- Sr. Therese
Lord, bless all these souls with your freedom and simple strong love. Amen.
In my Lord’s Supper today, in my confession, the major theme was legalism. Follow the rule as it is told you, no modifications, extracting, or adding anything of your own to what was told you. I told the Lord, honestly taking time out to open up. The legalism entanglement is choking the life out of me. They say, “You are not allowed to do this”; “you are not allowed to do that”; “no, you cannot do as you feel led and inspired to, do as it was told you to the T”; “no, you can’t go and draw, go tend to the ministry tasks”; “no, you can’t use the time now to translate a message [of condemnation] to put it on Facebook for other to be helped – drop the idea, do first the ministry tasks now, you have other things to do”; “no, you cannot tend to properly organize your journal, that’s selfish and a waste of time, you have other important things to do, pray or do ministry.”
“NO, NO, NO!” Always the cliche response.
Fear then creeps in and makes the soul not even want to go and ask the Lord for direction or confirmation, expecting that the Lord would be saying a constant “No” too. Confusion then comes in and bewilders the person making her believe that it is proper what they say, therefore she strives to “obey the Lord’s will”. She doesn’t even realize proper right from wrong—what is exactly the Lord’s will and what is not. It goes to such a degree that it makes one think “what is the point? — all these don’ts and restraints at every turn and every little thing…”
Next, depression and discouragement threaten to overpower, causing my heart to distance itself from the Lord.
“You cannot eat this protein bar”; “you cannot eat that yogurt”; “you cannot buy this book of Consecration to Mary, don’t waste money”; “No, don’t tie up your hair like that [a mere simple bun or a mere braid], you must always wear it as it was told in the books of the religious. That simple braid is not ‘Franciscan’ it is worldly!”; “Deny yourself!!” Then I become scrupulous and strive to “obey”, but in the end, all is a cycle of being controlled and taken captive, as if being led like a dog by a leash.
…It becomes depressive. Shouldn’t I know better? Why don’t I know better?? I should’ve known by now the heart of the Lord’s, right?
Oftentimes there is the “not realizing very well up from down, and where the balance should be.” Either I go too high, or too low, rarely hitting the neutral point - unless sustained by the Lord’s grace to uphold me in that neural state.
At times, though, I still do it anyway—the things I desire to do—despite all this gamut of Legalism coming against me. And after doing the thing I wished, they still attempt to confuse insinuating maybe it was not exactly the Lord’s will, and fear and guilt still attempt to bark and gain control even then. But after doing it anyway, if it was indeed within the Lord’s will and he was okay with that, despite the devil’s barking - joy and peace of heart are noticed deep down. To aid me in the moment, he lets me see a heart shape somewhere around me, which helps and cools down that constant fear of whether I am within his will or not.
So, the Lord, after sharing all these with him and asking his forgiveness in the Lord’s Supper, the readings landed on the Theme of “LAW AND WORSHIP.”
Which said as its explanatory introduction:
“We are proud to be a nation ruled by laws and not by whims of individuals. There is much wisdom invested in our Constitution and in most of our laws are well. But when we permit things to get out of control and do not let the laws work as was intended by the founding fathers, the country is in trouble. However, when the insight that we are a nation under laws prevails once again, and we let the system work, we recover from setbacks.
“Today’s Scripture deals with laws [First Reading], devotion from them [Gospel], and the reaction by a man who was concerned. We must be careful though, not to regard God’s commandments as mere civil laws. In our relation to God, we Christians see ourselves in a family setting. The wish of a father who cares for his children is not a law in the same sense as a law found in our civil code of laws. We are related to God as children to a loving father.
“There is one absolute rule we must go by and that is love for God and neighbor. Other commandments derive their reason for existence only from the law of love (Mt 22:40), and we should understand them in the light of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5.) Obedience to commandments should always be motivated by love!”
The introduction concluded.
Adding somewhere else, “In observing laws, we Christians should be motivated by love: “You did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, Abba, ‘Father’. (Rom 8:15)”
On the First Reading, the Lord mentions the Ten Commandments, which was a good reminder:
“In those days, God delivered all these commandments: ‘I, the Lord, am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. You shall not have other gods besides me. [You shall not carve idols for yourselves in the shape of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth; you shall not bow down before them or worship them. For I, the Lord, your God, am a jealous God, inflicting punishment for their fathers’ wickedness on the children of those who hate me, down to the third and fourth generation; but bestowing mercy down to the thousandth generation, on the children of those who love me and keep my commandments.
“You shall not take the name of the Lord, your God, in vain. For the Lord will not leave unpunished him who takes his name in vain.
“Remember to keep holy the sabbath day. Six days you may labor and do all your work, but on the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord, your God. No work may be done then either by you, or your son or daughter, or your male or female slave, or your beast, or by the alien who lives with you. In six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them; but on the seventh day, he rested. That is why the Lord has blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.
“Honor your father and your mother, that you may have a long life in the land which the Lord, your God, is giving you.
“You shall not kill.
“You shall not commit adultery.
“You shall not steal.
“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not cover your neighbor’s wife, nor his male or female slave, nor his ox or ass, nor anything else that belongs to him.”
That was the end of the First Reading, in the Lord’s Supper, the Ten Commandments
In the Responsorial Psalm (Ps 19) there was a verse which stood out, saying;
“The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing in the heart,” not gloomy and depressive. “the command of the Lord is clear,” not confusing, something that bewilders, “enlightening the eye.” Not snuffing the life out of you in a demanding way as this Legalism Spirit makes one feel, almost at every turn making me feel that I am slipping up and offending God with some kind of disobedience.
Then, through one of Padre Pio’s books, I was told:
“Your imagination and the devil want you to believe that you are continually offending God and that you are always, or almost always, resisting divine calls. The vigilant grace of the heavenly Father keeps you at a safe distance from falling into such infidelities.”
At the point, as I had worship song playing, a song titled “RISE” by Danny Gokey began, which was fitting as though confirming, “Rise up from this!”
Padre Pio continued, “Be reassured on this point, I assure you that thoughts like those are coming from your imagination and the devil. Guard yourself [against giving them any importance. They have no [other] aim than to cool your feelings of affection toward the heavenly Bridegroom and to trouble you about attaining Christian perfection by pointing out how difficult and impossible it is for you. And what is worse, these thoughts aim more directly to dry up or drain off whatever feelings of devotion are in your heart.”
He is right. That is how it felt with me.
Then through the Diary of St. Faustina, the theme was about, “To know you O Lord,” which made me understand that by coming to know the Lord’s heart and character, personally and intimately - knowing someone by heart, you would instantly know what pleases him and what displeases him by instinct, thus Legalism’s grips will be destroyed. Recalling even how in the movie The Shack, which I had seen the night before, Jesus said to that man that what he desired is not “religion/religiousness”— “behave well, do good works, follow the rule”. But that he desired friends, a family who loves Them [the Trinity] and comes to know the love of the Father, which makes them [the souls] free. That’s all he wants.
A few days later, typing this message down, debating if to make this a message or not, I said to the Lord that if he wanted it to be a message, he had to give me something of him.
The original version, which I had written down, was a mess of depressive complaining and frustration [Laugh]. And barely did I manage to finish this thought, that a song begins to play, titled, “LOVE GOD, LOVE PEOPLE”. Fitting the shoe of this message: Keep it simple. Love God. Love people. The Lord is always trying to tell me that He is not, how they say and seem it to be about Him, with all the do’s and don’ts. He’s trying to make me come to know His heart, truly, so that any legalism, any religious spirits, any captivity, or prisoner spirits will not have their grip on my life anymore. May the Lord give you great courage to persevere against any legalism spirits for those of you who are struggling with this also.
[saw 1:11 pm, Daddy nudge, at the end of this message]