Welcome to WINE’s Summer Book Club! We are reading and discussing Blessed Are You: Finding Inspiration From Our Sisters in Faith by Melanie Rigney. We’re so happy you are joining us! We pray this book club will bless you and give you tangible ways to live the Beatitudes in your daily lives. We look forward to hearing from you in the comments section, throughout our time together.
By Jill Mraz
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” (Matthew 5:8)
I struggle with impatience. I despise it, and yet, I feed it. I long for peace and purity in my heart, but in a moment of weakness, out of habit, I still toss hairy, old impatience a bone, which it devours noisily, gaining strength for the next onslaught.
Looking back, it’s easy for me to track the onset of this sin. Along with pride, its tireless master, impatience slunk in close on my heels just as I was being ushered in, by the grace of God, to motherhood. Slumping into corners to observe and record my weaknesses, they lurk about, waiting for opportune moments to present their foils. I have been trapped many times.
The irony in the impatience game is that the devil is relentlessly patient. But through the ensuing years, God has triumphed in even more patiently—and relentlessly—loving me. This is a story of coming to know the pure distillation of that love; born of the saint who knows it best.
My beautiful daughter is, without question, a gift from God. It is through her that I was brought back into the Catholic Church after decades of drifting. My confirmation at that holiest of vigils was a powerful pouring on of grace from the Holy Spirit, with inspirations and merciful forgiveness following in abundance.
My daily examinations, however, often recall impatience, particularly with my beloved daughter. I go to daily Mass, seek Confession often, feel humbled and relieved, and the next day I am yelling.
My dear friends offer consolation, saying, “I’m pretty sure I didn’t go around screaming at people before I became a mom.”
True for me as well, yet no matter how many times I am forgiven, my pride always rises, bearing a pulse and a grudge. Time and again I have put my head down. To pray, yes, but mostly to determinedly work at purifying my heart—this beatitude requires scrubbing action. Until recently, however, the surrender necessary for true change to enter in was lacking. My heart was still heavily guarded; undoubtedly by my hairy accomplices: Pride & Co.
All throughout May, inspirations and daily meditations about purity quietly presented themselves to me. Surprisingly, everything pointed to Mary. I must admit, I have always been a little wary of Mary and her Immaculate Heart. Not saddled with original sin, how is she a fair representation of purity? Little did I know of her courage and humility.
It was nearing the end of Mary’s month and I had scarcely given her more than a perfunctory hail. As such, I was caught completely off guard on Memorial Day to find myself, on my knees, in front of a row of blue votive candles crying out to the Mother of God to lend me her heart. There had been a blow up and the temptation to give up was great. I was clinging to my faith, terrified of losing it. If humility is knowing and acknowledging the truth about oneself, those minutes of sobbing and surrender, of letting Mary help me, were a profound gift in just that. Everything had led me to her and, in her perfect humility, her response was predictable and perfect. She pointed me to her Son and His overflowing mercy. Immediate recognition. On that memorable day, I finally came to understand Mary. She gave me the courage to say yes, to keep trying, to trust. I tore out of the church, racing home to my daughter, my heart bursting with gratitude for the love of Mary and Jesus and the chance to begin again.
Purity, like humility, stems from truth, knowing it and living it. To move toward purity then, we are called to acknowledge the truth about ourselves and even to accept our difficulties as a gift; a chance to purify our hearts. In surrendering completely to Christ and His immeasurable love, we allow Him to enter and scrub our hearts clean. Purity takes root, and the relationship deepens. We all know it is not very edifying to skip along on the surface of life, being casual with our behavior, words, and thoughts; certainly not with the truth.
As we dare to face the worst in ourselves, let us turn and open our hearts to the Immaculate Heart of our Blessed Mother, trusting that she will never fail to guide us always to the Sacred Heart of her Son and the purity He wants to instill in us.
Here is one of the gems I received recently which seems written just for me: “To you, O holy Mother of God, have we cried; for truly through you the help of the Lord comes to us.”
I am learning to be patient with my impatience, letting God take control and set the pace for healing. As I move forward on my path to purity, I pray I will stay, striving to see Christ in others until arriving, by God’s grace, to see Him one day.
To Ponder, Reflect, and Discuss:
- What is your relationship with Mary? When was the last (or first) time you reached out to her for guidance, consolation and courage?
- Where are you in your path to purity? Indifferent? Feeling it is unobtainable? Maybe hoping that God will just take you as you are, warts and all?
- Check the disposition of your heart at Mass. Are you open to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit? Do you beg Christ to purify your heart? Are you filled with pure gratitude after receiving Holy communion?
YOUR TURN: Below in the comments box, please share your thoughts, inspirations, and reflections on Chapter 6, and/or your responses to any of these questions.
About the Author:
Jill Mraz is a Catholic mother to one wonderful daughter. Residing in Minnesota, they enjoy summer road trips to either coast, marveling at the stunning beauty of God’s natural world. Jill writes poems and essays which reflect motherhood, childhood memories and her beloved Catholic faith. She is a contributor for WINE: Women In the New Evangelization.
Next week, we’ll cover Chapter 7: Peacemaking. For the complete reading schedule and information about our online book club, visit the Read Between the WINEs Summer Book Club page.
Although I rarely comment, I am learning much from the book, the reflections and the comments every Saturday. I’m so appreciative of this opportunity to be a member (albeit a silent one) of this book club.
Linda, I am so glad you are part of this book club and that it is blessing your summer. Whether we comment or not, having so many women reading, reflecting, and praying through “Blessed Are You” is something quite powerful and amazing. I trust that the Lord is using us in this book club for some good things. “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them” (Matthew 18:20).
Funny. I’ve been kind of aching for purity lately in prayer. And then I’ll see all the stuff of self centeredness and pride, which is answer to that prayer, I know. GOD IS SO GOOD AND QUICK! But then also the most gentle image. I like to imagine myself as a tabernacle light, staying close to Jesus and revealing Him however I may,His way. And He showed me all that “stuff” the impurities filtered out and being used to light the oil. So even the dark stuff of me He uses to burn and give light when I offer it up. How sweet is that? SO GOD.
What a beautiful insight, Michelle, that God revealed to you in prayer. He is SO good!
Michelle, thank you! Yours is a most beautiful image, which I will refer back to often when I am struggling. Thank you for this helpful insight ~
Wow! You could have knocked me over with a feather with this chapter! So timely in light of some issues that I have been dealing with in my life this summer. I do believe this is God’s timing. In Jill’s reflection, she hit it on the head with her comment about pride. As of late, I have been letting my pride get in the way of doing God’s will. Having been really looking at my life and seeing how my pride has been so hurtful not only to myself but to others. So much to let go of and let God take care of and to be open to doing His will not my will. So much reconciliation to do. I LOVE our blessed Mother and Saint Maria Goretti! Will go to them often for their intercession and help! Purity is an ongoing struggle, every minute of every day.
Jody, I love what you wrote,
“So much to let go of and let God take care of and to be open to doing His will not my will.”
I need to be constantly reminded of this. Thank you!
The section on Maria Goretti, was especially touching to me. To imagine she quickly forgave someone who had done something so awful to her amazes and inspires me. I have been struggling with forgiving someone who did far less.
Saint Maria Goretti pray for me. Pray that my heart may be filled with forgiveness. Pray that I may trust in God more, that His will may be done, not mine. Pray for all of our WINE book club members who are struggling with forgiveness.
Dear Mother Mary Pray for us. Pray that we may have hearts full of forgiveness.
As I go to mass, dear God help my heart to be filled with inspiration from the Holy Spirit. May the Holy Spirit inspire all of our sisters in faith here.
Amen, Connie! Beautiful prayer. I find myself thinking so often of Maria Goretti’s faith. How can I hold a grudge if a child could forgive her own murderer… talk about faith!
I feel the presence of the Holy Spirit as I weekly read Blessed are you! The discussions, along with the chapters, fill my heart with hope, peace, and love demonstrated by our saints. If we only take a bit and learn from it, practice it in our lives, boy thats what faith is all about. I am so blessed to be a part of this wonderful book club.
So happy to share, sharon