Thursday, January 28, 2010

St. Paul and...

Bon Qui Qui? One in the same? No. Not at all. Just preparing you for what's to come :) Read on!

Preparing for Conversion

This week started with a very special feast for me- The Conversion of St. Paul. I KNOW I've blogged about this before. The past 2 or 3 years this feast has been very significant for one reason or the other...mostly having to do with discerning religious life and transition from.

This year, I got to reflect on it a little in the light of grad school and also in the current goings on in my life (basically, that I am a 28 year old going on 82 year old and have freaking back problems which I've been dealing with for the past couple of months but have come to ahead this week. I wish I could say that the back behavior also affects my other geriatric tendencies of Wheel of Fortune watching and Snuggie wearing, but alas, I believe those aspects of my life are unrelated to the slipped disc).

On the feast of the Conversion itself, I had some good prayer time before my first doctor's appt this week. I went to Mass and then prayed with the Scriptures. The antiphons are really what struck me at Mass because they were verses from Paul that we prayed and sang with while I was with the sisters: "I know Him whom I've believed and I am confident that He will guard what He has entrusted to me until that last day" and "It is no longer I that live but Christ that lives in me". Always, Paul's trust and confidence and self-sacrifice all for the love of Jesus gets me EVERY TIME.

Tuesday I had my liturgical catechesis class that I've been mentioning and we used the first reading on Paul's actual conversion to start off our class. My teacher pointed out some of the characteristics of conversion:
- the intimate, revelation or 'light' of Christ that draws us and starts us on our journey
- the vulnerability that exists after (Paul was blind for 3 days and dependent on others, uncertain of what was next)
- the trust that God will finish what He started
- it happens with the help of others (Ananias had to help Paul understand what had happened and Ananias had to go through his own mini-conversion in order to trust that the Saul HE knew of wouldn't attack and kill him! Indeed. That's trust.)

I was particularly struck with the community aspect of conversion and Ananias' openness. I think I've often thought my conversions happened in seclusion- that sometimes no one else understands. But when I think about it, though Christ certainly prompts me, He does so through and with the help of others. And that we can't have these conversions alone, really.

Also, the openness that has to exist for a conversion to happen. Yes, God knocked Paul off his horse, but in that moment, Paul was open to hearing God's message (the scales fell, so to speak!) and to change. Ananias, too, as I already said, had to be open and trusting that God telling him to help Paul was the right thing to do.

So it made me of course question, how open am I to a conversion right now in my life? I think I am open, but am I really? I've really become quite content, thank you very much! Sometimes we even become comfortable as a defense. Hmmm... What would I do right now if Jesus really shook things up for me?

Okay, so yesterday I had an MRI because of this back craziness. I had never had one done before and so my nurse friends prepped me for the noises and close quarters that occur. Because of this preparation, I was less frightened. I know that I shouldn't be scared of doctor's appointments or procedures, but there is that loss of control because I don't know what is going on. I like to have the doctors talk me through a procedure- even if it's just filling a cavity- so I can be in the know and it calms me down for the 'unknown' to happen.

So thinking about that from a spiritual standpoint...I do believe Jesus wants us to be prepared for things. I think of the parable of the 10 virgins with their lamps and the 5 whom are not prepared for the Bridegroom. Jesus doesn't want that for us, he warns us to be ready. But then, he does crazy things like speak to Paul out of nowhere and walk on water- stuff like that. And this freaks us out! (which I've talked about before) No doubt, the fault lies with us (Jesus being perfect and divine and all ;) but there is some truth that being prepared for something gives us security (haha- Christine! SAH-KURITY. If you don't know, you betta ask...or watch this.... If you liked Pants on the Ground, I think you'll like Bon Qui Qui).

Where was I...oh, (hehe). But there are obviously times where we just have to hope and trust that we are prepared enough for whatever God wants to happen. We have to be OPEN for whatever God has in mind.

We know this, I just was thinking about it in a new way these past couple days. Thanks for the prayers for my back. I'm fine. You know I'll keep ya posted ;) 'Til then...

St. Paul, pray for us!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Many and One

So after I wrote that rather ridiculous post yesterday and then actually did my HOMEWORK (aren't you proud, friends? I am blogging now AFTER I did my work ;) I found a few people who pretty much said what I was trying to say this past week a whole lot BETTER than I did. Namely because they are saints. Or on their way. (but aren't we all? Even if we are taking the "Augustine stance"- "Lord make me holy, but not yet?? ;)

1st- My subject title for this post is in referrence to a song (of course! Musical subject headings are my specialty ;) by Steve Angrisano whom I got to see again this last week and who has definitely been a gift and a help to me this past year. The lyrics to this song, seem to tie into this Sunday's 2nd reading: "We are Many, yet we are One. We are separate, yet bound in His Love." This bound in His Love idea I will revisit in a minute, but for now, it definitely adds reflection to Paul's idea that we each have gifts to share in the Body of Christ.

2.) St. John Chrysostom (Little known fact, "Chrysostom means 'golden-mouthed'. Now you know! Also, don't you think my teacher should give me an A+ this semester? Look at me applying my work... ;) was someone I had to research today and THEN I got a quote from him in the book I was using in prayer! LOVE when that happens!

Okay, so in that book that YES I HAVEN'T YET FINISHED by Cardinal Van Thuan he mentions St. JC's reflection on the '2 or 3 gathered in my name' concept and us being, if you will: "Many and One":

"What then? Are there not perhaps 2 or 3 gathered in his name? There are, yes, but rarely. In fact Jesus is not speaking simply of a material gathering....What he says has this meaning: if one keeps me as the principal motive of his love toward his neighbor, I will be with him...Today instead, we see that the major part of humanity has other motivations for their friendships; one loves because he is loved, another because he is honored, another because someone is useful to him...But it is difficult to find someone who loves for Christ, as one should one's neighbor...One who loves this way...even if he is hated, insulted, threatened with death- continues to love...."

This also ties into that 'Put a Ring on it' post I made last week. At least, looking at love this way and being connected to one another in Christ, I think helped me when I brought that thought again to prayer. Do we love to be honored? To be useful? Or do we see our call to love, in whatever vocation, truly that which mimics Christ?

I will leave you and ramble no more with this last quote that I thought awesome and appropriate today from C.V.T's infamous book (actually a quote from Chiara Lubich):

"If we are united, Jesus is among us. And this is enough. It is worth more than any other treasure that our heart can possess: more than mother, father, siblings, or children. It is worth more than a house, work, property, more than the works of art of a great city like Rome. Jesus in our midst is worth more than magnificent monuments, sumptuous mausoleums, or all the splendors of the Vatican; more than our soul!" - C. Lubich, Scritti Spirituali 3, Rome: 1979, p 176

Um, well said, Chiara. I couldn't have said it better myself. Clearly.

Until next time- Happy Sunday!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Tyra Mail!

Tyra has her gifts. Not everyone can give the gift of smyze.

Save the Drama for Your Mama!

Bless my readers, for I have sinned. I have watched an UNGODLY amount of America's Next Top Model today!

My roomie and I love watching these girls and Tyra Banks for so many reasons. Every season the formula is exactly the same. The girls get a 'challenge' for the first half of the show, and the second half is a photo shoot. Before each segment, they get a clue from Tyra giving them a hint as to what the challenge or photo shoot will be. This clue is entitled 'TYRA MAIL'! Every week, it never fails. The girls SCREAM when they get their 'mail' from Tyra, and every week they are completely BLOWN AWAY when whatever set or situation they stumble into turns out to be a 'challenge'. (Ahem. For example: "Oh my Gawd, it was a CHALLENGE?! I thought we were just put onto teams and asked to put make-up on each other 'cause it's fun and we are being filmed and...oh." Sigh.)

This season I was watching today was cycle 12 or something equally ungodly like that. You think by Season 12 they would LEARN. C'mon, Girls!

So there was this one girl, who was actually pretty mature, and she was really talented at modeling, from what I can tell. But there was this OTHER girl who was less confident and not so good. The latter girl actually WON that week, though, and while the smart girl faired well, she felt the need to share with Tyra and the judges that winner girl had a expressed not wanting to be on Top Model anymore (GASP!).

PHEW! DRAMA, I know. Bear with me.

I thought the smart girl was being fair in sticking up for the girl being sent home and calling out the whiny girl. In her mind, it didn't make sense for someone who didn't want to be there to stay. Tyra, however, was not with me (Tyra and I differ on many accounts. One being I don't talk about myself as 'Mama' most days or 'smyzing' as my gift to the world)

Tyra called out the girl who spoke up because it was not this girl's place to judge. If the whiny girl wanted to speak up, she would have.

Eh, I get it. But I felt for the smart girl because- as we all know- when there is something unjust or unfair, we all want to SPEAK UP about it!

So where am I going with this?

Well, I certainly identify with the model who spoke up, but have also gotten burned many times for doing so (they almost sent her HOME next week for doing so! I know because I watched the next episode as, yeah). There is a fine line between speaking up for what we believe in and then also letting things happen organically and not taking control all the time. Letting people speak for themselves.

This week was the March for Life. One of the cool things about living in DC is having the opportunity to witness our free speech in events like this. I think marching or protesting- for whatever cause- and letting your voice be heard in a silent stance or a purposeful walk- speaks louder than words sometimes.

But then there are, of course, times when we need to use our words as well. But its important to discern when these times are, I think.

I know my friend also spoke about this topic of evanglization on her blog ('sup, Gina!) and Father gave us alot to think about this too on retreat.

Time and time again, I feel like God has pulled a Tyra on me, calling me out when I think I was doing right and saying, 'leave ME to judge' (and Tyra certainly equates herself with God, but there I go judging...)

St. Paul in the second reading tomorrow (3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time) talks about each of our roles in the body of Christ. This is a good message to keep in mind when we are 'judging' others. To recognize that "if the body were an eye, where would the hearing be?" That we can't all be the same and our uniqueness keeps things interesting.

It is also is an assurance from God, too, that when we start to doubt our abilities or compare ourselves to others, we should know we each have a unique role and no one can contribute what we do the way that we do it.

I think that's a pretty pro-life message too. I didn't make it down to the March this year. I had class, and when I left, a 'wintry mix' was forming so I chickened out (it ended up being a really beautiful day, though! SO I was bummed I missed out).

In class, though- it's a psychology class- we watched a video on the 'baby's brain'. To know that each neuron in our brain is formed in the first four weeks of our conception and that each one is unique and as a special place to go and job to do- it's just amazing. Just another example about how science and faith DO go together. Of course, we have been given the gift of knowledge to learn how our brain functions, but there is something awesome to it that we can't explain. Like we know that each neuron has a function and we can explain it and maybe even explain how it develops...but who thought of that? Who created it? Ya know?

So I suppose I should cut even the Top Models some slack. They have their gifts and Tyra certainly has hers.

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is Good! (His Mercy endures forever) Phew! And I think I've just come full circle. I think I may have just made a good confession! ;)


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Oh, Beyonce

People can still like it, and not necessarily put a ring on it. Am I right??

Put a Ring on It!

I said it. It had to be said. Somebody's got to say it!

Actually, we all know Beyonce said it first. And oh-so well, I may add. Imma let you finish, but Beyonce had the best...

Kidding, kidding! That is SO 2009. And I'm so 3000 and...fine.

So where am I going with this today, this EARLY morning reflection of mine?

I think I shared that part of my commitment from the retreat (new year's resolution if you y'all doing with those, btw? Yeah, see, that's why I don't make 'em!) that I would commit to giving myself more time in prayer EACH DAY as to give myself more time and space for contemplation.

Of COURSE I have failed at this already. But that is not the point. I kind of knew I would. But that doesn't mean I don't do it at all and throw the goal of contemplation out the window.

Yesterday, I could've gotten up early and taken more time in prayer before Mass. I could've left at lunch and gone to the Shrine to pray. Of course, I did neither of those things and I was left with the 10 minute break between my 2 and half hour class to run to the chapel.

But it was 10 minutes well spent. Going to Caldwell Chapel on CUA's campus is, like Melwood, another one of those special Campus Ministry places. It has memories attached with it like late night rosaries with friends or gathering with 100+ students for praise and worship Adoration once a week ( I know- WHO AM I? Who does this? But I am so grateful for it). So I naturally think of many things all at once and recall those times when I go into that chapel to pray still as a student now.

I brought to Jesus this time of waiting- AGAIN. But realized that I'm really getting kind of GOOD at it and I'm starting to recognize what it can do. I always knew I wouldn't just settle for anything in life, but now He's really teaching me that. That I can wait and hold out for the RIGHT job, the RIGHT thing. And that even if these things never come, I still have something to hold onto or some worth. Good, right? Who knew?

Before I entered the convent, the sister's used a book called- Discovering Your Personal Vocation- inviting us to look at, not just religious vocation but our thoughts and desires as a PERSON. In other words...

Even if I am not called to be a religious sister- who am I to myself? to others? to God? Am I a daughter? a sister? a friend? What do those calls mean to me?

And in this time of waiting, I've discovered many things, but mainly that I can still have a personal vocation to be a minister or a teacher, even when I am not physically being NAMED that.

This idea of being marked kind of struck me today, I guess. Our society does this, and to some degree we have to. We have to mark those in public service so we know who to go to when we have a problem, are sick, etc. But we can't just take our identities in these titles, which is the problem I think we run into. It's like the readings from Samuel this week (how much do you LOVE them?!) "Man looks at the outer appearance, but God looks into the heart"

And I think that goes for our names too. Not our names like Julia, Therese, whatever. But like 'doctor' 'Mrs' 'Father'. Some names our society has certain conotations with, but if they are given to us by God, they don't necessarily have those conotations. They mean something different than just status or stigma.

Here I go with my liturgical catechesis influence, or media studies influence or whatever: (it is kind of amazing how both are all about SYMBOLS and messages they convey. One divine, and one secular- but SIMILAR!) Okay, so we were talking about symbols in my class yesterday and Sister- OF COURSE- used the symbol of a wedding ring. As if I haven't had enough reflection or experience with those these past 7 years (7 dresses, people! 7 down, 20 to go!) But she asked the simple question- what do the rings symbolize to you? And she (because I think she may hate me. Just saying) looks right at me.

I didn't have a chance for reflex. I did free association. I said the first thing that came to my mind (and surprisingly, I was well-behaved in my response!):


Huh. After I said it, I took a step back to reflect on 'what I meant by that'. I didn't mean like a possession, but I think that meant 'special'. But how funny, because can't we and aren't we special without a physical sign to designate us that we belong exclusively to someone or something?

Other answers were perhaps the more obvious- love, commitment, self-sacrifice (yeah, there was THAT guy. You had to be that guy. That guy with the holy, appropriate, RIGHT answer...ha ;)

So anyways, it gave me something to reflect on, meditate on, and hopefully, lead me to contemplation of belonging to Jesus regardless of physical designation. As humans, we need those signifiers. But can I be okay with not having a religious habit or a wedding ring to signify me as 'special'? Is what God calls me and marks me to be- whatever that is- enough?

"God looks into the heart..."


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Come Together

So, I think I put off blogging about Haiti for some of the same reasons I put off prepping for Advent. It just seems sooo big and so beyond me that nothing I could possibly do would be good enough. But, um, hello? How AWFUL is that? As if I could do anything anyways?! All I can do is offer up my heartfelt prayer and trust right now that He is doing something with it.

I had been to Mass and certainly prayed about and for Haiti since the earthquake, but it took today's Sunday Mass to really drive the reality home for me. The readings seemed so fitting- the promise of hope. And also this time of remembering Martin Luther King and his dream of peace- it just seemed like people were really united and coming together in prayer and spirit amid the sorrow.

God definitely spoke to me through this sense of community and the readings today (also, I am taking a liturgy class this semester so I'm sure my Mass awareness is heightened of late ;) The idea and promise that places and people will no longer be called desolate as Isaiah speaks of in the first reading is SO encouraging and hopeful as we look at the wreckage on the news, and then the 2nd reading from Paul about our individual spiritual gifts being given for the good of the whole...just perfect for right now. The promise of hope and the need for one another I think are just the words we need to hear as we think about this time and Haiti.

Personally for me, the readings also spoke to me about the waiting that I've been writing and praying so much about. In today's Gospel, Jesus performs His first miracle in which the best is saved for last. Now if you think about it, how much SENSE does that make? Why not perform your first miracle at the BEGINNING for all to SEE and before they get tipsy??? Which is what I say to God on a regular basis (not the before tipsy part, but okay, it happens) but the, 'Okay, how 'bout NOW, God? Doesn't it make sense for You do to X,Y,and/or Z NOW?? But no....He saves it for LATER.

The priest emphasized this theme of "the best is yet to come" which is SUCH a message of HOPE. The best is yet to come in our lives, for people who are suffering, and for all of us in heaven. This is not the be all end all.

So definitely a message I needed to hear as I still struggle with the goings on (or lack thereof) in my life, and also particularly as we pray for those despairing in Haiti and those who have suffered for peace and justice in the past, as those who particiapte in civil rights.

At Mass, we sang the usual "Gather" songs, that I as a music minister, just roll my eyes at every week. You know the ones. The 'City of God''s or the 'Gather Us In's'. And I've probably just offended someone right now, but I doubt David Haas reads this blog (yet). But you know, songs that you have heard week after week, year after year, and they have become void of most meaning. I'm looking at you, "Here I am, Lord"

But today singing "Blest Are They" and "Make Me A Channel of Your Peace" seemed appropriate and did not trigger my normal eye rolling. The Beatitudes- which are the heart of the aforementioned song- definitely seemed to be a match for the current situation in Haiti. The Beatitudes are so puzzling- blessed are those who suffer. What? Blessed are those who thirst. Huh? It doesn't make sense! And surely neither does the chaos of natural disaster and mass suffering. But rather than despair, we can look at the mystery and message of the Beatitudes and trust that one day we will be consoled. The wine of Christ's miracles is possible- it is just being saved for the right moment.

And so, I am united, I'm sure with all of you in praying for those deeply affected by disaster in Haiti and the hope for humanity to come as we unite and look to Christ.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Public Service Announcement...

***DISCLAIMER. Neither Larry Platt nor I advocate for 'Pants ON the Ground'. We are both in favor of keeping YOUR pants UP. Thank you.

Snow(pants) On The Ground or Meditating on Contemplation Part 2

Today as I left the office to make a loop around the infamous walking path behind us, I noticed: 'Hey! It's WARM out!' And by 'warm', of course, I mean above 30 degrees. It has been COLD here in the DC metro area!

So my initial thought is: 'man I can't wait until SPRING'. I've been looking for tickets to go back to LA and visit some friends there, I'm slowly debating pushing the sweaters to the back of the closet WHERE THEY BELONG, gosh, darn it! (though I'm not ready to take off my knitted sweater boots. I don't plan on ever taking them off. They are a perpetual hug for my feet, and I need that literal embrace of fashion in my life, people!).

But, anyways, I've got my eye the prize- SUN.

But then I thought, isn't that just like me- to say quickly: "God, get me out of this WINTER already. I'm ready for SPRING. NEW LIFE". Haven't I been saying that all year? You know it's true.

Praying the novena and Advent this year were good lessons for me in learning to enjoy the 'winter', so to speak. Or, if not enjoy (let's be real) be present in it. Present in the waiting for Spring or New Life.

I've never totally loved snow, as I've mentioned before, and there are still remnants of it everywhere. (I mean, I guess it is still January). And so I suppose I shouldn't expect new life right just yet in my spiritual life either. I understand there is a CYCLE. God's perfect plan. Me and the snow. The snow and me. Together in, uh, but I digress.

In thinking about all of THIS ( there must be something lingering from those Dominicans who walk that path that makes me think SO. MUCH. Those brainiac Dominicans, I tell you...always thinking...) that made me remember my resolution to not just mediate, but contemplate. It is a delicate balance between planning or meditating and contemplating or enjoying the present. There has to be both.

I myself am RE-UHL good at planning, not so good at the resonating, enjoying. I get stuff DONE, remember? And that's good. It's a gift, for sure. But some of my FAVORITE moments of both hilarity and spiritual gift have been SPONTANEOUS and unplanned. The moments I've laughed the hardest, given the most thanks for, appreciated the most.

So that's an addition to my last post and really building upon everything from last year that has brought me to where I'm at in 2010.

ALSO, I'm sorry. I have to do this.

Speaking of spontaneity and hilarity...

This man (and okay, this is a stretch) I will go so far to say represents the balance between planning and spontaneity. No doubt, American Idol planned to bring him and knew it would be good for business, but I've got a feeling that this man also just kind of rolled with it- let the Spirit move him in a sense. And as I mentioned before, that openness to the moment- that can produce optimum funniness, I tell you. Genius.

Maybe I should use him as a source for a thesis this semester. No?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Yeah for Snuggies! (and retreat!)

Snuggies were a MUST on this past retreat. It was COLD. But good fellowship, good spiritual direction, and the craziest game of Crainium ever kept us warm. Awww...

Meditating on Comtemplation

First, I just have to say:


You and I both knew it was going to be good. Admit it. You knew it.

And, as usual, it wasn't in the way that I thought it would!

I thought it was going to be a time of discernment (again, I can't get out of my head these 'next big steps' that have yet to present themselves to me. How, then, can I possibly meditate on them, right? What's to discern? I'm so dense sometimes..)

The retreat took place at Melwood- a place that holds MANY memories for me and my friends from CUA. All of our undergrad retreats took place there and that ground is HOLY. LOTS of surrendering to the Lord has taken place there, LOTS of questioning and discerning, and LOTS of love.

(makes me think of the line from Arrested Development, but not really: Michael: "This family has a lot of lies." (or something like that, I'm paraphrasing) Lucille: "And a lot of love". Michael: "More lies".)

Except Melwood is something like: "This place has a lot of love." And a lot of memories. "More love." Awww...see, I can be sentimental!

So 14 of my most awesome friends who God totally wanted to be there this weekend gathered for a little more than 24 hours to be led on retreat by my spiritual director.

Father told us the theme would be focused on the Holy Family, with an emphasis on Joseph: "Adoring Jesus, with Mary, learning from Joseph". And he went onto format the retreat with his own meditations or themes from St. Joseph which came to six 'lessons' of St. Joseph: Prayer, Obedience, Compassion, Humility/Meekness, Chastity, and Transcendent Cause.

Father went onto talk about how Joseph modeled each of these virtues and we delved a little into what these virtues can and should mean for us in our lives to bring us closer to Christ.

We had a little bit of silent time in between each talk on each 'lesson' (much to mine and some of my friend's dismay. I mean, I was looking forward to some silent time, but I also didn't realize how tempted I was to just make little side comments to people in between transitions and stuff!) And we had Mass once each day, Praise and Worship Adoration at night, and Confession. Oh, and as my friend Christine pointed out, probably the most hilarious game of 'Crainium' every played.

While ALL of the lessons were much needed and gave me material to be challenged with and meditate on for weeks to come, Father gave us a challenge to resolve one goal going in the direction (or ambition) of one of these lessons. I, always, the over achiever, of course, couldn't pick just one!

The thing(s) or lessons that perhaps stuck with me the most this time around were in the very first talk on "Prayer". Father made the distinction between 'meditation' and 'contemplation'. I am pretty good at meditating- that is- analyzing God's ways, His works. However, it is contemplation that we all long for- the resting in His love, allowing ourselves to just get stuck in the thought of God- not analyzing-just loving and adoring Him. (Side note- I'm currently working my way through "The Cloud of Unknowing" which discusses this topic. Coincidence? Of course not!!)

So ambition #1- to do THAT more. Easier said than done! One of the things I did have a hard time transitioning from the convent with was the lack of time for prayer, so I am going to resolve to give myself an hour each day again, like I did back in the 'vent. I figure if I give myself more time, there is more opportunity for contemplation rather than my crazy, somewhat scattered meditations all the time.

My other ambition rests towards humility/meekeness, and I still have to meditate more on that, I think. I have one immediate goal, which I will keep to myself (somethings are just for me and Jesus ;) But Father, my friends, and I all discussed that prayer definitely feeds into this lesson. Father described humility as realization that we are NOT God and submission to HIS will. Meekness is submission to others. So yeah, I want to resolve to do that more, and prayer and contemplation- resting in HIm- will surely help me realize how BIG He is...ya know?

I said before that I had thought the retreat would help me in discernment- though as I also said, not sure in discernment of WHAT- and the talk on chastity helped me a little with that. We talked, of course, of what chastity means in the different states in life and how priesthood is an INCLUSIVE way of loving, and marriage (and even religious life in the way that you exclusively commit to one community) are EXCLUSIVE ways of loving. With the intent that that EXCLUSIVE love leads to loving others inclusively- does that make sense? Like that, committing ourselves exclusively to one person is our way of loving others better. So that was helpful to me to discern- do I desire to be single or consecrated and love inclusively or to be married and love exclusively? I can then better offer those desires to Him now, with that language which was helpful.

So lots of good, good stuff. It's a good start I think towards this new year of HOPE ;)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

I like Alliteration

THIS FISH HAS HANDS. I KNOW. Try not to get too freaked out! I was trying to find a fish pic to go with the following blog post and this freakiness surely fits! Read on!

Fish, Floating, and Fearful Foolishness

It's those Bread and Fish again. Those 5 lingering loaves and 2 pesky pescados (see what I did there? Little Spanish for ya ;)

This week at Daily Mass we've been hearing the Gospel of Mark 6 alongside the 1st readings from 1 John 4.

Mark 6 starts with Jesus instructing his apostles to take nothing for the journey, continues with Herod and the apostles not knowing what to do with Jesus, and then leads us to our current Gospels of contemplation.

Yesterday it was the feeding of the 5,000 which you may remember I began to reflect on this late summer/early fall (I had to re-check previous blog posts myself, so don't feel bad if you don't remember ;)

Pretty much I was just saying: Five loaves and 2 fish are all I got, Jesus. I'm running out of the big, dramatic epiphanies, the retreat highs, I've given alot up to you. This is all I gots left. My job, my friends, school. That's it.

And Jesus- as He does in the Gospel- says, 'Hey, great! That's ENOUGH!"

And I'm all like, "um, but it's not going to do anything, feed anyone, yadda yadda"

And of course then He's all like, "watch me".

He wants us to trust Him. Trust that He's given us all for this present moment and can do MUCH with it.

Okay. Moving on to today's Gospel which is where He walks on water. WHHAAAT??

I tried to see if I had mentioned all this before, but I couldn't find that post. So I may have, may not. Indulge me if I already have. Thanks. 'Cause here I go:

1.) i love Mark's account of this Walking on Water incident. Mark is a sassy fellow. Love him, all the time.

2.) Mark says Jesus goes off by Himself (He's always DOING that!) and then he sees the apostles off in the boat (they're On A Boat- heh) no doubt screwing up or arguing over something or another. So he walks towards them. Now Mark says that Jesus "was going to pass them by..." to which I SAY:

"Right, Jesus. You were just going to waltz on by with no one noticing? ON WATER. You didn't think they were going to FREAK OUT?!"

And this is where I think I am. I got the 5 loaves 2 fish thing. But then I'm not prepared for THIS act of trust. Jesus is doing all these crazy things that I don't understand.

And Jesus notices this. Though the Feeding of the Five Thousand and the Water incident (I love referring to this as such) are meant to INCREASE our TRUST in Jesus, we just freak out a little. Mark even says:

"They had not understood the incident of the loaves. On the contrary, their hearts were hardened."

Gosh darn it! Our humanness and original sin is contrary to the peace and divine love Jesus wants for us. Bah! We gotta get all freaky and try to figure out Jesus' ways and what not when He's trying to tell us something or another through trust.

So I'm praying after Mass today- Jesus- what comes next?! What's the next link in Mark 6?? There's no coincidence these stories are placed as they are.

Ah, but First! Another message from today's readings...

1 John 4..." There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear. Because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love".

This, of course, is paired with Jesus in today's Gospel saying to the apostles when they are totally FREAKED OUT:

"Take courage, it is I. Do not be afraid".

So ponder on all that too, if you will: "One who fears is not yet perfect in love".
Ah, yeah. I'm certainly not there!

So do you want to know what comes NEXT after all this craziness in Mark? I'll tell YOU!

A very short paragraph about the healing at Gennesaret. This is the case with the placing of these stories in Matthew too.

So I tried to my little Lectio Divina in my mind and place myself in this scene as one of the apostles. Jesus has just walked on water and fed 5,000 in front of me. He's told me to not be afraid. And so I'm guessing they are sucking it up, helping out, watching Him, bringing people to Him. They are going about this MISSION. I want Mission! (I know I've said this before!)Does this mean my mission is coming soon, Jesus??

Not only that, but I did a little Wikipedia research as usual to find...

Gennesaret means...are you ready??

"Garden of Riches" !!!!!

The Garden of Riches is coming, people, if we trust!!! I hope it's coming this weekend on retreat! And then there's the reality that it really will come in heaven...

Pray for us, we'll pray for you! Share the love!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

To Know is to Love

The past 2 years I've been able to go to Philly to celebrate one of my fav people's bdays right after ringing in the New Year. The cake one of our friends brought got me thinking and inspired this post. Happy 29th, LC!

When I saw this cake at my friend's bday party yesterday it made me think a.) SO true about Laura! b.) Which Beatles' song is that quote from?? (You know that John and Jeannette raised us right with knowledge of the full Beatles' library!)

Turns out it is this one (Wikipedia does it again!)

And I again thought, just what a beautiful sentiment about my friend. She is SO unique in her character, spontenaity, celebration of life and others.

But could this lyric apply to all of us? And our relationship with God? I LOVE it when pop music gets us to reflect ;)

For example, if we gave more people the time of day on the streets? I love Twitter and texting as much (oh, alright, probably more!) than the next girl, but I do know this means we spend more time looking down at our phones than up at each other. Could we get to know and love someone we didn't think we could if we just looked up?

If we volunteered and took time to get to know the poor? Could we love them? If we got to know the people that we were afraid to love....could we love them?

Dorothy Day has a quote: "What we avert our eyes from today can be borne tomorrow when we have learned a little more about love." I think that goes alongside this quote "To Know (fill in your blank here) is to love him, her, them, etc."

And of course it is the same with God. The more we take time to get know Him, His Ways, the more we can Love Him.I know I get the most discourged when I don't think I know or understand God's ways, but that's just part of who HE is. We can't always know His ways, but we can KNOW that ABOUT Him and it shouldn't make us love Him any less (though it's a struggle for sure!) And because He KNOWS US better than ANYONE, He LOVES us more than ANYONE. Hmmm...I like thinking about that!

The New Year has already brought me a lot to reflect on from spending time with family friends and through this liturgical time of Christmas. I can't wait to bring it all to Him THIS WEEKEND when my friends and I will be going on retreat. You KNOW there will be much good to be blogged about after that!

Please pray for me and my 15 friends and spiritual director who will going on retreat Jan. 9-10. I trust in your prayers!

Though I may feel by looking at what I have in my life right now- My Five Loaves and Two Fish, if you will- that nothing has changed, SO much has happened in this past decade! I met college friends, grew deeper into my faith with Campus Ministry, Youth ministry, NET, religious life. I've traveled to Europe, Guatemala (twice!), all over the US, and I've lived in DC, VA, MD, MO, OH...who knows what the next 10 years will bring! Here's to HOPE!

Happy New Year!