Celebrating Being Alive by Henri Nouwen

Birthdays are so important. On our birthdays we celebrate being alive. On our birthdays people can say to us, “Thank you for being!” Birthday presents are signs of our families’ and friends’ joy that we are part of their lives. Little children often look forward to their birthdays for months. Their birthdays are their big days, when they are the center of attention and all their friends come to celebrate.

We should never forget our birthdays or the birthdays of those who are close to us. Birthdays keep us childlike. They remind us that what is important is not what we do or accomplish, not what we have or who we know, but that we are, here and now. On birthdays let us be grateful for the gift of life.

emphasis mine

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“Yes, my heart’s dear one, Jesus, is here with His cross. Since you are one of His favorites, he wants to make you into His likeness; why be afraid that you will not have the strength to carry this cross without a struggle? On the way to Calvary, Jesus did indeed fall three times and you, poor little child, would like to be different from your spouse, would rather not fall a hundred times if necessary to prove your love to Him by getting back up with even more strength than before your fall!”

— St. Therese of Lisieux

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“Salvation is not a magic act accomplished by moral behavior; rather, salvation is a gradual realization of who we are–and always have been–and will be eternally: children of earth and children of God, human and divine at the same time”

–Richard Rohr

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One of the most interesting (i.e., life changing) points in the first chapter of Pope Francis’ book, The Name of God is Mercy, is, that when we stand in the light of God’s mercy (and forgiveness) our shame becomes “a grace.”

 

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