Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Transformed by Love - Our Testimonies, Part 2

Cassie Kowaleski

When I first heard we could drink the holy water at Lourdes I was confused.  In my mind Holy water was only for exorcisms and blessing things.  It was sacred, and I guess to me sacred meant special, unique, rare, definitely not for me.   Holy and sacred were words that described something other-worldly, from biblical times, about saints, and Jerusalem - not something I could experience in normal life in something so simple as taking a sip from my water bottle.  Holiness was something to be admired from afar, it wasn't something I could achieve.  Sure, two of the holiest people from our modern times, Blessed John Paul II and Blessed Teresa of Calcutta both agreed holiness is for everyone.  But this sinner thought that was easy for super holy people to say.

On our trip, the Sisters taught us about purity, both in words and by their actions.  They explained that saints had pure hearts, and having a pure heart meant loving only 1 thing.  Saints loved Jesus Christ and sought Him as their only desire, putting Him above all else, trusting Him in all circumstances.  Accepting every gift He gives you, understanding that our understanding is limited and His wisdom is infinite.  Saints say yes to everything Christ asks of them and always seek to know Him better.  I learned God is infinite, we can always know Him better and love Him more.  There is no end to His love!  Wow! 

When the Sisters asked us to think about our favorite miracle story, I didn't have to think long.  Mine has always been when Christ walks on the water.  Perhaps I can identify so strongly with Peter walking across the water with my eyes on Christ, wanting to be close to Him, but easily distracted.  When I look away from Christ and see the evil in the world and the sin in my own heart, I get discouraged and I start to sink.  I always used to think I was sinking because God was punishing me for not looking at Him, but I was wrong.  God is like any good father, he disciplines His children so that we understand what is good for us.  A two-year old may want to hold a knife and may cry if you take it from him, but every good parent takes the knife anyway.  Otherwise their child would hurt himself.  My sinking is my reminder of what I really desire, of where my eyes should be. God disciplines us because He knows exactly what we need and don't need.

Still unsure about drinking the water, I decided the water from the grotto in Lourdes was at least going to be colder than what I had brought.  So I got in line and watched horrified as people were wasting the water, letting it just pour out onto the ground.  It seemed a flawed design plan: people should be able to turn the tap off and on so that no water would be wasted.  And then my eyes were opened and I realized, God is infinite.  He didn't give us just enough water, He gave us much more than we need.  John 6:13 tells us that when Jesus fed the 5,000 there was enough bread left over to fill 12 baskets.  God is constantly trying to explain to us that He is not just enough for us, He is more than enough.  This doesn't mean we should take His gifts for granted or purposely waste them, but in this instance watching the water pour out, I could hear Him smile at me and remind me that all of the containers in the world can not contain Him.  It doesn't matter how organized I get or how carefully I plan, God gives His gifts as He pleases, and it pleases Him to pour His love lavishly upon us all.  Whether we choose to receive it is up to us.

I thought God was distant because I was asking Him to be.  I wanted control of my life, I wanted to be my own God, and good as God is, He lets us choose that.  But when we invite God into our hearts He comes!  He wants to be intimately associated with each of us!  He desires to be part of us, to be involved in every aspect of our lives, even the simple, everyday acts such as drinking water.  He is the best friend we've always wanted, He's always listening, always there, always in love with you.  Holiness isn't for other people, in other places, in times way past and over.  Holiness is for each of us, right here, today.