Thursday, April 30, 2009

Still Hoping...

So after a week of mediocre hoping and praying, today I finally felt a tiny glimpse of real honest-to-goodness hope in my prayer. Like today I actually believed what I have been writing these past weeks. I didn't get any new answers or insights, but just some peace. And when it comes down to it friends, that's all we really need. When God gives me peace about things, it makes my little self oh so much happier. It's the small victories.

Like today, I didn't swear at anyone on my drive into work :) Victory! And I didn't necessarily receive any new lights in prayer, but rather, some peace on the two main issues I've been praying for revelation about: ministry and vocation. Peace! Success!

No, folks, hope does not disappoint, as St. Paul says... Once we figure out how to actually give into the act of 'hoping' that is :) And the way I found it today was in surrender. Yup, no one likes to do it or admit that we are holding onto things. Even today I fought with myself to begin to give something over to Jesus, but He's shown me, as I've mentioned, ways He has come through in the past. So I said, 'Fine Jesus. I guess you can have (insert personal vocation ideology on what I should do with my life here).' Do I still have total and complete trust and hope in it? Not really. But if I keep surrendering it more and more each day, I do believe I will. And that is hope, I suppose.

St. Paul says it best (of course! :):
"Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access (by faith) to this grace in which we stand, and we boast in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance,
and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us" Romans 5:1-5.

I love St. Paul. He's not afraid to put it all out there, weakness and all. And he's got the good stuff about peace and faith in there too. So that's what I tried to do again with Jesus today- put it all out there. And I will keep on keeping on with the whole 'surrender=hope' thing to perfect it.

Which leads me to think...(I have to bring in 'Abandonment to Divine Providence' again!) Jean Pierre de Caussade writes: "Perfection consists in doing the will of God, not in understanding His designs"

Shoot. I truly did surrender all that understanding stuff a while ago, that's for sure.

Hope you haven't surrendered understanding this post! Hope it made sense! Until my next attempt at rationalizing and analyzing God's designs....


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Just Another Day Part 2

It really is "just another day" without Jesus- as incredibly cheezy as that sounds when I re-read that thought. But it's very true for me today. It's super nice outside and the sun is shining, and sometimes that alone will put me in a good mood. But today I'm driving and it's all trafficky and I'm at work (depending on the degree you love your job work doesn't need to be a downer, I suppose. Wish that were the case for me right now) and suddenly, before I know it, it's just another day.

That's why I'm grateful that this Gospel was today!! I read it last night before bed (trying to get back into a routine of lectio divina before bed, Mass and prayer in the morning. Who knew a routine could produce so much fruit? But seriously, when I'm without it, I turn into the Hot Mess that my spiritual director has to deal with...)
and anyways, I was so excited that today's Gospel is part of John 6's Bread of Life discourse:

"The crowd said to Jesus: 'What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you?
What can you do? Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written: 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.' So Jesus said to them, 'Amen, amen, I say to you,
it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven
and gives life to the world.' So they said to Jesus, 'Sir, give us this bread always.' Jesus said to them, 'I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst." (John 6:30-35)

I know I've blogged before about how much I love the Bread of Life discourse; there's just so much in there. But today what stood out for me was the fact that this is the message I want to bring to people. This is why I want to be in ministry, and that was good for me to be reminded of. This message that Jesus can satisfy our hunger just by Who He is, is sooo valuable! We need to bring that to people! And it's also probably, most likely the message I need to hear myself!

The people in this Gospel are asking Jesus for a sign (um, I pretty much have been asking Him for some everyday for the past year) and the sign He gives them is Himself. And the promise of Eternal Life. And the Eucharist to sustain us on earth. Hmmmm. Sounds like some serious signage to me. I just need to keep reflecting on that when I think that I am unsatisfied or do not have enough.

Another thing that inspired me in my desire for ministry today was a headline on the USCCB webiste today:

Hope that worked- sometimes I have trouble posting links on this blog. But anyways, it's a poll that was just taken by a common religious polling organization on people's faith practices. I was interested to see that teens who go to Mass regularly do retain their faith into adulthood. And also that the 'sex abuse scandals', while undoubtedly regrettable and tragic, are not driving people away from their faith necessarily. That is a message of hope, however, we need to show parents and teens that fact to be true, and help them to understand the importance of Mass!

I will work on that :) In the meantime, let's make it not Just Another Day and focus on the blessings and miracles God has already sent us.


Monday, April 27, 2009

Just Another Day

I couldn't resist another random song reference as a title! Those of you on facebook know that I currently re-discovered an early 90's classic when a band that played at Catholic Underground opened with this blog title's namesake! It was so random, but I knew the band was gonna be good if they could pull it off. And they were. Anyways, that was equally random...

I'm not sure what I'm going to write about (ugh- I know. I used to HATE when people would preface whatever came next out of their mouths with something like that: 'I don't really know anything about this topic, but...I'm going to give my opinion on it...' Hated that in undergrad and in formation classes. Shout out to Media Studies majors and the postulants! :) But I felt the need to write because I had a good spiritual direction session yesterday and I always seem to blog after spiritual direction :)

I had told one of my friends ahead of time that I was going to go into Father this week as a 'hot mess'. She dared me to use that exact phrase when he asked me how I was doing. So I did. He laughed. I'm glad he got the reference, though I'm pretty sure he doesn't watch Project Runway, where the phrase was re-coined for all of America to embrace. Anyways, he then went on to point out to me that I wasn't such a mess after all, which was even greater than him laughing at my cultural reference!

We talked a little about hope, which is no surprise since many of these blogs have had that very virtue as their theme. He made a good point- not many people pray for the virtue of hope. We often pray to increase the virtues of love/charity, or faith.

But he pointed out that if we have hope (and perhaps the Holy Father also made this point in Spe Salvi. Probably. It's been a little while since I read it though) faith and love spring from that. So it is so essential that we pray for the virtue of hope. And hope is also one of the hardest virtues to acquire- especially in our culture, since hope and trust go hand in hand- and no one seems to really trust others anymore.

I was also praying last night the Glorious Mysteries (as we often do on Sundays! Especially during Easter!) and I was praying about the virtue of hope with the Ascension. It seemed odd to me that this is the virtue we are to pray for while saying that mystery, because of how confused and sad the apostles must've been when they saw their Lord leave them. Were their first thoughts those of hope?

The Ascension has come up a lot for me lately, and appropriately so since we are approaching that feast in these days. It is true, though, that in the most difficult times we have to hope. Because there's nothing else we can do, really. When the disciples watched the Risen Christ return to Heaven, they probably were sad and overcome, but they had to hope that He would keep His Word as He had before, and that the salvation and promise of Heaven would be greater than any distraught feelings they felt now.

I know I've made similar statements recently-that we have to trust and believe that something unimaginable may be in store for us. My spiritual director confirmed for me yesterday that this is the path I'm on right now. To pray for perseverance and patience, but also for hope. For we, as the Holy Father declared to us a year or so ago (and St. Paul before him! :), we really are Saved in Hope.

Hope's all we gots, people! Otherwise it's Just Another Day (you were wondering when I would tie that all in, weren't you??) And isn't easy, but it's the stuff. I'm hoping I'll still feel this way by the time I post my next blog :) Until then...


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tell Me Something Good

It wouldn't be a blog of mine without referencing a random old school song. This subject title is a Rufus and Chaka Kahn song written by Stevie Wonder. It's a little something my roommates and I like to sing to ourselves when we are trying to find meaning to our mundane lives: "tell me something good...."

I had a mix cd on in my car this morning that one of said roommates had made me, and when this song came on, I thought of singing it to God: "Tell me something good!" Because lately, it seems He's just met me with a lot of rejection. I can't go into details on the blog, but you all know that it's been a rough year, and those of you close to me know the rejection I've been facing these past few months in particular.

It is my birthday today- 28 years! And usually by this time of April, the sun is out and we have been having relatively beautiful days for a while. This year, April's been out of control with the rain, and today its another cool, rainy day. "Tell me something good", God! Rain? Couldn't I even get a little sun on my birthday?

I am not, generally, an optimistic person. Mostly because I like to think I am a very realistic person. I want to be efficient and practical and for everything to have purpose. And I am real about the fact that sometimes the optimistic view is not always real.

But lately I have to be optimistic in my realism, if that makes sense, and I know the two can coexist. I have to believe that within the negative there is a positive purpose, and believe that can be real. It's hard for me to trust this and believe in something that is uncertain, especially an idea that has not yet presented itself as necessarily good.

So, for example, when I saw that it was raining today, my initial thought was: "Really, God? Rain?" but then I realized (and this is going to sound silly and possibly over-analytical, but that's how I roll) that my allergies weren't as bad today, perhaps because of the rain. Stay with me made me see that initially we are sad for the rejection, or the negative outcome of something we had hoped for. But the outcome could be protecting us from something more negative. And we have to trust in this.

Anyways, I questioned myself driving in the car thinking all of this because it really goes against my nature. I thought: 'oh great, am I becoming the person I can't stand? The 'turn that frown upside down' optimist? Am I going to greet everyone with a positive anecdote each time they share something with me? Maybe. But I've always been about balance, so while God might be working on the optimist in me, I'm sure I'll still bring my sassy, realistic edge to things. I have to believe that, anyways, right? Look at me...already getting good at this positive spin on things :)

The world certainly is very realistic, but our faith is rooted in hope. So let us continue to hope together, 'cause that's all we can do! And all the Lord asks of us, really- trust in hope.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Risen from the Dead

"...While they were puzzling over this, behold, two men in dazzling garments appeared to them. They were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground. They said to them, 'Why do you seek the living one among the dead? He is not here, but he has been raised. Remember what he said to you while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners and be crucified, and rise on the third day." (Luke 24: 3-?)

Well, this Easter was probably the most anti-climatic ever for me. I know, I know. How can I say that? The Paschal Mystery is the definition of excitement and drama! And I usually try to engage actively in it. I retreat on Good Friday and then eagerly await Easter Sunday after a day of waiting 'in the tomb' with the Lord. This year, however, I was super sick and made it to services Holy Thursday and Good Friday, but only like half of the Easter Vigil, with not too, too much reflection in between. I was trying to unite my physical sufferings with Christ, and thought for sure I was just 'dying with Christ' and would emerge the Lord renewed and refreshed "from the grave" on Easter Sunday. Just goes to show what I know.

Easter Sunday was my sickest day yet! I could barely move off the couch, and I couldn't even make it to Mass. It was so sad because I was- this year more than even maybe last- ready to emerge! Ready to resurrect after this long and trying year! Isn't this what liturgical seasons are for?! To give us a roadmap to experience with Jesus?

Well, God's plan definitely continues to stump me. I kind of give up at this point (though I am feeling better- finally!) on what God's plan for me is. Everytime I think I have it figured out, he throws me this curve ball, like He did this weekend with my health.

Anyway, in finally feeling better, I am finally able to reflect a little on the Easter Gospel. Each account is slightly different in what it reveals, but I liked the dialogue from the angels in Luke, so I chose that one (for those of you in my women's group who are coming tomorrow, you may hear some of this again :)

The words of the angels to the women make me stop and reflect for myself: 'am I looking for Jesus among the dead? Am I looking at Him in old ways? Why am I looking at Him from the past? Don't I know I can't possibly know what He has for the future?'

It's true that God often works with us in patterns- that's what we see throughout the Old Testament and why it's an essential part of our faith. We see the way God worked in the past, but could never have completely anticipated the ways He worked through Jesus. Like I said in my past blog, He leaves us clues, but like the women in this Gospel- they come expecting one thing, and are completely blown away by the promise of the future.

But then the angels tell them to 'Remember the words He told you'. As I have also blogged about, there are promises Jesus has made to us. What are some of those words that He's promised me that I should be remembering instead of looking for Him among the dead??

Well, I'll let you know if I figure that out. Right now I'm still in the questioning stage. I'm kind of like Peter at the end of this Gospel. He runs back to see what the women are talking about, but still doesn't get His answers just yet.

I've definitely learned the past week the only place to look is up! So I am going to try to seek Him among the living and not the dead this Easter season. Good thing the Easter season is 50 days long! I can make up for the past few :)

Happy Easter! I haven't even gotten a chance to really say it yet- Alleluia! He is Risen!


Thursday, April 2, 2009

'JustLove' Radio Show

Here is a link to the show I was on yesterday. I am the last guest, so hang in there! I'm there! :)


So this builds a little bit off of what I prayed and posted about the other day.

Today's Gospel has the disciples wondering about what in the world Jesus means about eternal life. He tells them that those who follow Him will live forever, but they know that the holy men before them- Abraham, Moses, etc.- are 'dead'.What could this man be talking about!?

But we- His disciples today- know what He means. It's the whole hindsight, after the fact thing. I was just talking with a friend from NET last night about how I've had many moments like that in my life; the whole experience(s) of NET and religious life being two of them. Hindsight, they were truly blessed experiences that helped shape me, make me who God has created me to be. But at the time I was think..."really?? THIS is what you wanted me to do God???"

We as humans, we want to put the clues together NOW. This is why Faith and Science often butt heads in our culture. We want to put the clues together to find the revelation ourselves. But God does things different, and He wants to do things for us. He gives us the clues- like His telling His disciples over and over again that He is the Messiah- and THEN gives the full revelation of His Resurrection. This is why we can look back at the 'NET' or 'convent' moments of our lives and say...'OH! THAT'S what He was doing'. The clues are there to add to our faith and belief in the revelation...albeit after the fact. But then we can believe the revelation for what it really is because we go back and see the clues He gave us all along.

Does this way of going about things make much sense to us? Probably not. Because we are human and logical and practical. God is supernatural and mystical! But I believe that if we pray and learn His unique patterns and BELIEVE enough, we can better anticipate His movements......does that make sense?

Anyways, that really doesn't help too much, I know, because if you are like me, I don't want to wait for the revelation! I too just want to put the pieces together NOW! But how could the disciples possibly even have imagined what He meant by the Resurrection??

So too (maybe, just maybe!) God is planning something UNIMAGINABLE for us.

There's your message of hope for the day! (You will also notice I had the 'revelation' to change my blog layout :)

Love you all!