violette

violette
Heart's ease - an infusion was said to help mend a broken heart

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Be who God meant you to be...

Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire

The opening words of the Bishop of London's homily at yesterday's wedding captured my attention. You see, I had heard something like this quote from St Catherine of Siena many times before...

Be who God meant you to be...
I used to hear this a lot as a novice. Become fully, truly, authentically, the woman God created you to be, that's what my novice director used to say. Become fully, truly, authentically the loving, gifted, generous, gentle, passionate woman God created you to be; deepen your spirituality, use your brain, develop your creativity and explore and reclaim the depths of your latent gifts and positive attributes.

Some people may be surprised to read that she said this; there is an image of religious life and formation as being repressive or constricting, more concerned with conformity than creativity. The fear of this keeps a lot of people from considering religious life, when, in fact, the opposite is true (or at least, has been for me): far from being constricting, religious life has in fact freed me, to become more truly, authentically, me. Having said that, I will add that, yes, a certain amount of conformity is, of course, required: after all, you cannot live selflessly and happily in community whilst being too "unique" and only concerned with doing your own thing. (Or at least, you can live happily, but only until the community lets you know you're being a pain!!) And in fact, later in his homily the bishop spoke about the need for selflessness in relationships, which applies equally to religious as to married life: -

A spiritual life grows as love finds its centre beyond ourselves. Faithful and committed relationships offer a door into the mystery of spiritual life in which we discover this; the more we give of self, the richer we become in soul; the more we go beyond ourselves in love, the more we become our true selves and our spiritual beauty is more fully revealed.

So true selflessness, pursued for truly selfless reasons, doesn't stifle - it enhances. This is the paradox Jesus presented us with: the more we lose of ourselves the more we gain. The more that we give of ourselves in love, the more we grow into people who are fully human, fully loving, fully alive. And fully fulfilled. Just a pity that it is so difficult to achieve... (but that isn't a reason to stop trying..!)

...And you will set the world on fire...
My novice director never mentioned fire raising, though. And I would certainly have raised an eyebrow or two at the thought of the whole world being set on fire by my puny efforts. But, thinking about it, it occurs to me that someone who is deeply, delightedly in love will certainly light up the world around them - we all saw that at yesterday's wedding. Likewise, a person who is fully themselves, fully who God meant them to be, cannot help setting at least their own world on fire. Those people I have met who have truly become who God created them to be radiate something positive, something undeniably good and divine - and it's catching. It is a fire burning within them, and - in so many different ways - it lights fires in those with whom they come into contact.

It's certainly something to aspire to, whatever our choice or way of life.


I know a few people who are discerning and deciding their futures, who, even as I write, are reflecting and making choices. This post is for you (you know who you are!). Whatever you choose, wherever you opt to go, just have this aim: to become fully the lovely person God created you to be... and you will, truly, set your world on fire.

8 comments:

  1. Thank you Silvana. This post is so inspiring. Jesus is the most amazing person I have ever met and he never stops showing and teaching me new things. He doesn't even mind if I get it wrong sometimes. He just wants me to do my best and to love him. Isn't that great? We can truly be the best we can be and be who God created us to be at any given time in our lives. It doesn't matter that we aren't perfect just as long as we are being truthful and giving it everything we have. Just because of that great mercy I want to live for him and only him.

    Thank you for your wisdom and encouragement.

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  2. And just remember that by doing that and giving it everything you've got, you'll definitely set your world on fire!

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  3. All my life I have waited to hear someone say these words to me and now someone is: Jesus my Beloved! Thanks for these wise and beautiful words of your reflection. I feel like He is creating me anew every day as I discover who He is and so who I am. It's like Wills and Kate telling the world how much in love they are and giving to one another their love and trust. Every day Jesus says: I love you, just be yourself. But never stop trying to discover more about who you are... Thanks again for your inspiration love and prayers Karen xxx

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  4. Thanks - keep enjoying and participating in God's creative process in you!

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  7. Thank you Jackie - the encouragement of "strangers" is always appreciated!

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