Hi from Denise.
I thought I might post a little bit about some of the thoughts people shared during our most recent evening retreat with Sr. Anne Marie Walsh. You may have noticed I started naming our spiritual exercise group “evening retreats with Sr. Anne Marie”. I don’t know about you but when we are all together with Sr. Anne it feels like a mini-retreat.
During our evening retreats we have a refreshing opportunity move away from ourselves and closer to God. Because our world is filled to capacity with distractions it takes enormous effort to say “no” to the subtle temptations of our society.
July’s spiritual exercise was about how we feed and nurture our souls. Are we attending to activities which are “life giving”? She asks “Are we eating from the Tree of Life or from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil? Everything we do can either prepare us for salvation or make obtaining our salvation more difficult.
Sr. Anne’s voice is comforting and strong, like that of what we may imagine would be heard from our Blessed Virgin Mary. Her demeanor offers a safe space where we can honestly address our needs, because it is not always easy to be willing to take a clear look at how we nurture our relationship with the Holy Trinity.
If most of us were to take a blank piece of paper, draw a line down the center, and on each side list that which sustains us and prepares us for our eternity or that which takes us away from where Jesus lives, we would see more clearly what God sees. God sees everything, He sees our soul, the love in our hearts and he can also see where there is an opportunity for each of us to live in true Joy. That is what He wants for us. He wants us to have true happiness!
At some point during our journey to eternity we begin to automatically reject that which does not feed our souls. During our session, many of the participants, including myself, expressed that they find it challenging to always make “life giving” choices. For some it is not just the choice itself, but are we making that choice with Christ’s Love at the center? Another big challenge is pain. When we are in severe pain it is as if we need to sit and just absorb things that facilitate some sort of simple distraction. Merely existing seems impossible. But God knows all these things and He loves us the more for enduring that which reflects His Passion.
This is not about berating ourselves for “not doing enough”. Jesus sees us where we live, where we are, and He knows where He intends for us to be. We just need to open our hearts to Him and let Him in. He is our Father.
If you are overwhelmed with illness and have not yet created a daily habit that feeds your soul, from the Tree of Life, (like daily Mass or the Rosary), consider some visualization. Turn off the electronics, find a quiet place and for 5 minutes literally imagine eternity. Close your eyes and let go. Maybe start with the photo above so that you can imagine the vastness of God’s Creation.
Keeping the vision of our eternity front and center is especially helpful for those who literally have physical and emotional suffering in our lives. I was so grateful to get to Mass this past week because for a few Sundays I was literally too sick to go. My RA has been beating on my body and would sleep until 6:00 at night. I went to confession for a few things followed by Mass, I got back on track, praise God. As Catholics we are so blessed to have the Sacraments! Being in church, in Mass, and receiving the Eucharist give us life in Christ. We are called to Holiness.
Obviously time with Jesus in adoration is probably the best way to visualize our eternity. Spending time in the Chapel, kneeling in front of the Crucifix and praying can take you there. Ask our Heavenly Mother for guidance. This way when you close your eyes you feel more present with our Heavenly Father and in your imagined eternity. This is so valuable because we tend to automatically see images of what we could have done “better” or “problems” or “conflicts”. Let God take those conflicts away from your heart and use your suffering for His Will.
Nobody knows what eternity looks like but in our minds we can create an image that is ours. Consider it a gift from God. Pray for the Holy Spirit to descend upon you so that this vision will be in union with God’s likeness and image. We are all together in eternity.
Between now and our next evening retreat, take a few moments each day to imagine God’s eternity, your eternity, our eternity. Heaven. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life”. Jn 3:16
Please post comments below after doing this visualization or if you have completed the spiritual exercise called “Discernment In The Modern Age”, dated July 8, 2019.
God Bless You,
Denise and Sr. Anne Marie