Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday Reflection. By: C.C.

"Good Friday is the condition of Easter Sunday. The Crown of Thorns is the condition of the halo of light. The scourged body is the condition of the glorified body. You die with him, you rise with him. In other words, he conquered pain by using it as a means of attaining glory." (Ven. Fulton Sheen)

   God's love for us is most understood by the Cross. This radical gesture of self denial and complete sacrifice is one that we can only begin to partially understand. These words from Sheen are those in which we relate to by the very fact that we have been born within a time that allows us to know the joy of Easter Morning and the attainment of glory.
  Today we are all called to remember and acknowledge the unimaginable sight, sounds, and emotions that plagued those who witnessed what our Lord endured. We are called to stand at the foot of the Cross. 
    The Crucifixion of Jesus is very difficult and painful for us to fathom. The sufferings He experienced are those beyond our own human understanding. There is a part of us that wishes to look away from this event as we battle to accept and fully understand what this Cross demands of us in our lives. Rather than looking at the demands, we must also recognize why He took the Cross to begin with and what it means for each of us.
     Through the Cross we come to know love; God's love for each of us despite us. We come to recognize this unconditional love. We see that through the Cross Jesus truly did hope to free those who loved him, those who judged him, and those who did not know him.
  As we continue to journey toward Easter Sunday may we pause and take the time to reflect upon what this event would have been like for Christ's first followers. Place yourself there beside Our Lady, and beside our Lord. (C.C.)

"Jesus, remember me when you come into Kingdom"(Luke 24:32)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Look Down From The Cross. By: C.C.

A Look Down From The Cross.
By: C.C.
It was on Mount Calvary
where I showed my love for thee;
with pain and sorrow
I looked down from the Cross.
Those who loved me,
those who judged me,
all who mourned there
I hoped to free.
And though wounded
my heart grew faithful
for my Father to welcome me;
into His Kingdom
where I would wait for
those who loved me;
in Eternity.
And I see my children struggle.
My followers still cling to me.
I look now down from Heaven
May grace and mercy set them free.
And as I looked down from the Cross
with an act of love for every soul
I ask you now to look toward Heaven
For it is my love that will make you whole.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Full Parking Lot, Tight Seating In Pews- It's Easter Time By: C.C.


    It is easy during this time of our liturgical year to have varying emotions regarding the Easter celebration at our parishes. Similar to the Christmas season there seems to be an abundance of cars in the parking lot and many more seated in pews (and yes, standing against the back walls!).
   The thought of this makes each of us look a littler deeper within ourselves and truly evaluate our hearts. As we consider what it means to follow Jesus, we must also understand what it truly means to be an ambassador of Christ.
Do we show the love by which we are sent? Are we quick to judge and belittle those around us?            
    Regardless of the sentiments that lead many to Mass, it is Our Lord who has placed this desire within every heart. While we may have to give up our self reserved pew space at Mass this Sunday and avoid playing bumper cars in the parking lot- let us return our focus to the Lord and to the message of love by which He was sent to us and died for.
   May we come to see our own unworthiness and find through this humility His abundant love. Let us recognize throughout Holy Week the importance of extending ourselves in love and being able to be true examples of He whom we follow. May we pray for all of our brothers and sisters who have fallen away from the Catholic Church. Let us recognize the power of our witness and faithful walk; remembering our constant need for reform and self sacrifice. 
   After many years away from the Church, I was met by the warm embrace of a parishioner;I knew I had come home, and I have not looked back since. We are His instruments.

"Lord What You Ask Is Difficult". By: C.C.

"To believe in Jesus is to accept what he says, even when it runs contrary to what others are saying. It means rejecting the lure of sin, however attractive it may be, in order to set out on the difficult path of the Gospel virtues." (Bl. Pope John Paul II)

   Blessed Pope John Paul II reminds us in these short lines about the reality of being a follower of Christ in the world. There is such a duality presented to one striving toward holiness in today's society. It seems that almost everything surrounding us from the political atmosphere to ethical standards is presenting a message contrary to the teachings and values of our faith. What does this mean for us?
"To believe in Jesus is to accept what he says, even when it runs contrary to what others are saying" Most of what we as Christians believe in and fight to uphold are things that everything surrounding us claims absurd, outdated, and illogical within our present time. Despite this, we must not lose heart and we must remind ourselves of the Lord's promises. As we draw nearer to Christ we will come to realize that everything pressing against us will soon be met with the mercy of our Lord.   
    It is through accepting what Jesus says that there will also be the grace for us to build virtue as to further love and serve Him. His will is that we love Him, and so it is through Him where we receive the courage and fortitude. 
    Let us recall the lives of our beloved Saints and biblical ancestors and may their witness provide us with a reminder of how we are called to serve Him. Let us also be reminded of God's unconditional love, His mercy and His providence throughout the ages and to this present day. May we cling to this truth as we are faced with things seeking to compromise what we stand for; recognizing that the the path is difficult but it is one of great love. (C.C.)

"He promised to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant.
This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
to set us free from the hands of our enemies,
free to worship him without fear,
holy and righteous in his sight
all the days of our life." (Canticle of Zechariah)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Faith and Responsibility. By: C.C.

"The Lord God has given me a well trained tongue, that I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them. Morning after morning he opens my ear that I may hear; and I have not rebelled, have not turned back. I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; my face I did not shield from the buffets and spitting.
   The Lord God is my help, therefore I am not disgraced; I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame." (Isaiah50:4-7)

    The gift of faith is one to be truly thankful for. Praying for others to receive this grace is also very important. It is crucial that we, the faithful respond to His call by being content to serve Him and to be ambassadors for Christ in all settings.
   As we reflect upon what it means to called we must also recognize the power of having eyes to see, the ears to hear, a mouth that can proclaim the truth, and a heart to love God above all things. With faith comes great responsibility.
  Today's first reading reminds us of how we as children of God should live our faith and respond to the presence of Him within our lives. Isaiah sums up the important truths of being a servant of God amidst the world; facing persecution with perseverance of faith, using our gifts to glorify the Lord, and relying on Him through all of our circumstances.
   In this brief sharing of Isaiah's words one can not help but be moved by the incredible witness of faith that Isaiah exuded. He presents us with an understanding of what it truly means to be a child of God. How often we overlook the fact that it is God who has given all that we have. How often we implore these gifts to serve ourselves and our own agendas selfishly forgetting that "God is our help". 
  Though circumstances surrounding Isaiah and our early prophets may have been much different than what we face today, we are wrong to assume that this surrender and strength belongs solely to our biblical ancestors. The same Lord who called them calls us today. 
     In reading this scripture I could not help but evaluate the ways in which I implore all that He has given me. Let us reflect upon the ways that we use our gifts. Do we speak to the weary? Are our ears attentive to His voice? Do we turn our back to those who "beat" us? And do we persevere in faith with complete reliance on our Lord? 
  Let us not grow weary and let us rejoice for being called.  May we give thanks for knowing Him; and may we never forget the responsibility we have with Faith and the call to Love.
  Lord, we thank you for the gift of faith and the courage to live out Your call daily. Provide us with words to speak so that we can better serve You and reflect Your love in everything we do. Give us the humility and understanding to face persecution with courage. Help us to better understand what it is You have called us to accomplish. We ask for the intercession of the Saints, especially Saint Michael the archangel, and may the mantle of our Blessed Mother Mary protect each of us as we strive to serve her Son. (C.C.)

" This momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison" (2 Cor 4:17)


Monday, March 18, 2013

Setting Our Mind On Things Above: By: C.C.

"How Paul died daily is perfectly obvious. He never gave himself up to a sinful life but kept his body under constant control. He carried death with him, Christ’s death, wherever he went. He was always being crucified with Christ. It was not his own life he lived; it was Christ who lived in him. This surely was a timely death-a death whose end was true life.
I put to death and I shall give life, God says, teaching us that death to sin and life in the Spirit is his gift, and promising that whatever he puts to death he will restore to life again." (St. Gregory of Nyssa )

   To be a follower of Christ is to cease to exist for oneself. It is to begin a journey of complete self surrender; it is truly a call to death. Through this mortification we find true life. To follow Christ is not a means of imprisonment, it is a liberation from all things that burden us. 
     During the Lenten season we are especially called to reflect upon aspects of our lives that hinder our walk with God.We often do not recognize the immensity of things that are burdening us until we are freed from them. Many things that we may have once considered tolerable become the very things we need to be freed from.
      The way in which "Paul died daily" goes beyond an attachment to the external, it was an interior death aimed at purification of heart. This is a call that we too share. As we lead a life striving toward holiness and purity we will repeatedly experience "death" in many ways. We will be faced with the deepest parts of ourselves, taken to places unhealed, and undoubtedly faced with discomfort. It is tempting in these moments to feel that The Lord is far away, and yet, the truth is that He is ever near.
   As our difficulties arise in the spiritual journey it is only by "setting our eyes on things above" that like Saint Paul, we will be able to die to self-- partially understanding the promise of "true life". We do this as a means of recommitting ourselves and to be reminded of the life that we are called to live. Though we can not yet experience this promise of true life in the fullest capacity there will be consolation along the way.
   As we enter more deeply into relationship with the Lord and experience the purifying "fire" we are assured by faith that the hand of our all loving Father is upon us. As we continue to experience death along the journey and the shedding of sin, let us recall that "whatever he puts to death he will restore to life again". Courage! ( C.C.)

(Music Inspired this posting- The Kingdom of Heaven By: Jenny and Tyler

Monday, March 4, 2013

Serving Him "Without Manna & Without Water" By: C.C.

"Do not get upset about the dryness and coldness you are suffering; be consoled in the depths of your heart, remembering the words of our Lord, "How blest are the poor in spirit...Blest are they who hunger and thirst for holiness..." [Mt. 5:3-6] How happy you should be to serve God in the desert, without manna and without water, consoled only by the fact that He is guiding you and you are suffering for Him." (St. Francis De Sales)

    As our spiritual journey moves from consolation to desolation and vice versa, we can often become tired, exhausted, and quite frankly feel that we are "running on empty". It is a battle that presses us beyond the physical measure and into one much more complex. In these moments we are called to "remember the words of our Lord", we are led to reflect upon His promises-- recognizing the blessing in having this hunger and thirst for God to begin with. We can find a resting place amidst all of this through a total surrender to God and His will. Accepting even this temporary time in the "desert without manna and without water" as a blessing.
    Discomfort undoubtedly arises as we are faced with a secular world ready to "gratify" us with promises of pleasure, freedom, and of an "easy" escape. Somehow there is Something that keeps us awake and attentive to the quiet whisper of our Lord. Through faith we carry on. Even when wounded, we still make our way through the desert.
   The Christian journey today may not lead us through the same desert that Jesus and his followers would have walked. For us, the desert that we may travel is one within our very own heart,  our work places, or our family life. Do we reach out to The Lord through our desert experiences recognizing this as our suffering for Him?
   The journey calls for steadfast persistent prayer through all of our circumstances. It calls us to persevere through emotional anguish, recognizing their instability as stumbling blocks to seeking God's will for our lives. As Christians we understand that our true joy and peace is reserved for us in Heaven. It is fitting then that while we live on earth we are faced with challenges, persecution, and often desolation. We must all walk the desert if we long to follow Christ. Consolation can never be constant- this does not mean that we may never know joy on earth, but it does give us the ability to see the gift of our faithful service to Him until we are truly Home. In this way we remain in prayer, hopeful that even amidst our earthly anguish and desert journey that He is with us. The Lord has sent down the Holy Spirit aiding us in prayer and comforting us along the path.
   In all of our moments may we remain steadfast in prayer with the conviction that He indeed hears us, loves us, and journeys with us. Amen (C.C.)

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Paying It Forward: Liebster Award Nominees. By: C.C.

  Recently I was greeted with a surprise nomination for a Liebster award from Stephanie who blogs at " I Found Him Whom My Soul Loves" . Besides having absolutely no idea what this was until she nominated me I was truly humbled to be considered on her list. Stephanie's blog is one that I have enjoyed following since I entered into the Catholic "blog world" in November of 2011. It is nice to journey through our faith and connect with others who are like minded. This post will be unlike the others that I write and I am hoping to take the time to highlight some other bloggers who have been truly inspirational to me. While the award calls for 9 nominees, like Stephanie I will keep things simple and choose 4.
  Below I will respond to questions that Stephanie has asked and also create 11 more for my nominees. ( I am skipping the part of sharing 11 facts about me, because I feel that Steph's questions accomplish that)

Thanks again Stephanie! :)

1. What is your favorite city, state, or country you've ever been to and why?

   - I am definitely torn between two cities that I love very much. The first one I will list is Boston, Ma. I have spent a lot of time there and one of the biggest highlights for me every time I visit is St. Clements Shrine on Boylston St. This parish has 24/7 Adoration and is full of reverence. I highly recommend popping in there if you are ever in that area for Mass or Adoration. The second city I absolutely love is Montreal. I came to love this city much more last year when I chaperoned a grade 7 student trip to the city. I came to learn on a walking tour through old Montreal that it was once called "Ville Marie"!! Now, when I heard this I knew it had to be none other than our Blessed Mother Mary! I asked the tour guide and this began a rather interesting dialogue- he was "agnostic" but, had many lovely Catholic historical facts to share with me as we continued the tour, as well as asking me some intense questions on faith..St. Joseph's Oratory where the heart of St. Andre Bessette rests is a very amazing place to visit also.

2. Who is your favorite musical artist or group?

- There are many I could list to answer this question, but I feel that it is simple to say Bruce Springsteen. Though my music taste is eclectic..Springsteen's music always makes me smile. I appreciate his honest and simplistic songwriting, oh, and he wears a Miraculous Medal which makes me wonder..........

3. What is your favorite Bible verse or passage?

-  Wow! Stephanie, this is a rather difficult question. I would say that the first passage that comes to my mind is Proverb 31.

4. What is your favorite quote?
-  There are too many to list, however, one that says it all is "Pray, Hope, and Don't Worry." (Padre Pio)

5. What is one of your pet peeves?

- Loud casual conversations in the Church.

6. What is most misunderstood about you?

- My faith

7. Who is your favorite Saint and why?

- Once again way too many to list..but, I will have to say that St. Teresa of Avila is one of my "top Saints". I enjoy her writing very much and her simple, yet profound way of sharing the depths of the Catholic faith.

8. What is the scariest or most adventurous thing you've ever done?

- The scariest thing I have done is probably going on a roller coaster. I have a huge fear of heights and this was by far the only thing that comes to my mind.

9. What is your favorite TV show from the '90s?

- I loved "Family Matters"

10. What is your favorite thing to cook? Feel free to include a recipe if you'd like!

- Favorite thing to cook- Anything Italian really, but, I have recently fallen in love with cooking vegetable stir fry.

11. What made you laugh the most this week?

- A student somehow got duck tape stuck to the back of his head. He has a lot of hair and was so nervous to take it off. I asked my coworker next door to help in the process. The three of us tackled the tape was a funny moment.

Here are a list of my Nominees and also a series of questions for them to answer :)

                                             1) Allison  2) Cindy 3) Roslind 4) Keri

1) Where do you find the most peace?
2) What is your favorite childhood memory?
3) Who is your favorite Saint?
4) What is your favorite book on Spirituality/Saints?
5) If you could visit one country where would you go?
6) Who is your biggest mentor?
7) Do you have a favorite prayer? Prayer time?
8) What is your favorite food?
9) What is most misunderstood about you?
10) If you could have coffee/tea with one person who would it be?
11) What is your pet peeve?

Thank you ladies for your writing and for taking the time to respond :) You are my Liebster Nominees! 

"This Man Welcomes Sinners And Eats With Them"- (Relfection on Fr. John Eudes Bamberger's homily) By. C.C.

Luke 15: 1-3, 11-32.

"Perhaps we would obtain a more vivid impression of our Lord's personality and of his character if Luke had described this scene from the point of view of the sinners at table with Jesus in addition to telling us of the highly critical attitude expressed in the comments of the learned scribes and religiously observant Pharisees.  Had he done that he might well have added such words as these: "Tax collectors and sinners upon hearing Jesus as he preached were so impressed with his warmth and the friendly message he so simply and winningly conveyed that they eagerly invited him to share a meal with them. They wanted to know more about him and his message.  At table they hoped to hear at greater length what he had to say about God of whom he spoke so naturally and who displayed such familiar spontaneity as he referred to God as his Father. They wished to know better this person so friendly who could speak of such serious matters with a captivating charm.   He caused them to feel a new kind of self-respect by his whole manner of treating them.   He made them interested for the first time in religious teachings that were presented not as burdensome prescriptions of law but rather as a more appealing, more worthy way of life.   In his presence these hardened men no longer felt despised by someone they recognized as being highly intelligent and cultivated with a new kind of learning in the Torah that caused them to recognize that he was somehow more concerned for their welfare than in imposing observances." (Abbot John Eudes Bamberger)

     I have always liked the Gospel passage that we are called to reflect upon today. Luke allows for us to have some understanding of the humility that Jesus exuded by the retelling of this story. As sinners and those striving for holiness we can take much away from this Scripture, and also from the reflective words of Abbot John Eudes. 
   There is a different perspective presented here that draws our attention and compassion onto that of the sinners who ate with Jesus. In doing this, Eudes succeeds in perhaps highlighting some ways that we as followers of Christ are called to imitate the way of our Lord with humility. We are presented with the opportunity to reflect upon the way that we share Christ and the truth of our inner state. Do we share the love of our Lord? Do we act with compassion? Are we quick to judge and label others as sinners--before first looking at ourselves? Through the eyes of others do we appear as self-righteous hypocrites or do we show Jesus?  As the Church today focuses on "The New Evangelization" we are reminded  that the most effective part of our journey as followers of Christ is to be "Christ-like". 
   Like the Sinners who saw Jesus as a man of love and compassion, so too should we strive to share the love of our Lord and not concern ourselves with condemning and judging others. We must take the time to know our faith, take the time to recognize that it is not a collection of "burdensome prescriptions of law", but rather a way of attaining life.
      "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them" May we pray for the humility to see ourselves among the sinners, recognizing that it is only by the grace of God and His mercy that we can acquire holiness. May we strive each day to "imitate Christ" sharing the love of God and being true examples of Who it is we follow. (C.C.)