Virtue of Poverty Part 3
TESTIMONY of Lilian Giraldo
JESUS VISITS MY HEART
VIRTUE OF POVERTY
In the fourth week of our 2020 Lenten retreat, I had an enlightenment of sorts. I woke up one morning with great clarity about my wounds, took a notebook, and wrote sheets and sheets of them all. I was able to name each one and write down the lies and tendencies that stemmed from them. One wound, in particular, came to me with its disordered desires included.
Before going into it, I would like to comment that the Lord has healed me a lot in this wound because I no longer react from the flesh but in His Love. I react from compassion and charity, knowing that my parents were also wounded and their parents too, and so on. God desires to restore humanity wounded by sin, and through this process, He has not only healed me, but He has also healed them. The Lord is doing wonderful work in my parents, and my soul moves in love and much gratitude to our Lord for it.
This is the wound: It is called “I lost my voice.”
Description of the wound: I experienced abandonment, neglect, rejection, violence, fear of being unprotected, and insecurity. I grew up as a very quiet child, adolescent, and young woman who could not express my feelings, worries, frustrations, and fears. I learned to live my pains in silence and solitude.
The lies that stemmed from this wound are: No one listens to you, you have nothing important to say, no one cares about you, fend for yourself, be strong, don’t complain, don’t cry, you have to be someone in life, so you don’t depend on a man or anyone.
Tendencies from the wound: It bothers me that they don’t value what I do, that they ignore me, that they reject me, that they don’t recognize me, that they don’t listen to me, that they ignore my look when I talk to them.
Related disordered desires: I desire to be admired, recognized, seen, flattered, noticed, applauded.
In that same Lenten retreat in 2020, the Lord let me know that he was crucified for me. It was very painful and revealing. It was a very real and personal experience. The knowledge we have of this was really embodied in me.
During one of the retreat talks, Lourdes and Father Jordi spoke to us about Envy and Pride. I remember thinking “pride yes”; in fact, many times I have confessed it, but “envy no!” and when we were taught to all the unpleasant things that came out of it, I thought that I could suffer from it much less.
These are the things we were told that a person feels in whom envy dwells in his heart:
· Envy is a hidden reservoir of ingratitude and resentment that secretly applauds the downfall and sorrow of others.
· The envious person becomes resentful if he perceives that his peers receive preferential treatment.
· He attacks others through slander or gossip.
· Brings tension in families or communities.
· It pits the person against God’s will.
So, after hearing this, I said to myself: no, not envious! And here, the Lord was beginning to show me my false identity.
The Lord has taught us that we have all made ourselves into someone we are not and that “The Simple Path to Union with God” leads us to find the truth of who we are.
I was then receiving the gift of deep self-knowledge in this regard. And here I would like to share the following from pg. 45 of The Simple Path to Union with God - volume I:
“The soul that receives the gift of self-knowledge and sees the hardness of its heart comes to a decisive point: it accepts this gift, or it remains in darkness. Receiving the gift of self-knowledge hurts; it feels like a sting.”
Well, it took me almost a year more to accept this deep self-knowledge. The Lord continued to dig subtly in my heart, and in a recent accompaniment, he enlightened my companion so that we could deepen our understanding of Identity, and I heard from her this phrase: “The process of our sanctification consists in the process of the healing of our identity.” Then, I began to ask the Lord in every rosary, in every holy mass, in the daily routine of my daily life, and in the precincts of my heart, to restore my identity in Him, to heal me of my disordered desires and the fears that paralyze me. And it happened that the Lord showed me envy again and specifically with a person very close to my heart: my husband. Consequently, the rejection was stronger towards this feeling. The Lord was bringing it out, and I wanted to submerge it again in the depths of my heart. It could not be! Me, envious? And of my husband! No! I had built a false identity.
The Lord was showing me the hardness of my heart, and I began to recognize it.
At first, I said to myself: it is jealousy, but then I began to recognize that I was envious of my husband. And this truth was affirmed to me in an accompaniment. I had to take it to confession, and I began to experience a very strong spiritual and physical struggle.
God sent me to a good priest, determined and strong-willed, who helped me, confessed me, and freed me! So much so that a few days later, I had a dream of a rat running scared back and forth inside a sewer; many people around the sewer saw it; then it came out of there with its eyes sparkling with anger and ran through a green, sunny field full of beautiful trees with shiny leaves. It was envy, and it was looking for a way in. I was not afraid. In its attempt to return to the sewer, the rat jumped on me, but the jump was short; it collided with my chest and vanished. It no longer had a place in my heart, God had occupied it, and my heart after confession was like an impenetrable wall made of the purity and love of God.
The rat was big because it was fed, not only by my envy but by the envy of all of us who were in that field. It no longer dwelled in our hearts because God, with his light, uses this testimony to enlighten and give self-knowledge to many souls.
Why did it take me almost a year to accept this profound knowledge?
Here I must refer to the homily of Pope Francis on Ash Wednesday, February 17, 2021.
The first words of the homily moved me deeply:
“We hear an invitation that arises from the heart of God, who with open arms and longing eyes pleads with us: ‘Return to me with all your heart’ (Joel 2:12). Return to me.”
After feeling my heart tremble with these words, I felt the Lord’s call to continue living the Simple Path to Union with God with perseverance, transparency, constancy, and gratitude.
Although I have accepted this marvelous call to be His victim soul of love and to allow myself to be transformed in His very love, I recognize that I have lacked much more dedication. As the Holy Father tells us in his homily, I have lacked to silence the exterior and interior noises to enter into silence, contemplation, vigilance, and stillness of soul, and to spend hours and hours at the silent cathedra of our God on the Cross.
In his homily, the Holy Father speaks to us about wounds, vices, fears, hypocrisies, duplicities and confronts us with a series of questions. All this teaching of Ash Wednesday has been given to us by the Lord on our Path, in depth, week after week and month after month, in the silent, dedicated, and prayerful job of Father Jordi, Lourdes, Father Ron, and Mary through her songs made prayer and contemplation. The path that the Lord has given to our community is a true gift to the Church.
The purification of our disordered desires consists in recognizing that the Lord is taking us to a deeper level of purification, as He tells us in message 63 of the Simple Path of January 16, 2014 - Volume 1:
“The purification of your desires is the first stage of purification in My Sacred Heart ... You choose to live each day according to what is more difficult and not what is easiest. This will require a greater discipline of your will, a greater silence and stillness of soul in Me.”
When we are being purified at this deeper level, we need silence, contemplation, going before the Lord, and surrendering our misery to Him. All this takes time, work, discipline, will, and we must choose to praise, surrender our misery, thank and bless.
These words of the Lord through the homily of the Holy Father make great sense to me on this path of purification.
The Lord has taken me into the purifying fire of his heart. This process of circumcision takes time, it is difficult, but accepting it, I have accepted the call of the Lord, I have heard his voice, I have received his visit in my heart, I have decided not to stay in the darkness and see the hardness that is in it. And to the question, "What do you want from me, Lord?" He answers me, “Your misery.” It is the only thing I have to give him.
Through the circumcision that the Lord works in my heart, He frees me from sin (envy), crucifies my disordered desires (desire to be seen, recognized, applauded, flattered, etc. ...), and allows me to live in intimacy with Him, uniting my pure pain to His on the Cross, to Him, who is the great forgotten, ignored, rejected, disregarded, unloved.
As the same reading of the Path refers to us on pg. 44: “The soul needs courage to admit its sins and the wounds caused by them and to go to the root of both.”
Courage is one of the five little stones that the Lord has given us on our path, and with it, I must struggle, allowing the Lord to continue to unveil all the misery and darkness of my heart. To enter into my identity in Christ is to recognize this darkness, to surrender it to Him, to love myself this way, and to show myself before Him as I am.
The Lord desires that we accept ourselves in THE TRUTH because in my false identity, I had created a false image of what it was to be a saint, and if I recognized the feeling of envy in me, I ceased to be that false saint that I had made myself. God had mercy on me and, in his infinite goodness, visited me and showed me my darkness and my sin, stripped me of that false garment, tore out the root of envy, restored my identity, and pointed me to the path to true holiness. I recently heard from a great priest that the capital sins are the roots of every sin. Glory to God for this circumcision process that the Lord is working in my heart.
The most beautiful thing is that through this process, the Lord has introduced me to the virtue of poverty because my heart is no longer full of me but of Him. For this, I can only be grateful. To thank God for this Path made flesh in each one of us and for each of my brothers in the community who walk together with me, encouraging each other to let ourselves be found by the Lord to reach true holiness, which is the perfect union with Him.
I was thinking of ending my testimony here, but I cannot help but add the following:
It had been almost a month after I shared this testimony to my Love Crucified community in one of our weekly meetings when I heard an edifying homily on March 18, 2021, from the Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Pierbattista Pizzaballa in which he said:
“The Apostle Peter would have preferred, perhaps, to forget his own betrayal; but the Lord seems to tell him that it is not his sin that is most important, but the relationship with Him, and that this relationship, if Peter accepts his own POVERTY, will never go away... There is no sin so great that it can hinder God’s desire to meet us. At that moment, here [Peter’s Primacy - Tabgha, Israel], Peter was born again and is reborn poor, humble, merciful because he no longer has to pretend before anyone. But only to be thankful.
Glory to God!
Reflecting on the homily of the Holy Father for Ash Wednesday, Lilian read:
"There is an invitation that comes from the heart of God, who with open arms and eyes full of nostalgia pleads with us: « Turn to me with all your heart» (Jl 2,12). Come back to me."
Lilián tells us: I found the Holy Spirit telling the whole Church what The Lord has been teaching us through the Simple Path and the cenacles, week after week and month after month, for all these years.
This led me to ask myself a series of questions taken from the same text of the homily with which the Lord confronted my heart to start this Lent ... I am sure that each one can ask even many more questions and reflections. I share mine with much love.
1. How many times have I said tomorrow, Lord, tomorrow? Tomorrow I will begin to enter into my heart; Tomorrow, I will place myself before you in the Most Holy. Tomorrow I will contemplate you on the Cross.
2. Towards which direction is my heart oriented? Towards "You" or towards my "self"?
3. Lord, have I turned off the noises of the world and the noises of my heart to enter into silence and heed Your call?
4. What do I live for? To be praised, preferred, recognized, or held in the first place?
5. Am I struggling with, or am I complacent with my hypocrisies or duplicities?
6. Do I find it hard to leave my Egypt? Do I long for my past and temporary Glories?
7. Have I worked on my attachments, vices, false securities of money, and appearance? Have I unmasked all these illusions? Have I bared my soul before You?
8. Do I mourn and suffer to the point of paralysis? Or, do I suffer as ONE with You in Your Sacrifice of love?
9. How long is it since my last confession?
10. Have I come to You to be healed of my spiritual illnesses, of my ingrained vices, and of the fears that paralyze me?
11. Do I present my wounds to You? Do I ask You to heal me?
12. Have I returned like the leper whom You healed, to thank You for having healed me of my leprosy?
13. Do I implore Thee, Holy Spirit? Have I rediscovered the fire of praising Thee?
14. Do I understand that the Path is not based on my strength, my abilities, my merits, but in embracing Your Grace?
15. Have I understood that what makes us righteous is not the justice we practice before men but the sincere relationship with You?
16. Do I recognize that I need Your Mercy and Your Grace?
17. Do I understand that what You desire in this Lent (in the Path You have given us) is a humble abasement within ourselves and towards others? It is not an ascent to Glory but an abasement out of love.
18. Have I gone before the Cross? Do I spend hours before Your silent chair?
19. Do I look at your wounds? Do I recognize my emptiness in your wounds? Do I recognize my faults, the wounds of sin, the blows that have hurt me?
20. Do I kiss your wounds? Do I kiss your feet? Do I allow myself to enter into your Sacred Heart? Do I let myself be watched by You?