st. catherine qoute

(St. Catherine of Siena)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Love and Marriage

Recently in my life I have begun to enjoy the happy, snappy tunes of "Ol' Blue Eyes" aka Frank Sinatra. I heard this particular song ("Love and Marriage") recently, and a light bulb went off in my mind..."Yay, potential material for a blog post!" I love how my insane, crazy love for old movies and music can inspire me in writing and thinking :)

Before you continue reading, take a few minutes and enjoy this song.

As you see, it is such a simple little song, however the words in the lyrics are powerful enough to stop and make people think on the state of marriage in our world today. I was raised and taught that marriage is something special, holy, and called apart by God. My parents taught and helped my siblings and I to understand that marriage is a big deal and meant for life. In marriage, that is where alone sex is meant for. Sex is for two things: babies and bonding. And unless two people are ready and mature are enough for both, then they shouldn't be "fooling around" before marriage. Our God marked the marriage as something sacred and beautiful...enough to the point of making it a sacrament. When we treat the special gifts within the sacrament of marriage as "whatever" or able to use whenever we want, we dis-respect and mis-use God's gift of sexuality.

In the song, Ol' Blue Eyes says, "Love and marriage, love and marriage
Go together like a horse and carriage
This I tell you brother
You can't have one without the other...
Love and marriage, love and marriage
Go together like the horse and carriage
Dad was told by mother
You can't have one, you can't have none, you can't have one without the other!"

Love and marriage go together, because that's how God made them! End of story. No more questions.
Thanks for reading. That's. all. :-)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Happy Halloween....and...Reformation Day???

I absolutely, posilutely love the months of September and October; fall should be the reigning season all year round.
This Sunday, October 31st, is Halloween, but is also a highly celebrated day for Lutherans and many different Protestant denominations. That day is known as Reformation Day. It commemorates Martin Luther's posting of his Ninety-five Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517. This act triggered the movement in world history known as the Protestant Reformation. While the historical date for the observance of Reformation is October 31st, most churches celebrate it on the last Sunday in October. Needless to say, as a crazily, happy Roman Catholic, this celebratory day for some Christians is not one I can rejoice about. Needless to say, I will probably be "celebrating" Reformation Day by going to Confession, asking the intercession of the Saints, seeking indulgences for the poor souls in Purgatory, and drinking to the Holy Father’s good health and long life.... ;-)

In John's Gospel, the night before he died, Jesus prayed to His Father, "that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me" (John 17:21). Jesus prayed and willed for ONE Church; united through faith, the sacraments, and ecclesial government. Through my own experience, prayer, and study, I believe that "one" Church is the Catholic Church. Is the Church perfect???? Absolutely NOT!!!!! Did Martin Luther have valid concerns and points he raised in leading up to the Reformation????? YES! But that does not mean, just because the Church (while divine) cannot be full of human sinners and mistakes. The Church will be perfected one day in the glory of Heaven.
If you have never studied the life of Martin Luther, I challenge you too. Seeing his life and experiences, and why he (unfortunately) took things as far as he did, makes me stronger in my Catholic faith, and appreciate it even more! The concerns he had with the Church at that time, were valid; however, totally rejecting element truths of Catholicism and leaving the truth were one step to far. Interestingly enough, which many people do not know, is that Martin Luther regretted his decision of schism from the Church as he lay on his death bed.

While this Sunday, parents and children will be trick-or-treating and enjoying all the fun of Halloween festivities...I ask each of you, Protestant and Catholics alike, to take some time aside and pray that prayer of Jesus, "...that they may be ONE." Pray for the unity and restoration of all Christians. And until that day, may we continue to pray, fast, and encouraging each other in our similar Christian beliefs; while working to understand and learn from each other.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Loss of Chastity=Loss of Romance

Like many little kids, I got my healthy dose of classic Disney films such as Peter Pan, Aladdin, and Beauty and the Beast (BEST animated love story of all time!). However as I got older, I came to fall in love with those classic old movies. You know which ones I am talking about...the ones where the love story is actually something beautiful and truly romantic (ex. Casablanca, Roman Holiday, My Fair Lady, Pride and Prejudice, etc.) not just raunchy, endless scenes of two people rolling around in the hay. I think that is one of the reasons I am so drawn to older, more classic movies. Sure, they had some great actors and big name studio directors...but the more I look at movies today, I see how hyper-sexualized they have become. God forbid, a movie in today's world without certain scenes that makes me wanna yell, "Seriously, go get a room!!!" Hard to imagine, huh????

Clearly in our world, there is a huge loss of the sense of chastity. By chastity, I don't just mean not having sex; but instead, to focus on the purification of your feelings, emotions, desires for another person...instead of the Nike slogan, "just do it." Chastity is a mind set teens and adults need to acquire and grow in; I don't really think you will ever come to that day and say, "Yup, that's it...I have mastered the virtue of chastity!" Heck, look at St. Augustine, he was a great Doctor of the Church and that poor guy struggled with lust vs. chastity for a good long while. It is not any different today, and the problem is not being helped any when almost every movie plot line seems to involve unhealthy attitudes towards sexuality.

Movies today have such a loss of chastity that any "love" story in the film is almost tainted and not even appealing because of the demeaning way sex is portrayed in it. The loss of chastity really does lead to a loss of romance! There is nothing romantic about all that garbage, because there is no self-sacrifice or purity. Real romance is all about self-sacrifice and purity. I watch a movie like Casablanca (which if you have never seen you need too, because it is total awesomeness!). The really beautiful, romantic part of the movie is the self-sacrificing love when Rick gives up being with Ilsa because he knows it is for her own good; her cares about her so much, he puts aside his desire to be with her, and thinks of her best interest, not his. There are no drawn out "love scenes" that almost make you uncomfortable just watching, but rather in this movie you see the epitome of real love and romance...laying down one's desires for the better of another. Sound familiar???? Well, Jesus told us that there is no greater love than to lay down one's life for a friend...and Jesus' example of real love in dying on the cross, is what we are all called to in any relationship; friendship, dating, and/or marriage. Real Romance needs chastity, or else you get these God-awful excuses for movies such as Dirty Dancing or Pretty about hyper-sexualized!?!?!?!

Real romance has nothing to with taking your clothes off, but has EVERYTHING to do with taking off your selfishness and replace it with purity of heart.

P.S. This is a picture from Casablanca...the very pivotal, romantic scene where Rick gives up Ilsa (sigh...tears)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Marvelous Light

Do you ever have certain things you do every week? Maybe certain days you go to the gym or have weekly date nights to Starbucks? Well, every Wednesday night is my weekly evening of Praise/Worship with a local Young Adult group I am involved in. There is this one song that is frequently played called, "Marvelous Light."
The refrain goes like this: "Into marvelous light I'm running. Out of darkness, out of shame. By the cross, You are the truth, You are the life, You are the way..." Recently in prayer, I was reflecting over those words and the rest of the lyrics of the song. I saw myself as a little girl (complete with pig tails and Mary Jane shoes) running like the fast and the furious towards Jesus; it was like I was running to meet Jesus in excited, so so happy to finally be "home" with the Lord. I like to imagine that someday when I enter the Kingdom of Heaven, this music will be the background music for my entrance.

I don't know about you, but sometimes in prayer I say aloud to Jesus (in an almost whiny voice), "Please Jesus can't I just come home now????? It's hard down here sometimes, can I just be in Heaven with You now????" I am not saying this in a depressing way like I wish I wasn't here or that my life has no purpose.....but more like I am SOOOOO homesick to just be in Heaven, that I cannot wait :) I very much want to go to Heaven; of course the only way that is even remotely possible is the loving, divine mercy of Jesus (nothing my sorry butt can do will ever get me through those pearly white gates). I love this song and consider it to be one of several theme songs for me at different points in my life. It is a song full of hope. Hope, that the suffering and sin of our lives are overcome and blown away by the greatness and mercy of Jesus Christ. The belief of an afterlife in Heaven in Christianity is a message of hope for a broken world worn down by sin and suffering. However, Jesus conquers all that "ickiness" makes it possible foe us to be with Him forever, when He willingly gave up His life on the cross. Jesus told His disciples, "I am the WAY....the TRUTH....and the LIFE!" Is this not something to completely rejoice and celebrate in!?!?!?!! I certainly think so :)
We as humans are nothing but mere travelers on this earth; we do not fully belong here. We are made for Heaven; to spend eternity with all the heavenly saints, angels, and holy people praising God for all time....think of it as the raddest and baddest block party you can imagine, only all of Heaven is there and it is a totally G rated atmosphere. Our life on earth is a pilgrimage, but the eternal life spoken of in Scripture and Tradition are where the real party with Jesus begins.

So rejoice, take are made for something MUCH greater than anything in this life, you my friend are made to spend eternity with the living Jesus, our most marvelous light! <3

P.S. Check out the music video for "Marvelous Light"

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Why do you Pray?

So in my prayer time lately, I have been wondering about something...."Why do I pray?" Is it because of how it makes me feel better about life or certain situations or is it because I simply want to come and be still with the one I love, Jesus.

Now don't get me wrong, I enjoy to pray. I am geeky enough to consider it one of my main hobbies, and am totally A-okay with that. But I have found myself thinking, do we pray because of how it makes us "feel" or because we just want to "be" with God??? Feeling refreshed, enegerized, happy, and joyful in prayer are nice blessings, but they certainly are not always there. Sometimes you go to prayer, and it is bone dry empty; you feel nothing and have a sense of distance from the Lord. But of course, our faith the and the lives of many saints in the Church that the good "feelings" associated with prayer are not always a given. Look at the example of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. She deeply loved Jesus, but suffered almost 40 years of intense spiritual darkness, where she felt distant and far away from Him.
I only mention this because it has been on my mind during my prayer lately, and I think it is something the majority of people could relate to. So spend some time and reflect..."why do you pray?"

Oh and St. Francis of Assisi pray for all of us too! (today is his feast day in the Church....yay saints!!!)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Magnificent Seven (part 2)

So I am continuing my oh-so-fun analogy of the sacraments to an old western movie......

So 3 down, and 4 to go.

-Confirmation. Growing up, I thought of Confirmation as the day you become an adult in the Church (which to me was code for you could stop going if you wanted to at that point ;-) Now I realize, Confirmation is so much more just than choosing to stop going to church. The Holy Spirit comes upon us in a powerful way (just like at Pentecost with the Apostles). The Spirit infuses us with spiritual gifts to become soldiers of Christ; working to grow in our own relationship with Jesus, as well as sharing our faith with others. We choose a "Confirmation name" of a particular saint we relate to or feel a certain closeness to. The point of that is to have a particular saint you are drawn to, who can help pray for you as you grow in faith. Some Scripture verses for this sacrament include: Acts 19: 5-6, Acts 8: 14-17, 2 Cor 1:21-22, Eph 1:13, and Heb 6:2.

-Holy Matrimony (AKA Marriage) I am a HUGE fan of this sacrament..even though I am not (yet ;-) married. You need an example of what marriage is all about...what a good one looks like??? Take a good, hard, long look at a crucifix! Marriage is all about self-sacrifice; dying to your own self and desires for the better of your spouse. From my friends who are married and older couples I know, it is hard work, but totally and completely worth it. Clearly Jesus saw this as something special, unique, and set apart because he performed his first miracle at a wedding. Seriously, how cool would that to have Jesus show up at your wedding and work a fancy shmancy miracle?!?!?!? Some fun Scripture quotes for marriage include: Matthew 19:5-6, Mark 10: 7-12, Eph 5:22-23, and Heb 13:4

-Holy Orders. This coolio sacrament enables a man to become a priest and bring the faithful (us!) the grace of the sacraments. At the Last Supper, Jesus instituted the holy priesthood when he told the 12 Apostles "do THIS in remembrance of me!" He wanted them to continue this life giving action/meal (AKA Holy Mass...the Eucharist) until He comes again at the second coming. Because of Holy Orders, priests through the grace of the God, can bring us the this is an essential step! Take a peek into Scripture: Acts 20:28, Luke 22:19, John 20:22, 2 Cor 5:17-20, James 5: 13-15, James 6:16, Matthew 18:18, and 1 John 5:16.

-Anointing of the Sick. This sacrament can sometimes be mis-understood as only for people who are on their death bed; yes, it can be for those peeps, but also for the emotionally and spiritually sick too. Jesus said in Scripture, " I came for sinners...the sick need a physician..." (something like that). Jesus walks with each of us at all stages through our lives, and through the Church we experience that in tangible ways through the grace of the sacraments.

So don't forget the amazing, awesome power of the Magnificent 7...

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Magnificent Seven (part 1)

I love old Western movies! There is one particular movie called, "The Magnificent Seven" (starring great actors such as Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen). The jist of the movie is a band of mean, unfair dudes steal the crops and money from a poor, small Mexican village. Some of the villagers decide to hire some gun slingers to teach them to defend themselves and fight off the bad dudes. It is a classic western movie with the typical horse riding and "shoot-em'-up" scenes. The gun slingers are the "magnificent seven." So the other day, I was in class, and my mind began to wander and I started thinking about this movie (ex. "Hhmm, haven't seen that one in awhile, maybe I can rent it this weekend"). Then, something struck me...the Holy Spirit hit me with over the head with a heavenly two by four piece of wood. In our Catholic tradition, the 7 Sacraments are like the eqvuilancy of the the Magnificent 7 gun slingers who saved and protected the little Mexican village. I was pretty excited by making a connection from a western movie to my faith :-)

So, as much as I enjoy this movie, the true "magnificent 7" (AKA the Sacraments) are a ba-zillion times better and more important because they give us grace to live holy lives and help us get our sorry butts to Heaven. When Jesus ascended to Heaven, He told the Apostles that he would always be with them until the end of time. Until the second coming, we have the 7 sacraments in our Church to nurture and sustain us in a life of grace. It is like spiritual dynamite!

-Baptism. Baptism is like the "Welcome committee" into God's family :-) Because each of us carries the sin of our first parents (Adam and Eve) each of us needs that removed. Jesus told the disciples, unless you are born of the water and spirit, one cannot enter the kingdom of God. Hey, if it was good enough for Jesus to get baptized (and didn't really need it) then how much more do each us need Baptism?!?!?!?!? The water poured on one's head symbolizes the spiritual re-birth and official welcoming into the family of God and the Church. Sometimes folks wonder why infants have to be baptized. Check out the following Scripture verses: John 3:5/Mak 16:16, Mark 10:14, Luke 18:15, Acts 16:15, Acts 16:33, and 1 Cor 1:16....Jesus said it, the words are in the Bible, and our tradition has practiced it from the beginning.

-Confession/Reconciliation. Seriously, this is the bomb diggity of sacraments. Jesus gives us the opportunity to come and reconcile our sinful habits and patterns through his grace and love. He LOVES us so much, he doesn't want us to live our lives constantly burdened and bogged down by negativity and sin. Jesus knows we will mess up, but that's okay! He wants us to run to Him like the father in the story of the Prodigal Son; the father see's his long-lost son, and like speedy gonzalez runs to embrace his child. There is no sin to big for God to handle. And though you are confessing your sins to a priest, it is not like you are talking to the priest, but it is really Jesus you encounter through the presence of Fr. Joe or Fr. whomever. Scripture verse that relate, include: Matthew 9:2-8, John 20:23, 2 Cor 5: 17-20, James 5:13-15, Matthew 18:18, and 1 John 5:16. There is also an earlier post about Confession for your reading enjoyment as well :-)

-Holy Eucharist. If Confession is the bomb diggity of the sacraments, then the Holy Eucharist is like the Atmoic Bomb of the sacraments. Jesus gave us his own body and blood to eat and remember and love him until He comes again in the second coming; hate to break it to ya folks, but it is NOT a symbol of Jesus. The wine is truly transformed into Jesus' blood, the very blood he shed on the cross for us. The bread is truly transformed into the flesh of Jesus, the same body that died and rose for us. Is that hard to grasp? YOU'd BETTER BELIEVE IT! But remember faith is a gift, and even when Jesus first explained it to the disciples many years ago, some walked away because they didn't have faith to believe this. The Holy Eucharist is Heavenly food; and we need it to stay spiritually strong and close to Jesus Christ. Still unsrue, if you struggle with this read CHAPTER 6 of JOHN, it's all in there. Also see: 1 Cor 10:16, 1 Cor 11:23-29, Ex 12:8,46, John 1:29, 1 Cor 5:7, and 1 Cor 2:14--3:4. Jesus' presence in the Eucharist is the bestest thing about being Catholic!

Stay tuned to hear the rest about the "Magnficent 7" ...