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talking to myself

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What retreatants have taught me

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markdohle

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What retreatants have taught me about childlike faith
Psalm 116:6-9

6 The LORD protects those of childlike faith; I was facing death, and he saved me.7 Let my soul be at rest again, for the LORD has been good to me.8 He has saved me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.9 And so I walk in the LORD’s presence as I live here on earth!

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I have written many times how humbling it is to talk with our retreatants as they share many of their struggles with me.  One of the common denominators that I see in them is their ‘Childlike Faith’.  I do think that many of them would be surprised if I brought it up to them, but I believe it is true nonetheless.

When I remember being a child and I can go back to the crib, though the memories are few.  I really have only one memory of being in a crib before being two.   As I got older, by the time I was two years old I have a few more that mostly focus on some adverse situations.  I do know as my brother Robert has so wisely told me, “that those memories that I have so far back may be false ones”.  I agree up to a point.  For they are based on the subjective experience of a very young child, yet they persist and they have been a goad for growth I believe.  What sticks out for me about those years and I feel it is one of the gifts of being a small child, is that I totally accepted reality as I perceived it, not longing for something different, but it was just the way things were.  I think that is how some people survive their childhoods that were abusive; they did not know there was another way.  It is when we become adults that our past, be it consciously remembered or not has such a hold on us. My childhood however was not abusive, things happened and I had to deal with it the best way I could.  

Some of the people who come here have lives that are extremely chaotic and filled with tragedy and pain.  They often talk about their struggles and yes their failures, yet they do not speak of giving up, or giving in to despair.  They simply move forward in faith.  They have deep roots in Christ Jesus and they withstand the storms of life.  They get up every morning and live their lives.  They do not try to escape their lives into addictions but embrace it, though they do not enjoy it.  They struggle with anger, and depression at times, yet they go deeper and believe in God’s love for them and simply deal with their emotions in a manner that does not allow them to control their lives.  They pray and trust in God, in Christ Jesus.  In saying that I see others who are seeking who do the same thing, they continue, have hope and search for answers.  So yes I believe that they are childlike in how they live their lives as well.

They have taught me a lot.  When St. Paul says that there is nothing that can separate us from the love of Christ Jesus, I believe that.  Love can’t be bought, or earned; it is a freely given grace.  Jesus talked about God being Father.   The story of the Prodigal Son is one way that he tried to get people to understand.  I guess parental love, good parents, loving parents, are the closest thing that we can experience to the love of God.  Though as powerful as it is, it is nowhere near to the love that God has for us as shown in the life, death and resurrection of our Lord.
 
A person with childlike faith will not allow failures that are personal sin to delay them on their journey.  For like Peter getting out of the boat, when he saw that he was sinking because he looked at his feet (being overly self conscious) and not to the Lord he began to sink.  Yet he at once called out and Jesus pulled him up.  So Peter in his childlike faith called on the name of the Lord in love and trust and was not disappointed.  ---Br.MD

Sr. Faustina is a Catholic and this is what Jesus told her about trusting him:

1488:  (You see, my child, what you are of yourself.  The cause of your falls is that you rely too much upon yourself and too little on me.  But let this not sadden you so much.  You are dealing with the God of mercy, which your misery cannot exhaust.  Remember, I did not allot only a certain number of pardons.).

(Diary of Sister Faustina, conversations with souls 1485-1489)

 

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