A few nights ago, I was chatting with a friend…we were exchanging pleasantries, and I was sharing bits of my day. I was taken by surprise by the comment “I wish I had your life.” I guess it appears that I have very few problems, and that I just enjoy the simple joys of life. I am sure I do not have nearly as many cares as most people, but I thought about it long and hard: why am I able to have such a simple life, with as many problems as I really do have?…I think the answer to that, is just that you have to give your problems to God. There have been so many times that I have just said, “I can’t deal with it anymore…take it! Take it, or whack me upside the head to know what to do with it!” Have you ever heard the phrase “Let go…let God”? But it takes a lot of practice to learn to really trust. In the beginning it will probably feel like you are adding to your problems, by trying to remember to offer it up! This is where you must persevere with all your strength and then some. If you are serious about living a life of simplicity, you must pray with all your might that God gives you the sufficent strength.
In a humorous way, I like to say that God must not like dealing with our problems…because as soon as we truely offer them up, they seem to diminish! They turn from a problem into a circumstance. Instead of feeling as though the world depended on ourselves, we recognize Who it really depends on. We still know that we must pick up our cross and follow Jesus – but in picking up our cross and following, our “task is easy, and our burden light.” Jesus never said that our burden would disappear, but that it would become “light”. This is what I call the “mystery of the interminglement of joy and sorrow”…it is the process of the perfection of our love in our journey to Love. In reality, to simplify life means to “just” give everything back to God and allow Him to act in our lives.
Enough of the theoretical: how do I apply this to my life practically? One way is with my SDO. In Schoenstatt, we have a “tool” for our self education called the “Spiritual Schedule” or the “Spiritual Daily Order” (SDO). It is a simple graph that helps to keep track of resolutions toward our goal of sanctity. There is usually one resolution that you specifically focus on a certain point against your primary fault/weakness, and the rest are resolutions of “maintenance”. For example, in the beginning it might be effective to focus on praying your morning and evening prayers everyday; after you have conquered this point to an extent, you can include it in your SDO, to be sure that you do not all of a sudden forget about them. It does not necessarily have to be strictly spiritual strivings – include things that are necessary for daily balance. In some of my SDO’s I have included taking a daily walk, playing with my siblings, doing chores cheerfully, etc. At the end of the day, simply make a mark by each resolution to denote whether you have been sucessful in completing it “for today”. Perseverance is required to keep up with this as well, but it pays off. 😉 Be cautious, especially if you are just beginning, not to over-do on your resolutions: sanctity is a life long task, and you won’t be perfect overnight. Be radical, but not ridiculous. 🙂 No one (to my knowledge) has achieved perfection in a day so far, so why should you expect it of yourself?Another thing that I have learned, is that the more of your senses that you can use to offer something up, the more effective that offering is going to be. We are humans: called to love God with our entire body, mind, and soul. Everything must be united! An example: when I had problems with a member of the management where I worked at one point, I prayed and prayed to let go of the hurt caused…but not until I honestly looked at the situation and wrote a letter to God telling Him what bothered me, and asking Him to change things if it was His Will, that I was really able to let go. Write a letter, poem, song…draw a picture…perhaps burn whatever. Engage your senses in the offering! Make it as real and tangible as possible. Offer it to Christ and the Blessed Mother. Definitavely.
A Schoenstatt saying: “Nothing without you, nothing without us!”
And always remember: “Work as though everything depended on you, pray as though everything depended on God!” Holiness is a long, everyday path…towards a heavenly goal.