Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Note to self

There is a time of endurance, a time of long suffering, a time of healing, a time of correction. Have you stumbled? Arise. Have you sinned? Cease.

--St. Basil the Great

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


As always, one from my dear friend Catherine's secret quote cave. This is particularly apt for where I'm at right now.
We are so constituted, that if we insist upon being as sure as is conceivable, in every step of our course, we must be content to creep along the ground, and can never soar. If we are intended for great ends, we are called to great hazards; and, whereas we are given absolute certainty in nothing, we must in all things choose between doubt and inactivity, and the conviction that we are under the eye of One who, for whatever reason, exercises us with the less evidence when He might give us the greater.

Life is a risk. I need to take it, and take it for all it's worth. I need to live.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

New blog!

Readers here may be interested in knowing that as a part of my Online Journalism course, I'm being required to keep a blog this semester.

Yes, I'm serious. It took a lot of self-control not to squeal with joy during class.

The best part is it's on a topic of my choice, and after some discussion with my professor about the execution and direction, along with prayer, I've decided to do it about Catholicism. Being involved in the Catholic Campus Ministries family gives me access to plenty of contacts, and I've been in touch with all but one of my priests, who are all excited and ready to help.

This is perhaps that window I've been looking for; an opportunity to open up about the faith, subtly teach the truth, and combine my academics with something I really love.

Abide With Us will have a very different feel from this blog--for one, it's not going to be about my intimate experiences and struggles. Instead, I'm going to do some apologetics work while covering what happens at CCM and how we grow as the young end of the Body of Christ.

Please pray for me and, if you can, link to me throughout this process--I'd really like to do some good for the Church with it, and considering I've always wanted to become a religion beat reporter, it almost seems like God is handing this to me. Trust me, I'm not complaining!

You can find my new blog here: Abide With Us

Monday, September 14, 2009


Hello from my new home, my new university, my new life...

A short post for you all this evening, as I have class in the morning, but I wanted to write a little bit about where I've been in the last six weeks.

Moving away to university has turned out to be every bit as uncomfortable as I imagined, but thankfully not unbearable. My housemates are more or less congenial to one another, and I'm finding that my floormate and I are rather compatible. My classwork is challenging, but it feels so good to be learning from people who have been there and achieved the things I wish to achieve. (The fact that we talk about the value of blogging in almost every lecture doesn't hurt, either. ;)) Small blessings, to be sure.

The greatest blessing of all, though, is the Newman Center here. I've been with them for two weeks now, and have nothing but good to say about the people. They've been incredibly warm and immediately accepted me as one of the family, although it's going to take some time before true friendships begin to blossom. The best part is that I have access to Mass a few times a week, and several adults who are available for spiritual direction. I've just started praying about asking one to become my director. We're also discussing weekly Adoration, and I hope it happens! In the midst of all this chaos, I could really use some quiet time in His Presence.

My vocation is like a pendulum these days. One day I feel fine and at peace, and the next I feel like I'm drowning. Things in my personal life have made the way things stand currently very difficult, but I have no idea what the next step is for me. God has been particularly silent throughout this, but today at Mass, I got the slightest hint of the need to be patient, to step back and be close to Him. I am praying that everything will work out soon--I know that they will in God's time, but not knowing and being so uncomfortable has driven me very near insanity at times. ;) Still, I carry on every day, I try not to worry about the future, and I pray that God will continue to lead me in the direction I need to be. All I can really do is hold on for the ride.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Papa's a Rockstar

In the beginning of his papacy, I was a little skeptical about Pope Benedict XVI. I had left the occult only a few months before he was elected, and my bitterness toward Christianity in general and the Church in particular was still running high.

His visit to the United States last year gave me the opportunity to get to know his mind and personality in a way that was much more personal. He spoke my language, in my country, on the issues that were important to me as both a young person and an American citizen. I admired him from then on, and that admiration has only increased since then.

This, though, takes the cake: it was announced this week through both secular and Catholic news outlets that the Holy Father will be releasing a Christmas CD this year.

No joke! The CD will be produced on the same record label that housed giants like Elton John and Guns N Roses, in the same place where the Beatles recorded, and with musical accompaniment by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. It will include the Pope singing his favorite hymns, prayers in various different languages, and--perhaps most interesting of all--several original piano pieces that he composed himself.

Most people are aware that Paparatzi is an accomplished classical pianist, and as a musician myself I've always really wanted to hear him play. Looks like now I'm going to get my chance, and from the sounds of things, it's not going to be too shabby, either!

As a bonus, all the proceeds go to charity. Can't beat that!

Check out the full scoop via ABC News.

On Love

God is Love.

It's a simple phrase that is drilled into both the heads and hearts of Christians of all flavors. Often it seems that we hear it so often, we parrot it without thinking, understanding, or really listening to what we're saying. The same can be said for the Lord's Prayer, or the Hail Mary.

There is a God, and He loves us. God is love.

We know this intellectually, and we can assent to it, but do we know it in our hearts? Do we live out the revelation of God as love in our lives?

I may have come to Christ on my own, with no one to support me in that decision, but I can say with certainty that in those early days nearly three years ago now, it was my beloved that would help me to keep my faith alive. God used him in a very real way to get to me, and to say "I love you."

I so often fail at loving God--and, by extension, loving those closest to my heart--more often than I would ever admit. It's only when I find myself faced with my grandmother's constant support, or the constant forgiveness of my other half, that I realize how incredibly inadequate my love can be.

A lot of times, that realization is an incredibly painful one. "Love one another," Jesus commands us at the Last Supper, in words that still echo today as our Great Commission. The one thing we are asked to do above all is something I am mediocre with at best.

Recently, I was confronted head-on with that inadequacy in a way I didn't allow myself to accept previously. At first, there was incredible sadness, anger and despair as I recalled in rapid succession all the times I've withheld affection, raised my voice in anger, or said hurtful things purely out of spite. But then, something changed. I was inspired in the midst of my pain with thoughts that shook me out of my fog. I wouldn't be surprised if it was motivated by the Holy Spirit in the end.

God is Love.

To encounter Love is to encounter God Himself! And look at how people behaved when meeting God in Scripture--they went straight to their faces in awe, wonder, and knowledge of their own human failings. I see that in myself often; I end up in tears before the Blessed Sacrament almost every time I go to Mass or Adoration.

Having a living relationship with Christ has taught me, as St. Paul said, that "all have...fallen short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). If I were to stand on my own merit, there's no way I could ever hope to deserve Him. But He sees me in His own image. He knows my imperfections, but chooses to embrace me in spite of them.

Being with my other half is the same way. Sometimes we let each other down. Sometimes we hurt each other needlessly. But, despite everything, we still forgive. We take each other back, time and time again, because of our love.

Maybe that's why I fear my vocation to marriage so much. If God is love, then to enter into marriage and therefore sacrificial, selfless love, is to unite ourselves in a very real way to Christ's Passion. We'll be given to strength to bear that cross, but no one ever said it's going to be easy. Quite the opposite, in fact.

We all fall short of God's glory. If God is love, then reason tells us we fall short of loving as we should, as well.

Of course I'm going to fail at love--both the emotional sort and Love Himself. It's a consequence of the Fall, I suppose.

But, thankfully, God's mercy is infinite, and even when we fail ourselves, one another, and even Him, He is ready to forgive and fill us with the grace we need to move forward.

I can only hope that I will continue to forgive myself, and that those I've hurt can forgive me, too. With God, anything is possible. I trust in that now more than ever. :)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Walking in the Dark

Holding onto patience wearing thin,
I can't force these eyes to see the end...
This time we're not giving up,
Let's make it last forever.
--Paramore, "Hallelujah"

I've come to an understanding that this summer is meant to be a period of stretching for me.

My grandmother, with whom I am very close, had a major health setback early in June that made me wonder how long she'll be with us. She's semi-recovered and back home now, but the two weeks cumulatively she's spent in the hospital has changed her somewhat, and put incredible strain on my family, especially my mother.

I've lost touch with my confessor since he left us, and for reasons I'd rather not get into here, I can't go see him. When things are as crazy as they have been lately, it's incredibly difficult knowing I can't just visit and talk things out.

And, of course, I'm leaving home in just over a month. I find that my emotions are oscillating wildly through this, and it's getting worse as August 30th comes closer. Sometimes I'm giddy with excitement at the new things I'll experience, people I'll meet, and how busy I'll be. Other days, my mom in the kitchen or my dad coming home after work makes me incredibly sad. It's a feeling of "I'm not going to hear this all the time now." Sure, I'm going to be home on the weekend more often than not, but it doesn't change that I'll soon be turning the only life I know upside down yet again--the first time being the day I came back to the Church. ;)

The certainty I once had about my life, my career, my vocation, and God's will has been taken away from me. I no longer know where I belong, or what to do next.

At first, I rebelled at this revelation with anger. Why now, when I'm about to make such a big change? Why now, when I've been so happy for the past three years? Why now, when I crave certainty and confidence more than ever before?

Perhaps I've answered my own question. "For power is made perfect in weakness," St. Paul says.

"You are my strength when I am weak."

"When we are weak, that is when He best shows His strength in us."

Perhaps God is using this transition to get under my skin, to shake me out of my comfortable complacency and reach instead my heart that so often has its own ideas how things should go. By taking away all of my grand possibilities, He has forced me to take my eyes off the splitting roads ahead of me and instead, focus them on Him.

So far, I've failed pretty miserably at that, but there is always time to try again. I may have no idea where I'm headed anymore, but He does. The trick now is to live by Scripture which says "Even when I walk through the dark valley, I will fear no evil."

My pastor asked me to focus on seeking the next step, rather than trying to plan out the entire course of my life today. That next step is perhaps the only thing I know is going right: my education. I need to set myself up for a career with which I can support myself, and if I can help it, use for God.

Right now, I really am walking through the dark. All I can do is take His hand and trust that He'll lead me wherever I'm supposed to be.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

I'm Listening

Leaving this here, as one of my adopted priests asked me to reflect on it. If he ever reads this, thanks, Father B.!

Speak, Lord, your servant is listening. And if you will not speak, I will continue to listen.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Simple and Clean

"If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? So do not worry and say, 'What are we to eat?' or 'What are we to drink?' or 'What are we to wear?'

. . . But seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil."

--St. Matthew 6:30-34 (NAB)

Today is the feast day of Maria Goretti, and so, in taking her as my patroness six years ago, it became my feast day, too. I'm not going to tell her story again, considering I did so last year. This year, I have something different to think about.

Lately, my central goal has been obedience. I still feel directionless in a lot of ways, and am struggling with a great deal of anxiety in trying to discern God's will for my life, especially where my vocation is concerned. I always thought that, when the time was right, God would give me a sign to let me know that I was going in the right direction and making the right choices. God has done that before, loudly, and I still feel that He'll do so again, if He wants to. Somehow, though, I don't think I'm going to be so lucky this time. As my pastor once said, it isn't free will if God is forcing us into doing things His way. I just wish I knew what His way was! My future is uncertain; I have desires, sure, at times very powerful ones, but I have no idea if following them is what I'm supposed to do. (Please, if you're reading this, take a second to pray for my clarity!)

A while back, I was considering where my life is headed, and where I'd like to see it go, when Maria came to mind. Everyone tends to look at her as the epitome of purity and chastity, and it seems that at times, Catholics value her more for the way that she died than the way that she lived.

St. Maria was a simple girl. (Yet another sign that she and I were meant to be partners.) She never concerned herself with worldly affairs, but rather spent her days praying, watching her siblings, and helping her family on the farm. That was her life, and really, you could see what it did for her faith. She, like many other young saints, begged to receive the Eucharist before she was considered old enough, and the day she did for the first time was the happiest in her life. There was nothing else going on to trouble her before Alessandro began his advances, and even if there was, it wouldn't have brought her down. Her focus was on Christ, not on this world. In every sense, she lived by what God told St. Paul as he begged for the Lord to take from him the thorn in his flesh: "My grace is suffiecient for you."

His grace was enough for Maria. She had need for nothing else. With that innocence and perfect embodiment of the childlike faith we're called to--and indeed, she was only a child--her life was for the most part a peaceful one.

That's what I should be doing this summer, as difficult as it may be for me: learning to be humbler, simpler, and more trusting that God is with me and will not abandon me. I need to believe with more confidence that as long as I try to seek His will with my whole heart, He'll lead me to it, whatever it is. Like Maria, I shouldn't worry about tomorrow, because it will take care of itself. I'm going to talk to my priests in the coming months--all three of them (my confessor can't even get rid of me by being reassigned, poor guy)--and I'm going to let go.

Fearful as I am, I'm going to surrender. I can't keep stumbling in the dark hoping to come out the right door. He needs to lead me. I can only hope that in following Maria's example, and relying on her prayers, I'll make the right decision, and have peace in my life as well.

St. Maria Goretti, my friend and ally, pray for me, that your innocence might be mine!

Happy feast day. :)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Promises from Scripture

"Why are you terrified? Have you no faith in Me?"
"Do not be afraid. Just have faith."


Why are you cast down, o my soul?
Why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God.
For I shall again praise Him, my salvation.


They cried to the LORD in their distress;
from their straits he rescued them,
He hushed the storm to a gentle breeze,
and the billows of the sea were stilled.

They rejoiced that they were calmed,
and he brought them to their desired haven.
Let them give thanks to the LORD for his kindness
and his wondrous deeds to the children of men.

Friday, June 5, 2009

More Thoughts on Change

This past week was Pentecost, and with its arrival came the end of the Easter season. It feels like the Vigil was only yesterday, but at the same time, the last fifty days have been a period of stretching for me.

Change is inevitable.

Last weekend, I curled up in my usual chair in my confessor's confessional, and after the usual teasing, said, "You're leaving, and I'm staying here. I don't know how to deal with that."

There was no confession involved in our very frank, semi-emotional conversation. All in all, I know it's not about him, that it never was to begin with. He said that he knew when I first came back two years ago that I was different, and needed to have my butt kicked in order to grow. Now, he said, I would learn to grow in other ways.

I must admit, though, that having an open invitation to visit whenever I need to has helped me immensely. I was also reminded that soon, I'll have two new priests in my life--our new deacon-turned-parochial vicar that will assume his position tomorrow morning, and my chaplain when I move to my university at the end of August.

On top of this optimistic thought, I've introduced myself on Facebook to the Newman club there, and have been pleasantly surprised by several friend requests, as well as an invitation to a women's retreat with them in late August. I'm not sure yet if I will be allowed to go, but knowing that I'm going to be getting to know other Catholics my age is such a huge boost for me. As one of my friends said recently, it's been a very lonely walk. Having people to fellowship with is so important. I'm hoping that I won't be disappointed. I don't think I will be.

Change is difficult. It's far from comfortable, and I know that all of this is going to be a test, both on my faith and on my maturity. If it's any consolation, it will serve as a fantastic opportunity to bring me closer to God, and learn to rely on Him more.

Maybe change can be a good thing.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

You Will Never Leave Me

This is perfect. I remembered this prayer tonight as I thought of two friends of mine who have used it throughout their courtship. It fits so well with the uncertainly I find myself facing; I think I'll start praying this regularly.

Thomas Merton's Prayer

MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think that I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this
you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always,
though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Regime Change

My 100th post here comes in the middle of changes, some of them expected, and some of them that came by surprise.

My regular confessor and unofficial spiritual director is leaving my parish next month. It will be an extremely difficult adjustment for me to make, as this priest is both the one who heard my first confession upon reversion, and the first I allowed myself to be vulnerable before. The thought of losing that relationship and trust when I am still trying to reform myself is a bit frightening, honestly. I'm left to try to cultivate that relationship with someone else.

My pastor is a good man, and very wise, but in some ways I'm not sure if he and I are on the same page. He is very different from my confessor in both the way he advises me and what he sees as crucial issues in my formation. It will take some time to get used to, but I'm not going to close my mind and heart to him. I can't. We are also going to have the addition of a newly ordained priest who served his year in the diaconate at my parish here as parochial vicar beginning in two weeks. This all comes in the midst of a merger with a nearby parish that will be completed within the next two years or so, which will shake up not only who attends Mass, but who celebrates, and who gives the Sacraments.


In three months, I'm leaving home for the first time. After graduating with my Associate's Degree this past Thursday, I'm continuing on to a 4-year university to finish up my Bachelor's. I'm going to be living on campus, and as ready as I thought I was, I now find myself full of anxiousness and doubts. I won't have my family to come home to at night, and will have to make a new name for myself in a sea of 10,000 people.

That's weird.

It doesn't help that while I'm going through this upheaval, my church, always consistent and dependable, is changing, too.

The verse in the alleluia, and echoed in my current confessor's homily tonight was an almost prophetic reassurance for me:

I will not leave you as orphans.

Yes, things are changing, and I'm obviously being called to a greater sense of independence...but that doesn't mean that God is going to lead me out into the desert and then leave me there to fend for myself. "I will be with you always," we're told.

But what if I stumble?

That, too, is part of the learning process...I hope that I can accept this change in direction gracefully, and with humility. I can hope, and I can trust. That's what the Divine Mercy is all about, after all, being able to say "Jesus, I trust in You!" and believe it.

I do.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


I found these two videos tonight with help from The American Papist. What neat evangelism tools!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Run Back to You

This song by Run Kid Run, "My Sweet Escape", always reminds me of my reversion. Plus, it's pretty catchy!

So here we are, a video and lyrics.

This is it, confidence is all I need
This is how You're going to save me from myself
From all that fails
I see You and me and everything in between
And I know I'm wrong but You long to
Fuel the fire beneath these tired bones

As I dance this road back to run back to You
A place of sweet escape I fell into
My everything will always sing Your glory

Progress, I confess is way overdue
I get caught up in the things that I've held onto
For too long I've been alone
I'm stronger ever step I take

Back to You
Run back to You
A place of sweet escape I fell into

A familiar taste that You have made inside this refuge I can't create
All back to You
A place of sweet escape I fell into Your glory, Your glory
Sing Hallelujah, I'll forever sing to lift You up
Sing Hallelujah, I'll forever sing to lift You up
You are my King
You are my King

Friday, May 1, 2009

Two Years

It didn't escape me this last Tuesday that it's been two years already since my reversion. Liturgically it's the Third Sunday of Easter, but I like noting it on the day of. :) I was just too busy that day to blog, unfortunately. The last weeks of the semester do that to you.

In a lot of ways, it feels like yesterday, but in others, I feel like it's been forever. The memories of the weeks leading up to my return are still so fresh in my mind--I had literally become Job grappling with Israel. Having been a cradle Catholic, the hardest things to accept weren't the doctrines and dogmas of the Faith, as is the case most often with converts. Those things were what I had been catechized in, no matter how weakly. What turned me upside down was the morality that I would submit myself to following my Confession. Not only was I a sinner, but I liked it that way. As cheap as the highs I got from my favorite vices may have been, I had come to define myself by them over the years. To give them up would be like giving up my identity. I didn't know how to be holy. I knew that when I crossed the Tiber I would immediately be knocked on my face with the weight of my failures. The most vivid memory of all was on the night before my reversion, as I sat in the wee hours of the morning doing my examination of conscience. I wept bitterly all through it, not just for shame, but for pride and selfishness as well. The Church was uncompromisingly right, and I knew that, but it didn't change the fact that cleaving to her was going to hurt like hell.

I'm not going to lie; it really did. The weeks immediately following my reversion were at times as turbulent as even leaving the occult had been. I had removed myself from things that I really loved, and was thrust into this "new" place with its foreign morals. I felt utterly isolated. There was no one to guide me at that point, and no one with whom I could share my struggles. My other half was not yet Catholic then, but I knew he was searching, and it was for that reason that I often felt reluctant to confide in him. It would have been easier if I had reverted at another time, sure, but I hold firm to the belief that if you wait for when you're "ready", you'll never make the the move. I truly did enter into it completely broken.

Today, my parents have more or less come to grips with my decision, and my friends and I have adopted a fairly successful live and let live attitude. Every so often, I find myself at the center of some name calling, criticism, and even downright ad hominem attacks in the classroom just recently. Do I appreciate it? Definitely not. To say I've handled my trials with complete grace and peace of mind would be foolish. Still, I hang in there when it really matters, and let my guard down in the company of those that I love.

I didn't ask for any of this, but I remember that the same holds true for Christ. We're going to have to navigate some hurdles once and a while, and some of us are burdened with more than others. I'm still trying to figure out where I fit in that scale.

Above all, He is my peace, and the Church my home. Now that I'm here, no matter what consequences it brings me, what I've found here is priceless. Regardless of what comes my way, I now have the tools to deal with hard times...particularly the blessing of being able to meet Him face-to-face in the Eucharist, to pour myself out in weakness in order to be filled again with strength.

It's been a wild ride, but one that I wouldn't trade for anything. I knew it when I knelt to pray right after my reversion, when the weight of my sins was lifted off my shoulders and suddenly, my mind stopped reeling. For four years I had searched for peace in so many things, many of them sinful and shallow. It was only when I followed Christ to Calvary in complete and not just partial obedience that I was fulfilled. Someone told me once on the journey that "The Truth isn't going to be easy to swallow. It's not about what makes you feel good."

I understand what she meant now. It's difficult at first, but given time and effort, things do settle. And when they do, you'll never be left wanting.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

His Mercy Endures Forever

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. --Matthew 5:7

Some people have a passionate devotion to Our Lady and the rosary. For whatever reason, I'm not one of those people, and really never have been. Even some of the great saints admitted they had no love for the rosary. For me, my devotion is the Divine Mercy. The whole Church celebrated Divine Mercy Sunday this past weekend, so in a way, it was like getting a second feast day. There's an indulgence attached to it, too--not too shabby!

There is something so attractive to me about mercy--can you blame me? ;) The most incredible thing about embracing Catholicism is the constant, tangible graces and forgiveness we encounter in the Sacraments. We don't deserve a bit of it, yet God continues to pour it out on us anyway.

Mercy and hope are so central to the way I live my life--it's too short to waste on pessimism and worry. It's for this reason that the Divine Mercy is such a good fit for me; on days when things aren't going so well, or the future is uncertain, I can turn to the devotion and petition Him for mercy, trust, and strength. It never fails to give me the grace I need to handle my struggles, at least for that particular moment.

More than that, though, it helps me to be the sort of person the Lord asks me to be. There is more to the Divine Mercy than gaining it for ourselves, our reflecting on the triumph of the Cross. Each time we pray the chaplet, we remind ourselves not only that He is infinitely merciful, but that we are to be infinitely merciful. He trusted the Father, and we should trust the Father. He loved all sinners, and we should love all sinners. It is a call to forgiveness, to peace, and to charity.

Over the Lenten season, one of my additions was praying the chaplet at least three times weekly, mostly when I was home to sing it. Over the course of that period, I found myself given pause before saying something against charity. I forgave even when I would have rather held a grudge.

When you approach the Divine Mercy as more than just a bunch of prayers or slogans on rosary beads, when you embody it as a life philosophy, it changes you both mentally and spiritually. It sanctifies you, and makes you more like Christ. In my opinion, anything that can achieve those results is worth considering.

Jesus, I trust in You!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Lord, I believe!

This past weekend at the Easter Vigil, my pastor gave the usual Easter homily with all of the right things--Christ being triumphant over death, our eternal life resting in the truth of His resurrection, and the mourning of Lent that so obviously turns to joy with the ringing of the Gloria bells.

Then, something he said caught my attention:
"A lot of people seem to believe that those who have faith also have these ideal, perfect lives, never experience sorrow, and always live with incredible joy that their
salvation brings."
I chuckled at this. Before I was saved, I knew a great deal of people who forced themselves into a facade of Christian perfection and happiness, even in the worst of times. Unfortunately, it didn't send the right message to me at the time--I wrongly assumed that I, too, needed to radiate such perpetual joy to represent my newfound faith. This assumption was extremely destructive to my spiritual life, and was only discovered and corrected a few months ago. (Thank God for Confession--if I hadn't admitted my feelings of inadequacy, my confessor would have never realized how misled I was. I'm so glad we caught it when we did.)

My interest piqued, he started to take an unexpected turn in his homily that, to my surprise, addressed one of my deepest issues with being a Christian:
"That is not faith. I can't speak for you, but my faith has never been perfect and unwavering. Faith is not perfect belief. Faith is saying 'Lord, I have no idea where my life is going, and I'm insecure, but I believe you have this under control.' It's saying 'Lord, a lot is going wrong in the world, but I trust you are taking care of us.' It's saying 'Lord, I struggle, but I still believe you will keep your promises.' Real faith doesn't have to be perfect, just heartfelt."
And this is the truth, despite what we might see from others. God is there all the time, not just in our good moments. In fact, those valley experiences are when He desires to draw even closer to us! He came for the sick, not for the healthy, remember. It's for that, perhaps, that I'm most grateful.

Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!

Hope springs eternal!

One of my favorite quotes for this season is from Pope John Paul the Great (Soon to be a saint, I bet!). It's so relevant for the turbulent situation we're not only facing here in America, but globally. Plus, it's about hope, which earns my admiration by default. :)

Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are an Easter people, and hallelujah is our song!

This is so true. Easter isn't something that lasts for a day, an octave, or even a season. It is something that we relive every day, both in the Mass and in our lives. As long as Christ is risen--and He is, now and forever--that Easter joy should never fade. Even when we don't always perceive it, it's with us. As Papa Benedetto said in this year's Urbi et Orbi message, death does not have the final say. This is good news, indeed!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Watching the installation Mass of Abp. Timothy Dolan to New York. All I can say is that, with no disrespect meant to my own Bishop, I wish I were living in his archdiocese. What an awesome shepherd!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Christ is risen!

He is risen! Alleluia!!!

Vigil was lovely, Easter was great...but I am exhausted. I'll try to blog tomorrow. :)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Had He Not Come

He didn't have to die. Angels could have come to His aid. He really could have freed Himself, if He really wanted to.

But no. That was not the will of His Father.

That, perhaps, is the most painful realization of all: being truly God, Jesus could have gotten Himself out of the torture He was subjected to by His Roman captors. But He did it anyway, choosing willingly to undergo some of the greatest pain of this world for our sake. That's how much He loves us.

I'll keep this short today. In all honesty, Easter joy is already starting to settle in my bones. Papa Benedetto used this quote last night in the Way of the Cross in Rome that says what I wish I could, only with much more eloquence:

"You would still be in a state of wretchedness, had He not shown you mercy. You would not have returned to life, had He not shared your death. You would have passed away had He not come to your aid. You would be lost, had He not come."
--St. Augustine

Thursday, April 9, 2009


Our blessing-cup is a communion with the Blood of Christ.
How shall I make a return to the Lord
for all the good he has done for me?
The cup of salvation I will take up,
and I will call upon the name of the Lord.
--1 Cor 10:16 and Psalm 116:12-13

Today, as I walked to the parking lot at the end of my last class for the evening, the sun was setting. It was just meeting the horizon, taking on the blood red hue that appears in the last minutes before it passes out of sight.

The irony in the symbolism of the moment was enough to make me snicker a little.

We made it; after all the waiting we've done, the Easter Triduum is upon us. It seemed to arrive more quickly this year, at least for me. Perhaps my anticipation made Lent seem less difficult than it's been in years past.

Tonight, the readings hearken back to what are, for me, two of the most astounding scenes in Jesus' ministry: the washing of the discples' feet, and of course, the Last Supper.

What makes these events so special is paradoxical because they are so ordinary and normal. This is the Son of God that kneels before his sinful, prideful, foolish friends to wash the dirt from their feet. If anything, they probably should have been washing His, but even if they had offered, He likely would have refused. He was not only our Lord, but our Servant as well, just as our faith asks us to be--servants to our brothers through our common humanity. That in itself is an incredible mystery, one that I must admit baffles me. Christ was God Incarnate in every sense, yet...fully man. Just like us. Such a simple act of service, humility and compassion only underscores that point.

Then, of course, there was the Last Supper, when Jesus sat at table with these same sinners and gave them not only bread and wine to share, but the incredible gift of Himself. For the first time, He presented them with His Body and Blood--again, freely given, with nothing asked of Him. All He asked of them, and us, was to remember Him in partaking of that same meal. The only difference is that now that He is gone from us in the flesh, the meal we share in the Mass, while still humble, exalts Him. Unlike the Last Supper, we now know without question what it is receive.

"This is My Body," He tells us. Who are we to deny that truth, the reality of His Presence in those gifts? Who are we to question His words, both spoken then and revealed as written by St. John, just as Christ repeated the truth so insistently? Furthermore, He says, "If you do not eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man, you have no life in you." Jesus didn't joke about things that grave.

So tonight we lift Him up for adoration one last time, before the table is cleared and stripped bare, and our hymns, like the ones sung that night by Jesus and the Twelve, fall silent.

In a mystical way, the Mass transcends time. We're not just reenacting this. We're there. And now we follow Him to Calvary.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Peter's Tears

My apologies, first and foremost, for not writing this post sooner. I know that you all don't mind, but I like to have something up on holy days. The end of the semester is coming like a bullet train and I've been unfortunately tied down. I do hope to be blogging throughout the Triduum, though.

Passion Sunday (or to many, Palm Sunday) is in my top three favorite Masses in the liturgical year, behind only Christmas Mass at Midnight and the Easter Vigil. That might seem a little morbid, if you stop to consider how gruesomely vivid the Gospel of the Passion is, but I think that's what draws me. Through Ordinary Time, the truth of our salvation is always present--indeed, it never goes away--but Lent brings it to the forefront, with the first major climax occuring at the Passion Sunday liturgy. Suddenly, we find ourselves back in Jerusalem, waving palms and crying "Hosanna!" to our coming Lord. Then, all too soon, we cry for His Blood, and find ourselves kneeling at the foot of the cross.

This year, I found myself struck particularly by the role Peter played in the Passion. "Before the cock crows twice you will deny me three times," Jesus told him. Peter swore to our Lord that he would never betray Him, and never deny Him, yet he did. When faced with pressure and a threat to his safety, the great saint not only denied our Lord three times, but grew enraged and swore at the crowd that was persecuting him. It was only after the cock crowed that he realized just what he had done, and when he did, he wept bitterly.

I wept, too. It seems that I often promise Him so much, yet curse Him again and again with my broken promises and sin. I tell Him that I never want to be separated from him, and I mean it, with a sincere heart! Sooner or later, though, I am always the one breaking that bond of love and grace. It is more than enough to make me feel like a hypocrite and a failure, even in the best of times.

The good news is I've found so much comfort in this "thorn in my flesh," as Paul says in 2 Corinthians.

1) Look at what Jesus did to Simon Peter! Jesus, being fully God as well as fully man, knew without question that Peter would deny Him. Yet before that day, Jesus gave him a new name to replace his given one: Kephas, the rock. In Matthew 16:18, He said to the Apostle, "You are Peter [Kephas], and upon this rock I shall build my Church, and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it." If he could give a terrible sinner such a critical honor and responsibility, than certainly He forgives me for all I've done. Certainly, He can use me, too, for His glory.

2) Jesus still went to the Cross. He didn't have to do it for Peter, for Judas who betrayed Him, and certainly not for the countless others that would never know Him in the flesh. Still, he went and did it anyway, just because He loved them that much. And, even though I don't deserve it, He loves me that much.

There is hope for me--grace often takes time to change the heart, and I've already grown so much in the past two years. There was a time in myself where the only person that mattered was myself. I am learning now that I am the person that matters least. I'm still not quite sure how to apply that to my life, but faith, I've found, is a learning process.

His Mercy turns lives upside down. I hope one of those lives is yours.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Biblical Humor

Something to lighten up the undoubtedly heavy things to come this Holy Week:

My old student Bible I got from my Confirmation in 2003 pointed out to me this passage from Acts that really made me laugh!
On the first day of the week when we gathered to break bread, Paul spoke to them because he was going to leave on the next day, and he kept on speaking until midnight. There were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were gathered, and a young man named Eutychus who was sitting on the window sill was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. Once overcome by sleep, he fell down from the third story and when he was picked up, he was dead. (Acts 20:7-9)
It's really not supposed to be funny, but as my friend Catherine put it, "Maybe that's why homilies should never be more than fifteen minutes long!" That's almost as bad as the random man running naked in yesterday's Gospel...;)

Worry is wasteful...

If I could tell the world just one thing
It would be that we're all okay,
And not to worry because worry is wasteful
And useless in times like these...
--Jewel, "Hands"

Last night it hit me that I'm standing on adulthood's doorstep. I'm not sure if it appeals to me or not. Most of the time it fills me with an equal mix of exhilaration and insecurity. In six weeks, I'll be graduating with my Associate's Degree in Journalism, and in September, I'll be moving away from home for the first time to finish up my Bachelor's, and only after spending some well-deserved time with my other half.

For right now, my studies are my top priority, so in a sense I guess one could say I'm lucky. I don't have a job to worry about losing, a family to worry about providing for, or a roof that I need to ensure stays over my head. Meanwhile, I look at some of my dear friends--most of them older than I am--and see that struggle. The stress of this economy is so much more real to me now that I'm aware of people who are affected by it personally.

What hit me last night was that while I may be temporarily sheltered in the safety of academia, that's not going to last. I need to start looking at my future and, indeed, what's starting to become our future. Again, that notion makes me giddy, but also terrifies me. In a way that's so typically female, I found myself flooded with three dozen different "What if?" flavored questions, the vast majority of them left painfully unanswered. Ironically, I thought then, Maybe this is what people mean when they say you just have to trust God.

Thirty seconds later, I found this quote on a stranger's blog. I don't know about you, but God winks usually don't come any better than this:

"Have no fear for what tomorrow may bring. The same loving God who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow and every day. God will either shield you from suffering or give you strength to bear it. Be at peace, then, and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations".
-- St. Francis de Sales

Monday, March 30, 2009


There was something in the Mass this weekend that woke up something inside of me that hasn't been there since Lent--hope.

Lent for me is akin to wading through quicksand, and I guess that's an almost appropriate-sounding analogy, given that our Lord really did walk through the desert. He hungered for food; I hunger for fulfillment. He was tempted; I am tempted. He went to the cross, and I pick up my own and follow Him. Most poignantly of all, though, He asked for it to be stopped, as I do so often. Truly, in every sense, Lent makes us more like Christ. Sometimes, I'm not sure whether that's a good thing or a bad thing.

On Saturday, though, when my confessor started using phrases like "the promises of Easter" and "the season of rejoicing" in his homily, I perked up. Lent has been going on for over five weeks now, and while I can't speak for others, I know I'm tired.

Luckily, we've hit that point where the ground is suddenly shifting beneath us. The time is coming when we can cast our chains--both of sin and fasting--away to truly embrace what Easter is. A new beginning.

Of course, before we can begin again, we'll have to suffer patiently for a while longer, as Christ did. The sufferings we endure in these last twelve days are the most real, and also the most difficult.

The most we can do is laugh at our fear, and instead run straight into it, embracing it as we make the last sprint home.

For now, we still have a long way to go. But the tilt is here...

Monday, March 23, 2009

Papa Benedetto on Evangelism

The Holy Father has been in Africa over the past few days, and there have been some really brilliant things to come out of his speeches there. I wanted to leave a qupote here that struck me very deeply on a personal level. I need to mull over this, to absorb it, and above all, fight like hell to make it mine.
Someone may object: "Why not leave them in peace? They have their truth, and we have ours. Let us all try to live in peace, leaving everyone as they are, so they can best be themselves." But if we are convinced and have come to experience that without Christ life lacks something, that something real -- indeed, the most real thing of all -- is missing, we must also be convinced that we do no injustice to anyone if we present Christ to them and thus grant them the opportunity of finding their truest and most authentic selves, the joy of finding life. Indeed, we must do this. It is our duty to offer everyone this possibility of attaining eternal life.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

"Jesus can fly!"

I love Stephen Colbert. I'll let this video stand for itself. :) Catch him Monday through Thursday at 11:30p.m. Eastern on Comedy Central.

Monday, March 2, 2009

I iz so funny!

A little humor to break up the last few posts would be a good thing, I think. :)

The other week, the Holy Father lost his zuchetto in the middle of his Wednesday audience. Seeing the photos struck me funny for some reason, and the next thing I knew, I was making a macro.

If you've not heard of LOLCats, they're just a bunch of silly cat pictures with equally silly tags, usually with net or txt speak. (A variant of this is the new site LOLSaints, which is specifically Catholic.)

"I can has Eucharist?" ;)

Sunday, March 1, 2009

"Fear is the little death..."

My entire problem, I realize, is fear. Fear of being wrong, hurt, rejected. Fear of losing the people closest to my heart. Fear of ending up alone.

Sometimes, though, duty comes first. Over my fear, and over my weakness.

This calls to mind an old passage from a series I've come to appreciate:
I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.
--The Litany Against Fear, from Frank Herbert's Dune series
The thing about grace is that it comes even in our weakest moments, giving us the strength to do things that we thought to be impossible. I need to keep reminding myself that He is stronger than my weakness, and stronger than my fear.

If my Faith is true--and it is--I am called to live it completely. That includes speaking the truth, no matter what the consequences may be...

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Letting Go and Letting God

Sometimes, our faults can become painfully apparent. The look of disappointment in the eyes of someone we profoundly respect can not only wound our pride, but crush our spirits, as well.

Imagine what it would feel like if it were God looking at you that way, and not just your spiritual director.

Scary, isn't it?

Let's face it: the Lenten season is usually that time of year where we begin to realize exactly what Paul meant when he said that "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). The elect are going to be going through scrutinies over the next few weeks, so it seems only fair that the faithful should be joining them through this process, albeit in a lesser way.

I stress too much. I worry too much. I rely too much on my own faculties instead of giving myself up to the grace of God. The list goes on: I fail, time and again, to be a witness to my Faith. I can be a stumbling block to others. I say one thing, and do another.

Why? Why do I let Him down so much?

...I know why. *I* am why. There is too much of me, and not enough of Him. As much as I try to do what I know I should, when I don't rely on Him, I fail.

I just can't handle some things--okay, many things--on my own, and it's when I get myself into the mindset that I am the sole instrument of change that I get into trouble. Too often, I convince myself that I'm Wonder Woman. I'm not.

That's where letting go comes in. Letting go is an act of surrender, and of freedom. To let something happen is to give our assent to it, to give permission. In letting go of ourselves, we give God permission to come in and transform us--spiritual housecleaning, if you will.

He doesn't want us to do things on our own. He wants to take care of us!

Why is it so hard to let Him?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Deadlines are Everything

The reason I tend to thrive during Lent hit me over the head today: deadlines!

I'm just under halfway to my BA in Journalism, and of course, deadlines our crucial to my field. Between two years of school and a summer internship at a local newspaper, I've become accustomed to having a time limit for things. You'd be amazed at what you can accomplish when you have fifteen minutes to fill a giant hole where a story should have gone. Why do you think I've been able to write 50,000 words in 30 days for the last three years? ;)

Lent is like that for me. With the stress of current schoolwork, my recent acceptance to university (Deo gratias!), and juggling various relationships, Easter tends to come like a bullet train. Though we should always be working toward greater sanctification, there's something about Lent that's supercharged. Perhaps it's the solemnity of the season, and the graces that come with more Confession or more frequent reception of the Eucharist. Maybe it's our conscious effort to do penance, to cleanse ourselves before 40 days of celebrating in Easter season.

Or maybe it's just the deadline.

Intense penance that goes for several weeks is plenty of time to truly kick a bad habit, or start a new routine (like my Daily Mass readings), but it's not so long that we start to buckle. The dedication comes for me in the knowledge that it the suffering won't last forever. It will eventually end, and when it does, I will hopefully have been transformed once more. I'm learning that in time, these little changes make all the difference. One step at a time!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Square One

Rend your hearts, not your garments,
and return to the Lord, your God.
For gracious and merciful is He,
slow to anger, rich in kindness,
and relenting in punishment.
--Joel 2:13

Here we are again. Another Lenten season, and one last sprint until Easter. Sometimes, it can seem a little more like a decathlon, if you ask me.

When I was younger, I used to hate Lent with all its melancholy and penitential quirks. Now, though, I have a profound appreciation for the opportunity presented to us over the next 47 days. I can't say I'm excited to do penance--I'll be giving up sweets, which is a killer--but I do look forward to the positive changes I know I'll see as fruit from this.

Making sacrifices teaches us to cast aside our self-centered attitudes in favor of humility. Fasting reminds me that everything I have is because of God's graciousness. Sometimes, we lose sight of that. Lent is our opportunity to remember our Provider in thanksgiving.

This year, I'm focusing less on what I've given up, and rather with the things I've chosen to take up:

1) Daily Scripture readings. I'll be doing the readings for Mass on my own, along with reflections from The Word Among Us. My other half and I will also be doing a Bible study together, or at least as often as our schedules will allow.

2) The Divine Mercy Chaplet. Readers who have been around for a while know that I have a devotion to the Divine Mercy, though its zealousness comes and goes. I'm going to make a conscious effort to pray the chaplet again, at least three times a week. More than that, though, I want to work on truly embodying that devotion by being more forgiving and charitable, especially to my family.

The latter of those will really turn me upside down if I stick to it, and I am definitely ready to embrace that. The readings for Ash Wednesday show us that Lent isn't only about suffering, but healing. We are told over and over again to return to the Lord and let Him transform us. All we need to do is open our hearts.

Have a blessed Lent, everyone!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Light Beyond Darkness

"My God, my God! Why hast Thou forsaken me?"

We all know these words, some of us unfortunately all too well. They are the words of an abandoned soul that cries out for deliverance, only to receive no reply.

Most poignant and striking of all, though, is the source of these words: Jesus Christ, the Son of God, in the midst of suffering the Passion that would be our redemption. One would think that Christ would never doubt His Father. Think of all that He knew, said, and was able to accomplish. How could He experience such anguish and abandonment?

I've been doing a lot of thinking after finishing the two posts before this one, on dryness and hope. There are times even in the lives of the holiest Christians that God seems further away, somehow unreachable, or even absent altogether. Those periods of dryness can be because of sin, or omission, or a number of other things, but I believe that sometimes it simply can't be helped. Were it not for Adam's sin, we would still be perfectly united with the Lord, with no interference or imperfections to get in our way.

We are human--this we cannot change. Sometimes, the well of our faith can go dry. While we can't change that, either, we do have a choice in how we respond.

Look at Bl. Mother Teresa, for example. The greater part of her life was spent without even a single consolation from God, despite all she did to serve Him and the poor. Yet she persevered in her work, doing what she saw to be His will without thanks or recompense. She was honored, sure, and given worldly things from benefactors, but it wasn't what she wanted.

The other option is more grim. We can lose our faith, and lose our hope. I know all too well what despair in the spiritual life can do. It makes it difficult to pray even the ordinary, everyday prayers. Going to Mass can be excruciating; as we watch others respond to the graces given through the Eucharist, we might feel nothing. It might feel trite. Sometimes, we may doubt that our Lord exists at all. If He did, He would touch us, or make us aware of Himself, and not abandon us as He's appeared to...

To the zealous, this might seem inconceivable, but it does happen. Look at Christ, who begged not to suffer, to be rescued.

The most we can do in times of trouble is ask for the grace to persevere. There are times in the journey where, for whatever reason, the Father stops carrying us and asks for us to walk by faith, and not by those sweet consolations. Some of us succeed, and some do not.

Faith, to me, is almost like marriage. Being Catholic is not the easiest thing in the world; indeed, I'll be the first to tell you that reverting remains the hardest thing I've ever done. However, despite all the trials, uncertainty, and disagreements we may have, we remain in our Faith. We abide by the vows we have taken in Confirmation and renewed in Baptism because it's not only right, but true. As an old friend told me before my reversion, truth is terribly hard to swallow.

What we get in return is the incredible peace, mercy, love and grace that only God can give us. Those things remain, even when their noticeable signs fade away. Nothing is ever worth giving that up.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Hope Against Hope

Troubled soul, don't lose your heart--
Joy and peace He brings.
And the beauty that's in store
Outweighs the hurt of life's sting...
--Jeremy Camp, "There Will Be a Day"


To me, it is the sweetest of virtues, and also the most stubborn. Affirmations of faith are usually coupled with, in the next breath, questions of doubt; gestures of charity to the needy are quickly followed by rude words to our fellow drivers, and harsh words to those we love at the end of a long day. Hope, though, has always managed to stick with me in a way that the other two haven't.

Perhaps it's my personality--I'll be the first to admit that I'm extremely cheery and optimistic about things. When applying for scholarships in my last year of high school, my parents were stressing while I was laid-back. Things would work out, I'd told them, and they did.

The assurance that "things will work out" doesn't always work as well in situations that are more dire, however.

My pastor's homily this weekend echoed with a sense of worry and uncertainty that we undoubtedly all feel in the face of such a shaky economy. Friends and family alike are losing not only jobs, but homes, and sometimes even spouses. What do we optimists say then? What do we do when suddenly our words are no longer good enough to bring peace?

This one struggles with helplessness. Fortunately for me, Christ is the help of the helpless.

It's true that (and my confessor would fall over if he read these next words), as much as I'd like to, I can't fix everyone. I can't heal every hurt that comes into my path. Believe it or not, I'm not the Savior of the world. God gave us Jesus for that. And that, too, is why He is God, and I don't even come close.
"Cast all your worries upon Him, because He cares for you," St. Peter wrote (1:7). Where my words fall short, He comes in and does amazing things, whether through me or in other ways, those little consolations that my friend Catherine calls "God hugs".
The most I can do, I've learned, is to pray that I can be a channel for that peace for the people in my life that need it the most, and to try to give a little hope even when things are grim. It suits me well, and the results, whenever they happen, are so worth seeing.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

In Silence

It's funny, you know, how God uses other people to show us Himself.

Watching my other half go through the conversion process has really given me the opportunity to re-examine myself and my own faith life. It was around my birthday in November that I started going through a lull, a sense of apathy, and finally, a desert experience.

I think that part of me knew all along that something was out of place, but these things tend to sort themselves out. However, what didn't work this time was keeping to my same routine as if nothing was wrong. If anything, it only gave me an increasingly more uncomfortable awareness that either God wasn't listening, or I wasn't hearing Him.

My confessor warned me to stay vigilant and not let my guard down, that I would be particularly vulnerable in my uncertainty. I told him I would, and truly meant to, but in time I felt myself slipping. It was so hard to care when I felt so foggy and disconnected, and while I knew God was there, the lack of consolation made prayer feel trite and ultimately worthless.

Big mistake. I've not been to Confession this much since the weeks immediately falling my reversion in 2007. I'm not proud of that, but can say at least that I've developed a greater appreciation and thankfulness for the sacrament. There were points that the reassurance and listening ear of my pastor and confessor were the only things keeping me going.

Then, this weekend, as if I hadn't been struggling at all, the silence shattered. God had been there all along, but the sensation was nearly physical. I felt like someone had turned the lights on and dumped water over my head.

As for why things were cut off in the first place, I'm still trying to figure that out. Admittedly, I wanted to blog candidly about it while it was going on, but I still feel like I'm in a place where I can't allow myself to show vulnerability. God is working with me on that. For now, I'm taking a deep breath and soaking up the joy that is finally having His peace back in my life, at least for now. Sometimes, I think we all could use some time being carried.

I'll leave you with the song that got me through, with some background:

Friday, January 9, 2009

Pange Lingua Gloriosi

For Christmas, I compiled for Phil a CD of some of my favorite sacred music. One of those songs was Pange Lingua, a Benediction hymn. I had run out of time and paper and promised him a translation in the future. So here it is, along with Nick Zammis, a countertenor, singing a few verses of the original Gregorian melody. (Have you all figured out yet that I have a soft spot for countertenors?)

Of the glorious Body telling,
O my tongue, its mysteries sing,
And the Blood, all price excelling,
Which the world's eternal King,
In a noble womb once dwelling
Shed for the world's ransoming.

Given for us, descending,
Of a Virgin to proceed,
Man with man in converse blending,
Scattered he the Gospel seed,
Till his sojourn drew to ending,
Which he closed in wondrous deed.

At the last great Supper lying
Circled by his brethren's band,
Meekly with the law complying,
First he finished its command
Then, immortal Food supplying,
Gave himself with his own hand.

Word made Flesh, by word he maketh
Very bread his Flesh to be;
Man in wine Christ's Blood partaketh:
And if senses fail to see,
Faith alone the true heart waketh
To behold the mystery.

Therefore we, before him bending,
This great Sacrament revere;
Types and shadows have their ending,
For the newer rite is here;
Faith, our outward sense befriending,
Makes the inward vision clear.

Glory let us give, and blessing
To the Father and the Son;
Honour, might, and praise addressing,
While eternal ages run;
Ever too his love confessing,
Who, from both, with both is one.

R. Thou hast given them bread from heaven.
V. Having within it all sweetness.

Let us pray: O God, who in this wonderful Sacrament left us a memorial of Thy Passion: grant, we implore Thee, that we may so venerate the sacred mysteries of Thy Body and Blood, as always to be conscious of the fruit of Thy Redemption. Thou who livest and reignest forever and ever.
R. Amen.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Spreading the Word

Tonight, I got a stray instant message as I sometimes do from one of my first Christian brothers, a friend from high school. This comes on the tail of a phone call from another friend who is serving as a missionary in New Orleans. This week, my closest college friend is leaving for Costa Rica, where she'll work as a missionary for the next eighteen months.

Stiff competition, isn't it? That's what I used to think, in any case.

So many people around me are shamelessly spreading the Gospel, and that's amazing. I pray for that same courage all the time, yet, after three years, I've only taken baby steps. In some ways, I feel like I'm jeopardizing my salvation in this meekness--Jesus Himself said that "Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this faithless and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels." (Mark 8:38)

What can I make of that? Up until very recently, I've always read that verse and interpreted it as a call to evangelize or be damned myself. Not good for someone like myself who, while not ashamed, is timid about my faith. I am proud of it, and of my Church and all she stands for. I took vows to profess and proclaim those teachings, and I take them seriously.

The problem that I discovered after a lot of prayer and talking with my confessor/spiritual director is that I have always assumed that evangelism holds to one concrete definition--loud, assertive, bold witness. I met Christ in that environment, and the people I first had fellowship with operated solely in that way. It was for this reason that I thought that was what we, as good Christians, were supposed to do. In hindsight, I am quickly learning that I have been wrong about many things that good Christians are "supposed to do".

Let's face it--I'm proud, but I'm not aggressive. I'm joyful, but not shouting it from the mountaintops. It took me three years to accept that, yes, it's okay to be that way.

We can't all be Billy Graham, Saint Paul or Fr. Corapi. God gave us each gifts when He made us, all as unique and individual as we are. Those gifts are made manifest in Baptism, and sealed in Confirmation, but it's no guarantee that we're going to excel at all of them. Thankfully, we Christians stand in one another's gaps. Where I am lacking, people like my friends are succeeding.

My witness is a quiet one, but I think that's how I operate best. I'm less of a voice and more of a shoulder, guide, and listening ear. I don't preach, yet people come to me often for questions or advice, both spiritual and mundane. That is my gift. Every so often I can surprise people and quote Scripture if the situation calls for it. ;) I believe in speaking softly and carrying a big stick. It works well for me, and I can only pray that it pleases God.

"Preach the Gospel at all times," St. Francis said, "and use words if necessary."

I think I can handle that.