I’m Back!

My head is cold.  I have an irresistible urge to wear outrageous color combinations.

I gave up being a nun for Lent.  More accurately, God led me into the desert and to follow His crazy plans!  St. Faustina called Jesus “the divine madman” and now I know why!  He will stop at nothing, absolutely nothing, to recreate us in His image, to bring about His plan for our lives, which will ultimately bring us life to the full and blissful union with Him in heaven.  The Divine Bridegroom will stop at nothing to win His Bride and be united with her forever.

For the past three years I have been in formation with the TOR Sisters, as most of you know.  God made it clear that He is calling me elsewhere, so I came back home recently.  I’ll write more about that experience and my time there as I process it.  I’m not sure if anyone even still reads this blog, but if you do hello again!  Thanks for sticking with me.

P.S.  Have pen, will write!  I am looking for a job and any writing opportunities.

Thank you St. Joseph!

My dear friends and family,

I have some sad news to share with you.  This probably really will be my last post (unless the Holy Spirit has other plans!), because…

I AM DEBT FREE!!!!

AKA I can be a sister!!!!!!

Last Friday, I found out that I have been awarded the St. Joseph grant by Mater Ecclesiae Fund for Vocations.  I am still in shock and awe at the great work the Lord has done.

This wonderful organization will now be paying off my student loans and those of everyone else who they are helping.  I ask that you prayerfully consider supporting their mission.

Here is a letter from their website about this years awards and why they need your help more than ever:

We have made a leap of faith.

Two unexpected occurrences have led to a very surprising event for the Fund for Vocations. First, by the time the application period had closed this year we had only 23 applications for grants. Normally, the count is in the 40s. We have no idea why there were so few, but we expect it is just happenstance and we will see a return to normal numbers next year, particularly since we are seeing our usual level of inquiries for early in the year.

Second, our donors’ generosity has greatly exceeded our expectations and the Fund ended 2013 in the fairly good financial condition.

Those two occurrences led the Fund’s board of directors to make a great leap of faith and authorize the funding of grants to all our applicants this year! This act equates to a commitment to raise an additional $75,000 each year for more than a decade.

That is a 35% increase in our commitment to help men and women proceed with the life to which God has called them. As we can only attribute our good financial position to your generous response to God’s call to you, we can do no less. Please pray for us and continue to help us in this work to build up the Church.

I cannot thank you all enough for supporting my vocation and know that all of my benefactors are in my prayers.  Please continue to pray for me especially during this time of initial formation!

I would love to receive letters and hear from you.  My address is 369 Little Church Road, Toronto, OH 43964.  If you’re in the area please don’t hesitate to ask about visiting!

May God Bless you all and may you remain in His most Sacred Heart!

P.S. Entrust St. Joseph with all your needs – he gets things done!

Oh, You Too?

God has allowed me to enter into a month of peaceful preparation and I’m loving it! Yesterday I went to Mass, hung out with the old ladies at Church, visited the Blessed Sacrament, and made dinner for my family.  This is the life.

I’m also taking advantage of all this time to read many books.  One of these is The Foundations of Religious Life: Revisiting the Vision, which is a collection of essays put forth by the CMSWR.  It is an important reminder of the purpose and mission of religious life, at a time when so many orders have lost sight of the vision.

In this book, Sr. Paula Jean Miller, F.S.E. writes that our salvation always comes about through other people.  For married couples it is through one another and their families.  For those in religious life, their salvation is worked out through a particular and specific community.  They do not take vague vows to be lived out in a general way.  They promise God to live chastely, obediently, and in poverty, with other people, for other people, and through a particular community, especially the superiors.

God always works through other people.  This is why He sent Jesus, as a man, to redeem us. Even then, Jesus came through Mary (this is why we have consecration through Mary to Jesus).

Unless you are called to be a hermit, you need community to grow in virtue.  It is an unavoidable fact of life: we are made for community.  And community does not consist of going to bible study at your parish once a week and making small talk with the old ladies at daily Mass.  We need to be forming true Friendships centered on Christ.  God puts specific people in our lives for a reason and invites us to enter into relationship with them.  Through these relationships, we should be helping one another get to heaven.

“In friendship…we think we have chosen our peers…But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking no chances. A secret master of ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,” can truly say to every group of Christian friends, “Ye have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another.” The friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others.”  C.S. ~ The Four Loves

And what is True Friendship you might ask? Oh, you want to open that can of worms? You asked for it!

In the words of my semi-friend (from personal experience, never call someone that to her face), C.S. Lewis:

“… It is when two such persons discover one another, when, whether with immense difficulties and semi-articulate fumblings or with what would seem to us amazing and elliptical speed, they share their vision – it is then that Friendship is born. And instantly they stand together in an immense solitude.”

Emerson said that when we ask “Do you love me?,” what we are really asking is “Do you see the same truth?”

Lewis speaks of the importance of sharing a common vision.  He also says that if we do see the same truth all the other details of our lives don’t really matter.  A shared vision should automatically create an even playing field when it comes to Friendship.  Where we come from, our past mistakes, who our family is, should melt away.

Ideally we should be Friends with all Christians.  Immediately upon meeting another Christian, there should be that moment of “Oh, you too?”  Simply by virtue of being brothers and sisters in Christ, we are all Friends.  This, of course, does not mean that you will have a deep and intimate relationship with every Christian you meet, but even a moment of connection can help us remember that we’re not alone and are in constant communion with the body of Christ.

Who are the people and particular community that God wants to work through in your life? Be open to the call to community in whatever surprising ways God wishes to initiate it.

P.S. I know I talk about her a lot, but I can’t write a post about friendship without mentioning my best Friend.  Our “oh you too?” moment came when we shared our intentions of doing Montfort’s Consecration to Jesus through Mary.  Mary has been protecting our Friendship ever since!

Beside Myself (Not in a Padre Pio kind of way)

Pentacost

I am beginning to form a bad habit of being beside myself. I wish I could claim to have been gifted with a Padre Pio-esque ability to bilocate, but, alas, it is simply that the Holy Spirit keeps leaving me dumbfounded.

In the last post I mentioned a veritable Catholic celebrity, Jackie Francois, not thinking (but maybe slightly hoping) that she might look at my little old blog. When I discovered that she had not only read the post, but put a link to it on her own blog, I will admit there was some Catholic fangirling (I will spare you, and her, the embarrassing details). Jackie is a beautiful role model of a Godly woman and I am honored by her compliment. Thank you!!

I guess there is at least one of you out there who really needs to pray this rosary novena since we both wrote about it! Whoever you are, get to it!

Already beside myself, I read in Jackie’s post: “Now, 49 days before our wedding, we are in the middle of a 54-day novena that will end the day before our wedding.” Turning to myself, I said, “self, something is fishy here…”

Quickly checking the date of Jackie and Bobby’s wedding confirmed my suspicions: it is in fact the same weekend as my entrance with the TOR’s.

Oh but, dear readers, it gets better. God is, after all, the ultimate one-upper.

Jackie and Bobby weave a story of the unlikely meeting of a fair maiden and a troll at a place called Black Rock.

In the very same month of the very same year, another young maiden was at this very same place spending time with her Beloved. It was there that she met the TOR Sisters, a community in which she could live out her vocation.

Where it all began...
Where it all began…

These are the unlikely intersections of seemingly separate lives which remind us how intimately we are actually connected as the Mystical Body of Christ. And maybe the Holy Spirit just likes to see me speechless. I’m sure I make quite a spectacle of myself on a regular basis, but only because He keeps taking me by surprise!

So here I sit beside myself, loving every minute of it.

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!!!