Love Is Kind

Love is patient, love is kind.
Love is not jealous, love is not pompous…
It bears all things, believes all things,
Hopes all things, endures all things….

My love? Not.

Why is it that we idealize this type of love, sentimentalize it, even assume this is the way we love others? I do this. I really do. Part of the spiritual journey is realizing that I don’t really love others. Why?

Our hearts are vulnerable. They are insecure. Our ego creates a story, writes a script, provides a mask, produces an alibi so that we don’t have to live with that insecurity about our real selves. We spin a web that convinces even ourselves that we are this person we’ve created, a story that saves us from acknowledging our fears about our own worth.

We can discover that story written consistently across the years of our lives in what we say we value, how we choose to react to situations, our judgments of others, even lifestyle decisions. Looking back, I’ve spun a story about obedience, isolation, quiet holy humility
that I believed was me. I can see the threads of the story originating in grade school and continuing through the next forty years.

The problem is that when we write our stories, we create a frame of reference for what we believe is true and good. We, even unconsciously, judge anyone else who doesn’t fit our story. So the boisterous, the fun-loving, the quick moving, and sensible movers of my companions don’t fit the story of what I live as “virtue.” And…you guessed it…

Love is patient, Love bears all things, Love believes all things, love hopes all things…. Oh, yes, I do these things for the people who fit my story. But if they draw outside my lines? It is really hard.

So for the wife who is neat and efficient to value the spouse who puts friendship over order is hard. She may not be able to “bear” this with love because to do so would mean she would have to face her own deeply rooted insecurity that the efficiency is masking.

Most of us wouldn’t even know where to begin to peel back the layers of the onion that so carefully protect our fearful identities.
Holiness is about working with God on a deeper and deeper level to break the hold the story has over us. The story is ultimately a lie about what is most true about the God who tenderly loves us and a lie about ourselves. Only when that lie loses its hold over us can
we choose the alternate way of love. In fact, as we encounter our true self, we are immersed in a surprising love for ourselves which enables us gradually to love and appreciate others and just let them be, “hoping all things, enduring all things” for their
sake.


Kathryn James Hermes, FSP, is the author of the newly released title: Reclaim Regret: How God Heals Life’s Disappointments, by Pauline Books and Media. An author and spiritual mentor, she offers spiritual accompaniment for the contemporary Christian’s journey towards spiritual growth and inner healing. She draws from the spiritual tradition and her own lived experience to lead seekers deep within themselves and through their personal history to deepen their intimacy with and trust in God; live with greater joy, peace, and interior freedom; and encounter the Lord in their past and present life experiences to find healing, grace, and newness of life. She is the director of My Sisters, where people can find spiritual accompaniment from the Daughters of St. Paul on their journey.


The Triumph Of The Cross

The cross. The Triumph of the Cross. The hymns sung at Mass today will be triumphant, glorious, majestic. Triumph. For a minute we might forget the reality of our crosses as we focus on the meaning of Christ’s triumphant self-gift on the wooden cross planted on Calvary and at once extending as a bridge between heaven and earth.

But just so that we don’t forget, the Church gives us a very carefully selected set of readings today. First Reading: the Israelites were beginning to regret leaving Egypt. Impatient and exhausted they asked Moses, “Where is the food? Where is the water? Are we going to be left to die here in this desert?” The Lord could possibly have “felt” some regret over having chosen this people—now so angry and distrustful of his love and power—to be his people, his dear possession more precious to him than any other people. This is the people with whom he made a covenant of everlasting love which he promised never to revoke. In punishment for their complaining, the Lord sent saraph serpents among them.

In the second reading, an ancient hymn of the early Church, the carmen Christi or Christ-hymn, we see the magnificence of a man who went straight to his betrayal and death, the Son of God who complained neither against God nor man, who suffered as the Servant for the sake of the lives of those who had wandered far, very far, from his Father, with no real ability to return on their own to his heart.

In the Gospel, it is clear that this Christ is the One lifted high—as the “saraph serpent” lifted up by Moses—that anyone who believed in him might have—once again—eternal life. God did this, for the world that had rejected him, out of love for them. In the mystery of the cross, there is no resentment or regret, but only the self-forgetful good brought about for the other at one’s own personal cost.

The crosses that break into our lives break open our hearts, and in the broken pieces of our dreams and the shattered images we had of God and ourselves, the poison of unacknowledged, unwelcome resentment, confusion, and regret is drawn out. It is a good thing. Without the desert grumbling, we would not know what our wounded fearful hearts harbor. We would not look to the Christ hanging on the cross for our healing. We would not at last breathe deeply of a love that won’t let us go, a love that could only be divine. And at last, then, we too will learn to love divinely.

Regrets are complicated things for human hearts are wounded, wounding, and oh so tired at times. But the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross is yet today for us personally and for all of us together the healing radiance of the Christ who bears the heavy burden of our weighty sorrow because he loves us and can’t let us go.

May the responsorial Psalm ring out through our hearts: Remember the works of the Lord!


Kathryn James Hermes, FSP, is author of the newly released title: Reclaim Regret: How God Heals Life’s Disappointments, by Pauline Books and Media. An author and spiritual mentor, she offers spiritual accompaniment for the contemporary Christian’s journey towards spiritual growth and inner healing. She draws from the spiritual tradition and her own lived experience to lead seekers deep within themselves and through their personal history to deepen their intimacy with and trust in God; live with greater joy, peace, and
interior freedom; and encounter the Lord in their past and present life experiences to find healing, grace, and newness of life. She is the director of My Sisters, where people can find spiritual accompaniment from the Daughters of St. Paul on their journey.

Website:
touchingthesunrise.com.

Public Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/srkathrynhermes/


Giving All We Have

Today’s readings are what everyone worries about: money. “Do we have enough to …” “Should we donate to this group or that?” “How will the government’s policies affect my savings?” “How am I going to pay for college for my kids?” “After my accident the bills keep on piling up.” “Will my savings run out during retirement?”

Even sisters worry about money, at least sometimes. Recently I read about Meg Hunter-Kilmer who in her late twenties, after two theology degrees and five years of teaching, left her job, sold everything she had, and now lives out of her car. She trusts God. No. She TRUSTS God. She certainly makes me think again about my own level of trust.

But today’s readings are about more than just trusting God. The first reading addresses extortion, injustice, and cheating for the purpose of destroying others. In an environment of purposeful deceit to get ahead at the expense of others’ basic human rights, the word of the Lord evaporates. There is a famine for hearing the word of the Lord which is nowhere to be found.

This reading ties together honest care for others, a reverencing of their life and human needs, with the security of God’s leadership and presence in our midst. As we look around us today, as we witness the degradation of the immigrant, the tearing apart of the family, the financial schemes that pit rich against poor, we need to make sure that we aren’t unwittingly swept up in the worry about money at the expense of worrying about our neighbor.

In the Gospel, the religious people considered people like Matthew, a tax collector sitting in his customs post, as a sinner. Jesus saw him and asked him to “follow him.” And. Matthew. Did. He left his money and followed a call that spoke to all the longings of his heart. He even spent his money on Jesus, throwing him a dinner that night in his house and inviting his friends.

Both Matthew and his tax collecting friends as well as the religious leaders of the day were in need of the divine Physician, the One who healed with mercy, the One who lived facing the broken “other” with an open and inviting heart. Jesus’ heart was unencumbered by the riches of financial or righteous wealth, so he could move freely among everyone else who carried the burdens of moral illness.

So when Jesus says we’ll be happy when we live as free as the flowers that luxuriantly populate our fields, here today and gone tomorrow, he tells us that we need to follow him the Word of God, and live as he, facing our neighbor, spending our lives in their service and for their good, trusting all our own needs to him.


Kathryn James Hermes, FSP, an author and spiritual mentor, offers personalized and professional guidance for the contemporary Christian’s journey towards spiritual growth and inner healing. She draws from the spiritual tradition and her own lived experience to lead seekers deep within themselves and through their personal history to deepen their intimacy with and trust in God; live with greater joy, peace, and interior freedom; and encounter the Lord in their past and present life experiences to find healing, grace, and newness of life. She is the director of My Sisters, where people can find spiritual accompaniment from the Daughters of St. Paul on their journey. Sr. Kathryn’s forthcoming book Reclaim Regret: How God Heals Life’s Disappointments will be released in September 2018.

Website: touchingthesunrise.com.

Open Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/srkathrynhermes/


Eucharistic Life

The feast of Corpus Christi in 1984 was also the date of my First Profession as a Daughter of St. Paul. Though St. Paul usually gets the honors with our usual date for professions being on his feast day at the end of June, that year, for whatever reason, our group had the singular privilege of making our profession on the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. This meaning of this Feast has marked my entire religious life.

The image of the Eucharist, the bread broken in the Master and Savior’s hands for the feeding of his disciples and for the life of the world, has always been powerful for me. I remember in 1999 making a pilgrimage in the footsteps of St. Paul in Rome. We were told to watch for the moment when we felt St Paul’s presence in a meaningful way. I watched. I waited. And as we walked away from the Three Fountains where St Paul was martyred, trodding the very path the first Christians would have walked in sorrow after his beheading, I myself sorrowed. I had felt nothing of St. Paul’s presence.

Slowly we made our way to the Basilica St Paul Outside-the-Walls south of the Aurelian Walls. I knelt in the confessional, above where St Paul was buried and then went quietly to join my sisters in the large Blessed Sacrament Chapel where there is a crucifix that is said to have spoken to St Bridget in 1370. There a priest celebrated Mass for us. Again nothing. Walking back to my pew after receiving Communion, at last, I heard within myself the words of Jesus: “I am already here within you. I, God.” I was moved to tears. I was looking for an experience, a feeling. All the time, Jesus had been with me in his Eucharistic presence.

Our Pauline spirituality is profoundly Eucharistic, and so is our life and mission. We are to be bread broken for the life of many. Recently, this has come to life for me in a new way. I’ve had this sense that every encounter, every task in the apostolate, everything I write is a form of distributing the body of Christ to others. It is in his body and blood that we have communion with each other, yes, but it is also in his body and blood that we find ourselves together in communion with Jesus, lost in him, where his warmth and presence is always increasing in us.

So as you read today’s readings for the Liturgy, you might want to think about how your life is already Eucharistic, and how certain situations and activities can be a form of giving Christ to others, blessing them with his awesome love. What would change if gradually you were more intentionally aware of this desire of Jesus to be life for the world through you? How is Jesus inviting you to be bread broken for the life of the world? In what way do you share in his suffering, and how are you offering life for others?


Kathryn James Hermes, FSP, an author and spiritual mentor, offers personalized and professional guidance for the contemporary Christian’s journey towards spiritual growth and inner healing. She draws from the spiritual tradition and her own lived experience to lead seekers deep within themselves and through their personal history to deepen their intimacy with and trust in God; live with greater joy, peace, and interior freedom; and encounter the Lord in their past and present life experiences to find healing, grace, and newness of life. She is the director of My Sisters, where people can find spiritual accompaniment from the Daughters of St. Paul on their journey. Sr. Kathryn’s forthcoming book Reclaim Regret: How God Heals Life’s Disappointments will be released in September 2018.

Website: touchingthesunrise.com. Open Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/srkathrynhermes/


Grace as Gift

Amazing! A whole reading on salvation and not a list of things for us to do to attain it. When a young woman enters religious life (which I did 40 years ago this year), she begins to organize her spiritual life, getting ready for the “great ascent” to the Heights of Union with God where the saints have climbed before us.

When she has lived as a religious for 40 years she begins to let all this dissolve into grace. Why?

The answer is in this first reading from St. Peter. And before you think I’m writing for religious, I’m writing for every person in the pews who feels their shot at holiness is pretty small because their life is not “organized” enough to follow through on practices of spiritual growth. It’s a human dynamic to want to take the bull by the horns and get the job done, to mix metaphors.

But lay your ear down on the blessed Word of God and hear what God is saying: Concerning your salvation, the prophets prophesied about the grace that was to be yours…. In other words, the incredible, unmeasurable GIFT that was to be ours through no merit of our own. These are things the angels themselves longed to look into, but they are ours due to the glories that followed the suffering and death of Christ.

It is because of this amazing spirit-drenched reality which we, after our baptism, can call our home, that we then “gird up the loins of our mind, live soberly,” and set our hopes on the grace which Jesus Christ has brought to us. Hope completely in this grace, not just a bit, as an add on, when I can’t do it by myself. No. Completely.

We have not climbed a mountain, no great accomplishments that merit the reward of our salvation. Instead God has come to us and intimately united us to himself which is our salvation. This makes us want to live and be all that we have received, and even still we set our hopes on the grace of Jesus who willingly gives us his life, becomes our way, and invites us to the truth that never ends.

This morning as I prayed in the early morning hours, the clouds parted a bit to show me the deeper path of the divine Heart of Jesus who sustains me in life and in grace. He looked on me with a mixture of challenge, affection, and mischievous understanding that I would eventually give him everything…eventually…and let go of my own spiritual project.

And so Jesus reminds me, in the last sentence of the first reading, “he who called you is holy…” so be as holy as he, because that is the beauty that will fulfill me. Nothing less. Nothing else.

Then, a sigh. Peace.


Sr. Kathryn James Hermes, FSP, an author and spiritual mentor, offers personalized and professional guidance for the contemporary Christian’s journey towards spiritual growth and inner healing. She draws from the spiritual tradition and her own lived experience to lead seekers deep within themselves and through their personal history to deepen their intimacy with and trust in God; live with greater joy, peace, and interior freedom; and encounter the Lord in their past and present life experiences to find healing, grace, and newness of life. She is the director of My Sisters, where people can find spiritual accompaniment from the Daughters of St. Paul on their journey. Sr. Kathryn’s forthcoming book Reclaim Regret: How God Heals Life’s Disappointments, will be released in September 2018.

Website: touchingthesunrise.com.

Open Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/srkathrynhermes/