Sunday, March 31, 2013

"The Feast of Victory"

This is the feast of victory for our God
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

A few weeks ago, I attended a talk on the battle that's raging in our world - not the battles in the Middle East or in political circles, but the battle for souls. The priest related our task on earth to that of soldiers on a battlefield, fighting for life and pulling our fallen friends back to safety, building up an army for good and for God. There's no doubt in my mind that we're in the midst of a struggle and that we need to have courage to fight against evil. Although I agreed with the points he was making (and he had pretty powerful examples), I wasn't moved to action, so I spent a lot of time analyzing why not.

What I decided is that beauty is a much more powerful image to me than battle. I long for beauty and take comfort in finding it, whereas I shy away from confrontation. In a battle, I would be the nurse taking care of the soldiers, not one of the infantry. My mission is to take care of those around me and win over others through compassion and rational dialogue, which, in a sense, is still fighting the battle.

Another priest gave a homily the other day on his time in the Middle East as an air force chaplain. Each morning he spent time sitting on a picnic table, staring at the beautiful mountains in the distance. An officer walked by many mornings and one day stopped to ask what he was doing. The officer started sitting with him each morning in silence, staring at the mountains. To me that was a great reminder that even amidst war, there is still beauty, and we need to take time to recognize and appreciate it.

Jesus' death was a terrible event in history. He battled not just pain from scourgings, thorns, and nails, but also from scorn, abandonment, and despair. He was alone fighting for what was true, pouring out His blood for the souls of those who killed Him. What passion, what love! The road to the cross was painful and difficult, but it was beautiful, just as it's beautiful when a mother sacrifices sleep to sooth her baby, night after night, without complaint or recognition for her dedication.

Jesus fought the war against death and won. What a victory that is for the whole world - not just for one nation or one people, but for all. We're on the winning side. Although we know the outcome of the war, battles are still raging all around. On this Easter day, with the hymn "This is the Feast of Victory" still ringing in my ears from mass, the battle is real. The hymn has such power behind it with an organ and a whole congregation proclaiming Jesus' triumph over death. This is what we believe, and we're witnesses in the way we live our lives. Beauty and battle both have a role in the world today, as they did on the cross. How are we contributing?


Happy Easter!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

"Step By Step"

Step by step, You'll lead me
And I will follow You all of my days

I got to attend a parish mission talk tonight, the end of a three-day event. There were lots of good points made, but the one that really stuck with me didn't have much to do with the speaker's main objective. His topic was tithing, wealth, and giving, and I took a lot from his comments on the culture's lack of giving and how debt keeps us from giving.

What got me thinking was a small comment he made, about taking one step at a time towards God. I have such grand plans in my head for what will become of my life in the future, but right now I don't have the means to get there. I keep waiting until barriers are removed so I can finally start living for a purpose.

What I forget, though, is that life happens now. My plans may never work out, even if I feel they are my calling and purpose. What I'm doing now is who I am in God's eyes and in the eyes of those around me. I can't wait until the stars align - I've gotta live today and become the person I was meant to be, even if I can't fulfill the purpose that is on my heart.

So no more waiting. It's time to take one step at a time, not worrying about how each step furthers my "purpose" but keeping in mind how they will bring me closer to God and to who He wants me to be. I know those steps will lead me where I'm supposed to be, and really, following that path will ultimately lead to a deeper joy than I could have imagined for myself.

A quote from tonight that made me smile was
God loves you just the way you are...and He loves you too much to let you stay that way.
There's always more to do in our quest towards heaven. God keeps talking to us and pushing us; we just have to give in and follow along.

Good luck with your steps! Keep in mind: the view from the top has got to be spectacular, but you can only get there one step at a time.

Bell tower climb at Holy Hill - Hubertus, Wisconsin

Saturday, March 9, 2013

"In the Light"

(Taken from prayer journal, written 2/8/10 during Adoration)

All I want is to be in the light.

I want to feel exposed to God - bearing everything to Him, allowing Him to know me completely (because He does anyway). I don't want to feel I can hide anything, because I can't. God sees all and knows all. My heart is an open book, and if I can accept that, I can listen to His response - His love for me no matter what and His whisperings of what I should be doing and who I should become. Only by accepting His omniscience and His unconditional love can I then feel His peace in my life.

By making friends whose goals are the same as mine, I am hoping to be pushed into this more. By going to a Bible study and actively participating in discussions, I am bringing my faith back to the forefront of my thoughts - which will in tern translate to actions.

I want this - I want You, God. Guide me, strengthen me, chastise me, love me, be patient with me. I will continue to follow, listen, and accept my exposure.

Corn maze

Sunday, March 3, 2013

"Holiness is what I long for"

(Taken from prayer journal, written 1/25/10 during Adoration)

Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom

These words keep repeating over and over in my head. The phrase/plea captures the unworthiness of self and the reliance on God's mercy. The other phrase/lyrics that keeps running through my head is
Holiness is what I long for; holiness is what I need.
Holiness is what You want from me.

We are called to become perfect like Christ, even though we will never attain perfection. Although this should seem hopeless and disheartening, to know that others have been striving for the same thing, succeeding as much as humanly possible, and providing an example to follow is invigorating. If the saints could do it, why can't I?

This could mean changing a lot in my daily life, but what do I lose by it? Maybe some "fun" times with friends, but that is only momentary and not usually fulfilling. To know my friends better and help them out when they are struggling would provide so  much more joy than enjoying an evening where my heart tells me I'm not being me.

I want to know You and see You in the face of others. I cannot be perfect, but I can desperately try to become like You every minute of the day. At one point I began writing down things I had done for others each day, and I hope I can do that again. It gave me such a sense of peace to know I could touch someone else and make his/her day a little brighter.

I need to love without restraint, without regard to consequences or pain; to accept others and love them as they are, for who God made them to be. Their flaws were intentional. If God loves them anyway, why can't I? God, surround me with people who will help me on my journey, who will be supportive yet resolute, and who will hold me accountable.

Sadly, I can't always push myself, but that's why this journey was not meant to be taken alone. Without a community, faith struggles and new ideas are difficult to come by. On the other hand, blindly listening to a group can also be a hindrance to faith. Differing opinions are essential to a healthy and growing faith. I want to be like the phrase I have heard before:
Be in the world but not of the world.
I want to relate to all people, regardless of background, religious practice, or values. It may be difficult to accept these things, but I will continue to strive for it. The saints are such a source of inspiration, and I should read more about their works and lives.

Jesus, make me Your Hands - doing Your work in the world. Help me to find peace and share it with those around me every day, taking the time to reflect and recenter so I can continue going on whatever path You have set out for me. Your will be done.