Thursday, January 5, 2012

Devotion for today: How do you love yourself?

This part is a little difficult. How do we love ourselves?
Scripture for meditation: Jeremiah 9: 22-23
Thus says the Lord: Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, nor the strong man glory in his strength, nor the rich man glory in his riches; but rather, let him who glories, glory in this, that in his prudence he knows Me, knows that I, the Lord, bring about kindness, justice and uprightness on the earth; for with such am I pleased, says the Lord.

Christ asks us: John 1:38
“What are you looking for?”

St. Francis de Sales continues with our examination in “An Introduction to the Devout Life”: 1) how do you love yourself? Is your love a purely worldly one? If so, you will always desire to abide here and your cares will all be given to your establishment on earth; but if your love is a heavenly love, you will desire, or at least be ready and glad to depart this world whenever it pleases the Lord. 2) Do you keep your self-love in good control? (For ill- regulated self-love ruins us) Well-regulated love requires us to love the soul more than the body, to endeavor to acquire virtue more than anything else, and to desire heavenly honor far above low, earthly honor. A well-regulated heart often asks itself, “What will the angels say if I do or think this?” and not, “What will men say?” 3) What love do you bear your own soul? Are you willing to care for its maladies? You should put everything else aside when your soul is harassed by its own passions. 4) Do you boast of yourself in one way or another? Do you flatter yourself when speaking of yourself? 6) In your pleasures, do you indulge in pleasures which can injure your health? I mean useless, vain pleasures; unprofitable watching, and the like?

Prayer of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton:
Unite me to yourself, O adorable victim, life-giving heavenly bread, feed me, sanctify me, reign in me, transform me to yourself – live in me, and let me live in you, let me adore you in your life-giving sacraments as my God – listen to you as to my Master – obey you as my King – imitate you as my Model – follow you as my Shepherd – love you as my Father – seek you as my Physician who will heal all the maladies of my soul – be indeed my way, truth and life, sustain me O heavenly manna, through the desert of this world, till I shall behold you unveiled in your glory. (Elizabeth Seton, Selected Writings, Ellin Kelly and Annabelle Melville, ed. 1987, Paulist Press)

My thoughts: In today’s scripture passage, Christ asks us, “What are you looking for?” This is a great time to answer that question. If we don’t know what we want out of a relationship with Christ, then making resolutions is a waste of time. We must really spend time on this question. Are we looking for a relationship with Santa Claus…someone who will give us what we want when we want it? Maybe we want a relationship with a benevolent being that turns a blind eye to our wrongdoings and asks us only to “be a good person” based on our definition of good. Or maybe we just want a good friend, someone who will not call us to action, demand that we correct wrongs, stand up for what is right, or ask us to do anything we find uncomfortable. What do we want out of life, and out of God? What resolutions must we make to turn our love of self into love of God, the real God? This will take all of us, I am sure, a good while to answer honestly. We know what we should say, but are we willing to completely turn our lives over to God, so that He can make us saints in our daily lives? That would be total surrender, and that is hard, but not impossible with much effort, resolve and God’s grace. By the way, I love the way St. Francis de Sales asks us, in his last point, if we engage in “unprofitable watching”. Did he know about facebook, twitter, the internet, video games, and on-demand TV back in the 1600’s? Amazing!

Our prayer today: God speaks through Jeremiah, the prophet, and reminds us that if we are to boast of anything, it is that we know God. Let us resolve to acknowledge the gifts that make us so special, so blessed and so wonderful as coming from our loving God. Let us thank Him, as we pray with St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, “Unite me to yourself, O adorable victim, transform me to yourself – live in me, and let me live in you.”

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