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. :)