Do you have an ideal that drives your decisions in life? Is your ideal to give all of your heart to God? Before we tackle this subject matter, lets take a look at who makes up the readers of this email.
As readers of this weekly email who are you? I can say this, you are a diverse crowd. As a group you are made up of both Catholics and non-Catholics. Most, but certainly not all of you, have experienced a Cursillo, Walk to Emmaus or Via De Cristo weekend or you are involved in the prison ministry Kairos. Some of you are preparing for or planning on making one of these weekend experiences and some of you are not. Geographically you live all over the United States and Canada. Some of you I know personally, while clearly the vast majority of you I have never met. From what you have shared with me through your emails some of you walk a very close personal walk and have a very close relationship with our Lord and others of you long for that closer type relationship with our Savior. Among you are Baptists, Lutherans, Methodists, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Catholics, non denominational and many other Christian faiths and even some of my Jewish friends. Some of you are Priests, some Deacons and some Ministers and Pastors.
With all of these differences what is it that we share in common? We share a strong faith and deep desire and love of our God. We desire to have a closer relationship with Him. Most of us have heard or felt a calling by Jesus to follow Him and to be messengers of His love to the world. Most of us sense there is more to life than to just occasionally doing good things or simply going to church on Sundays. Most of us believe we are called to serve God and our neighbor. In fact most of us believe we are called to be the Good News to a hurting world. However, we also share a common humanity that causes us, in spite of our best intentions, to sin. Even with our strong desire to follow God’s will in our lives, in spite of our desire to share the salvation message of Jesus Christ and to follow His teachings, we fall short because of sin.
In my last email I wrote about the song “Hosea” which has these lyrics: Come back to me, with all your heart, with last week’s focus on “coming back”. Today I want to focus on “with all your heart”. Psalm 51says “A clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me.” In Deuteronomy 26:16-19Moses says: “This day the Lord your God, commands you to observe these statutes and decrees. Be careful, then to observe them with all your heart and with all your soul.”
I don’t know about you but I must admit the “with all your heart” part is quite a challenge for me. My human desires and sinful habits often create a barrier for me to give ALL of my heart. Sure, I give God most of my heart, but do I give all of it? IfI ambeing honest I know I fall short of His calling. What about you? Do you give all of your heart to God? Or do you, like me, still try to hold on to parts of this world? Do you find yourself in an examination of conscious always seeking forgiveness for the same bad habits or sinful tendencies? What are the things that hold you back from giving all your heart? Is it pride, envy, greed, avarice, covetousness, lust, power, money, gossip, lack of forgiveness, or simply laziness in your faith? Do you hear God’s call but only give Him part of your time holding back a bigger part for the things of this world that give you pleasure?
In Cursillo and I believe in the other three day weekend experiences as well, the first talk is on the subject, Ideal. The Cursillo Manual defines an Idealas: the collection of ideas, aspirations (goals) and preferences that center our life, decide our will: it is the driving force that turns our efforts into realities (attracts a person and moves him/her towards its attainment). It sums up happiness for the person. It is the axis of that person’s life. We learn that a person’s life ebbs and flows according to their ideal. The talk tells us that all people have ideals even if we may not be consciously aware of our ideals, and that there is no human life without an ideal. We learn in this talk that we should all have an authentic ideal. There are 4 key qualities to an authentic ideal.
- It should be a model of perfection. It should be the “main mast” in which our whole life is sustained.
- It should be more perfect than man can imagine. We should be able to lead our whole life for this ideal because it will lead us to maturity.
- It should have loftiness since it will give dimension to our personality.
- It should be accessible, if it isn’t it would only be a fantasy.
So with this definition of an authentic ideal in mind as we journey through the season of Lent perhaps we should contemplate “giving all our heart to the Lord” as our most authentic ideal. During Lent we are challenged to look inside ourselves and to ask God to reveal to us those things that prevent us from a more perfect union with Him. Can we honestly say that we are currently giving God all our heart? Is giving all of heart currently the Authentic Ideal that drives our life? What really is our ideal?
Cursillo teaches us that to discover our ideal we simply need to observe in what direction our thoughts, our free time, our money and our energy go. There is our ideal.
So now during Lent it is a good time to ask ourselves what truly is our ideal? Take time to think about these questions:
- Where are your thoughts?
- What do you think about most often?
- How do you spend your free time?
- On what do you spend your money?
- What pleases you most in life?
In the answers to these questions, there you will discover your ideal!
If you discover that your current ideal that is driving your life’s decision is not what it should be, make a commitment today to a new authentic ideal, to give God all your heart.
Now take heart in this passage from Ezekiel 18:21-28. “Thus says the Lord God: if the wicked man turns away from all the sins he committed, if he keeps all my statutes and does what is right and just, he shall surely live, he shall not die. None of the crimes he committed shall be remembered against him; he shall live because of the virtue he has practiced. Do I indeed derive any pleasure from the death of the wicked says the Lord God? Do I not rather rejoice when he turns from his evil way that he may live?”