Saturday, December 1, 2007

Inexhaustible love...

It's an insult to God when you think your sins are greater than His mercy. --Mother Angelica

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Backseat Driver

In my (almost) two years as a Christian, I have seen witnessing and evangelism that made even those of us in the fold cringe.

I'm sure you're all quite familiar with the raging fire-and-brimstone proselytizing that makes its rounds in the Christian community, often sending its victims running away as fast as humanly possible, not accepting Christ as planned.

Oops?

Other situations find a Christian doing his or her best to witness, and, when things are going south, find themselves frustrated. I've seen that happen just the other day on a forum, with lots of bold letters, italics, and most importantly, YOU'RE DENYING THE TRUTH. IT IS WRITTEN.

Looks like someone forgot that Rome wasn't built in a day. ;)

There is, however, a similar evil on the other end of the scale. We can be gentle, we can love our non-Catholic friends to death, but what happens when that love turns into complacency and compromise of the truth? I can't be sure, but as a friend reminded me the other day, if we deny God, we in turn will be denied by Him. That, frankly, is something I don't want to risk by being a sissy.

Pride is a vice that loves to play head games. We sometimes manage to get it into our heads that all we have to do is say the right thing, make the right argument, give the right answers, and they'll convert. All it takes is a little convincing, no?

Well...no. Just no. And may Christ have mercy on me for ever thinking that was the way it was done! I've been a fool.

Again, it all comes down to grace. No matter how difficult it may be from the outside, there's nothing we can do to change the hearts of those around us. That responsibility is in God alone. That doesn't mean that we give up, of course, but we need to listen to the Spirit and act accordingly.

My heart is in the right place, but I'm not doing the right thing. And I may be more of a hindrance than a help to God right now, as long as I think there's "something I can do".

The only thing I can do is love, and love unconditionally. The rest is in His hands. He is more than capable. I was so entirely wrong for apologising for speaking the truth. As much as it hurts...I can't be sorry anymore.

Friday, November 9, 2007

The I'm Sorry Jesus Maneuver

It seems that I am, at long last, beginning to climb out of a hole I fell into with some particularly nasty sins a few months ago.

I can recall quite easily what my faith was like when I was fresh out of the occult. The closest thing I had come to a church was online, in ExWitch Ministries and its affiliates. When my computer was off and I lived in the 'real world', however, I was completely alone.

My family and friends are all, with the exception of a precious few, secular. I had no one to be accountable to, and, because of that, sin ran rampant in my life. Of course, there was no one to apologise to but my invisible Savior--what I like to call the "I'm Sorry Jesus Maneuver". You've sinned, you tell Him so, you swear you'll try again...

And you fail. Because, really, who will know? There is no damage to your pride, your reputation, if you live a life of sin. And as for Jesus, well, He'll always forgive. Apathy sets in quickly, and soon we no longer apologise. We sin, and sin, and we sin, and expect to get by...

How?

We go to church, and the pastor strokes our egos, reminding us again that all we have to do is ask His mercy...and, as we walk out the door, we are the same people we were yesterday. Oh, yes, we've sinned again, but alleluia! God will forgive. God loves us.

All of this, mind, is true! But do we really expect that we will get away with all of this?

Hardly. And the Sacrament of Reconciliation has opened my eyes to that.

You know, you never realise how destructive and shameful sin can be until you look a man (just like us!) in the face, and make known all that you have done to spit in the face of our Maker. If you expect to walk out of there with a scrap of pride, or the slightest intention of sinning again, you my friend, are in for a surprise.

What you get, instead, is the tearing down of the facade you worked so very, very hard to build. The person waiting beyond that facade is dirty, stained with sin, and not at all worthy of our Lord. How could we ever dream of being worthy with a soul this broken?

That is where the beauty of absolution, and our salvation, comes in. Not by our works, or by our faith alone, but by His grace.

When we peel away those layers of pride, selfishness, and sin, we are left with a creature that God could not possibly love more. And, even dirty and broken, we are beautiful in His eyes. It is only when the pretenses are gone that God can begin our healing--and it is very hard to reach that with a simple I'm Sorry Jesus Maneuver.

With a priest to guide us, however embarrassing it may be (and sin should be embarrassing), it makes finding the straight and narrow again much easier. "If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them," said Christ to the Apostles in John 20, "and if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained." That is, indeed, quite the responsibility. But, to me, it is worth so much more than simple ego stroking.

The next time you feel the temptation to sin, think of how difficult it is to wash away those stains on your own. His grace is simple and free, but the destruction we cause in our transgressions will take much more than that to heal.

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, and His mercy endures forever.

No news is good news...

Right?

Yes, it has been a horrifically long time since I've updated this blog. For that, I apologise--I sincerely doubt I have many faithful readers anymore, but for those who remain, I am always glad to have you!

So much has happened in the past four months. The sudden death of my grandfather, the start of university and the consequent end of high school; my coming of age, the beginning of a new novel, and more than a few anniversaries, one of which being particularly dear to me.

I am eighteen. I am still, somehow, miraculously, by the grace of our Lord, Catholic. It has been a terrific (in the wonderful and scary sense), rough, ecstatically bumpy ride. And I am in love in more ways than one. I really don't think I mind in either scenario.

I've finally found fellowship, and while they are Protestants, I am so very grateful to them for taking me in. It has also given me some hands-on apologetics work, which can be so good for building on my faith. Coincidentally, I will be meeting someone new, a Catholic, who goes to both my college and parish, at tomorrow's Mass. This may be what I've been looking for.

As for faith and family, well, it's one day at a time. Blessings aren't always obvious, and I'm making it my sole purpose of late to seek out those blessings, even in the most tangled of situations.

The lack of updates, honestly, has come from a lack of material. For the first time in months, things are calm and steady. I'm beginning to grow suspicious--there is always a storm. It's only a matter of time now, I suppose, before the wind kicks up again. When it does, I will be ready. He is my strength.

It's always good to keep the mind working, even in good times! Hopefully, you will be seeing a little more of me in the coming months. That's the plan, in any case. ;)

In Christ's Divine Mercy,
Melissa

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Casting Crowns to release "The Altar and the Door" this week...

Here I am, Lord, and I'm drowning in your sea of forgetfulness
The chains of yesterday surround me
I yearn for peace and rest
I don't want to end up where You found me
And it echoes in my mind, keeps me awake tonight

...

I start the day, the war begins, endless reminding of my sin
Time and time again Your truth is drowned out by the storm I'm in
Today I feel like I'm just one mistake away from You leaving me this way...


--Casting Crowns, "East to West"



I've been a fan of Casting Crowns since being turned on to their music last summer. For a lot of reasons, I can't go out and get a hold of their music in stores, so I'm stuck unless someone sends me their stuff, or I buy it from iTunes.

Now that they're offering the opportunity to pre-order the album on iTunes (you need iTunes for the link to work), I'm going to jump all over it. And, judging by the previews in their video, plus the first single "East to West", it's going to be an amazing CD.

Who else is excited?



Wednesday, June 20, 2007

It's for a good cause...

And considering the amount of time I spend chatting with some of you, it's definitely a worthwhile effort! The only thing that needs to be noted is that you need Windows Live 8.1. I'll be using it in place of MSN (my contact info is the same) for as long as the initiative runs. My cause is the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. :)

It works like this: You download the messenger, and then add a text code to your display name that corresponds to the organization you want to donate to (for example, "*komen" is for the is the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation). Then, with each conversation you have, they donate to whatever organization you chose.

Cool, aye? Happy chatting!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Knowledge is Power

Tonight, I read Jack Chick's tract "The Death Cookie" after hearing about it a while ago. I find Chick tracts so good to make fun of, especially when it relates to my Church. The misconceptions, generalizations, and flat-out fallacies in there had me both giggling and exasperated.

What made me feel at peace, though, was realising that I could easy counter the arguments in the tract, both by Scripture and common sense. A while ago, I would have not only been unable to defend my own beliefs, but may have even been swayed by some things in the tract. I did ask myself some questions as I read. When I wasn't able to answer, I researched and found explanations that satisfied me.

Things like this help to only strengthen my faith in Catholicism's truth. Take, for example, my friend S, who is a Protestant. He and I have spent the majority of this school year in dialogue about our denominations. At times, it got very, very heated. It took us until June to face one another with open minds and a willingness to learn. He challenged me to provide Scriptural support for many parts of Catholic theology, and I asked him to find strong evidence against those ideas. Both of us grew through the experience. I don't think he meant for it to happen, but S only made my faith stronger. I owe him for that.

Monday, June 4, 2007

All Things New

This weekend, I knew something was up when our resident sister was present at the Saturday Vigil Mass. I sat in the back, as usual, talked to the Gossip Squad (as I've affectionately dubbed them), and hoped to heck she didn't notice me.

I was different back then. More than once, they threatened to kick me out of CCD for being loud or rude. It was obvious that none of us cared; I imagine we were a hard group to catechize. These days, it's something I'm more than a little ashamed of. While the past is in the past, I'm not sure if I'm ready to face her yet. There would be too many questions.

In the middle of Mass, I finally realised what was going on: we had two people in their twenties finish the RCIA program, and were presented for Confirmation.

I remember mine well. The robe was fun; my girlfriends and I would twirl around and watch them flutter, calling ourselves the flying nun. It's to date the only time I've ever met the Bishop, and also the only time I had ever actually felt God present in a Church service. My shoes came off, the robe was too snug, and the chrism smelled oddly of Pine Sol, but it was nice.

If only it would have meant something more to me than freedom from eight years of boring classes. Maybe it would have stopped me from making a very long detour. Maybe not.

Sharing in the Candidates' joy was really nice. They were the first to receive Communion, so when I passed the first pew on my way up, I whispered congratulations to the man. He grinned, and I couldn't help grinning myself. It's amazing how God can change lives. Maybe someday, some of my friends will come to know that same joy.

That was my prayer, after all.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Pentecost



Come, Holy Spirit! Fill the hearts of thy faithful and enkindle them in the fire of Thy love.


Have a wonderful Pentecost. I'm going to use the weeks following to discern how I can best let the Spirit shine through in my life.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Limelight?

I told my mom when she picked me up from Mass today that it might be good to attend the other parish next week. The ladies at my Church are starting to talk. ;)

Remember the woman I've mentioned a few times before, who went out of her way to make me feel welcome at my first Mass following my reversion? Well, I've been doing my best to say hello and talk to her whenever I can.

Today, when I came out of the confessional and finished my prayers, she came over to my pew.

"So, you're graduating with honors?"

Okay, that's weird. She, as far as I knew, didn't even know my name. She goes on by saying she'd seen me on the local TV station that had shown my school's moving up ceremonies. That would explain it. We made small talk, and she goes back to her seat.

A few minutes later, I hear a loud whisper: "...and she had a really good time at her prom last night."

Oh, great. She's told all of her friends about me. They'll all know my name and everything else about me by next week. I shudder to think about what they'd do if I ever brought a guy with me to Mass! Heh.

I lean up to see her across the aisle. "Hey, Barbara!" I call in a loud whisper, "stop talking about me!" She and her lady-friends cackle like ducks. Hoo boy...

Hehe, I usually love the limelight, but not this time! I guess it can't be helped, considering I'm the only person under 30 that goes to the Saturday night Mass...

(Sometimes, I'm convinced that the young Catholics I've met on Phatmass are actually from another planet. Either that, or it's something in the taco sauce. ;))

Maybe I'll get lucky and God will hook me up with some people close to my own age. That'd be nice... :)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Fabulous!

The Catholic Church teaches that using contraception to prevent the creation of life in accordance with God's will is a mortal sin.

Let's say you're a brand-new convert to Catholicism. What are you to do with all of those condoms you've stockpiled over the years? Sure, you could throw them away.

Or you could make something special for your teenaged daughter...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Friday, May 18, 2007

May you be blessed...

I found this video while reading an acquaintance's LiveJournal, and I thought I'd share it with all of you. To some, it may seem a bit sappy, but blessings do come in little things.

May you always be blessed!

Watch the video.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Memorial of St. Isidore the Farmer...



Dear Saint Isidore, we give glory to God for the beauty of your life, your devotion to your wife and child and your goodness to the poor and pray that we too may follow your holy example of compassion and of love, especially for those who are in need. As one who worked the land and thus dignified in particular the labor of farmers, we ask your blessings upon those who till the soil and provide for the tables of us all. May your great love for the Church and your daily attendance at Mass be an example for our families. May we too be deeply grateful for the gift of our Catholic faith and for the marvel of Christ's sacrifice. Finally, Saint Isidore, we ask you to pray that our families be truly faith filled, devoted to God and the Church and to the Blessed Mother of God. We ask all this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Hey, why not give credit to my parish patron? :)

Monday, May 14, 2007

Uprooted already?

I've really been enjoying going to Mass on Saturdays. I attend at the parish I was catechized in, and while the parishioners are strangers to me, the Church and the clergy are both familiar. Even though I'm doing this by myself, being in a generally familiar place is almost comforting. People have started recognizing me, and have been great about making me feel welcome (though I've got to admit, being hugged during my first sign of peace was disturbing. I've since realized that's just her way. She laughed when I was the one to offer her a hug this weekend).

My Mom, who is lapsed like I was, stayed for Mass this weekend. I wasn't able to get to Confession and had to abstain from Communion. It was...interesting answering the questions and comments that followed when I didn't get up to receive. Mass was fifteen minutes longer than usual. On the way home, my mother noted this, along with several other things she liked and didn't like. Then:

"Hey, I know! Why don't we go to the Church I went to when I was a kid? I'd love to go back."

Wait. What? A different parish? Now? Why now? A different parish means different people and different clergy, not to mention that I actually know people there. That, admittedly, was a reason I chose my home Church to return to--no one knew me. I could worship in peace, without questions.

It's hard to consider not going there. Still, I have to consider the long-term effects of a switch--if we go to my mom's old Church, she may enjoy Mass more, which would be wonderful. I would eventually settle in wherever we ended up, even if it would be uncomfortable for a (hopefully short) time. Her Church is closer to home, too. Maybe we'll go the weekend after next to test the waters. Who knows, we may alternate, or we may not switch parishes at all.

So much for settling in. His will be done...

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Note to self...

It hurts to have to live this passage almost every day. I want to put it here, though--I don't want to forget it.
"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates me hates my Father as well. If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: 'They hated me without reason.'

"When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.

John 15:18-27.

As well as the Scripture that was used in tonight's homily:

"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. his is my command: Love each other."
John 15:9-17.

To love as Christ loves us--despite persecution, wrongdoing, misunderstanding--is indeed a challenge. I need to remember how much the challenge is worth it.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Pwned!

It's funny how so many people can profess to be Christians while having next to no idea what Christ taught. Funny how so many can cuss out the guy that works at McDonald's on Sunday mornings about their being late for [freak]ing church, with Jesus-fish bumper stickers on their vehicles. Funny how so many will ridicule, bash, demean, and judge others, while in the next instant profess Christ as their Savior.

And amazing (or perhaps not--I've seen this happen more than once) that an atheist knows our faith better than the majority of us do. See for yourself, and meanwhile, think about the sort of person you portray to others. Ask yourself if you know your faith, and live it every single day.

My thanks to Sam for this video. We've clearly been pwned at our own game.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Coming Home

At 4:15, the church was dark. Only sunlight filtering through stained glass lit the place, and no one was there. No one. The confessional door was open, and our voices carried a little too easily in the unlit sanctuary.

Are you sure you’re alright? Yes, I’m alright. I’ll wait until you come out. Okay.

A man in pants and a dress shirt looked up at me over his book. Wh--who are you? Oh, a priest. Oh, right. Relief. Embarrassment. Hi, I'm Melissa. Crap. Crap. He wasn't supposed to know my name. His was Fr. Bruni. I told him I was terrified. I told him it's been a long time. It was okay. It would be okay. Sit down. Talk a little.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, amen...

Show time. The beginning came easily. It always did. These are my sins:

And then I stopped, the words caught in my throat, and almost thought I couldn't start again, until he reassured me, trying to calm my nerves. Slowly over the next fifteen minutes, it all came out with shaking and whispers and talking more to the wall than the priest.

All I could do after the absolution was sigh, and finally make eye contact.

Feel better?

I beamed.

Welcome home, Melissa.

I said goodbye to my mother, who had waited for me, and took to very slowly tracing the perimeter of the back of the church. I found rosary beads and, still mostly alone, began to pray in silence before the Crucifix.

The overwhelming mercy, love, and relief that hit me was enough to move me to tears of the joyful variety. I knew then that this was where I had belonged all along.

It was so good to be home.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

I finally get it...

I think I just listened to the coolest (or strangest, or both) priest ever. For anonymity's sake I won't mention my benefactor, but thank you!

The guy was Fr. Larry Richards, a priest at St. Joseph's in Erie, PA. The lecture I heard was all about Confession...

(...which, by the grace of God and a genuinely loving family, I will be going to this Saturday!)

The first thing that struck me was his outspoken demeanor that I really connected to. He got loud, which I found refreshing in a Catholic priest; the ones I've met are all softspoken. He had me giggling aloud almost the entire time.

The important thing, though, is that he reminded me that I am loved by He who gave me life, regarless of what I've done to spit in His face. Sure, I've been told so before many times by many people. This time, though, I believe it.

His Name is Mercy. And to go to Him and confess is to be healed by Love Himself...

Is it Saturday yet?

Monday, April 16, 2007

FYI...

It's the Pope's 80th birthday. Awesome. The Vatican website gives the opportunity to send him a birthday greeting, if anyone is interested. I think that's pretty cool. Cool enough in fact that...hmmm.

Buon compleanno e tanti auguri, Papa! I hope it was both special and blessed for you. :D

...and yes, I actually did do that. With the emoticon and all, man.

Hey, everybody loves a birthday wish...

....
...
..

Heh. ^^()

Resistance is Futile

It's so hard not to fall back into my own "comfort food"-type sins when things get scary and I want to forget. Like flypaper, I find myself lured in, and then I'm paralyzed. Stuck.

And terribly guilty.

If I were really going for optimism, I'd say the guilt is a good thing. It means I'm starting to recognize sin for what it is--the severing of a relationship I've struggled for so long to build and keep.

If only shame would come with absolution. Absolution that I've been denied.

I never thought I would say this, but I know what he means now. I know how it feels to want to get it all out...and have someone tell you it was going to be okay, that God still loved you, to keep going.

I don't know if I have that right now.

I'm proud of him. It makes me want to fight back again. And I will. But, as I do, let's put something out in the open:

I confess to almighty God,
and to you,
my brothers and sisters,
that I have sinned through my own fault,
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done,
and in what I have failed to do;
and I ask blessed Mary,
ever virgin,
all the angels and saints,
and you,
my brothers and sisters,
to pray for me to the Lord our God.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

It's Not Over

My mom would rather not have me going to Church right now.

All I have to say in regards to this whole day, and the situation, is this:

"The work of God:
nothing can stop it,
not the malice of men,
not our mistakes,
not even death.
The work of God
multiplies when it finds
the Cross in its way
and always triumphs. "
-St. Inocencio, C.P.

I have lost this battle, yes. But I will win the war.

Prodigal

Back in February, He spoke to me.

His words, when genuine, are always few. But they always say so much. One little sentence would exhilarate and haunt me for the next three months.

Come to the cross with Me.

I ignored it. I plugged my fingers in my ears and screamed to block out the noise.

I knew I wouldn't last. I knew I had to listen.

I wanted none of it. Now, it's all I want.

Tomorrow, I will go to the cross. I will suffer shame. I will be thoroughly humiliated. My pride is already screaming in agony at the thought. The rest of me just wants to throw up.

But His shame was worse. His humiliation was worse than mine could ever be.

Tomorrow...everything will change. Tomorrow I will stop fighting. I've fought for so long. I'm so tired. I just want to go home.

Lord Jesus, Son of the living God, have mercy on me, a sinner...

St. Maria Goretti, pray for me.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Underage Drinking

Veramente, Cristo รจ risorto--indeed, Christ is risen--Happy Easter and Buona Pasqua to all of you.

It all comes down to this. Forty-seven agonizingly long days and nights, finally over. Before I hand myself over to chocolate and that all-too-tempting trunk of mine, I need to reflect. By morning, the intensity will have faded.

This Lent, I have truly learned the meaning of sacrifice and temptation. Both are things I know very well now. However, I've also been tempered. This intense time of growth has taught me to mellow out and trust God for direction in my life. I've learned to silence the voices of mockery, influence, and doubt in order to hear one of clarity and peace.

At first, it was very difficult--I spent about three weeks unable to fall asleep or to stay that way. Those nights were spent in a wild, ragged, distracted sort of prayer while I fought my own weaknesses and fears. When I did finally sleep, I would have dreams--and nightmares--both very vivid. Thanatophobia came back to play for the first time in years.

Last year, I spent my time counting the days until it was over, complaining all the while. This year, I counted every day as a small victory toward the larger war of temptation. Every day, I grew a little stronger. I took to reading St. John's Gospel, and picked up the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy again along with my usual prayer time. The latter turned out to be a lifesaver on more than one occasion, heh.

Finally, come Holy Week, my thirst ceased altogether. It was replaced, instead, by a different sort of thirst. I'm reminded of Christ as He spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well as told in John 4:

Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."

The woman said to him, "Sir, give me this water so that I won't get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water."

For years now I've sought out other things to quench my thirst. After a while, I was no longer pacified by those things, and oftentimes I was left frustrated and confused.

That is, until I learned to drink of Him.

As we crossed the halfway point in the season three weeks ago, the struggle changed. Sleep came easier, temptation faded slightly, and I began to seek Him fiercely as I hadn't before. I sought Him like the woman at the well as the answer to my thirst, and slowly, I was fulfilled. Nights that were spent fighting with my fears became late nights reading and resting in God...and His will became clear to me. Finally, I could hear and feel again.

Holy Week, ironically, began with the crashing of my computer. I had prayed the night before for help with tuning out distraction and outside influences to better hear His voice and, well, I got it. Without internet, I lose a good chunk of friends (the majority of whom I met in theological forums), and many hours of surfing the web in boredom. The past six days have been an intense sort of mini-retreat. I thirst completely for Him now. I thirst, and only want more...I think I can understand now in a very small way what St. Therese of Liseaux meant when she wrote of "seductive waters".

But that's quite alright. This sort of thirst feels so much better. This time, much like before, I've lost control of myself. This time, however, I know it's safe. This time, I really don't mind.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Good Friday Thoughts

My apologies for not posting anything terribly original today. I do hope, however, that this collection of thoughts will serve to inspire in a small way.

It makes me happy that my parish bulletin is online.

For all the triumph that comes with Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem – a seemingly fitting recognition of the Messiah – it is darkness that awaits him by week’s end. But it is not the strewn palm branches or the crowd’s approving shouts that proclaim Jesus’ ministry and message. Instead, it is the simple, quiet moments and the darkest hours. Only when the Son of God ties a towel around his waist to wash the feet of his disciples does his new commandment of love become so clear. Only when Jesus dies, arms spread on a cross, is God’s love for the world so visible.

This Holy Week we come to see the ministry and message in our lives. By reflecting on Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, we recognize that it often is not our grandest achievements that show who we are and what we are about, but our simplest daily actions, and sometimes even our darkest moments.



And something from Palm Sunday my monsignor contributed:


Today marks the beginning of the year’s most solemn week. Today we commemorate the Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, entering the Holy City to begin the saving work of His Passion, Death and Resurrection. As the sun sets on Holy Thursday, the Lenten season ends quietly and the Easter Triduum begins, the celebration of our core belief in the Lord’s dying and rising. The shadow of the Cross falls over the sweetness of Holy Thursday evening as we celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper...


There's so much I wish I could say today, but I can't find any acceptable way to put what I feel into words. It's a silent, brooding, sort of horrified awe that Christ would do what He did. I've never been so painfully aware of my own sin. A friend of mine was right...I hope Eudaimonia will forgive me for using her words. She says it with an eloquence that I can't muster today.


In a very real way, every day is Palm Sunday. As much as we might sing His praises, we still crucify Him again and again. With every uncharitable thought, we scourge Him just a little bit more; with every sin, we drive the nails in a little deeper.

From now until paradise, this is the human condition in all its weakness: as often as we beg His forgiveness, we find ourselves on the verge of betraying Him again and again.

The only consolation in this is that the acuity of this week does fade somewhat. Christ no longer suffers. In our acceptance of His Cross, we, too, will not live in agony. Our lives are preserved in Him.


3 He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.

5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.

6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

-Isaiah 53:1-6

Pax Christi.

Forgetful

I'm hungry in a totally mundane way.

This is a good thing--I've never fasted before, but I figured I might as well see what it's like. It's interesting how you don't realize how lucky you are to be able to eat until you refrain from it. As the Easter Triduum begins, we step back to remember Christ's passion, death, and resurrection. He went without food. He was tempted, just like the rest of us. He suffered greater emotional, physical and spiritual agony than any of us will experience. And all of this for us? How lucky we are, and how undeserving!

But today, and in the entirety of the Lenten season, we allow ourselves a taste of the suffering He endured for our sake. Nothing we go through will ever compare to that, but it can help us understand.

America is a country of excess. So many of us never know what it is to be without. We've become so polluted by society's influence that all we do, it seems, is want want want and never give of ourselves in return. We've become blind and deaf to our own sin. The frightening thing, though, is that we don't care.

Christ came to save us. He took the sins of every single person across the generations on his shoulders, and set us free through His perfect sacrifice. Two millennia later, we behave as if He never came at all.

Thank God for Him. Thank God that we live. The burden has fallen to us now to be the light, and to remind so many that He has come.

I don't know how they do it. I don't know how anyone can be without Him. I used to know. I don't remember anymore.

For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world...

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Intense

I found this poem on the away message of an old acquaintance of mine. Some of you may remember her as Flic from EW. It turns out that the poem was her own, so I immediately asked if I could post it here. Of course, all rights to it are hers and posted with permission. Thank you for respecting that.

~*~*~

His Eyes
His gaze meets my own
I want to close my eyes.
I can't look at Him.
He loves me.
I don't know what that is.
I don't understand.

He gently turns my head,
clasping my chin in His hands,
holding me still.
His eyes...
those eyes.
They blaze and burn.
They see farther and deeper
they speak.
They say
"My love, my love is free.
I paid the price, and
you have no more shame.
Look me in the eye,
believe."
I want to gaze.
I want to look.
I want to speak.
My tears fall as my eyes travel downward.
Can I look into His eyes?
Am I ready for the love that I will see?


~*~*~

Goodness, I love it when good writing strikes all kinds of chords with me. Chills!

Bothersome

I spoke to two people today about things. I always like hearing a different opinion.

I got the same thing from both of them: God, M. Why do you bother with religion? It's such of waste of energy.

Sometimes, when I grow tired, I want to agree. But no.

I bother not because I want to, but because I need to. The more mature I grow in my faith, the hungrier I am for fulfillment. It's a fulfillment I know I won't quite see in this world. But a little is better than nothing. Anything is better than nothing at all; anything is better than being without Him.

I bother because I've opened a Pandora's box of curiosity. I couldn't stop myself. I could only follow. And to follow satisfies me. I only wish I could do it better. I could, if my own foolish pride would die. I could, if I'd stop being afraid of reprisal. If I knew I could be at peace, then maybe it wouldn't be so difficult.

Maybe I've got to, as Becky Fischer said to her camp kids (as much as I violently disagree with 99% of what she believes), "cook a little". Strive.

Excuse me, by the way, for appearing weak rather than just biting the bullet and doing what needs to be done.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Sunrise

This weekend has left me emotionally drained beyond recognition. However, I come out of it with hope. I'm going to be alright. I may write about it all as soon as I find the energy.

For now, some verses that are speaking to me. I think it may speak to some of you, too. These are from the New Living Translation that a radio station uses. I'm too lazy to translate to NIV; I hope you'll forgive me. ;)

Thank you to those that have been there for me.

And for one in particular:
Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

As they say...may you never thirst.
Pax.

~*~*~

Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.
Lamentations 3:23 NLT

So humble yourselves before God.
Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
James 4:7 NLT

I restore the crushed spirit of the humble
and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts.
Isaiah 57:15 NLT

Patient endurance is what you need now,
so that you will continue to do God's will.
Then you will receive all that he has promised.
Hebrews 10:36 NLT

Jesus replied, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty."
John 6:35 NLT

Carry each other's burdens,
and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
Galatians 6:2 NIV

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer...
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NLT

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV

Friday, March 23, 2007

Wildly Emo

(I try not to do this often.)

No, really, it doesn't get much more upsetting than this. I've had this song for ages, but I think I actually heard the lyrics for the first time last night (it's hard to tell what she's saying, you know, through the screaming ;) ). I cried when I realized what this was about. It goes deep, unfortunately. Hopefully not for much longer.

Evanescence
Lies
From Origin
Bound at every limb by my shackles of fear
Sealed with lies through so many tears
Lost from within, pursuing the end
I fight for the chance to be lied to again

You will never be strong enough
You will never be good enough

You were never conceived in love
You will not rise above

[CHORUS:]
They'll never see I'll never be
I'll struggle on and on to feed this hunger
Burning deep inside of me


But through my tears breaks a blinding light
Birthing a dawn to this endless night
Arms outstretched, awaiting me
An open embrace upon a bleeding tree

Rest in me and I'll comfort you
I have lived and I died for you
Abide in me and I vow to you
I will never forsake you

I'm still sick of myself, as much as I hate to admit it. I'm sick of not being able to just let go. I've tried more than once now, but it never lasts. I keep wondering if there's something...wrong, with me. Like, what if I can't let go? "People do it, people do it all the time," I pleaded.

But I hear that some people never can. Some people never will. I'm told I ask far too much of myself. I'm trying too hard to be something I might not realistically be able to be.

I'm still in denial. Because, suddenly, I don't feel good enough for Him. You can come as you are, but then you're called to change, to put on the new man, to die to yourself.

So why can't I do it?

Oh, I know why. I like far too much what shouldn't be a part of me anymore. I cling to those things as an escape. Just so I don't get to the point where I can't turn around and run. I always leave the door open.

If only shutting it were easier.

I'm just glad no one else is judging me.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Playing Favorites?

"What I mean is this. An ordinary simple Christian kneels down to say his prayers. He is trying to get in touch with God. But if he is a Christian he knows what is prompting him to pray is also God: God, so to speak, inside him. But he also knows...that Christ is standing beside him, helping him to pray, praying for him. God is also the road or bridge along which he is being pushed toward that goal [of getting in touch with God]. So that whole threefold life of the three-personal Being is actually going on in that ordinary little bedroom where an ordinary man is saying his prayers."
-C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity


Ironically enough, I had made up my mind to write a post on the subject of an unbalanced Trinity only yesterday morning. Phil beat me to it. Ah, well. The subject interests me, so I'm going to rant on it anyway. :)

I am...to steal his word, absolutely baffled by Christians who tend to give all of their worship to God in the Person of Christ. Now, before I continue, let me say that I in no way intend to demean my Savior. Really, as Christians, how can we not be both awed and humbled by what He's done for us?

Okay, so we worship and exalt Christ for giving of Himself so we might live. Without Him, we'd be in serious trouble.

...but what about the other two persons of the Trinity? Whatever happened to the Father and Spirit in worship, and why are they so undermined when faced with the Son? I can't know for sure, but I can speculate. God in the form of the Father is essentially credited with the creation of all things, both seen and unseen. He is also the one to decide our fate when we go to meet Him at the end of our lives. Not quite small potatoes. I suppose many people find the Father intimidating or unapproachable for this reason. What happened to Him being, you know, a Father? It's no good to be afraid to talk to your father about something. You are still, after all, his child. He made you, and he loves you. If you make a mistake, certainly he's not going to be happy with you. But if you own up to it, and still try to be the best individual you can, he'll still be proud of you. He'll still love you.

Enter Christ as God the Son, often shown as loving, gentle, and understanding. (Interestingly, they often seem to forget the Jesus who was angry, just, and sometimes angst-ridden.) The must think, "What a perfect way to develop a relationship with God than to do so through One that is seemingly all love and light? And to think He died for us. How extravagantly awesome." That must explain the "OMGJESUSJESUSJESUSJESUS" bouncing worship and...moaning. Right? As I said before, I don't disagree with the weight of Christ's life. I do, however, think there is much more to being a Christian than that alone.

There's also God the Holy Spirit, but nobody really talks about Him. That's another thing--I can't grammatically say "him" about the Spirit. A spirit is a genderless noun, so I say "it". Even if it is God, or an actual Person, I still stick to "it". No one seems to understand what the Spirit is, anyway. Why worship something you don't understand? I mean, goodness, we can't even figure out what the right noun is! It's obviously far too complicated to think about. Besides, Jesus is so much cooler! YAY!

Um, no? The Father is before us, and Christ is beside us. The Holy Spirit is God manifest within ourselves! It's that drive to do what's right, and to grow closer to God. It's what inspires us and changes our lives from the inside out. If I hadn't seen this happen for myself, I probably would have never grasped that. When people humble themselves before God, and cry out to Him, the Spirit moves...and the effects of that are really something else.

What we have in the Trinity is a way of seeing God in all things. But when parts of that Trinity are treated as less important, less worthy of our worship, or even ignored, it breaks down. We lose so much understanding of what God can be and do.

Live and let live, I guess. But they're really, really missing out on something amazing.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Casting Crowns- Stained Glass Masquerade

After my post from yesterday, I went looking for a video of this song. I guess you could say it was the one song that made me try Christian music. To be honest, I haven't really found anything quite as good as Casting Crowns, lyric-wise.

This video is kind of pointless, but the lyrics onscreen help. It's the song itself that's important.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Birds of a Feather?

I usually get to school early enough to walk slow, get to my locker in a half-stupor, and stumble into my first period class with a few minutes to breathe.

After a very busy and stressful morning, I'd walked inside and realized I'd forgotten my bag on the bus. I called my mom, and thankfully she was right down the street. That settled, I had about three minutes to get to the other side of the school and upstairs.

I flew in like a whirlwind, almost crashing straight through a group of people in prayer in front of the entrance. I quietly excused myself, and one of the guys moved to let me pass. I made it to class thirty seconds before the late bell. Go, me.

Two things occured to me in the midst of all this:

1) It is really irrational to pray in front of the door like that.
2) Sometimes, I really do miss having a community.

In early autumn, I made a deal with a friend of mine. We'd both been curious about school fellowships, but were petrified to show up for various reasons. The bet went that if one of us went to a meeting, the other had to go to their local group, too. That's how I ended up talking to the director, Mr. E., at my school's annual club night. He's a very eccentric man: skinny, softspoken, and generally very hard to look in the eye. He was the first local Christian I'd spoken to, and the entire conversation was held with sweaty palms and the feeling that he saw right through me.

Two weeks later, I went to Alpha Omega with my friend L, who came along for moral support. I was hugged by a bunch of random, flamboyant, "Jesus is so awesome!!!" people who were sooo glad to see me and wanted to know all about me. The extrovert that I normally am withdrew into her shell and became an insecure, somewhat standoffish quiet kid. It was the oddest personality shift...

Don't get me wrong, they were nice, if a little (understatement) naive. The worship...was empty of the Spirit I've felt in my life. The rest of it--Bible scharades and fellowship, anybody?--was just so, so uncomfortable. I couldn't handle being around other Christians. I didn't think they'd get me. I thought, and to a point still think, if I were to let them see the real me, they would judge me, insist I discover my spiritual "gifts", or run away in horror. People like me and people like them are on opposite ends of the playing field, despite our worship of the same God. [sarcasm]Because, you know, because I'm an ex-occultist I'm so gravely misunderstood. [/sarcasm]

Truthfully, though, I find it very difficult to connect with "my kind" around here. They view the world so oddly, all of them. Everything was so shiny and good in their faith; it was obvious that they'd never been shaken in their lives. I've shaken, rattled, and rolled, sometimes all at once.

AO wasn't for me. Unfortunately, I'm in a place where I can't look for other people (off the internet, that is) or churches. At least, not until I turn eighteen this November.

For now, I'm just my little army of one, I guess. Me, and some of the most eccentricly awesome Christians and Pagans the internet can offer me.

The place I choose to call home will have big shoes to fill, that's for sure. They don't make people like these anywhere else.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Chrysalis

A lot of times, especially right now, it feels like my nerves are on fire. I'm hyper-senstive on what feels like every level. Everything is thick with the scent of change.

After wandering aimlessly like some sort of vagabond for two and a half years now, I have a road map. I have a place to go, a direction. It's just...

I never saw myself there. Ever. Where this road leads is the last place I would have ever imagined for me to end up. It's truly frightening, in a exhilerating sort of way.

Still, I've never had clarity like this. As odd and scary as this twist in the path may be, nothing else has felt so rational. I've never felt this...right. Suddenly, I do. Chasing that feeling washes away my apprehension. After all, it's been said that I'll never be left or forsaken. Right?

Like I mentioned in my last post, I've struggled with dependence. Truth be told, it's hard for me to think that the odds of me walking alone in this are very good. I've always had someone there for me; as a dear friend put it, "to hold my hand while I poked the dark places between my ears". But...now there's not going to be anyone there. It feels that way, at least.

I hunger for change, you know. I want so much to be set free from this endless cycle of pining. I have that chance now.

For now, I'm stuck in a chrysalis, wanting to break free but not ready to yet. Butterflies are fragile, after all.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Secret Identity

A long time ago, I was obsessed with finding a label to describe myself and my walk. Somehow, it was rationalized that if I were able to say "I am a ____," things would resolve, I would be "home," and life would be dandy.

Don't ask me what I was thinking when I got that little notion into my head, because I don't have the foggiest idea. All I can say is that I'm glad I grew out of that fast.

Recently, I dealt with overdependence issues, both in my personal life and my spiritual life. The need to lean on other people for support has always been there. It got bad when I needed others' opinions in order to formulate my own. Thankfully, I'm getting over that, too.

Now, I have to stop thinking that spirituality is this big, objective thing. The choices others make, have made, and will make are such a big influence on me. It's never been positive; it almost cost me a friendship, once. I'm stuck on this ideal that if someone did something, if I do it, I'm going to get the same exact result.

But this is my journey. No one else has control over it. What I go through, while it might have similarities to the experiences of others, is still an individual thing.

At least I think that's how it goes. I'm a bit clouded; Lent is starting to play some serious games with my head. I'm changing for the better. I'm growing closer to God. Those are both very, very good things. I can spend time to seriously consider my place, and correct those things that need fixing.

...I just wish the godforsaken dreams (and nightmares) would let up.

Ah, well. Perseverance and all that.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Back to Basics

I like to think I know a little bit about religion.

Yet, a lot of times, I just end up looking ignorant, rusty, and vaguely misinformed. And when I do it in front of people I respect, it just looks worse.

Once upon a time, I was an occultist. I wasn't too bad at it, either, all things considered. It's because I was well-read--if I could get my hands on it and it wasn't notoriously fluffy (a la $ilver Ravenwolf, et. al.), I read it.

This lead me to a bit of an epiphany. Sure, I've got eight years of catechism classes behind me, but did any of it pay off as I return to the Catholic teachings of my childhood? Probably not, other than filling my brain with prayers that I can parrot back to you in my sleep. They taught me the Gospel, too, and maybe a few of the well-known parables, but that was it.

I've been to Mass of my own volition maybe a few dozen times, if that. The last time I'd gone was two years ago, for the baptism of my baby cousin. So how much do I really know? Did any of it even sink in?

True, I might have experience to back me up, but that isn't worth a thing if it doesn't show when put into practice.

I guess it's back to the books, for now. If I ever get over my Church paranoia (to be discussed at another time, I'd imagine), maybe that'll come, too.

...maybe.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

The Old and the New

It's funny, you know, to sit and think about everywhere I've been in the past two years. If someone were to walk up to the freshly 15-year-old version of myself and tell me exactly what I was to become, I probably would have laughed in their face. Either that, or withdrawn completely and gone back to being some kind of preppy flake. "Like, oh my God," indeed.

But, no. I'm not that girl. Am I glad? Sometimes. Other times it seems like it would be so much easier if I had never made the choices that led me here.

The up and down roller-coaster of walking by faith and not by sight...even from the summer until now, has been incredible. Tearful, sure. The more I go through, the stronger I come out. Great! Drama is fortifying?

And without that drama, I wouldn't have become so bold. I would have never learned to be so humble, to hold my tongue rather than lashing out, to stop trying to be a miracle worker. That's not my job; it's His.

I also would have never met most of the people who have completely changed my life for the better.

Four months ago, I took one more step. Stupid, maybe. Outlandish, yes. But I've never been so happy to say that nothing but good has come from it.

I thank God for those folks every day. They got me here in one piece...

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Standing at the Edge

A new blog? Seriously?

Well, maybe. For the moment, I've signed up with Blogger to leave comments to friends on the site. Still, I plan to keep this around.

Hey, you never know. It might come in handy later on. ;)