As I look back over my year, I see slamming doors, unexpected detours and hills left to climb, and yet, at the same time, I see a year forever marked by the transformative powers of the Holy Spirit. This has truly been a year of contrasts, one filled with personal failings and unfulfilled aspirations, along side unbounding love and divine transformation. “What do all of these things have in common?” you may ask. Each one represents a single baby step towards the virtue of humility.
Humility is the most basic of all the Christian virtues. In order to love God and neighbor, we must forget ourselves and believe in someone greater. This someone is the Triune God (God, the Father, Jesus Christ, His Only Begotten Son and the love between them, which is the Holy Spirit). Although humility is the most basic of Christian virtues, it seems the most difficult to achieve. Ironically, the verbal recognition of its gain, may actually indicate its loss. Simultaneously, its stated longing may ultimately magnify the lack of it in one’s life. Despite these challenges, I find myself in awe of what the Holy Spirit can accomplish in a willing heart.
“Come, Holy Spirit, come. Make us a holy family founded on love.”
This simple prayer has been at the start of every one of my family rosaries, nightly prayers and silent meditations over the last year. Perhaps this simple prayer, or act of surrender, has been the source of this year’s profound transformation. My son, Joseph, who has struggled for years, has made miraculous progress, both as an individual and as a family member. Over the last year, I have watched in amazement as my husband, Tom, has become the spiritual shepherd and protector of our family. In both regards, I have tried for years to accomplish what the Holy Spirit accomplished in record time. “What was different about 2017, you may ask, besides our family prayer?” I would say, it was my own getting out-of-the-way and trusting in the Lord to make all things new again. Perhaps only through the recognition of my nothingness, in comparison to the omnipotence of God, was I finally able to surrender my all in loving trust.
This was not an easy feat, for it required self-awareness, determination, and desire. A simple letting go or getting out-of-the-way can sometimes be harder than the most valiant of personal efforts. Doing anything, for me, is much easier than doing nothing. Failing is much easier than never trying. However, over the last year, it was in the not trying that I actually found my greatest success, for this was a success not based on my own ability but on the ability and pure gift of the Holy Spirit. This was my greatest gift and lesson in 2017. A gift which came on the other side of many closed doors, failed attempts, and thwarted plans, for it seems it took my actual giving up to finally give it over to God.
Our family’s miraculous success, achieved after the finality of my personal surrender, is perhaps as ironic a lesson to learn as is the virtue of humility itself. This kind of self-emptying and letting go seems a particularly hard lesson in today’s world of self-empowerment, self-promotion, and self-satisfaction. Surrounded by the material success and self-determination of today’s many heroes and world leaders, it proves challenging to embrace the almost “retro” message of humility. This is as much a counter-cultural message today as it was during the time of Jesus. Despite this fact, however, it is no less timely. Today’s self-reliance, self-determination, and material success seems to lead humanity further from happiness, for trapped within our very selves, how can we find love? It is love, the love of God, which ultimately leads to true happiness. It is often, from within the silent emptying of self, the emptying of our many thoughts and possessions, that we can finally hear the voice of God.
This emptying, or quiet simplicity, was probably best illustrated to me during my recent pilgrimage to Rome. There, I sat on the small, single bed of St. Teresa of Calcutta, perhaps the most humble person of the 21st century. St. Teresa is a woman who always surrendered herself to God. It was only through the emptying of herself out in love, that she was filled by the unbounding love of God. Filled with His love, she became a beacon of light and love to all those she encountered. This is my goal or resolution for 2018, to empty myself, so that I too, can be filled with the transformative power and love of the Holy Spirit. It is only in the emptying out that one can be filled up with something new.
May you have a wonderful New Year filled with the Spirit of Love. Amen.
Closing 3:00 Prayer for Divine Mercy.
Eternal Father, I offer You, the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and the sins of the entire world.
For the sake of His Sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the entire world. (Repeat two more times).
Jesus, I trust in You. Amen
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