Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 13, 2000
You are what you contemplate
By JOHN CONNELLY
Special to the WCR
Do you have a clear vision for your life? When your day begins do you have a sense of mission and purpose? What motivates and inspires you?
St. Augustine taught that whatever we contemplate we will become. In other words, whatever we envision and focus upon will ultimately guide and shape our lives. The vision we have for our lives is exceedingly important. Our vision dictates our destiny.
Thousands of years ago God instructed us about having a clear vision with these words, "Listen O Israel, . . . You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength" (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).
As this passage continues God calls us to have these words:
God created us to have a sense of vision and purpose for our lives. His vision needs to be continually before our eyes.
- Written on our hearts.
- Taught diligently to our children.
- Talked about continually.
- Written on our doorposts, gate and hands.
- Placed continually before our eyes.
What happens when we forget God's vision? Look around. Violence. War. Division. Fear. Abortion. Loneliness. These are all symptoms of what Pope John Paul calls the culture of death. Our society has lost a sense of the ultimate meaning and purpose of life. People need to know that God has a beautiful plan for every human being. We find true fulfillment as we become a people of vision.
People of vision
I am continually inspired by Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Her life points to the real meaning of our existence. As I've studied her life and teaching, certain themes come forth over and over. She had a clear, dynamic vision. Ponder slowly her simple words:
"We are created to love and to be loved."
Mother Teresa's visionary life and words continue daily to inspire people all over the world.
"Put your self completely under the influence of Jesus."
"Jesus is my all in all."
"Jesus . . . in the distressing disguise of the poor."
"We are all called to be saints."
"Prayer enlarges the heart."
Simple, vision-oriented sayings can give us direction and inner strength. They motivate us on the path of love and discipleship. When we meditate deeply on these vision statements our lives can be transformed.
Pope John Paul was asked by a close friend if there was a particular Scripture which guided and inspired him. The pope surprised his friend and answered quickly, "The truth shall set you free" (John 8:32).
St. Ignatius of Loyola sent the young Francis Xavier to evangelize India. He told him to go and "set all aflame." Francis, guided by these inspiring words, became a saint and one of the most successful missionaries of all time. Thousands were "set aflame" with Christ's love through his ministry.
Albert Schweitzer was a world class scholar and musician. One day, he was in boat floating down a river. These inspiring words suddenly arose within him: "Reverence for life." He gave up his former life, became a doctor and founded a clinic deep in the jungle in Africa. He became famous for his deep compassion towards those who suffer. He embodied reverence for life.
Years ago I walked past a cemetery at Madonna House, in Combermere, Ont. I noticed these words on a simple, wooden cross, "Look to him and be radiant." My eyes filled with tears. It was a difficult time in my life. The vision of this person's life was speaking to me and inspiring me from beyond her grave.
Here are some other visionary aspirations:
"Love without limits" (St. Maximilian Kolbe, martyr).
Currently I am meditating on the phrase "Love" with every breath. Each morning I spend time in prayer focused on loving God. Throughout the day I practise surrendering to God's love, breath by breath. Loving God, loving others, in the present moment.
"My vocation is love" (St. Therese of Lisieux).
"Practise the presence of God" (Brother Lawrence).
"Preach the Gospel . . . if necessary use words" (St. Francis of Assisi).
When I fail, I simply place the vision before my eyes and begin again to . . . Love with every breath.
A practical suggestion
Pray to the Holy Spirit. Ask the Spirit of Jesus for a phrase of Scripture or other inspired words to guide and motivate your life. The phrase should be simple, easy to remember, personally motivating and inspire you to be a faithful disciple of Jesus.
Seeing God's vision is a key element in experiencing a "new springtime" in our lives, families and world. Let us place God's vision before our eyes and meditate upon it in our hearts. Remember . . . "Whatever you contemplate you will become" (St. Augustine).