Thursday, August 26, 2010

...And I Will Live My Life For You

Any youth minister knows from which song the words for this post's subject originate ;) It's one of the songs YMs can come to love to hate. The kids love it, so we sing it with them. Alot. (The song is: You Are Holy (Prince of Peace), FYI ;)

I myself have sung that song probably hundreds of times between NET and my 3+ years of youth ministry experience at the parish, Workcamps, etc. But I have honestly never sung it the way I got to today.

First of all, I should say these weeks have been a whirlwind, hence my lack of blogging. I ended my time of employment with my previous employer last week, had two days off and a weekend, and Monday started my training at my new high school as a teacher! The days have been FULL of learning to grade, lesson plan, and the ropes of being a teacher at this particular school.

While I am a bit overwhelmed, nothing can cloud the joy and relief I ultimately feel from God keeping His promise- His covenant- to me. I am actually really excited to teach Scripture and Sacraments to these teens because of my experience with God keeping this covenant. Had I not struggled the past couple of years, I might not have been inspired to go to grad school and then been inspired to get back into ministry. I also feel like I will have a whole new perspective when teaching the basics of God's covenant in Scripture because of my struggles and His new gifts.

But back to the infamous praise and worship tune. The kids are not back to school yet, so it wasn't with the teens that we sang the song. It was actually at a funeral Mass. I am also kind of overwhelmed at the number of friends' parents I have had pass away in recent years. Today's Mass was for the father of a friend. Most my friends' parents have had cancer related deaths. I just don't understand that disease. I hope we find out more about its prevention and cure soon.

My friend is a youth minister herself and her siblings and parents were all students/supporters of Catholic schools in the Diocese. The church was full of priests, ministers, and faithful lay folks. As we celebrated my friend's dad, I also feel like we celebrated the faithful community we are in. I know I was personally so moved and grateful to see people I love and I know love me who are also some of the holiest people I know (they'd have to be to put up with me ;) jk!

It was my friend's father's request to close the Mass with the praise and worship song mentioned above. He wanted somethig all of the kids his wife and children ministered to could sing along with. I have never prayed that song so seriously in my life. The women's part in the chorus lists:

You Are Lord of Lords, You are King of Kings. You are Mighty God. Lord of Everything...

and goes on to list more powerful titles of God. I really was grateful in that moment and in awe of God. He is truly the Lord of Everything, whether we acknowledge it or not in our lives at various times.

Tonight, my women's group met and though I have been taking crash courses in lesson planning and freaking out all week about planning....I somehow volunteered to plan our 'lesson' or reflection for the evening too. I took to asking my roommates for some help on the topic. Many of us have had major, positive changes in our lives recently: babies, new jobs, relationship developments, etc. There have been many times we all meet to co-miserate, but we really felt called to come together tonight and rejoice.

I thought about the examples in the Bible of change coming into people's lives and their reactions to the change: Abraham being told about Isaac and his role as the father of numerous descendents, the apostles witnessing the death, Resurrection, and Ascension of Christ but then left to spread the Gospel with the help of the Holy Spirit...examples of great joys, great change- with great responsibility.

And I thought of Mary's change of being chosen to be the Mother of Christ and how she questioned, but then proclaimed God's glory with her whole being in her fiat (her 'yes') and her Magnificat (Luke 1: 46-55). So we prayed Mary's Magnificat together and shared our stories of gratitude for the changes God is doing in our lives.

We know that with this change comes great responsibility. Mary was soon told her heart would be pierced with a sword at the Presentation...the positive does not always last. Consolation prepares us for desolation so that we have something to hold onto. But today I am truly relishing in the gratitude and greatness of God, and I was so blessed to have done it with many holy friends.

They say a change could do you good....I would say Amen to that! God has changed my life time and time again- welcome and unwelcome at times. But we still choose to live our lives for Him, no matter the change.

Thanks, ladies, for a beautiful reflection tonight! Grateful for many things.

"My soul rejoices..."


Friday, August 13, 2010

The More You Know

Remember these helpful PSA's from the 80's/90's? I occassionally still see them on NBC...

A friend of mine and I have been told that we essentially 'write grad papers for fun' because we keep blogs on topics we have (or are currently getting!) our Masters in.

I realize that this blog is turning into a book review for Archbishop Luis Martinez' The Sanctifier, and I'm okay with that ;)

Last post I talked a little about Martinez' thoughts on piety. Today I read about- you probably guessed it- The Gift of Knowledge.

Martinez beautifully speaks about the difference between scientific/human knowledge and divine/spiritual knowledge. The two are connected, but also very different. He mostly then goes onto address (of course) the benefits and challenges of the gift of spiritual knowledge.

Along with spiritual knowledge comes the act of detachment. He explains this with the example of the lives of the saints, particularly St. Francis.

When St. Francis began to obtain spiritual knowledge from and about God, he began to detach himself from things of this world. He beautifully surrendered himself and 'married' Lady Poverty.

Side note- I remember when I was discerning religious orders being totally in awe of the Franciscan embrace of Lady Poverty. Franciscan priests and brothers essentially 'marry' this concept of Lady Poverty. If you ever get a chance to read Francis: The Journey and The Dream by Murray Bodo, it's a little 1960s in style (though published in the 80s, I believe) this book helped me understand the embrace of Lady Poverty in a new way. Just sayin'.

Martinez also sites Solomon (who is attributed to writing the Book of Ecclesiastes) saying that once Solomon obtained the gift of Knowledge from God, he could see "Vanity of vanities, all things are vanity" (Ecc. 1:2)

So this begs the quesiton in my mind: Which comes first, Love of God or Knowledge? Does it matter?

I think when we love a human (or creature as Martinez writes), the more we know them, the more we love. It can also be the same with God, the more we get to know about God and know Him, the more we Love Him too.

But Martinez seems to suggest that when we love God, then we can be given the gift of Knowledge and this knowledge leads us to detachment. We are all given the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit at Baptism and again at Confirmation, but certainly as we grow in Love of God, we also grow in the gift of Knowledge of Him.

What are your thoughts? Which came first, the knowledge or the love? ;) I do agree with Martinez. We open our hearts to love God, and he turn gives us the gift of knowledge to Love Him more.

Another complete side note- my journeys this summer are finally coming to an end! I'm currently in Cincinnati on my last business trip for my previous employer. I got to fly in to Louisville, KY, which you may or may not KNOW (see what I did there? ;) is where I spent some crucial years of my childhood (ages 8-13, to be exact!)

I rented a car to drive up to Cincinnati, but before I did, I stopped at some important places in Louisville (and I will be returning there tonight to hang out with a childhood friend- holler!). Important places like our old house, our Church, our school, and the country club where I spent my summers swimming ;)

I spent some time in this particular Church in Louisville yesterday where I pretty much began my music ministry. I had sang and played piano in our talent shows every year (FUN FACT- sang and played NKOTB's "I'll Be Loving You Forever" in 4th grade! No joke. I think I got 'honorable mention' that year, though God bless them for thinking that choice was honorable. Ha) and the music teachers signed me up to help with music for Mass shortly after that (it MUST have been that my Jordan Knight impression was that divine ;)

So it was cool to go back to this Church yesterday- though they've COMPLETELY re-done it- and just see where God has taken me with my music and how He continues to bring me back to these special places in my life.

After this weekend- last day of work, couple days off, then BAM! I'm a teacher!

Pray for me!

OH! And OF is the Feast of the Assumption!! Father at the parish I'm speaking at in Cincy gave a beautiful, short reflection on how Mary was the first missionary. Spreading the Good News indeed! Love it!

Mary, Queen of Apostles (and missionaries! ), pray for us!


Monday, August 9, 2010

Run to You

That's right. This IS a picture of Whitney Houston from her movie with Kevin Costner called The Bodyguard. What were YOU doing in 1992?

I myself was eleven, and I had a number of cassette tapes that I liked to sing through in their entirety in my parents' basement, pretending I was actually Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, or the like. That's what I was doing in 1992.

Whitney Houston's Bodyguard Soundtrack made it into the rotation, much to I'm sure my parents' dismay, because you can't just SING Whitney. You MUST belt it. And no one can sing Whitney besides Whitney herself, let alone an eleven year old girl as much as she tried.

Oh and I tried.

Now, however, I cringe like any other person in America when I hear the starting notes:

"If I....should stay....I would in...your way...."

All together now:

AND I!!!!!! EEEIIIII!!!!!!!!!! Will Always....LOVE YOUUUUUU.....

Sigh. I hear Whitney's trying a comeback, but it's such a shame she just couldn't see that 'crack was whack' in the first place. Now all I can really hear her belting in my mind is:

"Bobbbaaaayyyy! Bobbaayy!"

Being Bobby Brown? Anyone? Such a sad, sick show, but slightly hilarious.

So WHY am I expounding on Whitney Houston? Well, one of the songs (of course. because I don't speak normally to Jesus, there MUST be a running soundtrack) came to my mind today at Adoration. The song was from The Bodyguard Soundtrack that I reenacted in my basement some...SHOOT 18 years ago?!


"Run To You" was the song that came to mind: "I wanna runn to yooouu...oooo...."

I feel like I've been running to and from Jesus for a number of years now. And I mostly find myself running TO Him when things are bad. When I have nothing else or noone else to turn to, I go to Him. I throw myself down at His feet when I am sad or scared.

And this is a good practice for sure, but what about the good times? In the Houston song, she's no doubt running because she's in love. When we see the cliched scene of a couple running to each other through a field in a movie, they are running to each other because they feel GOOD, right?

Well, today, I felt a little call to run to Jesus after work in Adoration and it was a good thing. Things are- for the first time in a while- kind of where I want them to be. So when I felt called to run to Adoration I had to stop and ask, 'Why are you calling me here now, Lord?'

But doesn't it make sense to go to Adoration when things are GOOD?And I realized once I was there for a minute that, 'duh...I've been given all these things of late...I'm kind of going to need to rely on Him MORE'

It's like the Gospel reading yesterday: 'To those whom are given much, much will be required". And oh, I've been knowing that for sometime now, so I must not forget it just because things are moving!

Also, the Holy Spirit is kind of re-arranging the way I think about relying on God. The Spirit is all about that possession, that love of God in charity that is without abandon...

Like today, I have started the second part of Archbishop Martinez' book and have gotten into the Gifts of the Spirit. Today's chapter was on piety.

I have always understood piety to be something solemn or saintly. And it is, but not in a rigid, boring, silent way is what I found out today. I think of a pious person and I think of the goody goody who doesn't do anything wrong and just wants to pray all day. In Martinez' book, he talks about piety in an almost reckless way. Because piety= abandon. We are not pious out of duty, but out of love. We are pious because we want to please the Father, but only because we love Him so much. When we practice piety, we love and serve without abandon. The saints were pious, but they were also radical!

I liked this new take on piety...maybe I will try to work on it a little more now...running to Jesus and all....

I also loved this past weekend's second reading from Hebrews 11 where Paul talks about the faithfulness of God and also of Abraham. My friend called me yesterday pretty much just to tell me that she was grateful for God's faithfulness. How great is that? Often we call to complain to each other, but what a blessing to just acknowledge to one another: "you know what? God IS trustworthy."

"By faith Abraham faith he was able to generate, even though he was past the normal age...for he thought the one who had made the promise was trustworthy"

I guess I think God is pretty trustworthy too ;) He has proven it time and again. And He WANTS us to be happy:

"Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for the Father is pleased to give you the kingdom"

Pleased to give us the kingdom. Wants to give us everything. Kind of makes you want to run to Him open-armed, movie-style, huh?



Monday, August 2, 2010

Holy Spirit 3, Devil 0

I could've come up with a more creative title for this post, but I really just want to jump off of what I wrote a week or so ago...

The Holy Spirit continues to empower and amaze me as I read Archbishop Luis Martinez's "The Sanctifier" and seek to apply it to my life.

I had an amazing week last week. And I went back to my prayer journal this morning to find out what it was that I had FINALLY done right?!

Of course, things don't happen because of our own merit. I didn't DO anything. It's all about God's timing and His Will. But I do believe my openness and understanding of the Holy Spirit helped :)

I went back to my journal and read my thoughts on the first few chapters of Martinez' book. So much knowledge have I gained about the Holy Spirit! He is love. He wants to possess us. He is the communication of love between Father and Son. He leads us to the Cross, but also the Resurrection and our Mission....He does it all!

And I like to think my being just slightly more in tune to Him set the scene for God's timing to be received and appreciated :)

Drumroll......I got a new job!!!

After 2 years of wondering how I could best minister again to youth, I have been hired as a full time Theology teacher at a high school. I never knew people could be so excited to be so under-paid, but it is true ;) God knows the desires of my heart and He knows that I want to teach the faith in whatever capacity He calls me to. Apparently, it is (finally!) time to do that professionally as an actual teacher!

Thank you for your prayers and for your turned ears/shoulders to cry on as I struggled these past couple years to find "the next thing". And I am seriously grateful to the Holy Spirit for wasting no time once I finally surrendered and let Him take over!

I just got back from another Diocesan Workcamp. This week was slightly crazier than the first week (which I blogged about) because we were shorter staffed. The camp went really smoothly, but those of us on staff did have our moments where the devil tried to damage the good we were doing. I just kept reflecting on the Apostles throughout the week and how they were asked to do much with limited instruction in a rag-tag group ;) I also just kept telling myself, "His Grace is Enough" and that seemed to be the key!

When we tell ourselves "His Grace is Enough" everything else is just bonus. And God WANTS to give us more than enough! But we have to realize we can survive alone on His Grace and surrender our other wants and thoughts to Him. He makes it happen in His time... and I'm just glad it is finally TIME! ;)

This month, consequently though, is going to be CRAZY. Have a wedding (of course! ;) this weekend, business trip for (old) job following weekend, then- BAM! I'm a teacher! Gotta learn how to write some lesson plans and develop a curriculum somewhere in between! But I am blessed to have many people and resources to pull from- I'm not too worried. God will stretch my time and efforts if I take it a day at a time and trust in Him.

So the victory is looking pretty inevitable for the Holy Spirit...was there any doubt? ;)