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Broken? – Stanza XII – Part II

February 21, 2014 by  
Filed under Becky Ward, Broken

“No pain, No gain!” You led the way,
and showed the path we too must find.
Your saints remind us through example,
on what to set our heart and mind.

pieta4The lives of the saints and martyrs are full of absolutely amazing stories that demonstrate what a life dedicated to following the path Jesus set for us may look like. Far from being boring cookie-cutter examples, the variety is fascinating, and provides enough examples that all of us can find a few saints we are particularly drawn to. This is not an accident.

The early Church found Christians doing astounding things, like praying for those who were killing them, just as Jesus had done. Saints Perpetua and Felicity, for example,  were young mothers who were first mauled by wild animals, then killed, in the coliseum. Felicity is said to have been concerned that she would not be allowed to die with the others because of her pregnancy. According to the diary of St. Perpetua, they waited for Felicity to give birth before sending the women to their death. I can’t even imagine what that would have been like.

I didn’t know that there were married saints until just a few years ago.  I remember hearing that the saints were our role models, and also that they were “perfect.” In my woundedness, I believed that there was no way I would ever be perfect, and so I didn’t put much effort into learning more about those who were. I am certain that this pleased the devil very much.

Besides married saints like St. Thomas More and St. Bridget of Sweden, there are young saints like St. Maria Goretti, who was stabbed repeatedly rather than giving in to being raped. She was only twelve. St. Joan of Arc helped her country, France, win many victories in the Hundred Years’ War. She was captured, turned over to the English, and was eventually burned as a heretic when she was nineteen. “Twenty-five years after her execution, an inquisitorial court authorized by Pope Callixtus III examined the trial, pronounced her innocent, and declared her a martyr.” (Wikipedia)

Then of course, there are many, many, saints who were in religious life. Some we know from their ‘larger than life’ examples, some for their great love and devotion to God and the Blessed Mother, and then there are those saints who earned that title for the heroic way they lived their life, doing small things with great love.

With so many to choose from, it was hard for me to know where to begin learning about the saints, and so I put it off for a long time. Eventually someone recommended that I read Interior Castle, by St. Teresa of Avila, which I did. That led to reading St. John of the Cross, and as one saint mentioned another saint in their writing, I was led to check out those saints, too. The writing of some saints is so good, and obviously inspired by the Holy Spirit, that they are named ‘Doctors’ of the Church, and it is good for us to read what they have to say.

Regardless of how you begin, begin. The history of the Church, and consequently our faith, is more vast and beautiful than we can imagine. Once we fall in love with God, and realize that we truly are part of His family, we want to learn more about all of our relatives in this family, too. We could read for a whole lifetime and not get through all the books written by, or about the saints, our older brothers and sisters in faith.

I used to read trashy romance novels, and would stay up all night reading when I got a new one. I realize now that it was a means of escape; I was not happy with my life and reading was a way to go someplace else for a while. It is different now. Since I have given my life to Jesus, I read to engage, not to escape. Occasionally I do get ‘spiritual indigestion’ from taking in too much, or not being careful in selecting what I read, but now it feels like I have set out on a journey and all the ‘good’ books, by, and about the saints, fill in the details of the landscape. It’s exciting and helps me to grow closer to the Lord.

Growing closer to the Lord is what it’s all about. That’s what we’re here for, to know Him, love Him, and serve Him in this life, so that we can be happy with Him forever in the next. Yet we can’t love someone if we don’t know him/her. This is why God expects us to learn about Him. When we do, what we discover will lead us to love Him, and once we love Him we will want to know more about Him. When we know more we will love more…..and so on, and so on. It’s the same process we use when making new human friends.

The sheer volume of information out there can be confusing at best, and to be honest, not every website, newspaper, blog, book, or speaker that professes to be ‘Catholic’ is. So where does one start? I cannot help but to recommend that if you feel drawn to make more room in your life for God you might check out the Disciples of Jesus and Mary faith formation. Perhaps you have tried bible study and other programs but nothing sticks, nothing helps you establish and sustain the process of deepening your relationship with the Lord. The core of this formation is in teaching souls what God has called them to be. In many ways it circumvents all the garbage out there, and through God’s direction and guidance, we learn where He wants us to focus our time and talents…and what to leave alone. It is difficult to explain, but amazing in the way it works. The process as a whole reminds me of the poem above. I echo the author’s prayer that you may experience some of this ‘guidance’ in a very personal way.

I hope you Dance!

Love & Prayers,

This post is part of a series. The introduction and other articles from the series can be found here once they have been published. They can also be found at Tending The Vineyard.

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About Becky Ward

Becky is a wife, mother of four (One in heaven), grandmother of five, and a "re-formed Catholic" who, after receiving the gift of a deep conversion in 2006, and working through the Disciples of Jesus and Mary faith formation program, now considers herself to be "fully Catholic" What this means is that she now, at last, understands and appreciates the beauty of the Catholic faith in such a way that she wants to share it with everyone. "I've heard that the Blessed Mother told a visionary, 'If Catholics really lived their faith, the whole world would be Catholic.' I see the truth in this, and it is my deepest hope to be a living example that draws others to Jesus. Given the nickname Rebel-Becca by her mother, Becky strongly identifies with St. John the Baptist and his call to "make straight the path of the Lord", and with his role as "Friend of the Bridegroom". The poem, "Broken?" written through her hand, is a reflection of the journey of the soul, and Becky explains what the Holy Spirit is teaching her as she writes posts for each stanza.

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