As I wabble down the ever shorter path to my next portal in life, passing from life to death, I become more aware of how the Scriptures are pertinent to who I am now and how the words of Scripture feel as well say or read them. It is particularly true when I read the Psalms during the Liturgy of the Hours. These words inform my need for intellectual stimulation and the desire in my heart to be one with Christ. Saint Augustine said it so well: “Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.”  More and more, as I sit on a park bench in the dead of winter and wait for Christ to sit next to me, the thought of my heart resting next to the heart of Christ is the joy that I have never experienced before. This heart-to-heart can happen anytime, such as when I go to Walmart to pick up my heart medication or sitting alone in the silence and solitude of Good Shepherd Chapel in Eucharistic Adoration. The effect is the same–I begin to experience what it means to share my Lord’s joy.

As I continue to make sense of what life throws at me each day, one thing is constant, in a world beset by hatreds, jealousies, envies, factions, false gods, and those seeking their own pleasure at all costs. I have discovered the Christ Principle, the very energy of God, although I neither know what that is nor am I capable of any rational definition. I can only attempt to describe what I feel when I am allowed to sit next to Christ on that park bench and just be what my nature intended. I realize ever more clearly that God doesn’t fit into my agenda nor preconceived notions of what I need, but rather, as an adopted Son (Daughter) of the Father, I can only sit in the presence of Christ and hope that the Holy Spirit answers my prayers to have mercy on me, a sinner. I sit on that park bench every time I have in me the mind of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5) when I realize that I must make an effort on my part to be present to Christ because He is always present to me. Eucharist becomes an occasion of joy for me as I feel the presence of Christ (based on the capacitas dei or extent to which Christ grows in me and my false self shrinks). All occasions to practice the Cistercian practices that lead to the charisms of humility, true obedience to the will of God, openness to the Holy Spirit in all I meet, discernment of evil where it exists, and my attempts to flee from it, all these are foretastes of heaven. Heaven begins each day as I seek God in whatever way He presents Himself. I can’t hide from the Hound of Heaven. Read the poem by Francis Thompson. It is a masterpiece. anymore.https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/english/currentstudents/undergraduate/modules/fulllist/second/en227/texts/thompson-hound.pdf

If joy, in the human sense, is good, then how do we deal with suffering, discomfort, death, cancer, heart problems, alcoholism, drug addiction, mental illness, intermittent explosive disorder (https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17786-intermittent-explosive-disorder#:~:text=Intermittent%20explosive%20disorder%20is%20a,of%20proportion%20to%20the%20situation), or when love hurts to give it to others? Fortunately, we have the Saints to help us with examples of how to cope. We have the very life of Christ itself that gives us the energy to overcome the “thorn of the flesh,” as Saint Paul describes it in II Corinthians. Read this challenging passage and try to FEEL what St. Paul is telling you through the Holy Spirit. Commentaries I read suggest that “thorn in the flesh” most likely describes pain that comes from dealing with difficult people, as in “pain in the butt.”

1I* must boast; not that it is profitable, but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord.
2 I know someone in Christ who, fourteen years ago (whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows), was caught up to the third heaven.
3 And I know that this person (whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows)
4 was caught up into Paradise and heard ineffable things, which no one may utter. a
5 About this person* I will boast, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses.
6 Although if I wished to boast, I would not be foolish, for I would be telling the truth. But I refrain so that no one may think more of me than what he sees in me or hears from me
7 because of the abundance of the revelations. Therefore, that I might not become too elated,* a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated.b
8Three times* I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me,c
9* but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses,* so that the power of Christ may dwell with me.d
10Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ;e for when I am weak, then I am strong.*
Suffering, pain, depression, and negative thinking are not the opposite of love. I call it dark love, for the lack of a better way to describe how love hurts sometimes. Here are some thoughts about what happens when love hurts.
Joy amid the struggle to do what is right rather than what is easy.
Caring for someone with Borderline Personality Disorder, Alcoholism, Drug Addiction, Althzeimers, Dimensia Precox, Intermittent Explosive Disorder, Anger Mood Disorder, Paranoia, or other situations that require the caregiver to love but with pain and suffering.

Christ is our role model for love that hurts. I keep going back to my favorite Scripture passage. Read Philippians 2:5 with the idea of feeling what Christ felt for us as he knew he was to suffer, die, and rise from the dead in expiation for the sins of us all. Can we do no less?

Plea for Unity and Humility.*

1If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy,
2complete my joy by agreeing, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing. a
3Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves,b
4each looking out not for his own interests, but [also] everyone for those of others.c
5Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus,*
6Who,* though he was in the form of God,d

did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped.*

7Rather, he emptied himself,

taking the form of a slave,  coming in human likeness;*

and found human in appearance,e

8he humbled himself,f

becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.*

9Because of this, God greatly exalted him

and bestowed on him the name*

that is above every name,g

10that at the name of Jesus

every knee should bend,*

of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,h

11and every tongue confess that

Jesus Christ is Lord,*

to the glory of God the Father.

When I take the Christ Principle inside me through being present through the Holy Spirit, my pain does not cease. I will still feel the hurt, the humiliation, the disrespect from others as they put down my God and my Church, questioning my motives and making scurrilous comments about my love for Christ. When I had about with Leukemia (CLL type) in 2014, I had twelve chemotherapy treatments, not knowing if they would do any good. They did; thanks be to God. 
Christ gives us not only the example but the same energy He had to overcome temptations he had to flee from the mission that the Father entrusted to Him.  To be one with Christ is to love others as He loved us. It is also the way, the truth, and the life for anyone who must love even though it hurts.
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