27 November 2015

Juxta Crucem Tecum Stare

Today I stood with you beneath the cross,
And felt more clearly than I ever did
That you became our Mother only there.
Even an earthly mother faithfully
Seeks to fulfill the last will of her son.
But you became the handmaid of the Lord.
The life and being of the God made Man
Was perfectly inscribed in your own life.
So you could take your own into your heart,
And with the lifeblood of your bitter pains
You purchased life anew for every soul.
You know us all, our wounds, our imperfections;
But you also know the celestial radiance
Which your Son's love would shed on us in heaven.
Thus carefully you guide our faltering footsteps,
No price too high for you to lead us to our goal.
But those whom you have chosen for companions
To stand with you around the eternal throne,
They here must stand with you beneath the cross,
And with the lifeblood of their own bitter pains
Must purchase heavenly glory for those souls
Whom God's own Son entrusted to their care.

St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, written on Good Friday in 1938

14 November 2015

Incarnational Evangelization

This week I was given multiple opportunities to have really awesome conversations with a few Protestants and an Atheist. It felt so good to have really meaningful conversations with people I hardly know. We didn't talk much about ourselves, but about Truth. Although when I talk about Truth, I would be remiss not to mention what God has done in my life, especially over the past few years.

I was also able to see the ways in which my current job has influenced my ability to evangelize. Personal finance is so touchy, people are very guarded about the way they view, spend, and save money. Even though I am the financial professional, sometimes it is difficult to get a good grasp on someone's financial situation. I've spent the last two years learning to craft questions for my clients to help them self realize what they should do, and provide financial education along the way. I'm pretty good at it, but I still have a long way to go. For a depiction (which I find hilarious and accurate) of my day to day life, watch this video. Warning: one f bomb at the end.

This year I've also spent a lot of time getting inside the minds of 8th and 9th grade girls and learning about what makes them tick. I'm far better at financial planning, let me tell you. One of the things I appreciate so much more about FOCUS and evangelizing to college students and young adults is that the men and women who are being evangelized are much more rational than my 8th and 9th grade girls. In a lot of ways, I read and thought myself into the faith. I had a lot of emotional experiences of God when I was in high school, and I do believe that those are the seeds of faith. When I got to college, it was more important to me to know what I believed. Today, my faith is pretty intellectual. This has kept me coming back for more, even when I couldn't feel God moving in my life, and for this I am extremely grateful. I am nowhere near as holy as God wants me to be and I fail all.the.time., but I'm so stubborn that I just won't quit. When I'm having conversations with adults, I feel like I'm able to get an understanding of their points of views and ask questions to hopefully help them self realize what I want to tell them, instead of just telling them flat out. I never knew how to do this as a missionary. I would like to spend a lot more time getting better at this. I don't mean to sound manipulative, but I do think it can be an effective strategy in helping someone see Truth. 

I'm even more convinced that authentic evangelization comes from living in community and building real, tangible relationships. The internet is so annoying to me lately, from #redcupgate to all the hashtag activists. It drives me nuts. Everyone has an opinion, no one takes any action. The world is changed for the better in communities of people who are inspired to change their schedules to help another person. (One of the defining characteristics of a disciple maker from the FOCUS Discipleship Road Map)

Anyways, right now I'm reading some of the writings of Edith Stein (Sr. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross)  and I wanted to share with you some of the things I read that moved me this week (parenthesis and bolds are mine):
"Those who attain the freedom of these heights (holiness) and expansive views have outgrown what is usually called "happiness" and "unhappiness." They may have to fight hard for worldly existence, may lack the support of a warm family life or, correspondingly, of the human community which sustains and supports-- but lonely and joyless they can no longer be. Those who live with the Holy Church and its liturgy, i.e., as authentic Catholics, can never be lonely: they find themselves embedded in the great human community; everywhere, all are united as brothers and sisters in the depths of their hearts."
She goes on to write:
"According to everything which we learn from personal experience and the history of salvation, the Lord's method is to form persons through other persons... Persons are used as instruments to awaken and nurture the divine spark. Thus, natural and supernatural factors reveal that even in the life of grace, "it is not good that man should be alone.""

God is good!

St. Frances Cabrini, pray for us. 

10 November 2015

I Did It!

Today I learned how to drive a stick shift!!!

I'm so proud of myself.

It was tough to get going and I killed the car probably dozens of times. But it was awesome. And now I feel super accomplished.

On the way home, in my car, I even kept noticing the shift changes my car was doing automatically, and my left foot was even like what? Nothing to do?

If I were ever in an emergency situation where I needed to drive a stick, now I know for sure that I can!

St. Frances of Rome, pray for us!

04 November 2015

Death: A New Perspective

Today I gave a talk to a bunch of 7th and 8th graders about the Holy Spirit. Never in my life have I felt so inadequate and unworthy to give a talk. I talked it through with some trusty friends about what points to get across. Most of these kids have never met the Holy Spirit before, so this was really an introduction. I didn't know where to start. 30 minutes to cover the third person of the Trinity??

Anyways, it went well, pray that the kids will be radically open to the Holy Spirit working in their lives!

While I was researching for the talk, I found this:

I am SO excited for this project to come out. And my friend Jenn McAleer's parents started 4pm Media, which is super cool. I LOVE the image of the Holy Spirit as a wild goose. The middle schoolers loved it too, I think.

So I prepared a lot for this talk. Maybe more than I have ever prepared for a talk before. There was editing. That's how nervous I was. I kept asking myself, "what is the ONE thing I want them to know about the Holy Spirt?" And I still don't have an answer to that question. 

I was trying to find the answer today, even after the whole talk had been prepared. I went to Adoration and sat in the front row. I was in arms length of Jesus and I asked Him to tell me what to say. He didn't. I took that to mean that He was cool with what I had prepared, so we went with that. But what we did talk about was death. It's been on my mind ever since we put Bella down, and also with All Saints and All Souls Days. Sorry that it took me putting my dog to sleep to get a new perspective on death. The Lord uses all things for good!

I never talk about this because I'm supposed to be holy but if you've read my blog for any length of time you know how feeble my attempts at becoming holy are, so the cat's out of the bag: death and eternity often scare me. It is the unknown about all of it that is the most scary, I think. It's also scary that it's permanent and can never be undone. I don't like change. I know a lot about numbers, but the idea of infinity can't be contained in my brain, and I don't like that. I've heard that Heaven described as more real than earth. That is a comforting thought to me, because it's a promise of something similar to what we experience now, but more authentic, more good, true, and beautiful.

While I was with Jesus today, thinking about how Jesus said that it was better for Him to go so that He would send the Advocate. And at the end of our time on earth, it is good for us to go too. It is BETTER than staying here. Death is a good thing. I thought of death as if it were birth. We have that image in the prayer of St. Francis when we talk about being born into eternal life. Birth is permanent, a baby cannot be unborn once it is born. When a woman becomes pregnant, the baby's birth is inevitable, and it is a great thing. The alternative is worse. Death is permanent but it isn't the end. It's a transition into a place where we can become who God truly made us to be.

This song has literally been on repeat in my mind. It's not her original, check out John Mark McMillan's version if you prefer more of a rock feel.
"On Friday, a thief, on Sunday, a King... the man Jesus Christ laid death in his grave." YES.

To live is Christ, to die is gain!

Veni Sancte Spiritus.