Friday, August 10, 2012

A Habit of Love: Whom do you wear?

Matthew 16:13-20

I love to dress up.

I don't have a particular designer that I'm devoted to but if I find an article of clothing that I love I must have it. No matter the price. I have a certain style and my clothes display my personality even my mood that particular day. Some say the clothes make the man (in my case, woman). I guess my clothes say I am a relaxed person, sometimes a bit adventurous, other times calm and straightforward. Somedays my clothes say, "Hey, look at me," and other days my clothes say, "Too tired to look at myself." What you wear can sometimes indicate what type of person you are on any given day.

In today's gospel, Jesus askes His apostles,

"Who do you say that I am?"

This evening, I spent time with two Sisters of the Servants of the Lord and Virgin Matará. Their mission is to bring Christ to everyone, through everything. Even a simple appearance at a baseball game should bring evangelization because their mere presence should remind us all of the presence of Christ in our midst. For the women and men who've been called to cloth themselves for the Lord, it is very easy for all to see that they have a special relationship with God. But what is my habit? How do people know whether I have a special relationship with God?

St. Paul famously answers that when he suggest we put on love.

Wear Love in and out, making sure others see Love, not me. Love using me to spread, to nurture, to feed and cloth, to hug and speak kind words, to pray and pray for, to wipe away tears and dance for joy, to receive and be received, to forgive effortlessly and embrace with unending mercy.

Dress myself in His love, Who is Love. Nothing forceful, nothing glitzy. Simple yet glorious Love.

I guess we can all ask ourselves the following; if people encounter me, will my actions tell them who Jesus is? Can they see His light, or have I lost some credibility through how I behave or what I fail to do? Who do I say Jesus is? How do I say it? How do I demonstrate to others that Jesus is my Lord and Savior and the only begotten Son of God?

What is your habit? Does it say who Jesus is to you? Can others see your relationship with Him without a word exchanged? Who we say Jesus is, and how we say it, is important. He gave us the task of spreading His story, His love so that the world can come to know Him. He needs us to put on Love.

We just need people to see Jesus in us. He takes care of the rest.

God, You know how imperfect I am. My heart has good intentions, but my actions, sadly, fall short. I want to glorify myself when I should be looking for ways to glorify You. I want others to see me, when I should show them You through my actions and words. I wish for the courage to hand my life over to You, yet I find it so hard to let go of all the things I easily denounce by words but not by moves. I lack trust, sometimes even interest. I fail at my attempts to do for You by doing very little or nothing at all. Help me to show You to the world in everything I do, whether it's helping someone in a time of need, being there for my family and friends, teaching others about You, even through a simple smile or hello or the way I carry myself and, yes, even in how I dress. In my weakness and shortcomings, I ask that You supply what I lack, increase my love and faith in You, enhancing my relationship with You when I am alone as well as in the presence of Your people. I am thankful for Your love and kindness and am aware that all that I do can never amount to all that You've done and continue to do. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

God bless!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lenten Walk 2012: Day 1 — Choosing Silence

Today marks the beginning of Lent. Ash Wednesday; where Catholics all over the world bear the mark in ash of the sign most precious to our our salvation, the cross.

I was battling a bit with my sacrifice, trying to decide what I'd give up for lent. About a few months ago I wished that I could take a silent retreat; just remain quiet, not say a word. I wanted to take advantage of my silence to become more observant, to remain silent so I can hear God. But it's hard to stay quiet as a mom of two. I find it hard to communicate with others without saying a word. I wished to become silent, but I retracted out of fear.

So my dear Lord, the founder of the true wish foundation, granted me my wish.

I got strep throat; and so my voice is gone. It hurts to even whisper.

So there you have it, my Lenten sacrifice for 2012. Minimal talking. I say minimal because there will be times where I will need to talk, but I'm hoping that in being silent I can listen more, learn more.

God gave us two ears and one mouth.

That must mean something right?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

God's Love is More than Enough

Ever watch that show Hoarders? The people on this show are trapped in their own homes because it's full of stuff they can't get rid of. Some collect things to fill a void, letting it get too far. Some realizing that the objects they've gathered have brought nothing but sadness instead of reprieve from their pain. Others remain in denial. Either way, it's sad to see them struggle to change, realizing that all they've amassed, all they have around them, doesn't allow them to live freely.

Although some of us are not that extreme, many of us, including myself, can agree that we do store a lot of junk. Clothes that no longer fit, toys no one ever plays with, books already read, etc. Our lives can get pretty crowded, with objects that have sentimental value or things we just don't have it in our hearts to throw away. I can admit great joy in buying a new electronic or brand new shoes. For a moment I am content that I have something new, I feel blessed. God is good, especially when I can get a new car.

But is God also good if, say, my car gets stolen, or I am in a terrible accident while driving it?

The answer is yes.

It is true that God continually blesses us and wants us to be happy and safe, but our happiness, our worth, shouldn't come from the things we have or don't have. Our worth comes from within, from what's in our hearts and what comes out of our hearts. The things we say along with the things we do, are what really make us who we are. If we have nothing in this world but our breath, God is still very good because it is what's inside that counts for Him.

I had the pleasure of meeting a gentleman who travels a lot to South America and spends time in a hospital for sick children. Most of these kids have been abandoned by their families because they were ill and either couldn't afford to pay medical bills or, sadly a reality, think that their child's sickness is a curse and so they leave them at the hospital never to return. This particular hospital takes them in to care for them, basically giving most of them a home. There was one little girl with stomach cancer that this gentleman friend of mine grew very fond of. Every morning, to wake up, to sit up, to eat, and get dress was a trial for her, and yet, when she finally managed to rise and continue her day, she always wore a smile, was always ready to play and enjoy her day. This gentleman said he'd never met such a brighter soul, despite all that she lacked in the world, possessions, a home, her health, even her family, but she always had a reason to smile.

What a great testimony to God's glory, coming through in such a dire situation. To have very little, and still find a reason to smile. The Old Testament tells of a similar story, Job, the man who had everything but all was taken away. Job had to learn that God's love isn't equated to the amount of what we have around us. God's love comes in abundance and is the only possession we can boast about. Everyone has an equal amount of His tender love and mercy because no matter what He's chosen to give us, no matter who has more than who, He can't help but love us all the same.

Let's all give thanks to God for all we have and for all we don't have; for who we are, and for who we aren't. Tomorrow may bring on many different adventures, but God's love for you will always remain the same. Let's give Him, and in turn, our neighbor, all the love we have in our hearts. Let's show the world what really matters to us and to Him; how much love we have for God and for one another.

God bless!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Talitha Koum!

Mk 5:21-43

And as I wipe my tears over this sweet realization that Jesus also speaks to me in today's gospel, my two year old daughter is beneath my desk, putting on my slippers, saying,"Here we go mommy. That should do it."

Jesus and Naya, both revealing God's love for me. Both telling me, "Talitha koum," little girl, arise.

I have to say that I relate tremendously to today's gospel; a woman bleeding internally for years, a child gone too soon, dead to the world. But Jesus does what He does so well, rising the dead, healing internal wounds, stopping the bleeding. And as He healed both woman and child so many centuries ago, He heals this woman-child here today. Everyday.

So by faith alone can we see His miraculous hand at work.

This brings so many things together. In reflecting on the anti-religion, anti-catholic movements, videos, Facebook posts, etc, I now realize that in choosing to believe, in having faith, I can remain still. I can trust this but small wind passing through in comparison to the heaven that awaits me. Standing still, so that God can continue to inject faith in my spine. Standing still, like that tree, swaying, but never falling. Relying soley in this faith.

I've had a strong desire to fight it all, to speak my mind, to yell my objections about these issues. Yet God continues to speak softly to me, saying, “Give what is Caesar's to Caesar and what is God's to God.” And I do my best dear Father, hoping to be better each step of the way.

Jesus knows me. He knows I'm not confrontational. A general knows his soldiers, what they excel best at. My King knows what I do best. His command, "Talitha koum," is my order. Rise, and face these storms. Stand strong in this faith Our Lord has given me. Use it to ground me, to keep me facing Him. Always facing Him.

I don't know the future here on earth. Technically, I don't know the present either. So many secrets, decisions, conversations done behind closed doors. My view, my knowledge, it's so very limited, this I know. So does He. I can say this, I love God so much, I am grateful to have the opportunity to receive Him, His body and blood at every Mass. I am thankful that when I confess, Jesus speaks to me through my priest to tell me He forgives me. I hear that statement with my limited ears, my small heart and I am humbled by His merciful love. How wonderful to profess my faith in His presence, through my marriage, through my children, all gifts to me from God.

My faith is also a gift from God. I use it to tell everyone who reads, that everything I am, everything I have, everything I see, all that I know, is from God. And because I know that God is always working for the greater good, I realize I may not see the glorious finale, but I see hints of glory every moment He allows me to. What He makes is always good.

Life is precious because He made us. The church is precious becasue He created it. Our faith is so precious because He gave it to us. These are my traditions as a Catholic, and as a child of God. All of us are important to Him, even the ones, big and small, that we don't see, those we don't know, or will ever get to know. His gifts are not a disease. To say so would make us all worthless, and in that thousand-plus page love letter, the Word of God, He says otherwise. He says otherwise!

This is my defense, and mine alone. Others are commanded to the front lines, others to stay behind to protect the home front, but no matter what your order from God, do it with faith, the greatest weapon we carry in our entire arsenal.

I defend the Catholic Church with all my faith as I say:

I believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.

I belive in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Only Begotten Son of God,
born of the Father before all ages.
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
consubstantial with the Father;
through Him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation
He came down from heaven,
and by the Holy Spirit
was incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
and became man.
For our sake He was crucified under Pontius Pilate
He suffered death and was buried
and rose again on the third day
in accordance with the Scriptures.
He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead
and His kingdom will have no end.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.

I believe in one, holy, Catholic and apostolic church.
I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins
and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead
and the life of the world to come.


God bless!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Will to Trust: A Small Anecdote from 2011

Written on August  27, 2011:

Dear God,

Where do I begin?

Hurricane Irene is on its way to NYC...

and so is my husband...

and I'm hoping, praying, that along that route to the city You keep him in safety...

and bring him back home to me...

if it be Your will.


I have to trust You right? I have to hunker down like one would during a storm and rely on You as one relies on the ground beneath their feet or their arms encircling their body. But today I have been creating hurricanes in my soul. I'm soaked from all the crying, seething and angry moments, doubled-over in pain moments and all these weather systems in my little heart making huge changes in this landscape. Weathering, erosion, low tide, high tide. All for something new. Right? Clear blue skies where the rays of sun remind us of signals from heaven and that it must be from God moment on our lips. I have to trust in You.

Wonder and Awe.
Fear of the Lord.

And as we drove to mass last Sunday, through a starless night, as I passed the bend I see God's work, the moon set high like an orange orb, huge, alarming, fascinating. I was scared of the moon, scared of things I didn't even know of, elements that so ever changing, so big next to my small self and yet, I couldn't take my eyes of the moon.

I truly thought that the end of earth was near.

And I said out loud, "What better place to be, then in Your house oh Lord."

I know...silly. I was scared of a big ole, floating satellite.
Fortunately, that's not my point.

I'm learning to trust You. I'm learning to trust in the God, in the One who wore human flesh, who, although scared, trusted His Father, suffered and died for me. I trust that even with nothing but my own soul hanging by a thread that I have a place, that I have been saved, that nothing else matters but His Face, His Name, His Love.

And when you love, when your heart is loving, when your soul knows love, all fear subsides. All fear, like demons run away from that Voice.

His authority.

How can I not trust a God who trusted in everything He knew was right, in a God, who continually puts His trust in me to do what I know to be right in my heart, even if I wasn't taught that way.

To trust God is to know Him, to know what He's done, what He continues to do. To trust God is to love Him with all your soul and all your might.

God bless!

In the Dark, When I Cannot See

A note to satan in prose:

I wake up each night to your loud knocking on my door.
desperate knocks,
open up, please let me in!
I wake up each night, afraid.

It is dark and I cannot see,

my curiosity almost getting the best of me,
as each knock, each plea, becomes louder and louder.

Every night is a struggle with you;

you know it is dark and I cannot see

you remind me of my hurt, my pain,
all those wounding moments.
What a tricky thing to do
to use my own fists to strike me
to use my own mind to fool me
my very own weaknesses to crush me.

you knows it is dark and I cannot see

Long ago, I feared
already lost
and so scared to lose myself even more.
and when you're lost you fear it all
scared that even love will eventually betray.
So in the night it is very easy to fear
not even hope gives much light.

But I laid there and waited in that dark that won't let you see

And in this gloom
where others moaned and cried out
where many souls were left, dying
walked a Man who's light can be seen for miles
it was enticing
my eyes were not used to it
squinting, each blink seeping in lights of hope.

Jesus knew it was dark and I could not see

It's hard to ignore
this quiet light.
It's hard to look away from it
it blinds you
and as I reached for something to grasp
instead I felt a hand
and It's power just lifted me up.

In the dark only He can see

Jesus sees for me
He hopes for me
and this hope that I'd see Him
even in that fearful dark
was that light that led me away from you.

you think because it is dark that I cannot see

you are right
in the dark I cannot see
my eyes, on them I can no longer rely
but my heart
it sensed He was near
it heard His very whisper
and my eyes have been closed ever since.

Who needs to see with His light within?

I trust this new light
I go wherever it leads me
wherever it needs me to be.
It's soft and inviting
It's loving and embracing.
It covers and protects.
He provides me with new life
new breath.
New freedom.

So like a master hunting down a runaway slave
you pound on my door every night
you call out my weaknesses
you sneak into my dreams
you shake me awake
you pound hard on my thoughts
you do everything it takes to make me hear you
feel you.

So this means I've gotten far enough to make you fear
to make you lose hope of ever controlling me
you know Who has my hands
you know Who's in my heart.

So satan
keep knocking
keep sending your attacks
your obnoxious thoughts
your silly temptations
it proves to me
that with all this you do to win me back
that not even your darkness assures you
that not even you can see.

He's always loved me, He always will,
more so in the dark when I cannot see.