Sunday, November 25, 2012

Feast of Christ the King

As previously mentioned, this was like, one of the best years ever for me. It was filled with friends and family celebrations (aka WEDDINGS) but also a lot of time focusing on myself, my studies, etc.

We get realllllyyyy excited for Advent and Christmas, but Christ the King is a pretty cool feast in and of itself. Just like last year, my sophomores' unit on the Ascension fell around this feast of Christ the King again. It's great because my mind is already focused, then, on the gift of the Ascension and what it means for us and it helps me enter into the "end is near" readings of this end of the liturgical year.

We all know how I love NYE (going to LA this year!!)....the feast of Christ the King is like New Year's Eve in a way. The first Sunday of Advent is our "new year" in the Church, so this feast of C to the K is always a chance to look back on the year, but also look forward to new year's resolutions of Advent and, of course, ahead towards our end goal of heaven.

So it's time to start thinking...what is going to be my Advent repentance/resolution? How did I live this past year? And am I working towards my end goal of heaven?

I have a lot of goals in sight: end of the semester. End of 2012. End of grad school. But right now is the time to prepare for those ends the best way I know how. Similarly, now is the time for us to think about how we are preparing for Christmas, for the New Year, and ultimately, heaven.

This image of Christ the King has Jesus looking super official as the authority of Heaven and Earth...but the priest today at Mass reminded us (as I also do with my students), Christ was not the typical King. He is now sitting on his throne in heaven where he is in all of his glory, a glory so great that we can't imagine the beauty that is the beatific vision....BUT we know that he embraced the broken and was himself broken before taking His rightful place.

This verse from Hebrews is always comes to mind: "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin."- Hebrews 4:15

Love it. I am also grateful for this feast because it helps remind me that OMG ADVENT IS COMING!!! Time to get on the resolutions for the penitential season stat.

Oh! And it was about this time last year that we were all worried about the NEW TRANSLATION of the is that working out for ya? I still get tripped up on the Gloria and Nicene Creed myself, but think of how far we've come! :)

Happy New Year, guys! It's almost here!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Giving Thanks 2012

Around Advent, I like to recap the the year in pics. Advent is almost here and 2012 has been a stellar year!!! I finished my 2nd full year of teaching and began my 3rd. I began my last *full* year (hopefully) of grad school!! I traveled to ALL of the places! AND...of course...

The Year of the Wedding 3.0:

And back in Feb.

Don't judge...I recycled some dresses. Also, I had to say no to 3 weddings that are not featured here and I still have 1 more to go! Whew!!

When I found out that I was going to be going to all of the weddings last year I knew that I was going to have to chose to make 2012 be a little about me as well. Check and check:

 If you are going to go to a wedding, in FL, might as well make the most of it...

Viva Puerto Rico!

And of course, there was Greece...

 A little East Coast fun: Philly, Atlantic City....
...and West/Midwest! LA...
 And home to Ohio for some family fun.

And like the weddings, the travel hasn't stopped yet! Over the Christmas break, I plan to go back home to Ohio for a week and then head back out to the West Coast and celebrate New Year's Eve in LA!

So what am I grateful for this year? Obviously, the above people and places which I have been blessed to have included in my year. I'm grateful that I've gotten to do ME this year. I debated a little during my last session of spiritual direction whether or not I've been too selfish this year. I wouldn't change anything about this year. But I am aware that after I have finally obtained my Masters, I need to probably slow down and start to give back my time again.

(This fall, however, I made it a goal to do one of *my favorite* things several times: go to a winery every weekend. I made it prob 5 out of 8 or so weeks :)

2 of VA's finest :)

I am grateful for all of my friends, but in a special way my single girls this year. I have received so much support from all of my friends and family, but it's been especially nice to know I can call on my girls and they are always there at the ready to grab a drink, go shop, or just chill out and watch some bad reality TV. I've actually decided to forgo the traditional thanksgiving this year, and while I will miss being with my family,  I've decided to take a little break from the travels and stay here in DC with one of my best friends for turkey day (hey, she said she would cook, so I'm in. I'm in charge of the wine, of course! ;)

And I have high hopes for 2013! It will mark 10 YEARS from graduating from CUA the *first* time and should include me graduating from the same institution a *second* time!

Also, as much as I have been blessed to live with many awesome solid roommates over the years, I think 2013 will include me moving out on my own and possibly becoming a...gulp...homeowner?!? We shall see what God has in store.

I definitely made the most out of 2012 and I am so grateful!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 12, 2012

New Evangelization

So I don't know if you all know this, but there's kind of a lot of things that have happened in our country recently. Sandy. An election. A day to honor those who have served in war.

While I clearly am not afraid of sharing  my religious beliefs, I do refrain from making overarching political statements because I do let my faith, obviously, influence my politics and I do happen to believe there is no particular political party in our country that encompasses my beliefs. I also happen to believe that while absolutely we should let our faith and values inform our politics, we have separation of church and state and freedom of religion (which has become a hot button issue, so I know y'all know this too!). God Himself gives us the guidelines, but he also gives us free will. Love is, by design, a choice. Love is not forced. (see this awesome video of my favorite little priest talking about Thomas Aquinas' definition of love :) We can share with others our beliefs and vote from our own consciences, but that is really all we can do.

Oh, yeah. And we can PRAY. I know that seems really trite, perhaps, but I was amazed at the amount of people who took to facebook and Twitter to judge rather than pray. And, trust, I am just as guilty as the next when it comes to using Twitter for Judgy McJudgerton things. I will be the first one to tell you when the woman in front of me is buying 12 boxes of kitty litter or the guy on Jeopardy collects Star Wars action figures just to make myself feel witty. But come on, people! If you really want people to buy into your point of view, HONEY. NOT VINEGAR.

And also prayer. Because our Church is guided by the magisterium insofar as they are guided by the HOLY SPIRIT. And how does one receive insight from the Holy Spirit? Prayer. 

I'm not gonna lie, I started to feel a little lost and hopeless after this election, but not for the reason some of my fellow Catholics were. I was more saddened by the Catholics I saw posting the Facebook messages I mention above. I was more saddened by the homilies I heard that chose to sway our political beliefs instead of our belief in the Gospel.

It is easy to make ourselves seem like an authority on something when we can't see the person we are speaking to like on Facebook or Twitter. And I'm not saying we shouldn't use these to evangelize, because, come on! I'm a media girl. Also, I'm clearly blogging. Sharing our beliefs via social media is a part of the New Evangelization. But the goal of using these cultural tools is to meet people where they are at. Not bark down to them from whatever level you think you are on.

Okay. I need to stop myself lest I fall into the very same category which I am speaking against. New evangelization also involves prayer. It involves us looking into ourselves FIRST and converting ourselves FIRST so that we might lead others to Christ by our example.

I was starting to lose hope...but then I saw this from Cardinal Dolan (yes the man who gave a blessing at the RNC and DNC) and I was reminded of how the Holy Spirit moves and that the Spirit is in control, not us:

I'm not naive...i know some of you won't read the whole thing :) But the thing that sold me are the following points which I will share with you:

"We cannot engage culture unless we let Him first engage us; we cannot dialogue with others unless we first dialogue with Him; we cannot challenge unless we first let Him challenge us."

.   .    .

"​To be sure, the sacraments of initiation - - Baptism, Confirmation, the Eucharist - - charge, challenge, and equip the agents of evangelization. Without those sacraments, we remain isolated, unredeemed, timid and unfed.

​But, the Sacrament of Reconciliation evangelizes the evangelizers, as it brings us sacramentally into contact with Jesus, who calls us to conversion of heart, and allows us to answer his invitation to repentance -- a repentance from within that can then transform the world without."

and also this:

"With this as my presidential address, I know I risk the criticism. I can hear it now: "With all the controversies and urgent matters for the Church, Dolan spoke of conversion of heart through the Sacrament of Penance. Can you believe it?" 

To which I reply, "You better believe it!" 

First things first! "

First things first. We need to look into our own hearts, pull out our own plank in our own eyes, and meet others where they are at:

"The premier answer to the question "What's wrong with the world?" "what's wrong with the church?" is not politics, the economy, secularism, sectarianism, globalization or global warming . . .none of these, as significant as they are. As Chesterton wrote, "The answer to the question 'What's wrong with the world?' is just two words:'I am,'"

​I am! Admitting that leads to conversion of heart and repentance, the marrow of the Gospel-invitation. . . If we want the New Evangelization to work, it starts on our knees."

Thank you, Holy Spirit, for inspiring each of us and giving us hope. And thank you, Cardinal Dolan, today, for these inspiring words!