Tag Archives: Jesus

Running Into His Arms

Guy-holding-his-girl-in-arms-so-tight

I remember, before 9/11 and security changes at the airports, flying into airports to meet my boyfriend.  He would be waiting for me at the gate (occasionally the other way around), and there would be that nervous anticipation, that giddiness, that longing for the flight to *finally* be over.

And then it would be.  And our eyes would meet each other across the gate.  And I would leap into his arms.

Oh, yes.  We were *that* couple.  It was lovely.

This morning, I woke up and was going to bring some medication to a friend who was in the hospital.  As I looked at how much time I had to get to the hospital and then to work, I thought that I might have enough time to stop by our church.  Then, I’d be able to bring her the Eucharist, too.

And who wouldn’t want to receive the Eucharist?!?!

The more I thought about it, the more I was like, “Yes!  Yes-yes-yes!”  And I was looking forward to those few precious minutes while driving to the hospital, where I would have Jesus in the Eucharist in my hands in my own personal, tiny tabernacle.

It’s only about 2 miles from my house to church — roughly.  For the first mile, I was recalling those feelings of anticipation and longing from those airport reunions.  I couldn’t wait to see Him and be with Him.  And I was so excited to bring Him to my friend.  During the second mile, I thought about how amazing it was that soon I would be holding Him in my hand.  To be able to pour my heart out to Him, and have Him right there.

And, of course, I’m all about sharing.  And I most wanted to share this with one of my best friends.  Because he would understand.  After all, he holds Him in his hands every day when he celebrates Mass.  I prayed that today my friend would feel that same overwhelming anticipation and joy at spending time with our Lord.

Mystic or Unbeliever

H/T to Steve, who originally sent this to me:

When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into boat, and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus (Jn 6:24).

A generation ago, Karl Rahner made the statement that there would soon come a time when each of us will either be a mystic or a non-believer.

What’s implied here?

At one level it means that anyone who wants to have faith today will need to be much more inner-directed than in previous generations. Why? Because up until our present generation in the secularized world, by and large, the culture helped carry the faith. We lived in cultures (often immigrant and ethnic subcultures) within which faith and religion were part of the very fabric of life. Faith and church were embedded in the sociology. It took a strong, deviant action not to go to church on Sunday. Today, as we know, the opposite if more true, it takes a strong, inner-anchored act to go to church on Sunday. We live in a moral and ecclesial diaspora and experience a special loneliness that comes with that. We have few outside supports for our faith.

The culture no longer carries the faith and the church. Simply put, we knew how to be believers and church-goers when we were inside communities that helped carry that for us, communities within which most everyone seemed to believe, most everyone went to church, and most everyone had the same set of moral values. Not incidentally, these communities were often immigrant, poor, under-educated, and culturally marginalized. In that type of setting, faith and church work more easily. Why? Because, among other reasons, as Jesus said, it is hard for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.

To be committed believers today, to have faith truly inform our lives, requires finding an inner anchor beyond the support and security we find in being part of the cognitive majority wherein we have the comfort of knowing that, since everyone else is doing this, it probably makes sense. Many of us now live in situations where to believe in God and church is to find ourselves without the support of the majority and at times without the support even of those closest to us, spouse, family, friends, colleagues. That’s one of the things that Rahner is referring to when he says we will be either mystics or non-believers.

But what is this deep, inner-anchor that is needed to sustain us? What can give us the support we need?

What can help sustain our faith when we feel like unanimity-minus-one is an inner center of strength, meaning, and affectivity that is rooted in something beyond what the world thinks and what the majority are doing on any given day? There has to be a deeper source than outside affirmation to give us meaning, justification, and energy to continue to do what faith asks of us. What is that source?

In the gospel of John, the first words out of Jesus’ mouth are a question: “What are you looking for?” Essentially everything that Jesus does and teaches in the rest of Johns gospel gives an answer to that question: We are looking for the way, the truth, the life, living water to quench our thirst, bread from heaven to satiate our hunger. But those answers are partially abstract. At the end of the gospel, all of this is crystallized into one image:

On Easter Sunday morning, Mary Magdala goes out searching for Jesus. She finds him in a garden (the archetypal place where lovers meet) but she doesn’t recognize him. Jesus turns to her and, repeating the question with which the gospel began, asks her: What are you looking for? Mary replies that she is looking for the body of the dead Jesus and could he give her any information as to where that body is. And Jesus simply says: “Mary.” He pronounces her name in love. She falls at his feet.

In essence, that is the whole gospel: What are we ultimately looking for? What is the end of all desire? What drives us out into gardens to search for love? The desire to hear God pronounce our names in love. To hear God, lovingly say: “Mary,” “Jack,” “Jennifer,” “Walter.”

Several years ago, I made a retreat that began with the director telling us: “I’m only going to try to do one thing with you this week, I’m going to try to teach you how to pray so that sometime (perhaps not this week or perhaps not even this year, but sometime) in prayer, you will open yourself up in such a way that you can hear God say to you – I love you! – because unless that happens you will always be dissatisfied and searching for something to give you a completeness you don’t feel. Nothing will ever be quite right. But once you hear God say those words, you wont need to do that restless search anymore.”

He’s right. Hearing God pronounce our names in love is the core of mysticism and it is too the anchor we need when we face misunderstanding from without and depression from within, when we feel precisely like unanimity-minus-one.

Fr. Ron Rolheiser
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How true that we have to make the decision whether to follow the crowd and seek out the approval of others, or to follow Jesus and seek out His approval. It is in a sense more difficult to be a disciple in this age where everything is focused on self-gratification, but on the other hand, it can be a good thing in that the people who are attending church and are following Christ are doing it because they truly love Him, and not because of cultural pressure. Jesus wants us to come to Him out of love, not obligation.

Seven Quick Takes Sunday

The other Jennie does it on Friday. So I’m a little late. What else is new? 🙂

1. Broken McSickyPants
This is my new name. My medical issues have only gotten worse. I still have the continual chest pain (which has now become more pronounced) and dyspnea on exertion. Lately, we have added to the mix dizziness, incredible fatigue, nausea and that awful feeling like you are about to pass out. My doctors still don’t have a good idea of what is wrong with me, since I have been passing all of my medical tests (I guess I’ve always tested pretty well). At least the infected poison ivy spots are finally clearing up a little and healing! 🙂 I do not feel like myself, and I hate that I can’t really do anything. Praise God, He gave me a good sense of humor and a sunny disposition. I am actually pretty happy overall.

2. On Being a Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist
Today, we had the pleasure of having Fr. Stanley celebrate Mass with us. Since I go to daily Mass at Our Lady of Good Counsel, where he currently is at, I have been able to see him upon occasion (although he doesn’t really do the 6:30 a.m. Mass that I typically attend). Having him here at St. Anastasia for Sunday Mass was a real treat. He was my first confessor and he has a very comforting way about him. He joked about the length of his homilies as he began his homily today. I was sitting next to the girl I sponsored into the Church this year, and at one point she commented that the wooden pew was hurting her butt for some reason this week. I laughed, “You probably aren’t used to sitting in one spot for so long!” Again, picking on poor Fr. Stanley’s homily. 🙂 In my defense, he started it! 🙂 God gave me a wonderful gift of joy today, particularly during the Mass. I was happy that Fr. Stanley was there, but this went beyond him. As I went up to the altar and received my paten of consecrated hosts, I remember cradling the paten in my hands. I must have had some big idiotic grin on my face, but I wasn’t really worried about that. I just gazed lovingly at Jesus in my hands and thought to Him, “I love You!” I know, it sounds pretty sappy, right? But that’s okay. I don’t mind being sappy. 🙂 I love Him. 🙂 Sometimes I wonder what people think when they get me in line for Communion. Here I am with a huge smile on my face, handing them our Lord, and nearly petting Him into place in their hands — to make sure He gets there safely. Hopefully, they share in my joy at the presence of our Lord, and aren’t standing there thinking that I’m a little odd or something.

3. The World is Now a Safer Place!
Why? Because I finally got new tires on my car! After 1 year, 7 months, 23 days and nearly 47,000 miles of driving, it was finally time to discard the old and buy some new. Of course, the “red” tire health report card, “Change your tires IMMEDIATELY” postcard, squeaking around off-ramps in dry conditions and, finally, hydroplaning in the rain while driving straight all contributed to this decision. Perhaps that fact that I had racing slicks on my car is the reason why I got that speeding ticket a while back, earning me the name Zoomie Vroom McLawBreaker. I really liked that name, by the way. But I have been good, and have been using my cruise control until I can re-train myself to enjoy lower velocities.

4. iPhone vs. BlackBerry Tour
Ah, just when I thought that I would finally change service providers in order to get the fancy-pants new iPhone (since bundling my home internet, land line, and TV service would save me about $60 a month), I have been given pause to reconsider. On Saturday, after getting my tires changed, I walked into the Sprint store, help up my current BlackBerry and challenged, “Why should I not want to trade this in for an iPhone? Convince me!” Now, mostly, I like the iPhone for all the apps and stuff that you can get with it, and for the larger screen. The touch screen keyboard would be a hindrance to typing as you drive (just for example, not that I do this necessarily . . . . ), but it is fun for scrolling. Being able to sync to my Podcasts and iTunes is also a definite plus. I know that iPhone is compatible with my work e-mail system, so that’s not an issue either. And it can go international, which was the main reason why I picked my BlackBerry 8830 in the first place.

Now, nice things about the BlackBerry Tour include the fact that I can increase the memory by adding a micro SD card, and that they give me a 1 GB out the door. That’s pretty sweet. Then, I found out that the new BlackBerry will also have a similar capacity for apps. As an upgrade to my current phone, this one has all the same capability, but adds on a camera and video feature, which I had been missing. The screen resolution is also pretty sweet. They say it supports AAC encoding, so I shouldn’t have to convert my iTunes library, and that it might soon or already does have an app to help with syncing.

Soo…. What can the iPhone do that the Tour cannot also do? And I can still save my $60 a month, by getting rid of my second cell phone. Please discuss benefits of one over the other in the comment box.

5. This Crazy Bipolar Weather
Today it has been alternating between being sunny with puffy white clouds and torrential downpours. Seriously. We left Mass, went to CostCo, came back and it started raining like crazy, just made it in the church before we got completely soaked. Then, we had our 1.5 hour Faith Café meeting, and by the time we got out, everything had dried up! I even managed to mow the lawn when I got home! It wasn’t wet anymore! Then, just now, the rains came again. I raced out, snapped a couple pics, then . . . it was over. Sun’s peeking out again. 🙂 Gotta love Michigan!
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6. Reading Material
I am SO excited, because I have finally finished reading the entire Bible! Okay, okay, so I did this a couple weeks back, but I am still excited! I have bought myself a new Ignatius Bible, RSV translation, the leather one. Yay! Isn’t it gorgeous?! (Humor me)
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My next project is to read the entire Catechism of the Catholic Church! 🙂

7. Blogging and Facebook
Have you guys noticed this phenomenon in your personal life? I have noticed that the more I am on Facebook, the less I blog. I’m not sure if this is a good thing or not. I tend to get more feedback from Facebook (I think my “feeds” are more read there), yet I can’t usually go into depth on any topic. I just found out how to link my blog posts to my Notes on Facebook. Let’s see if this helps any, or just confuses the matter. 🙂

Whoops!

Leaving Mass this morning, Fr. Anonymous was trying to wish me a good day.

Fr. A: “Hope you have a good day! We just received Jesus, so . . . . Oh . . . . I guess that means it’s all downhill from here.”

LOL! 🙂

Snails

This morning I went with Lindsay to St. A’s for the rosary and 9:30 am Mass, which was to be a healing Mass. I was looking forward to getting anointed, since I have had all these medical things going on and figured that God can heal me better than the doctors, who have yet to figure out what’s going on. 🙂

Since it’s Friday, we prayed the Sorrowful Mysteries. These are my favorite mysteries, I think because they are the only ones I have memorized. 🙂 I offered my rosary for the intention of a few people, one in particular, and as I was praying it, I pictured them in Jesus’ place: in the garden, being scourged, being crowned with thorns, carrying the cross, being crucified. I saw myself kind of in the picture too. My heart was breaking, going out to them. It made me sad to see them suffer like that, so I was trying to take the burden from them, although I knew that it was something that they had to do and didn’t want to interfere with God’s plan. I know, kind of a weird thing to be thinking of during a rosary, right?

After the rosary, I wanted to sit next to Lynn for Mass, so we moved. As we were waiting for Mass to start, Lynn shared with me the hymn from today’s Magnificat morning prayer:

O Love of God incarnate,
our flesh, our blood, our bone,
where sin has torn and marred us,
You make our wounds your own.
You take our guilt upon you,
our burdened spirits bear;
in death you go before us,
and you await us there.
You rise, our wounds upon You,
the nail prints clearly seen,
Your ravaged side still open –
but love has washed them clean.
the pow’r that conquers evil
in You now stands revealed.
We touch You, unbelieving,
and find that we are healed.

For some reason, this really disturbed me. I didn’t want to hurt Him any more. I didn’t want Him to have to suffer for my wounds. I was horrified. I wanted to protect Him. I handed the Magnificat back to Lynn. She asked what I thought. I said something like it was scary, because I couldn’t quite articulate what I thought about it.

I sat there praying, my heart saddened at the thought of causing the Lord more pain. Mass began. It wasn’t that long into Mass that a thought or image or something popped into my head, and but the whole thing into perspective for me. Then, I was so full of joy that I was actually giggling. In the middle of Mass. It was great. I mean, I don’t want to be disruptive and stuff to people around me, but I love when God interacts with me like that. See, because it wasn’t just a random thought popping into my head, it was Him trying to teach me something. Here, I’ll share it with you:

The image which came to mind was me, as a tiny snail. I was suffering because I had a toothpick stuck in me and had this marble squishing down on me. Jesus came over to me, and asked me if I would give him my toothpick and marble. He was the size of a normal-big human person, and I was this little 1 cm or so snail. My little snail-self took a big sigh and said, no, that I didn’t want Him to hurt and that I would keep my toothpick and marble. He laughed, lovingly, at me and made a beckoning motion with his right hand, saying, “Come now, give Me them. I can take it. I am strong. They are not going to hurt Me.”

I thought of my dad, and how he would want us to work through our own issues, and would be disappointed in us if we had to come to him for help. My snail-self wavered.

I saw things from Jesus’ perspective. Here was this tiny, little snail, with a little toothpick and a little marble. Insignificant little things, really, but they were hurting the little snail. He was looking on with love, and wanted to take them away from the little snail, but he wasn’t going to take them — he wanted the snail to ask for them to be taken away. He said again, “They are not going to hurt Me. I am God. Don’t you think that I can take it? That is not what hurts me, these things. What hurts is when people turn away from Me. Please give them to Me.”

Then, I understood.

Then, my little snail-self was joyful and saying, “TAKE IT! TAKE IT! TAKE IT! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!” and offering to him gleefully my toothpick and marble. And I was washed in joy and His love. I wasn’t hurting Him, I was letting Him in — and that’s what He wants.

As an aside, at the end of Mass, Fr. Mark said that they weren’t going to be doing the Anointing at that Mass, but next Friday — which I wouldn’t be able to attend. I was disappointed, since I hadn’t been anointed for these medical things and really wanted to be. Lynn suggested that I ask him after Mass if he would anoint me, but I was hesitant — I don’t like to infringe on people’s time like that, asking for favors. Then, Lindsay said that she was going to ask him if he would hear her confession. So, she actually asked for me, by asking him if he had time to do 2 more sacraments. And so, the little snail got to give away her toothpick and her marble. 🙂 Thanks be to God for Lynn and Lindsay. And praise God for the unimaginable love that He gives to us all, for no reason whatsoever.

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.