Friday, 28 November 2014

Fight Like A Girl

    A couple of weeks ago I was on a high school mission, where we finished our final liturgy with a short time of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Afterwards the Franciscan friar who had brought Jesus out had to take the Blessed Sacrament back to the school chapel from the main hall, which meant carrying it through the rest of the school. Because by that point it was break time, I realised that I would need to go with him to make sure Jesus was protected from the crowds in the corridors.

    It only occurred to me half way through our journey just how big a job that was! I was physically standing guard in front of Jesus! I may have only gone because I was the closest to the door, but God already knew that I’d be there. He knew I’d be the one to walk with Him and protect Him. He knew it would be me, and most importantly He knew that it would be a woman. 

    In The Lord of the Rings there’s a scene where Eowyn takes on the Nazgul, who claims ‘no living man’ can kill him. She cunningly, and movingly, responds with “But no living man am I. You look upon a woman.” She fought not with the weapons and tactics of men, but instead brought her own gifts to the battle field. 

    As women, we have a unique role to play in the battle to defend our faith, and we’re called to strengthen ourselves spiritually to play that role. We can stand guard for Christ not despite our femininity, but through our femininity. We fight with strength and dignity. We arm ourselves with truth and compassion. 

    One of my favourite saints is St. Faustina, and in her diary she writes that “When… my soul began to experience deep recollection and peace, I often heard these words in my soul:  

"Strengthen yourself for combat."

    Physical muscles get stronger and stronger the more you train them, meaning that, although they hurt at the time, they will have the capacity to lift more weight or cover a greater distance the next time you train. The same is true in our spiritual lives. Though maintaining a prayer life takes effort, and often God reveals things or asks things of us that hurt, learning to depend on Him and deepen our relationship with Him means that over time we become more able to fight spiritual battles.

    God gave you your own gifts and strengths for a purpose. He made you a woman for a purpose. He knows where you fit into His army – whether that be fighting on the front lines, nursing the wounded or determinedly maintaining order back home. He wants you to fight with what you have, not with what you think you should have. He has a place for you. Ask Him to show you where it is…

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Self-esteem and the Eucharist

    We live in a world where lust is given freely and love is withheld for fear of rejection. I’ve spoken to so many girls whose deepest wounds come from a lack of love. But the bigger problem is that they’ve been made to believe they don’t deserve love. A culture where girls slate each other rather than affirming each other, and guys judge appearance rather than character, has led them to feel they can never be worthy of receiving love, and that there is nothing about them worth loving. 

    For years I was one of those girls, and there are days when I feel like I still am! When I fall into the trap of criticising myself, the temptation is to shy away from Jesus for fear of being unworthy. But on those days I know it’s more important than ever to allow myself to receive what He offers me. 

    Every single voice that tells you you’re inadequate, or invisible, or unworthy of love is a lie – and lies come from the enemy, who wants nothing more than to separate you from Christ. When the enemy attacks, choosing to cling to Christ is what will defeat it, and I’ve found time and time again that the best way to do this is through the Eucharist.

The Eucharist is Jesus. Jesus is God. God is Love.   

    Receiving the Eucharist is the first step towards accepting His love. You don’t have to believe that love initially to receive it, you just have to say yes to allowing Him to show you the truth. By opening your heart to receive Jesus, you give Him permission to begin to reveal to you the depth of His love. Jesus, in the Eucharist, can change your heart and change your life – He is so powerful that it’s impossible not to be changed. You may not see the changes as they happen, but over time He will open your eyes to the identity He’s given you. 

    The Eucharist is our greatest weapon in the battle against poor self-esteem, body image and self-worth, because it charges straight to the front lines. The real presence of Jesus within us tackles the lies directly, and replaces them with truth. He will fight for us, we have only to receive. We don’t have to fight the battle in our own strength. We can utilise this weapon simply by receiving the host and praying:

Jesus, I can’t see my own worth, but I trust that you want to show me. I allow you into my heart. Transform me from within, and reveal to me the truth of who I am and what I’m worth to you. 

    The abundance of God’s love is overflowing and unending, and He longs to lavish it upon us. He wants to be allowed into our lives, and allowed to show us His love. Learning to accept love can be painful, but we mustn’t let that stop us. There is no joy without pain, because joy comes from breaking barriers in our hearts and seeing the pain lifted. The reward of knowing the truth of what the Father sees in us is infinitely greater than the pain of getting there…

… and the greatest way to get there is the Eucharist.