Who am I? I am a man, I am a husband, I am a friend, I am a son, I am a brother, but most important of all I am a Catholic. Being Catholic is something I can honestly say has been something that defines my very being and existence. Not in the sense that it is my Religion, but it in the sense that it is the vehicle that drives me into relationship with Christ. Jesus Christ is the very source of my existence. I am nothing without Him. Every struggle, successes, failure, and joy I have is seen in light of my relationship with Him. Everything that happens in my life is call from Him to engage some aspect of my relationship with Him.
I've been reading a book by Fr. Jaques Philippe called "Called to Life." The book focuses on God's call in our lives, primarily the call to exist as human persons. This book is so simple yet so profound. In reading this book during my prayer time it has caused me to contemplate on the beautiful gift of life God has given me and that everything that occurs in our lives comes with grace and an invitation to love God more deeply through our experiences. Philippe writes, "Openness to the call is openness to the fullness of life. Not only natural, physical, emotional, and intellectual life, but also the life realized through relationships, love, communion and, ultimately through participation in divine, supernatural life. Every call is a call to love more and find fulfillment by participating in the purity and ardor of divine love." Every experience we have is a calling to enter into this relationship.
Philippe goes on to say that every trial in our lives is a call to faith. Do we believe God is there? Do we rely on his mercy and grace? Every trial is also a call to Hope. In whom do we place our trust during these times? Do we expect to get through it on our own? Trials are also tests of love, especially in our relationships. Do we choose to love even when it hurts or is difficult? When the good times come these are invitations to be thankful and receive the gifts in their fullness Philippe tells us.
I've really been meditating on these things over the past few weeks. They really hit me in a powerful way. To be in relationship with Christ is to bring Him into everything; the joys and the struggles. The world tells us to run from our sufferings and failures. Christ tells us to embrace them and come to encounter Him more deeply through them. It is by doing this that we will experience life to its fullest. In allowing ourselves to experience these little deaths and sufferings and our lives we will become more alive. Through our sufferings we conform ourselves more and more to the one who gives us life and are able to experience joy more fully. Our goal should be to one day say with St. Paul, "I have been crucified with Christ and life I now live is no longer my own but Christ who lives in me."
I feel as if Christ is blessing me with incredible graces. I want nothing more than to live life fully in Him. Every relationship and friendship I have experienced has been Christ showing me his face on this earth. Every struggle and difficulty I have had to overcome has made me the man I am and brought me to where I am today. Every joy small, and large, has been a manifestation of God's glory in my life. As St. Irenaeus said, "The Glory of God is man fully alive." We become fully alive in accepting EVERYTHING that comes our way and asking God not "why is this happening?" but "what are you calling me to through this situation?"
To all my wife, friends, and family: Everything I have experienced with you, the good, the great, the bad and the ugly, has been an experience from God to bring us closer through trials and joys. You have been His instrument in helping me live His call to live! Let us continue to live life to its fullest so that one day we may behold His face. Let us strive to arrive at the Heavenly Banquet where we will truly live there the way God intended us to live for all eternity!