Friday, March 02, 2018

Social media and the Liturgy of the Hours

Maybe it's because I'm getting old.  Maybe I have just forgotten the unspoken rules of social media interaction.  Whatever the reason, I feel I've made myself look very awkward on a few occasions on social media. 

Recently, like a good fb stalker friend, I had been following a friend's posts about personal struggles and questions.  Mind you, I hadn't had any real in person interaction with this individual in over 12 years.  At some point I started randomly commenting as though it was 12 years ago and I had just seen this person and had many conversations in a trusting friendship.  I am such a weirdo.  It was awkward.  It was taken awkwardly.  I now see the error of my ways. 

But that is what social media does to us isn't it?  For those friends who you don't normally interact with on a daily basis social media makes us feel as though we are still right there with them.  Sometimes depending on the original relationship this is totally fine, for those acquaintances, it can be awkward.

I find myself thinking, "I just want to be your friend!"  I spend a lot of time lamenting about how far away I actually am from some people.  I just want to be a part of your life!

In reality I can't.  I can't physically be a part of everyone's life and in everyone's business and talking to everyone about their problems.  It's just not realistic.  Not.....human.

Tonight we went to stations of the cross as a family.  The priest leading it was a Vietnamese priest with a wonderful accent.  As he was praying the closing prayers I found myself transported in my mind's eye to the many Churches around the world I have been fortunate enough to visit.  I imagined these same prayers being done in Churches in the Philippines, in Mexico, in India, in Spain, France, Australia, Canada, and all over the world.  It gave me such an amazing sense of hope and love to think that we were all uniting our prayers during this time of lent.  We as the Church were really together.

This made me remember something a Benedictine nun said to me during my discernment.  I had asked about why the Liturgy of the Hours was prayed daily and so many times a day.  What was the point of all the psalms?  Why not another form of prayer?  She told me that the psalms in the Liturgy of the Hours contain all the emotions a person can have.  So when we pray the psalms it is like praying for and with all of humanity.  You pray the prayers of sadness and joy along with the universal church.  You plug yourself into the lifeblood of the Church and your prayers join in with everyone all over the world because the psalms and the Mass are universal.  Priests, religious, and laypeople all pray the same prayers every day, united. 

I think the universality of the Liturgy of the Hours must be the answer for what social media lacks.  We long for closeness with friends and others.  We seek to be with people in their struggles and walk with them in their joy and pain.  On a human level this cannot be done properly on a grand scale.  But through humble prayers, joining with Jesus, it can.  We can plug in, through a different system.  A different social media's called prayerbook. 

Bahahaha.  That was corny.

I love you all.  Don't be awkward like me.  Don't be surprised if I randomly comment on your posts when I haven't spoken to you in years. 

Friday, September 23, 2016

They love you for who you are

I came across this image on fb recently and the last line struck me.  The whole statement is trying to say that a friend will love you in spite of whatever is going on in your life and that they love you for "who you are".

I wonder how many people stop to think about that sentence.  That phrase is frequently used today.

 "Just love me for who I am."

"Accept me for who I am."

But do people stop to think about who they are?  What that really means?

I think that if that were actually the case, our world would look quite different.  John Paul II wrote about the unrepeatability of the human person.  The uniqueness of each and every human soul.  Each and every soul of course, being created and loved by God.

When you say you love someone for who they are, it means you are loving them without condition.  Not because they are smart, pretty, handsome, clever, hilarious, or loving.  All of those qualities can change.  All of those qualities can be usurped by someone else with more of those qualities.  Loving someone for who they are requires a permanence that is equal to the permanence and beauty of their unique eternal soul.

Furthermore, if you love someone for who they are, that means you have to know who they are.  Are they a man? Are they a woman?  Can you love them truly without acknowledging who they are? Can they love themselves?

God does this.  He sees who we truly are.  He sees more than we see ourselves.  I think so many people now are confused about who they are and confused about love.  It seems the phrase "They love you for who you are." Is a bit lost in our world, especially when it comes to marriage.

Who are you? A child of God.

Where does your worth come from? From being created in His image and being loved by Him.

So when you say love me for who I am it speaks to a greater depth of the soul.  Your deepest reality in who God created you to be.  Your qualities, your preferences, your desires, your passions.  Those will change.  You, are you.  God made you that way.  He loves you for who you are, always, eternally, boundlessly.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Love, whipped, tied, and tortured.

Want to know who I'm talking about?   Not those people in that movie about that book.  If there's anyone we should be enthralled with this Saint Valentine's Day it should not be Christian Grey.  It should most definitely be the person who won Saint Valentine's heart.  Namely, God.

Love itself whipped, scourged, tied, nailed, and tortured to death.   He gave himself up for us freely.  He gave himself totally.  He is faithful to the end.  His love brings us new life. 

The violent porn will not. 

Friends please, I'm joining the cacophony of internet voices and plead with you, if you do anything this Valentine's day, don't go see that horrible movie.  I hope it's the biggest flop.  I hope it doesn't get any funding for a sequel.  I have hope that people won't all go see porn at the box office.  But really? The sales of the book are pretty disheartening.  So many people bought that trash.  Wait, worse than trash.  It's poison.

Poison in, poison out.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
-Philippians 4:8

I just had a talk with Clare a few days ago about some weird valentine card she got from a ballet classmate.  I am so disconnected from the strange cartoons lately that I have no idea what the card was.  Monster something?  The card had two glamorous teenage monster things on it saying, "You're fang-tastic!"  I had to explain to the kiddo why Daddy and I don't really let her watch stuff like that.   I quoted the above from the Bible.  I had to explain that if we fill our mind and soul with ugliness we'll lose sight of heaven.  Beauty and goodness are given to us by God to remind us of our heavenly home.

I'm pretty sure we can all agree that "50 Shades of Grey" is not true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, gracious, or excellent.  Right?  If not, then we're pretty lost.

 Hopefully I'm not too late to the party in posting this, but if you believe in true love, don't go see this movie.  True love isn't dominating and self-seeking.  It's self-sacrificial and self-donating.

Since I am so vehemently opposed to this movie I have been working on a couple of blog posts about it.  I couldn't really decide which to publish, so here's what I wrote for the other one.

“For this reason a man shall leave [his] father and [his] mother

and be joined to his wife,

and the two shall become one flesh.”

-Eph 5:21-33

It's  Saint Valentine's day and the internet is buzzing with opinions, outrage, and excitement over a certain movie release.  I for one can't think of a worse way to honor Saint Valentine than by releasing "50 Shades of Grey".  The movie isn't about love.  It has for some reason in our disordered society been associated with love and romance.  Sure, there is sexual content in the movie, but does that equal love?  In today's society sex has been flung so far from love it has become unrecognizable.  No one remembers what sex is for.  No one remembers what love is.  Everything seems like a dizzying cycle of shock factors and pleasure seeking.  It's weird.  So weird. 

Hopefully you know by now that Saint Valentine has a great story in which his life gives witness to God's love.  That's really what we should be celebrating on this feast isn't it?  God's love and how it transforms us, our lives, our souls, and everything.  That's worth celebrating.  Pope Saint John Paul II had a favorite portion of scripture when it came to speaking of love between husband and wife and God's love; Ephesians 5 quoted above.  It reminds us what true love is and gives us true insight into relationships between men and women.

"Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ".  Not subordinate to each other for BDSM sex which is completely disordered. 

"Husbands should love their wives as their own bodies."  Dominating a woman and torturing her doesn't exactly say, "I love you and I will take care of you". 

Furthurmore, sex is about unity and procreation!  "The two shall become one flesh!"  Not about torture and twisted sexual pleasure.  Rightly ordered sexual pleasure is amazing!  Thank goodness God made Man and Woman and the marital embrace the way he did!  But when society sterilizes, twists, and fetishises what should be faithful, total, fruitful, and free we lose sight of that self-sacrificial Christ like love.  TRUE LOVE is supposed to be a mystery which reminds us of "Christ and the church". 

NOTHING about 50 shades of grey reminds us of the love Christ has for his Church.

So don't go spend your money on porn friends.  Go help a women's domestic violence shelter and help undo the way our culture is twisting and suffocating true love.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Lord, kindle a light for my guidance and scatter my darkness.

A few trains of thought, or meanderings of the  mind have been returning to me recently, so I thought I might as well write a blog post about them in case they're useful trains of thought.

At the wonderful moms group I used to attend at my former parish, our leader used to list off virtues at the beginning of every "Hail Mary" during our meeting prayers.  She used to pray for "blind obedience".  This always irked me.  On the one hand I knew that blind obedience to God would be a virtuous thing, and I trusted the prayer of my friend and group leader.  On the other hand, it stoked the fires of defense because "blind obedience" is often something Catholics are accused of.  I think the accusation is mostly that of blind obedience to seemingly arbitrary rules that make no sense.  While that is a topic for a discussion of freedom and license or Church authority, I want to address something else.

Part of me realized that the talons of "the liar" had gone so deep into my person that virtues had begun to irritate me for unknown reasons.  I mean, the world's view of the Church had seeped in so deeply that something like "blind obedience" to God seemed threatening.

So here's the kicker,  why shouldn't we be blindly obedient to God?  What does that even mean?  Have you ever had a parent or someone else ask you to do something without questioning it?  Like, "Do first, ask questions later"?  My boss at a former job used to ask this of all the employees. "Don't ask questions, just do it."  My boss was amazing, so after the first two mistakes (I guess my knee-jerk-reaction is to ask questions when told to do something....) I finally trusted my boss and obeyed.  My dad used to say things like "Just trust me!" all the time when I questioned him.  If I can trust my boss, and my dad, shouldn't I be able to trust God?

Isn't that what blind obedience is?  Trusting God?  Isn't it just laying yourself at the mercy of the one who created you? Who gave his life in a bloody sacrifice for you?  This is so hard to do.  I feel like the world has taken that ability to trust with abandon from me to some extent.  I suppose that is part of the scar of Original sin.  I'm sure I'd know more about this had I a theology degree or something, but this has just been kicking around in my head lately.  I wonder how many other areas in my soul have now been sneakily made suspicious of God through my intake of "the world."

The title of today's blog post comes from the Divine Office for today.  I suppose it's part of the psalms that I need to pray more often.  "Lord, kindle a light for my guidance and scatter my darkness."  Sometimes we have darkness that lays undiscovered.

Lord scatter the darkness I have yet to find, that you can see in your infinite vision.  Amen.

As a sidenote, I know that blind obedience to anything isn't a virtue.  This goes along with our 1st commandment.  "I am the Lord, thy God, thou shalt not have other gods besides me."  Our trust should lay with God alone and with everything he gives us and shows us.  "Put no trust in princes".   We humans wreak all sorts of havoc without God's guidance, so in general I will continue to question everything but God.

See?  Meandering.  Hopefully somewhat useful.

** Update**
My friend on fb mentioned that it seems strange to call it blind obedience if we have a relationship with the Lord.  Here's my take on it straight from the facebook thread.

"I think this is probably the key. We can have full trust in God and our relationship with him and still be blindly obedient. I may not see, but I can still trust in my God. I suppose the two are not mutually exclusive. Blindness in this sense doesn't mean that you don't have a relationship, it means that you just don't see what's ahead. So you obey, even though you don't know why, and still trust. That makes sense when we think about the trust walk and the blindfold right? Isn't it a wonderful testament to our spirit/body state that I have to recall a physical experience to make sense of spiritual thoughts?! "

I also found out that the virtue of Blind Obedience is one of the 10 virtues of Mary from St. Louis Marie de Montfort's. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Not losing, but giving.

I can't exactly remember the context in which this topic came up at Mom's group yesterday, but I'm glad it did.  One of my mommy friends mentioned something about me probably having to give up a little more of my life or expectations every time another kid was born. I think we were talking about how society at large views motherhood and how it's not as valued in popular culture as it really should be.  The way my friend posed this idea to me reminded of me of something my husband and I had been talking about a long while back.

Some time after we got married I had mentioned to my husband the idea of a person "losing their virginity" and my husband ever so wisely corrected me by introducing the truth that in marriage virginity isn't lost, it's given.  Wife gives herself to husband, husband gives himself to wife.  Of course I knew this already, but I hadn't thought of it in terms of losing versus giving.

The same goes for when we have kids, or anytime we sacrifice of ourselves for another's benefit.  We don't lose part of ourselves, part of our lifestyle, part of our *insert whatever here* if this act of sacrifice is done in love.

Some may say I have lost my ability to go out whenever I want.  I have lost my ability to travel.  I have lost my carefree lifestyle.  I have lost my free time.  I have lost time with friends.  I have lost sleep.

It's true.  I have thought about things this way.  But now I've come to realize that I haven't really lost them.  I've been giving these things to my family.  I'm making these small sacrifices because I want to do what's best for my family.  I want them to be healthy and I want them to get to heaven.  I find solace in thinking about these sacrifices as gifts.  I think that if I continued to believe I was losing all of this, I'd become more and more upset or frustrated with every kid.

When I lose something I am irritated and upset.  Something has happened that is out of my control.  Losing something is an unfortunate circumstance.

When you give a gift, you are happy to share.  I know that I get excited when I am giving a gift to someone.  The anticipation kills me because I want so much to see the other person pleased with whatever I have to give them.  Giving is a choice.

When we enter into loving relationships we're not losing out, we're not throwing everything out the window in a begrudging manner.  I think Christ is calling us to give ourselves as a gift.  Sure it can be a terribly difficult sacrifice, but if it's a gift, we're called to give with joy right?

After all, Christ's death on the cross was a terrible sacrifice, but he did it freely as a gift for us right?

You have probably all thought of this already, but sometimes ideas click in my head in new and subtle ways and I like to share.

God Bless.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Travel bug vs. ultimate destination

In the wake of World Youth Day I found myself reminiscing about the good ol' days when I could just work, save up money, and travel all over the world.  I realized as well how incredibly fortunate I am to have been able to travel to as many places as I have.  Now that I'm a mom, I sometimes feel like the opportunities to travel and see the wonders of the world are slipping through my fingers never to return.  I have this fear that I'll never see the fantastic places that I drool over on Pinterest before I die. One of my friend's t-shirt's proclaims FOMO.  "Fear of missing out."  I totally have this fear.  I would love to go back to Paris, go see Barcelona and Greece, walk the camino, take Jon to Rome with me and spend more time in Assisi, go to the next World Youth Day in Poland, etc, etc, etc.  God created such a wonderful world full of beauty didn't he?

Two weeks ago I was privileged to give a talk at my parish about my travels in Calcutta.  While it was a pleasure to reminisce and impart the wisdom of Mother Teresa and my travel experiences and lessons to other parishoners, I found that one of the last "travel lessons" in my talk gave me pause.

The night before I left Calcutta I truly felt like I was going to die.  My poor asthmatic lungs were just giving way to the pollution and I literally gasped for breath the entire night.  If you don't believe me, ask Annie.  I spent the whole night having a minor near death experience and praying the Act of Contrition over and over until I think I passed out for a couple of hours.  I honestly thought I would die that night in that crazy, dingy, rooftop hostel room on Sudder Street.  I mention this experience because it was while praying the act of contrition over and over that I realized what was most important.  It was my relationship with Christ.   Priority #1!  I was praying the act of contrition because I was sorry for everything I had done wrong and I really, really, really, wanted to see Jesus on the flip side if I died.

What does this have to do with travel?

Well, I think that sometimes I forget about priorities.  Are you with me?  We all do this don't we?  While travel, material goods, excitement, and rich experiences are fun, they aren't the main goal.  They aren't our final destination.  So should we feel like we're missing out if we're concentrating on priority #1?

Priority #1 for me right now entails changing diapers, being a supportive wife, not complaining all the time, being nice to my children, trying to teach my children about God, trying to teach my kids the alphabet, making dinner, cleaning high chairs, doing laundry, wiping poop off bums, and everything else being a stay at home mom entails.

Priority #1's details are definitely not as exciting as swimming in the mediterranean sea or hiking in the mountains of Spain.  I have always known in my head that the "unforgettably exciting life experiences" shouldn't be made into an idol, but I suppose I never thought about what lies in heaven on a grand scale in comparison to them.  I never imagined that all the wonderful places on earth will pale in comparison to heaven and being in the presence of God.  I never imagined that I would still probably be able to see every place on earth while in heaven anyways.

This silly popular phrase "YOLO" keeps getting thrown around.  "You only live once!"  But really, if we have priority #1 in our sights, living once will mean living forever won't it?  So I guess what I'm getting at is, while it's fun and sometimes good to chase after excitement and rich experiences, don't let those experiences get in the way of priority #1.  Because ultimately, our relationship with Christ will get us the most unbelievable, all-inclusive, all expenses paid, never ending vacation we've ever had.  If we have priority #2 in order, we might even be able to take all our friends and family with us!

Won't it be amazing?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Marital Infidelity in the media

Does anyone else get bothered by all the marital infidelity in the media? 

Honestly, this never used to bother me, or maybe I just never paid attention to it.   Before I got married I watched lots of shows that had all sorts of cheating and lying and horrible things, but I guess I got desensitized to it.  It's weird, and cool that marriage can re-sensitize you to some things.

I think someone (maybe Kristine?) blogged about something like this in relation to her children.  Something like seeing children hurt makes you automatically sad because you think of your own child and how horrible it would be if he or she was hurt. 

I think the same thing is happening in my mind with marriage. 

Every time I see someone cheat, or flirt on tv or in a movie when they have a husband or wife it makes my skin crawl.  Sometimes even if I'm enjoying the rest of the show I just want to turn it off because it's so offensive.  I think, "Ugh, how could you do that to your husband or wife?  How could you then just turn around and go back to them pretending you didn't cheat on them and lie to their face?"  Ugh.  It grosses me out.   More than that it gives me irrational nightmares.  Not that nightmares are usually rational, but you know what I mean, Jon would never do that (I am also pregnant and pregnancy dreams are usually crazy).  I wish netflix had better descriptions on its movies so you'd know which movies had marital infidelity in them along with other offenses.   

I suppose it's something that comes when you learn to appreciate marriage and your spouse and what this Holy Sacrament means in your life.  I can't even imagine that this happens all the time in real life.  Shame on you mass media for making it seem commonplace, fun, and daring. 

Marital infidelity tears marriages apart, it ruins relationships, it scars husbands, wives, children, and society.  Blech.

It makes the world believe LOVE doesn't really exist anymore.  God is love.  Work the logic friends.  Marriage makes God and his love known to the world in an amazing way.

Let's pray for stronger marriages and those who have been hurt by marital infidelity.  The world needs it.

(I'm starting to meld blogs now, I like the prayer thing on the food blog so I'm going to do it here too.)

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Dear God,
  thank you for Jon my amazing husband.  :)  Help all of us who are married to always be faithful to our marriage vows and to you God.  Bless and comfort those husbands, wives, and families who have been scarred by marital infidelity and help them to once again believe in love and in you as the source of all love.  Amen.