16 August 2011

The Beginning of the End

Since I have been back in Auburn, my life has been a whirlwind!

I am back in my room (which once again looks like my room! (see my previous post from when I moved out here)) and nearly (relative term) finished unpacking/reorganizing. I got rid of a lot of the clothes I won't need after I graduate, including FIFTY t-shirts. Why on earth does any human need over fifty t-shirts?! It feels good to purge and get rid of things I don't need, and I feel like I can be a better missionary if I detach from material things and cling to the Lord.

Tomorrow is the first day of classes for (most of) the students of Auburn University. (My classes don't begin until Thursday, because I am only taking classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays this semester.) As this semester at Auburn begins, I just must say: I AM SO BLESSED TO BE ON THIS TEAM! My team (the four other FOCUS Missionaries, plus me) is the coolest. This past Thursday, we piled in Katie O.'s car and drove to Lake Martin for our Offsite. Most FOCUS teams take a few days before the semester to strategically plan the best way to reach the whole campus, and for team bonding time. We had a great time! We were there from Thursday to Saturday and had planning meetings for the semester, a long with mid-afternoon swims across the lake (not even kidding... a team that swims across lakes together stays together, proven fact.)

When we got back, we had the rest of the weekend to finish moving in and to prepare for our Student Leader Workshop, which took place today. The SLW is a time for all of the students we mentor (as well as the students they mentor) to come together to talk and pray about the future of FOCUS at Auburn, specifically this year. We were SO blessed today. My teammates gave inspiring talks to the students, and we talked through our goals for the year, as well as how to accomplish them. Overall, I'd say it was a success. The Holy Spirit was definitely present throughout the day.

I was privileged to give a short talk on Relational Evangelization. (I might post some notes on my talk in the near future.) I really enjoy speaking in front of people, and I hope that our students learned something from what I said.

As tomorrow marks the first day of my last semester as a college student, my team and I will be praying our Holy Hour together at 9am, so I will be praying for each of you, my lovely (anonymous) blog readers. If you have any prayer requests, email them to me at banderson.focusonline.org!

Saint Ignatius of Loyola and Saint Francis Xavier, pray for us!

09 August 2011

Saint Peter

Last Sunday, I attended Mass at Saint Peter's in Montgomery, Alabama. The reason I went to Saint Peter's was to help my friend Michael (who is a FOCUS Missionary at Georgia Southern University) with his Parish Talk, and although I had not previously read the readings, I thought it providential as soon as I heard the Gospel.

Peter is arguably Jesus' most trusted disciple. Jesus gives him the keys to the Kingdom when He says "You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:18). From this verse, the Catholic Church was founded by Christ, and Christianity began. (This is after Jesus asks the disciples, "Who do you say that I am?" and Peter responds, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.")

It gives me great hope to see how much Jesus loves Peter, and how faithful our Lord is to him, even after he fails. Matthew 16, where Jesus praises Peter, makes it easy to forget how many times Jesus rebukes Peter in previous chapters. Last Sunday, the Gospel was taken from Matthew 14, where Jesus walks (ON WATER!) to the disciples. Jesus calls to Peter to come to Him, and Peter gets out of the boat and he too, begins to walk on water. Then Peter sees how strong the wind is (he takes his eyes off of the Lord), and he begins to sink, only to have Jesus save him and rebuke his lack of faith. (See the picture at the top of my blog.)

As I said in my first blog post, Peter's accomplishment (trusting Jesus enough to get out of the boat) is followed by a sin of pride (becoming preoccupied with other things and not focusing on the Lord). Jesus believes in Peter, even when Peter does not believe that Jesus is enough for him!!! Isn't that incredibly good news?! The God of all creation, who came down from Heaven to die on a cross because of MY failures, believes in me, even when I turn my back on Him.

Sometimes, all of our senses fail us. We let our emotions take control and they deceive our intellect into thinking that a situation is something that it actually isn't. We want proof that God is working in our lives, and we neglect to look beyond the surface. It is these times when Christ's power is made perfect. When we are weak, He is strong.

My sweet friend CeeCee (FOCUS Missionary at Vanderbilt University) quoted Saint John Chrysostome in her blog post here. Check it out!

Also at Mass, one of the hymns sung was "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence." This hymn has been one of my favorites for quite some time, and my favorite verse is the fourth, which boldly proclaims:

At His feet the six-winged seraph,
cherubim, with sleepless eye,
veil their faces to the presence,
as with ceaseless voice they cry:
Alleluia, Alleluia,
Alleluia, Lord Most High!

It blows my mind to think of the Angels (who are in Heaven, at the feet of Jesus, and have been made perfect) as they veil their faces to the holy presence of the Lord. I think that God is SO merciful that He presents Himself to us (veiled) in the form of bread and wine, because He knows how prideful we are. If His presence were not veiled, how many of us would dare to look at Him face to face? My guess is that many people would think that they could withstand the fullness of the Glory of God, and would surely die because of His incomprehensible and eternal love in the face of our own sinfulness.

This reminds me of the fourth verse of Pange Lingua. (Pange Lingua was written by Saint Thomas Aquinas in the 13th Century, and contains the commonly known "Tantum Ergo" as it's last two verses (where my blog's title, Sensuum Defectui, came from).

The Latin is beautiful:

Verbum caro, panem verum
verbo carnem efficit:
fitque sanguis Christi merum,
et si sensus deficit,
ad firmandum cor sincerum
sola fides sufficit.

And translated, it means:
Word-made-Flesh, the bread of nature
by His word to Flesh He turns;
wine into His Blood He changes;-
what though sense no change discerns?
Only be the heart in earnest,
faith her lesson quickly learns.

During the Mass, our feeble senses fail to recognize the change from bread into the very body of the Savior. God knows that we are weak, and everyday when I am able to receive the Blessed Sacrament, I thank Him for allowing me the pleasure, even though I will never fully appreciate His Sacrifice (on this side of Heaven!) I, like Saint Peter, often fail to recognize the Lord's goodness, but I am constantly humbled by His faithfulness and His patience with me!

Saint Peter, pray for us!