How do we make the distinction between loving God and loving the pleasure found in God? How do we begin to love the beauty of God (as Saint Francis de Sales tells us)? Certainly, the consolations and signal graces from God are a great means to lead us deeper into loving God above all else, if we have experienced a lot of consolation in our spiritual life now.
How can we prepare ourselves in advance for when our faith journey is not as consoling (opposed to being caught off guard and being stuck in a “desolate” place, spiritually speaking)?
How do we begin to love the beauty of God?
That is the topic at hand in a recent Visitation Spirit chat room conversation. The conversation is below.
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Visitation Sister: I think early on for many people the beauty of God is seen in the beauty of nature - and in the people around them, especially those they love.
Cindy: Ahhh… By considering all the wonder that comes from Him, His Love, Mercy, Creation.
Visitation Sister: In a majestic place we sense the majesty of God.
Cindy: I also see His beauty when reflecting on past trials and the good He has brought from them….
Visitation Sister: That’s more intense perhaps.
Cindy: And, sometimes even in the midst of tribulation… believing that He is giving me a tiny glimpse of His own Passion.
Cindy: Actually, my experience of that now is hopeful….
Visitation Sister: This week and other weeks in the past often develop into a true sharing - yes.
Visitation Sister: You have been prepared for something yet unseen perhaps, in your life.
Cindy: Hopeful that I am growing towards really embracing His Will as my own.
Visitation Sister: To know His Will is not easy.
Cindy: Isn’t this process of preparation and of coming to know Him true for us all?
Visitation Sister: Oh yes.
Visitation Sister: Consolations help us to know and love God, but you point out that tribulations do as well. Not all see that right away.
Cindy: My role as a caregiver over the past one and one-half years were certainly unseen and unknown.
Visitation Sister: Are you at a crossroads now?
Cindy: Potentially… I have some major decisions to make.
Visitation Sister: Will this help you towards your future.
Cindy: I am praying Our Lord will make clear to me whether this is a situation in which….
Cindy: 1) I need to continue in order to grow in diligence and perseverance….
Cindy: 2) I need to learn to negotiate more assertively in order to prevent burn out….
Visitation Sister: You might need a vacation or retreat too.
Cindy: Or, 3) I need to acknowledge the magnitude of his needs and my own limitations and move on to whatever comes next.
Visitation Sister: Yes, that is very important to determine.
Cindy: A retreat, absolutely!
Cindy: I am still unable to imagine any future other than pursuing religious life.
Cindy: However, thus far no doors are opening.
Visitation Sister: You have a director?
Cindy: Yes. He likens this to all the “no’s” Saint Faustina and others experienced.
Cindy: I have considered what Holy Father writes about God’s inspired Will and declared Will.
Cindy: If I am remembering the terms correctly.
Cindy: No open doors could be His declared Will… Or, my just not being ready yet.
Visitation Sister: Yes- will of God’s Good pleasure and His direct will but that is not the term - can’t remember it.
Cindy: Are you familiar with the work of Dr. GC Dilsaver?
Visitation Sister: No.
Cindy: Long story short, he is a published author and his work has the endorsement of a few Bishops… He was interviewed several times on Women of Grace.
Visitation Sister: What are the topics of this author.
Cindy: He was a Clinical Psychologist who has abandoned the modern mental health system in exchange for a more thoroughly traditionally Catholic, Thomistic approach….
Cindy: The roles of God-given gender.
Cindy: He has an institute called the Imago Dei Institute.
Cindy: With short- and long-term retreats for Priests and lay men and women.
Ben: Where are they located, Cindy.
Cindy: Actually, the first women’s retreat will be in June. I believe he is in Montana. I need to look at the website. I have a friend who will enter Carmel in August and she is going to spend a month there first.
Visitation Sister: Thanks for this information!
Visitation Sister: Maybe we should continue the last 2 questions:
Visitation Sister: If we have experienced a lot of consolation in our spiritual life how can we direct our love towards God?
Connected with question 4: How can we prepare ourselves in advance for when our faith journey is not as consoling (opposed to being caught off guard and being stuck in a “desolate” place, spiritually speaking)?
Cindy: Dr. Dilsaver focuses a lot on embracing the redemptive and restorative power of Christ’s Passion, … seeing the beauty of God in all things and circumstances.
Ben: When it comes to a calling from God, we just need to make ourselves available to Him and He will guide us where He wants us to go. We can have our plans and miss out on what God really wants us to do.
Cindy: Good point, Ben!
Cindy: My “theme song” right now is trying to direct my life towards God by acting lovingly towards others… I often think of Sr. Mary Dolores saying, “You are taking care of Jesus.”
Visitation Sister: Beautiful.
Cindy: Love towards God.
Cindy: Ben, you are such a vibrant example of doing so as a lay person!
Visitation Sister: I think of St. Jane de Chantal who lived with inner darkness or dryness for many years, or Mother Theresa, and yet they kept clinging to Him and serving.
Ben: I never even thought about Prison Ministry! I was afraid of Prison. God tugged at my heart when I heard a talk at Church. I signed up to pray for Ministry and now 13 years later I can’t imagine all that I would have missed and all the people I never would have met had I said no to God!!!!
Ben: Have you ever been a missionary, Cindy?
Visitation Sister: Courageous trust, Ben.
Cindy: No, Ben, but you are not the first person to ask me that.
Visitation Sister: That’s a great gift!
Visitation Sister: How do we develop evangelical gifts? it is my weakness.
Cindy: In a sense I have been… When I was working as a massage therapist in the midst of new age practitioners and I was working with the Laboure Society to pursue a religious vocation…. I did a lot of evangelization and re- evangelization during that time.
Cindy: My approach is very quiet… Attracting, rather than promoting now….
Ben: You don’t have to travel to be a missionary. A friend of mine, a retired Tire Executive, he joined a Group that goes to University of Buffalo every Wednesday afternoon. They serve cookies and treats and give Students a chance to share. Many are increasing their Faith or beginning to look closer to God!
Cindy: Today, at the dog park, I was praying Stations of the Cross.
Ben: Awesome Cindy!!!
Cindy: Just being a quiet presence and witness… I still haven’t stopped wearing my postulant Dress, so people tend to ask me questions….
Visitation Sister: So simple sharing can qualify as evangelization?
Cindy: I hope so.
Visitation Sister: That is good news!
Cindy: I know it might be time to go get regular clothes again and focus on internal acts of fidelity, rather than external… But I never would have met Sr Mary Dolores if I hadn’t been wearing this dress.
Ben: The Lord put it on my Heart to carry my Bible with me everywhere. It has been incredible to see God encouraging others just by the presence of His Word in ordinary life and to quietly read God’s Word everywhere!!! Even in the White House!!!
Visitation Sister: If you don’t mind my asking, who does the postulant dress belong to?
Cindy: In Mobile, postulants simply wear their own black and white clothing. A friend had these Dresses made for me before I entered.
Visitation Sister: So it is your own?
Visitation Sister: Last question: How can we prepare ourselves in advance for when our faith journey is not as consoling (opposed to being caught off guard and being stuck in a “desolate” place, spiritually speaking)?
Cindy: By staying “connected” to the body of Christ through Mass, Adoration, and service work.
Cindy: …And by participation in groups like this one.
Ben: Building a Strong Relationship with God and with a Community of Christians. An isolated Christian is a paralyzed Christian!!!
Visitation Sister: Except for hermits!
Visitation Sister: But they are united by prayer.
Visitation Sister: Believing and being convicted of the TRUTH despite interior dryness keeps us on track.
Ben: The Lord Jesus wants us to build relationships with everybody!!! When we fail, they will help us out!
Cindy: I am learning that being in “the desert” is not the same as being isolated….
Cindy: Is the Visitation considered an eremitic or a cenobitic community?
Ben: We know that God is with us regardless of our feelings!
Visitation Sister: Cenobitic.
Visitation Sister: Monasticism has a desert quality about it but even desert dwellers often lived near each other.
Cindy: I was mixed up about that… Trying so hard to rely on God alone….
Ben: We talked about at our meeting how many people come closer to God when they see us walk through great difficulties and continue to Trust God!!!!
Cindy: Community is important for us all… God gives us opportunities to experience that in different ways at different times.
Visitation Sister: Yes!!
Ben: You’re inspiring many souls to come to our Lord Jesus with your Great Faithfulness!!!
Visitation Sister: I hope this week brings you into deep praying community in your Churches!
Cindy: I pray so.
Cindy: Thank you, Sister. Same to you!
Visitation Sister: Blessings to all!
Cindy: Thank you for being here tonight, Ben and viewers. Have a Blessed Holy Week!
Ben: Thank you, Sister and Cindy, for your inspiring Faithfulness and Service to God!!! Have a Blessed Week! God Bless You! Keep Letting Jesus Shine Through You!!!
Did you enjoy reading this discussion? Why not join the chat this Sunday? Go to the Visitation Sisters’ “Living Jesus Chat Room.”