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Fine-tune your spiritual focus for Lent

I want to trust in God like a little child trusts his parents--just as St. Therese did.
J sits on my lap to read. This Lent, I want to trust in God like a little child trusts his parents–just as St. Therese did.

Did you choose a specific virtue to cultivate for a New Years’ resolution? Try making a concrete step in that direction a focus for Lent, which starts tomorrow.

In January, I wrote how I was working on trust this year. I’ve been practicing trusting God when I sin, following the example of St. Therese. It’s becoming routine. I can’t tell you how much freer I feel. When I have a bad day of yelling at my kids or otherwise being selfish, I no longer beat myself (figuratively speaking) over it.  I trust God to take care of it, and even to bless me (not because of my sin, but because of my trust).  My faith is stronger as well.

Now it’s time to work on another aspect of trust. During Lent I will try to accept everything that happens as being part of God’s plan for my life.



The phone ringing during homeschool.

J needing attention when I’m in the middle of disciplining his brothers.

The computer malfunctioning while I’m blogging.

The boys picking up a virus… again.

M complaining about dinner.

D talking back.

C refusing to do his chores.

Dan using the computer when I have plans to work on it.

Falling asleep during prayer.

And everything else that God allows in my life.

I will whisper, “Jesus, I trust in you,” when circumstances are against me. Maybe by the end of Lent I’ll remember to do so most of the time. I hope a new habit will be forming.

What about you? How will you fine-tune your spiritual life this Lent? Share with us.

Connie Rossini

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Resolve to grow closer to Christ in 2013

How did your spiritual life fare in 2012? Would you like to do better in 2013? Let’s each choose one virtue to work on throughout this year.

Keeping in mind my post on St. Therese a few weeks ago, I’m focusing on trust. For the next several weeks, I pledge to put my trust in God’s mercy, not my own goodness. I will try to go to Confession more often, and do a nightly examination of conscience.

For Lent, I will take it one step further. I want to trust God to bring good not only out of my sins, but out of every circumstance of my life as well. Although I am not in total control of my life, God is. I need to accept that nothing that happens can separate me from Him (see Romans 8:28). God remains good in the midst of my sin, others’ sins, accidents, mistakes, changes of plan, and disappointments. I want to accept joyfully everything He allows into my life.

I expect it will take a lot of practice to become more open to God’s will in this way. If I fail, I trust Him to forgive me and give me an increase of grace to do better next time.

By Advent, I would like to begin working on another area of trust. I’m not sure what that will be yet. Stay tuned (or connected).

What about you? Can you share with us your spiritual resolution for the coming year? How will you refocus for Lent and beyond? Let’s support and encourage one another. At the end of 2013 we can share our progress (and there will be progress, I trust!).

Blessed New Year!

Connie Rossini

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St. Therese’s astonishing trust in God

St Thérèse of Lisieux (1873-1897) was one of t...
St Thérèse of Lisieux (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The other day, I read this passage from one of St. Therese of Lisieux‘s letters, in Jacques Philippe’s The Way of Trust and Love:

“[A child who has sinned] throws himself into his father’s arms, telling him that he is sorry to have hurt him, that he loves him, and that he will prove it by being good from now on… Then, if that child asks his father to punish him with a kiss, I don’t think the happy father could harden his heart against his child’s filial trust, knowing his sincerity and love.”

St. Therese is saying that when we sin, we should trust God so much as to ask Him to bless us in lieu of punishment.

Does this astonish you? It did me. Human nature says that when we sin, we should run away from God like Adam did. We expect God to reject us, even when we do come to Him in repentance.

Be daring in your trust

But Therese is bold, “daring” as she herself said. She asked for a kiss from God whenever she sinned. And she became “the greatest saint of modern times,” according to Pope Pius X!

You might be thinking, “Yeah, but Therese’s sins weren’t like mine. She only committed tiny venial sins, while I…” (You name it.) You’re right. Your sins probably are worse than hers. So are mine. But if you are a Christian, your God is exactly the same as hers was. And that’s the whole point.

Our sins don’t change God

Do we expect to earn Heaven by being good, or be rewarded with what we don’t deserve? If you despair because you have sinned, or you think that you have no call to trust God as much as Therese did, think again. The penitent woman in the Gospel loved much, because she had been forgiven much. She was bold in her trust and love too. Jesus did not turn her away. He defended her against her detractors. (See Luke 7:36-50.) Some say she went on to become St. Mary Magdalen.

We must trust God, not because we are good, but because He is. Therese was fond of saying that God would always meet our expectations. The more we trust Him, the more He will prove Himself trustworthy. Our sins are not too big for God. Our trust is too little.

Of course, we cannot be presumptuous, only pretending to be repentant without resolving to do better in the future. Presumption can be a mortal sin. It won’t win us a kiss from God. But neither should we despair, no matter what we have done, no matter how many times we have fallen. Our sins do not change God.

Join me in trusting God more

Since reading this passage of St. Therese’s, I have started asking God for a kiss as my punishment, an increase of grace and closeness to Him every time I sin. I ask Him to draw me even closer than I would have been if I had withstood temptation. Will you join me in being as daring as St. Therese?

Start by going to Confession, especially if you’ve committed any mortal sins. Then trust Him. You wouldn’t refuse to kiss your child when he was sorry for being naughty, would you? Nor will God refuse to bestow His love and grace on you.

Connie Rossini

Share with us: Do you find it hard to trust in God’s mercy? How are you working on this? What other sayings or practices of the saints astonish you with their boldness?

This is linked to Catholic Bloggers Network Monthly Roundup.