Oh Lord, purify me, make me a chalice in which you dwell, offer your sacrifice in me and spread your love through me. Let me shine like gold, adorn me with the jewels of virtue that I may always be open to you. Fill me. Overflow me. Let me be like that most perfect vessel, the Singular Vessel of Devotion, She to whom I cry for protection against the Evil One. I ask this for your glory, for the vessel is nothing without the sustenance inside, the cup nothing unless it is filled. Oh Lord, purify me.

Give me a word, Abba

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Doing Your Duty

Sometimes you just don’t want to do something. We all have our duties and responsibilities – going to work or class, filling out applications, doing household chores, the list goes on and on. Most of the time that “something” ought to be done regardless if you feel like doing it or not. It’s safe to say everyone has experienced days when all trace of motivation is hidden very safely from sight or perhaps never existed in the first place. It could be the prodding of “the double edged sword of being lazy and being bored or a simple proclivity for procrastination. In the words of a former upholsterer turned musician, “Sometimes you aren’t inspired to upholster an old chair. Sometimes it’s work and you just do it because you’re supposed to. Not every day of your life are you going to wake up, the clouds are going to part, the rays from heaven are going to come down and you’re going to [be instantly inspired]”. Whether it’s dilapidated chairs or forcing yourself to wake up too early in the morning and get to class, chances are you aren’t bursting with excitement at the thrill of a stripped screw or an eight o’clock exam.

But doing the responsible thing regardless is not quite the end of the story. Often that to-do list hanging over your head requires you to “force yourself to do it because you know something good can come out of it”, as the upholsterer continues to explain. Should you just settle for doing your duty because you’ve been told it’s the thing to do? Or should you do it because in doing so you can make some improvement? Isn’t that why we do things - because we see that a good can come from it? There is some purpose to the action, however small. You should want to trudge to class, not only because if you miss it you might get marked down, but because you genuinely want to learn and that learning can later serve your life.    

I can testify to the impatience of wanting to skip ahead to the part where everything is finished for me. I’ve always loved writing but am not as concerned as I probably ought to be when it comes to grammar. I love playing music and attempting to write it but theory easily bores me. You can’t become a better writer if you disregard the rules that were created in order to help you write nor can you truly become a better musician without delving into a deeper understanding of the theory behind it.    

I could probably argue that I wasn’t "inspired" to write a post for the Third Order. It’s not at all because I do not want to be part of it or because I have nothing to say; it’s because blogging is unfamiliar and even strange to me. You mean I have to come up with a topic, organize my thoughts and then put it on display for the world to see? In some ways it’s a lot like pinning up in studio. Still, after everything I’ve said I don’t have an excuse and, who knows, maybe some good will come out of it.         

Sunday, June 24, 2012

St. John and the Real

Ok, so I like Icons.
Today is the Birthday of the Baptist. We often think of him as this rough almost hobo who "cried out in the desert" and went around pouring water over people's heads. Now, it's true that he was rather free with water in his proto-sacramental sort of way, but too frequently we think of saints as these distant extra-human beings who do all this weird stuff. The reality is that they experienced the same things we do.

Actually, reality is what I'd like to talk about. Reality is deep. To say that ice cream is a frozen mixture of egg, milk and sugar is not only simplistic and definitional, but also shallow. There is much more to ice cream than its ingredients and its temperature. What of the refreshment it brings to numerous lake-goers in south eastern Wisconsin? What of the joy it brings to those same lake-goers? Ice cream is, in short, yummy. But that's also not all it is.

But even more than ice cream, we ourselves are deep. As the Gospel from yesterday (New Lectionary) stated, if God looks out for the sparrow and the wild-flower, how much more each individual human? We are even deeper than plants, animals and frozen deserts.

Our depth, our reality comes from being made in the image of God. True, we are fallen beings, but because God inscribed his Love on our hearts and minds, we are able to connect with him on a profound level. That connection can come through emotion, it can come through thought and it can come through our actions, but to allow all our experiences to be flavored by just one is to short-change God's gift, to reject the depth of Reality which he bestowed upon us.

God is, ultimately, Reality itself. Our lives are real because all life, all creation participates in his existence. We long, by nature, for the real, the authentic and He is the fulfillment of that longing.

Often, however, he draws us to himself through other things, other people. Thus we get the sacraments, signs which are that which they signify. The bread and wine are changed to His Body and Blood and through the appearance of food, we are brought into contact with reality. Our faith is deepest when all three aspects of ourselves assent to and embrace that reality. Truly, a faith which is not bolstered by emotion is still a valuable faith (who can control what they feel about something?Even John the Baptist felt abandoned and unsure when in Prison he sent his disciples to make sure that Jesus was indeed the Messiah), but it would not be out of place to say that with the emotion, our experience of God is that much deeper as it involves our whole person.

It is through sacrifice and a proper approach to the inevitable suffering of this world that we are able to focus our intellect, emotion and will on the Face of Reality. Just as a vineyard is pruned, we must strip away all that tempts us to stay swimming in the shallow end. Reality can be as scary as a bottomless lake. "Out of the depths have I cried to thee, o Lord!" But if we call to Him and he brings us up from the depths of ourselves, we will be able to truly appreciate the depth of his Love, which is the Ultimate Reality. We are called by our creation to participate in that Reality, that Love which is the Life of God Himself.


Monday, June 18, 2012

Changes

Things change, people change, changes change. All things change, as one of the pre-socratic philosophical camps asserted. I have been away from this blog for quite a while, dealing with some pretty substantial changes in my life, least of which was finals in Rome and returning to the USA. All this change has put my mind to a lot of work, not all of it helpful to reflections on blogs. I haven't been doing quite enough reading for my mind to find things to reflect on other than personal happiness and the blessings of God (but you don't want to hear about that, do you?) In any case, I hope to start up again. My thoughts aren't nearly important enough to have a blog all to their own, so I'm letting in another contributor to help spice things up and perhaps to spread a little happiness like she likes to do. She is, like me, an architecture student and a Catholic and a darn'd good both.

Hopefully this will be a welcome change to all and that the Third Order, the voice of a lay Catholic, will now be the voice of two.

These pages are just our reflections on life, the universe and everything. We are not trying to expose heresy or create an atmosphere of division, but hopefully we can help anyone who reads find the True Answer.