My Soul Proclaims the Greatness of the Lord!

Well folks, you’ve probably figured out by now that when my posts start getting few and far between the Holy Spirit is up to something!

HopeHope is a funny thing.  It is lost so easily (St Anthony pray for us!), and yet when God shows us a glimpse of His incredibly wonderful plan it comes flooding back.  With that said, my hope had mysteriously gone missing and has recently been restored.  I can’t share too many details yet (I”m so bad at keeping secrets!), but know that God has promised that I will join the TOR’s this August 11th, and He always fulfills His promises!

Of course, this requires the cooperation of many, many humans, who are not quite so reliable.  The crazy thing is God wants us to hope and trust in one another!  So I am hoping in your generosity.  Whatever you give – your prayers, time, talent, money – know that you are giving them to the Lord and He will bless you a hundred fold.

As you can see, I still have a long way to go before my loans are paid off.  I believe Mother Teresa once said that God has an infinite amount of money.   I have been told that donations can be made directly to the order and that way you can get a tax exemption.  If you choose to do this, just write my name in the memo area of the check and make it out to “Franciscan Sisters, TOR”.  The Sisters address is:  369 Little Church Road, Toronto, OH 43964

Fundraising is simply a way of inviting you to be part of my ministry.  Personal invitations built on relationships are always best.  Therefore, this impersonal blogging and letter writing thing isn’t going to cut it.  I would love to meet with as many people, groups, and organizations as I can over the next two months to share my story.  People need to know that young people are in love with God and willing to live radical abandonment!

Although the path seems uncertain right now, my heart is filled with hope and joy.  I proclaim with Mary:

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
 
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
 
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
 
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children forever.

Are You Ready? As I’ll ever be…

Are you ready?

I’ve been getting this question a lot in regards to entering the convent.  We ask it often of couples about to get married or have children.  We ask it when people are moving.  Basically we ask it when big changes are happening.  I’m starting to realize this question makes little sense.  Am I excited?  Do I want to dive into my God given Vocation? YES. (If a married couple said no to these questions, wouldn’t you think there was something wrong?)  Am I woefully unprepared for the trials I will face?  Probably.  But who isn’t?

The devil keeps whispering that the answer is “no” – that I need to wait and “prepare.”  God is asking if I trust that he has prepared me sufficiently.

In today’s gospel, the apostles claimed to be ready to “drink the chalice” and “be baptized” as Jesus was. Did they really know what they were saying and what horrific persecution they would undergo?  Of course not.  Did they endure it anyway?  You betcha!

A deep, abiding sense of peace tells me it is time and that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

So to this question, I answer, “My heart is ready, Oh God, my heart is ready.”

Bowed With Fear

Oh fear, why dost thou persist?
You are a most unwelcome guest – On your departure, I must insist!
 
You came as a comfort, I must admit –
the comforting weight of a blanket.
 
On my shoulders you have sat,
offering protection – you would insist.
 
You soaked up my tears,
unbeknownst to me –
growing heavier and heavier.
 
Now I am bowed over
and yet unable to bow before my King.
 

 

Well This is Awkward

The Lord knows I need patience.  And like any good Father, He gives me what I need – not instantaneous patience, but opportunities to grow in this virtue.

When God calls us by name, loud and clear, to do something bold for Him, we often choose one of two extreme reactions: either go out immediately, on fire and ready to preach the Good News, or go cower in a corner for a while.  As usual, the proper response lies somewhere in the middle.

Today, the Birthday of the Church, Pentecost, the Apostles were literally set on fire, began to preach, and were sent to all the nations.  However, before this happened they gathered in the upper room, praying together and preparing.

Have you ever noticed that there are awkward “in between” times within the seasons of the Church?  During the Triduum this year I realized that I had no idea what to do with myself on Holy Saturday.  I was just waiting for Easter!  It was awkward and I didn’t like it.

awkward-turtle.jpg

Anyway…forty days into Easter we celebrated the Ascension of Jesus into heaven.  Jesus has risen from the dead and returned to His Father, promising to leave us with the Holy Spirit.  Time to preach it to all the world!  Not so fast…

With a sinking feeling in my stomach I realized that this is another awkward waiting period.

“Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

I would like to point out two key phrases here: “wait for the gift” and “receive”.  They had to wait days to receive the Holy Spirit!  Why?  God knew they weren’t ready.  They were to be filled with the Holy Spirit.   To be filled one must be emptied first (sound familiar?).  The Apostles needed to be emptied of the thing that holds all of us back: fear.  Then, and only then, would they be ready to bear the Cross to the ends of the earth.

In order to truly say “yes” to God’s call and receive the gift of your vocation, you must be able to make a free choice.  Most of the time it is fear that holds us back, but in the wonderful words of Tenth Avenue North “fear is just a lie.”  Because us humans are dense and stubborn, it takes time to come to a point of true freedom.

It is no secret that God speaks to me through children’s books.  The most recent treasure I’m diving into is the series The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander.  In the first book of the series, The Book of Three, a very wise warrior named Gwydion has some great things to say about being freed from fear and the incredible power of Truth.

“I saw the truth of the world, and knew no chains could hold me.”

“Once you have the courage to look upon evil, seeing it for what it is and naming it by its true name, it is powerless against you, and you can destroy it.”

So, at times you may feel like you are just sitting around twiddling your thumbs, waiting for that big moment when the Holy Spirit comes rushing in and compels you towards the will of God – but these times of waiting are really God preparing you!  Ask Him to empty you(especially of fear), to teach you how to wait patiently like Mary, and just bask in the glorious surprises He will gift you with!

A friend recently shared a wonderful bit of bible trivia with me: the phrase, in some form, “do not be not afraid,”  appears 365 times throughout scripture.  One for every day!!!

Check This Out!

Woah I need a break after that last post.

One of my best friends just started his own blog and it occurs to me that in addition to his there are some great blogs out there.  I’d like to take a moment to share them with you.

The first one is my dear friend who lives under a rock (remember her?).  She has mastered the blending of silly and serious into what she terms “The Roman Life”.  She is a real lady and I thank God every day for putting her into my life.  When I first met her in college I thought, “I need to be her friend!”  Somehow, God made that happen – aka I pursued her(in a very feminine way).

Secondly, the brand new blog that I mentioned above is brought to you by my personal Francis, my brother in Christ.  He is an amazing artist, fellow Narnia lover, and has been toying with the idea of starting a blog for months.  He asked for my input for the title and I suggested what I secretly wish mine was called – “Further Up and Further In”.  This phrase from The Chronicles of Narnia hints at the call from God to continually enter deeper and deeper into his love – but Shaun can tell you more about that.

The subtitle of Shaun’s blog is “The Warriors Journey” which he picked “because along the way it is rather difficult, and it is advised you carry a good blade with you. We are all wayfaring Warriors helping each other along the way.”  Another man who tries to be a warrior for God is Ryan Kraeger over at The Man Who Would be Knight.  Sadly, I can’t claim him as my friend, but he is certainly a brother in Christ.  I’ve just started following his blog and love the insights he shares.  I’m currently reading his book My Dearest Sistersand would highly recommend it.

These are just a few highlights – check out the sidebar for more great blogs!

 

Just a Mama Bear Protecting Her Children

In case you haven’t noticed, Sassy Victoria has come around for a visit, and I have a feeling she is here to stay.  You know what gets her britches in a bunch more than anything?  Blatant affronts to the Truth.

Recently I posted this article on facebook, prefacing it with “Before you attack the Catholic Church once again for hating on homosexuals, please read up and think about the anthropological, philosophical, and sociological reasons for marriage to remain between one man and one woman.”

Without ample time to do the suggested research, there were of course comments immediately, pointing out why I am a complete idiot for holding my beliefs about marriage.  I told you I would be writing more about this…

Now, when trying to have a reasonable conversation with my peers about this, it turns out, I can’t.  The educational system has epically failed us.  Most of us aren’t able to construct solid, reasonable, moral arguments.  I know that I am lacking in this and try to remedy it through self-education.

You can check out the ensuing comments on facebook(it went on for quite a while) and see that some of the rebuttals were, well, lacking.

So I was muddling through this conversation, attempting to put forth questions and well constructed responses, when someone dared to say “Marriage ≠ Children.”  And with that, Mama bear was unleashed.  She is not okay with the terrible lives children all over the world are being forced to suffer through.

Maybe this is a little extreme, but I couldn't resist...
Maybe this is a little extreme, but I couldn’t resist…

When did we become so selfish?  When did we start thinking that marriage is about making us feel good and exists for the fulfillment of our pleasure?  And when, oh when, did we separate marriage and reproduction?

No one thinks it’s a good thing that there are thousands of single mothers struggling to get by because their husbands, boyfriends, etc abdicated their roles as fathers.  It is hard to argue against the fact that the ideal is for a child to grow up with his or her biological mother and father, who are in a committed, stable, loving relationship.  Marriage is that commitment which builds the foundation for a nurturing home.

inconceivable-content-marriage

I mentioned before that marriage is meant to be a conjugal union – the two become one flesh.  We have degraded it to a merely emotional union in which physical consummation is not necessary.  Marriage is meant to be a contract in which blood is spilled.  Wait, we’re downplaying the physical components of marriage?  That sounds like….noooooo!!!!  Gnosticism has struck again! And now we find ourselves in a sticky situation.  Husband and Wife must be united body and soul, so much so that their unity is fruitful and produces little people.  Two people of the same sex cannot reach this level of unity.

To compound this problem, we have forgotten how to make gifts of our selves.  Spouses are “protected” from one another by birth control and destroy the very fruit of their intimate union through abortion.  We no longer value our children, and this is a serious problem.

So if marriage has nothing to do with children, and it also is not contingent on the gender of the partners, what, I dare to ask, is marriage?  And my friendly debating partner asked “why does it matter?”  Because the family is the foundation of our society and the wellbeing of children is involved, it matters a great deal.  She then posted a dictionary definition that shows how incredibly much it matters.

mar·riage noun \ˈmer-ij, ˈma-rij\
a (1) : the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law (2) : the state of being united to a person of the same sex in a relationship like that of a traditional marriage
b : the mutual relation of married persons : wedlock
c : the institution whereby individuals are joined in a marriage

I keep talking about the danger of redefining marriage, well it has been done.  Gay marriage can never be the same as a traditional marriage – it is not the same level of unity.  To top it off, I can’t say stuff like that without getting my head chopped off, because it is taken personally.  To even think of marriage as something other than the conjugal union between a man and woman that produces offspring is a brand new concept.  Some claim that this is the way of progress, of throwing off archaic ideas to make way for the modern.  And yet those who claim science as their god seem to think there are provable, objective truths…

As the article linked above states, redefining marriage means that people can make it whatever they want – a classic example of the relativism which is running rampant these days.  Some people hope that marriage will altogether cease to exist.  And like a broken record, I once again ask: what about the precious, innocent children who suffer the most from our unrelenting pursuit of pleasure?

Here is a great video of Fr. Barron speaking on the breakdown of the moral argument, specifically in relation to gay marriage.

Bungee Jumping FTW!

I am a fan of the abbreviation FTW, (For The Win) especially in conjunction with Holy Spirit, FTW.  However, my dear MaryElizabeth friend (God bless her), is a little, well, dense sometimes.  One day she poked her head out from under her rock (which is bigger than mine, but most certainly more Holy!)  and asked what FTW means.  She shared  her hypothesis with me- Fill the Womb(she is slightly preoccupied with the thought of having children one day).  We decided that this is actually awesome and promptly adopted it into our every day conversation(which tends to be quite ridiculous to begin with).

We often speak of being filled – by the Holy Spirit, the Love of God, etc.  But, in order for something to be filled it must first be empty.  What do we need to be emptied of? Sin.  Once we are emptied, we are in a perfect posture of receptivity.

The absolute, no holds barred, #1 example of receptivity is Mama Mary.  Why was she able to be completely receptive to God?  She was without sin.  She was completely empty and she had to be, for she was filled with God Himself.

Receptivity is a paradox, as all the best things are.  It is not the same as being passive.  It is active acceptance of God’s will, of a gift.  However, it is important that we do not initiate.

StStan
It is easy to get lost in the Mystery in a church like this!

How do we actively accept something without initiating?  Let’s just go right to the source and summit of our faith, the Eucharist, to answer this question.  This afternoon my dear friend and I went to a Solemn Latin Mass.  Although I’ve been to a Latin Mass before, it is still hard to follow along.  With Mass in general, and especially with the Latin Rite it may seem as though the congregation is not “doing” much.  We don’t say most of the responses, the Mass parts are sung by the choir, and the Priest whispers much of the consecration.  It is shrouded in mystery – as the Mass should be.  I enjoy attending the Latin Mass because it reminds me of the incredible mystery that is taking place.  At Mass today I began by following along in the booklet but eventually gave up and allowed myself to be swept up by the beauty of what was taking place.  It didn’t seem that I was actively doing anything, but simply being fully present in mind, body, heart, and soul, was all that was asked of me.  I was empty, so that God could fill me.

This is why it is so important to confess grave sins before receiving communion – we have to be emptied of all that is separating us from God.  The Sacrament of Communion is meant to be a sign of our union with God – if that union is not possible then the grace of the sacrament is is not effective.

We are given the Eucharist – we do not take it ourselves.  This does require action on our part though – we have to decide to accept the gift by opening our mouths or putting out our hands.  Gifts are useless unless we do something with them.  Imagine if someone gave you a gift and you never opened it!

So back to that little phrase – Fill the Womb.  All unions are meant to be fruitful.  Our union with God should be spiritually fruitful.  Therefore in the Eucharist Christ enters us, fills us, and in a way impregnates us with His Presence.  With the help of Mary, we are sent forth into the world to “birth” Christ.  This is why it is important to receive the Eucharist at least once a week – to be filled again.  Our lives should be a constant cycle of emptying and filling.

This past week at my local Theology on Tap the topic was Bungee Jumping: Closer in, Further out( and no, we did not learn how to bungee jump).   The speaker used bungee jumping as an analogy for always coming back to the Eucharist for nourishment and then going out into the world to evangelize.

Today, ask Mary to teach you how to bungee jump – aka how to be receptive.  Let God empty you of all that is holding you back, and fill the womb(FTW!) of your soul.