Saturday, July 16, 2011

Out of the Box!

"Do not be afraid when Love requires Sacrifice." ~Blessed JPII

This quotation is found in the subheading of my blog. In fact, the very title of my blog comes from this quote! Well, I suppose it would only be fitting for me to go into why this quote is the theme of my blog. (I wrote a post on my title on March 29, but as time has gone on, I feel that I need to write another post on the same topic. Or maybe I just like repeating myself. I don't know! But bear with me, please. If you read my March post, you can skip this one if you want. Or you can keep reading and compare. You have free will, but its all good with me!)

I can only scatch the surface, though--partially because I need sleep, since I am traveling to Europe on Monday, and mainly because God has wrapped layers upon layers of meaning around this simple quotation. As humans, we are inside the box, given this quotation and theme; we are supposed to get out of the box, so that we may live in the fulness of God's presence. But in order to find our way out of the box, we must go through the levels and depth of meaning--of love and sacrifice. I cannot do this topic justice, but I shall hopefully get across my very faint understanding of the Great One's words. And maybe, you can take these ideas to prayer-dig deeper, as God takes you through the layers-to get out of the box, and into the fullness of His presence!

What is love? Well, there are various definitions and understandings of love. So I shall hold to agape love, that is, the love of Christ. The love that we are all called to! "This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends." (Jn 15:12-13) This love that Christ details for us--this is our purpose! We are not put on this Earth to be comfortable, we are put on this Earth to love! And this love is not easy! "No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends."

It can be somewhat easy to love our friends and family. I mean, we like to spend time with them, they do a lot for yeah, it doesn't seem like it would be extremely terribly difficult to lay down our lives for them. It would be hard, since they can get on our nerves--so why should we die for them--but we could do it. God obviously wants to challenge us, though. Let's backtrack to one of His earlier teachings: "You have heard that it was said 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you!" (Mt 5:43-44)

So, Christ's words are pretty direct. To summarize: Our vocation is to love. And who do we love? Well, our families and friends, and our enemies. How do we love them? We die for them! To die for someone, particularly for an enemy, is a sacrifice.

So there's that solid tie-in with JPII's words. "DO NOT BE AFRAID when Love requires Sacrifice!" We should not be afraid of the sacrifice and dying that will come, because sacrifice is necessary for true love to happen! How did Christ love us? He died on the Cross for us! Not only that, but He went through an agonizing week of suffering for us. Love is not a one-time deal; love is constant! I am continuously discovering this constancy of love. There are a few people out there who I simply have a hard time loving. I honestly do not jump at the opportunity to be in their company, but will find myself around them due to mutual acquaintances.

A priest once told me that "God does not call us to like everybody, but He calls us to love everybody!" And I always thought that this command must be pretty easy. I can still harbor a dislike for some individuals; I just have to love them! Not that tough! WRONG! I am constantly discovering the necessity of loving those people who I don't altogether like being with that much; holding my tongue when I want to say sharp words, and learning to see their true beauty as children of God. And do you know what I've been finding? As I seek to love these people, I find that I do not harbor an intense dislike for their company anymore! I may not first choose to be with them, but I am learning to love others as children of God, not because of anything that they have done to merit love.

This lesson that God has been teaching me has been a long process, which is still going steady. Every day, He has been teaching me new things, and letting me discover new ways to love. An example of this happened Friday morning. Thursday night, I set my alarm clock for 7:10 a.m., so I could wake up in time to bike to morning Mass. (I love starting off my day with morning Mass! As long as I can pull myself out of bed...) Well, with summer being...summer, and facebook, blogs, and books all luring me away from sleep, it can be tough jumping into bed before midnight. And then once I get into bed, I like to pray. And think. So sleep....not as much as I need. But whatever--this is shifting off of the main story. Sorry 'bout that!

Anyway, my alarm sounded off on Friday morning. I hit the snooze button--I was exhausted! Nine minutes later, my alarm sounded off again. I looked at my alarm through sleep-laden lids. I was about to shut off my alarm, and go back to sleep. Yeah, time for more sleep, I said to myself. I'll miss morning Mass. I'll go tonight. I'll just pray a spiritual Communion and go back to sleep...But Annie, why not morning Mass? God, I'm tired. I'm sleeping. I'll say a prayer and sleep in. I'll go to Mass tonight. It's your choice, Annie. You have free will. But aren't you My Sacrifice of Love? Yes, God, but I'm tired. Aren't you My Sacrifice of Love? But you have free's your choice. God...okay. I am Your Sacrifice of Love. Turning my alarm off, I pulled myself out of bed, and groggily changed into a skirt and shirt for Mass. At Mass later that morning, God woke me up with His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity. He loves me so much! And here I was, hesitant to be His Sacrifice of Love!

We are Sacrifices of Love in ways great and small. By dragging ourselves out of bed for morning Mass a few times a week. By trying to love those people who we may not like being with. By striving for humility constantly, even if it isn't that fun. By putting ourselves aside, and putting others first. By holding our tongues when we want to criticize someone, or needlessly tell them that they are wrong, and we are right. Each and every day, God gives us an abundance of opportunities to be a Sacrifice of Love. Just as He revealed to me Friday morning, it is our free will, our choice. We can take it or leave it, but His desire is clear: "Love one another as I love you." Which can take on another meaning:"Sacrifice for one another as I sacrifice for you." And how did Christ sacrifice for us? How does He continue to sacrifice Himself for us? By giving up His body for us. So this simple command of Christ can even take on another meaning: "Die for one another as I die for you."

We have countless opportunities each day. We have free will, and we have a choice.

Will you be a Sacrifice of Love today?

“A Love Song”
I’m sitting here
In wonder at Your gaze
I’m sitting here
My heart just melts away
For You gaze-You gaze
Upon me
With love and tenderness
And I wonder what
I could do to deserve this
But You look at me
Reaching out to my heart
Come, my Beloved
Come to Me
I am a Sacrifice of Love
Come, My Beloved
Arise, and come
I give Myself for you
I look back
Gazing at the beauty
Calling out to me
Love pours forth,
Bringing hope into
The world’s misery
I hesitate-not sure
If this can be my reality
But He calls out
Tugging my heart
Reaching out,
Pulling my soul,
Crying out to me
Arise—arise, and
Come, my Beloved
I am a Sacrifice of
Love for you
I give you Myself
I give it all
For you
The spurns and the scorns
People turning away
The pain of a
Deceased friend
Seeing all of the
Sorrows in the world
As I go through My Agony
Sweating Precious Blood—
Drops of my life—
Falling to the ground
The accusations flying
Around Me,
The soldiers beating
My Body,
Ripping away My
Clothes and My Flesh
Puncturing My HeaD
With sharp, strong horns.
The jeering, the mocking;
My hardships and
The steel nails being
Driven into My Body
The weight of the Cross
Pulling Me up, against
The forces of gravity
The struggle to breathe,
The flies hovering around
My rotting Flesh
As I hang, unable to
Swat them away.
My last painful breath
As I bow My Head
And die,
Closing My Eyes
To the jeering, mocking
Closing My Ears to the
Hate, the insults, the sacrileges
Giving over My
My Beloved,
I am a
Sacrifice of Love
For you.
Freely, completely,
I have given
Myself for you
So that you may
Have eternal joy and peace.
I’m sitting here,
Wiping away my
As Love pierces the
Hardness of my heart
The beauty calls to me
The Sacrifice gazes
With compassion and desire
I no longer hesitate
I look deeper at Him
And let the grace in
Taking a step forward
Love reaches out
A blood-stained Hand
His voice calling
Out to me
Arise, My Beloved
My Beautiful One,
And come.

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