God made us for himself, but God also made us for each other. Here we will remember that God never changes and thus we can find hope amidst all fear by clinging to eternity. But an important aspect in all of this is having the help of the holy guidance of others. May we walk hand in hand towards the Kingdom of Heaven.
In this installment of the Living Jesus Chat Room we seek to become rooted in the stability of the Lord’s ever-abiding presence and through the importance of holy relationships. God created us as a body of believers. We are not meant to walk our faith alone.
If you like the chat below, check out the Living Jesus Chat Room of the Visitation Sisters. Join us at 7:30 p.m. ET each Sunday! We read a passage of St. Francis de Sales and gather great insights and sharing!
God Never Changes
Visitation Sister: When you are ready, we’ll do Question 1: With all the uncertainty and vicissitudes that have come with 2020, how can we lean on the unchanging presence and promises of God our Heavenly Father?
Caroline: His promises are always true.
Adeline: Take your worries and anxiety to God the Father.
Sherry: For me it helps to read more in the Old Testament Scriptures. To see God’s faithfulness always reaches my heart and puts things of this time into perspective.
Visitation Sister: His promises are found in the Bible and in the Church as well as what He whispers in our hearts.
Rebecca: Trust him in every situation. And try to learn/grow in the way he wishes us to.
Sherry: Whispers of grace.
Visitation Sister: We can always stand on His Truth. The more we are challenged, the more we need to trust.
Caroline: That no matter what is happening outside, all is peace inside.
Adeline: God will never let you down.
Ben: Mother Theresa was asked how she got through those very dark times when she couldn’t feel God’s presence! She gave the most Beautiful Smile and she responded: Blind Faith!!!! We must Trust God no matter what is happening around us or within us!!!!! It helps me in those times to remember what God has already gotten me through in Life!!!!!! How could I do anything else but Trust God!!!!!
Visitation Sister: Mother Theresa lived a very dark night of soul, yes, but never gave up.
Sherry: Caroline, the way you worded it – with peace all inside and the troubles outside. Reminds me of something I read about the Titanic. It was not dangerous that the ship was IN the water. But when it allowed the water to come INTO the ship, it sank. So it is with Peace, I find. We can be in troubled times, but when we allow them to come into our soul, we sink.
Carey: “That no matter what is happening outside, all is peace inside” I like that. Wish I could feel more peaceful!!!
Visitation Sister: Peace comes from the Lord and from His Presence. Problem today is it’s hard to get into a church.
Caroline: How true, Sherry, even if the water rises, we look to Jesus and forget about it.
Hope Amidst Fear
Visitation Sister: Question 2: How can keeping our eyes fixed on eternity help us amidst all the fear mongering that has come with this past year?
Caroline: I have read bits of St Catherine of Sienna and never forget that when we worry, we are worshipping what we fear and not Jesus because that’s where its attention is. Everything on earth passes, even this.
Visitation Sister: Well put, Caroline.
Ben: Have found on YouTube the Daily TV Mass out of Toronto, Ontario. Been on for many years has been Great Encouragement to me and Janet. I am able to watch Mass at 1:30 a.m. after I get home from work. Always 30 minutes long with Sermon and Music!!!!
Visitation Sister: In a way eternity has been brought more into focus this year!
Carey: It is difficult to control what we focus on. Keep practicing, I guess….
Caroline: Yes, Carey, keep at it. I sound a little glib about it, but it’s really continual surrender.
Carey: Yes, with so much death talked about all the time… one does tend to think about eternity more.
Rebecca: I’m not sure I see it as fear mongering — all the reporting about COVID-19. Fear MIGHT be the response of some; pretending it is not real and not taking reasonable precautions is the response of far too many. Somewhere in between seems to me reasonable. Take precautions, but fear not.
Visitation Sister: Our culture does not talk about eternity much, but when you read the saints, they do.
Caroline: Trouble out here is there’s really no way to avoid going out and you never know. I think our culture is ignoring eternity.
Rebecca: And that, Caroline, adds, I’d say, to anxiety.
Rooted in Relationship
Visitation Sister: Question 3: How can we find/give stability from strong relationships, as Saint Francis describes in this letter?
Caroline: Consciences will not be silent.
Rebecca: In the situation I was in: Dr. P.: 100% death without treatment; treatment so intense that few can get through it — I felt I was in a win-win situation. If I die, I get to see God face-to-face soon(er); if I get through the treatments, and get a remission, the Lord probably has work for me that will be enhanced by this experience.
Adeline: There is someone to go to.
Carey: In a way, I think God allowed Covid in order for us to start caring more about the earth… by working more from home, there is less pollution. Which helps ‘heaven on earth’ be more of a reality. A stronger relationship with nature makes us happier people.
Ben: For so many everything in their life has changed to some degree!!!!! The Lord is getting everyone’s attention, and many will come to our lord through these perilous times!!!! Covid is so much like the bombing of London in WW2, most will survive but those who pass away, could be any age at any time in any health condition. My mother’s priest in London reminded everybody that right up until your final breath you have an opportunity to accept Jesus as your Savior, the Son of God!!!!! A message forever!!!
Sherry: I find that women are not used to having adult spiritual friendships. There are hardly any role models to follow.
Visitation Sister: I have been thinking a lot of WW2 also, though I was not born then, but how they must have suffered, and for 6 years, and how their lives were so changed.
Visitation Sister: Do you mean women-to-women Sherry?
Visitation Sister: St Jane had a close relationship with a Carmelite abbess.
Sherry: Yes. That is very, very special.
Visitation Sister: Also, one with an abbess of Port Royal, but she later became a Lansenist, the Port Royal abbess.
Caroline: Sherry, it is true. There is so much competitiveness and jealousy in women’s relationships unless God is at the center.
Sherry: I am leading a small group right now. All the ladies in the group say that they so enjoy having a place where they can be spiritually transparent and vulnerable. It is hard to find these places, it seems. Even as Catholic women, we hide behind masks.
Carey: It’s difficult to find men or women who have God at the center. Unless they have had a real difficult time, then they are sometimes very spiritual.
Sherry: I agree, Carey.
Sherry: Although I feed from God and His word with much joy. We need to encourage each other too, I find.
Caroline: Yes, we are meant to support and encourage each other.
Carey: I find that the outcasts of society, the homeless or drug addicts, are sometimes very spiritual. Whereas the people who go to church are sometimes rather unhelpful and even mean… not always… but sometimes.
Caroline: Yes, I think that’s why the sinners of Jesus’ day recognized him when the religious didn’t.
Sherry: There is a difference though, between “being spiritual” and “being holy.” I know a lot of people who consider themselves as spiritual, but I would not necessarily say that they are eager to become holy.
Carey: That’s true. I’ve been working with immigrants. They flee their country seeking asylum here in America, and we lock them up in detention centers/prisons… so unfair. When they are finally released, they are such nice people.
Visitation Sister: How would you define the two of those terms?
Sherry: Are you talking to me Sr?
Ben: Prayer and share groups can be very helpful. You have an opportunity to really get to know people and you pray and encourage each other through all the ups and downs of life!!!! This chat has been awesome support for all of us who have participated!!!!!
Carey: A holy person is calm. Peaceful. Does things right.
Adeline: The difference between being spiritual and being holy.
Sherry: A person who wants to become holy – lays down its own life – embraces suffering in order to be able to come closer to God. Everything is submitted to the one goal of being close with GOD. A spiritual person is someone who looks for a solution for their own edification in the invisible realm.
Visitation Sister: Yes, Sherry, I think it is a good distinction.
Caroline: So spiritual can be focused on self, but holy never is.
Sherry: That’s a good way to put it, Caroline. At least in my eyes.
Carey: Someone who looks for a solution for their own edification in the invisible realm – that’s really good.
Caroline: The only problem with venturing into the unseen realm alone is that you can’t see what you’re doing. Lol.
Sherry: Good point. And without the backup of the Church, it can be dangerous too.
Cling to Eternity
Visitation Sister: Question 4: How can we stay “lifted high above temporal things”?
Caroline: Prayer, constant prayer.
Adeline: We keep our mind on eternal life.
Carey: I often think God is talking to me. One time the priest told me that whatever was not from God… I didn’t believe him at the time, but eventually figured out that the priest was right. So now it’s difficult to determine if something I hear is from God or not.
Caroline: Have you read St Ignatius, Carey? He writes a lot about discernment.
Visitation Sister: Yes, keeping the Name of Jesus in our hearts.
Sherry: I love St. Francis de Sales’s wording: “to fill your heart to overflowing with holy love- and to establish the holy kingdom within you.” But then he adds. That perseverance, courage and determination is needed too.
Rebecca: Yes, Sherry. I’ve seen patients with serious mental health issues do very well while being instructed in the Catholic Faith but decompensate after going to a shaman.
Sherry: Oh, Rebecca. I have seen the same things. The soul is very sensitive.
Ben: Jesus sent out disciples in Twos!!! You are able to see what another person can’t see, and the other person sees what you can’t see!!! Also, our enemy is a predator and looks to attack one that has wandered from the group. With two or more, the enemy has a harder time attacking more than one target, confusion can emerge. Just like a cat will build up strength to attack one target a second target will disorient the predator and weaken any attack!!!
Caroline: Yes, and a soul that Jesus means for Himself is a tempting target. I’m grateful He’s already won.
Sherry: I want to come back to the perseverance and courage. I think sometimes we, well I give up too easy.
Sherry: To really press through spiritually is something I am still learning, but it seems to be necessary to soar.
Visitation Sister: I think we need to ask the Gift of the Holy Spirit in the case of courage.
Ben: That’s why we have to always trust Jesus!!!! He won the victory for us all!!!!! Thank you, Jesus!!!!!!
Sherry: I did not know that courage is a Gift of the Holy Spirit.
Caroline: Yes, because we are being called to something beyond human courage.
Visitation Sister: Maybe it is fortitude!
Sherry: Oh... I see.
Caroline: It is getting up again and again and refusing to give in.
Sherry: A courage that is not built on our human experience? But received? Like Gideon?
Caroline: It starts there, but more is received. Yes, like Gideon and the martyrs.
Sherry: Or a courage that is built on the deep trust in GOD, like Mary?
Visitation Sister: Yes, fortitude is one of the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Caroline: Ooh, that too.
Visitation Sister: Or maybe it’s the 12 gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Sherry: It’s not one of the lists in Galatians. But you are right, it is in the Catechism as fortitude.
Rebecca: Or the fruits of the Holy Spirit?
Visitation Sister: In any case turn to the Sacred Heart of Jesus Who holds every gift in fullness and ask for a share of that gift.
Bethany: Let us pray everyone. Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful!
Ben: Saint Paul was very courageous!!!!! But even he questioned why he did the crazy things he did at times!!! We need Community to keep us Always Coming back to Jesus!!!!!!
Visitation Sister: Yes!
A Spiritual Father
Visitation Sister: Question 7: St. Francis lays out the relationship between himself as a spiritual father, and his friend as his son. Do you have a spiritual director – whether priest or layperson – who is spiritual?
Visitation Sister: Who is a spiritual father to you? Do you have any spiritual sons or daughters of your own? Should you?
Sherry: I do have some precious souls as my spiritual daughters, but I would love to have a spiritual father or mother too. That is a big prayer request for me. I do have a Spiritual Director though.
Caroline: I have a director and a formation assistant, am longing for Annam cara-a soul friend.
Sherry: Are you a daughter of St. Francis de Sales Caroline?
Sherry: How do you describe a formation assistant?
Caroline: I belong to the Brothers and Sisters of Charity, John Michael Talbot’s group.
Sherry: Caroline, is that like a Third Order?
Caroline: A formation assistant guides you into a community while helping you with spiritual growth.
Sherry: Interesting, how can I find more out about this, Caroline? Is that specific to your Brothers and Sisters of Charity group?
Caroline: No, it’s technically a public lay association of the faithful, but we take the same vows. www.littleportion.org, I am in the domestic expression.
Sherry: Thanks, will definitely look this up, Caroline.
Caroline: Let me know if I can help, Sherry.
Bethany: Do you agree with me, Sr Susan?
Sherry: Thanks, Caroline.
Rebecca: I recognize the importance of community but find it very hard to find/experience community in any deep way. And with COVID-isolation, it is even harder. And it seems as soon as I experience a close bond, that person dies!
Caroline: Oh, Rebecca, that hurts all the way out here.
Ben: I have learned so much from so many men and women of God, it has been an incredible life, I am so thankful for all my brothers and sisters who have taught me how to live with Christ in this life!!!!!! I have also tried to encourage others as best I can!!! Thank you, God our Father for all you have introduced me to in this life, please help them all to know you, your son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit!!!!!!
Carey: It would be nice to find an online spiritual director.
Visitation Sister: Thank you all for sharing so beautifully! I will leave now but hold you in prayer. Continue if you want and have a blessed week!
Sherry: My daughter and I just spoke about this at dinner tonight. That the kingdom of God needs all people.
Caroline: All are needed.
Sherry: Carey. What spirituality are you looking for? Ignatian? Salesian? / Carmelite?
Carey: I guess Salesian or Ignatian.
Sherry: Carey. I might be able to help you in your search.
Bethany: I must go. I want to say goodbye to anyone in chat.
Ben: You are always an inspiration to me, Rebecca!!!!! Your great faith and trust in God has helped me through difficult times!!!! Your faith in God is a bright light to all!!!!! Keep shining for Jesus, sister!!!!!
Bethany: I will pray for you, and Jesus love you all.
Sherry: Thanks, Bethany.
Rebecca: Goodbye, Bethany. We continue to pray for you and for your Mom. You are making great progress. God bless!
Sherry: Good night, everyone. It was nice to learn from and with you tonight. Have a great start into the New Year this week.
Ben: May God Bless All of You!!!!! Thank You for Your Faithfulness to God!!!! Keep Shining for Jesus!!!!!!
Carey: Wishing everyone can feel peaceful & focus on God’s goodness.
Rebecca: O for a thousand tongues to sing my Great Redeemer’s praise! Good night. God bless each of you.
If you liked this chat, join us at the Living Jesus Chat Room of the Visitation Sisters this week Sunday at 7:30 p.m. ET.