Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Sassy Girl's Guide to....

So I'm driving to work today listening to yet another roommate mix cd (we have one for every emotion and sentiment, if you couldn't tell). This one was made for me after we attended YET ANOTHER wedding and it was a compilation of songs from the drive up mixed in with some sassiness to sustain us 'til the next one.

I was realizing that I'm in a very different place than I was a year ago when this cd was made and that's GOOD. If you've been reading my facebook statuses, tweets, and various other forms of social networking, you've perhaps noticed I'm trying to be positive these days.

Nothing's really changed since that time of the wedding last year- I'm in the same job, still single, still living with the same girls- but I have a routine, I've got some of my 'swag' back....I've got HOPE, kids.

This doesn't mean my trust is perfect, but I am recognizing my sources for hope. I have my time in prayer that gives me hope. I have God's Word and Sacraments that give me hope. I have my friends and family who give me hope (which, I should say, I really realized at my cousin's wedding this past weekend. AS much as I may complain about weddings, I will go ahead and admit there is something hopeful about seeing two people make a life commitment to each other. They have so much hope in entering into their marriage, you can't help but have hope for them and for yourself. I think it's even more visible and tangible when you see it in your family. I can't wait to see it at my sister's wedding in- SHOOT- about TWO WEEKS!!!).

Grad school is also giving me hope- a sense of purpose. But in reading Cardinal Van Thuan's 'Testimony of Hope' (I told you that man's got hope all over the place) we have to be careful (at least I do!) of not putting our hope in the WORKS of God, but IN GOD.

Does that make sense? I think for the past year that was my problem. I wanted to trust and hope in the WORKS of God. As Cardinal Van Thuan mentions, his pastoral ministry to the people of his diocese, for example. We can't put trust in that work. We have to trust GOD Himself.

We choose GOD first, not His Works. The works come after. For instance, when I had my little conversion in high school, I was choosing God Himself. I had not experienced all the work He would do in my life- the ministry, the traveling, the convent. I didn't choose to follow Him because of all that. I just chose to turn to HIM.

And arguably, He chooses US first, anyways! We just need to choose Him back.

All this hoping has also inspired me to pursue more my desire to share these works of the Lord and the Lord with others. Of course I have to be focused on just sharing Him first. But if it's His Will, I would LOVE to write a book, or two, or three eventually.

I'm thinking a series like, 'The Sassy Girl's Guide to...' Scripture. Weddings. Pop culture. Catholicsm. I've got big plans. And I know God does too. I pray that they are one in the same. That we are one in the same.

But perhaps be on the lookout for the 'Sassy Girl's Guide' series in a Christian/Catholic bookstore near you soon ;) I'd love your feedback/ thoughts on how to make this happen! I probably should finish grad school first. Author's bios always look better when the have those degrees and initials after their

United in Hope,

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Beacon of Hope

St. Clare of Assisi, pray for us!

Today is the Feast of St. Clare of Assisi. When I stayed for a month with some Franciscan Sisters a couple of years ago when I was discerning, I remember a very powerful image they had of St. Clare in their gardens. She was standing guard with the Eucharist, kind of trailblazing in a way (and she wasn't too creepy for me as far as statues go because she was a little smaller in statue stature ;)

St. Clare is often showed holding the Eucharist for this reason:

"An army of rough soldiers came to attack Assisi and they planned to raid the convent first. Although very sick, St. Clare had herself carried to the wall and right there, where the enemies could see it, she had the Blessed Sacrament placed. Then on her knees, she begged God to save the Sisters." (from Catholic Online)

I started praying to St. Clare back in college when my spiritual director at the time gave me a prayer for healing with St. Clare as the intercessor. Man, did I learn then the powerfulness of this saint! St. Clare doesn't mess around. She may have been one of St. Francis' quiet followers, but you HAVE to be a rebellious revolutionary to do what she did. So she comes through in intercession for sure!

Speaking of revolution and the reading my "Five Loaves and Two Fish" which I am doing daily by Cardinal Van Thuan, I was appropriately reading his chapter on the Eucharist.

The man performed daily Mass and had adoration with fellow Catholic prisoners in a jail cell for years. When I was reading about how they would put the consecrated host in a cigarette box to keep Jesus' presence amid them as a tabernacle....WHAT!? How crazy beautiful is that??

And then it got me thinking about how we take the Eucharist and Christ's Presence in it totally for granted. Cardinal and the lay faithful in his cell knew the power and presence of Christ among them in the Eucharist. The Eucharist IS Jesus' way of being present among us now...but yet we don't even genuflect when we go into a Church.

It also got me thinking about how Jesus is all around us and how we should treat everything around us with reverence and Christ's presence like we do with the Eucharist. Christ's presence in the Eucharist brings me so much peace. And so what if we envisioned that peace in the Eucharist all around us- His Presence all around?

It's like St. Clare, blazing the way holding a monstrance- the peace that was then there present in Christ amid the chaos of war and destruction. What if we imagined Christ's presence like that? How much more peaceful would we be?

Here is the prayer I mentioned for healing to St. Clare- we all need a little healing. May Christ through St. Clare be a beacon of HOPE for us!

For Healing

O Blessed Saint Clare,
your life shines like a beacon
and cast its light down the ages of the Church
to guide the way of Christ.
Look with compassion on the poor and humble
who call on you for help.
As you bow before your Eucharistic Lord in Heaven,
speak to Him of my afflicted body
and my broken spirit.
Ask Him to heal me
and to wash away my sins
in His precious Blood.

Great Servant of Christ,
remember the needs of my family
and all those I pray for.
Defend us from everything
that would threaten our Holy Catholic faith.
Hear the cry of the poor
and make it a song of intercession,
rising from your poor heart
to the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus,
our Healer,
our Saviour,
and our Lord.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Awesomeness personified

Cardinal Van Thuan- author "Five Loaves and Two Fish" and oh so much more!

My Spiritual Director recently mentioned to me that God might be calling me to contemplate 'hope'. He suggested Cardinal Van Thuan's works to me. The man has lots to say on hope: ( 'The Road of Hope', 'Testimony of Hope', etc.) He was in a prison in Vietnam for thirteen years because of his role as a priest in a communist country and emerged to one day lead Spiritual Exercises for JP2.

To piggy-back off of my last entry on 'Five Loaves and Two Fish' I wanted to share this excerpt I just read in the intro of that particular book about Cardinal Van Thuan:

'Soon after his release from prison...Thuan was casually recounting [to me] his thirteen year experience as a prisoner...He looked into my eyes and, shaken by sudden emotion, said, 'my morale was at its lowest. I was almost in despair. In the darkness of my cell, cut off from my diocese, could not do a thing for anyone; I could not even talk to anyone. I felt completely useless. I prayed, but God did not seem to hear. Then all of a sudden I saw, as if in a vision, Christ on the cross, crucified and dying. He was completely helpless...certainly worse off than me in my prison cell. Then I heard a voice- was it his voice?- saying: 'At this precise moment on the cross, I redeemed all the sins of the world.' (Five Loaves and Two Fish, foreward)

Whoa. Point taken. Redemptive Suffering! There's something to be said for it! Using the times we are at our lowest for good gives us something to live for- hope for ourselves and others.

The author of the foreward goes onto say:

'The man who sat in that dark cell understood God's message. He gave his all to the Lord, and the Lord turned the littleness of what he offered into a new fountain of hope for many people around the world'.

The five loaves and two fish! Offering what little we have for the good of all. Brilliant. Amazing. So hard to do! Cardinal Van Thuan, interceed for us!

It seems that many holy men and women- like the Cardinal, St. Therese, St. Paul of course comes to mind- understand their so-called 'uselessness' and embrace it. Hmmmm...

Their frailty, their imperfections, restrictions, etc....they embrace their current state and offer it to Jesus. This is what Christ did on the cross. This is the secret!

Why oh why does it take us so many things like this to see?? Oh the humanity! (Literally). But thank you, Jesus, for your (so many) examples. May we have eyes to see and ears to hear!

Surprise!!! Part 2

Okay, so I really shouldn't be surprised. I should've seen this comin'. Jesus has pretty much been all but screaming this at me this past year. Plus, he just gave me that John 6 passage I just blogged about, so I should've known he was sneakin' up on me...

Today is the Feast of the Transfiguration. But of course, as usual, I read the readings for the Thursday of the 18th Week instead. So there was the first surprise when I got to Mass today! Oops!

But I was glad I read the readings I did because they really spoke to me- Moses and Aaron in Numbers having to deal with the people rebelling after being led into the desert ( I can relate- that whole desert thing's not fun!), and Peter's Confession of Christ ('Who do you say that I am?' quickly followed by, 'get behind me Satan'! Really, Jesus? And I thought I was temperamental ;)

I wanted to go back and read the latter, but I couldn't remember which Gospel the reading was taken from. Sigh. I am so human and allover the place- it's a wonder God gets through to me at all!

But I remembered that it is definitely in Luke, around, oh, Chap 8 or so...(its actually Luke 9:20, but I was close) so I just read that account.

Then suddenly....surprise!

I notice the reading directly before this account of Peter's Confession is the SAME story directly before the walking on water in John!

Alright, Jesus you've got my attention! I'm picking up what You are putting down. I think....

It's the Feeding of the 5,000. I also recently just bought Cardinal Van Thaun's book by the title: "Five Loaves and Two Fish". I should not be surprised at all by any of this whatsoever. I love when Jesus has to beat me over the head with things, which is usually ALL THE TIME.

So why this passage? Oh, maybe because I am supposed to TRUST that God can feed 5,000 with my current state of which I think is practically nothing.....RIGHT.

But here's the thing I immediately tell Jesus, 'but what if I want MORE than what I currently have?? I simply DON'T think that what I have right now is ENOUGH! I need MORE than 5 loaves and two fish Jesus! I need MORE than this job, this state in life...right? Can't you see? There's a CROWD out there! They (and I) clearly need more than what I've currently got. So if you could make that happen, that'd be great.'

And he does multiply what the apostles have....but with their trust and faith, and in His power and doing. Sigh. Alright, alright...I GET IT.

So while I'm grateful that Jesus seems to be speaking to me again, I'm still not sure it's what I want to hear. Typical :)

I'm going to continue to meditate on this passage that He clearly wants me to reflect on and let you know how it goes. In the meantime, pray that I am open to whatever He has to say, even if I'm a little resistant. 'Let all who have ears to hear- HEAR!'


Tuesday, August 4, 2009


School is going to be starting for me in about a month and I'm going to have to change my prayer routine. Sigh. I have afternoon classes, so I'm going to have to go to work in early. I had such a good thing going! Mass after gym in the morning, half hour of Adoration before work. We'll see how Jesus shakes things up for me this fall.

Tonight I went to Adoration in the evening. Sometimes I just feel a little nudge from Jesus to go to our chapel (which I'm so grateful for. Jesus has always blessed me with having access to Him in the Blessed Sacrament wherever I've lived; whether it be CUA, home in Ohio, the convent, Arlington, and now here in MD).

First of all I should say there has been a GREAT answer to prayer which I'm very much in praise of God for. Our dear friend from college, Dan, was diagnosed with A.L.L. type leukemia I'd say about 2 months ago. We just found out today he is in remission and this is such an answer to prayer. He has been so strong in perseverance and hope that I've been entrusting Him to St. Paul and Our Lady of Hope- they definitely came through! Hooray!

So I will let the answer to my and my friends' prayers for Dan trump the fact that I feel like I haven't heard a word from God since May 2008. Okay, I'm being dramatic again, but I feel like every time I do go take some time for prayer, I'm not optimistic that I will hear anything. Maybe I just need to change my attitude, or maybe this is still a time of desolation. I'm done trying to figure it out!

But my spiritual director last week did tell me to re-visit a form of prayer that I've kind of let fall by the wayside: letting Scripture speak to me. I used to analyze and read Scripture daily, multiple times a day even, before I entered the convent. He and I both discussed how sometimes the practice of praying with Scripture is scary because we are afraid what the Lord may say to us through it!

And on that note...

Today I got an interesting Scripture passage. A surprise, really.

I had been trusting in the passage I got last week about being a 'light' and Jesus not wanting to keep us under a bushel. This passage gave me much confidence in myself and Him, so this past week I roll into prayer maybe rather doubtful, I try to remember it.

Today I decided to turn to John 6 for the ever inspiring Bread of Life Discourse that i know I've mentioned a few times...but this time in between the feeding of the 5,000 and the Discourse, I was struck by the passage sandwiched in between- Jesus walking on water.

I know we've all heard this story of the miracle a hundred times. But what is it about really? And why is it sandwiched between two passages specifically on Bread (sandwich and bread pun not intended)?

It certainly is kind of a shocking story, kind of a surprise to me (and to the apostles for sure!) I tried to place myself in the apostles' shoes. They were waiting for Jesus, but it was getting dark and late, so they figured he wasn't coming and got in the boat. Three or four miles in, they see Jesus- not swimming out to them (which would've maybe been a little crazy in itself, but not out of the question) but walking out to them! And they are frightened! With good reason!

I'm sure they wanted Jesus to join them and maybe it was mixed emotions to see Him in this way. I'm sure they were suprised- I'm SURE they weren't expecting to see Him and definitely not like THAT!

Which made me think- am I ready to see Jesus as I don't expect Him? Am I frightened to see Jesus in maybe a different way? A way I'm not expecting?

Jesus' ways are also very mysterious. Why not swim? why not get someone else to row you out towards your friends? Why the unconventional way, Jesus?

The obvious response is for us to trust and believe. Two words I'm working on.

This passage surprised me today because there are many ways to look at it, and also because it does present Jesus in a different light than I'm used to seeing Him. Usually I see Jesus as very gentle and understanding. He is uber-mysterious here, though, and a little frightening! I get the mystery thing, Jesus, but why must you sneak up on them in (I'll say it) kind of creepy way?

All I can take from this right now that Jesus does surprise us, He does work in mysterious ways, and perhaps presents things in ways and times we dont expect. But ultimately His ways show His power and challenge us to trust Him.

Hmmm...we'll see if God reveals Himself in new, mysterious ways anytime soon :) Until then..


Sara Smile...(and so will I!)

Me, Chris, my teammate from NET and Sara, the bride!

So my team leader from NET got married last weekend. This is the first of 3 late summer/early fall weddings I have, the next being my cousin's and my sister's! Crazy!

Sara's wedding was different than many of the ones that I'd been to- no country club reception, no cocktail hour- I mean, some people wore jeans, which is just how they do it in TX, I guess!

I was a bridesmaid (dress #6! but who's counting?) but she just let us wear any black dress, which I was SO grateful for! N0 $200 standard strapless satin this time! Everything was very laid back, which made it so fun. It truly was just about her and Josh and their families.

And to top the weekend off, I got to go to a Hall and Oates concert! Yes, I said it. Hall and Oates, people. It perhaps made me more than inappropriately happy for a 28 year old, but Kiss on My List was #1 on the charts the day I was born and Maneater was #1 on the day my sister Janet was born...coincidence? I think not.

Anyways, they played all the hits, and it was definitely the most perfect 80's-licious concert I'd seen since, well, New Kids last fall ;)

I'm trying to see if Air Supply will reunite's hoping!