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Greatest Gift of All

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By Br. Leonard Konopka, MIC (Mar 19, 2007)
I see that the smallest things done by a soul that loves God sincerely have an enormous value in His eyes.
— From the Diary of St. Faustina, 340

Jesus does not demand great actions from us but simply surrender and gratitude.
— Saint Theresa of Lisieux

Recently, I heard of a father who punished his 3-year-old daughter for wasting a roll of expensive gold wrapping paper. He had meager finances and became even angrier when the child tried to hide the box from him. Little did he know that it was to be a present for his birthday the following day.

Trying to appease her father, the little girl couldn't wait and gave the box to him immediately and said: "Daddy, this is for you!" The father was obviously embarrassed by his over reacting but his rage flared up again when he discovered the box was empty. He hollered at her, 'Don't you know that when you give someone a present there's supposed to be something it?"

With tears in her eyes the little girl said: "But Daddy, it's not empty. I blew kisses into the box. All for you, Daddy." The father was crushed. He put his arms around his little girl and begged for forgiveness.

The father kept the box in his room for years. Whenever he was discouraged, he would take out one imaginary kiss, and remember with gratitude the love of the child that put it there.

That little girl represents Jesus for me, and I could easily be the father. Just like him, I really couldn't grasp the gift of His greatest attribute that is His mercy. Through God's mercy, you and I have been given a similar box, which symbolizes our souls, totally filled with limitless love, forgiveness and compassion.

During this Lenten period, Jesus reminds us again of the degree He suffered so that we would accept the gift of mercy and be united with Him one day. You and I were worth the whole price that He paid to remain with us for eternity. Our lives are never empty. They can be filled with grateful memories of what He accomplished for us on the cross.

Like this father, I hollered at God for a variety of issues that confused and caused me great anguish. I blamed Him for so many things that went wrong. Then realized late in life, just like St. Augustine, how long it took me to recognize Him. Now, when I am overwhelmed with issues, I realize how clearly God can make Himself present. This is especially true in regard to the sacraments of the Catholic Church. They all fit us like a glove; each one specifically assisting us with tremendous graces throughout life.

Like the sacraments, there are other memorable events in the life of Jesus that can instill great peace within our souls. This is especially true when reflecting upon His Passion and praying the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy. We have a whole treasure house of inspiring memories representing His love manifested by His wounds. There are multiple lessons learned from each one of them.

Jesus told St. Faustina: "Meditation on My Passion will help you rise above all things" (Diary, 1184). "You please me most when you meditate on My Sorrowful Passion" (Diary, 1512).

Once, when praying the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy, I thought I heard a very gentle voice say: "It will take you 300 years to understand one wound." That's how I hope to spend my eternity!

We may not be called to do great penances during Lent. However, our willingness to respond in gratitude to whatever the Lord sends us, even small things that no one will ever notice, can be of tremendous worth for our eventual union with Him and can benefit other souls as well. Jesus told St. Faustina: "Join your little sufferings to My Sorrowful Passion, so that they may have infinite value before My Majesty" (Diary, 1512).

Saint Faustina gives us an incredible insight because of the fact she grasps the notion of why Jesus had to suffer and endure all that grief. She shows us how a soul prays who has grown in a deeper understanding of Christ's life. And she shows us how willing she was to prove her gratitude:

Jesus, I thank You for the little daily crosses, for opposition to my endeavors, for the hardships of communal life, for the misinterpretations of my intentions, for humiliations at the hands of others, for the harsh way in which we are treated, for false suspicions, for poor health and loss of strength, for self-denial, for dying to myself, for lack of recognition in everything, for the upsetting of all my plans.

Thank You, Jesus, for interior sufferings, for dryness of spirit, for terrors, fears and incertitude's, for the darkness and the deep interior night, for temptations and various ordeals, for torments too difficult to describe, especially for those which no one will understand, for the hour of death with its fierce struggle and all its bitterness.

I thank You, Jesus, You who first drank the cup of bitterness before You gave it to me, in a much milder form. I put my lips to this cup of Your holy will. Let all be done according to Your good pleasure; let that which Your wisdom ordained before the ages be done to me. I want to drink the cup to its last drop, and not seek to know the reason why. In bitterness is my joy, in hopelessness is my trust.

In You, O Lord, all is good, all is a gift of Your paternal Heart. I do not prefer consolations over bitterness or bitterness over consolations, but thank You, O Jesus, for everything! It is my delight to fix my gaze upon You, O incomprehensible God! My spirit abides in these mysterious dwelling places, and there I am at home. I know very well the dwelling place of my Spouse. I feel there is not a single drop of blood in me that does not burn with love for You.

O Uncreated Beauty, whoever comes to know You once cannot love anything else. I can feel the bottomless abyss of my soul, and nothing will fill it but God himself. I feel that I am drowned in Him like a single grain of sand in a bottomless ocean (Diary, 343).

Brother Leonard Konopka, MIC, is on the staff of the Marian Seminary in Washington, D.C. He also provides spiritual direction, retreats, and seminars.

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Theresa H - Mar 24, 2007

The beautiful messages you send bring tears to my eyes. Thank you for including me in your list.What a friend I have in you and what a friend we have in Jesus.