Category Archives: Blogs by Maggie

Walls

Years ago I was telling a friend that I would never be able to receive love because I was just too broken. That brokenness caused me to put up ginormous walls that I hid behind.   Her words that day gave me a new perspective. “It should be a man’s privilege to take down your walls,” she said. Those words gave me hope. I no longer saw my brokenness has a barrier but as the way to my heart.

I’ve thought and prayed about this piece of advice for years and discovered something more. I realized if I expect a man to come into my mess and brave my walls I better be willing to paint his. Yup, that’s right, paint them.

I’m a woman. I don’t fear ugly walls! I’m just gonna hop on Pintrest and head to Hobby Lobby. Walls are my specialty. I marvel once more at the masculine and feminine dynamic here. In general, you need a man to move big walls and a woman to make them homes.

I look at it like this, once a man allows his walls to be painted, then Jesus comes in to break them down and rebuild with the rubble. He takes the newly colored shattered life and designs a mosaic. He works within relationships. We see this all over scripture starting with Adam: God creates everything but then tells Adam to take care of it, God makes a tribe out of Abrahams family, a nation with Moses, and a Kingdom with David. It’s always God and somebody with other people. God could have said poof Adam here’s your wife, but He didn’t. Poof Moses here’s the Promised Land, but he didn’t. Poof humanity there goes your sin, but he didn’t. For some mysterious reason God chooses to bring restoration and wholeness through the hands of other people, through the hands of the Church.

All to often we’re afraid to let others in our mess. The lie is in pretending we don’t have a mess or convincing ourselves we don’t need help from others. We tell ourselves once we’ve “got it under control” then we’ll let people in. We need to allow others to “color” our lives. I’m convinced that men and women have a way they can do this for one another uniquely.

But what does this look like?

Vulnerability! Let’s be clear, to be vulnerable does not mean just showing people your wounds. Oh, yeah I’ve got wounds and I’ll tell ya all about them, but that doesn’t mean I’m gonna let you near them. Many people make this mistake. Letting people in takes discernment, time, and a willingness to be healed. It means allowing others to prick those parts of us that always hurt.

Essentially, we each have a choice to make, a risk to take. We can either allow someone to prick and possibly heal us or we run the risk of never being healed at all. Rest assured, if healing is going to take place, if mosaics are going to be built, it’s gonna sting a bit. Christ wants our walls to come down. He longs to make beautiful things out of our brokenness. If you get burned after being vulnerable, if someone adds a brick to the wall, perhaps we can adopt a new perspective. Maybe we can choose to believe that’s just another brick for someone to paint, another 1000 pieces for Christ to work with.

I know it’s hard. I know it’s humbling. But Christ wants to make you new.

Now hold still; I need to get my paintbrush!

Pearl

There’s lots of talk in scripture about the rarity and value of pearls. Jesus tells us in  Matthew 13 that the Kingdom of God is like a pearl of great price. But why pick this gem?

 

A pearl serves as the protective coating around an irritating foreign object within the shell of an oyster. When a parasite enters an oyster its insides go to work making the foreign body harmless by molding it into the same substance as its shell. Death occurs only when its time to harvest the gem.

What can this teach us?

We live in a broken world. Each of us is born with original sin, causing us to be attracted to things that aren’t good for us.  There are bad habits, tough relationships, and messed up families. We have our own fears and failures. There is death, loneliness, disappointment, shame, etc. Sometimes we put these things inside us and sometimes these things just happen to us; either way they were never a part of the original plan and need to be transfigured.

Through the Sacraments we are given a defense mechanism. The grace of Christ comes in to transform us. It changes our parasitic sinfulness and woundedness into something beautiful and rare. God makes heartache into His Image; He does not cover our sin He transforms it. Just like pearls are made of the same material as the oyster, so to God uses the same material we are made of to transform us. And what are we made of? HIM!

Christ is the pearl who has taken on all of our ugliness.  He consumed the sinfulness of humanity and has given us the pearl of eternal life. But that’s not the end. Once we have that pearl I think we instinctively know that it has to be shared, has to be seen. What is the good of a precious gem if it cannot be enjoyed? And we know what that means.

Remember what happens to the oyster when we try to harvest a pearl? It dies. Matthew 16:25 says, “whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” This is the true lesson of the pearl. We have to learn to let go of ourselves and allow God to transform the yuck in our lives. “Not my will but Yours be done.”

Speaking of yuck: Have you ever seen a pearl on the inside of the oyster? Allow me: pearl harvest 2

Not so pretty is it? Its slimy and messy, I may actually be judging the first person who popped one of these things open and said, “I think I’ll hang this around my neck.”

God doesn’t enter into and transform us just to make us feel better or to make something pretty. That would be the Crucifixion without the Resurrection. It wasn’t enough for God to simply expiate our sin. God wanted to transform humanity, to make us into something even better than before.  God wants to make us more into ourselves; more into His image. He wants that pearl to tell the world there is something majestic  worth adoring. Something precious worth guarding. Something beautiful worth ravishing. Something rare worth treasuring.  Something lustrous worth revealing. Something wild worth taming. Something of HIS OWN DESIGN.   God wants us to become the symbol of hope for others. The proof of His love for mankind.  The best example we have of this is Mary. Mary’s Assumption into Heaven was a light to all humanity demonstrating the quintessence of this transformation.

Where does the analogy fall short?

Oysters don’t have an advanced neuro system; therefore, the process of making pearls doesn’t really bother them.  But we notice every prick, every ounce of Christ inside trying to mold us. We push Him away with all our might trying to hold on to the parasite. So many times in my life I do the same thing over and over again fighting the “pearlization” of my body and soul. It’s mostly rooted in the fear that God is going to hurt me, that my will is somehow better and safer than His; but it’s not.

It sounds great to say, “today I’ll die for Christ! He must increase I must decrease! It is no longer I who lives but Christ who lives in me!” But in order to actually do it we must BE SINGLE MINDED and keep our eyes on Christ.

What tempts you to take your eyes off Christ? For me it’s the fear of being alone and childless. This fear comes in violent and intense bursts, it sometimes takes my breath away. Like Peter I feel as though I am drowning. Every time I go through a break-up, a wedding, or a baby shower I’m tempted to take my eyes off Christ. I find myself questioning why He would allow someone to hurt me or why I’m still alone. He never answers those questions, nor should He. Because that’s not the point. Fear is always a trick of the enemy to rob us of our pearls, to rob us of God. Instead, He uses those fears and hurts to make pearls! He gently reminds me who I am. I am the image of God, who is the Pearl of great price. He took the parasite of the world and transformed it into life. He wants to do the same for me.  I just have to let Him.

The story of the pearl offers us a different perspective to conformity with God’s will. It does not promise our outcome but our redemption. The image of the pearl is an image of hope, an image of what will be if we allow God to work. If we do not allow Him to come and save us then our insides are simply full of parasites.  Then, alone in toxic decay, we become unable to let anyone in. Perhaps it doesn’t cause us to physically die, but eventually we will just become empty shells. Jesus wants us to live life to the full!   Sure the process is arduous and messy but also intimate and beautiful.

 Are you willing to be transformed?

Dear Jesus, today we give you the parasites in our hearts that you would make jewels for Your Kingdom.

Amen.

The Power of a Waiting Woman

I’ve never been very good at waiting. The funny thing is, as a child, my mother used to say, “Maggie, if you move any slower you’d walk backwards!” Didn’t seem to mind waiting then, apparently I had all the time in the world. Or more truthfully, I became jaded and wounded by a world whose futures have been less than delicate.

The problem now is, I don’t know how to stop moving. Constant movement has created the delusion that I’m at the helm; I’ve barricaded myself behind the toxic walls of control and toil. In quiet desperation I set up rules for living and followed them. Everyday I told myself that as long as I followed the rules I was on the “straight and narrow.” I immersed myself in stuff: people, work, ministry, writing, reading, movies, Netflix, decorating, knitting, you name it; I kept busy.  Busyness kept me from having to examine this crazy too closely. When something makes me stop and (ugh! Here comes that ugly word) WAIT, I become restless, grumpy, and agitated, it’s like I forget how to be a Daughter of God. I forget that being a woman IS waiting.

Recently I’ve been waiting for many things. I wait in my job, on a struggling ministry, in furthering my education, and for more edifying social situations. He has me painfully waiting for my grandmother to pass — literally every breath she draws is painful and labored. It’s hard to sit on the edge of her death waiting for peace. I wait for answers to some health issues. I wait on good men who constantly humble me, and whose hearts are equally wounded by yesterday’s harshness and tomorrow’s empty promises. Everyday has been a struggle.

In my agony I cry to the Lord to come and save me, and He has! He always does. Nothing in my situation has changed; but He’s given me renewed confidence and hope in His mercy.The Lord is teaching me the power of being a waiting woman. Waiting is the breeding ground for virtue. In waiting we give ourselves time to self reflect and really see ourselves more clearly and the work of the Lord more tangibly. Waiting requires a certain kind of interior silence and solitude. In that silence we find God. This is what I’ve been learning:

Waiting is God’s gift to woman.

In the Garden of Eden the first woman failed to wait! She had three choices. We know the choice that she made and its deadly ramifications. The first woman could have gently reminded Adam of his authority over the creatures or she could’ve simply waited for him until he stepped up. Either choice involved waiting. This helps shed light on the role of waiting in the life of a woman. Sometimes we are called to that first sort of waiting other times to the latter.

Look at Mary. Her whole life was one of waiting. She waited for Christ for nine months. After He’s born they were exiled to Egypt for a time. When He’s presented in the temple Mary is told that ‘a sword will one day pierce her heart’ – imagine waiting on that prophesy. Then she waits three days to find Christ in the temple. At the wedding feast in Cana she gently encourages Christ to change water into wine and waits with submission for His response. In Mark 3:32 we read, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.” (Girlie translation: Your mom is waiting for you). Mary waited at the foot of the cross for three hours and another three days for His Resurrection, followed by forty days for the Ascension and another nine for the coming of the Holy Spirit. She waited to meet her beloved child in Heaven and now she waits for us to know the loving Sacred Heart of her son. There is power in her waiting as there is power in our waiting! I think we are tempted, I know I am, to think that waiting is stagnate. Mary shows us that there can be no greater privilege than to wait for God’s time. We as women get to do that in a special way, as the image of Mary.

In my own life of waiting there is literally nothing I can do to change my circumstances. But I can stop and be still and ask the Lord what He has for me in these situations.

Patience in my job search has taught me the value of work.

Patience with the ministry has taught me  “to everything there is a season,” a time to learn and a time to teach.

Patience in my social life has taught me to see people for what I can give them instead of what can be gained from them.

Patience with my dying grandmother has taught me to love life and embrace the now. Nowhere is God more present than in the now! I’ve learned to thank God for the power of redemptive suffering. Grandma’s slow death has been a beautiful reminder of my own mortality and reliance on God’s mercy.

Patience in the health issues has taught me that worry is fruitless.

Patience in the want to further my education has taught me to trust in God’s providence.

Patience with men has taught me how Mary loves. This is the love that undid Eve’s impatience. Everyday is one of detachment and surrender to God’s will and plan. The rules are good only if they are leading you to love. It’s a lesson in learning that every moment is God’s gift to us and should be cherished. I’ve had so many opportunities for growth at the hands of the men God places in front of me.  Through them Jesus calls me out onto the water.

And in all of these moments I’ve learned to be patient with myself. How easy it would be if it only took failing once to get it right. Above all else Jesus wants us to TRUST Him! He uses situations in our lives to make us wait but it’s really Him we are waiting for or on. Waiting does not guarantee our will but His. Society would have us believe that its undignified for a woman to wait on anyone or anything but Mary shows us something different. Waiting prepares the soul to see like God sees. In waiting God molds and forms us more and more into His Image. This is the power of a waiting woman. A waiting woman helps the world see God! You no longer look at her and see her action but His.

Psalm 27:14 says, “be stouthearted and wait for the Lord.” And hopefully with a little practice and patience we can reply with Psalm 62, “For God alone my soul waits…I shall not be greatly moved.”

Are you waiting?

God is a Gentleman

Lately I’ve been asking myself why some people seem to get the God stuff and others do not.  Why is it that I feel so loved by God and my neighbor does not?  Matthew Kelly’s new books, “The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic,” points out that only about 7% of Catholics are actually involved in their faith.  I put it to you in a different way:  Only 7% of Catholics feel loved in their faith.  Why? Why do so few people KNOW God?

The answer came to me a few weeks ago while I was listening to a talk at our local young adult group.  The young priest simply said in passing, “God is a gentlemen.”  That was it!  The answer to the question I had been asking.  Peace came and I had understanding.   God will not force Himself on anyone.  In fact, He cannot. If He is love itself than it would go against His  nature to do so.  What does scripture tell us about the nature of Love? The famous passage reads:

“Love is patient and kind: love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude.  Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends…” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). (Note: it is in his bearing, believing, hoping, and enduring  that we get the image of God as fighter).

If these are the attributes of God and God is a gentleman then these are the attributes of a gentleman.  Now I ask one more time:  Why does the world feel so unloved and unknown by God?  Could it be because the world no longer knows gentlemen?  For years now our society has had to suffer this great loss.  Men hold the power of God’s image in a very tangible way.  After all we are taught to call God Father.  Yet, we live in a fatherless culture.  We are taught that God is the great romancer, the image of the lover from the Song of Songs, and yet women are treated as objects of pleasure.  We are taught that “He is wise in heart” (Job 9:4)  and yet men are portrayed as brutish idiots with no direction, no passion, and no courage.  We are taught that God is the great warrior, the Psalmist writes over and over, “He is my Fortress”, “My Refuge”, “My Stronghold,” and yet the family crumbles, leaving in its wake a path of toxic debris with which we are left to build culture and society .  These things are not a coincidence.  If we want the world to know the the love of the Father, the world must know the love of gentlemen.

To all my sisters in Christ:   Allow the men around you to rise.  Expect this of them; encourage and help them in it.  We need them.

Dear Man,

You must take hold of the image you bear as a Son of God.  Our world desperately needs you.  Perhaps if we would see the rise of gentlemen we would also see the rise of God.  After all, “This task was appointed to you… if YOU do not find a way, no one will.”

St. Peter’s Gift

“We profess the prophetic message that is altogether reliable. You will do well to be attentive to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.”  2Peter1:19

Happy Feast of the Transfiguration!

These words from St. Peter’s letter struck my heart this morning. Lately I’ve been in a “woe is me” mood. Perhaps you can relate? Last Sunday’s words from scripture were especially difficult for me to listen to (the feeding of the 5000). The idea of God giving in abundance was hard to receive. My head was telling me it was true while my heart was saying, “oh sure you fed the 5000, what about me?!” I’d been asking but not receiving, seeking but not finding. But is that what its all about?

My complaints were over work, family and friends, the usual. But I think for a moment I forgot my mission. I consider my personal mission Out of Eden, that is, “Challenging men and women to walk in the truth of their creation.” However, I forgot about the primal mission, the original mission to which we are all called. The mission to preach the gospel at all times. I’ve put so much pressure on myself that I momentarily forgot the purpose of the mission itself. “To profess the prophetic message.”

The Lord asks great things of us, no doubt. For example, He asks Peter to come to Him on the water. Where Peter fails is in thinking he can do this by himself. Deep down Peter knows he needs a miracle from Jesus to accomplish this. After all, isn’t this why he asks the Lord to call to him in the first place? Like all of us at times, Peter takes on too much. He thinks, for just a moment, he has the power to walk on water without the Lord and of course he sinks.

I wonder if it was this instance that gave him the profound insight written above, “you would do well to be attentive to it.” What is “it”?? THE GOSPEL! I’ve been so wrapped up in fulfilling MY mission that I forgot about THE only mission; the Word of God. The Word that tells us not to worry, to trust, to love and be loved. The Word that tells us JESUS is King and therefore has dominion, honor, glory, and power over all things. The Word that saves, renews, forgives, and unites us all. The Word that was beaten, murdered, and triumphant over death.

What a wonderful gift St. Peter has given me today, of all days. The gift of weakness! This gift has transfigured my outlook and my heart. Through his constant weakness, Peter came to write those wonderful words.  What can the Lord do with my weakness or with yours?

With this new heart I want to transfigure the world. Who’s with me?  Let our transfigured hearts be the lamps that shine in darkness. Let our weakness be someone else’s strength. Let us be the ones that bring the Gospel message so that Christ, the morning star, can rise in MANY hearts.

Lord, today I give you my weakness.  Make of it what you will!

Viva Cristo Rey

“Viva Cristo Rey”

These were the last words of blessed Miguel Pro before he faced a firing squad in Mexico in 1927. Ever since I heard the heroic story of his life and death, I’ve remembered these words. There is even a small part of me that hopes to echo them one day.

Today, whilst perusing Facebook, I saw a picture depicting the heads of six men who’d been killed by ISIS for being Christian. At first I didn’t know it was real. I actually thought it was an advertisement for the next zombie movie or video game. Then it finally sunk in that I was looking at real men. I weep for the lives of those men, I weep for their mothers, for their wives, and children. I weep because they are my brothers in Christ, but most of all I weep for their persecutors. The death of Martyrs is a mysterious thing; sad and yet filled with victory and joy. Oh, what great company those six men, and many more like them, walk in.  When I am tempted to hate, fear, and become angry, I remember the words of Blessed Miguel. “Long live Christ the King.”

I’ve written many things about Christ as King and we as royal children. But it is in times like these, when blood is spilled, that it is most difficult to grasp this intense reality. So what are we to do as royal children? How are we to handle the deaths of the royal family? Admittedly, somewhere inside me I hear the Queen of Hearts piping up and screaming, “off with their heads.” Oh, yes I am so tempted to return violence for violence. But how long can that satisfy? And what would it accomplish?

Our role as children of the King is simple. We were given one command and we must not fail, especially not now. We were told to love as Christ loves. “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”

There is something much more dangerous afoot than Muslim extremists. More dangerous than any gun-carrying, machete-swinging Jihadists, I fear complacent Christians. It is at the hands of these men that the world will most suffer. They ‘know not what they do.’ It is these hearts that caused Christ to cry, “I thirst,” and still he goes thirsty.

 Now more than ever we need to offer our prayers to a God who thirsts for our love.  We need to pray for the persecuted along with the persecutors. I will not accept that they cannot change. No heart is too hard for the love of Christ. Let us be the biggest stumbling block to their hearts of stone. Let us storm heaven with impassioned pleas for grace and the help of the angels. Let every act of kindness and every little prayer fill our world with hope. We must rise to this occasion. We must pray.

 I call on all of you today to step up and be what you were created to be.   Rise out of the depths of your complacency and be Christians, the great chosen people of God. Do you know who you are and what you are capable of? Now is the time for the people of God to stand in solidarity, to rejoice because our King is victorious!

 Viva Cristo Rey

Emotional Chastity

The vocation of every man is the dignity of every woman.  The calling of every woman is the integrity of every man.

 ~ Pope St. John Paul the Great

What is emotional chastity?

The question above was once posed to me and at the time I had an inadequate answer.   After spending time in prayer and asking myself some tough questions, I’ve come up with 3 problems I see in the male-female dynamic that gives rise to emotional promiscuity.  What I have to offer is a list of specific needs from the men around me.

NOTE: Gentlemen, this blog is by no means meant to throw you under a bus. I think we are ALL lost on this issue. I write it knowing that you are good. And most of the time when you fall its because we have fallen with you. Ladies, I DO NOT think men do the following things with the intention to harm. Let’s be patient and prayerful upholding the dignity of who they were created to be.

 

First we need to understand something primal about Woman!

Woman bears the image of God by being a “Life Giver.” In fact this is what the Hebrew word Ezer or Helper means. Woman has a beautiful and deep capacity for unselfish and unconditional love. (This does not mean that we always live this out … just that its there). This is why in scripture we see a 3:1 ratio of women to men at the foot of the cross. SHE LOVES BIG!! Women show the world how God loves. God wants you! He wants to be in a relationship with you. Trust me He’s not thinking about much else, nor do you want Him to be. Ladies, if you feel stupid for this desire, DON’T! Gentlemen I know this can be a bit intimidating and pressure filled. I’ve heard so many men say, “She just wants to get married.” I know she can be a bit scary when she gets like this; but I have confidence that you can handle it. You bear the image of God’s strength; fear is okay, cowardice is not. St. Joesmarie says, “Courage is not the absence of fear; it is the refusal to be mastered by it!”

1.   The “friend” zone. I am not saying that men and women cannot be friends. I am saying that these are murky waters and your intentions need to be clear. Gentlemen please do not assume that she knows your intentions. Furthermore, I hear men say things like, “well, I’m just going to get to know her and we’ll see what happens.” Sorry to say it men but this is cowardly. If you are interested in getting to know her because you may want to date her then what is stopping you from asking her out on a date? Your intentions are not honest and friends do not treat each other like this. Imagine your grandchildren asking you how you met their grandmother. Do you really want to be left saying, “I just kinda waited to see what would happen.” Is that the kind of story that makes you proud? No way! Undoubtedly your grandchildren want to hear a rivetting story. They want to hear that you swept her off her feet.

Lastly, Actions Speak Louder Than Words always. If you have told a girl that you are not interested and continued to flirt, rely on, hang out, and confide in her, etc. Chances are she’s not going to hear your words she is going to see your actions. Make sure that those two are in accord. What we need: Communicate your intentions VERY clearly from the start and follow through.

2.  Pseudo-Dating. This is when an adult man an adult woman “hang out” by themselves. Why is this not okay?? Our lives are sacraments; outward signs that convey an internal reality. If the outside is conveying something different than what the internal reality actually is, something is wrong or they very least, something is off. If it looks to the outside world like you are on a date but that’s not what really is going on then something is off. Gentlemen please do not make liars out of yourselves or others. Ladies, it is beneath your dignity to allow this. Man was made for more. Give him the opportunity to be more.

Man bears the image of God by being the purser. He is supposed to go outside of himself to capture your heart. THIS IS WHAT JESUS DOES!! He came to humanity, as we are, to capture our hearts. What We Need: If you have the desire to “hang out” with a girl all by yourself. Ask her out properly or avoid the “hang out” entirely.  

3.  Lengthy and intimate conversations about your spiritual life and/or your “heart.”  Unfortunately, men in our culture have been stripped of their emotions. Society tells them not to have emotions or worse, to just be the funny guy. If a man shows for a second any sort of emotion other men look at him likes he’s a weird. Consequently men seek this kind of “emotional release from the women in their life. Guys, this is okay if that woman is a sister (not a sister in Christ but the actual biological kind) a sister-in-law, mom, grandma, ETC.   In other words FAMILY.

The problem with having friendships like this is that the man is anchoring himself inside of a woman’s heart. And if you are spiritually inside her you should be physically inside her (or at the very least headed in that direction). Women have an ability to draw people into themselves. That being said it is not always good that we do. Often times men do not understand this aspect of a woman’s make-up. Sexuality for her is directly connected to her insides. She is an internal being.   These conversations with her can be like emotional sex. There are certain spaces inside us that should be reserved and guarded for certain people only. Jesus says, “Do not throw your pearls before swine.”  Even in dating certain conversations need not take place. In the Christian world we seem to understand where the physical line is with intimacy but we need to think about the emotional line as well. I once heard a priest say, “If you wake-up the morning after your wedding and nothing is different; there’s a problem.” We get it, no sex before marriage. We need to consider this analogy when it comes to our emotions. There are just some things that are reserved for marriage alone.   Marriage is a beginning. Allow some knowledge for the engagment and married life alone. Need: Please do not tell the women in your life things that you wouldn’t tell the men in your life. Furthermore ask yourself, “is what I am communicating something that should only be shared with family?”

 

A few last thoughts for the men…

  1. Please do not allow us to play games with you. We are good at manipulating. We were made for more. Please expect it from us. We need for you to challenge us in this area specifically.   The more intentional you are the less room we will have to play games.
  2. Please do not allow us to boss you around. We were made to follow you. Give us something to follow.  So if that means you need to politely (and with such gentleness) tell a woman to dial it back, then please do.
  3. Please be patient with us. It is so very hard to spend a life-time waiting. Society tells us that we should not wait. It encourages this constant grasping after what you want, kinda like a pirate. But we know we were made for more. So if you catch us “racing to the altar” don’t be afraid. Just say a prayer for us.

So what is emotional chastity?  Plain and simply, emotional chastity is acknowledging the truth in a particular relationship and walking in it.

 

Alleluia Is Our Song

Besides receiving communion, singing the alelluia is my favorite part of the Mass.   When you think about it the word “alleulia” sums up the whole life of a Christian.

Lately, I’ve really been struggling to balance work, family, friends, Out of Eden, exercise, prayer, etc.   In my rush to simply get things done I sometimes slip into the vice of treating people and prayer like they are something to check off a list. But today in Mass I was reminded of who I am, and it only took one word:

Alleluia!

At that moment I saw in my mind an image of the angels. They were rejoicing! Now, if you are not aquainted with the angels, allow me to introduce you.   We are not talking about little fat naked babies with wings or poised looking ballarinas with song books. We are talking ANGELS!! The kind that kicked Satan out of Heaven, the kind that restled with Daniel, the kind that claimed the first born of the Egyptians and roasted Sodom and Gamorrah, the kind that left shephards awe-struck and the priest Zachariah mute, the kind that announced the birth and resurrection of the LORD.  ANGELS!  When they rejoice the Heavens shake.  They are more numerous than the stars in the sky and each one more unique than we could imagine. These magnificent beings were shouting, flipping and fist pumping. They’re laughter pierecd my heart and soul, it reminided me of what we were singing and why we were singing it. I spent the rest of mass trying very hard not to burst into laughter and/or tears. I was so overwhelmed with their jovial presence; with their alleluia!

It was just a moment, a passing refleciton; simple for sure but the message was powerful and clear.

JESUS WON!

And I wasn’t in mass because we go every Sunday, or becase of the new priests excellent homilies, or even beause of the music. The sole reason I was with the angels today is because Jesus won.  I had to ask myself why I had been taking life so seriously? What could possibly be more important than joining those beings in their song; in our song?  G.K. Chesterton once said, “angels fly because they take themselves lightly.”  Today I understood the expression.

JP II reminds us , “We are the Easter people and Alleluia is our song.” Most of the time I do not feel very “Eastery.” Most of the time the hope is that I’ll just get through the day. What a great reminder and invitation from Christ’s Holy ones today!  Are you living burdened by the cares of this world? Or, Do you walk like you’ve inherited a Kingdom with an eternally victorious King?  Do you walk like the angels light and unburdened?  Sure we will suffer and sometimes things will get really hard but isn’t that what gives this song meaning?  Infact, the more we suffer the louder our song should be.  Think of the Martyrs.

My prayer for us this week will be that, like the angels, we learn to enter into Christ’s victory by accepting the cross.  I pray that we too learn to fly like the angels.  I pray that we don’t just sing but live that glorious song.

Alleluia!

Potential Is Overrated

I was chatting with a friend the other day and she nonchalantly said the words “potential is overrated.”  These words struck me.  I have devoted my entire life to a ministry that helps people realize their full potential.  Needless to say my ears perked up.  I needed to know more.

 Apparently she hears the word “potential” a lot.  “That girl is really great, she has a lot of potential;” or “you should give that guy a chance he has a lot of potential.”  Then she observed that most of these people did indeed have potential but all that meant was that they were not being who they could be.  It sounds to me like these people need to have less potential and more actual.

 When you think about it, potential doesn’t really exist.  Its just a thought.  Look at it like this:   I am either a baker or I am not.  I may be studying to become a professional baker, meaning that I am “potentially” a baker, but for today, in this moment, what I am not is a baker.

 This young lady was simply observing something interesting about  christians around her: Do we encourage friendships, relationships, and other facts of life based on potential?  Are you potentially good at your job or are you good at it? Being good at your job is praiseworthy.  Being potentially good at your job is neutral. If we start to praise what is neutral we can get into trouble.  Imagine if you chose your doctor based on their potential to treat illness.  Or even something far less serious, how about a car? Would you shop for a car that has the potential to run?    We want an actual doctor, an actual car, an actual friend, and an actual spouse.

 Don’t get me wrong, we want to see the potential in ourselves and those around us but we can’t stop there. Nor can we base important decisions off of what is not yet in someone or something.  If I choose to date someone based on their potential I have sold them short and myself short.  What I say with my actions is, “right now you are not good enough, one day I hope you will be.”  Doesn’t sound like things are off to a real good start.

 Once I see that I have a potential good (a gift, a talent, a possibility) I do myself and those around me a disservice by not actualizing it.  We are gifts! Our lives were not meant to be potentially lived, but actually lived.   It is only when I actually do something that it becomes real.   If I live a life of potential, I choose to live a life that is not real, a life that does not exist.  The facts are we ARE real, we are flesh and blood, we DO exist and so we need what is actual.

 The call to be Christian is the call to realize our goodness and the goodness in those around us; the God in those around us.  In order to do this it takes courage, risk, and love.  We actually have what it takes.  G.K Chesterton once advised, “reach for the moon and even if you miss you’ll land among the stars.”

 Do you live for what is potential or for what is actual?

 I have to thank my young friend for calling me on to actual holiness.  She was right…

potential is overrated.

ONE

Around the time of Corpus Christi, I cannot help but think of the martyrs who made this feat possible.  Because of their deaths we are free to celebrate, free to worship. This feast is not just focusing on the Eucharist but on Christ’s body!

We are the body of Christ.  Today, many people in that body are undergoing persecutions. Sure no one has ever thrown a rock at me or anything like that. No, the attack has been much more subtle, much more subdued−in the States that is. We cannot exactly pin point the battle ground or even name the attackers. I watch action movies and I’m always in awe of their bravery. However, their attackers are easily named. You know who is good and who is evil. It’s much easier to face the situation when you know what you are up against and who you are facing. The current persecution we are undergoing seems to be much more unseen and quiet. I think the battle ground is in the mind and the heart. It’s hard to look the attackers in the face. And do you know why? I think we are the attackers. We are our own worst persecutors.

 

I truly believe that the greatest threats to the body of Christ are complacency, tolerance, and relativism. What makes these persecutors so aggressive is that you can’t look to Heaven and say, “Father do not hold this sin against them.” Who are the THEM? You cannot see them, touch them, hear them, etc. They live inside us like an infectious disease.  They are the greatest threats to our being One Body in Christ.

 

Complacency is just another word for tolernace that leads us to relativism. Look at it like this: Imagine how boring our favorite movies would be if the protagonists were tolerant. If they said, “well I don’t agree with Loki, Lex or Raz but who am I to… (fill in the blank)” Thor would have allowed the frost giants to take over and Loki would be sitting on the throne, Tony Stark would have died in that cave and there would be no Iron Man, Steve Rogers would be a whimp, Natasha would be a terrorist, Bruce would be a snob, Clark would be a hick, etc. The list goes on and on. Furtermore, I heard Matthew Kelly say, “think about it: we do not have to tolerate what is good. I mean when is the last time you “tolerated” an ice-cream cone?” It’s only when something is not so good that we are told to “tolerate” it. Shouldn’t we be living for what is good? When something is not good, isn’t that when we should not be tolerating it? A complacent mentality leads us to believe that a bad situation is someone elses problem, tolerance tells us that we have to give misguided compassion to that problem. (Emphasis on the word misguided because we need compassion in all situations, it just needs to be rooted in authentic love, which seeks the good of the other). Worn down by complacency and tolerance we learn to adopt a relative perspective that says there is no such thing as a problem.  And that’s a problem.  We are called to be one body in Christ. We are not called to turn a blind eye in a bad situation.  The longer we wait to be the changing force in the world, the sicker the body becomes.  Each of us have our role to play.  St. Paul would say, “we are many parts but one body.”

 

I ask each one of you to spend just a few minutes in silence this week with Jesus in the Eucharist and ask yourselves: In what ways do I persecute myself? Do you throw stones at yourself? Stones of complacency, tolerance, and relativism.  Perhaps you blame weakness? Or fear? Do you tend to look at the world and see problems and think it is someone else’s job to fix? Do you even think about the problems of the world?  If so, what have you done to stop them?  Have you prayed or taken action?

 

I’ve recently been surprised at the lack of support the Christian community has shown Merriam Ibrahim, Pastor Saeed Abedini, and other people like them.   Twice I have posted about Merriam’s cause on my facebook wall. Those posts went largely “unliked” and “unshared”. When I talk to people about her they seem shocked.  My BuzzFeed quizzes get more attention.  The fact is we are afraid to care about people like Merriam and Pastor Saeed. Secertly, complacency, tolerance, and relativism have crept in.

 

Answering the quesitons above is a good starting point. It allows us to help identify the battle. What lies do you listen to? We all have those nagging lies that run through our head, “it’s not my job to…, Who am I to …, etc. I believe we are our own worst persecutors. By failing to live the call to greatness we throw the first stones. It’s time for us Christians to start being Christians! Jesus said that we would do even greater things than He (Jn14:12). Do you believe you can do greater things than Christ? I admit that it’s hard to accept; even more frightening to step into. There will always be fear. There will always be excuses. We were made for more than complacency, tolerance, and relativism. We are Christ’s body! We were made to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth.

 

I pray on this feast that all of us will come to a deeper understanding of this mystery and be given the courage “to walk worthy in the manner of the call we have received (Ephesians 4:1).”

 

 

I dedicate these words to all men and women who undergo persecution so that I may receive Christ in the Eucharist on a regular basis. I beg forgiveness from those men and women for squandering this gift. Thank you for your sacrifce.

 

May Christ’s Peace be with us all.