Monday, May 28, 2012

The Holy Fire

I have made it known that Pentecost is one of my absolute favorite feast days.

These past two weekends surrounding the Ascension and the aforementioned feast (aka the end of the Easter Season!) have found me with some of my favorite people and appreciating the way the Spirit works through people in my life.

So let's start with last weekend, shall we?

It should come as no surprise that last weekend found me at one of the many weddings I have been invited to. This time, it was a friend through my friends in Leesburg during my youth ministry days (though my friends themselves are not necessarily affiliated with youth ministry and this makes me kind of love them even more ;)

My friends that I made the road trip to PA with for the wedding. These girls know how to do a roadtrip. We sang for four hours straight!

The wedding was different than the traditional church ceremony followed by post-church ceremony cocktail hour and country club reception. It was very unique and true to the couple- simple and family focused.
It was held at an outdoor pavilion in the middle of small town PA...

They even had a school bus come pick us up from the hotel to take us there! Adorable.

There were sooo many laughs and good stories from that weekend, but my favorite (and to tie this all back to the subject at hand) involves the Holy Spirit.

After the reception, one of my friends and I rolled into a Sheetz to get some bottled water for everyone (after an open bar, hydration is KEY, people...). As soon as I walked in, one of the security guards zoned in on me. I thought he was going to interrogate me on where we had been and where we were going, etc, etc, but instead he asked me a simple question:

"Do you have the fire?"

My response: "I do!"

It was almost like renewing baptismal vows... except it wasn't really like that at all. But almost?

My friend (who is Jewish) was just amazed that I knew what the heck the dude was talking about...of course, he was talking about the Holy Spirit! He went onto tell me that he could tell I had "it" and that his pastor wasn't well and I left telling him I would pray for his pastor.

So when the feast of Pentecost rolled up this Sunday, I thought of that security guard and "the fire" that is inside of us because of the Holy Spirit and our baptism.

I spent this feast of Pentecost with two of the same friends I had gone to the wedding with last weekend. They were hosting a Memorial Day BBQ (2nd annual! :) and I made the trip down to Richmond to be there.

While I was there, I went to Mass where my friend who was ordained in Richmond last year is currently "stationed" and was privileged to witness him say Mass. I had been to his FIRST Mass after he was ordained, but this was my first time at a Mass where he was presiding since then. It is still so stinking cool to have someone you know well preside over a Mass!

He gave a great homily that was both community focused as well as academic. I very much appreciated it. He spoke of how we aren't so far removed from the early Church community, it's just that we aren't nearly as united as they once had to be: ONE faith, ONE baptism... Their new faith brought the early Church members together and unified them despite persecution from practically everyone else. Today faith and persecution tend to drive us apart. I thought he made really good points and I love when homilies focus on the message and core teachings of the Church instead of just politics or whatever entertaining story the priest thinks the congregation wants to hear.

I went out to lunch with Father B. afterwards (and had the best Nutella crepes EVER, omg!!) and it is always so great to catch up with him when I'm in Richmond.

In between the Ascension of last weekend and the Pentecost of this most recent weekend, I got to also spend time with some of my closest friends from my days at CUA. It was a great evening, but unfortunately, an event we wish we didn't have to come together for...again. (here is where I mention our friend Dan battling leukemia for the FIRST time...) Our dear friend Dan has had another run-in with leukemia, though he is in remission (again). We all came together for a happy hour and auction in which the proceeds went to helping out he and his wife with cost of treatments. It was beautiful to see my friends come together for this, and it was a spectacular reunion of sorts, again, we just wished it could've been under different circumstances.

But my reflection this week is on how the Spirit is moving through my encounters and I pray to be ever more in-tune to where He is moving...

...I'm happy to say He will be moving for only 6 MORE teaching days at school, however! YESssssssssss!!!!!!!

Come, Holy Spirit!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Tempering Temperament

So lately I've had a few conversations about introversion vs extroversion. I, personally, am pretty much an ENFJ on Myers Briggs, but I have noticed over the past 2 years since I've been teaching, my need for introversion has sky rocketed.

So I am coming to terms with this introverted side of me and suddenly so much makes sense! The above picture really says it all...after talking to 100+ people on the regs each day now in school, on the weekends I am FINE with talking to about 2 at most. Enter, my introvert.

For my birthday, my friend gave me a book she had been talking about in our prayer group and it is also helping me understand my introverted temperament:
It is based on the idea of the Four Temperaments which I actually know of because of an online dating site (ick...) but I have found that I am a pretty split down the middle "Choleric-Melancholic." This book is helping me unpack what that means and I wish I would've unpacked it some of it like 15 years ago! Could've saved me some headache in my teens and twenties for sure!

The idea behind these 4 temperaments and really ANY of those "personality" tests is to help us better understand ourselves and one another. I am aware and weary of people taking these tests and labels way too much to heart. I am also grateful for my experiences in college and actually living in community where I learned that "not everyone thinks like I do" the hard way...

But seriously...would've saved me some energy to have had this book a little sooner!

I don't want to be incredibly self-indulgent and just go on about my temperament, but if you are reading this blog, you are probably someone who cares about me and probably already knows some of this stuff anyways :)

And with that being said...back to me :)

Apparently, the Choleric is extroverted, a natural leader, and is principle focused. Both the Choleric and Sanguine are the extroverted temperaments, but the Sanguine tends to be more driven by relationships than the Choleric.

The Melancholic and Phlegmatic are the more introverted types, with the phlegmatic being the more relationship focused and the melancholic very idealistic, analytical, and again, principle focused.

I've always known  I was a pretty split introvert/extrovert, but like I said these past 2 years of teaching have solidified how split I really am. Now understanding that I base more decisions on principles and ideals than people or relationships is also helpful.

I think I may have gotten the two most interesting pairings of temperaments (and probably the 2 most difficult to deal with!) but I'm sure I'm not alone, and it is the "Temperament God Gave Me", after all! :)

I just thought I'd share this book with you all in case it might be able to help any of you get a little solace for yourselves. Just when I thought I had all the self-discovery I needed in my 20s, God continues to show me there is more to learn- and that's good! That's what I want to hear!

Also, fun fact- these 4 temperaments are named after bodily fluids:

"Choleric- yellow bile from the liver.
Sanguine: blood from the heart.
Melancholic: black bile from the kidneys.
Phlegmatic: phlegm from the lungs." ( page 8, The Temperament God Gave You- Art & Laraine Bennett)

And I guess I'm all bile? Awesome.


Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Month of May done The Little Way

So it's been an octave or two since I've last fact, Father informed me today that it is the FIFTH WEEK OF EASTER. Also, that it is MAY. WHAT?Where did last month go??

Oh, right. I was in Puerto Rico. And had a birthday. And went on a week long retreat. I've included a pic from my birthday winetasting celebration of me and my faithful friend in blogging to commemorate another great birthday!

I know I've shared alot this year about my retreats with the students: 2 sophomore retreats, 2 senior retreats, and 2 Kairos retreats! Plus, my own annual retreat that I made with friends and my spiritual director...that's alot of retreats for 9 months! But this past Kairos retreat was really special. It was the first one ever for our high school (the one I attended with some of our students at the end of '11 was with another high school so that we could learn and then bring it to our kids...) and the six student leaders for this first retreat were exceptional. I've worked with a lot of teenagers over my past 9 years or so of youth ministry since college, so that is really saying something.

Since I have been on SO many retreats and to so many ministry Workcamps, mission trips, etc, etc in  my day, I have to always remind myself: for these kids it's possibly their FIRST real "God experience". And those first experiences are priceless. I still hold onto special youth group memories that carried me to where I am today spiritually.

Which made me kind of envious of these students. They have so much to look forward to as many of them will be leaving for college, just beginning their adult journeys. I've been navigating mine for like 13 years...gah! 

And don't get me wrong, you could not pay me to be 18 again (okay, maybe I'd take it...) but it's just more the wondering what else God could possibly have in store for me, and I've been wondering this now for the past year or so.

God has confirmed for me that I will be staying at the high school for another year and finishing grad school in May of 2013. That's the plan, but who knows what else this year #31 could hold? 

I'm teaching a unit on holiness to my sophomores which seems silly because isn't it ALL about holiness?? But we are looking at specific Catholic saints and their spiritualities. Of course, I've picked some of my favorites: Ignatius and Therese. In my own prayer, I've been trying my best to stick to some form of the Spiritual Exercises as per my commitment back in Lent. And it definitely came in handy when I was discerning if God was calling me to stay put or make a change recently...

but Therese kind of hit me out of nowhere recently as she is known to do :) We are reading excerpts from Story of a Soul and I have the kids discuss with me her image of making Jesus' arms her "elevator" so she doesn't have to climb the "stairs of perfection." The kids usually think it's pretty weird and don't really get it, but the idea is we have to make ourselves small, like children, and let Jesus carry us. I like that image. Plus, I am also LAZY. 

At first, as I was thinking about all of this during my prayer today, I was mad that I had once again let school infiltrate my personal prayer time. But then I let this image guide me personally. I tend to let Jesus carry me only while I am kicking and screaming. And if I were to imagine myself as a "child" as Therese does, I really only see myself as an infant crawling rather than the energetic toddler running around as it enjoys it's new-found legs.

In fact, as I was praying, a couple brought 3 of their children into Adoration. The oldest girl, tried to be a "big girl" and fold her hands and kneel before the Eucharist. The boy was crying in the back, and the youngest girl was full of energy and joy and ran up to the rail just squealing. I'm usually probably more like the boy in the back kicking and screaming or the older girl trying to appear perfect and pretty before God. But I feel like St Therese is the little toddler running and squealing with joy and she definitely was the one that made me smile most (yes, children make me SMILE these days! My heart of stone is slowly chipping...)

And so I was grateful to have that moment of prayer that even though it may have started with thoughts of school, led to a personal reflection that I can hopefully carry with me this month.

In this spirit of being "like a child" I have decided to do a novena to the Blessed Mother in honor of this and Mother's Day next week. You can join me if you want! I'm saying a Memorare each day until Mother's Day.  Using the Memorare prayer as a novena was something I did back in college once to draw me closer to Mary and it WORKED so I'm looking for just some confirmation from Our Lady that I'm on the right track once again.

Oh, also, I have to leave you with this just because it's me and it's May and I'm a huge nerd/Nsync fan...

It's gonna be May indeed...