Saturday, September 30, 2006

'Being In Love'

A post over at Seeing through a glass darkly... might be just the thing I need to get my blog back into gear. It really touched me and I wanted to share it with all of you. She may not post a lot, but when she does, she outdoes herself. (Praise God for His workings in her!)
When I first learned about contemplative life I thought, "I could NEVER do that! No way, no how." After I was married and spent a few weekends with the contemplative branch of the Sisters of St. John I started to think that if I ever had the opportunity to pursue a vocation (i.e., if (GOD FORBID) something were to happen to my darling hubband) that I might be called to contemplative life. I even told my husband it was a good thing I hadn't visited as he'd wanted before we were married or he might still be single!

If you knew me you'd laugh at the idea of me being a contemplative sister...a lot. But it's weird how you get that tug on your heart. Even though I have a vocation as a wife and a mother I only just now realize that that tug was then a sign, and now a reminder, of the vocation I have as an Oblate of the Community to live in a spirit of contemplation.

As with all things though we gain knowledge and understanding in God's time, not ours. I was shocked when I requested permission to begin my preparation for Oblature that the Father with whom I was speaking observed that I was somewhat living the life of an Oblate already. I was even more shocked when he said he saw the spirit of contemplation in my life.
This is only a portion and it only gets better. I had no idea what lay in store for me at the beginning of this post and by the end... well I was blown away.

Read the full post here.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Humility - A Repost

I'm reposting this from February. It is clear to me after reading this that I have wandered away from the original feel of this blog. I know that things need to evolve and change in order to be interesting but I would rather improve on things like this. I need to get back to reading New Advent and speaking only about things that truly move me. I'm tired of bland things. Lord, help me to find your voice again!

Humility - Posted February 17, 2006

It seems humility is quite the hot topic in the blogging world. Okay, well I guess two blogs doesn't quite make it a 'hot topic' but since it's coming from two of my favorite blogs I get to call it what I want. While I'm at it I think I will throw out some shameless advertising for them... the first I came across today was from Happy Catholic, a blog which is funny, uplifting, thought-provoking, hip, and easy on the eyes. She offers a wonderful article and some great thoughts. Did I mention she was nominated in two categories in the ever-popular Catholic Blog Awards? Also today was a post from Lumen de Lumine, a sappy theology student blessed with Scott Hahn as a professor.

Okay, moving quickly on from that...
Humility is quite key to a fruitful and blessed existence here on earth. It is humility that allows us to see ourselves for what we are and what we are not. It is what allows us to submit ourselves to God and to others for God's sake.
The virtue of humility may be defined: "A quality by which a person considering his own defects has a lowly opinion of himself and willingly submits himself to God and to others for God's sake." St. Bernard defines it: "A virtue by which a man knowing himself as he truly is, abases himself." These definitions coincide with that given by St. Thomas: "The virtue of humility", he says, "Consists in keeping oneself within one's own bounds, not reaching out to things above one, but submitting to one's superior" (Summa Contra Gent., bk. IV, ch. lv, tr. Rickaby).

To guard against an erroneous idea of humility, it is necessary to explain the manner in which we ought to esteem our own gifts in reference to the gifts of others, if called upon to make a comparison. Humility does not require us to esteem the gifts and graces which God has granted us, in the supernatural order, less than similar gifts and graces which appear in others. No one should esteem less in himself than in others these gifts of God which are to be valued above all things according to the words of St. Paul: "That we may know the things that are given us from God." (1 Corinthians 2:12). Neither does humility require us in our own estimation to think less of the natural gifts we possess than of similar, or of inferior, gifts in our neighbours; otherwise, as St. Thomas teaches, it would behove everyone to consider himself a greater sinner or a greater fool than his neighbour; for the Apostle without any prejudice to humility was able to say: "We by nature are Jews, and not of the Gentiles sinners" (Galatians 2:15). A man, however, may generally esteem some good in his neighbour which he does not himself possess, or acknowledge some defect or evil in himself which he does not perceive in his neighbour, so that, whenever anyone subjects himself out of humility to an equal or to an inferior he does so because he takes that equal or inferior to be his superior in some respect. Thus we may interpret the humble expressions of the saints as true and sincere. Besides, their great love of God caused them to see the malice of their own faults and sins in a clearer light than that which is ordinarily given to persons who are not saints.
I love NewAdvent. Sometimes I have to read through their articles twice or three times even before I fully comprehend what they are saying but when I finally do understand, I am so enlightened! Even such a thing as humility they find a way of expressing so clearly! As a side note: Can we get a round of applause for my favorite and oh-so-wise saint, Saint Thomas Aquinas?! It is not necessary for us to belittle the gifts which God has given us. It is not necessary to belittle ourselves so much that we call ourselves greater sinners or greater fools than our neighbor. Humility is a tricky thing, don't you think? I would try to say it better but I'm not sure it can be said any better than this:
"The problem with humility is that every time I see myself make great strides in that virtue, they instantly disappear. Go figure..."
Funny, yes, but sometimes, unfortunately, very true. We make great strides in the way of humility and instantly fall back into our pride. We think to ourselves "Hey I'm pretty humble. Look at me. I'm like the poster child for humility." And then we slap ourselves and wonder what just happened. A vicious cycle it seems - that is until we truly adopt this phrase:
"All for the greater glory of God."

It seems that if one can adopt this phrase and take it to heart that the humility starts to become so rich that one can only think on humility and say, "I have made great strides only because of my God. I can be more humble. All for the greater glory of His name."

It is true that all other virtues are linked to humility. Look at each of the other vitues and ask yourself if a prideful person could possess not only their immense pride, but also this or that virtue. Without humility we are striving for the impossible. Humility is the first of a mountain of traits which we must honestly aquire for our being in this lifetime. Quite frankly that's one of the scariest things I've said in a long time. If humility is the first building block in this tower of virtue and love for God, am I ever going to make it?

The worst part of humility is just that - humiliation. Accepting humility and growing in it means accepting the fact that it comes through humiliation - constant humiliation. It is a constant struggle, especially within myself, to accept faults and allow growth in this virtue and others. Taking our pride, setting it aside, and lifting up our humiliation for His sake is beautiful, but not always easy. It's easy to allow ourselves and others to thank us for helping them, guiding them, lifting them up when the fact is, we are but a vessel for God's work on this earth. We are not guiding people's heart to the right place, the Holy Spirit is. My fingers may type words of encouragement that turn a weary soul to Christ again, but it is not me nor is it anything I do which has caused this reversion. It is the Holy Spirit working in me which causes this.

This is humility in two ways. First, I am humbled admitting that I am not doing anything, that I am a mere vessel for the work of someone greater than myself. Second, knowing that the Holy Spirit has chosen me, a lowly servant, to carry out His work. It is easy though to put these things aside, pat ourselves on the back, and say, "Well done, Laura. You done good." Excuse my poor grammar. Only through Christ and through a constant plea for help shall we ever overcome our pride.
If we are very sincere with ourselves we shall ask Our Lord to stop us finding excuses to explain away our sins and failings, those things that humiliate us and for which we sometimes have to ask other people's forgiveness. from Julie D's post
Pope John Paul the Great once said,
"An excuse is worse and more terrible than a lie, for an excuse is a lie guarded."
Let us stop guarding our lies and face up to our failures and shortcomings. Let us ask forgiveness when we need it and seek advice when we need that. Let us put aside our pride and practice humility, all for the greater glory of God. We aren't hurting anyone but ourselves. Humility hurts but hell will hurt more.

Jesus, meek and humble of Heart, make our hearts like unto thine! St. Thomas Aquinas, pray for us!

Contemplating a Vocation

In one of my recent posts, the one in which I wondered if I could be called to the contemplative life, I was simply reflecting on the irony that I see in many vocational stories. I actually do feel that I am called to the active life. I have such a strong respect and absolute love of the contemplative in our world but I know in my heart that it is not for me. God is not calling me to that.

When I wrote it I wrote it because I didn't feel I had much else to blog about at the moment. Not speaking when it is not necessary is something I have been working on and I think that that might have been a bit of a slip up. If I had nothing of real substance to say, why was I saying anything at all? Only the foolish man believes that silence is awkward.

I am however grateful for the comments that stemmed from the post. They remind me again (and I have been reminded a lot of this lately) that I should not make my trip to New York believing that this is my order. I should be open to God and His will in ALL aspects of my vocation. I should let Him reveal it to me in His time and not assume to know what will come to be down the line.

So I am open, or trying to be open, in all aspects of my vocation. I invite the Lord to come and lead me where He would have me. I appreciate all of you who read and give me advice. I especially thank each of you that remembers me in your prayers. I certainly need those. Know that I pray for each of you.

May the peace and joy of Christ be with each of you every day of your life!

Mary our Mother, guide us to your Son and pray for us always! St. Maria Goretti, pray for us! Sts Francis and Clare, pray for us! St. Thomas Aquinas, pray for us! All of the angels and saints, pray for us!


Breath and Heartbeat

I've discovered a new blog... or perhaps, really, the new blog has discovered me! It's fun to 'meet' new people around the blogsphere, especially those that are discerning.. and with the same community! Everyone should check it out. Her name is Mhari and she seems very cool.

...breath and heartbeat

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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

What if..

What if I was called to the contemplative life? I don't see it happening but what if...? *shrug*

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Cookie me silly.

I love cookies. This one via Happy Catholic.

You Are a Chocolate Chip Cookie

Traditional and conservative, most people find you comforting.

You're friendly and easy to get to know. This makes you very popular - without even trying!


Let us pray.


VATICAN CITY, SEP 26, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office today released a communique concerning the present ecclesial position of Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo. The text of the communique is given below:

"With great concern, the Holy See has followed the recent activities of Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, emeritus of Lusaka, Zambia, with his new association of married priests, spreading division and confusion among the faithful.

"Church representatives of various levels have tried in vain to contact Archbishop Milingo in order to dissuade him from persisting in actions that provoke scandal, especially among the faithful who followed his pastoral ministry in favor of the poor and the sick.

"Bearing in mind the understanding shown, also recently, by Peter's Successor towards this aged pastor of the Church, the Holy See has awaited with vigilant patience the evolution of events which, unfortunately, have led Archbishop Milingo to a position of irregularity and of progressively open rupture of communion with the Church, first with his attempted marriage and then with the ordination of four bishops on Sunday, September 24, in Washington D.C., U.S.A.

"For this public act both Archbishop Milingo and the four ordinands have incurred excommunication 'latae sententiae,' as laid down in Canon 1382 of the Code of Canon Law. Moreover, the Church does not recognize, nor does she intend to recognize in the future, these ordinations and all ordinations deriving from them; and she considers the canonical status of the four supposed-bishops as being that they held prior to this ordination.

The Apostolic See, attentive to the unity and peace of the flock of Christ, had hoped that the fraternal influence of people close to Archbishop Milingo would cause him to rethink and return to full communion with the Pope. Unfortunately the latest developments have made these hopes more unlikely.

"At times of ecclesial suffering such as these, may prayers intensify among all the community of the faithful."


Happy Book

When I was in high school I started this journal-of-sorts that I called "Laura's Happy Book". It was a lift from a friend one year my senior. She had been journaling in this book for quite some time and I really liked the idea. So I started my own and journaled away quite regularly... for about a month. Slowly I stopped writing so much in my happy book. I would remember it occassionally and say very unconvincingly to myself that I would pick it up again. There are still pages to be inserted and memories to be journaled... so many that I doubt I will ever really get to putting them all in.

I thought about my happy book today after thinking about starting a quote journal like the one Julie D keeps. I think I want to commit to starting it up again. I really enjoy reading back over my happy memories. I love the pictures and I love the funny stories and warm fuzzies.

I think everyone should have a happy book. If we all could remember just a little more the things that make us smile - especially the little things - our world might be a better place. Yeah, yeah. I said it. But it's true! If we could all just take a little more time to recognize the 'happy' in our lives, we might actually be better or better off!

So I'm challenging myself to pick up my happy book and to make something of it again. I miss it.

The Angelic Doctor - Thomas Aquinas

Much has been written about St. Thomas Aquinas and his thought and influence on the Church. Unfortunately, the focus of these writings is more often the result of scholars’ preconceptions than of the truth of the man himself. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) was born in Southern Italy into a noble family in a time of great political and theological upheaval. Educated by the Benedictines at Monte Casino, he entered the Dominican Order and spent his life as a teacher and scholar. There is a story that he had a vision of Christ on the Cross and was asked by Our Lord what reward he wanted for all he had done and written. St. Thomas answered, "Non nisi te, Domine"-only you, Lord.

Thomas, the Model
For centuries, St. Thomas has been recommended as a standard for Catholic thought by saints, popes, and, more recently, the latest Code of Canon Law. Sadly, this has led scholars to make him a model for how to think, but not necessarily what to think. Often his followers have sacrificed what he thought so that they might enlist him as a support for some contemporary philosophy, and so have not done justice to the master.

It is time to set the record straight.

St. Thomas is a Doctor of the Church, but a most unique one. For one thing, his greatest work, the Summa Theologiae, was reverenced on the altar together with the Bible at the Council of Trent because the Council Fathers thought it clarified many questions relating to the faith. When St. Thomas was canonized, the devil’s advocate at the canonization process objected that there were no miracles, to which one of the cardinals answered, "Tot miraculis, quot articulis"-there are as many miracles in the life of St. Thomas as articles in the Summa.
With praise such as this, it seems futile to say merely that we should be like St. Thomas in his attempt to integrate reason and faith, but not think the way he thought about this. Though it is true that the Church does not canonize any particular philosophy, the popes have generally recommended the "perennial philosophy" of the Middle Ages, in which is included St. Thomas. Indeed, many of his ideas have become the Church’s commonly accepted explanations of things (e.g., the definition of the natural law given in Veritatis Splendor). Though St. Thomas is not the final authority, any theology worthy of the name could not contradict his philosophical positions and remain Catholic. Some principles, therefore, are important in any attempt to appreciate why St. Thomas has always been so highly regarded.

Faith and Reason
First, he was a theologian before all else. The courses he taught as a professor were commentaries on Sacred Scripture, and the Word of God thus came first in his life. Many have valued St. Thomas for his contributions to Catholic philosophy, and justly so. But if they reduce his contribution to Catholic thought merely to his philosophical explanations, they fail to appreciate that faith was central in his discussion of reality.

Second, in a time when truth is regarded merely as a subjective expression of a person’s needs, St. Thomas sounds the clarion call that truth is objective. This is certainly the case with truths of faith, but also the case with truths of reason, for both nature and grace come from the same First Truth, who is eternal. Some have thought, wrongly, that when St. Thomas gave five proofs for the existence of God-beginning with man’s observation of nature and his attempt to explain it-he was motivated by a pious intention to read Christian truths into pagan authors like Aristotle, who did not really think them. This would make St. Thomas either intellectually dishonest or so intellectually limited that he could not understand what Aristotle was saying.

Instead, when St. Thomas gives five proofs for the existence of God at the beginning of the Summa Theologiae, he really thinks that the same God who revealed Himself as "I Am Who Am" to Moses on Mount Sinai can be discovered by pagan philosophers using merely human reason. When St. Thomas used the philosophy of Plato and Aristotle-especially Aristotle’s realistic and sense-experience-based metaphysics as the grounding for theological reasoning-it was not because he thought every philosophy of the "spirit of the age" could be adapted to Christian usage. In fact, the philosophy of Aristotle was about as far as one could get from the spirit of the age in St. Thomas’s time. He used Aristotle because he thought what Aristotle said was objectively and perennially true. For St. Thomas, Aristotle had discovered the fullness of truth open to reason alone.

By Any Other Name
St. Thomas is called the "Angelic Doctor" because he wrote a great deal about angels. Indeed, his use of the philosophy of Aristotle to distinguish essence and existence in angels (to show how they could be created, but without matter) was among his principal contributions to the history of philosophy.

St. Thomas has been called the "Common Doctor" because he unified Scripture, the Fathers of the Church, and philosophy in a neat synthesis that scholars have studied ever since.
He is called "Divine Thomas" because those who have studied his works feel they have met not only a genius, but someone who must have been inspired by God to write as much as he did with such depth, power, and faith.

It is a sign of his humility that he almost never shines through his voluminous pages personally, but rather sticks to the objective problem. Thus he reverses the egoism of our existentialist age, which tends in some cases to sacrifice the truth in favor of personal experience. Bishop Fulton Sheen, a great Thomistic scholar, once remarked that the problem of modern philosophy is that modern thinkers tend to view the universal as "an impoverished sense experience." The rose smells less sweet because it can be defined. Such a position has more in common with Kant than with Aquinas, who defines salvation as "the enjoyment of God."

Adhering to God
In recent days, Pope Benedict XVI has severely criticized the "dictatorship of relativism" and has called for a return to a metaphysics that promotes objective truth. The witness of St. Thomas should be the foundation of this return. Though so highly versed in reason that he could comment on most of the works of Aristotle, and so intellectual that he could synthesize such disparate sources as Scripture, St. Augustine, Plato, and Aristotle, St. Thomas always remained a humble servant of the truth and the Church. In his last words, he submitted one of his deepest and most influential treatises on the Eucharist to the "judgment of the Roman pontiff."

His legacy and example demand that we not merely imitate him, but also study what he actually said. For as such diverse authorities as St. Ignatius of Loyola and John Paul II have constantly noted, when the Church reads St. Thomas, theology always comes back to secure moorings.
Since the master is more succinct and eloquent than the student, the best summary of his ideal of life should be given by him:
Because our perfection consists in our union with God, we must have access to the divine to the fullest extent possible, using everything in our power, that our mind might be occupied with contemplation and our reason with the investigation of divine realities. As Psalm [73:28] says: "It is good to adhere to my God." So Aristotle rejects the opinion of those who held that we should not meddle with what is divine, but only with what is human. "But we must not follow those," he says, "who advise us, being human to think of human things, and, being mortal, of mortal things, but must, so far as we can, make ourselves immortal, and strain every nerve to live in accord with what is best in us." (Commentary on Boethius’s De Trinitate, 2, 1, ad corp.)
by Fr. Brian Mullady Source
Anyone that knows me fairly well knows how much I love and respect Saint Thomas Aquinas. I've read a handful of biographies about him (only one in novel form) and know quite a bit about his writings (especially on Natural Law). I admittedly have not completed his Summa Theologica but I have read bits and pieces. I'm sure that by finishing I would only love and admire him more.

The 'Dumb Ox' is one of my favorite saints (I'll mention my confirmation confusion later) and always has been. I first read about him in third grade for a project we had to do. We had to read a biography and I chose his. I remember being so intrigued and so impressed with his life and his work. I still remember today many of the details of that book which made me feel as though I knew him and was there with him in his travels.

This article was one that was very fun to read for me as it hit on the point that his works are not works to be admired and then adapted. His works are solid and have stood the test of time. He is a Doctor of the Church for a reason and we should take more seriously his writings. We must take more time to read, examine, study, and understand everything that he left for us. His writings were truly inspired. God gave us Thomas and we should appreciate and accept that gift to the best of our ability. I know that I have not lived up to my own expectations when it comes to knowing and understanding the works of this amazing Saint. So I challenge myself and everyone I know to, at the very least, understand the core of what St. Thomas has given us. To pass on these writings when we engage in so many other nonsensical and meaningless endeavors would make us foolish.

St. Thomas Aquinas has always been regarded as something really special. But for some reason, we only acknowledge it. We never go to pick up his works and read them and know what it is he gave us. We simply acknowledge his greatness in wisdom based on what those before us have said. To really understand how connected he was with God and to really know how great a work he gave us, we must read it... and understand.

As a side story (I mentioned I would come back to it)... When I was going through the process that leads up to confirmation, I was thinking really hard about the Saint I would choose to be my patron. I loved Saint Thomas Aquinas and wished many times that I had been born a boy so that I could take him as my patron! I was so ignorant I had no idea I could have taken him even though I was a girl! Every time I would think of him I would remind myself that I needed to find a girl. I do not regret choosing my patron because I love her very much too. (I chose Saint Maria Goretti!) I just like to think back and laugh at my ignorance. It always makes me giggle.


Monday, September 25, 2006

New York, New York!

Well... almost. My trip to the Bronx is SEVEN weeks away! I know that's still quite a while but really, seven weeks in my mind at this point is nothing. I can't believe it's so soon. Please keep me in your prayers as I prepare for the trip. I'll post before I leave so you can keep my safety in your prayers too! *wink*


Friday, September 22, 2006

Come and See... Come and Follow Me

As Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, we are well aware of the intense secularization of our society in this age. As followers of our holy father Saint Francis, we want to bear witness to the presence of the Lord in our world. Signs of transcendence, which were once so commonplace, are now sorely missing from our worldview. Crosses have been removed from classrooms in some Catholic universities, outward signs of consecration are often minimized or missing altogether, and priests are often unidentifiable from the rest of the crowd. Not that we have to wear our religion on our sleeve, or push the sacred in someone's face, but we must be careful not to replace the profoundly sacred with the politically correct. We should never be afraid to bear witness to a loving Savior who so earnestly desires people to experience His provision in life. We should long, as He does, that more and more people may find the peace that surpasses all understanding, even in the midst of our terror-stricken society.

I admit there are times when I would like to slip unnoticed into a crowd. There are many times when traveling that I wish my attire didn't shout so loudly, "I'm available to talk about God." There are also those hot, humid days of a New York summer when I wish Francis had been attracted to a more Hawaiian style of dress. But then I recall all the Lord has done for me. I am reminded by my wear how Jesus embraced His cross willingly that I might know the love of the Father. I am challenged by how many others still need to know the provision of a merciful Lord. It is then that I joyfully put on my habit and take delight in the CROSS WE WEAR!
--From GrayFriar News, Summer '06 by Fr. Bernard Marie Murphy, CFR
How very excited I am to witness in person these beautiful brothers and sisters wearing their cross! I have received come and see dates for the Sisters and have purchased my airline tickets. The deal is sealed in my mind... and I'm hoping in God's as well!

How beautiful it is to see others living their lives and their faith the way I wish to live mine! Every time I am interacting with the Sisters (or Brothers) I am joyful. They radiate the love of Christ in such an awesome way. I wish to follow in their rule and truly live out the Gospel, which was always Francis's first and only mission. To live out the Gospel completely would mean that he would live out every aspect of Godly life and so the essence of his order was and is to ... live the Gospel. (I was trying to come up with some other way of saying it but there is no other way. It is simply that.)

I am so on fire for God and wish to serve His people always. How I wish that everyone knew the love of God! I want to further knowledge of His existence and mercifulness. I want for each person the rewards of God's eternal kingdom. For every person to see His Holy Face... oh! The joy I would know to know that everyone had that chance. How unworthy are we but how merciful is our God! And to think... someone, somewhere probably very close to me does not know the love and healing of Jesus Christ.

My most pleasing dream is adoring Him for all of eternity. I glimpse this dream at every Mass. I wish everyone could experience Mass and appreciate it for what it is!

I'm reminded of a song I like most of the time (it's one that you can definitely play too much) that goes:

"Come! Now is the time to worship!
Come! Now is time to give your heart!
Come! Just as you are to worship!
Come! Just as you are before your God!


One day every tongue will confess you are God.
One day every knee will bow..."

I know that a day will come that the Lord will judge us and some of us, out of our own idiotic choices - mistakes! - and decisions, will be damned for all of eternity. How my body aches at this thought. To know that there are people suffering such loveless existances is horrible. But I rejoice in knowing that, if I choose to follow Him and love Him and obey Him in all things, I am loved by a merciful, forgiving, all-together-wonderful God that will take me into His arms and cleanse me of all my impurities.

The thought of adoring Him for all of eternity gets me every time. I have to stop what I'm doing and just be still. Praised be our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, forever and ever!

I have asked myself many times what I feel I am being called to do exactly. 'What is it exactly that God is saying to me?' Well, it has always been this: 'Seek me in all things. I am your center. I am your focus. I am your one and your all. Forget *insert something*. It is nothing of importance compared to me. Come to me. Draw near. Take comfort in my presence.' It all sounds so silly and obvious when I say it outloud. When it is in my head though, it is so strong and loving. It does not sound silly when I hear or feel it from Him. I am moved at whisperings in my heart and though my words are inadequate, His awesomeness is beyond pefection in wisdom and profoundness.

And I question myself further... 'Where do you see the call for a religious vocation in that message? Isn't that what He is telling all of us? Does He not call all of us to take up our cross and follow after Him? Are we not all challenged to live out the Gospel, giving our lives completely and surrendering our wills totally to His supreme wisdom?' To which I reply, 'Yes. He does call all of us to Himself, to follow Him, to bear our cross, to surrender, submit, conform our wills completely and totally to His. But He calls me in a unique way. He calls me to Himself in a very real and radical way. He calls me further to walk with Him in the road to Himself through the life of a religious. He calls me to give up all things, literally, and to live out the Gospel in a radical way. You see, my words are quite inadequate in explaining this knowledge of the heart and soul. I cannot explain it to anyone. I just know. I'm sure there are many religious who could explain with great ease what I struggle to vocalize now. I am being called to literally give up everything that I own and follow Christ to teach His people and to serve them, to love them always and to share with them the beauty that is Christ Jesus. I will probably never be able to explain to myself or to anyone else what it is I feel or how it is I know. I just know. And when I know something like this, though I have never known anything of this grandeur or heard the whispering so clearly or felt the tug so strongly, I assume that it is a thing of God which humans were not meant to explain. Try as they may, I doubt we will, without God's willing it, ever be able to explain or fully comprehend how it is that we come to know God's will for us, especially the will to live a life of complete surrender and service. For truly, in this day and age and in most all the days and ages of the past, it has been considered extreme and radical to live with 'no money, no honey, and a boss'.


Sneaky, sneaky...

I bumped this up because I finally got around to giving the picture a working link.

I love secret projects. I really, really do. I love surprising people with things I've made for them or found for them that they couldn't find themselves. I just love making people smile. They may not always smile from ear to ear but even just a faint glimpse of one makes me burst with excitement inside. I love happy people.

One of my most recent was a handmade card. I honestly don't know if it cost me more to make it than it would have to buy it but I didn't care. I love giving homemade things. They know that you had to take time to make it for them and hopefully that emphasizes your message, be it one of thanks, praise, or comfort. I've pictured it below .. (if any of you remember, I left this one out of my last post of cards I'd made so as not to ruin the surprise)...

The next project is really cool, I think, and I'm just hoping I don't mess it up. I'm already quite displeased with a lot of things but I'm learning a lot through my mistakes. (I have also chosen a really supportive and accepting friend to do it for so I know he/she won't be too harsh about it - which makes me feel a bit less stressed.)

Anyway.. I had to share the news with SOMEONE. And it's still so vague! Soon enough I will be able to post a picture.. or four. Heh.

Originally posted September 7, 2006 at 10:45 PM


Like a wedding, but different.

September 22, 2006

Like a wedding, but different. Joyful, yet solemn. So simple, and at the same time, extravagant. A first profession of vows.

Last Sunday, three of our sisters knelt at the foot of the altar in St. Adalbert Church in the South Bronx, and placing their hands into the hands of Sister Lucille, our Community Servant, pronounced their vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience with clear, steady, and determined voices.

The familiar story of the woman anointing Jesus comes to mind. Saint Mark describes the scene: “A woman came with an alabaster jar of perfumed oil, costly genuine spikenard. She broke the alabaster jar and poured it on his head.” Breaking the jar was reckless and perhaps impetuous. Her oil had one purpose and she was holding none of it back for herself. It was courageous and it was criticized. The next line in Mark’s Gospel is “There were some who were indignant. ‘Why has there been this waste of perfumed oil?’”

A consecrated life? No husband, no children, no material things? Young, gifted, beautiful women throwing their lives away. It is not only a few who think this way. And Jesus responds, “Let her alone. Why do you make trouble for her? She has done a good thing for me.”

Would that more were ready to break the jar and pour their lives out! How can it ever be wrong to strive to imitate our Lord Jesus who allowed Himself to be broken, to be pierced and poured out?

Please pray for our Sisters as they strive to live what they have professed!

Sr. Clare Matthiass, CFR

Click here to see the article with pictures. (I would have posted them myself but without the help of a right click button and a few other slightly missed abilities, I was unable to do so on this computer. Sorry!)


Teary Eyed and Loving It

I often find that I respond physically (emotionally) to small things. I feel my eyes welling with tears at things that probably don't normally move others to cry. (Note: we're talking about things that are happy.) I tend to feel others joy physically and share their emotional responses. It's been troublesome in the past (I get a lot of weird looks, stares, and not-so-nice remarks) but I appreciate it because I see it as a gift from God. I find immense amounts of joy in the smallest things and, though others may not understand it, I love it.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

and she's back...

Yep. I'm back.

Our new Mac was delivered this morning and as soon as I got home from work I got it up and running. Thanks to my mom unpacking the boxes before I arrived, it took me a mere ten minutes to get us up and on the internet. And I say ten because I don't actually recall how long but I fear five might be a bit too little. Anyway...

I'm not up for any serious blogging right now so I thought I'd break my period of not blogging with a meme. Since I haven't been on in a while I HAVEN'T been tagged for anything... well... not that I'm tagged for much of anything when I am online... anyway...

Five Things Meme
I'm saying Happy Catholic tagged me with this one ...

Five things in my freezer:
strawberry ice cream - yick
Klondike Bars - is that how you spell that? ... yick.
Bomb Pops

Five things in my closet:
way too many shoes
scrapbooks and photos
a handful of formal dresses i will probably never wear again
t-shirts chronicling my time at RHS in the theatre department and other clubs
lots of books on my neato bookcase down the middle

Five things in my car:
shoes that need to be returned
a piece of my car that came off during my wreck
herbal essences shampoo (in the console)
this amazing smelling perfume from... Bath & Body Works - of all places!
probably two or three pairs of spare shoes

Five interesting things in my backpack:
spearmint gum
pens and highligthers - perfect for doodling in my...
two composition notebooks: one green, one orange
computer textbook
and lab book

Five People I tag:
I think this has made the rounds pretty well so consider yourself tagged if you're interested!

Thanks to everyone for the comments and emails during my absence! I missed y'all too!

Monday, September 11, 2006

i've not had power (electricity), a working computer, or a healthy body for at least the last four days --- well not the entire time. i've been sick since last week, we lost power three times in the last two days and my computer is on it's last edge. i lost my tribute post but look for it sometime tomorrow. i apologize with all of my heart to the family of my tribute for not having it available today. i also apologize to anyone else who came looking. i haven't forgotten and i never will.

God bless America.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

What IS the procedure?

February 8, 2006

For the next three days, I will have approximately ten trillion less questions to answer around the convent—or at least it will seem that way with the candidates away on retreat! (See reflection of Nov. 12 for a reminder of who the candidates are) On Saturday, the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, we will have a simple, private ceremony during which they will take the next step in the adventure of religious life and become postulants. I decided to take Rosann’s suggestion (she’s the editor for this daily “eletter”) which was to “write about the procedure. People are interested in that.” What she meant was the procedure by which the young women who join us become Sisters. We all grow up in families of one sort or another and so we have a pretty good idea of the procedure for marriage and family life. But how does one go about becoming a Sister?

Once a young woman begins to realize that God may be calling her to Himself as a consecrated religious, that is, to be His spouse, and she gets over the initial shock and begins to say “yes” to what she believes to be a “calling,” she then has to find out where she is to live-out her religious vocation. In decades past, it would have been most common for young women to simply enter the nearest convent. In this age of advancements in transportation and communications, young people search far and wide for a place that’s a “fit.” It begins with a letter or a phone call and it’s not unusual to have a few nervous “hang-ups” before the young woman works up the courage to actually speak to the Sister on the other end of the line! (I guess some aspects are comparable to the married vocation!) Then she makes a visit to the community and gets to know “the family.” As she is evaluating them, they are evaluating her—it is very much a process of mutual discernment.

Our 10 candidates entered the convent back in September because they (and we too) are reasonably sure that God is calling them to the Consecrated Life, and more specifically, to live that consecration out as Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal. The process from candidacy to final (life-long) vows is a minimum of 7 years in our community. Unlike the married life, in the religious life there is a very long runway before the plane takes off. Candidacy is like boarding a plane. They pack their bags (very light—“carry-on” only!), find their seats, and proceed to get a lot of instructions from the flight attendant about emergency oxygen supplies and exits. This is a period of living the life and continuing to ask the questions, “Is this what God is calling me to?” “Can I do this?” and “Do I want to do this?” Postulancy is the next step and it isn’t that much different than candidacy—they’re seated on the plane and now their buckling their seat belts and trying to listen to everything the flight attendant tells them and put their trust in The Pilot. One very practical difference is that postulants all wear gray jumpers and white blouses, putting aside their lay clothes. (All analogies break down somewhere!)

The step from candidacy to postulancy allows these young women to get a real “day-in and day-out” experience of our life: the rhythm of the prayer life, the intensity of living in community, and the excitement and challenges of the apostolate. Then, after having gone home and “back into the world” for two weeks, being reminded of what they are giving up, they may freely choose to proceed in this path of formation toward becoming a Sister.

Please pray for them during these next 3 days of retreat that their hearts be open to all that our loving God wants to give them, and especially on Saturday as they “buckle their seat belts and get ready for take-off!” Stay tuned for some photos of the new postulants sometime next week!

Sr. Clare Matthiass, CFR
A peek into the formation of a sister... found here.



Every time I see Miami Ink I want a tattoo a little more...

It's always interesting to me how many people come in that have wanted a tattoo for a really long time but have never gotten one, until now. Usually it is to 'memorialize' a close friend or relative, mainly brothers or sisters - and unfortunately, more often than not, they have lost them to suicide. *Sigh* Anyway, as of now I'm not sure if my reason is strong enough. Who knows if I'll get one?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Friends: A Catalyst forFaith and Learning

Sydney* and I have been 'friends' for about five years now. We met long before that but never really got to know each other. We had one friend in common and frankly, I had more in common with the friend than I did with Syndney. Through some odd chain of events that neither of us can ever clearly recall, we became friends and have been 'close' for as far back as I can remember knowing her. I recently stood in her wedding and we see each other at least four times a week (this might be helped by the fact that we practically work together - long story, I won't even try to explain).

Sydney has helped me in faith since the birth of our friendship. This is the meaning of friendship (I believe) but the way that Sydney has done this is not in the ordinary fashion. She has helped me without knowing it and I doubt she will ever really know the full impact she has had. You see, Sydney is Church of Christ. (Our friend in common went to church with her and sang in a city choir with me, in case you were wondering - and I know you were.) She was brought up in her little church and is faithful to its teaching. She may not be as conservative as the elders but she certainly does not stray from the core principles which have been handed down to her.

Sydney has always struggled with my faith. She does not reject me for it, obviously, but how can she? She doesn't understand it. It seems it is this way for the both of us. I do not understand many of the things that her church teaches and she does not understand... well, anything about my Church. I have to say it was and is probably easier for me to understand hers because it is a single church with its own rules and ways of doing things. Sure, they are united to all believers in the Church of Christ but they are not linked in the way that Catholic churches are linked. (Plus, let's admit it... there aren't any huge concepts to grasp or hard-to-pronounce terms or any serious complexity. There's Jesus and the people... and a sermon about living a good life.) They have class - which if I remember right is basically a bible study or CCD, service (music and preaching), and then another class/service later in the day. Having never known anyone of this faith and having never learned about it, it was easy for me to listen to her and to learn that way. However, Sydney did not have this advantage. She had already been taught about Catholics... if you know what I mean.

To this day she thinks we are weird and a little bit scary. She's certainly come a long way but it is still a challenge sometimes to get her to understand that we aren't some bunch of loonies. The thought of stepping foot inside of a Catholic church spooks her, I think. This past Sunday we had planned for her to come to Mass with me. We called her husband and left him a message telling him that he was coming too, though obviously we wouldn't force him if he didn't want to. (I always thought that, of the two, he would be the more accepting.) As it has been in the past, they didn't show. It always saddens me a little that they don't care to come and experience something that means so much to me. This is, frankly, who I am. I live my life as a faithful Catholic. They know this. So it is, sometimes, hard for me to understand why it scares them so much. They know me. They know I'm not insane. (Well, maybe a little...) Why don't they just come? Just once!

I've offered to go to services with them. I want to know what it is they believe and why. Being my friends, I want to know what it is that drives their lives and fuels their faith in God. (And I would have been to a service already if we could ever keep our plans.) I already know their families and friends and have experienced many different aspects of their lives. Heck, we go grocery shopping together for fun! We know each other pretty well and knowing about their faith would, I think, pretty much cap the understanding of them in general. ... But before I get carried away (too late, I know), let me get to my point...

For as long as I have known Sydney I have tried to show her the normalcy and practicality of the Catholic faith. I have tried to show her that we are generous, loving, and kind. I have tried to always answer her questions and correct her when she makes false assumptions. It has never been easy, especially given the things she was taught at her church, but it was good for me. I was forced to really learn all I could about every aspect of our faith. I couldn't have general responses (though those aren't bad). I had to have reasons, meanings, explanations. Most of all, I had to be ready to explain at all times. It wasn't common for her to ask questions so when she did, I couldn't shy away and I couldn't put it off. I had to answer her then and there. Occasionally I would tell her I would have to get back to her on it but she could see that I was trying and I like to think that that said something in and of itself.

Most recently I have noticed my close attention at Mass. I know that the majority of it is my frequent and regular participation but some of it, I think, has been fueled by my desire to share the beauty of it with my friend. I want her to come and experience it, even just once, and so I pay close attention to know what to tell her to expect. The more I try to explain to her how each part of the Mass is beautiful and awesome and holy and PRACTICAL, the more I realize it for myself. Every time I appreciate more and more each and every word that is said. I am gaining a deeper appreciation for this gift given us by God and I do credit at least a portion of it to her presence in my life. It was a combination of her presence and the presence of great mentors in my young life that inspired me to really dive into my faith and learn what being a Catholic is all about. I praise God for this catalyst, this friend, which has brought me closer to Himself.

I still do not know what it would take to help her understand or to be less afraid. I do not know if she will ever overcome the misconceptions she has when it comes to my faith. I do not know if she will ever understand my vocation (which is another story for another day). Whatever the outcome, I thank and praise God for allowing me the opportunity to be an instrument of Truth. I believe that on some level I have shared some part of Him with her in my faith. I pray that I never stop seeking answers and desiring to share Him with those whom I meet. I pray that no one, no Catholic, ever denies himself or herself a chance to be His hands and feet here on the earth. I pray that we, the Lord's people, embrace our faith and choose to share it with those around us daily. I pray that we are ever a race striving to imitate Him in all of His goodness. +Lord, bless your people and make us holy.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Journalism... How many times have I heard that?

You scored as Journalism. You are an aspiring journalist, and you should major in journalism! Like me, you are passionate about writing and expressing yourself, and you want the world to understand your beliefs through writing.





























What is your Perfect Major?
created with

I would not say I am fascinated with letting the world know what I think as much as I am with preserving thoughts for myself and potentially generations to follow. I like reading back through old journals (my own or others), even if they aren't the most 'exciting' thing. There's just something to reading what someone else was thinking in that time and place. I love to watch the mind change and grow...

and theater? Well, I enjoy theater very much but I think I've enjoyed it for a time that satisfies me... especially if I'd have to be involved in the theater culture. Blech.

Friday, September 01, 2006

"Heretical Hymns?" by George Weigel

This article was passed on by Colleen and I thought it was a good one! Funny and true! (Those are the best.)
I love hymns. I love singing them and I love listening to them. Hearing the robust Cardiff Festival Choir belt out the stirring hymns of Ralph Vaughan Williams at what my wife regards as an intolerable volume is, for me, a terrific audio experience. It was only when I got to know certain Lutherans, though, that I began to think about hymns theologically.

For classic Lutheran theology, hymns are a theological "source:" not up there with Scripture, of course, but ranking not-so-far below Luther's "Small Catechism." Hymns, in this tradition, are not liturgical filler. Hymns are distinct forms of confessing the Church's faith. Old school Lutherans take their hymns very seriously.

Most Catholics don't. Instead, we settle for hymns musically indistinguishable from "Les Mis" and hymns of saccharine textual sentimentality. Moreover, some hymn texts in today's Catholic "worship resources" are, to put it bluntly, heretical. Yet Catholics once knew how to write great hymns; and there are great hymns to be borrowed, with gratitude, from Anglican, Lutheran, and other Christian sources. There being a finite amount of material that can fit into a hymnal, however, the first thing to do is clean the stables of today's hymnals.

Thus, with tongue only half in cheek, I propose the Index Canticorum Prohibitorum, the "Index of Forbidden Hymns." Herewith, some examples.

The first hymns to go should be hymns that teach heresy. If hymns are more than liturgical filler, hymns that teach ideas contrary to Christian truth have no business in the liturgy. "Ashes" is the prime example here: "We rise again from ashes to create ourselves anew." No, we don't. Christ creates us anew. (Unless Augustine was wrong and Pelagius right). Then there's "For the Healing of the Nations," which, addressing God, deplores "Dogmas that obscure your plan." Say what? Dogma illuminates God's plan and liberates us in doing so. That, at least, is what the Catholic Church teaches. What's a text that flatly contradicts that teaching doing in hymnals published with official approval?

The first hymns to go should be hymns that teach heresy. If hymns are more than liturgical filler, hymns that teach ideas contrary to Christian truth have no business in the liturgy.

Next to go should be those "We are Jesus" hymns in which the congregation (for the first time in two millennia of Christian hymnology) pretends that it's Christ. "Love one another as I have loved you/Care for each other, I have cared for you/Bear each other's burdens, bind each other's wounds/and so you will know my return." Who's praying to whom here? And is the Lord's "return" to be confined to our doing of his will? St. John didn't think so. "Be Not Afraid" and "You Are Mine" fit this category, as does the ubiquitous "I Am the Bread of Life," to which I was recently subjected on, of all days, Corpus Christi — the one day in the Church year completely devoted to the fact that we are not a self-feeding community giving each other "the bread of life" but a Eucharistic people nourished by the Lord's free gift of himself. "I am the bread of life" inverts that entire imagery, indeed falsifies it.

Then there are hymns that have been flogged to death, to the point where they've lost any evocative power. For one hundred forty years, the fourth movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony sent shivers down audiences' spines; does anyone sense its power when it's morphed into the vastly over-used "Joyful, Joyful We Adore You," complete with "chanting bird and flowing fountain"? A fifty-year ban is in order here. As it is for "Gift of Finest Wheat." The late Omer Westendorf did a lot for liturgical renewal, but he was no poet (as his attempt to improve on Luther in his rewrite of "A Mighty Fortress" — "the guns and nuclear might/stand withered in his sight" — should have demonstrated). Why Mr. Westendorf was commissioned to write the official hymn for the 1976 International Eucharistic Congress in Philadelphia is one of the minor mysteries of recent years. "You satisfy the hungry heart with gift of finest wheat/Come give to us, O saving Lord, the bread of life to eat" isn't heresy. But it's awful poetry, and it can be read in ways that intensify today's confusions over the Real Presence. It, too, goes under the fifty-year ban.

Hymns are important. Catholics should start treating them seriously.

Sometimes getting up is a hard thing to do...

But this morning I was so glad that I did! I forgot that it was first friday! That means adoration! It's the only time we have adoration in our church and I was thrilled. I also saw some of the children from the school there for Mass and a few minutes of adoration. (I think they were the 7th and 8th graders.) It was an awesome opportunity to pray for some new people. I knew that half of them didn't REALLY understand what was going on, and I'm sure they didn't care to. (Perhaps a glass half empty assumption? Oh well...) Many of them turned around and stared when the others in the church began the rosary. I am positive that they are all great kids and I was so happy to pray for all of them and their futures. There is something just WONDERFUL about praying for young people, even those who aren't much younger than myself! I thought of them especially when we were praying the prayer for vocations. I bet one day at least one of them will hear and answer.

Praised be Jesus Christ!