Sunday, November 7, 2010
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
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
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 Woman...talk 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
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 Heaven....so 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 hope......you 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" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0oA2ka7tnh8
Sunday, October 3, 2010
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
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 sacraments...so 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
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" ...
Sunday, September 19, 2010
One of the most confusing things the human mind can try and wrap its brain around. This word is used to describe my feelings towards some of my favorite things in life: friends, chocolate, red wine, family, and God (of course not all on the same level!) As a little girl, I always had this fairy tale idea of what "love" is; how Prince Charming comes and sweeps his lady fair onto a white horse and they happily ride off into the sunset like a TV Land commercial. But more seriously, how do you know you are truly in love with another? What does "real love" look like??? Is it all hearts and red roses, or is it something deeper?
Take a long, hard look at a crucifix, and THAT is what real love is. Real love is self-sacrificing, unselfish, pure, and radical. It challenges you to forgot yourself, and focus completely on the other. Jesus told his disciples, "There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for a friend." In working with teens and even in my own life, I like to remember/use this analogy. If someone can truly show you real love (AKA "crucifix love") than this may very well be a good friendship or dating relationship to explore more. It is easy to say you love somebody...but it is not so easy to constantly strive to love another with crucifix love. Perhaps that's why marriage is set apart as a sacrament, because it is such a radical call to unselfish love that it requires everything inside of you. Real love can be hard sometimes, especially if it challenges you to let go of another or dreams/hopes with someone...though painful, even confusing at times, it is always life giving.
"Crucifix love"is totally different from lust. I think every person if they were really honest with themselves has at some point struggled with this sin. Lust is when you have disordered feelings and emotions for another person; it seeks to satisfy one's own desires without thinking of the other person...in the mind it turns the other person into an object to manipulated. Lust more or less says,"What can I get from him/her? How can he/she satisfy my desires and wants?" It hurts friendships, dating relationships, and twists our understanding of the gift of sexuality. More often than our media bombards us with unhealthy ideas and concepts of sexuality; which hurts both men and women. At times, we forget what real love looks like; but if we do forget, all you have to do is look at a crucifix. Jesus hanging on that piece of wood is the most tangible example of what real love is.
I don't claim to know it all or be a very holy person. I strive to follow Jesus and love others with a crucifix love. I am not terribly wise in dating matters, but I truly believe that fulfilling and happy relationships between men and women must be based upon crucifix love; whether good friendships or holy marriages.
Right now as a single woman, I am constantly striving to love all people with "crucifix love" so that when I am married someday, I can truly love my husband with REAL LOVE.
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Last night, I went to a talk from a priest who escaped Communist Albania. He grew up in a country where if you even suspected of going to church or living the Catholic faith, you were thrown in prison for years on end or killed. Fr. Fred shared how his parents stopped talking about their faith, for fear of their lives. As a young man, he happened to come across the Gospel of St. Matthew, which through the grace of the Spirit began to answer all his unanswered questions; with that, he began to hear the call of the priesthood deep within. The Communists were suspicious of him, so he and some friends decided to escape by swimming seven hours over the border. Eventually, Fr. Fred made it to the United States and became a priest in the Church.
These two different incidents have caused me to reflect and pray over many things. How much we take for granted here in the United States! Fr. Fred made a good point when he said, "You didn't just wake up one day, and Communism takes over your country, it happens slowly over time." This made me reflect on our own lives here. Slowly, we see the traditional values and fundamentals of Christianity being ridiculed and slowly stripped away from our society. From taking prayer out of public schools, not saying the name of God in the pledge of allegiance, the faith being mocked and persecuted in the media, etc. Are faithful Christians asleep at the wheel?
I am not a person who is pessimistic or is consumed with all the doom and gloom ideologies you sometimes hear about. But, I truly believe within my lifetime we will see and perhaps endure to a degree what many Catholics have and continue to suffer all over the world for their faith. We will have to suffer for our belief in Jesus and our faithfulness to the Church in a way we have never known here in the United States...maybe even martyrdom. Even though it can be easy to look at the world and get discouraged, I believe that although it is a challenging time to be a person of faith, it is also an exciting time! No matter whatever suffering we encounter, we know that Jesus will win! T continue fighting the good fight and to be ready to follow Jesus anywhere we must be people of prayer and sacrifice. We must go to Mass and receive the sacraments often! We must read Scripture and have an intimately, personal relationship with the living Jesus. We must actively live our Catholic faith out in the world, and not be afraid to speak the truth boldly! We must be passionately in love with Jesus Christ to the point all of the early martyrs of the Church were, to the point of giving our life for the name of Jesus Christ.
United in the bonds of prayer and through the Holy Eucharist, let each of us continue to pray for our country, national and world leaders, and all countries of the world. Let us pray for especially all area's of the world where the Catholic Church is heavily persecuted or forced to go underground, such as China.
May the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus, bless and protect all the faithful!
Below is the Holy Father's letter to the Catholic Church in China: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/letters/2007/documents/hf_ben-xvi_let_20070527_china_en.html
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
I happen to think that the Catholic Church IS the best thing since sliced bread...particularly the Holy Eucharist (which I will later come back too). Now if you are not a Catholic Christian please do not take offense to my statement; this is just pure Patty's passionate and love bubbling over.
For a time in my teen years, I was "Catholic" and would go to Mass on Sunday's because my parents made me. I didn't know why I went, whom I was receiving, or what all that sitting/standing/kneeling was for (AKA-"Catholic aerobics"). I would be standing reciting the Apostle's Creed, (which thousands of early Christians shed their blood for those very words of our Faith) and be off in lala land wondering if there was any left cherry pie in the fridge for lunch later. I just didn't get it, and I just didn't care. I had no personal relationship with Jesus.
Towards the end of high school, there were some incidents that plunged me into dark depression and hopelessness; pretty much the pits of Hell. For some reason, I began going to daily Mass the summer after I graduated high school; didn't really know why at the time, but each time I left, I felt like I was leaving with strength to get through the day ahead of me. Now I know it was because I received Jesus Christ, body, blood, soul, and divinity in Holy Communion. I was very much in a crisis of faith, and honestly began trying it out as one last try. I began going to pray daily in a nearby chapel where I could sit with Jesus in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. Sometimes I would just sit and be still, cry, talk with Jesus, or let it all out and be mad at Him. One particular time, I was sitting there crying and said something to the effect of: "Jesus if you are REAL, if this Catholic thing is real, you need to come out that gold, shiny box (AKA tabernacle) and heal me..help me. I am so lost and broken and unhappy, that you gotta do it." Now the skies didn't split open and Jesus didn't descend from Heaven and instantly stand before me, but in the deepest part of my heart, I knew Jesus heard that first real prayer of my life. The long story short, is that Jesus began this journey with me in a much more personal way, because I asked Him. Jesus is real to me now, and I am constantly striving for a more intimate relationship with him each day.
The Holy Eucharist, the same living Jesus that walked this earth is truly present in that little host and in a drop of that wine; NOW that is the best thing since sliced bread. Jesus loved humanity so much that he promised the Apostles He would never leave them. He kept that promise by remaining humbly (body, blood, soul, and divinity in the bread and wine) until the end of time. If you don't believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, then read John chapter 6 "The Bread of Life Discourse". Jesus told his disciples, "My flesh IS true food, my blood IS true drink" and also "If you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man, you will not have life within you." Either Jesus is a Lord, Liar, or Lunatic, the possibilities could be either: 1)Lord-Jesus is true and as God what he is saying is truth which takes the gift of faith. 2)Liar-Jesus is a liar and making this up. 3)Lunatic-Jesus was crazy and totally off is rocker.
If Jesus Christ is wrong about the real presence of himself in the Holy Eucharist, than you may as well spit on his face! BUT, see Jesus said, "This is me!...do this(the action of the Mass) in remembrance of me!" If Jesus is lying about the bread and wine TRULY being His body and blood then you may as well throw your Bible into the trash can right now! Yup, you heard me right. LONG before we had the Holy Bible the early Christians, believed in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist (read accounts from St. Justin Martyr and "The Diadache"). Mass was celebrated in the early Christian church very similar in ways still today as in the Catholic Mass u to the same prayers, gestures, and actions/responses of the people present. If you believe that the Holy Bible is the Word of God, than you better believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Jesus loved YOU so much that He gave himself in the Holy Eucharist to remind us He is always close to us and will never abandon you. If you don' understand this teaching of the Church, or personally do not believe it, I challenge you to study and begin to understand it. It is a great mystery that takes faith, but all you have to do is simply ask for that gift of faith and understanding.
I don't know about you, but I think that is something definitely better than sliced bread. :-)
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Often, the concept and understanding of the Blessed Mother can be a stumbling block between Catholics and Protestants. Just to clarify any misconception,s Catholics do not worship Mary or give her any more love than we would to Jesus. We go to Mary because Jesus loved her and simply ask her to pray us...so we may be holy and one go to Heaven. Any doubts about that read the the Gospel of St. Luke; Mary is mentioned, spoken of in places of honor, and an important character in the life of Christ. Our Lady has one job; to lead all souls to Jesus Christ! However, this post is not to convince non Catholics or even Catholics to immediately begin praying the Rosary or scoop up every Marian book to learn about Our Lady. My point here is to share my own personal love for the Mother of God and how her presence has and is continually changing my life.
It is simple, I talk (yes, even aloud) to Mary as I would with Jesus in prayer. I ask her to help me, pray for me, help me strive for purity and chastity...you name it, and I bring it to her and ask her to take it to Jesus. As a woman, I feel a special closeness to Mary (sorry guys!). As a little girl, I was always fascinated with the Mother of God, but saw her more as a distant "holy lady chilling up in Heaven with Jesus." I never saw Our Lady as loving me personally as a mother loves her little one. Through my own personal trials and sufferings, I would come often and cry on Mary's shoulder. I would ask her to help me, make things clear, and give me strength.....just as I would with my Mom. I look to her as an example for my own life as an example of humility, unwavering faith, trust, submission to the will of God, and purity...all things I need more and more of. It is very hard to explain, I just love Mary. She IS my second Mommy. Our Lady is a rare and beautiful jewel given to man kind by Jesus, and she loves each of us as if we were her only little child.
No matter how lax I can get in my daily prayer or procrastinate praying the rosary, this part of my morning routine never changes. When awakening, I kiss an image I have hanging of the Blessed Mother and I also kiss the crucifix on my bedside table. I need to remind and challenge myself every day to love Jesus and Mary more ardently. I need to remind and challenge myself to strive more for holiness as the two most perfect examples I have; Jesus and Mary. I need to remember to surrender my day, my life to Jesus and Mary. And most importantly, I have to remind myself, that without the help and intercession of Jesus Christ and the Blessed Mother, I am spiritually lost.
So just as you love Jesus, honor and love His mother too! For truly, that is what He desires.
"Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for ME a sinner!"
***This past Lent, I wrote an article for a Catholic newspaper. May reading it for you call and inspire you to love and know OUR Blessed Mother more in your own life***
Monday, August 30, 2010
But really, in all seriousness, there was a particular moment that really struck me and made this retreat for me. The Friday evening meditation and talk was based upon the Gospel of St. Luke 5:1-11, 'Jesus calling the first disciples.' One of the questions offered for our personal prayer and reflection was, "How am I called?" It was at this point the Holy Spirit whacked me over the head with a two-by-four piece of heavenly wood and made me think. I like when the Holy Spirit does that and grabs my attention :-)
So I thought and prayed, "How am I, Patty Breen, a 24 1/2 year old woman 'called'?" Usually when I hear the word "calling/to be called by God," I think of this relating to one of two things: being called to marriage or being called to religious life. For me, right now in my life I am called to just do what God has put in front of me...to just "be" in the present of my life here and now. The more I sat with this over the weekend, the more it resignated with me; just this very strong sense of Christ saying to me that I am called "to just be in praise and prayer, don't keep looking for you cannot see what is ahead of you." I have a certain amount of certainity of the direction and vocation of my life. I am blessed to have a wonderful spiritual director who helps guide me in my relationship with Jesus, as well as be a prayerful support. I think I have a sense of how I am called through my own prayer with Spriture and spiritual journaling. Right now, Jesus' call to me is to be with Him in praise and prayer, to grow myself and serve in ministry, and try and experience new things. Do I have a sense of where my life is going, my vocational call? Yes. But that doesn't mean, I am called to that immediately. For me right now, Jesus is letting me know that he is calling me to just "be" with and fall more deeply in love with Him and to work in ministry and service for the Kingdom of God.
Throughout life, I think perhaps we go through different degrees of being called by God...more than the typical call to either marriage or religious life, as I had previously thought. God called me to different things 5 or 10 years ago, and He will call me to different things over the next 5, 10, 20 years of my life. Our God is a God of mystery :-)
So just as Jesus called Peter, James, and John from their fishing boats to come and follow Him, He continues to call each of us in beautifully, unique ways. Perhaps take that same question to your own prayer and reflection I did: "How am I called?"
Sunday, August 22, 2010
I am excited for all the new opportunities God has in front of me. I will be working as a part-time Youth Minister at two parishes, "LOL" and "St. G" (code names:) I love working with young people, they energize, inspire, and teach me so much. Whether we are having a deep conversation on a mission trip or just being silly and hanging out at a lock-in, God uses it all. I am also very excited to continue my graduate studies at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit; I am working on a Master's in Pastoral Studies. I love the professors; they are passionate about the Catholic faith and know what they are talking about. Several of them are converts from various Protestant denominations, so they come with an interesting perspective, and usually a wealth of knowledge on Scripture. I love learning more about my faith, and I feel this is an institution that will only challenge more spiritually and academically. I am also going to be getting involved in a student fellowship group, The Fellowship of St. Paul. It is a fellowship group for both seminarians and students to gather for praise/worship, prayer ministry, and speakers and discussion groups to grow deeper in life of grace, as well as grow in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I am also thinking about possibly participating in a mission trip with Renewal Ministries, a Catholic Evangelistic outreach to people all over the world. It is something that has been on my mind and heart for awhile, to go to Africa on a mission trip...we'll shall see. I feel like I am at a point in my life where I simply want to share the joy of my Catholic faith with any and everybody! To be a missionary in where God has me in my life right now.
Yesterday I was spending some time praying over these words of Scripture: "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well" (Matthew 7:33). I have a sense I am where God wants me right now in my life. I have a certain certainty of my call to be a wife and mommy somewhere down the road.... As for the present, this Scripture was such an affirmation and helped give me a fresh perspective as I begin a new year in grad school and new opportunities in ministry. Jesus calls me (all of his disciples) to do His work first and foremost. Do it with passion, zeal, and love...and the rest will work itself out. My first priority in life is my relationship with God and the work He has me doing or has given to me.
Jesus, help me to keep being your faithful little pencil and do Your work faithfully...You sort out the rest of the details. You know my heart...I don't know Lord, but thankfully You do!
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
The word "Evangelical" means the following: belonging to or designating the Christian churches that emphasize the teachings and authority of the Scriptures, esp. of the New Testament, marked by ardent or zealous enthusiasm for a cause, pertaining to certain movements in the Protestant churches in the 18th and 19th centuries that stressed the importance of personal experience of guilt for sin, and of reconciliation to God through Christ and/or relating to or being a Christian church believing in personal conversion. The word "Catholic" means universal, one, and whole.
(Check out these awesome articles explaining this at further length:)
I am a little bit different than your average Catholic; not to say that I am a saint (because I am NOT and the only way I will make get my sorry butt to Heaven is through the mercy of Jesus) or "holier than thou" type of attitude. But, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE being a Catholic....it is the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE. It is the fullness of Christianity; supported by 2,000 years of unbroken Tradition, Sacred Scripture, and the witness of the blood of many martyrs. When I get on this soapbox in working with young people, I always tell them, "I wouldn't be Catholic if I didn't believe in it to the very depths of my soul." Did I grow up Catholic? Yes.
Did I ever take my faith for granted and go to Sunday Mass "because I had too"? Yes. But thankfully, the Holy Spirit whacked me over the head with a heavenly two-by-four piece wood and woke me up!!!!
I am "Evangelical" because I believe in the authenticity of Sacred Scripture and the role is has in supporting my faith (however, that does not mean that everything is based on solely Scripture alone). The Holy Spirit light a bright fire under my butt, which has caused me to radiate zeal, passion, and strength in my identity as a Catholic Christian. I recognize myself as a sinner, see the need for a Savior in the mercy of Jesus, and believe in my own personal conversion and having a personal, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. I am "Catholic" because I believe in "the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church." For me, it is the fullness of Truth.
For me, these two words are a beautiful and full combination of my religious beliefs.
that's all for now folks :-)
Saturday, August 14, 2010
One man in particular is recognized by the Catholic Church today, on his feast day August 14th. His name is St. Maximilian Kolbe.
Fr. Maximilian Kolbe was a Polish Franciscan friar; the two great loves of his life were Jesus Christ and Our Lady, Mary the Blessed Mother. Maximilian was born in 1894 to simple family. As a child he was strongly influenced by a dream he had of the Blessed Mother: "That night, I asked the Mother of God what was to become of me. Then she came to me holding two crowns, one white, the other red. She asked me if I was willing to accept either of these crowns. The white one meant that I should persevere in purity, and the red that I should become a martyr. I said that I would accept them both."
While a student studying in Rome, he witnessed vehement protests against the Pope, and was inspired to organize and create, the Militia Immaculata, or the Army of Mary, to work for conversion of sinners and enemies of the Catholic Church through the intercession of the Virgin Mary. The Immaculata friars utilized the most modern printing and administrative techniques in publishing catechetical and devotional tracts, a daily newspaper with a circulation of 230,000 and a monthly magazine with a circulation of over one million.
In 1919, he returned to the newly independent Poland, where he was very active in promoting the veneration of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, founding and supervising the monastery of near Warsaw, a seminary, a radio station, and several other organizations and publications. Between 1930 and 1936, he took a series of missions to Japan, where he founded a monastery at the outskirts of Nagasaki, a Japanese paper, and a seminary. During the War, Fr. Kolbe provided shelter to some 2,000 Jewish refugees in Poland and openly condemned the Nazi activities on the radio.
February of 1941 Fr. Kolbe was arrested by the Gestapo and imprisoned until May 28 when he was transfered to Auschwitz as prisoner #16670. As if the life of this holy priest didn't already scream holiness, his remaining months were a living testament to the words of Jesus, "No one has greater love than to lay down one's life for a friend" (John 15:13). He gave away his meager food portions to other prsioners; he forgave the guards and even heard some of their Confessions. In July 1941, 10 prisoners were selected for death by starvation as punishment for another's escape attempt in Block 13. One such man, Francis Grazonigeck, cried out, "My wife! My children!" Fr. Kolbe stepped forward and took that man's place to die in the starvation cell. In the starvation cell, he celebrated Mass each day for as long as he was able and gave Holy Communion to the prisoners covertly during the course of the day; the bread given to prisoners was unleavened and so could be used in the Eucharist, and sympathetic guards gave him materials, including wine, that he could use. He led the other condemned men in song and prayer. After three weeks of dehydration and starvation, only Kolbe and three others remained alive. He encouraged others by telling them that they would soon be with Mary in Heaven. Each time the guards checked on him, he was standing or kneeling in the middle of the cell and looking calmly at those who entered. When Kolbe was the last survivor, he was killed with an injection of carbolic acid. Some who were present at the injection say that he raised his left arm and calmly waited for the injection. His remains were cremated on August 15, the feast of the Assumption of Mary. Pope John Paul II declared St. Maximilian as "The Patron Saint of Our Difficult Century"
Fr. Kolbe's is just one of the many stories of what true holiness looks like. His entire life even up to the moment of his death was given for others out of love for Jesus and Mary.
In a special way on his feast day today, may St. Maximilian (and all the saints in Heaven) pray for each of us individually, our lives, and our world.
Dear St. Max, please pray for us all...and thank you for your witness!
Friday, August 13, 2010
That has been a recent prayer that I just keep repeating to myself, "I love you Lord, I love you Lord, I love you Lord, You are my strength." Whether I am walking up to receive Holy Communion or am just in my personal prayer, for me that phrase perfectly sums it all up. Recently I have noticed that I see daily prayer as more of an obligatory formality instead of peaceful talking and listening between two dear friends. I am the type of person at times that feels like I have to "do all this stuff" to show Jesus how much I love Him. In recently seeing my spiritual director, we talked a lot about how prayer is simply conversation (and also listening) with Jesus...not just lip service. Traditional, formal prayers, like the Our Father and Hail Mary are good, benefical, and have a place in the spiritual life. However, if the only way you can "be" with Jesus is just rambling off a bunch of memorized words, that you are really missing the boat. Talk from the heart to Jesus; tell Him what is going on in life, joys, fears, concerns....bring it all to Him, and then you listen for that small, still voice Scripture talks about so often. The more I pray from my heart, "I love you Lord, I love you Lord, I love you Lord; you are my strength," is it like the quiet stirring that begins my own conversation with Jesus.
These particular pieces of Scripture have struck in my prayer time recently:
Peter says to Jesus, "Lord, you know everything...You know that I love you." How often do I feel like dear St. Peter here!!! Jesus, You KNOW it all...and amid my screw-ups and lack of faith much of the time, you see into the depths of my heart; a heart that burns brightly with love for You. In St. Luke's Gospel (7:36-50-The Pardon of the Sinful Woman), particularily in vs. 47 Jesus is speaking to Simon the Pharisee, saying "...she has shown great love..." Jesus is making a point to Simon that this sinful woman showed Him such heartfelt, pure love in washing his feet with her tears and drying them with her hair. However, Simon the Pharisee did not even show Jesus the least bit of welcome or hospitality...but that woman showed such love in her actions that her expressions of love were what really mattered to Jesus.
Jesus, keep giving me the grace to come before You each day as I am in prayer...help to just "be" with you more...You lead our time together. Grow me in the gifts of the Holy Spirit; and to pray constantly in the Spirit as St. Paul challeneged the early Church. And when I forget or get a little slack, always know Jesus these words are on my lips and heart.........
"I love you Lord, I love you Lord, I love you Lord; You are my strength!"
Sunday, August 8, 2010
So my highlight of this past weekend? Was it the delicious fresh perch with a glass of pinot grigio wine? No, although that was a yummy dinner. Was it the time spent with friends and later curling up with some good books? No again. What made the weekend for me was when a young person I know asked me if we could go to Confession together on Saturday afternoon. Yup, that was it hands down....yeah I know, weird, maybe nutty to some. Oh well.
This 19 year old entered the Catholic Church this past Easter. I was honored and privelaged to be his Confirmation sponsor, and lead him through the RCIA (Rite of Christian for Adults) classes over the past year. It just really touched me that he made the effort to go to Confession, that he wanted to go.
The sacrament of Reconciliation a.k.a Confession is one of the bestest things (and there are many in my opinion ;-) about being a Catholic Christian. There is something to be said about the humility of confessing our personal sins to another fellow sinner, the priest sitting in front of you. The priest is not just some dude who is listening to what you are saying, but he is representing Jesus to us...the priest, with the power of Christ, absolves us (forgives) from all our sins. In this way, the loving mercy of our God can continue till the end of time. The mercy of Jesus is like a frying pan; He LOVES to constantly dish it out to us in abundance. So every time we go to Confession, Jesus is wiping our slate clean again, so we can continue to grow closer to Him without all that excess sin on our souls.
Jesus gave the power to absolve sins to His favorite 12 dudes, the Apostles. In John 20:22-23 the Apostles receive this power- there is explicit teaching here that the Apostles have the power to forgive sins. In Matthew 18:18 this theme is repeated; Jesus says what the Apostles bind on earth will be bound in Heaven, a clear reference to the fact that the Apostles have the power and authority (given by Christ) to forgive sins. Since Jesus gave this authority to the original 12 Apostles, it has been past down through the ages of the Catholic Church through today even to our current priest's. So the priest in the Confessional has a direct link to the orginal 12 Apostles and Christ himself; very amazing! Some other Scriptural references to the sacrament of Confession include: James 5:13-15, II Corinthians 5:17-20, Matthew 9:2-8, and the above ones mentioned. Catholics explain things like this with both use of Sacred Scripture as well as sacred Tradition, which has been passed down to us from Jesus and the 12 Apostles
All of us will admit we are a sinner; we cannot get around that fact. However, we have a great gift Christ left us to help us on our life of holiness to keep our souls from getting to nasty and dirty from sin. Our God is so amazing and loving, that He givesd us the privelage to constantly keeping coming back to the fountain of mercy. Whether you are Catholic or not, take an opportunity to learn more about this wonderful sacrament!
Start with this video I came across on youtube.......Yes, you may think it is cheesy or whatever, but it is concise and gets to the point:
Want to know more, check out http://www.catholic.com/ a great site that explains the Catholic faith.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
I was walking back to my office this afternoon from a meeting, and in the hallway there was a woman praying with another woman. The one handed the other a prayer card of St. Gianna Molla (an Italian doctor who chose to carry her child, even knowing it would lead to her death...she later became a saint, and is an inspiration to all expectant mothers) and continued to sit and pray with the other woman. At this parish, we have an outreach ministry to woman who experience an unplanned pregnancy. Many unborn lives have been saved, and the lives of the Mommies changed for the better. That short walk to my office made me stop and think about why I myself am in the kind work I am.
Those of you who know me pretty well can easily pick up that: 1) I have a tendency to be kinda crazy, but in a fun, happy, and joyful way 2) I am passionate about what I love/believe in 3) I have a high dose of energy and a laugh that has been descirbed as "hyena-ish" (again, these are all used for something good in the world) 4) I am in madly in love with Jesus Christ and what He left us, the Catholic Church. I am so blessed that in working with young people I can combine all my weird, uniqueness and use it for the glory of God!!! Anyone working in church ministry will tell you it is no average 9-5 job; and youth ministry is no exception. Young people need to be told that someone loves them, prays for them, and more importantly that JESUS loves them; that there is peace, comfort, and truth found in knowing, loving, and serving Him. Everything the Church does in reaching out to young people should have one goal: everything for teenagers must be based on a personal, intimate relationship with the living Jesus. Of course, it is not always smiley faces, flowers, and sunshine (as nothing in life ever is) however, to truly know and believe what you are doing in your life is making a difference in the lives of others makes everything else completely worth it.
In my bedroom and in front of the computer at my office, I have a little note card and in black sharpie marker it says, "I am going to do something that will lead others to Jesus Christ!" That sums up my mission in life...my standard for living....my work in youth ministry. If I cannot honestly say to Jesus at my judgement, that I didn't at least strive to live this out authentically, then I didn't live a full life. The fullness of life is found only in Christ. end of story. My mission in life and in my work is to do things that will lead others to Jesus. Right now, He has me in a specific way working with young people; who knows maybe in 5 years from now I will be teaching in a college or be a some type of national speaker???? I just know that the more I strive to grow in my own faith and work with others, is that I want to make something beautiful for God throughout my life.
That's all. :)
Sunday, August 1, 2010
These three words symbolize a truth that is not always respected or even valued in our culture today. We have all seen it, you know what I am talking about...mistaking really short skirts for a wide belt or shorts that are so super-duper short that they look like tight panties. Seriously, more is less! In working with teenagers, I have a rule with the young ladies called "The 3 B's." At any Youth Group/church outing or social event, the "3 B's" must be covered...butt, breasts, and belly. They always laugh at it and sometimes it makes several of the young gentlemen turn slightly red, but seriously these are things that our young women need to be reminded of and taught about.
We as women have A LOT of power. I am not talking about in some crazy feminist way where we are taking over the world. But, we hold so much power in what we can ask and command of men. The way we dress is a way which really is telling the world how we view our body/sexuality and self-worth. The way you dress could say, "Come here boys, check out what I got," or it could say "I respect and love myself enough to where I don't have to show it all."
I am not suggesting that women wear turtlenecks and long skirts 365 days a year, but let the way you dress be modest, elegant, and classy all rolled into one. Lose the tight booty shorts. Dump those skirts that have huge slits. Pitch the low-cut tops that let everything fall out.
God made women mysteriously in the world as co-workers in creation with man. The physical body plays a beautiful and unique role in the creating of a new human person through the marital act. Woman is made for the sacred; she is Heaven's instrument on earth. However, in our culture, sometimes our beauty is clouded and dimmed by the de-meaning of a woman's value by merely physical features. Women need to re-caputre their dignity and mystery by recognizing that less is really more.
We are so blessed to have so many wonderful witnesses in our Catholic tradition that challenge and affirm the true beauty, modesty, and dignity of women. The Blessed Mother, our mother and Jesus' mother. Our Lady is the perfect example of what it means to be a real woman and is here to pray for each of us and help us claim back what society has taken.
Pope John Paul II. People who say the Catholic Church doesn't love, support, or affirm women is absolutely crazy. And this Pope is an example of the Church's respect for women. Pope John Paul II wrote the most beautiful letter called "On the Dignity and Vocation of Women" in 1988. In this document, he paves the way for a "new feminism" based on the dignity of women as women and human persons (I challenge all women in the Lord to take a look at this truly amazing work!)
There are some amazingly awesome books I have read that I highly encourage young women to read and explore to help re-claim the idea that "modest is hottest!"
- "The Thrill of the Chaste" by Dawn Eden
- "Mulieris Dignitatem" (On the Dignity and Vocation of Women) by Pope John Paul II
- "Sex God" by Rob Bell
- "Theology of the Body for Beginners" by Christopher West
These are some of my favorites that inspire me and constantly remind me of what my first job as a woman of God is...and that's holiness. So the next time you are walking through H & M or Forever 21 looking for something cute to buy, remember...modest is hottest :-)
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
I am officially joining the millions of ga-zillions of other people who share their thoughts online. I have been thinking about this for awhile, and am really excited to use this as another way to share my crazy jesus-loving, rosary-prayin', bible-reading love of God with other people.
In our world today, many young people, young adults, and older adults do not know why they go to church or what's the point of having a relationship with God. One of the most powerful ways to lead other people to Jesus is to tell them what Jesus has done in your life. Talk about your personal relationship with Jesus and what He means to you.
You absolutely DO NOT hit someone over the head with the Catechism of the Catholic Church or shout at them they are going to Hell if they are not attending weekly Sunday Mass. Religion...particularily our Catholic faith is all about a relationship witha person. Jesus Christ.
The motto for my life is that "I am going to do something that will lead others to Jesus Christ." For me, this blog is another small opportunity for me to keep living that out...
So you might be wondering (or maybe you aren't) "how did you come up with the title?" Well I once came across the most beautiful qoute by Mother Teresa of Calcutta when she wrote, "I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world." I love that image of being a little pencil in the hand of God; letting Him work through each of us to accomplish His will in our lives. A few summers ago I did an oil painting based on that qoute with my own twist..."Become a little brush in the hand of the Holy Spirit." Everything in our life, each stroke, is an opportunity for growth and maturity in the life of grace.
As I begin this new project, I ask in a special way for the intercession of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta and St. Catherine of Siena; two amazingly, passionate women of God, whose words and lives continue to inspire and challenge my life towards holiness.