Renovations

I had been intending to turn my third bedroom — the baby’s room — into a prayer room for quite a while now. However, it had accumulated so much junk that it was a daunting thought to clear it out and make something out of it. I had managed to put a chair in there, and clear a little path so I could exercise on the elliptical trainer, but that was about it. This is what the room looked like:
The Would-Be Prayer/Exercise Room -- DSCN5602
I left it like this for a long, long time.

I won’t get into my Confession, but yesterday, Father gave as my penance that I would ask Mary to be my designer, and in particular that she would help me to do something with my house. I went to Michael’s and Office Max after Confession and randomly walked up and down the aisles, picking up things. I had some candles from some recent PartyLite gatherings recently.

This is what I came up with after some hard work yesterday evening:
DSCN6620
My little desk:
DSCN6621
My candles:
DSCN6623
And the other side of the room with my comfy chair and white board:
DSCN6629
Now, it will be much more functional as a prayer room! I just need to find a way to hang my picture….

Anchor of the Soul

This struck me as I was reading the Scriptures this morning. I love the picture which came to mind.

This we have as an anchor of the soul, sure and firm, which reaches into the interior behind the veil, where Jesus has entered on our behalf as forerunner, becoming high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. — Hebrews 6:19-20.

I found this passage to be very Eucharistic. The Eucharist — the very real Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord — is the anchor of our soul. Without Him, we can achieve nothing. Our souls find no rest. Our toil is fruitless. Our hope is in vain. In feeding on Him, we take Jesus into the very core of our being, whether we are aware of it in that moment or not. Within us, God-made-flesh goes behind the facade we erect — our public persona — to the heart of who we are, where we cannot hide from Him. With the power of He who created all that is, He dwells within us; changing us from our core, and giving us the grace and incredible power that He has to offer which can dramatically change our lives — if only we cooperate with that.

Jesus became human for us, so as to become the ultimate sacrifice for our redemption. The saving power of that sacrifice, the love that prompted that unimaginable humbling of our God to come down to our level so as to save us — this is what we take inside of ourselves every time we partake of the Eucharist. How humbling for us this should be. How incredible that we are able to take this for granted. He not only humbled Himself so as to save us, but He further hid Himself under the appearance of unleavened bread and wine so that we might take Him into ourselves — to further unite ourselves to Him, which has been His intention from before the Fall.

I love going to Mass. Not because I particularly want to be able to tell you all that I go to daily Mass and have you think that I am somehow more holy or more devout or something like that. I certainly know that I am nowhere near being a holy person! I just mention this so that you may perhaps come to find the peace and strength and grace of the Lord which I have found. Perhaps it is more telling of my inner sinful nature that I do go to Mass nearly every day. I need Him to make it through my day! And even then I fail much of the time!

I find myself adrift on a sea of my own wretchedness, unable to navigate my way home. I thank God the Father for providing us such a Son — who is the anchor of my soul, who can penetrate all my defenses and reach the core of my being to get my attention and lead me home.

On Our Way to Jamaica!

We are on our way to Jamaica! The first leg of our journey is complete and we have successfully made it to Memphis! Lindsay was the first to notice after getting off the plane that Memphis smells like fried chicken and hot sauce…everywhere we go! There is the requisite Elvis things and lots of big pigs associated with the restaurants. 🙂

Vocations – A Reflection on the Single State of Life

I think the single life is a state of life which is not often recognized as a vocation in our culture today. Too often, it may be seen more as a state of pending — waiting to determine if I am called to marriage or to consecrated life, instead of as an authentic calling on its own. I bought into this and was waiting myself, until I realized that God calls me all the time, and that I am currently in a valid state of life. And that I had better start responding. As a single, I do not have the same ties on my time, resources and attention as married couples. I can travel on pilgrimage. I can be that substitute catechist. I can be on parish council. I can volunteer at the various fundraisers. I can sponsor events. I can help out on a moment’s notice. Parents are the primary educators of their children, but in some ways, singles are the primary educators of their peers. I am living in the world in a way in which religious are not and I have potentially more free time to attend lectures to deepen my understanding of the faith and have greater access to a wider population of people. There is an expectation of a married couple to be more responsible, more religious, and in some ways more mature than a single. This, I find to be a great challenge for me to step up and attempt to be a good example of what it can be to live a good Christian life as a single. God is not waiting to call me, so why am I waiting to respond? If my state of life changes, then I will respond in that capacity at that time, and serve in the new role which God has called me to fulfill. He is calling today and I am answering today, with all the flexibility, resources and time that I have currently as a single, able to live my life entirely for others.

— Published in the OLGC Bulletin, March 22, 2009 🙂

Please Pray for Justin Wainwright

Justin is a 15-year-old who was last seen on March 16th in Ohio. He is traveling with a friend. There has been an Amber Alert issued. Please pray that both boys return home quickly and safely. If you have any information, please contact the Plymouth Township police, 911, or visit the website hosted by the boys’ families at www.findjoshandjustin.com.

Here are some photos:
Justin Wainwright
Justin Wainwright
Justin Wainwright
Josh Zohr
Josh Zohr
Police said the pair is traveling in Zohr’s red Pontiac Grand Prix with a Michigan license plate BYP1180:
Josh Zohr and his car

Pontiff Proclaims Year for Priests

From Zenit:

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 16, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is proclaiming a Year for Priests on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the death of St. Jean Marie Vianney, the Curé of Ars.

The Pope announced this today during an audience granted to participants in the plenary assembly of the Congregation for the Clergy, a Vatican communiqué reported.

The theme for the priestly year is “Faithfulness of Christ, Faithfulness of Priests.” The Pope is scheduled to open the year with a celebration of vespers June 19, the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in the presence of the relic of the Curé of Ars, to be brought to Rome by Bishop Guy Bagnard of Belley-Ars, the press release stated.

The closing ceremony will take place exactly one year later, with a World Meeting of Priests in St. Peter’s Square.

During this year, a directory for confessors and spiritual directors will be published, along with a compilation of texts by the Pope on the core issues of the life and mission of priests in the modern times. As well, Benedict XVI will officially proclaim St. Jean Marie Vianney as “patron saint of all the priests of the world.”

The congregation will aim in this year to promote initiatives that will “highlight the role and mission of the clergy in the Church and in modern society.”

Another goal will be to address “the need to intensify the permanent formation of priests, associating it with that of seminarians.”

An entire year devoted to our priests! I love it! Love it, love it, love it! Thank you, Holy Father!

In an article talking of the importance of priestly ministry and of the distinction between the ordained priesthood and the priesthood we are all called to due to our baptism:

The Pope stressed the importance of the ministry, without which “there would be no Eucharist, no mission, not even the Church” and he recalled that the mission of the priest “has its roots in a special way in a good formation, carried out in communion with unbroken ecclesial Tradition, without pausing or being tempted by discontinuity.”

“In this regard,” he continued, “it is important to encourage priests, especially the young generations, to correctly read the texts of the Second Vatican Council, interpreted in the light of all the Church’s doctrinal inheritance.”

The Pontiff spoke about the urgent need for priests to be “present, identifiable and recognizable — for their judgment of faith, personal virtues and attire — in the fields of culture and of charity which have always been at the heart of the Church’s mission.”

He said the mission of the priest concerns the Church, communion, hierarchy and doctrine, and added that these aspects should not be separated.

He explained: “The mission is ecclesial because no one announces or brings themselves, but rather in and through his own humanity, every priest should be very conscious of bringing Another, God himself, to the world. God is the only treasure that, definitively, mankind wishes to find in a priest.”

The Holy Father said the mission concerns communion “because it takes place in a unity and communion which only at a secondary level possess important aspects of social visibility. These, moreover, are derived essentially from that divine intimacy of which the priest is called to be an expert, so that he can bring, with confidence and humility, the souls entrusted to him to the same meeting with the Lord.”

He said that “the ‘hierarchical’ and ‘doctrinal’ dimensions emphasize the importance of ecclesiastical discipline — a term related to that of ‘disciple’ — and of doctrinal — not just theological, initial and permanent — formation.”

The Pope concluded by urging those present to discover the centrality of Jesus Christ who gives meaning and value to the ministerial priesthood.

He added, “As Church and as priests we announce Jesus of Nazareth, Lord and Christ, crucified and risen, Sovereign of time and history, in the joyful certainty that this truth coincides with the deepest hopes of the human heart.”

I absolutely believe in the necessity and blessing of a visible, valid, faithful and orthodox priesthood. These are our shepherds — the men who guide us and care for us and bring us life. They provide us access to Jesus in the sacraments, break open the Word of God for us, demonstrate to us a holy life and what it means to love our neighbor and give our entire selves in service to others. They give and they love, and they help us to do the same.

On Passivity vs. Activity in Suffering

When we are in pain, real pain, it becomes easy to fall into despair regarding our condition, especially when our suffering is long-term. What we are often told by well-meaning Christian friends is to “offer it up.” What does this really mean? At first glance, it appears that they are asking you to dismiss your suffering, which, of course, is impossible. The mere suggestion is liable to make you feel less than charitable towards your friend.

A friend of mine frequently offers the suggestion that we not “offer it up,” but that we “unite it to the cross.” He finds that “offering it up” is far too passive of a thing. Rather, we should actively donate our suffering, *give* it to Christ to be used for the purposes of someone else. Not only to make it not just something we endure, but to make it efficacious and redemptive, as Christ’s Passion is efficacious and redemptive for all of mankind. Because Jesus made His suffering efficacious specifically for each and every one of us, by name, we too should unite our sufferings to a specific person or intention, so as to direct the efficacy of our suffering. This is all great, and works to make the person suffering feel useful, because now instead of being a victim, they are able to work, actively. Suffering is no longer something which “happens to them,” but is a medium in which they can effect results through Christ.

But before I completely tossed aside the phrase “offer it up,” I decided to revisit it once more. After all, as my friend says, this is the phrase that Pope Benedict XVI uses. Perhaps there is something else to the use of the passive voice which is intriguing to the Holy Father. Allow me to speculate on this for a moment. For a person who is new to the concept of redemptive suffering, I am really taken by the concept of “uniting it to the cross,” to give the sufferer a means by which he can feel useful and connected to the community, instead of despair. However, the caution that I would add would be to not get so caught up in the concept of our own action in “uniting our suffering to the cross” that we begin to think that our action in willing this unity is the efficacious agent in this transaction. It is God, and not us, who is able to use our suffering in some way for the benefit of others. What we are doing, in essence, isn’t actually an *action* per se which renders aid, but a submission of the experience of our suffering which the Lord then uses. It is neither the selfishness of wallowing in our negative experience, or the pride in thinking that we are being personally effective which aids our brothers, but the willful, humble submission to the will of God. In this humility, this proper ordering of our desire for unity with God and with our brothers and sisters, are we able to make a true gift of ourselves back to the Lord and cooperate in His saving action. For this reason, I argue that the use of the passive voice is a good and legitimate use, not to show passivity in will, but to show docility to God.

For My Priests

Yes, I did quote this very passage almost exactly a year ago, but it bears repeating…. And, I am reading it again today in Scripture:

1 Thes 1:2-4
We give thanks to God always for all of you, remembering you in our prayers, unceasingly calling to mind your work of faith and labor of love and endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ, before our God and Father, knowing, brothers loved by God, how you were chosen.

Spiritual Thoughts from our Papa

— From “Benedict XVI: Spiritual Thoughts in the First Year of His Papacy” by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

On spiritual deserts: “…the emptiness of souls no longer aware of their dignity or the goal of human life.”
“The world is redeemed by the patience of God. It is destroyed by the impatience of man.”
“The Word of God and reason go together.”
“We cannot communicate with the Lord if we cannot communicate with each other.”
“…without suffering, nothing is transformed.”
“…for the ascent to life’s future it is essential to exercise an interior life.”
“True joy is something different from pleasure; joy grows and continues to mature in suffering, in communion with the Cross of Christ.”
“The more you seek Him, the more you are moved to seek Him.”
“…only those who first listen to the Word can become preachers of it.”
“…no community can forego the witness of a prayerful priest…”
“‘Spiritual reading’ of Sacred Scripture consists of pouring over a biblical text for some time, reading it and rereading it, as it were, ‘ruminating’ on it as the Fathers say and squeezing from it, so to speak, all its ‘juice,’ so that it may nourish meditation and contemplation and, like water, succeed in irrigating life itself.”
“Deceived by atheism they consider and seek to prove that it is scientific to think that all things lack guidance and order as though they were at the mercy of chance.”
“The closer a person is to God, the closer he is to people.”
“Faith…is the criterion that determines our lifestyle.”

Graduate Record Exam

I would love to say that the reason why I have been so incommunicado recently has been because I have been studying furiously for my GREs.

Alas.

I have put in maybe, oh, 5 hours *total* to studying, despite all my plans to work diligently on my study guide. Add that to the fact that I have never in my life taken a vocabulary class, have issues with language in general, haven’t seen simple algebra in years and can’t do geometry to save my life, and you have a picture of why my grades are suboptimal. I did, however, take an IQ test last night (yes, instead of studying….) and got a 155, which is in my normal range of 147-179. These things are important to know, when you are about to take a test that will kick the pants off you.

Right after taking the test, the computer gives you your verbal and quantitative scores. You have to wait a few weeks to get your analytical writing scores, which are graded by an actual person. The first thing I did after taking my GRE was (of course) go to Starbucks and get a venti peppermint white mocha. (Yums!) Then, I sat in my car in their parking lot and looked up my scores in their book, to see what my percentiles were.

On the quantitative/math section, I scored in the low 60s. Okay, so 40% of the population can do this stuff better than me. I’m fine with that. I said I can’t to geometry to save my life, and I’m sticking to it! I also don’t have any spatial reasoning skills, but they don’t test on that. 🙂

On the verbal section, I scored in the 96th percentile. Yippee! I’ll take it! 🙂 Hopefully, it will be good enough to get into grad school, because I am *really* excited about beginning my studies. 🙂

Oh, and what does one do after taking the GREs?
1. Starbucks
2. Find percentiles
3. Go home and dance
4. Jump on the trampoline
5. Write on your blog