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, July 11, 2013

Emmanuel

One of my favourite images of Christ is Christ the King. Perhaps this is because I love the Middle Ages so much, or perhaps it is the other way around. He hasn't told me yet. Being a knight of the King, and also, of course, the Queen, means a certain responsibility to His mission. This means sometimes going out into the wild and encountering hardship.

And one thing that often comes with being on said mission is a feeling of loneliness, of despair, of apathy, of betrayal. Does the King really care that I am far away from Him? Does He really care that His mission isn't all strawberries and cream? Isn't it more likely that I will never see Him again?

And this can lead to further feelings of: "It's not worth it. Maybe I just won't go back to Him since He doesn't care." And herein lies the problem. When we get to this point, we sort of have committed Blasphemy against the King.

The thing about this King, however, as opposed to other kings, is that He is never far away. He is, in fact, always closer to you than you are yourself. We think we're alone, but we aren't.

Distance (this is a slight digression) is always difficult to deal with. We tend to see only the reality of physical separation and thus we lose hope. We think "We can't deal with this. We're not going to succeed. We're not going to survive this mission. We are alone."

Boo, hoo.

But we forget the spiritual reality of Nearness through the love of God. C.S. Lewis often made the point that the Spiritual Realm was harder and more "real" in a sense than the material realm. It hurt more, but it was also able to span distances that matter can't. It can pierce even through the folds of time.

And this is why God is always near us. He is the almighty spirit who pierces completely the folds of time and matter because, as eternal, He is always present in all times and places. His nearness has been made known many times throughout history, but most importantly when He pierced the very matter He created and took possession of it and clothed Himself in it. Never has He been closer to us than when we can touch Him through our bodies, which God made to enact our wills. Jesus Christ, the King, is always with us in spirit, penetrating into our lives with the sharpness of the Eternal, but is also with us daily and even hourly in the Eucharist. In the Eucharist He abides with us in physical form and thus always relates to us through our bodies and our souls.

So on our missions, whether we be separated from those we love, or are with them daily, let us remember that we have a God who never abandons us and will always hear us when we call on his name.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Sad Sights of the Internet

My sister got me involved in Pinterest. I never had a moment to use it until this summer and now I’m baking delicious Earl Grey cookies and suggesting little DIY tips and admitting, somewhat shamefully, “Oh, I found it on Pinterest.” I told my mom that Pinterest is the new way for people to spread their bizarre tips from their grandmas about rubbing garlic on bee stings and putting vinegar and baking soda in your hair to make it grow faster. And who knew that the white stain a wet mug can leave on wood can be erased by rubbing in some mayonnaise or toothpaste? (It's true and saves you in the event you set your french press down in the wrong spot while your mother was out of town.)

While it is often a great way to prevent boredom and find clever ways to solve issues, Pinterst falls victim to all the issues of the modern age: namely promoting skewed thoughts on body image or outlooks on life. You know those super cheesy pictures people post with text formatted over an image? They look a little something like this:

Wut. Go read the catechism.
Or this:

Ugh.
Or:
Just no.
And this is just sad: 
"Your dream body"? No wonder people are confused when they get so many mixed messages. When Dove's Real Beauty Campaign videos spiked in popularity some lone voices warned that "Dove is owned by Unilever which owns AXE which puts out ads that objectify women and perpetuate those same beauty standards that Dove attacks in its ads."

Anyways, that's a whole 'nother topic for another time. In terms of these pictures and quotes that circulate around the internet I feel like they aren't really helping any problems but just perpetuating mindsets. Especially the "romance" ones. Yeesh. A number of these are all linked to specific tumblrs and the ones with the "thingsboysdowelove" signature have made it famous enough for clever and hilarious parodies. Such as:

And:
And last but not least:
It sort of reminds me of the ignorant literary references that go something like "I want a romance like Romeo and Juliet!" or Taylor Swift singing "I was a scarlet letter". What? No, no, no. Think it through, people, and don't get sucked into superficiality.
Dove is owned by Unilever which owns AXE which puts out ads that objectify women and perpetuate those same beauty standards that Dove attacks in its ads. - See more at: http://www.sandpapersuit.com/2013/04/dove-axe-unilever-and-real-beauty.html#sthash.NFycy45S.dpuf
Dove is owned by Unilever which owns AXE which puts out ads that objectify women and perpetuate those same beauty standards that Dove attacks in its ads. - See more at: http://www.sandpapersuit.com/2013/04/dove-axe-unilever-and-real-beauty.html#sthash.NFycy45S.dpuf
Dove is owned by Unilever which owns AXE which puts out ads that objectify women and perpetuate those same beauty standards that Dove attacks in its ads. - See more at: http://www.sandpapersuit.com/2013/04/dove-axe-unilever-and-real-beauty.html#sthash.NFycy45S.dpuf
Dove is owned by Unilever which owns AXE which puts out ads that objectify women and perpetuate those same beauty standards that Dove attacks in its ads. - See more at: http://www.sandpapersuit.com/2013/04/dove-axe-unilever-and-real-beauty.html#sthash.NFycy45S.dpuf

Monday, July 8, 2013

Lazy

I recently finished the book "A Severe Mercy," which if you haven't read it, you should. It's the story of two lovers who find Christ and allow Him to transform their love into something quite supernatural.

Without giving too much away, the point the author is making is that no matter what, our earthly loves must die, must in fact be given to God to sacrifice in order for them to be resurrected and created anew according to God's plan for us.

Well, it's damned hard to give up everything to God. In the Schoenstatt Movement (a movement within the Church to which I belong), there is the concept of the blank check, which is essentially giving your whole soul without reservation to Our Lady, who dispenses the grace of God, so that she might take any amount out of us to be used for the Kingdom. It's something I've always wanted to do, but never gotten around to officially.

So, after reading "A Severe Mercy," it became even clearer that this is something which God wants of us all. So I decided "Yes, let's do this."

Then, my spirit was willing but my flesh was weak:


In short, the moment that one WANTS to make some major step in the spiritual life, the landscape starts to look less like this:

And more like this:

It's kind of daunting and it becomes easy to just say "forget about it." For those of us who both don't like forgetting about it and are assailed by impatience, it not only becomes daunting, but also completely, desperately impossible. The minute you determine to do something good for your soul, some demon comes in and says "heh, nah, not worth it," or "umm, no you can't."

And sometimes I listen.

But there's another better way. Is easier always better? In short, no. Look at these pictures:

View from top of Mountain
View from top of Plain
Road to Mountain
Road to Plain
My apologies to all those who live on the Great Plains or similar climates, but the mountains are so much more exciting. More hard work, to be sure, greater risk of falls and you might have to try over and over again, but in the end it's worth it.

But I can't do it alone. In fact, I can't really do it at all. God must perform his perfect sacrifice in the person of Christ and all I can do is say "Here, take this too, if you will."

And...he will.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Home

A question that has occurred to me is: Can we find a home here on earth? What I mean by that is some place where you belong and where God has granted you particular rest and consolation. I am particularly prone to restlessness. I don't like staying in one place for very long, but it's mostly because I want to find Home. I want to be there and stay there and be at peace. St. Augustine would say, and I would tend to agree with him, that my heart is restless until it rests in God. But can we rest in God to any degree here on earth?

This may be heresy, but I think you can. Especially for those of us who are called to the married life, God will give some place, some situation a special gift of his presence so as to help create a grace-filled, peaceful, restful space for a family to develop. This peace, this rest is not foreign to the human experience. I have been on a silent retreat and I have felt the rest and peace that it brought. I have been in the presence of a loving human being whom I can love in return and felt the joy and serenity which I desire.



All of these things which hint, I know, at my heavenly home, also point to my home here on earth: my vocation, where I am to live, what I am to hold as important, what I am going to support and promote, with whom I will spend my life.

And this earthly environment, this HOME can only be the resting place for the longer journey, the inn on the way to the city. But God will give us an inn which will recall the heavenly city even more, and though we find peace and rest and joy there, our longing will still be there and be intensified.

At least I hope it will. I pray it will.
I want to go to there.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Does truth offend?

Oftentimes, we humans hear something that someone says and react with offence. Sometimes it is a politician who says that rape victims can not conceive. Sometimes it is a priest who says that the doctrines of the church must be updated to address the needs of the world. Sometimes it is a magazine who says it eschews labels. Sometimes it is a theologian who says that we are all sinners.

Some of these things may actually be offensive, and thus our offence is proper, but let us look further as to how we respond to this offense. When the politician remarks on rape, do we immediately discredit everything he stands for? Does he become the cone of shame around the platform of his party? When a priest dismisses doctrine, do we immediately flee from the sacraments he performs? Do we seek out other priests, ones we KNOW will give us Christ fully? Do we spread rumors about the priest in order to diminish his reputation and move people to our side?

We do all these things and more. It is natural to over-react to offence, to extend our offence at words to offence at a person. We let the person become the enemy. We make what they do define who they are in full. Not that what someone does is not directly related to who they are, but it is certainly not the whole picture. If we allow one thing that a person does define the rest of their activity and their existence, we would not get very far in interacting with anyone.

As we all know (and St. Augustine reaffirms in the opening chapters of "City of God"), we are all sinners and to some degree all deserve punishment for our offence against God and against our neighbour. We ought to correct each other in charity and strive to correct ourselves first of all, but we must not let our sins or the sins of others get in the way of our love for them.

And we must especially be prepared to listen to the truth they have to tell us, even if one aspect makes us uncomfortable or is in itself untrue. For example, St. Augustine is pretty hard on marriage, calling those who are married "weaker," which for those who are married can attest, it's not weak work. Plus, so many of those called to the "higher" vocation turn out to be much weaker and fall much harder than those who are married. The wording of St. Augustine might (and does) offend many people, yours truly included. However, the correct response is not to reject everything St. Augustine says as being the blatherings of an old cynical repressed man from the 4th century. We should try to understand what he says and why he says it. Then we should distinguish those teachings that are true from those opinions he holds that are offensive. Is it truly offensive, or are we just being sensitive? If the latter, we need to re-examine ourselves before we reject a Saint of the Church. Otherwise we risk alienating ourselves from the sound teaching of the Church and through it the Love of God.

We all do this, separate ourselves from truth because of the bearer of the truth. We must remember that the truth does not depend on who tells is. The truth is eternal and fixed. Christ is the Truth and he speaks through even the roughest most uncouth instruments. It is up to us to let our eyes see the Truth and let it transform our perception of the messenger so that we might see him or her as God does.