Just a few words about Christ, His Love, Grace, and Life as a Catholic Married Couple!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Just a few tidbits from my reading

This week in reading the Church Fathers I found the profound beauty of the letters they wrote back and forth to one another. Topics varied from condolences for death of a loved one, correction on interpretations, and more. They truly saw their work as one and helped each other despite their distance! If you ever get the chance, read a little of the Cappadocian Fathers! 

Here is one gem:

"Everything we do is by way of preparation for the other life. Whatever, therefore, contributes to that life, we say must be loved and pursued with all our strength; but what does not conduce to that must be passed over as of no account." -St. Basil the Great

The Teresas

The Little Flower, Mama T, and Big Teresa are all three women who share a name and a very special place in my heart! I've been to the homes of two of them and would love to make it to the 3rd. I wanted to just share pictures of where they lived and remind you that these women truly lived holy lives. I'd encourage you to look them up and get to know them well!

The first Teresa, St. Teresa of Avila (The first picture is the alter in the Church built on her home)

Photo: Happy Feast Day of St. Teresa of Avila! She is another Doctor of the Church and the inspiration to both St. Therese and Mother Teresa! She is an amazing woman! This is one of the Churches there in Avila that we visited a few years ago (I believe built over her home). The beauty is a glimpse of the beauty of Teresa's soul!

Next is St. Therese of Liseux

(This is Nick and I in front of the Basilica in Liseux)
Photo: Happy Feast Day of St. Therese! "I will spend my heaven doing good upon earth. I will let fall from heaven a shower of roses!" (This is Nick and I in front of the Basilica of St. Therese in Liseux a few years ago)

Lastly is Mother Teresa (This is her room in Calcutta, picture take by Dr. Sri)
Photo: I have recently returned from teaching in Calcutta, India. Here's a photo I took of Blessed Mother Teresa's simple bedroom from which she administrated the Missionaries of Charity. This is the bed upon which she died in 1997.
Notice how the only saint picture in her room was that of the Little Flower St. Therese of Lisieux.  Mother Teresa had a strong devotion to St. Therese. Though the Loretto Sisters (her first religious community) gave her the name Teresa after Teresa of Avila, she wanted to be named after the little Therese. Blessed Mother Teresa and St. Therese, pray for us!

I can't say much about them because if I got started I would have a hard time stopping!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A beautiful video

This man truly gets Ephesians 5! If only every married love was like this! 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

What is Freedom?

I find it very fitting that today, the 12th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the US on 9-11 was the same day I was reminded what true freedom is. We are a country that says we are the "Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave," but I'm curious do we really know what freedom is? 

In reading all about politics in Europe and America without God in the beautiful book The Cube and The Cathedral by George Weigel this week, I was shocked. There is a great deal of craziness happening in our world and I have begun to believe that a great deal of the culture craziness stems from the misunderstanding of the word freedom. I mean how many teenagers and young adults talk about wanting freedom and independence and what not. We want to be free to do whatever we want, whenever we want. We are our own people so let me be free. 

Thus I want to purpose two versions of freedom. An amazing theologian and priest, Servais Pinckaers gives us the concepts of freedom for excellence and freedom of indifference

Freedom of Indifference is one where you are simple free to have a "neutral faculty of choice. And choice is everything, for choice is a matter of self-assertion, of power. "Will is the defining human attribute here. It is whatever I will to do will make me free. Laws are things that constrain one in light of this definition of freedom. I want to be free from the law to do as I please. And this is true freedom to many people in our world today.

Alternatively Freedom for Excellence  is a "matter of gradually acquiring the capacity to choose the good and to do what we choose with perfection, with excellence." In this case law and freedom are not opposing one another. Rather, "law can educate us in freedom. Law is not something imposed on us externally; rather, law is a work of wisdom, and good law makes it possible for us to achieve the human goods we instinctively seek because of who we are and what we are meant to be as human beings." Simply put, freedom is the "method by which we become the kind of people our noblest instincts incline us to be: the kind of people who can, for example, build free and democratic societies characterized by tolerance, civility, and respect for other, societies in which the rights of all are protected by both law and the moral commitments of 'we the people' who make the law."

I wish I could say with full confidence that our country is one that is the home of freedom for excellence. Rather I believe our country is one where it does not want to impose on anyone's beliefs (doesn't sound brave either) that it makes you believe you are free by allowing you to do whatever you want, or at least make you think you can. However, you aren't free in that since and we are definitely not free in the sense of freedom for excellence. Because if I am not mistaken we don't live in a society that has respect for one another or has rights for all people. We are diminishing others rights like crazy and do not treat others with the dignity they deserve. We have stigmatized all kinds of people and we need to be a light of love in the world, not one of judgement and condemnation

So what is freedom, it is something rooted in "virtues, the crucial element of freedom rightly understood, and the journey of a life lived in freedom is a journey of growth in virtue--growth in our ability to choose wisely and well the things that truly make for our personal happiness and for the common good." 

So I ask you today on the 12th anniversary of 9-11, are you on a journey leading you towards virtue? If you are you are truly free, thanks to the grace of God. Pray that others begin to live a life like this and that our country begins to recognize its truth and beauty. If you aren't leading a life of virtue, or at least working on it, are you truly living in the "Land of the free, and the Home of the Brave?" Or are you really enslaved to the sin of the world or at least the sin that this country preaches as good daily?

Pray for our country that we can begin to desire the freedom for excellence!

***All quotes are from Weigel's The Cube and The Cathedral

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Church at the Cross

This past week I've been continuing to read from the Soul of the Apostolate. If you want a deep but wonderful book to help you with your interior life, this is it! SUPER good! The part I was reading was on Eucharistic Spirituality. It really reminded me to truly encounter Christ in the Eucharist every time I am at Mass. Then after reading some time I began to pray about what I read and I looked up at my favorite crucifix: 

All I could begin to think from this image is...Mary is receiving the Christ and the Body of Christ, the Church here in the chalice. She is receiving the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity at the Cross. She is representing all of us as the Body of Christ and receiving Christ. 

Later I was walking and talking with Nick and I realized another beautiful image and its relationship to the Eucharist...La Pieta:

Here Mary is receiving Christ's entire self. She is holding him in her arms with joy and agony on her face. She is doing what we do everyday at Mass. Receiving the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ into her arms. So that got me thinking, what a beautiful way to see receiving Communion everyday, but to be like Mary at the foot of the Cross receiving him completely like this image shows. We might be so joyful to receive Him or full of agony. Whatever the case may be, Mary understands because she was there holding him at the Cross. She understand the joy that comes after His death and the agony of her Son's passion and death. She understands how we all feel. So what better person to ask to intercede for us when we receive Christ in communion. Mary I offer this Eucharist to you to help me to live a life like you, one where we accept the will of the Lord "Let it be done unto me according to thy word." (Luke 1:38)

Mary is the mother of the Church and she represents all of us at the Cross receiving Him. So as I received Communion later that day all I could think was receive Christ like Mary did. Despite my agony and joy I am receiving my Lord and my God under the veil of bread and wine. The Lord lowers himself to an inanimate object for us. He lowers himself below the ants so we might be able to truly receive Him and unite ourselves into an intimate communion with God. 

So Mary can be the guide to developing a greater Eucharistic spirituality. Lets turn to our Mother and Queen and ask her to help us better understand the MIRACULOUS gift that the Eucharist is for us. Receiving Christ, our Lord and God, intimate;y into our lives through the simplicity of bread and wine. May he nourish us and guide us to grow to love Him more! 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Mother Teresa

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about Mother Teresa and her profound love. This was started when one of her spiritual directors came to my school and spoke on her and has not stopped especially because my boss is currently in Calcutta speaking to the Missionaries of Charity. He said he would pray for Nick and I at her tomb and all I can think is what a gift. With all the recent struggles (moving, family, etc.) all I can think is Mama T protect me and help me to be as joyful and loving as you even if I am struggling. God provides because then today a friend posted this link to Time Magazine's interview with her. Take the time to read the interview if you can and see the beautiful words she spoke to all of us. (Also below is a link to the talk I went to back in July by one of her spiritual directors.)

Time Magazine Interview: http://www.servelec.net/mothertheresa.htm

Talk on Mama T: http://www.augustineinstitute.org/augustine-institute-blog/item/a-graced-bewilderment-the-dark-night-of-blessed-mother-theresa

Blessed Mother Teresa, Ora Pro Nobis. 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

“I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!” –Luke 12:49

“I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!” –Luke 12:49
                In hearing these words at Mass this morning I thought WOW we have some work to do! Are there any flames out there? Thankfully, we visited a new parish who has a VERY holy pastor who spoke on this verse beautifully. He really helped me get the meaning of the verse and learn a lot about what we as Christians are called to do! He began saying “if Christ wants to set the world on fire we should look at what fire is! Fire gives warmth, light, and burns.” These three things instantly struck a chord in my heart and so many thought bubbles started. He continued to say that in ancient times it is believed that many Christians said, “Grow closer to Christ. Get closer to the fire.” All of these statements led me to think all during Mass about the following.
                First, fire gives warmth. We as Christians are called to grow closer to this. Warmth is like when we first get near a flame. Not too close but a comfortable warmth. If we get too close we jump back in fear of getting burnt. We just want the comfortable warmth of the fire. Yet as Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said, “We are not made for comfort, we are made for greatness.” So what is the greatness we are called to rather than the comfortable warmth of a fire? We are called to draw near to the flame even when it seems dangerous and fear overwhelms us. Draw closer to the flame to be burnt, not literally.
                Next to think about is the light of a fire. How many times have we heard the expression of being a light of Christ to others? I mean all I can think is “This little light of mine. I’m gonna let it shine…” However, it isn’t just an idea that we need to be a light but a little something more. Pope Francis helps us understand how we are to be light with the title of his first encyclical Lumen fidei, which translates as The Light of Faith. In the very first paragraph he explains how light is something that people are drawn to, but it is more than just light, the light we are drawn to is Christ. "The pagan world, which hungered for light, had seen the growth of the cult of the sun god, 'Sol Invictus,' invoked each day at sunrise.... The sun does not illumine all reality; its rays cannot penetrate to the shadow of death, the place where men's eyes are closed to its light.... Those who believe, see; they see with a light that illumines their entire journey, for it comes from the risen Christ, the morning star which never sets." (Lumen fidei, 1). Christ himself is the light and our faith in him is what shines in us, not our own abilities. We must let go and have faith in the Lord to be a light. Our faith in the Lord and the ultimate trust and surrender of our life is what shines to others. “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me,” -Galatians 2:20. The light of faith is Christ working in us. Pope Francis helps us to see this, “The light of faith is unique, since it is capable of illuminating every aspect of human existence. A light this powerful cannot come from ourselves but from a more primordial source: in a word, it must come from God. Faith is born of an encounter with the living God who calls us and reveals his love, a love which precedes us and upon which we can lean for security and for building our lives." (Lumen fidei, 4) We need strong lights in the world today, but if you again look a little deeper at this fire metaphor, we are reminded that the light can be very dim at first but grow. A flame can be a huge bonfire or something small like a candle. As our relationship with Christ grows so grows the flame. And something to remember is that you can see in the dark with just a small flame. “Cause I can see the light before I see the sunrise.” –Matt Maher.  “Once we discover the full light of Christ's love, we realize that each of the loves in our own lives had always contained a ray of that light." (Lumen fidei, 32).” This faith is one rooted in love, an intimate true love with our Lord. This “True love, on the other hand, unifies all the elements of our person and becomes a new light pointing the way to a great and fulfilled life." (Lumen fidei, 27). The fire we are called to gives light and Christ himself working in us gives light. We just have to be receptive to him in our lives.
                Now the last quality of fire is the biggest challenge, or at least it seems to me to be. Fire burns. When I think of allowing myself as a Christian to be burnt, I cringe. Burning makes me think of the many times I have gotten sunburns and how painful it is. However, when the pain subsides the skin peels and brand new skin comes to the surface protecting me. Christ wants us to draw to near to him, the fire, in order that we may burn and be purified. Take a moment ant think to the last bonfire you sat at and how the wood within the fire starts as something sturdy and strong but within time is burnt into ash and soon nothing but the flame and heat remains. If we are being called to draw near to the fire, we are being called to be the wood. To become so much a part of the fire that eventually we become nothing but part of the flame. We leave all of ourselves behind to become part of the one flame, Christ. Now think of the noise that happens when the wood burns. It almost sounds like whining and crying. The wood is crying out because it hurts just like we do when we get too close and the cross and suffering become too real. But to use another analogy, we have to draw so close to Christ that we feel the thorns of the crown and the nails in us as well. The flame needs to consume us. We need to be a part of the flame, the Body of Christ. In doing so we are purified of our selfishness and pride and become one. And this may cause some to want to leave behind their faith, but later in the same Gospel today the Lord reminds us that, “Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” –Luke 12:51. He calls for the world to be set on fire which will cause division to occur, because being a part of the fire calls for conversion. It calls for leaving ourselves behind for the Church.
                For being a part of the fire means taking part in the love of the Trinity: the warmth not seen but felt is the Holy Spirit, the light seen is Christ incarnate, and the flame burning is God himself. We desire to be a part of Christ and to live for him, but it must be grounded in truth and love, which takes virtue. Being so warm it hurts rather than comforts, being so fixed and in love with Christ he shines in us, and being burnt by God to become purified and holy is what it takes to be a Christian. Are we ready to remove our sandals (an analogy I wonder of earthly things) and draw close to the burning bush that burns without consuming?