“Offer up everything in your power!” (Angel of Peace to the children of Fatima).
One of my favourite treats in the whole world is a good old-fashioned piece of caramel slice.
Ever since I was a young girl when I bought my first piece, caramel slice became a sort of secret indulgence for me because it was the sort of thing that was so sickly sweet that if I ate just a little too much of it I would need to give myself a few years of abstinence before I could attempt it again.
Now, although caramel slice is sold in most bakeries and supermarkets around Australia, not caramel slices are created equal. Some are delicious and creamy and sweet with a biscuit base that is nice enough to eat all on its own and others are horrible, with gritty caramel, or overly sweet biscuit bases. The other problem with caramel slice, is that when you buy it from a shop it is generally at least twice as large a slice as it should be. And while I love eating it – I cannot eat a massive slice of that much sugar without feeling sick.
All of this means that I like to make my own caramel slice at home so that I know it will taste just the way I like to eat it, and also so that I will know that I can cut it up into smaller pieces so that it does not knock my socks off with all that sugar.
The only problem with homemade caramel slice – for me – is the ingredients. You see, most of the ingredients that I use to make it are staples in my pantry… flour, sugar, desiccated coconut, golden syrup, sugar, melting chocolate, butter. But the one thing that I do not really keep in the pantry at home is sweetened condensed milk. And the caramel in caramel slice is made of caramelised sweetened condensed milk.
Now I am not the sort of baker that plans my projects in advance. Usually, I feel an urge to cook something – or more correctly to EAT something – and then I turn to the pantry and use whatever I have at hand. This means that I usually cannot make caramel slice just because I want to eat it.
But, lucky for me, the other day when I was doing my grocery shopping, I grabbed a couple of cans of sweetened condensed milk, and the rest – as they say – is history… A few weeks later, when I felt the urge to eat it, I opened the pantry, got out the ingredient and the caramel slice was all made up and packed away in lovely little portions inside the fridge for the right amount of sugar-hit as desired.
As I was eating a piece of that caramel slice, I started to think about how important it is to have all the ingredients ready – both with cooking and (more importantly) FOR GOD!
You see, we must always be ready to face God, for He told us, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Matthew 24:36).
And it occurs to me that in many ways I am very ready and in others I am completely unprepared.
After all, there are staples in my “spiritual” pantry – so to speak. These – like the flour and sugar and desiccated coconut – take the form of Rosaries, Divine Mercies, novenas, Holy Mass, the Sacraments. In these areas I am fairly stable in my approach. I do the very best that I can with praying these prayers and receiving these sacraments as often as it is possible for me to do so. The practice of these “staple” things provides me with great comfort, and so it is not any great sacrifice or trouble to engage in them and I am mostly able to get these things done.
But then there are the other “spiritual” ingredients – like the sweetened condensed milk – that I do not often keep stored in my “spiritual” pantry. Sacrifice is the most obvious of these because sacrifice is the thing that I most often try to resist! And yet it perhaps the most important thing – to unit my suffering to that of Christ Crucified…
When Saint Faustina was going to suffer some great trial for the reparation of sinners, Our Blessed Mother would appear to her in advance, to prepare her for her future suffering, so that she would be strong enough of will to make her suffering a sacrifice by uniting it to the sacrifice of Christ! In response to such a warning, Saint Faustina would strengthen her will through voluntary offerings and sacrifices so that she would be strong enough – with the Grace of God – to endure the suffering He would allow her. And such sacrifices, for her, included, praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet or the Rosary with her arms outstretched. Or to atone for sins of pride she would pray prostrate, or for sins of greed she would fast…
The Angel of Peace – who appeared to the children of Fatima several times prior to the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima – saw them playing and said to them, “What are you doing? Pray! Pray a great deal! The Hearts of Jesus and Mary have designs of mercy for you! Offer prayers and sacrifices unceasingly to the Most High!” When the children heard these words, Lucia asked, “But how are we to sacrifice ourselves?” “Offer up everything in your power!” Was the reply…
Everything in your power. Everything in mine.
That is perhaps the most important ingredient of all… EVERYTHING… To offer up everything in my power for the reparation of sinners and the salvation of souls through Grace and united to the suffering of my Beloved on the Cross.
Everything in my power – for if I can offer up everything, then there is not ever any excuse about missing ingredients and I can love my Lord and God with ALL my heart and ALL my mind… Because when I can use EVERYTHING to sacrifice, what possible excuse for missing out is there?
For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.