Wednesday, May 26, 2010

It's Ordinary Time!

It's that time again! Time to bust out the green vestments and get real...well...ordinary.

I do kind of love all things green. It's the hip term for eco-friendly these days. It's a great color for me (brings out my eyes ;) But you know what busting out the green means when it comes to liturgical seasons...

Yup, time for "Ordinary Time".

I still kind of can't believe that's really what we call it. In the words of G.O.B. Bluth...

When I went to Mass on Monday after Pentecost this week, both the priest and I had the same thought- we celebrate so many feasts with octaves and entire seasons in the Catholic Church, why doesn't the Holy Spirit get an octave?? (answer- the priest at this particular Mass said technically the Holy Spirit gets the whole year if we are open to It. Touche, Father. Touche ;)

The crazy whirlwind of the Spirit goes as quickly as it came. We are sent out! And magically whisked away too...

Ordinary Time.

To use another Wayne's World reference: "Or imagine, being magically whisked away to...Delaware. Hi, I'm in Delaware"

Not that there's anything wrong with Delaware! Or Ordinary Time! Let's be clear!

Actually we get quite a few feast days coming up these next weeks. I believe this coming Sunday is the feast of the Holy Trinity and then the Sunday following that is Corpus Christi.

Corpus Christi is often celebrated with a Eucharistic procession through towns and cities in many parts of the world. I know my favorite memory of that feast was when I went to Guatemala for the second time and we had such a procession through the village:

(You can kind of see Jesus in the monstrance under the canopy ;)

But I am getting ahead of myself! That is two weeks away. And as I've said before, nothing wrong with ordinary.

I've actually been making the most of my "ordinary time" (well, or will be. Technically, last week was last week of Easter, I suppose, but I digress) with a couple of mini-vacays.

Last week, two friends and I went to Florida and literally did nothing but lay on the beach, sit by the pool, eat, drink, and sleep:
And this week- tomorrow in fact- my roommates and I leave to visit our friends in LA (whom I visited and blogged about last year - man, I need some new material, Jesus! But I heart my friends ;)

In thinking about Ordinary Time vs "extra-ordinary" times, I was reflecting a bit on today's Gospel in which Jesus tries to bring the apostles up to speed before His Passion:

"Taking the Twelve aside again, he began to tell them

what was going to happen to him.

'Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man

will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes,

and they will condemn him to death

and hand him over to the Gentiles who will mock him,

spit upon him, scourge him, and put him to death,

but after three days he will rise.” Mark 10:32-34

They couldn't have understood what this meant at the time. Here Jesus is doing what we all kind of want Him to do, I think- tell us the future. But what could the apostles possibly make with this news?

And maybe it's like that with us. If Jesus could and did tell us the future, to hurry up and tell us all the extra-ordinary things right now- would we be able to understand without going through the ordinary events leading up to it? Probably not.

So I hold that thought with me as we enter into this ordinary time (in more ways than one ;) And trust it is preparing me for perhaps some of the extra-ordinary times in the future.



Saturday, May 22, 2010

Happy Birthday/Anniversary!

A week or so ago, I was gchatting with a friend about my woes (spoiler: same things I've been bemoaning for the past two years or so- why isn't God moving me to a new place, new job, new vocation, blah, blah, blah ;) and I was telling her about the novena I am doing to the Holy Spirit (which is now complete! Come Holy Spirit on this eve of Pentecost!)

She reminded me that Pentecost is technically the Birthday of the Church. I'm sure I've thought of this once before, but she says she's made it a point to celebrate each year in this light. Well, that sounded right up my alley, because I love a good party!

I know I'm whining and moaning about change and how I'm hoping for new and big things. And I'm constantly struggling to accept the ordinary. Truth is, this Pentecost- though it is the anniversary of a couple things for me and Jesus (leaving the convent, celebrating time in Guatemala, end of this novena, etc)- may not present anything big or new. I am praying that it does, but as many friends and I have discussed these past years- what if it doesn't? Are we going to be okay? How are we going to still use the gifts the Holy Spirit does bring ('cause He will bring them) even if they are not what we want?

Last night, I helped a friend sing for a young adult event. There was praise and worship Adoration and I was really looking forward to it. Praise and Worship Adoration was something that drew me close to the Eucharist in college, but I think because it often is a 'go-to' way to worship in youth ministry, I started to take it for granted. It became a standard way to worship, and sadly, wasn't new and conducive to prayer for me as it had once been.

After Adoration, there was the (often dreaded) 'young adult event' ;) Usually this consists of awkward mingling by young people (and those perhaps not exactly young as opposed to just single).

This event already proved to be a little different from my other experiences because it was $10 ALL YOU CAN DRINK beer, wine, and rail drinks! Why do not more young adult events do this! It makes them so much less painful :)

But it was also different because, though there was the typical mingling and live music (which my friend and I provided) there was also a talk that I was really impressed with about what young adult ministry should be as opposed to the stereotypes it often falls into (singles group)

The speaker-who was a youth minister in the Archdiocese of Baltimore and also an engaged man- identified that is no longer common for young people to get married in their early 20's right out of college. Many wait 'til their late 20s, early-mid thirties, even forties. For some of us, this may be a choice, some of this may be a call. And not everyone is called to marriage! By identifying young adults and young adult groups as simply people looking to meet a spouse, this isolates so many other people with different vocations and calls.

I think this is something good for my friends and I to reflect on as we celebrate the birthday of the Church. The Church is some 2000 years old! But Her identity is changing, as it always has. WE are the Church- young, old, married, unmarried, consecrated, confused-how are we going to be Church now? What is God calling us to be?

And if we don't know yet, how are we going to continue to serve the Church in the capacities we do have and know without getting discouraged?

I like to think I have my dreams and goals, but if those don't become realized, I am willing to go with God's alternative routes. I definitely get discouraged, but I have the hope that God knows me better and knows what will shape me. I can only hope that I am docile and open to the ways He wants to show me.

So I continue to pray this Pentecost for docility to the Spirit. I hope for change, but I mostly hope to see how I may serve the Church now and celebrate Her past and future on this anniversary/birthday.

Happy Pentecost! Come Holy Spirit!!!


Monday, May 17, 2010

The Waiting Game

"...he enjoined them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for 'the promise of the Father'
about which you have heard me speak; for John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”- Acts 1:4-5

"And behold I am sending the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city
until you are clothed with power from on high.”- Luke 24:49

I really wish Jesus would give me some new themes to work with. Waiting, Patience, Hope, Trust. I'm getting sick of talking about it, so I'm sure you are getting sick of hearing it. (Turns out, I've even used that exact line already! )

Jesus, give me some NEW MATERIAL! ;)

I've been waiting for something for about a year and a half now. It's been 2 years since I changed the direction I thought I was going, took me a few months to regroup, and now it's been a year and a half trying to re-direct. I have taken the steps I feel I need to take...just more waiting.

I know that this waiting produces fruit. I'm surprisingly getting much better at it. (You might be thinking, right, Julia. This is "getting better at it?" Whining on your blog again? ;)

There is almost a temptation now to settle into it so much so that I become indifferent. Indifference has always been the scariest thing to me. I don't want to become indifferent, I want to be passionate. I gots opinions...I want to express 'em! ;)

I know that sometimes it seems like the more we surrender, the more God gives and takes away. (Um, Job, anyone? That guy sure couldn't cut a break....)

I hold onto the hope that God has a plan, that all this is happening for a reason, that He is preparing a place...and His Word tells me that.

What we need is the Holy Spirit. Christ tells His apostles in this past Sunday's readings- stay put. Don't move. Until the Spirit comes. You will know.

I trust in this, even though every intelligent, rational bone in my body says not to (which may or may not make up that much of my body ;)

I'm sorry I'm being cryptic today. It's been a tough week of fighting for my Spirit. The devil wants it, I'm getting tired, but I want the Spirit to stir so badly. I want to hope.

I see the beautiful things that happen when we hope. But it is also tempting to see the people around me who haven't had to work so hard or wait very long.

In many ways, I haven't had to work all that hard or wait all that long either. I know I've been handed many things in my life. In some matters of the Spirit, things come easy to me. But lately, I have had to fight.

Hopefully, that means when the gift shows up, it will be all the more spectacular. I also hope I'm not missing the gift(s) staring me right in the face.

In the meantime...we play the waiting game. And we trust.

"...let us approach with a sincere heart and in absolute trust, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water. Let us hold unwaveringly to our confession that gives us hope, for he who made the promise is trustworthy." Hebrews 10: 22-23

Please keep me in your prayers :) I will keep you in mine as I finish my novena to the Holy Spirit this week.

ps- Something I have been waiting for for a couple of months now has finally arrived- VACATION! I am leaving for vacation part 1 of 2 tomorrow.

I will be the girl on the beach (with her sunscreen on! I'm no fool ;), a drink in her hand, a book (not related to my studies in any way!) in the other....

and a smile on my face ;)


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Come Again? or Ascension Thursday

Today is one of those lovely days in the Church where you are not sure what the liturgy is going to have in store for you:

Are we celebrating the Ascension?

Our Lady of Fatima?

Or Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter?

Didn't anyone ever tell the Church about triple-booking? Ms. Manners would surely frown on that etiquette!

I kid. But it can be a little confusing- which feast usurps the others? And can a feast really be usurped?

Well, Ascension Thursday is the fortieth day after Easter Sunday and the day Jesus ascended into heaven (after Resurrecting and coming back to reveal Himself to His disciples one last time). I believe it used to be a Holy Day of Obligation. But some feasts (which Ascension Thursday is one of these) have become "movable feasts" and they are celebrated on Sunday, perhaps so that more people can participate.

But the Archdiocese did not consult with me when they decided to invoke this movable feast thing. Humph. How am I supposed to do a novena between Ascension Thursday and Pentecost if we celebrate them a week apart? ;)

So I'm celebrating the Ascension today, in my little heart of hearts, and I will gladly celebrate again with the Church on Sunday!

Today is also the anniversary of our Lady of Fatima. It just so happened that this year, May 13th is a Thursday, which also just so happens to be the 40th day after Easter...I know, I know. I can't even remember which night American Idol is on, HOW are we supposed to keep up with all of this?

Pretty sure the Holy Spirit and Mary understand this. Mary gets the whole month of May, actually, but today is the anniversary (93rd, actually) of her appearance to three children on a hill in Portugal.

The Mass I went to this morning chose to recognize the anniversary and Father mentioned the event in his homily. Poor guy couldn't remember the boy's name, only the two girls' (it's Francisco. Girls=Jacinta and Lucia)

I love how Mary chooses children often to reveal her secrets to. I really do. It makes sense. Children have an innocence and trust. They somehow comprehend mysteries because they do not have the jadedness and doubt of adulthood. She also often chooses the poor. These kids were shepherd children.

**(Side note, but along the lines of Marian apparitions and miracles) My friend whom I mentioned recently who went to Lourdes (where the young Bernadette had an apparition of Mary) has received her Lourdes' miracle!!! A birthmother chose my friend and her husband to adopt her son!! It has been such a tough, but beautiful journey for them and I am overjoyed and in awe of God's timing and work in their lives**

Back to today's Mass, I mentioned Father recognized the Anniversary of Fatima at Mass, but we used the readings for the regular sixth Thursday in Easter. I almost laughed out loud at the Gospel today. Here's why:

It's another scene of Jesus kind of giving his apostles the run around. You just feel bad for the poor guys:

"Jesus said to his disciples: 'A little while and you will no longer see me, and again a little while later and you will see me.”

Um, excuse me, Jesus. Huh? What? Come again? A little while we will see you and then in a little while we won't but then...WHA?!

So not surprisingly, the disciples are all like: "What does this mean?"

And then Jesus kind of does his Jedi-Jesus mindtrick and says:

"Are you discussing with one another what I said, ‘A little while and you will not see me,
and again a little while and you will see me’?"

(How. Does. He. Do. It?!)

He then follows with: "Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.”

Um, okay. Still not totally clear. But it seems to end up okay. I guess we'll take it?

Jesus is funny sometimes.

But He totally has come through for my friend, G, and I am excited for all the ways the Holy Spirit is moving these days...even if it leaves me asking, "come again?"

'Cause after all... He said He would ;) And I'm banking on it. Come, Holy Spirit!


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Holy Spirit 1, Devil 0

So remember when we talked about how the Holy Spirit was on Its way?

That reading from John 14 is today's Gospel, reminding me that God is still doing His thing, things are still in the works, and I need to keep hope for those BIG things I am praying for.

Easter is not over! We are still in week 6! We should still be rejoicing!

See, but the devil hates this rejoicing business. And whenever we are hitting our stride, that's when he comes from behind Tanya Harding style and bops us in the knees (I couldn't bring myself to post a pic of Nancy Kerrigan screaming "whhhy!??" but isn't that how we feel when the devil hits us from behind? Outta nowhere! And wearing sequins and a bad scrunchie to boot...)

I have also written about the devil before. Even though I don't know why I give the thing the time of day, I still stand behind that it is important to acknowledge he exists, if only to remember that he is a bad mammerjammer. (And not in a GOOD "Bad like Michael Jackson" kind of way). He is constantly trying to keep us from the growth and conformity to God's Will we are striving for....not cool! What did we ever do to you, Satan? Huh?

On a total sidenote- My roommate Stephanie ordered this serpent-inspired beer when we went out the other night. I think she just ordered it because she thought the place where it is brewed is pronounced "Uni-brow", but it had a scary pic of the devil on it! He was like staring me in the face! How did he know I had just gone to confession? HOW. DOES. HE. KNOW?

Anyways, I am spending way too much time expounding on Lucifer when I am meaning to talk about the Holy Spirit and its movements these days.

When we think about the Holy Spirit do we think of the bird/dove descending over Jesus at His Baptism? Do we think of the tongues of fire? Or do we think of the "noise like a strong driving wind" (Acts 2:1-11)

All of these images are biblical ones we've been given to depict the Holy Spirit. I certainly have thought about the Spirit in all such ways through the years. But the way I'm thinking right now is the latter. A strong, driving wind all the way. A whirlwind even.

With the devil throwing his nasty thoughts at me as I seek to conform my Will to God's, I've got all kinds of things blowing all over the place c/o the driving wind that IS the Holy Spirit. But today's Gospel also tells us about Christ leaving us PEACE:

"I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you.
Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.

You heard me tell you, ‘I am going away and I will come back to you.’ If you loved me,
you would rejoice that I am going to the Father; for the Father is greater than I.
And now I have told you this before it happens,so that when it happens you may believe.” (John 14: 23-29)

This is such a beautiful passage that I keep coming back to. Father in his homily today spoke of the peace that God gives not being a peace where everything is coming together perfectly. And this kind of goes back to what I wrote about conformity last week. Peace in the spiritual life is not about everything coming together and handed to us a silver platter, but it is the knowledge and wisdom that the Spirit is there when everything is whirling around and when we are struggling. It is in the midst of this whirlwind of the Passion and Resurrection and Ascension that the apostles receive the Peace and Gifts of the Holy Spirit. So it is with us too.

So the devil can throw crowbars at us all he wants, and don't think he won't! He will try to destroy our peace. But we have an Advocate that is the Holy Spirit who wants to give us Gifts and Peace with Its strong, driving wind.

My friends and I are once again starting up a novena. If you remember, the one I did last fall up until Advent brought MUCH peace. Here's hoping the Holy Spirit will drive some peace our way again.

We will be starting the novena this Thursday- Ascension Thursday-and ending on Pentecost! Let me know if you want to join us and I can email you the document.

Oh! And I would, of course, be remiss and highly insensitive if I weren't to mention a HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY to all mothers reading this (I know my own mother does- Hi, Mom ;)

It's kind of overwhelming how many of my friends are mothers now. I am grateful for their witness and for being the "cool moms";) My friends who are moms still have a strong sense of self, despite their new additions to their lives, and that is something I admire and appreciate.

For more Mom's Day stuff: Catholic Chicks- A blog that I have submitted content for before- has a couple great posts/prayers on Mother's Day. You may want to check it out

Come Holy Spirit! Enkindle in us the fire of your love...and your whirlwind of peace ;)


Tuesday, May 4, 2010


What is the Secret to conforming to God's Will?
"It will be mine. Oh, yes. It will be mine..." - Wayne Campbell

Conforming with God's Will or Splitzies?

Another week gone by without blogging from me is- again- an indication I have either succumb to paper writing or am participating in actual human interaction. Whereas last week or two ago it was the latter, I am happy to say this time it was the former and I am DONE with my FIRST YEAR of grad school!

One down...let's hope not TOO many left to go!

I am trying to get the degree done ASAP and that's no lie. But sometimes, God throws things at us. You can wait and wait for something and then suddenly there's a quick change and God seems to ask you, "is THIS what you were waiting for? Here it is!"

I'm not speaking too much in my own experience right now. I will still probably be waiting a while to finish grad school. Don't think He's going to magically hand me a diploma anytime soon for 1.) God isn't magic for 2.) God isn't magic.

But I'm thinking mostly right now about my friend who I mentioned in a previous post who has been waiting for God's will in terms of children. She just found out a birthmother has picked her and her husband as the adoptive parents! My friend will be a MOM this Mother's Day!!

I cannot think of a more beautiful thing or more deserving people.

Waiting for what seemed like forever is now perfect- a month after they returned from Lourdes and a few days before Mother's Day.

It gives you HOPE, huh?

My spiritual director and I met after a couple months hiatus and I feel like a broken record just like I do on this blog sometimes. I'm like, "Father, just tell me what to do!"

"That's not how this works," he seems to tell me.

(And in the spirit of this clip that I'm obsessed with, I want to respond, "okay. But, splitzies?" ;)

We really focused AGAIN on discerning God's Will (you think I would be AH-mazing at that by now!) And recognizing that God doesn't hand us things on a silver platter. Sometimes He does and we all wish He would often, but a mature relationship in God is a partnership. He works on us and takes His time so that His will and our Will will be one.

I don't exactly like to think of conforming to God's Will because I'm a non-conformity kind of gal. Hearing about God working on us so that His Will and our Will will be one makes me think that He's like Wayne from Wayne's World or something: "It will be mine, oh yes, it will be mine"
(see above pic- I couldnt get Picasa/Blogger to work with me today. "Zang!" And I will submit that Wayne's World is one of the most quotable movies next to Mean Girls)

I mean, God doesn't think of us like that, right? We are not Excalibur?!

It hit me today in thinking about the beautiful things that are happening for a lot of people in my life right now, it does seem to be a lot about time and attitude. It's like, God gives us this preparation time and then He just opens up the possibilities and says, "you want it? you got it." And some of us jump at the chance. Others want to make sure it is right. And still others hesitate and let things pass us by.

Why does God give us the will to choose in the first place? Again, why doesn't He just hand us everything we need to know? When I was on NET, I gave a talk about Choosing Christ and opening our hearts up to Him. The line we would use to explain free will was to think about if you had a love potion you could give to whomever you would want to fall in love with you. It would feel good to have that person in love with you- for maybe like a day- but would you feel 100% knowing that you forced that person to love you with the potion? That they didn't choose you?

God gives us free will so that we have some power to choose and make things all the more meaningful. And yet, many of us wait around for things to fall out of the sky. And some of us try to control EVERYTHING. There has to be a balance between God's plan for us and ours, and this is where the conformity comes in, I guess. Ultimately, God's plan wins out if we let it. Because His plan is what is best for us. He can even work with our plans if we choose our own instead of His at times and go off track. He can use our mistakes and does. But He can't force us to do anything. That would be like doing magic or having a love potion and we've already established that these are not things that God does ;)

Though sometimes I know we really wish He would! I am wondering of late if God's Will could work a little like "The Think System". Ya, know- from the Music Man? If you think it, you can play it?

Is that also like the same thing that Oprah was pushing with the Secret? Do things really work like that?

Or is it about the NOT thinking so much and surrendering? I think it is a little of both.

God tells us over and over in the Bible, "If you ask, it will be given to you." But it has to be of our truly free will, and this is where we falter. We have our hidden motivations and timeframes. If we ask, we have to be willing to receive. And sometimes that doesn't always come in our time, in our way. He prepares us so we can know what to ask and to receive all the more fully and beautifully.

Congrats, G! I love you and am so happy for you!

Here's hoping we can see how beautiful God's plans are for each of us.