Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Women's Night Session 1

When I read the the story of the creation of Eve, I cannot help but believe that God created her with a beautiful vision for femininity. She was created to reveal to the world something about God and His love that Adam could not reveal. God has planted that vision, His original intent for woman, in the deepest desires of the female heart. As little girls, I think we think we get that. When I think back to when I was a child and I look at little girls today, I see a hope in the greatness of that vision. Little girls have big dreams. And they are dreams of deep love, true compassion, and fairly tale beauty. The desire for those dreams (the dreams God intended woman to have) are alive in the hearts and hopes of little girls. Then I look at my peers or I look at teenagers, I don't see the same hope and joy in the eyes of these young women. Young women today are broken and hurt. They seem to have no more hope in the vision God gave them as little girls. So the question is, what happened? It's tempting to say that as little girls, we were too idealistic. And that as we have grown older and become young women, we now have a stronger grasp of reality. It's tempting because it makes us feel better, and it doesn't challenge us to change. But it ignores the truth of the matter. We have to acknowledge that the desires of the female heart are God-given desires. He created us to long to be loved. He created us for the happiness and beauty of fairy tales. As young girls, we relish in that fact. But somewhere between little girl and young woman, it starts to scared us. The part of the story that people like to leave out is that part that shows us the purpose for these desires. They are meant, first and foremost, to draw us deeper and deeper into the love of God. There is no human being on this earth, there is nothing in this world that can completely satisfy us. We were created to find our fulfillment in God. The world around us tells us that we have to find a way to fulfill ourselves, and we begin to worry that we won't ever have our desires met. So somewhere between 3 and 13, we start putting on a little more make-up; we learn how to flirt; we put others down to try and make ourselves feel better; we strive to keep up with the images the media feeds us; we watch romantic movies, hoping to catch a glimpse of the dream we once hoped in; and we begin to give pieces of ourselves, emotionally, mentally, and physically to guys and to the world. The sad part is, we are shattering our dreams. And we don't even realize it. In this process, we get hurt. We become even more afraid of the Truth, because now the Truth isn't just that we need God. Now, the Truth is also that we are broken. That we've been hurt. That we've been pursuing satisfaction in all the wrong places. We don't want to admit how broken we really are. In John 8: 31-32, Jesus tells us that we can be His disciples. He tells us that the Truth will set us free. The brokenness that surrounds us, that traps and stifles modern femininity doesn't have to be the reality of our lives. God's intent when He created Eve is still His intention today. Even though we have lost sight of the vision, God hasn't. Through all of the complexities of the female heart, through the emotional messes, and through the broken dreams, God's perfect vision for woman remains. The first step to embracing that vision, is to live in the truth about what we have made it.

Why does this have to be so hard?

Last night at CONNECT, we were discussing our world today and the difficulties involved in living as God calls us to live. I remembered a time when I was teaching about the garden of Eden to a fourth grade CCD class. One of my students ask, "If God didn't want them to eat from the tree of knowledge, why did He plant it in the first place?" After recovering from the shock of a ten year old asking a question that was at once simple and incredibly deep, we talked about how without the possibility of disobedience, there could not be obedience. Without the opportunity to disobey, we would not really be obeying. Without the opportunity to not love God, we cannot actually love Him; it wouldn't be love. I think the same is true in terms of the struggle to live as God calls us to live. Without the struggle, living that way wouldn't be real. It isn't just that the struggle makes it more meaningful, the struggle makes it possible. It seems that the more it costs us to live as God calls us to live, the greater our capacity to live in accordance with His will. What we choose not to do, is just as important as we choose to do.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Corpus Christi Confusion

I know this is a week late, but I left for Project Life last week without making time to blog about this. Last Sunday as I was sitting at mass reflecting on Christ's sacrifice, I began to feel repulsion at the whole idea. I was mentally comparing Christ's sacrifice with the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament. In those sacrifices, the priest would hold on to the head of the animal in a ritual that was supposed to transfer his sins to the animal. Thus, when the animal was sacrificed, payment for those sins was made. In the same way, Christ takes our sins upon Himself, and He is slaughtered in the same bloody mess as the animals of the Old Testament. It was at this point that my reflection became a bit too much for my comfort level. The vast humiliation that Christ's suffering includes is not something I would want for anyone, much less the Love of My Life, my Savior and King. I didn't want the cross. I didn't want the Eucharist. I knew that without those things there could be no salvation, but how could I let Christ suffer in my place? How could I let the cross be my fault? Last Sunday, I learned something new about love. My capacity to be loved by God increased, because I gained a greater understanding of just how minuscule my understanding of love is. For reasons far beyond what I can comprehend, God sent His Son to freely choose to die for me. Through the paradox of the cross, the glory in the humiliation, somehow salvation is offered to me, and I become the recipient of a Love that is more glorious and true than any other love. It is truly amazing.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

They aren't mine.

And this isn't about me. The children that I hope for, dream about, and beg God for, they aren't mine. They aren't about my plan. They are God's creation. He creates them with a specific purpose in mind. I have no rights to them. They come with no guaranteed time frame. And they aren't about me; they're about salvation: mine and theirs and everyone else's God's Divine Plan wills. "These children (are) made in His image, co-created in our love, born in my pain, all living here in our home." -Suzanne, Mother of 6 While they may be beautiful additions to my family, they are primarily beautiful additions to God's.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Gone Fishing...

...week long service retreat, here I come!

Friday, June 12, 2009

I Love....

....being a girl. It's true. I've complained from time to time about the whole "that time of the month thing," and I've whined a bit about how sometimes guys seem to have it easier as far as meeting social standards is concerned, but all in all, I love being a girl, and I wouldn't want it any other way. There is some that is captivatingly beautiful about God's intention for femininity. Although I'm quite sure that I have only barely begun to understand His breath-taking vision, I feel truly blessed to be able to embrace what I do understand. It's true that it is not always easy. For one thing, hormones and emotions can cause rather large disturbances in deliberately rational action. However, the gentle and feminine actions that are the result of a battle with said emotions is worth the fight. There really is something special about the feminine heart. While I am passionately opposed to the selfish pursuit of codling the feminine heart for the sake of making oneself "feel better," I do think that the way God has designed our hearts teaches us a lot about that beautiful vision of His. Somewhere, there is a balance between nurturing femininity and denying self...I believe that in that balance (in the midst of properly ordered emotions) lies God's sacred call of femininity to every woman.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

New Look

I changed my blog template...as if you didn't notice. I think I may have had this one a long time ago, but I'm not certain. I haven't fully decided whether or not I like it, which means that it might change. I was hoping to find a more comfortable look, but I couldn't. It is what it is. For now anyway.

Monday, June 8, 2009

A Not So Good Day

"Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age." -Matthew 28: 19-20 The Great Commission. That was the Gospel reading yesterday. When I first read it, I thought this is prefect for today. Yesterday was the Parish picnic. The youth minister had made little postcards advertising for a new young adults ministry that he is starting at the Parish. We each had a stack of cards to hand out to the twenty-somethings we saw at the picnic. The whole vision for the ministry involves creating a place in the life of the Parish for this age group. It's all about asking the tough questions in order to prompt discussion that will (by the grace of God and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit) lead to the Truth offered by the Church. The mission for the day: to create a personal connection with the twenty-somethings in order to invite them, personally, to the first "CONNECT" night. As I said, the gospel was perfect for the task. I'm pretty sure there was a part of me that knew I wouldn't be very good at handing out the cards. I'm not very good at approaching people (?) (I guess that isn't entirely true), and I'm easily intimidated. Still, it shouldn't have been that difficult. I went to grade school with these people. All I had to do was stop briefly when I walked by and ask them how their life was going. Then, I could tell them what we were doing at the Parish. I already had the "in". (Something we worked hard to come by when I was an RA) It didn't happen. Well, to be fair, it happened twice. Something about seeing those people paralyzed me in some way. It was strange. Countless times, upon seeing them, I turned the other way, tried to look like I was busy, or walked by without making eye contact, hoping they wouldn't notice me. Pathetic. But why? Why was that my response? Do I still feel that "unworthy" of the popular crowd? Was it the alcohol? Am I just uncomfortable around the drinking? That doesn't make much sense though, I too was holding a beer. What was it then? What was it that made the task so difficult for me? Here is the paradox. My life is pretty well put together. I love the Church. I'm convicted of Her Truths. I'm blessed with undeserved happiness. And for those things, I am deeply, eternally, grateful to my Lord, my Savior, my Father, and my King. I know, believe, and trust that the Holy Spirit walks with me. At all times. In all situations. Without fail. However, yesterday, I was not a woman of that strength. Yesterday, I was a woman of fear. Yesterday, I was more lost than the people I was supposed to be approaching, the people I was commissioned to approach, because I was denying, through my actions (and lack of) the very Truths I have been blessed to have revealed to me. There is this part of me that wants to run from it all. Part of me wants to beg my store manager to schedule me for every Monday night so that I can never go to CONNECT. Part of me wants to hide, wants to pretend like it's just not something God is calling me to. Don't worry though...I won't. Because that would be making the same mistake again. That would be ignoring the gospel (again), which clearly shows that I am called to it. And if I really am the woman I claimed to be two paragraphs ago, I have to learn from yesterday by doing better today. After all, God's grace is so much bigger.

Friday, June 5, 2009


I keep coming so close to writing another blog. Really. I do. It just isn't happening. None of the things that I almost write about seem to be right. At this point, I've even logged and started typing in hopes that I'll jump on a topic. Perhaps now just isn't the time. Here are small peeks at some of the things I've been thinking recently.... 1.) My trip to Chicago was hard for me. It seemed like everywhere I looked there were lifeless people. When I paused to look at people, I mean really look at them, life just seemed so hopeless. It was odd for me. Hope is one my favorite virtues, and yet it seemed just out of grasp over my trip. It was strangely paralyzing. Life seemed so futile, so empty. Once again, it was hard for me to trust that God has a great and glorious plan for mankind and that plan involves, by necessity, our time here on earth. 2.) Accountability is hard for me. My battle used to always be with my willingness to speak up. Now, that has become less of an issue, and the new problem lies in the way I deliver the correction. I want to speak with loving kindness. I want to uplift. I want the person I am talking to to walk away filling empowered. So often it seems as though my words do not bear that fruit. Perhaps the person hears what I'm saying, but they hear it in a way (because I say it in a way) that leaves them feeling condemned. This can hardly be called accountability, and it is more accurately described as an exasperation of the problem itself. 3.) Surrender is tough. Not only because of the act itself, but also because of my doubts regarding the effectiveness of the act. I frequently question whether I mean my words. I doubt whether or not I'm actually surrendering. I wise priest once told me that surrender begins with desire. My prayer is that I learn to trust that God's grace makes up the rest of what is lacking in my offering.