Peace in the Storm

Dear Beloved Friends,

The King is coming. Our salvation draws near.

This past week was quite remarkable. As you know we moved into the week with technology and other challenges. Then Debbie got very sick and could not bring supplies and equipment to the events in Maryland and Washington. Joshua Meeker came to the rescue as he had to fly to Connecticut and drive all the necessary supplies down.

The list of challenges both because of human frailty (including my own) and supernatural opposition is far too long and tedious to enumerate. The enemy’s last and strongest assault was targeted at the relationship between us and our hosts. I can’t share exactly what happened but suffice it to say, we must endure significant financial setbacks as a result.

When the challenge surfaced, it was very clear to me that the enemy was at work to divide those dedicated to the effort. After some prayer and seeking council with my wife, I responded by exhorting all to not allow the enemy to divide us and by forgiving what was due. This relieved the tensions and allowed us to focus on the events in peace and solidarity. It is however a significant blow at a time when our finances are tight. Money must never be allowed to get in the way of serving God’s people and should never divide God’s people.

Beyond these elements, I was in desolation before these challenges began to surface and remained so until I woke up Wednesday morning before giving my first retreat at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. My morning prayer was very peaceful and powerful. As I read the gospel of the Mass of the day I felt a strong prompting to make significant changes to the talks and was able to do so with peace. The reaction of the diocesan DREs was very positive. Our host said something to the effect of, “I don’t want to tempt you to pride so I won’t tell you the details but the retreat was very very powerful.”

As an aside, here’s a photo of my favorite place to pray at the Basilica. It is the “Our Lady of Lourdes” Chapel.

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What is interesting about all of this from a spiritual standpoint was the experience of desolation coupled with a predominant disposition of peace. This seems contradictory and I can’t say that I fully understand it. Even so, I am sure, in a limited way, of the source and means of my peace. A powerful meditation of peace versus anxiety in the storm can be found by comparing the disciples of Jesus in panic on the sea of Galilee when He was with them and asleep in the boat, and St. Paul’s shipwreck on Malta in the book of Acts.

backhuysen-paulus_grt-paul-shipwreck

There is no doubt that St. Paul’s peace was challenged as the boat began to disintegrate against the shoal and they had to abandon ship and swim. All of the normal human survival instincts were at play as they fought to get to the pre-dawn shore of an unknown place without any sense of what lie ahead of them. Even so, nothing indicates that St. Paul lost his foundation of peace. In fact, as a prisoner he provided serene yet strong leadership to his captors.

I want you to know that I am grateful to you for your prayers. Much of the serenity I experienced was no doubt because of your prayers and the provision of the Blessed Trinity. I also had a supernatural awareness of the prayers of a particular hermit in Oregon. A brief and comforting vision was given to me of her in prayer for me. I emailed her to ask if she was praying for me and she replied, “I have been battling several types of spirits this past week, all whose end result was to cause “disunity”. Spirits really trying to disunify relationships.”

From a spiritual standpoint, from all reports, the events were very helpful for the attendees. For this we praise God and are grateful. Here’s a photo from the parish event.

st-andrews-into-the-deep-maryland-2016

My own conclusion regarding peace in the storm, which I have gratefully experienced many times, is that it only comes as we seek to give all we are to Him. Note that I didn’t say as we “perfectly” give all we are to Him but as we “seek” to give all we are to Him. Without the pursuit of the foundational spiritual practices we propose in Apostoli Viae, this kind of peace is illusive. With the strong foundation of sacramental participation, ascesis, and daily mental prayer – communion with the Beloved – we can and will know peace in the storm.

Please continue to pray for me and our financial situation. Also, more importantly, please pray for Debbie. She was in the ER yesterday. I can’t reveal what she is specifically going through yet but she has asked me to request your fervent prayers for her spiritual and physical help.

Unum est Necessarium

Dan

PS: It was great to see Janine Zaebst at the event and to get to talk with her briefly – too briefly. As well, another of our Avila students was there along with one of our professors. It was a gift to see them all and to finally meet Janine face to face.

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7 thoughts on “Peace in the Storm”

  1. Your comment of experiencing desolation coupled with a predominant sense of peace resonated so clearly, this evening, as I read this post. Though what you do for our Lord is far greater and potentially touches more hearts for Him than I can ever hope to, I believe desolation is no less disconcerting for someone trying to do His will on a smaller scale. I have been here in AL for only 10 days. Since day four, his attempts to turn my decision into regret have not stopped.

    Begnning with the Human Resource person, who said I had to be here physically to apply for a position, refusing to speak to me or respond to my email with a yes or no as to whether it was filled, followed by my computer being delivered during a storm, and left outside to be water damaged thru and thru, and trying to get it paid for by the insurance continues. As one might imagine finances can be limited when making such a move. The hotel I stayed at Thanksgiving Day triple charged my account and that has not been resolved.

    The above things are difficult enough, and I have yet to find work. However, Thursday night we had class, and the evil one apparently saw his opportunity to throw me into deep desolation, to the degree that, except for the absence of mortal sin, I felt I was no further along in my Spiritual life than when I began this journey almost three years ago.

    When you spoke of the desolation coupled with peace, this is basically what I told a friend – I am really in trouble, but I am so happy to be here in this community. I am fighting this, but there is a peaceful component.

    You mentioned Sacramental participation, and that is exactly what I did following class, as I was not able to reach my Spiritual Director, went to Mass and sat with our Lord afterwards.

    My prayers continue for you and Debbie. Seeing you at Mass this morning seemed to confirm your sense of peace, and my prayers for success at the conferences and your safe travel were answered.

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    1. Hi Judy. You can count on my prayers.

      Just a practical suggestion….. I work for Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Roanoke and we hire several times a year- large training classes. Have you considered applying for Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Birmingham? You can find the careers link at bcbsal.org . I don’t know what kind of work experience you have, but BCBS offers in depth training and we often hire unskilled workers for customer service positions in Roanoke.

      Also, if your house is in good repair and you have 100% equity– have you considered both establishing a reverse mortgage and renting it out? Instead of selling it, that would give you 2 streams of income…. Just a thought.

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  2. Thank you for sharing some of what has happened to you and your team this week. I admire your fortitude and trust in God during the worst of the storm and your tenacity going forward against many odds to be a means of bringing spiritual blessings to the attendees of the parish event.

    It sounds like you have been through a spiritual testing that has been tailor-made for you at this time in your life. The good news is that God can use our experiences of His strength showing up in the storm to comfort others who are going through their own storm. You can say to them from experience, ‘you will make it through.’

    I am and will continue to pray for you and Debbie. I also pray that the financial situation will turn around for the better.

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  3. I saw this just as we were about to leave for a candlelight Advent Mass at our parish. So I tucked all these intentions in my heart and took them with me as I prayed in the dark Church tonight, my little son sleeping on my lap.
    Of course, Dan, the fact that you have caught the attention and the fury of the evil one is a good sign….all the while God is measuring and carefully watching the weight of your cross. Last year I was crushed by a suffering the seemed unbearable. Suddenly one day, out of the blue, I “knew” that I was being pressed like an olive in an olive press, and the the Lord was never going to be allow me to be “pressed” more than I could bear. AND that the oil taken from the “olive” would be blessed and used to anoint her family.
    I sure wish I could help financially; we are being tested financially as never before ourselves, and I am resigning myself to needing to look for full-time work as soon as our youngest starts school.
    I guess we all have our little storms.
    Joyful to be able to share mine with you, and that you trust me with yours.
    It is an honor to pray for, and with, all of you.

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    1. Dear Claire,
      I love the way you speak of God measuring and watching the weight of Dan’s cross. Thank you for sharing of your suffering, and the reminder that our Lord will never give us more than we can handle, though we often feel we can’t stand another second of it.

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      1. 1 Cor. 10:13
        “But God is faithful. He won’t allow you to be tempted more than you can bear.” I believe this is speaking to temptations and not trials is it not?

        If God didn’t give us trials that are more than we can handle sometimes, then we would be sufficient in ourselves and would not have need to call out to Him for help…it would be a reminder of how poor we are without Him. Thanks be to God!

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