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A Life Freely Lived: An Evening Retreat With Sr. Anne Marie Walsh, SOLT.

August 12, 2019

Good evening everyone. Tonight we will go over the upcoming retreat in Iowa and spend some time talking about “A Life Freely Lived”. God Bless you. To join our call:

  1. Call Uber Conference  at 720-735-7025  
  2. Online at uberconference.com/facingourimmortality

We will say a brief prayer before the spiritual exercise begins.

From the perspective of eternity, there is really only one urgency:  the salvation of souls. Birthing souls into eternal life is a labor that is perhaps the most hidden, and yet, most valuable labor of all.  This is not the kind of work many people ever think of or even consciously involve themselves in. Yet when the weight of what is at stake is felt, and an eternity of either endless happiness or endless torment is understood within the depths of a soul, great hearts are moved in the likeness of Jesus’ own heart to do whatever they can to keep even one soul from being lost.

A century ago, a group of men called the One-Way Missionaries, freely chose to serve that urgency by purchasing one-way tickets to remote parts of the earth where the Gospel had not yet been proclaimed, or where the Good News was treated with life-threatening hostility.

Those who volunteered to go did not expect to return, and most of them didn’t.  They packed their belongings into a coffin meant for their own burial and set off to strange lands, willing to pay the highest price so that their forgotten brothers and sisters might know the surpassing greatness of Him Who calls us out of the darkness and into His marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:9)

One of the most famous One-Way Missionaries was a Scotsman named A. W. Milne who volunteered to go to the New Hebrides in the South Pacific to live among tribal headhunters. He knew when he left, that these tribes had already killed every missionary sent before him. And yet, something must have stirred Milne’s heart with graces of Divine appointment and courage. He must have been able to utter the words of St. Paul about himself:  “I no longer live but Christ within me lives.”  When that happens, the fire of Christ’s passion for souls takes over and drives a person to go where they would never go otherwise.

Milne was the right missionary for the right time and place.  He lived among the tribal peoples for 35 years, and when he died, the people buried him in the center of the village and marked his grave with the following epitaph: “When He Came There Was No Light. When He Left There Was No Darkness.”

What sentence would capture the story of our lives and reveal the level of our involvement with things that really matter?  Can we win souls for Christ if every difficulty, every set-back, every tough battle causes us to whimper, to complain, to become discouraged, to crumble? Doesn’t the enemy like to see soldiers who run, who hide, who desert because they don’t believe the battle is worth the blessings it will obtain?  

If the highest currency in the economy of Redemption is a love freely willing to lay down its life for a brother or sister in danger of being lost eternally, how rich are we really?  And how free are we really if we can’t make the sign of the Cross in public or pray at a restaurant before eating because of what other people might think?  Self-interest doesn’t get us far in eternity.  “Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses it will save it.”  Lk 17:33  Wrong choices lead to unhappy endings not just for ourselves but also for those that follow us.

On the bright side, it is possible to bring many souls to eternal happiness simply by loving them as best you can. A smile that pierces through the oppressive fog of loneliness, a friendly inquiry, a genuine assist in difficulty, a non-judging, concerned presence; these can be life-changing moments for people because they break through the dismal experiences life has taught them to expect, and stir hope, giving signs that life has better possibilities. Loving like this is not always easy.  It can involve real sacrifice.  But sacrifice is love in action and proof of its authenticity.  

The real mission of Christ, of the Church, of ourselves, is not necessarily somewhere far away in a foreign land. Some will be called to foreign lands. But even for them, the real mission, as Pope Francis says, is the human person.  “Today…every dimension of the human being is mission territory, awaiting the announcement of the Gospel.”  Christ’s mission is all around us.  

A soul that becomes able to completely lay down its life for others, in whatever form that takes, walks straight into heaven at the end of this life. Nothing holds it back or weighs it down.  It goes immediately to its source in the Heart of God because it has already tasted and drunk freely of this life-giving love in its own life.  This love is what changes the world and secures beatitude for all those who come in contact with it and receive it into themselves.

The Church and her mission of salvation will never lose relevance and will never be conquered.  We either fight with her and for her through every storm no matter how severe or frightening, or we abandon her and ensure our own demise.  Jesus doesn’t ask us to spread the kingdom and fight for our brothers and sisters only if things are easy and perfect. He asks us to fight and stay faithful precisely because they aren’t.  He will do the rest.

  1. What determines my life?  Can I still be truly free even in the midst of illness or suffering?
  2. How do I lay down my life for others?
  3. How have I experienced God’s call to mission in my life?

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