A Word of Encouragement

Sometimes, I seriously wonder if I’m doing the right thing.  Writing my life story, blogging, trying to build a social media “platform” – is this what I’m supposed to be doing with my life?  I don’t know how much time I have left, after all…

DSCN9408

What we are called to do in life, I believe, is to live well.  But, this doesn’t mean the advertisers’ version of living well: fine dining, cruises, laughing with healthy looking friends, and so glamorously on.  To live well means to LOVE.  Therefore, my intellect and worldly accomplishments (whether big or puny) are not what matter most.  The loftiest thoughts and most eloquent words in the world don’t amount to anything truly worthwhile, certainly nothing eternal, unless they come from a heart of real love.  It’s like that famous Bible quote from St. Paul, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.”[1]

I know that I do love.  Always have I been filled with a love of life.  My commitment is to, with the gifts that I have been given, love God with all of my heart, soul, strength, and mind and to love the people in my life – and perfect strangers – as God loves me, through Christ Jesus[2].  I will be, and am, tested in this love every day, and sometimes I fare worse than others.  But, I am devoted to persevering.  Though I may fall, Lord, may I rise…

Hearing the following words, also from St. Paul, gave me a nice little kick where I needed it recently – for,we all need direction in our lives, encouragement, and community.  (The Bible, I’m learning more and more, is great for that.)

“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingly power: proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching.  For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths.  But you, be self-possessed in all circumstances; put up with hardship; perform the work of an evangelist; fulfill your ministry.”  2 Timothy: 4 (emphasis added.)

Thanks, Paul.  I needed that.  🙂

More words from the Saint next month – words that made the old pagan in me very happy.

© 2017 Christina Chase


Photo credit: “Communication” © 2017 Dan Chase, All Rights Reserved

[1] 1 Corinthians 13:1

[2] Luke 10:27

Wisemen Still Seek Him

wise men still seek him

Everybody wants something.  Whether desiring wealth, pleasure, power, health, approval, comfort, freedom, or happy love, very few of us would rest content saying that there is nothing that we want.  Because to want is to lack.  We are all found wanting, because we are all lacking.

The only people that I have heard who sound to be truly content, wanting nothing, are Continue reading

Life Is Pass or Fail

In my last post, I wrote,

If life is pass or fail, then I don’t want to fail.

I know that we don’t usually think of life as pass or fail. Perhaps, this doesn’t even seem like a Christian idea. God is merciful, after all, and, as long as we try, surely we are not failures. This is true. But… we shouldn’t play the mercy game, teetering thoughtlessly on the edge of every decision because we believe that God’s grace will catch us no matter what. “Greasy Grace”, as one of my acquaintances has called it, might be a slick way to get into Heaven, but it isn’t noble and it isn’t kind.  It is neither loving nor brave.

Should we really be aiming to take the lazy, mediocre way?

lazy cat Naniel

Failing to Not Be Vomited (yup, keep reading)

Lounging comfortably on God’s mercy can cause us – not to be cool about injustice, thus turning a cold shoulder to God’s will, nor passionate about righteousness, thus on fire to do God’s will – but, rather, to just be lounging. Sacred Scripture warns us, rather graphically, about the danger of being lukewarm:   “I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of my mouth.”[1]

That seems pretty clear.

When disciples of Jesus asked him if only a few people were going to be saved, he responded, “Strive to enter the narrow door.”[2] This, of course, is in line with his teaching: “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.”[3]

Christ even refers to himself as the gate. He tells us that those who enter through will have life and have it abundantly.[4] I want abundant life! But, I must remember… “those who find it are few.”

Failing to Seek the Way

This is personal. This is about my relationship with my very Creator. Either I give of myself or I don’t. Either I love fully, or I don’t truly love. For, love that is not actively forgiving, compassionate, and generous is more akin to really, really liking. Not love. There’s no halfway with love. As the the 13th-century Persian poet Rumi wrote: “Half heartedness doesn’t reach into majesty”.

God is merciful. Yes. Thank God! God loves us unconditionally, even more than parents love their child. God will forgive us when we are lazy (I confess, my tendency is definitely toward laziness) but, will He congratulate us for it? Yes, as long as we don’t reject His forgiveness and love at the end of our lives on earth, God will mercifully forgive us and mercifully receive us into eternal life with Him. We can rely on God’s mercy. And that’s good, because each and every one of us will need God’s mercy, because each and every one of us is far from perfect and in need of forgiveness for something or many things. But… wouldn’t it be best if we didn’t rely on God’s mercy too much? Wouldn’t it be best if we tried our very best to do what God wants us to do?

Failing to See Godpoverty Neil Moralee

I don’t want to fail as a human being.  And that means that  I don’t want to fail to see God. I don’t want to fail to see the full truth of reality. I don’t want to fail to seek truth and to see glimpses of the Divine when they appear. For, God is ever-present and wants us to seek Him and to find Him, because therein lies our fullest satisfaction and greatest joy. God wants us to be joyful – not only forever with Him in Heaven, but also here and now.

When Jesus tells us to seek the narrow door, he goes on to say that some will knock on the door after it is locked and beg the Master to let them in. But, the Master will reply “I do not know where you are from.”[5] Indeed, Jesus tells us that not everyone who says to him, “Lord, Lord” will enter Heaven. He may very well say to them, to us, “I never knew you.”[6]

How will Christ know us after death if we never truly sought in him during life? I don’t believe that it is enough NOT to kill, NOT to commit adultery, NOT to steal. Our lives shouldn’t be about what we don’t do as much as what we DO. Yes, I want to avoid sin (as much as humanly possible) AND I also want to seek Christ. I don’t want to fail to see the face of God here and now in the faces of my parents, my sister and brother-in-law, my nephews, my home health aides, my neighbors, strangers on the street, my friends, and even the people I don’t like very much. I will truly love God, here and now, by finding God in every person that needs love. And, yup, every person needs love. Jesus tells us that whatever we do for the least person, we do for him. We do to him.

This is how Christ will recognize me at the end of my life. If I ministered to him, then he will truly know me. And, wait, there’s more! This also means that I got to know him here and now, in this life – if I didn’t fail in recognizing him. And wouldn’t that be a joyous and fulfilled life?

And, so, I say,

Life is pass or fail.

May I not fail…

© 2016 Christina Chase


Photo Credits: (Creative Commons license)

Lazy Days, Naniel

Made in the USA, Neil Moralee

You may also want to check out these other posts on Divine Incarnate:

Before I Die

Heartedness Doesn’t Reach into Majesty


[1] Revelations 3:15-16

[2] Luke 13:24

[3] Matthew 7:13-14

[4] John 10:10

[5] Luke 13:25

[6] Matthew 7:21-23

For the Feast of All Hallows: The Saint Maker

After I had chosen, intellectually, to become a Christian, but way before I had embraced Christ in my heart, a priest told me that I was a saint maker. And I was perplexed. He looked at me, thin and frail, all crippled and crumpled and stuck in my wheelchair, and seemed a little surprised that no one had ever told me that. Explaining, he said that people were drawn to be more generous, kinder, and gentler around me. He told me that I was a powerful help to others because of my disability. My vulnerability, my weakness and dependency, inspired people to step up and be better persons – to be more like the saints they were created to be. My response? Well… not being right in the heart yet, I said, “But, what about me?” Yup, that’s right. I wanted to know what was in this whole saint-making business for me.

The problem was that I was thinking solely with my head, in terms of the practical: by merely being needy, and even difficult, those around me would be tested in patience and forgiveness and could become better people. Instead, I should have been (and should be now) thinking with my heart as well, in terms of the holy: by imaging Christ on the Cross, those around me are inspired to reflect God’s love and mercy and to become holy ones of God.

For that’s what a saint is: a person whose soul, whose very essence of being, perpetually reflects divine goodness, truth, compassion, and love into the world. And this is the purpose for which every human being is created. We are created in the image and likeness of God in order to receive the light of God’s love and, by truly receiving, give that love back to God and to others.

Imaging Christ

How I was created to live …

I hold myself before God Incarnate and, in the stillness of my holy contemplation of Christ, I let Him impress upon me, let Him form my soul, so that I may resemble Him and, in that imaging, shine Him out, shine out the light of the divine love and goodness that I have received. No one of us can either receive or give all of who Christ is at once – rather, each one of us is called to image Christ in the unique way peculiar to our God-given talents and the vocations to which we are called.

For me, it is Christ Crucified who calls, the Sacred Heart that was pierced. (Gulp and Heavy Sigh and “God, help me.”) But – and this is very important – it is not enough for me to be physically weakened and nailed down by limitations, my deformity resembling Christ in his agony – no. I must also be patient in my pathos, generous in my self abasement, and powerfully loving in my weakness: like Christ. This is what the priest meant by calling me a saint maker: that in my gentle suffering others are drawn to me, and, if I truly image Christ – who was crucified out of love for humankind – then, when they are drawn to my side, they are actually being drawn to Christ. They receive the light of His love, which is what I am simply reflecting out to them in my willingness to be like Christ, to be who I am created to be.

As in a Mirror…

mirror

To become a saint and to be a saint maker is the purpose for which every human being was created. If we don’t take up the call to holiness then we are not fully living our lives as human beings. We are not fully human. Take this analogy:

A mirror is made of particular materials for the purpose of reflecting the particular material things before it. The only reason that a mirror is made is for this reflection. If it is unable to reflect, then the mirror is not truly a mirror. Similarly, we, human beings, are made in the image and likeness of God for the purpose of reflecting God’s loving omnipresence. The only reason that we are made is for this reflection. If we are unable to reflect thusly, then we are not fully and truly human.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI shares this thought about saints: “In addition to the sun, which is the image of Christ, there is the moon, which has no light of its own but shines with a brightness that comes from the sun.” He goes on to say that the saints are like new heavenly bodies “… in which the richness of God’s goodness is reflected. Their light, coming from God, enables us to know better the interior richness of God’s great light, which we cannot comprehend in the refulgence of its glory.”[1]

FULL MOON OVER WATER

In Dante Alighieri’s Paradiso and in The Great Divorce, by CS Lewis, saints in the outer reaches of Heaven are depicted as being clothed in light. They are so brightly resplendent that their distinction is not of form but of being – fulfilled as images of the Divine Love in which they were created. Their unadulterated reception of God’s love shines out in loving brilliance. Meanwhile we, who hem and haw below, who stumble and dither in the dark, need only look up from our self-centeredness, look up with open faces beholding, to be guided by the divine light….

*          *          *

            We are all saints-in-progress, created to help one another delight in the reflection of God’s love. I cannot stop people from calling me a little saint maker. But, I know that God is the real saint maker. If my vulnerability draws out the sweetness in others, it is the sweetness that was already within them, put there by the Maker of human beings. Any goodness, any beauty, any light that we shine is His.

© 2014 Christina Chase

[1] Benedictus, for the feast of All Saints, November 1