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Giving Up Secrets: Spiritual Exercise for 09/09/19

Time: 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm mountain (8:30 pm to 10:00 pm eastern).

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Giving Up Secrets

Our session will begin with prayer, led by Sr. Anne Marie Walsh Of SOLT.

We live in an age of secrets. Governments, corporations, educational, medical and religious institutions are all skilled at keeping secrets both for good reasons and not so good reasons. Media definitely keeps secrets according to the agenda it pushes. But this reflects people in general. People tend to keep a lot of secrets.

There is a pressing need to recognize that secrets make a difference. They can determine the direction of our lives, and the manner in which we pass from this world into the next.

Jesus tells us in the Gospels that everything that is hidden will be revealed. Secret activities, secret wounds, secret weaknesses, secret sins, secret fantasies, secret thoughts, secret addictions, secret jealousies, secret plans, secret ambitions, family secrets, secret judgments, secret desires, in fact a secret life, all of it will be revealed. That is unless you have taken care of any sin in your secrets, by going to Confession where God annihilates the sin and wills to remember it no more. Then they will never ever be brought up as a testimony against you.

Ironically, we hide things about ourselves but at the same time have an attraction to know the secrets of others. There is almost nothing people like better than hearing a good secret. Why? There are several reasons. One, it diverts attention away from our own secrets. But we also love secrets because we love hidden knowledge. We live in a state of being that is still looking for something that hasn’t been completely revealed to us yet. We’re searching, whether we know it or not, for the one Word that will answer all of our questions and give sight to the vision, the understanding we seek.

Interestingly enough, Jesus mentions that the Father Himself keeps secrets from the “wise and learned” and reveals things to the “little ones.” Why is that? We know most certainly that God never does anything without good reason, and a reason that redounds, often in mysterious ways, to our greatest benefit.

Might it be that God protects the sacred and hides divine treasures for our sake? Anyone who has studied covenant knows that profaning the sacred is dangerous. We can be destroyed by our profanation. A simple look at the human wreckage surrounding the modern desecration of the gift and mystery of sexuality confirms this.

In other words, could it be that just as Jesus told us not to cast pearls before swine, He follows His own counsel with us? He puts His treasure in safe places…He is careful with what is precious beyond measure. And at the same time He is merciful to those of us who would have a terrible accounting to give for squandering a poorly understood gift, if we received it and did not really appreciate or care for it.

Secrets like this can be a good thing; in fact they can be a very good thing if their purpose is to protect a treasure (whether that be jewels or a reputation) from vandalism or theft, misuse or destruction.

But some secrets should never be kept. And unfortunately, people usually have more of these kinds of secrets.

We can safely say, I think, that many of the sicknesses of our age are determined by the secrets we keep. This is well known in the world of addiction and co-dependency: “We are only as sick as our secrets.” This is actually a psychology that was first explicated in the Sacred Scriptures. Psalm 32 says: “I kept it secret and my frame was wasted…” The distress, the groaning, the anxiety, the depression, the disturbance of so many today, more often than not, comes from holding secrets that should not be kept.

I know a woman who struggled with terrible depression much of her adult life, watched Mother Angelica faithfully, but would not take the secret of her abortion to the Confessional.  She died recently and my prayer is that before she died she finally released her secret into the loving mercy of God so she could enter her heavenly home with “joy and an upright heart.”  Her secret certainly didn’t keep her in peace or bring happiness into her life.  In fact, it brought her to the verge of a mental breakdown.  

At the end of our lives, we will have an encounter with God Who is pure Love and Light and Goodness and Truth. And all that is hidden will be revealed. To our own overwhelming confusion we could find ourselves suddenly naked before the Lord, rather than clothed in the garments of grace He so freely and continually offers us, all because fear, or attachment or shame or pride kept us from giving up our secrets. Great Confessors, like St. John Vianney and St. Padre Pio spent themselves in this work of getting people to give up their secrets so that they could begin to know the deep things of God in their lives.

Our Blessed Mother, the most pure creature who ever lived, was without secrets of her own. She kept only those God gave her. And because of that, there is no one more beautiful, more radiantly transparent in the living of the Mysteries of the Most Holy Trinity. In Her many apparitions in the last centuries, we can hear the cry of our good Mother when she bids us return to the Sacraments and live the Gospel way of life. One of the things She is saying with great affection and urgency, as if speaking to a little child, is: “Run! Run and whisper your secrets to your Father. All of them! And be assured that He will give treasures out of the darkness and riches that have been hidden away especially for you!” Is. 45:3

For the full article please see: http://www.missionaryinthemodernworld.blogspot.com

Questions For Silent Reflection

1. What is your experience of secrets?
2. Have you ever seen or experienced the effects of holding bad secrets?
3. Do you think some secrets can actually make you physically ill?
4. What do you think God wants from us in our secrets? Remember that nothing is hidden from Him?

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Imagine Your Eternity

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

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