Feb 11, 2016

How Well Do You Know Jesus?

That is a hard question. Jesus is so far beyond human knowledge that we couldn't possibly know him as well as we'd like. I think that I know only the tiniest amount and that there is so much more to learn.

A few years ago, I went on my first silent retreat. It was such a moving experience. In the middle of nowhere with no one to talk to and nothing to distract, I spent a lot of time getting to know Jesus. And he told me many things I didn't want to hear. Things I had been avoiding because I didn't want to acknowledge that I needed to change.

This year I am going to try to find the time to go on retreat again. I need that time away from everything to refocus and reconnect in a meaningful way. Time to talk to Jesus and discover what he wants me to do. Frankly, I'm pretty bad at directing my life. I choose the wrong things, make the wrong decisions. I have so much more peace when he's in charge.

Feb 10, 2016

A Time Of New Beginnings

Today is the first day of Lent. It's a chance to make a fresh start. To wash away everything that has happened in the past and begin anew. Tonight at Mass, I distributed ashes and communion. It was the first time that I distributed ashes. I was moved by how beautiful it was. "From ashes you came and to ashes you shall return". It really sunk in when I was placing those ashes on the elderly who would, much sooner than myself, return to ashes.

For Lent, I am using Rediscovering Jesus as my guide. Today's theme is New Beginnings.

The question for today is: In what area of your life is God inviting you to experience a new beginning?

There are so many areas of my life that need new beginnings. My life in general has just slipped backwards. So, this Lent I am starting my life again from scratch. Not totally from scratch. I still have my same job, the same place to live, the same relationships and the same bad habits.

But, I will have a new attitude, a new sense of purpose and a chance to correct the things I've done.

I will put more focus on my prayer life and find the peace and clarity that I once had.

I will listen to God and practice patience with regards to my personal relationships.

I will give control over to God and accept that his plan for me is greater than any I could come up with myself.

Today, I put a renewed effort into saying my Morning and Evening prayers. To really take the words to hard and not rush through them just to get them over.

I put a renewed effort into offering everything I do for God's benefit. Being mindful to act in accordance with his wishes rather than my own.

I put in a renewed effort to draw closer to Jesus. To repair the relationship we once had.

Feb 6, 2016

Time For Some Changes

Recently, I was talking with a friend who gave me a wake-up call. I had let myself be led into temptation and reverted back to habits that I had thought were gone forever. The sad thing is, that in someways I knew that it was happening, but I chose to ignore the little voice in my head that was screaming at me. That little voice screamed until I no longer heard it.

With Lent only days away, it's time that I repaired my relationship with God. I'm not exactly sure how I could ever make up for the things I've done. I have always struggle with believing that I should be forgiven. I chose to do things that I knew were bad and I deserve to suffer the consequences. Even if that means spending eternity in Hell. I know that God can forgive anything, but I don't know if I want forgiven.

A few years ago, at a retreat, I talked with a priest who advised me that I was making my own hell. I was separating myself from God by not asking for Him for forgiveness. It made sense, but it didn't make it any easier. What I needed to learn was to forgive myself for my mistakes and that was very hard to do.

Unfortunatly, I fell back into that thought pattern and little by little, with each act of sin, I pulled farther and farther away from God. I no longer feel him so closely as I had before. He sits on the sidelines keeping an eye on me, but He's no longer the one I seek to spend time with.

Once I've done my penance, I will begin the work of cleaning out the bad things that have been building up in my life. Replacing the bad habits with ones of prayer. Relearning to hear that little voice that reminds me to do good and screams at me when I am not. I need to separate myself from those things and people that lead me into temptation and make me forget my commitment to God.

I need to spend less time on idle pastimes and more time at Eucharistic adoration and Mass and in prayer. I need to make things right.

Sep 18, 2014

Trust In God

I can't believe I haven't posted since February. Where has the year gone?

Formation has been advancing nicely. We're just finishing up Story of a Soul, which is one of my favorite books. I own the Audible version and 3 other versions. And the movie...Therese by Leonardo Defilippis. And a number of other books about or by St. Therese. It is facinating to read her letters. Everything was "little" then.

I hadn't heard of St. Therese until about 10 years ago when I finally got curious about who Mother Angelica was talking about. She mentioned "the little flower" quite often. I finally looked her up and fell in love with her little way. It was several years before I was introduced to the other Carmelite saints. All of which have their own appeal.

Her innocent look on life made me feel like that was something I could do. It didn't require any special knowledge or indepth understanding of theology. It just required one to trust in God. I could do that. Or so I thought.

Putting trust in God is much harder than it seems, but I've been working on it. There is a tendency to want to take control. How else will things get done if you don't do them yourself? Every time I take things into my own hands, they usually turn into disasters. For example, when I was looking for a job, I applied to everything that came along and every one of those potential jobs ended in failure. I couldn't understand it. I had the education and experience. Nothing panned out. I finally just threw my hands up and turned it over to God. I ended up with 2 jobs and several more job offers. One of those jobs is my current job at the place I was originally laid off from. God had a plan. I just needed to let him do his thing.

This job won't last forever, so I'm working on building my freelance writer business to support me. I am trying (keyword = trying) to leave it in God's hands to lead me where he wants to go. This might work better if I was a better listener and had some patience. But, I'm not and I don't, so it's a struggle. Lucky for me He is always there nudging me in the direction he wants me to go.

Feb 11, 2014

This Little Light of Mine I'm Gonna Let It Shine

Last fall I took on teaching religious ed. My class is a rambunctious bunch of 1st graders who, much to my disappointment, are very smart. I thought that by teaching 1st grade I would have it easy. Well, I thought wrong.

They come up with some of the most difficult questions to answer. Like, "How does grass grow?" and "Why can't men have babies?" I'm just not intellectually equipped to know how grass grows and I'm not touching the men having babies thing. Not with 1st graders anyway. I have no desire to get stoned by parents.

My 1st graders are so much fun, though. They are filled with energy and that innocents that is gone in older kids. At around 7 years old, they still have an interest in church and God and praying and being good. They accept that there is a right and wrong, a good and bad. It's such a nice change from the many adult Catholics who don't care what the church teaches.

I hope that I am passing on more than just information about our faith. I hope that I am passing on my love and commitment to God as well. I pray that when they get older, that love of God will burn just as bright as it does now.

Jan 5, 2014

We Three Kings Are Buried In Symbolism

This Christmas season, I have learned so many new things. Such as, it's been six months since I last posted (oops). And that there is meaning tied to the three gifts of the wise men. Here all this time, I just thought they were just expensive gifts. Guess I should have sung more than just the first couple verses of "We Three Kings" all these years. 

In formation, I'm reading "The Story of A Soul". I've read this book before (multiple translations), seen the movie, and listened to the audio version. Each time, something new pops out at me. Someday I hope to be able to live so at peace with giving over all control of my life to God as she did.

I was listening to the last part of the audiobook while I was researching Myrrh and something jumped out at me. Therese was describing the blood she was coughing up as a good thing. It wasn't a sad affair where she was afflicted by her illness. To her it was a blessing, a sign from God that he was calling her to him. If she lived today, her illness would be treated and she would have lived for many more years. I wonder how much we may have lost if she had not felt called to God's side.

In our modern world, we see illness as something horrible. Something that needs to be cured at all cost. We don't embrace death, but rather curse it and try everything possible to keep it at bay. How weak of faith we are to hold on so tight to things of this world. We should not forego finding cures for illnesses, but we should neither be afraid to leave this world, for what awaits us is so much better if we align ourselves with God.

If we had been there in Bethlehem some 2000 years ago, would we have accepted all of the gifts that the wise men brought? Or would we have pushed away the myrrh because it was a symbol of death? I'll admit I'd be a little freaked out if some magi predicted the death of my son, but I think I would accept it. We all die after all. I just don't think I would be quite so excited about death as Therese, though. But, then she is a saint and I am a long...long...long ways from where she was when she wrote "The Story of A Soul".