Sunday, December 1, 2013

Prepare And Make Way!

On this first day of Advent, the Church provides us with a powerful message to "prepare".  What exactly does this mean?  There are so many ways we can "prepare".  For many of us, "preparing" means a checklist of to-do's: Cleaning, decorating, shopping, baking, wrapping, and attending a plethora of holiday parties and events. However, is this what The Lord has in mind for us when He reminds us to "stay awake and prepare" (Matthew 24:37-44)?

If you are like me when preparing for guests and holiday soirees, a lot of time and effort goes into cleaning and decorating. But am I preparing in a way that Jesus wants me to prepare? As a society, are we really preparing in ways that will bring us closer to Him? Are we putting forth any effort into the spiritual cleansing and preparation needed for our souls? Can the Holy Spirit truly dwell inside us when we have not cleared out the cobwebs and dust that our sins leave behind?

The purpose of Advent is to prepare and make way for the Lord. While I do not know what is on the hearts and minds of others, from a personal level I can tell you that I have not prepared.  How can I expect The Lord to dwell in my heart when I have not cleaned or made room for Him at the Inn? For me, sin is rampant in so many areas of my life: I am prideful, I am judgmental, and I do not do nearly enough in the area of helping those who have far less than I do...and the list doesn't stop there.

Just like in our homes, we can tidy up by sweeping and wiping down the surface dirt.  Surface dirt is easy to see and very recognizable.  Or, we can take the time for a deeper clean, a clean that can only take place when we are willing to get down on our hands and knees to examine those baseboards.  We need move that heavy furniture out of the way so we can find the dirt and dust from year of neglect and disregard.  And when we are finished there, we need to go to our basements and attics to throw out the clutter.

For my Catholic friends and family, this process has to take place in the confessional.  While I know many of you have valid issues and concerns with confession, the issues and concerns are more than likely a result of a lack of understanding and faith formation...both of which I was personally affected by for most of my life until I listened to this:

While Christmas is a beautiful day, a special time to gather with family and friends, we need to remember it is not a one day celebration; but rather a process of preparation. This Advent, let us celebrate His merciful and everlasting love and prepare for the birth of Christ.  This Advent, I ask that you begin this celebration with me by first clearing out the cobwebs and asking for God's forgiveness.  Let the miracle of Christmas begin today and in the depths of our hearts...prepare and make way for The Lord!

Saturday, October 19, 2013


  Speak now, for my soul is listening.
  Say that You have saved me.
  Whisper in the dark...the dark.
  I know you're more than my salvation.
  Without you I am hopeless. 
  Tell me who You are.
  The keeper of my heart...You are the keeper of my heart...and I'm restless...
  - Audrey Assad

Restless - Audrey Assad
"...So turn from youthful desires and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord with purity of heart. Avoid foolish and ignorant debates, for you know that they breed quarrels. A slave of the Lord should not quarrel, but should be gentle with everyone, able to teach, tolerant, correcting opponents with kindness. It may be that God will grant them repentance that leads to knowledge and truth.." 2 Timothy 2 20:26.

A friend of mine was studying this passage today and shared it with me.  It was good timing and a great reminder.  If I am being honest with myself, all too often I find myself in the midst of quarrels and foolish debates in regards to faith.  While I do believe I am right about the beliefs of the Catholic Church, I have to respect the beliefs of others. Just like I, they too hold fast to their own beliefs and customs.

One thing that was brought up in our conversation was the "true presence" in the Eucharist.  My friend is Lutheran and explained that they too, believe that the body and blood of Christ are present in the Eucharist.  However, they also believe that at the same time, it is still bread and wine.  Although the Eucharist does have the appearance of being bread and wine, as Catholics, we believe it is no longer bread and wine and becomes the body, blood, soul and divinity after the priest prays over it. As we continued our discussion, she stated, "I sometimes think we get too caught up in the little details and we allow them to cause such a great division. I think Jesus must be looking down at us right now shaking his head in frustration on such details".

Is she right about our inclination to get caught up in the little details?  Yes.  Most definitely. Many of us, myself included, get too caught up in the small stuff that we prevent our hearts from latching onto the bigger picture.  Is she right about the "True Presence" being a small detail.  That is where I would disagree.  In fact, it was so far from being a small detail that it eventually led to the separation of Martin Luther from the Catholic Church, leading to the Reformation.  While my knowledge regarding Martin Luther is very limited, I do know that his beliefs on Transubstantiation, The Eucharist, and True Presence were key elements leading to his separation from the universal church. 

My argument in regards to the Eucharist "being a small detail" is this: Why be Lutheran?  If the most significant reason that the founder of the Lutheran religion left Catholicism was over this was such a  "small detail", why was it significant enough for he and others to leave?  If it was such a "small detail" and so insignificant, why not be Catholic?  Why not be Baptist?  Why not be Methodist?

While we differ on our beliefs, I can't help but wonder how many people are missing out because they view the Eucharist and the sacraments as a small and tiny details. I just thank God that my heart has been opened to the promise of "knowledge and truth" that accompanies the acceptance of His church, the Eucharist and the sacraments.

Beautiful Mess

If things are in a mess, accept that things are in a mess. 
Everything doesn't have to be worked out right now. - Mustard Seeds


Thursday, June 30, 2011

Missing Pieces

Less than two years ago, I was your typical "Cafeteria Catholic".  I claimed to be a Catholic.  I was, after all, confirmed.  On a good year, I went to Mass two or three times a year.  Most years, I did not go at all.  I believed in things that reflected little or no morals.  I proudly boasted to be Pro-Choice.  I was very liberal in my ideals.  I never prayed and I had no relationship with God.  Looking back, I can truly say I had no life in me.

Today, I am Christian and I can say this with true sincerity.  I believe this with every beat of my heart.  New ideals have overshadowed my older, darker ones.  However, as much as I believe, I am still unable to participate in the sacraments.  My husband was married in the past so we could not have our marriage blessed.  When we married, I was not a practicing Catholic.  We talked about a Catholic wedding but after meeting with a priest, my husband was not willing to go through all the red tape to have his marriage annulled. He did not believe in this and I did not press the issue.

Over the past sixteen months, I feel like I have been working a jigsaw puzzle on my heart. Each piece is reflective of all the amazing people I have discovered on my journey. Most of these people are authors and speakers of whom I'll never meet.  Because of their "yes" to God, I have been spiritually awakened. Although I will never meet them, I consider these people my best friends.  Through their stories, they inspired me.  They made me aware of this beautiful inheritance that I have...that we all have.  The Holy Spirit was working through each of them to reach me.  As a result, I now understand what it means to have a personal relationship with God. I have discovered Novena's, Adoration and the healing power of prayer.  Mary and the Saints are a constant source of comfort to me.

With each passing day, I continue to receive many new blessings, new pieces. There must be thousands of pieces and sadly, I am growing ever aware of the ones I may never receive. It is almost as if they are lying right in front of me but I cannot pick them up.  I cannot make them fit.

I am heartbroken.  I cannot go to confession.  I cannot receive the body and blood of Christ.  I cannot have my marriage blessed.  If I die, I will not receive the Last Rites.  I go to Mass every Sunday and sometimes during the week. When it is time for Communion, this lump in my throat begins to form and I want to crawl inside of myself.  The whole point of being Catholic is the Grace that we receive from the there any Grace leftover for people like me?

What makes all of this even harder is that my husband and I do not share the same beliefs. Every talk about faith or the Church ends in an argument.  He is not a man who believes in organized religion. All of this hurts me and I am left feeling angry. The church that means everything to me means almost nothing to him.  Deep inside, I know anger is not the solution.  However, I also know that my heart and soul are under attack.  Maybe this is the cross that I am intended to bear.  I just wonder if and when those missing pieces will come together to fill this hole in my heart...

Friday, June 17, 2011

"In my hurry, in my rush, I feel Your presence flood over my heart.
Even if for a moment, I have tasted Your mystery.
And I know You are with me".

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Santa Cruz Beach, California

This warm summer day has me reflecting on my childhood in California.  Memories from nineteen years ago, at times feel fresh in my mind.  At the age of fourteen, I had an exciting life ahead of me.  I remember a long weekend in Santa Cruz with some fact, it was Memorial Day weekend.  I was so excited to be away from home and there with my friends.  We spent the entire time on the beach, surrounded by so many different people. The rides, the music, the smell of sea and sand.  What really made an impression was sunset in Santa Cruz. I remember seeing so many interesting people, circled in small groups around their beach side campfires.  Most of them were in their early-mid twenties...and I thought they looked so cool with their dark tans, their guitars and their surf boards. I just knew that I would be like them one day!!

Well...nineteen years later and I still don't know how to play a guitar or surf. I'm six hundred miles from the closest beach and I no longer have a tan.  Life has a funny way of catching up with us.  Responsibilities kick in and bigger goals and ambitions take precedent.

It's bittersweet to look back for a moment...long enough to acknowledge the beautiful innocence of our childhood dreams.  Long enough to remember that it wasn't that long ago...