Last week, a friend of mine posted this article up on Facebook, soliciting a torrent of angry messages from those of us who decried this horrid display of one-sided journalism.
If you dare to read, you're met with example upon example of why it's simply better, cheaper, happier, and less stressful to be a purposefully childless couple. ARGH!
I understand the choice some folks make to forego having children. I don't pretend to thrust the idea of children onto every couple. That's ridiculous. Some simply aren't responsible enough (financially or otherwise) to bring children into the world. Some would like to take care of personal dreams before investing their time into raising a family. Still others have reasons that I don't know or could ever understand. I'm at peace with that, and it's their God-given right to refrain from having children until they deem themselves ready.
What I am NOT okay with is the almost systematic persecution of parenthood. We are constantly being portrayed as run-down, miserable and stressed out. We are pitied, patronized or even victimized by others who made the choice to remain childless simply because of the perception that we have no lives other than that which is devoted to soccer games, tantrums or PTA meetings.
When I first had my son, I was treated rather poorly by several childless friends for not "hanging out" the way I used to (read: diners at 3am, or trips to grab sushi within 15 minutes of making the suggestion). I was accused of "not being the same person." I was accused of using my son as an excuse to not be social. *Shakes head* That makes me so angry. Just because these particular people couldn't fathom the joy and fulfillment parenthood brought me, they warped it into something tarnished and disgusting... a chore or a ball and chain they'd never even think to be "stupid enough" to get involved with.
ARGH - that makes me so angry. This despicable thought process is so entrenched... so pervasive in our culture anymore that vasectomies among younger men are becoming trendy. How disgusting is that??? I simply have no words for this, I really don't. It's just more proof to me that Satan has done wonders destroying the sanctity of both marriage and families. We no longer value life, our capacity to share in creating life, nor ourselves as dignified creatures blessed with the gift of Life.
Instead, we're looked upon as fools. It is a sad, sad world we live in anymore. Up truly is down, and right is now wrong. Once again, I fold my hands in prayer for His Will to be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.
So in my conversion process, I've felt rather alienated from my group of friends. Most of them are agnostic or atheist, so any talk about theology from me is met with eye-rolls, patronization or contempt. I've experienced that before, so it's not like it concerns me too much. I have to admit, however, that I had my first semi-awkward conversation regarding my religious beliefs tonight.
I guess with all the hubbub regarding "Gay Marriage Rights" I should have expected this to come about sooner or later. My oldest, dearest friend challenged me with the question of how I could fall in line with Catholic teaching regarding homosexual marriage. That was tough for me, because I felt that "outing" myself as a traditionalist could cause her to lose respect for me. I was worried she'd think that I had lost my mind a bit due to the religious brainwashing us Catholics are always accused of being victim of.
At that same moment, though, I realized that if I wanted to be a true Catholic, I wasn't going to shy away from the tough issues. So off I went. And I did a horrible job, I'm sure. She asked some very valid questions, and made very valid points... the same ones I made not too long ago.
I should explain. For about 4 or 5 years, I dated a bisexual man on and off. He, at the time, was also a very close friend, and he opened my eyes to a lifestyle I never understood much about. I came to know a great number of wonderful people. They were all very kind, intelligent, and - in my mind - sophisticated. As a result, I couldn't accept Church teaching anymore. It didn't make sense to me. In my mind, God loved everyone, made everyone unique, and love was love was love. Two consenting adults who loved each other shouldn't be barred from marriage just because a religion says so. After all, where Love is, God is, right? So even if the love is between two men, two women, or a man and a woman, it stems from God, right?
It took me MANY years to understand the error of my thinking. It took a great deal of humility and a great deal of soul-searching, and honestly, this realization is probably one of the tougher ones I've had to swallow, especially because I have family and friends who subscribe to the homosexual lifestyle.
My thoughts are this, though: The Catholic Church teaches that the act of homosexual sex is sinful because it does not follow the prescribed order God put in place with the creation of man and woman and it cannot participate in the creation of life. Since I believe that the Catholic Church is guided by the Holy Spirit on matters of faith and morals, I believe that God really did ordain this as fact. Thus, who am I to argue with God? I know I certainly don't have better ideas than He. So the best I can do is say, "Okay, God, I accept what you say as Truth, just please help me understand."
So the Holy Spirit let me dangle for a bit before offering this nugget of understanding through meditation. God DOES create us all as unique individuals, with wonderful strengths, wonderful traits, and wonderful gifts. He also creates us with crosses to bear to strengthen us spiritually for the life to come after we leave this world. Maybe, just maybe, homosexuals are born with this cross to bear. I'm not saying they are defective - because they're not. I believe their cross was given not only for them, but for the rest of us as well. Homosexuals would have to lean heavily on Jesus in prayer to deal with their temptations. We, in return, must rely on Jesus to extend our hands in love, acceptance, understanding and prayer to those we incorrectly view as different or "less" than us. Homosexuals and heterosexuals are not different - we simply have different crosses to bear.
After all, it is my firm belief that God knows exactly what obstacles are needed along the path to steer us towards salvation, right? According to Church teaching, homosexuality can be viewed as another cross to bear along the path to salvation - another bend in the road leading us closer to Christ.
However, all of this is from a theological perspective. From a political perspective, I believe that homosexuals should have the same rights granted under law as heterosexuals. What I don't understand, however, is this desire to call it a marriage. Marriage is a religious word. A sacramental word. I don't understand why the term "marriage" even enters the equation other than to gain some sort of universal validity from the religious communities. It is foolish. For folks who are so anti-religion (claiming religions are archaic, backwards, patriarchal, etc), they are awfully set on usurping religious words to validate their own feelings of inadequacy. No matter how many laws are passed, no matter how progressive the world (and even wayward Catholics) become, no matter HOW pervasive the idea of homosexual marriage becomes, it will simply never be valid in the eyes of God and the Church because when God speaks, He speaks Truth, and when the Church echoes that Truth, it cannot be altered or diminished as we echo with the Voice of the Holy Spirit.
So that, in a nutshell, is my belief regarding homosexuality. Same as bisexuality, transgendered folks, etc. Sexuality is soul deep - so regardless of outwards alterations, ceremonies, etc, the soul knows when it is in conflict with its Creator. Thus, even as this country (and now Brazil) moves into a more full acceptance of homosexual unions as "marriages," I must remove myself from my previous mindset and strive to accept and understand, to the small degree that I can, the Will of God.
I was given the task of cleaning my father's garage a few weeks back. I came across a box of Mass cards, graciously given to our family at the passing of my grandfather. I went through each one, marveling at the beautiful pictures and prayers inside. However, after sorting them and stacking them on my table, I wondered:
What am I gonna do with 50+ Mass cards???
So I called a friend of mine, who typically has the answers to all of my random Catholic questions. Her response made me laugh out loud. She said, "Funny you ask. I have a box of Mass cards in the attic from my mother's funeral, and I don't know what to do either!" Ha ha ha. I love it.
So off I went to try my luck online with the various Catholic forums. I got responses ranging from "bury/burn them" to "give them away at your parish." I doubted anyone in my parish would want a used Mass card with my grandfather's name and condolances to my family written in it, so I figured to bide my time and wait for the Holy Spirit to find the answer for me.
Several weeks went by. I began reading a Christian book titled Tortured for Christ, a memoir written by Richard Wurmbrand, a pastor of the Underground Church of Communist Russia. He was kidnapped and imprisoned twice, and somehow lived to tell the tale. His writings opened my eyes to so much, and taught me an extreme lesson in seeing the face of Christ in everyone, even the men beating you daily with vile instruments of torture.
I was moved by his testimony of the Underground Church. He told the story of a village that had a small holy card, ripped and tattered, but loved and venerated with extreme piety. He explained that this small, battered image of Christ was the only one they'd ever seen. It's all they had access to in a time where the government confiscated religious items. So this little village armed itself with this small holy card and the stories and prayers of secret meetings organized by the Underground Church. They kept the love of Christ alive through these small, but heroic acts of faith. I was so touched by this story! I knew then that my homeless Mass cards had found their calling. Thank you, Holy Spirit! You always point the way!
I called the organization that aides the Underground Church - the same organization that Richard Wurmbrand set up the moment he had a chance. It's called Voice of the Martyrs, and their main goal is to provide the Underground Church with necessary items for the faithful... the faithful that live in harsh countries that delight in persecuting the believers of Jesus. I called to make sure they could take and use these Mass cards. The man who took my call was so excited! He exuberantly expressed his gratitude and assured me these cards - even those with the Blessed Mother - would be put to great use. I knew in my heart he spoke the truth. Great graces would be granted through these pictures and prayers, and it made me happy that the Holy Spirit pointed me in the right direction.
I then called my aforementioned friend to let her know we had a use for the Mass cards! So now you know, as well! The address you can send them is below:
Voice of the Martyrs
P.O. Box 443
Bartlesville, OK 74005
ATTN: International Ministries
Look at this beautiful little girl- how in the world could anyone even THINK to perform unnecessary surgery on her gentils and forcing her to then take hormone injections for the rest of her life so she can become a little boy, all so her parents won't have to pay a dowry on her wedding day?
I seriously don't know where to begin with this entry. My mind is all over the place. There was an article I came upon today that tore my sanity to shreds. This article describes the trend of some Indian parents who are willing to pay to turn their young daughters into sons through surgery and hormone injections.
Dear God in Heaven, what are we doing to ourselves??? To our CHILDREN?!
I mean, you can't just cut away a vagina, slap on a penis and expect the physiological, biological, psychological and emotional areas that are completely unreachable with a scalpel to fall in line!
As these young "boys" grow older and begin to have feelings for other boys, does this make them homosexual? Or when they marry other women (themselves being women with an un-consented to masculine yoke) does THIS, in effect, become a sort of "approved" homosexuality?
And what of the problems related to infertility? Already baby girls are being aborted en masse as a result of patriarchal societal pressure - there simply aren't enough women to sustain the population at the current rate. And to take those few remaining gems and mutilate them to "benefit" from male children only worsens the problem!
What will happen, India, when you need to import women? The sex slave trade will only become more prevalent, and even make worse the already horrible problem of children concubines.
How have we, as a race of humans, allowed ourselves to become so selfish... so arrogant... so FOOLISH as to think we are gods, capable of creating and destroying and altering life as we see fit? Do we really think there are no consequences to our actions? Do we really think that destroying our dignity in such vile, irreversible ways will go unnoticed?
Dear God, I truly pray for your 2nd Coming. We need You to dispel the darkness that covers our eyes, ears and hearts. We willingly give our souls over to Hell, and only solidify our damnation with each step we take. Come to us, Holy Spirit, and open our eyes to the horrors we are forcing upon our children. Don't let us stand idly by as satan gleefully pushes us off the precipice into the abyss. Save us, Merciful Jesus, and hide us in Your Wounds. Pour out your Mercy, so that we may be cleansed in the sight of the Father.
OH! And before I forget, I need to point out that this little blessing was granted to me on the Feast of Corpus Christi!!!
I have to express thanks for the unique favor I received at Mass this morning. In addition to taking the veil, I've made it a point to always receive the Blessed Sacrament from the consecrated hands of a priest.
In my research travels, I've come to believe that accepting the Body of Jesus into my hands is simply not proper. I am unworthy to accept Him at all, let alone touch His Body with my hands. Only a priest, whose hands have been consecrated for the precise purpose of caressing the Host for Eucharistic dispersment, have been deemed worthy enough as they've been hand-chosen by Jesus, Himself. In fact, Pope John Paul II put it quite nicely in his Pastoral Letter, Inaestimablile Donum. On accepting the most Sacred Body of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament he writes:
The Holy Eucharist is the gift of the Lord, which should be distributed to laymen through the intermediation of Catholic priests who are ordained especially for this work. Neither is it permitted that the Consecrated Host and Chalice be taken or given into the hands of the faithful.
He goes on later, in the same Letter, to state:
The faithful, whether religious or lay, who are authorized as extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist can distribute Communion only when there is no priest, deacon or acolyte; when the priest is impeded or advanced by age; or when the number of faithful going to Communion is so large as to make the celebration of Mass excessively long. Accordingly, a reprehensible attitude is shown by those priests who, though present at the celebration, refrain from distributing Communion and leave this task to the laity!
This echos St. Aquinas' teachings that out of reverence towards this Presence, the touching and administrating of the Eucharist belongs only to priest. After Vatican II, when this practice started gaining popularity in Europe, Pope Paul VI had to issue an Instruction titled Memoriale Domine. In it, he again states that Communion is to be given by priests to the laity on their tongue, NOT in the Protestant manner of accepting in the hand. Unfortunately, Bishops did not obey this (even though many decried administering Eucharist into the hands), and as a result, it became widespread and "legalized" (for lack of a better word).
In fact, I posed a question about this to my Catholic friends not too long ago. All of them were taught at their 1st Communion to accept in the hand. Not a one of us was taught to accept on the tongue. This is a tragedy! How can we say we believe that the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus is present in the Host if we can't even show proper respect to His Presence? And just as Popes and Bishops warned, this practice has led to a complete lack of reverence for Christ! This practice has led to a disillusionment regarding the entire concept of transubstantiation (Christ is present, Body, Soul and Divinity, within the Host)!!!
Oh, when I understood what I was doing by accepting God so unworthily, I went to confession and wept. I literally wept. Poor Father must've thought I was insane, but I could not control the absolute grief I felt upon realizing how poorly I had been treating the God of the Universe. Even now I cringe at the memory.
Anyway, as a result of this newfound realization, I made it a point to always accept the Eucharist from a priest, and always on the tongue. It seemed to me, however, that every time I'd be situated where I thought Father would distribute, he'd surprise me by going to the opposite end of the Church. So I'd have to find my way over to his line, and I know he took notice of this (we're a small parish). After a few weeks of me doing this, I began to get the feeling that he thought I was being ridiculous, so I became very self-conscious. This past weekend, we had a baptism at our Mass. Every time there is a Baptism, I've noticed Father being sure to lead the line near the Baptismal font (I think so he can be sure to give special attention to the families of our newest arrivals!). So I made sure to sit on that side of the Church.
Don't you know at Communion time, he's on the OPPOSITE SIDE?! I actually looked up and said, "Okay, Jesus, is this your way of telling me that it really is OK to accept the Eucharist from a minister?" So I get into the line, against better judgement, and kept looking over at Father's line across the Church. I couldn't focus properly on who I was about to receive because I had this awful feeling in the pit of my stomach. I really felt like what I was doing was wrong. It was torture!
Here's where my little blessing comes in. I had one person in front of me, about to accept the Eucharist when Father Piotr popped up in our line. Apparently his line had suddenly ended, so he came over to help with our side (which had significantly more people due to the family of the baptized infant). Just in time for ME!!!
I immediately accepted Jesus with a heart more thankful than words can ever express. I know in my soul Jesus was telling me I was to accept Him from a priest, and I truly believe He gave me this grace because I was struggling with the issue of obedience (if the Church allows it, then who am I to place myself above it's authority?). Oh, Jesus, you are so kind to me. Thank you for your Holy Spirit's guidance. I promise to always seek out a priest, even if he does think I'm a little looney. I do this for love of You - true Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. Help us to rekindle the reverence Your Divinity demands. Amen, amen, amen! I love You, I love You, I love You!
I can't help but pass this one around. Enjoy!!!
Okay, so I came across this video today courtesy of a friend of mine. At first, I was a little upset that the Monstrance was placed on the ground in a bag (ugh!), but after watching it to the end, and seeing several people really be touched by the adoration... I felt it was worth it. Jesus is always willing to condescend Himself for our benefit, and I believe that's what He allowed through this unique public adoration opportunity.
Even those who walked away baffled or annoyed... a seed was planted. Who knows when it will begin to sprout?
Keep an eye out for the little boy in a yellow hoodie towards the front - he looks so happy to be a part of the adoration. And the woman at the end who is so thankful for the chance to adore. How wonderful!
I wasn't sure what to write about tonight... so when in doubt, write about the Blessed Mother! :)
About a year and a half ago, my good friend, Frank, e-mailed me the picture to your right. The picture is of a stained glass window located in a seminary-turned-prep-school that was built in 1909.
As you can see, it's quite unique. In fact, I've never seen anything like it in all my travels. The Blessed Mother is holding the Eucharist Host and Chalice while the Holy Spirit (in the form of a Dove) hovers above her halo.
Now I don't know about you, but I've only ever seen the Blessed Mother holding the Child Jesus (who in turn holds the Eucharist). This depiction is very "priest-like" at first glance. I became so intrigued that I began hunting down who commissioned the window, why they chose this pose, and if there was any other example of this "set-up" anywhere else in the world! To make a long story short, no one was able to really help. I went to priests, figured out where the window was created (they weren't helpful with info - at all), and spoke with a few theologians who were all just as baffled by this depiction as me.
Fast forward a year and a half later, and I come across Pope John Paul II's ECCLESIA DE EUCHARISTIA. Chapter Six deals solely with the Blessed Mother's vital part in bringing the Eucharist into being. She was, in fact, the VERY FIRST TABERNACLE. When she said "Fiat" to God, she accepted into her womb the physical presence of Jesus. That is why when we say "Amen" after the priest says "The Body of Christ" we echo Mary's original, trusting acceptance of this doctrine of faith.
As she made her way to visit her pregnant cousin, Elizabeth, she in effect became the VERY FIRST EUCHARIST PROCESSION! She was a living monstrance and through her, the Presence of God could be felt. This is why both Elizabeth, and the child she carried within her (St. John the Baptist) were overcome with joy as the Blessed Mother approached. Oh how beautiful that first greeting must have been. "Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb!" Indeed, St. Elizabeth, indeed!
All of the sudden, the stained glass window came to mind. This realization was a kiss from the Holy Spirit. The Blessed Mother wasn't being portrayed as a priest. She was being portrayed as the original bearer of the Most Holy Eucharist! She was being depicted in her role as the Mother of the Eucharist! Oh, what a beautiful and wonderful gift to understand this! To think I had never given the Blessed Mother's role in the Most Holy Eucharist a thought! Shameful! But this grace is a blessing as my participation in the Eucharist will always echo the Blessed Mother's "fiat" in a more profound way.
I'm so thankful for this that I'll post another picture, this time of the Blessed Mother depicted more concretely as the 1st Tabernacle of Christ... the first Eucharistic Procession. Fiat!
One of the hallmarks of my conversion is what my husband calls "the uniform." Since converting back to the Church, I've adopted the tradition of the chapel veil, and dress much more modestly in the Presence of the Sacrament. For me, it is a personal reminder of my submission to Jesus, and a constant reminder to behave in a manner fitting a daughter of God.
I came across this practice through my research into Marian apparitions. It dawned on me that the Blessed Mother never really appears without her own veil. In all her apparitions, she's veiled - after all, she's ALWAYS in the Presence of God, right? So in my mind, it makes sense that anytime I'm to be in the Presence of God in the Holy Eucharist, my head is to be veiled like the Blessed Mother. Far be it from me to place myself above her example, right?
So I did some research on veiling. A lot of people seem to think that Vatican II "got rid of" the tradition. That simply isn't true. What IS true, however, is that Msgr. Annibale Bugnini (secretary for the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship at the time) was asked if women would still be required to cover their heads at Mass. Msgr. Bugnini answered that veiling wasn't being discussed during the Council. Somehow, several journalists took that to mean that women didn't have to veil anymore, and printed their findings to the glee of "feminists" everywhere. By the time Msgr. Bugnini demanded a retraction based on the manipulation of his words, it was too late. Women, confused by what they'd read and heard, stopped veiling.
Vatican officials have gone on record stating that no change was ever made to the discipline of veiling, yet the damage was done - women stopped veiling and it became seen as a gesture that demeaned women. Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth!
Dr. Alice von Hildebrand, a Catholic philosopher and theologian, states it best:
However, when I began to veil, I felt a bit self-conscious. I didn't want others to think I was being "holier-than-thou-art." I wanted so much for this to be my own humble, outward sign of my humility and graciousness towards the Lord. Plus, as I stated above, the veil truly does help me keep focus and gently reminds me to act in a way more pleasing to God. But as they say - if you feel a calling from God to manifest His Glory in some small way, who cares what others think? Shamefully, I still care, but I try to push those thoughts out of my mind and offer the mortification to God just the same.
So far, I'm the only one in my parish that I've seen veil. Once, when traveling to another parish, I saw another veiled woman who was about my age. My heart leapt at the realization that I wasn't the only one! Ha ha. I've been lucky enough to find other women online who also felt the same calling and it's nice to know I'm not the only one.
But I'm curious if there are any others out there! Thoughts? Would you veil? Would you veil if you saw others veiling? What do you think of women who veil?
So there's a new game in the Facebook world for those interested in the Catholic Faith. It's called Vatican Wars (click the link for details) and challenges gamers to tackle hot-button topics like abortion, the death penalty and homosexuality.
What I find incredibly entertaining is the data compiled through the testing phase (when Vatican Wars was referred to as "Priestville"). Several respondants who played felt that the game had re-established their faith in some way - going to Mass more frequently, feeling the call to the priesthood, etc. So they're pushing forward with the game as a tool for apologetics, I guess? Interesting!
I dunno how I feel about it, though. The point is to debate and better understand Church teaching, I guess, but leaving things open-ended without a proper moderation to the varying understandings of the faithful (who probably never picked up actual teachings of the Church) could lead to widespread confusion.
I like the idea of a Catholic game, but I dunno if I like the idea of this particular format. Plus, allowing the misspellings of words like "Bishop" or "Priest" to denote female players kind of bothers me. I'm not implying, mind you, that women shouldn't play, I'm just again slightly concerned about the confusion that this sort of thing could lead to.
Plus, I note that it's not actually created (or even approved) by anyone even remotely related to the Catholic Church, so methinks this isn't really an attempt to teach so much as make money.
I'm curious to hear from folks who have played this game. Until I open it myself, I'm not going to have a well-informed opinion.
I started playing the game to get a feel for what it's all about. I honestly have no idea how this could help anyone with their faith or wanting to go to Mass. Much like other game apps on Facebook, this is simply a means to an end, and that end is money. Blah - that's a total bummer.
Anyway, the game presents itself much like any other RPG. You choose a side (Templar for conservatives, Crusader for the liberals). From there, you choose your belief system, focusing on five hot button issues - abortion, heterosexual marriage, birth control, women as priests and celibacy for priests.
These issues don't really get "debated" in the debate section. When you debate, much like most RPGs, your basically comparing you're "integrity" and "charisma" to another person's. Whoever has higher numbers "wins" the debate. That doesn't sound like a debate to me in the slightest.
Then we have those lovely "gold" coins with which you can buy your integrity / charisma points. Not very Christian, if you ask me. Ha ha! Anyway, you can also earn these gold coins, but it takes forever and in the end, it's simply not worth it when you realize there are actually folks purchasing (with real money) hundreds of coins so they can continue "winning" debates to move ahead in the game. So for those of us who want to play a game without buying our way to victory, we find ourselves using water guns against anti-aircraft missles. It's just ridiculous.
So no - I don't see how this game could possibly lead to a better understanding of our faith at all. I also don't see how it'd entice folks to attend Mass or do readings on their own. The only plus I can see from this is the blurb section they have on the Saint of the Day. The "readings" they give you don't actually have to be read, so you can play the game without ever asking one question about the faith. That seems silly to me.
Plus, now that it's been opened to the forum of Facebook, anti-Catholics abound with names like "Prince of Darkness" or "1st Gay Pope." So while I'm sure it was a good idea in their minds to create something like this, it's garbage. Don't waste your time.
Ugh - I don't even know where to begin with this one.
I am beginning to understand how pride is the root of all evil. In examining my conscience and trying to really uncover the temptations in my life, and the areas that I frequently fall away from God's grace, I've become keenly aware of my pride and arrogance.
I really, truly struggle with this, and I'm not entirely sure how to rid myself of it. I've prayed for humility. I've prayed for strength to combat these arrogant, prideful notions. I'm just really struggling.
There is a story I once read as a child. It was the story of Garabandal. Mari Cruz, a young child blessed with the visions of the Blessed Mother, angrily disobeyed her mother by following the other seers to pray in the rain. I believe her mother was trying to keep her home both to protect her from the crowds and the elements. As punishment for her transgression, Mari Cruz did not receive visions of the Blessed Mother again. That story always stuck with me. Unfortunately, I didn't pay proper attention to it, even though the moral gnawed at my heart.
I was a disobedient child. Very intelligent, very witty, but very arrogant. I felt that because I was so smart and clever, I could handle myself the way I saw fit. I disregarded almost every rule my mother set forth because it didn't make logical sense to me. Now, after so many years of inner reflection, I understand how greatly I displeased the Blessed Mother by creating such trouble for my own. As I write that I feel awful. Guilty. Miserable. I want to pick up the phone and immediately call my mother to tell her I'm sorry, but pride stops me. Why? Just because we have a good relationship now doesn't absolve me of my past grievances with her.
I understand now that I could have used those times of discourse as a means to learn patience, humility and obedience. I still feel that my mother was wrong to request certain things of me, but it was doubly wrong of me to go against her wishes. St. Faustina in her writings explains that sometimes God presents us with these unfair challenges in order to help us grow in virtues we lack. Also, we are given the opportunity to offer these sacrifices in union with Christ for the conversion of sinners. Oh, that I turned away from this opportunity so many times...
My pride did not stop there. I would get (and still do get) involved in affairs that are no business of mine. My husband may be right that I get pleasure out of telling others how to live their lives, but who am I? I can't properly find the path myself let alone point it out to others. I am more miserable than they, yet I delight in their confusion because it directs light away from my own. Patience and humility will overcome my pride with the help of the Holy Spirit. Oh, Holy Spirit, help me learn those virtues true!
I know I'm tardy to the party, but I felt I needed a few days to digest everything. I think Fr. Corapi's an amazing priest who has a true gift for preaching and teaching the Gospel. However, this whole "Black Sheepdog" business is getting ridiculous. A single question keeps resounding in my mind, and I can't shake it. The question is simple: Fr. Corapi, do you understand the pain you cause Jesus and His Most Blessed Mother with your pride?
You have been blessed with an abundance of Grace. God hand-picked you, plucking you from your life of misery, calling you to shepherd His people towards His Mercy. You are so knowledgable, so charismatic! You seem to forget, however, that these are gifts that have been granted to you by the Holy Spirit... not for your own glorification, but for the glorification of God. You, my good priest, have been placed on such a high pedestal by those who have clung to your words. Fr. Corapi, these words are not YOURS. They came from the Holy Spirit. You were chosen worthy among so many others to bring the Light of God... the Light of His Mercy... into the hearts of the Church. And now, because your ego has been bruised, you turn away from these gifts. You turn away from these graces that have been so abundantly poured out on you! You stifle the Light within your own heart because you think you can "go it alone."
Dear, dear Father Corapi, you are nothing without the Church. How do you not understand that the frustrated words you speak are spoken against your own Lord? How do you not understand that He felt the pain of your betrayal as He bore His Cross up to Calvary? Fr. Corapi, I assure you, Jesus was clearly thinking of you, too, when He bowed His Sacred Head and begged His Father for forgiveness. The Blessed Mother weeps for the pain inflicted upon Her Son's Precious Body... for the pain inflicted upon His Sacred Heart. You have been entrusted with so much, and you turn away for what? PRIDE?
Please, Fr. Corapi, let me remind you that Jesus was accused of far worse as they beat and scourged His Flesh. Let me please remind you that Jesus stood accused in front of the very same people who laid palm branches at His Feet not a week earlier. Let me remind you that He bore the shame, the hurt, the humility and the indescribable pain in silence... accepting only the Will of the Father for the Salvation of Mankind.
If these allegations be false, Father Corapi, then accept the method of His Church - YOUR Church - and patiently have faith that all is the Will of the Father. Padre Pio and Saint Faustina are perfect examples of how God sometimes uses such extremes of humility to bring about His Glory. Take heed, dear Father, take heed. Offer these sacrifices for the conversion of souls... for those in Purgatory... for the intentions of the Pope! No suffering allowed by the Lord is in vain. All is for His Will and the Salvation of souls.
If these allegations be honest, Father Corapi, then accept the Mercy of God and once again be an example to all of us that Mercy can be obtained through a contrite and resolute heart.
But please, Father Corapi, halt your assault on your Bride. She is your Church, and you are angrily lashing out against Her for the wrong reasons. Jesus will defend His Bride, just as you, His hand-picked representative, should.
My prayers are with you - and they are with all those who seek to follow you away from Christ. Meditate on the Sorrowful Mysteries, Fr. Corapi. Meditate on Saint Faustina's teachings, on Padre Pio's example. Ask the Holy Spirit for clarity and strength. Do not continue down this road. You are meant for better.
Someone shared a "Eureka" moment with me a few weeks ago regarding the fact that the Mass catches us up into Heaven for a few brief moments. I'd heard that saying before, but it never really struck a chord with me until he quoted the prayer just before we being respond as a congregation with the Holy, Holy, Holy. The end of the prayer is:
"And so, with all the choirs of angels in heaven we join in their unending hymn of praise."
This person highlighted that which I'd been monotonously glossing over for the last 27 years of my life. In our response, the Holy, Holy, Holy, we are joining in with all the angels of Heaven because they are ALWAYS giving praise to God. As Newton so brilliantly wrote for a verse in his Amazing Grace, "When we've been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun; we've no less days to sing God's praise than when we first begun!"
In other words, time is non-existant. It means nothing as all praise is continuous. During the Mass, we just enter into this timeless loop of praise to give thanks and glory to God the Father through His Son, Jesus, in union with the Holy Spirit. That's why the Mass is the same Mass regardless of when / where it occurs.
Jesus died once for us on Calvary, and each subsequent "remembrance" of that sacrifice is a repackaging of His Sacrifice so that all may take part in His Salvation. At Consecration, we are witnesses to Christ's Death and Resurrection. The Body and Blood are separate, which is the physical sign of His Death. When the priest drops a piece of the now Consecrated Host into the now Consecrated Wine (His True Body and Blood), we bear witness to His Resurrection (keep your eyes peeled - this happens at every Mass!). Accepting the Eucharist is accepting the Divine Body of our Risen Lord, and to understand that this praise and thanksgiving is continuous is a mystery that never hit home until this wonderful man pointed it out to me.
So when I was at Mass for the Solemnity, I was blessed to remember this little Eureka moment, and when the time came to sing the Holy, Holy, Holy, I closed my eyes and asked that I be transported to Heaven to offer my singing in union with theirs. My heart was so full of love and praise that I was sure I'd burst. I didn't, luckily, so I was able to participate in the Eucharist. Ha ha! What a wonderful moment that was. It was a kiss from Heaven! I hope to always keep that knowledge within my heart during the Mass.
While I was at Mass tonight, I picked up some literature on Saint Gianna. Ever since hearing her story, I've felt a great fondness for her selflessness. I always told my husband that if it were my life vs. the baby's, he should choose the baby over me without hesitation. So in Saint Gianna I find an example who not only spoke such sentiments, but lived and died by them.
I can't even imagine the inner struggle she must have felt knowing that she'd be leaving four small children behind. The thought of leaving my own son behind is heartbreaking on many levels. But to have true faith and trust in God that you are willing to turn over your most precious gems to His Will... that is the kind of faith I wish to have. That is the kind of trust I wish to place in the Lord at all times. Oh, Saint Gianna... help me to live by your example faithfully. Help me to hand over all fear to Him, instead relying on His Mercy and Goodness to set my heart at ease.
The theme of my conversion has been acceptance and obedience to God's Divine Will. In my "Conversion Rosary" that I speak of below, I came to understand what the complete acceptance of God's Plan with humility means. From the Agony in the Garden ("Not My Will but Thine") to the Crucifixion itself... what lengths Jesus took His Humanity (and His Divinity) in teaching us acceptance and obedience to God's Divine Will! What lengths the Most Blessed Mother went to in walking that path with her Son! It is a lesson my proud and arrogant heart needs constant reminders of.
In addition to my meditation on the Rosary, I felt a strong calling to read the Diary of Saint Faustina. Most of her life was a complete submission to God's Will. In her I find my deepest understanding of obedience in the Eyes of God. He would purposely request things from her that her superiors would refuse. She would become so upset, but she learned this was God's way of instilling in her a perfect obedience. She wished to follow God's Will in her time and in her way, but God wished her to follow His Will in His time in His manner through His representatives. Thus, through St. Faustina, God taught me how much I should honor the rule of obedience, and how much more I should honor, through obedience, those representatives He chooses for His Church.
So again - why a broken fiat? As I've now explained, my entire conversion hinges on accepting and obeying God's Divine Will. Fiat, in Latin, means "Let it be done." Those familiar with the story of the Annunciation may find those words familiar. "Fiat" is what the Blessed Mother said to the Angel Gabriel when he asked if she'd be willing to accept her role as Mother of God, fully understanding all the suffering that would extend from that. She said, "Fiat" or "Let it be done to me according to your word." Her fiat was perfect. She was perfect.
I am broken. My fiat is broken as a result. I am broken due to my own pride and arrogance. I cling selfishly to my own desires and as a result, my understanding of God's Will is clouded and disregarded. I must learn to subjugate myself to His Will and His Will alone, trusting fully as a child trusts her mother. This is a difficult task for someone like myself, proud of my independence and arrogant with knowledge. Yet though I think I have knowledge, true wisdom comes from the Holy Spirit... and I have a long ways to go before I can ever be wise. Though I think I am independent, God has given me the graces to step foot in this world and move about freely. I am nothing without God, and I need to truly understand this in order to accept His Will as my own.
So that... that is why I offer my broken fiat. I am a work in progress. A miserable work, but a work nonetheless. And though I will fall along the way, though I may sin more often than rays of sunlight pierce the earth, I will continue to model my fiat after that of the Blessed Mother, trusting ever in the Mercy of God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I will offer my broken fiat as a child offers dandelion weeds to her mother, in the hopes that God takes pity on my offering and through Jesus, makes it perfectly pleasing in His Eyes.
Where to begin? I have been away from the Church for an awfully long time. I was born and raised a Catholic, and was encouraged to take part in various Catholic activities (Bible Camp, becoming altar server, sacristan, etc). I was taught a love and reverence for my faith and the God of that faith. In a special way, I was devoted to the Blessed Mother. Even in my most sinful moments, I could feel her maternal presence gently beckoning me towards grace.
At some point in High School, I became ashamed of my sins. So ashamed, in fact, that I turned from the Church and made excuses as to why I shouldn't attend Mass. I wasn't worthy, I thought. That opened the door for doubts to seep in. Did I even believe this stuff that had been taught to me all my life? Did the Catholic Church really have the authority to tell me how to live my life? Pfft - I was a teenager. Of COURSE the Church had no say. I was Queen of my own World, and I could pray to God without the help of stuffy old guys who didn't know the first thing about what it was like to live in my world!
So off I went on my own, though not totally, as I still carried with me my devotion to the
Blessed Mother, special saints, and my belief in certain aspects of the faith. I turned a blind eye to those evils that I openly tolerated- even fostered. I was enjoying life, but I admit there was always a persistent loneliness. Something deep was missing, and though I knew the Church was where I belonged, I ignored my lamenting heart and persisted in my foolishness.
God was good, though. At the crucial time that I walked away from Him, He sent someone who would become my 1st Spiritual Director. I didn't realize it at the time (in fact, it was only recently that it dawned on me), but she was the life-preserver that the Blessed Mother tossed my way in an attempt to draw me back from the waves of sin that engulfed every aspect of my life. I am eternally grateful. It may have taken over 10 years of her constant guidance and prayer, but I can undoubtedly say she was a driving force in pulling my soul back to the Church. So thank you, God, for your Mercy and Wisdom in sending her to me, and thank you, too, Blessed Mother, as I know your intercession for me helped secure that grace for my soul.
This year, during Lent, as I was researching one of the multitude of Marian apparitions she described to me, I hit on a particular message. I won't relay which, but suffice to say the Blessed Mother asked repeatedly for the Rosary to be said. So, to honor the Blessed Mother's wishes, I dusted off a Rosary (which I haven't prayed in YEARS) and gave it a go. I had to have a booklet open the whole time - that's how long it's been since I've prayed the Rosary.
Anyway, in that one Rosary (specifically the Sorrowful Mysteries in accordance with Lent), I was converted back to the Church - I call that one Rosary my "Conversion Rosary." I can't describe it, but the emotions that flooded me during the recitation and meditations were so strong that I couldn't close my heart to His Love. The next few days passed in a flurry of research. I read about traditions I'd cast aside. I delved into dogma and practices that have been forgotten by many Catholics. I went to my "Spiritual Director" with question upon question upon question, constantly seeking a greater understanding so that I might live in total obedience to the Catholic Church (and as such, Jesus Christ). I prayed - hard - for guidance and mercy. I picked up audio CDs from my local Church so I could hear sermons and presentations given by our most respected theologians. My insatiable desire to better understand and share my Catholic faith was immense! Padre Pio wasn't kidding when he called the Rosary "The Weapon." Sheesh!
But now, here I am, and I am attempting to mend my broken fiat. I wish to say "Yes" to God's Divine Will always, to glorify and praise His Merciful and Holy Name, but I've come to find myself lacking in so many ways. So here I am. I will share my broken fiat with you in the hopes that all of us, together, can send Him our imperfect offerings through His Son, the Perfect Offering, in the hopes that He make them unbroken and perfect in the Sight of His Father.
When I was in 3rd grade, I came across a mustard yellow book during library time. I hated the color yellow, but something about the hard cover and musty pages caught my attention. I didn't bother bringing the book back to my seat, I just opened it and began to read. It was the story of Saint Germaine Cousin.
Within those pages I felt her story take hold of my heart. She was deformed... ugly. Her family hated her and casted her away from their love. She had no friends, and relied only on the mercy of Jesus and His Most Blessed Mother. In her loneliness and exile, she found peace and happiness that few could understand.
I felt one with this saint. My own family had rejected me, and I felt ugly and deformed. I wasn't popular and had only one constant friend, who at the time was also rejecting me. In the midst of my childish sorrows, I had asked the Blessed Mother to adopt me and care for me since no one else would. In answering my heartfelt request, she sent me Saint Germaine, my patroness and my sister-soul who would forever be my constant friend.
Though I've been away from the Catholic Church for many years, I haven't been far from Saint Germaine or the Blessed Mother. Their constant intercession has been the tether to my faith... a beacon in the storm of my sin. I recognize this and cling to their examples of what "fiat" means: Pure humility, joyful and patient acceptance of suffering, and steadfast love of and trust in God's Will.
So it is with the Blessed Mother and Saint Germaine in mind that I open this blog. I ask that they be my constant examples, that they continue to exercise their powerful intercession for the conversion of my heart, and that they pray in a special way for the Holy Spirit to utilize my words for His Will.
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