How About You and Me?

How about you and me? As we go on our unremembered way down here in this valley of tears, how real has the Lord become for you and me? Have we discovered Him to be what He is – Our changeless friend, the companion of our exile, the lover of our soul, Our Father and Our God? Surely, if you and I believe what we say we believe, we cannot begin a day without some thought of Him. The new day, freshly minted from His Hand, in love, to you and me, given us so that we may discover Him. And He’s in us, wanting to share all the trivia of our waking hours, wanting to be part of everything. Is there something in your day or mine from which He is to be excluded?

From the book: Reflections With Father Leo Clifford

Isn’t That Our Problem? We Always Want Things To Make Sense In Our Terms.

“Well, my dear friends, you don’t need to have much imagination to imagine Our Lady in the seventh month, the eighth month, the ninth month, with life stirring within Her. As like all mothers-to-be, She was crocheting and knitting and preparing for the birth of the child. And then one morning, a selfish, moody, compulsive man who had authority from God, decided that his people should be enrolled. Joseph would go and do his duty; Mary would go with him. They arrived in a crowded city. Every door is closed; every face is hard. There is no room for them in the inn. They have to go into a stable to bring forth the Child. You know what the Franciscans have done with the crib. It is so romantic; it is so inspiring. What was the reality? Put yourself in Our Lady’s place. Where is the angel now? Where is God now? Was she forgotten, neglected, and abandoned because She had to bring forth a child in a stable? It did not make sense. But She believed. Isn’t that our problem? We always want things to make sense in our terms. We have to understand; we have to be able to fathom; we have to be on top of every situation. Our Lady is our model in Faith; in accepting by faith what She could not understand.

Well, She was about over that shock when She got in for another one. She had to take the Child to Egypt. If there was a bad word for the Jews, it was “Egypt,” because She knew what God had to do to get His people out of Egypt. And now send them back into Egypt?

It doesn’t make sense by our sophisticated standards. And She went; and She stayed; and She returned when the Angel told Joseph, “to Nazareth. “And She saw Him grow up through the difficult years of adolescence. She saw Him become 25, She saw Him become 30, doing nothing for the salvation of the world by our standards. And then He went out and surrounded Himself with people who did not understand Him; people who were obtuse, selfish, unthinking and ambitious.

At the end, one of them betrayed Him and died in despair at his own hand; another one denied Him and the rest ran away and left him to die alone.”

From the book: Reflections With Father Leo Clifford O.F.M.

She believed that He was Her Father; that He loved Her, that She was His child, and that She would accept whatever He arranged.

She is the Mother of the Christ who is to be formed in you and me. And when we need Our Mother to help us to do the great work that is our challenge in life. And She’s our model in Faith. Saint Augustine reminds us that Our Lady was the first disciple, and that She brought Chris alive by Faith in Her soul long before She brought Him alive in Her Body.

When Our Lady said to the Angel, “ Be it done unto me according to Thy Word, “She set out on the greatest adventure possible for a human being. She gave God a blank check on Her life. No more questions would be asked. She believed that He was Her Father; that He loved Her, that She was His child, and that She would accept whatever He arranged.

From the book: Reflections With Father Leo Clifford O.F.M.

Valley Of Tears

Ralph Waldo Emerson tells the story of a journey through the states in a coach. It was a day in which the clouds were low and heavily charged, and the people in that coach were silent, preoccupied inside, as they went on their journey. Here and there the coach stopped. At one place, a young woman got in carrying her baby in her arms. She was tall and radiant and beautiful. And they continued on their journey. But somehow, something happened. It seemed as if the atmosphere was completely changed. The people were chatting animatedly, one with another, now, all because of the advent of this unknown woman and her child into their lives. We, too, are on a journey, down here in this valley of tears; and there is a woman and her child in our lives, too. But we know who She is – Mary, our life, our sweetness, and our hope. The Vatican Council reminds us that Our Lady must be in our lives under two headings – as our Mother and as our model. She’s your Mother and mine, far more truly than that being on earth whom we call “Mother. “ For if, at this moment, you are alive with God’s own Life, if there is now coursing through your veins and beating next your heart something of the ending life of the Blessed Trinity, if Christ is being formed in you, if there is in you that grace that will one day blossom into glory, it is all because Our Lady said, “Yes “to God when He asked Her if She would be the channel through which she would come and live in you.

From the book: Reflections with Father Leo Clifford O.F.M.

Bury The Hatchet

In Ireland, we used to say that we were willing to bury the hatchet but we made sure to mark the spot because we might need it again. Oh, no! That cannot be! We must go and find a deep river or lake or the ocean and stand there and throw it in over our shoulders and forget it; otherwise, we will not be children of God, as we are destined to be. Do we ever stop to think of what we say every day in the prayer our Lord taught us? “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” In effect I’m saying, “Lord, You see the way I treat those who have hurt me. You see my understanding, my generosity, my compassion, and my genuine forgiveness. That’s the way you must treat me. “ My dear friends, if you and I, as a child of God, are destined on this earth to show forth His forgiveness, His love, His compassion, His mercy to the human beings around us, then we must go on striving every day to meet His standards and live by His ideals. And surely this is a prayer that finds an echo in our hearts. “Oh, Lord, please teach me to forgive. As I come out of my darkness and my loneliness and my selfishness, help me to share with others and never grow weary of sharing the forgiveness and the love that You are forever giving to me. “

From the book: Reflections with Father Leo Clifford O.F.M.

Time

I remember many years ago, preaching at a funeral of an old, old man. And it was very difficult because there was an old man in the front pew who cried from his heart all during Mass. At the end of Mass, I went to speak to him and I said, “Was the man who died your friend? “He said, “Father, he was my brother. He was my only brother and we have not spoken for 50 years. And I was always coming to tell him I was sorry. I was always going to ask for his forgiveness. I was always going to visit him but I never did. And now it’s too late. And from beyond the grave I want him to forgive me, and I want My God to forgive me. “And I said to him, “What was the problem? What was the difficulty you had? He said, “I have forgotten. “How sad! How tragic! All those years he was carrying this heavy load, this burden because he never came to ask for forgiveness.

From the book: Reflections with Father Leo Clifford O.F.M.

This Is Not Dead

“The Lord comes to live in me and possess me. That is our Faith. The poet expressed the problem very wonderfully when he said, “If thou could empty all thyself of self, like to a shell uninhabited, then coming might He find thee on the ocean shelf and say, ‘This is not dead,’ and fill thee with Himself instead. But thou art replete with very thou and hath such rude activity that when He comes He says, “This is enough unto itself, `twere better let it be. It is so small and full, there is no room for me.’ “That’s the tragedy of our lives. “I know better than the Lord the things that are to my peace. I know how I to live; I who am too small and smug and self-satisfied. “ But the truth is, if we behave like this, and so often we do, we are stunted in our growth. We are spiritual pygmies. We are crawling on the face of the earth when we are destined to be flying into the face of the sun. But there is another aspect to this. If I do not forgive those who hurt me, if I have no forgiveness for those who have offended me, then I am less mature than I should be, less free than I should be. Indeed, I became a slave. Have you ever met someone who was unforgiving, became hard and bitter with a closed mind? Then you’ve met someone who is incarcerated by their own choosing, and thrown the key away.”

From the book: Reflections with Father Leo Clifford O.F.M.