresa, John of the Cross, Josefina Bakita, Miguel Pro and many other holy men and women of God, whose love for Our Lord flourished amid hardship and sorrow. 
     During one extraordinarily rushed morning, I happened upon Heliotropium~Conformity of the Human Will to the Divine at a thrift store. As I purchased the book, I was unaware that a life changing tragedy was befalling a dear loved one. Later that day, when I learned of our friend's misfortune I was baffled. Heartbroken and shocked, I wondered what I could do to help. I then realized that the answer to my question, "How can I help?" had been placed directly into my hands by God earlier that day. It was as if God said to me, "Here are my specific instructions for you. Follow them!"
    When we visited our friend he told us that he was at peace. He said that although he was saddened by his circumstances, he was content because he was conformed to the will of God. There was no anger or anxiety in his countenance. He looked a little tired. He told us that he had spent much time in intense prayer. He expressed total confidence in the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. I had to fight the urge to demand from the Almighty my desired resolution to this conundrum. At each point in the daily process of assisting my friend, there have been numerous signal graces, glorious miracles and undeniable evidence of the love and mercy of Jesus. There is still a long, complicated road ahead. Discouragement and sadness are the evil one's most potent weapons.  Nonetheless, prayer and fasting have been even more powerful in overcoming the attendant spiritual battles.
     From the first part of this five part masterpiece, I have learned of a spiritual exercise, that I pray, would honor and glorify Our Blessed Lord. During Mass, at the moment of the Consecration of the Host I must ask God, "What will you have me do?". I must shun the impulse to beg God to grant me my human and feeble remedy for life's troubles. May my unceasing prayer be "Thank you Jesus. Thy will be done."
     This wonderful book, can be purchased at TAN Books.