Spirituality

Don’t be the best version of yourself

‘Just try to be the best version of yourself.’

No thank you. I’d rather try to just be me.

I don’t want to be any “version” of myself. They’re fake, every last one of them. I’d know – I created them. They’re just different masks I wear for different people.

And what on earth does it mean by “best”? Whose standard am I using? Who am I supposed to please? Others? Myself? God???

The simple truth is, God doesn’t love “the best version of me” – the “me” that acts “best”, and no one else does either. No one ever could. You can’t love a dead thing.

He loves me. Not this or that version of me. He loves me, with all my wounds and all my weaknesses. I have nothing to hide, even if I could.

Not that I shouldn’t improve and grow. But I can’t do that by pretending. The only way to truly grow, is to live in God’s love, being stripped of my illusions and defenses, and made more truly me. And this, this death to my selves, is to be made into Christ. ‘It is no longer I that live, but Christ that lives in me.’

God bless you!

[P.S. One more issue with this phrase, is that it suggests there is one best version, and you can’t possibly better it. If there is a “best version”, there is a limit. And it doesn’t imply that the “best version” is all that great. God bless!]

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Catechism- the Holy Name of Jesus

435 The name of Jesus is at the heart of Christian prayer. All liturgical prayers conclude with the words “through our Lord Jesus Christ”. The Hail Mary reaches its high point in the words “blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.” The Eastern prayer of the heart, the Jesus Prayer, says: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Many Christians, such as St. Joan of Arc, have died with the one word “Jesus” on their lips.

2666 But the one name that contains everything is the one that the Son of God received in his incarnation: JESUS. The divine name may not be spoken by human lips, but by assuming our humanity The Word of God hands it over to us and we can invoke it: “Jesus,” “YHWH saves.”16 The name “Jesus” contains all: God and man and the whole economy of creation and salvation. To pray “Jesus” is to invoke him and to call him within us. His name is the only one that contains the presence it signifies. Jesus is the Risen One, and whoever invokes the name of Jesus is welcoming the Son of God who loved him and who gave himself up for him.

2667 This simple invocation of faith developed in the tradition of prayer under many forms in East and West. The most usual formulation, transmitted by the spiritual writers of the Sinai, Syria, and Mt. Athos, is the invocation, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us sinners.” It combines the Christological hymn of Philippians 2:6-11 with the cry of the publican and the blind men begging for light. By it the heart is opened to human wretchedness and the Savior’s mercy.

2668 The invocation of the holy name of Jesus is the simplest way of praying always. When the holy name is repeated often by a humbly attentive heart, the prayer is not lost by heaping up empty phrases, but holds fast to the word and “brings forth fruit with patience.” This prayer is possible “at all times” because it is not one occupation among others but the only occupation: that of loving God, which animates and transfigures every action in Christ Jesus.’

God bless!

Happy feast of St Ignatius of Loyola

St. Ignatius said that the Examen is the most essential prayer of each day. It’s a method of praying through each day, and learning to see as God sees. To celebrate his feast day, I’m sharing the ‘Reimagining the Examen’ app with you. The link below introduces it wonderfully, and has all the versions at the bottom.

http://reimaginingexamen.ignatianspirituality.com

God bless you!

Happy feast day!

Accept – Offer – Surrender

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‘Accept, offer, surrender’ is a method of prayer I’ve formed recently, to help me come to Jesus and find rest in Him. It’s longer name is, “accept the past, offer the present, surrender the future.” It’s been very helpful to me, and so I share it now, in the hope that it might help someone else.

Accept

I found I have a tendency to fight the past. Stupid, right? I routinely exert my effort and stress into hating and complaining about things I cannot change. On the other hand, meanwhile, I resist the good things I’ve been given, by being ungrateful. I think this is generally because I don’t like that I’m not in control of the good things in my life, so I either ignore them, or pretend they’re my right and take them for granted.

In order to accept what I’ve been given, especially the bad, I start off by saying something like, “Lord, I accept Your love.” Unless I accept God’s love, I’ll always remain on guard against the world, never letting anything in, and always remaining at war. I then proceed to go through the things in my life, especially those most on my heart and mind, and pray, roughly, “Lord, I accept ____ in Your love.” God works everything for good for those who love Him [Rm 8:28], and all things, good and bad, are to be accepted from His hand. God is present in all things, and we ought to love and accept Him in all things.

But some things are seemingly impossible to accept. Thinking about them brings too much pain. When this is the case, I recommend praying again, “Lord, I accept You love me.” Let His love enter you, ask for His help, and try again to accept it. Then, if you fail repeatedly, change tact, and instead accept, offer and surrender your struggle to accept it.

Offer

It is easy to live with a worldly mindset, in which I just get by, serve myself, and my life is basically meaningless. It’s incredibly easy, corrupted as I am by sin, to remain closed in on myself, refusing to love. But we are called to follow Christ, who opened and poured Himself out for us.

I say, “Lord, I offer myself to You now, in union with Jesus’ sacrifice upon the cross, in union with His love, and in union with His obedience.” I then go through every situation I’m in, each problem, each obstacle, and each opportunity, and offer it up to the Father, asking to be obedient in each one, and united to Jesus’ offering upon the cross.

It’s in this offering of love and gratitude that we find true life and true freedom in Christ. In sharing His love, we experience His own joy, and our joy is made complete [Jn 15:11].

Surrender

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Ultimately, I’m not in control; I never have been; I never will be. Nothing at all is truly in my power. But this is good news, because it is all in God’s power, and His plans and desires for me, are far greater than mine. It is difficult to let go of the illusion of control and trust in God, but it is the only way to peace and freedom, both for ourselves, and for those we have been oppressing.

Again, I start with something like, “Lord, I surrender to Your love for me.” I don’t think I could surrender to anything but love, and I don’t think I’d want to. Then, I go through the things I’m uncertain of, each of my fears and my hopes, needs and desires and say, “Lord, I surrender ____ to Your love.” Often I’ll make a petition that it goes a certain way as well, because I know God is a good Father, who is happy to treat us [Mt 7:11].

 

 

God bless you!

 

P.S. Also, if a particular matter arises to trouble me, I’ll do a short accept-offer-surrender for just that issue. I’m sure it can be adapted in many other ways too.

God bless!

Secrets, Sex, & Spirituality

As with so many things, I learnt this the hard way. Some things, even (and especially) beautiful things, are meant to be kept secret. Some blessings can’t be shared without being corrupted, and sometimes exclusion is necessary for a deeper inclusion.

The obvious natural example of this is sex. I hardly need to explain that the less exclusive it is, the more it becomes “cheap” and the more it is objectified. What you have received is given to you alone, for you alone, and no one else matters in it. Within such intimate gift, a whole microcosm is built, in which there is no one but lover and beloved, and therefore love can become all.

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But I didn’t intend to write about sexuality. As per usual, this is even more true on the supernatural level. Sometimes God gives us certain insights, experiences, blessings, or gifts, and it’s not about anyone else– it’s just Lover and beloved, together in their own microcosm. To try to share these things, is to try to make them about others, and it only does violence to the gift given. Others won’t properly understand and appreciate them, because they’re not meant for them. Instead, we ought to harbour these secret gifts, treasure them, and savour them ourselves, regularly reentering our hidden world and praying to our Father “who is in secret” [Mt 6:6].

If you feel concerned about the seeming exclusivity, and perhaps selfishness, of this, don’t. Just as sexuality naturally overflows into new life and deeper love for all, so this hidden intimacy with God supernaturally overflows into spiritual children and deeper love for all. These loves, like every authentic love, reach out to all, but only by moving through us, transforming us into love.

God bless you!

P.S. I honestly had no intention of writing about sex, but then I never know what I’m going to find when I write. You can probably guess I’m reading Theology of the Body for Beginners at the moment, and am honestly blown away. I can’t recommend it enough.

God bless you again!
P.P.S. This was originally published as ‘Intimate secrets with God’, but honestly, that title was boring, and it didn’t fit as well as the new title.

God bless you!

Even more new quotes

I’ve added these quotes to the quotes page, and I’m sharing them in this post because I doubt you want to regularly check it for new quotes. Enjoy :)

‘Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.’
Theodore Roosevelt

‘We cannot be sure of having something to live for unless we are willing to die for it.’
Che Guevara

‘Cruel leaders are replaced only to have new leaders turn cruel!’
Che Guevara

 

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‘The wound is the place where the light enters you.’
Rumi

‘Love is the bridge between you and everything.’
Rumi

‘A physicist is just an atom’s way of looking at itself.’
Neils Bohr

‘Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.’
Albert Einstein

‘The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.’
Albert Einstein

‘There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.’
Albert Einstein

‘Few are those who see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts.’
Albert Einstein

‘He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.’
Albert Einstein

A season of Penance

What’s the point of lent? Lent is our penitential season. We look at where we’ve been going wrong, and we begin, with the help of God’s mercy, to make it right. We take a long, hard look at ourselves, see our wretchedness, and turn to God.

Leo Tolstoy said,

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”

Lent is the time when we must commit to changing ourselves, and allowing God to change us.

Lent is the season for making a comeback. It is preparation for us to unite ourselves to the resurrection, the greatest comeback of all time. So if we sin, make a comeback- it’s lent. If we fail at our fasts, prayers or good deeds, make a comeback- it’s lent. If you haven’t been up to scratch in any way, now is the time to make your big comeback.

The best way, of course, is by confession. Walking straight up to God, and submitting ourselves to His mercy, to His plan, to His salvation.

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So why do we fast? I think the benefits of prayer and good deeds are obvious, but the point of fasting and self-denial is a bit tougher. We don’t give up anything because pleasure is bad, or discomfort is good. We do it to learn to depend upon God.

‘He humbled you by letting you hunger, then by feeding you with manna, with which neither you nor your ancestors were acquainted, in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.’
Deuteronomy 8:3

By fasting, we turn our backs on our old ways. We confess that the world gives neither security nor satisfaction, and as long as we look for them in the world, we don’t look for them in God.

When revolutionaries were making headway across the world, they would outlaw whatever they considered too “bourgeois” for their new life. Suits and ties, golf, various artworks, and more, had to be cut off. To make a new world, and with it a new man, the world would have to be aggressively purged of its old ways.

Make no mistake: Christianity is a greater revolution than Marxism. Marxism was a revolt against capitalism, on the basis of economics; Christianity is a revolt against death in all its forms, on the basis of Divine love.

In lent we are called especially, to take up our crosses and follow Jesus, in the firm faith that at the end there will be Easter, resurrection and glory! We join ourselves to his love, sufferings and death, knowing that in these we find the true, absolute, eternal life.

Anyway, that’s enough from me. I’ve got some repenting to do!

God bless you!