st. catherine qoute

(St. Catherine of Siena)

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" ...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Real Love

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 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.