Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Pope Benedict's farewell

Pope Benedict XVI have his final General Address today. Part of me is sad to see him step down, and part of me is excited about the conclave and seeing the next chapter of the Church's history. The massively negative/misinformed media coverage bothers me, so I've mostly been ignoring it. It's not that I don't listen to any criticisms of the Church. The leaders of the Church have been wrong about a lot of things and should be criticized. Corruption should be brought to light and eliminated. But the institution transcends her people. The Church always stands for Truth and love and Christ. Her followers often fall short, but that doesn't change what I feel about the Church. I just hope this time of transition can be used as an opportunity to show the beauty and love of the faith.

Pope Benedict said in his address today: "At this time, I have within myself a great trust [in God], because I know - all of us know - that the Gospel's word of truth is the strength of the Church:  it is her life. The Gospel purifies and renews: it bears fruit wherever the community of believers hears and welcomes the grace of God in truth and lives in charity. This is my faith, this is my joy...

Making rosaries and robes look so cool.

"We are in the Year of Faith, which I desired in order to strengthen our own faith in God in a context that seems to push faith more and more toward the margins of life. I would like to invite everyone to renew firm trust in the Lord. I would like that we all entrust ourselves as children in the arms of God, and rest assured that those arms support us and us to walk every day, even in times of struggle. I would like everyone to feel loved by the God who gave His Son for us and showed us His boundless love. I want everyone to feel the joy of being Christian. In a beautiful prayer to be recited daily in the morning says, 'I adore you, my God, I love you with all my heart. I thank You for having created me, for having made ma Christian.' Yes, we are happy for the gift of faith: it is the most precious good, that no one can take from us! Let us thank God for this every day, with prayer and with a coherent Christian life. God loves us, but He also expects that we love Him!"

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

St. Sebastian



St. Sebastian was a third-century martyr. He was born in Gaul but lived in Milan. He was an officer in the imperial guard; it is said he joined the army so he could defend confessors and martyrs without drawing too much attention. He encouraged believers to keep their faith as they were tortured and martyred. When the emperor Diocletian found out that Sebastian was a Christian in 286, he ordered Sebastian killed. He was shot with arrows, which is how he is often depicted. However, when St. Irene of Rome retrieved his body, she discovered that he was still alive. She nursed him back to health. He went to the emperor and criticized him for his treatment of Christians. As a result, Sebastian was clubbed to death and buried along the Via Appia. He is sometimes called the saint who was martyred twice.

In the Middle Ages, St. Sebastian was known as the protector from the bubonic plague. His feast day is January 20. He is the patron of archers, athletes, and soldiers.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Reconciled

"Reconciled"

The sun paints an intricate abstract
Behind the cloudy sky
I exit the church
With wine on my lips
And a tabula rasa on my soul.
I am enveloped
By champagne and rose rays.
All creation is cast in golden glow.
We are all pure,
Filled with Light
Not of this world,
Golden, gilded, holy.

I drive east, back into shadow,
A white horizon in the west.
Inside, I am white,
I am rose,
I am golden.
The flame inside me glows
In communion or alone.
I hold onto the Beauty
Through a darkening night.
Sinlessness and sunsets
Are fleeting reminders
Of what will be.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Geez, I Get It


Being an adult sucks sometimes. Sometimes I worry. Sometimes I panic. Sometimes I wallow in hopelessness. Sometimes I yell at God, demanding His intervention. 
And He hits me over the head with answers until I’m ready to stop worrying, calm down, and listen. When I finally take the time to calm down, the messages are so clear my initial response is, “Geez, I get it; stop hitting me over the head!”

I’ve been reevaluating a lot of things this week and been trying to make decisions about my future. I thought I was evenly torn at best, trapped at worst, and sure that there wasn’t a good option. Then within 24 hours, at least five different events or people provided me with the exact same advice, like God was repeating a message to me in every medium until I listened. Geez, I get it. 

It doesn’t make anything easier, effort-wise. I still have to do the work and make the decisions. But it does calm me down and help me look at things from a more rational place. I’m not in an abyss. There’s someone (really, lots of caring someones) to catch me if I stumble. Hopeless causes aren’t in fact hopeless.

When thinking about this, I thought about the last time I got demanding of God to tell me something. When I looked back at my blog, it was almost a year ago to the day that I posting Yelling at God. The situation was completely different, but I still reacted the same way. Not praying about it so much as demanding God to provide a solution, followed by immediate regret of my actions. Is this some bizarre seasonal outlet? I certainly hope not, although the predictability would be nice. The biggest motivator for improving my prayer life is that I definitely don’t want to be repeating this pattern a year from now. I shouldn’t act this awful toward God in my moments of weakness.

I imagine me rolling my eyes and adolescently saying, “Geez, I get it.” And God is rolling His eyes and patiently responding, “No, you don’t.”

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

St. Rita



St. Rita was born in Italy in 1381. She wanted to join a convent, but her parents arranged a marriage for her. After 20 years of marriage, her violent husband was stabbed by an enemy. He repented before he died because of Rita’s prayers. After her two sons died shortly after, Rita was admitted into an Augustinian convent. The story behind her entry to the convent is that when she first tried to go, the doors were locked. Rita was miraculously transported inside. In the morning when the sisters found her inside, they couldn’t turn her away and she was allowed to join the order.

She is known to have had a great devotion to the Passion of Christ and to have prayed, “Please let me suffer like you, Divine Savior.” Upon praying this, one of the thorns from the crucifix pricked her forehead, leaving a deep wound which did not heal for the rest of her life. Her feast day is May 22, and she is the patron of impossible causes.
 
My favorite part of St. Rita’s story isn’t the miracles (although stigmata stories are fascinating); it’s that she is the patron of impossible causes. By definition, impossible causes are, well, impossible. All hope is gone. Yet with God, the impossible is possible. Just because something seems impossible from our limited view doesn’t mean we shouldn’t still pray about it. Impossible doesn’t mean hopeless.

Friday, February 15, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 61)



Papal abdication and the beginning of Lent? What a hell of a week for the Church. (I can’t decide if it’s an appropriate or a perfectly inappropriate use of “hell.”) I already wrote a bit on Pope Benedict’s announcement that he’s stepping down, so for Quick Takes, I’ll focus on my Lenten plans:

1. Reading: The campus Catholic Center is handing out books, Rediscover Catholicism. I think I’m still in the process of first discovery, but I’m planning on making a good dent in this.

2. Devotions: I got a book of daily Celtic devotions for Christmas, and I’m going to try to make it a routine.

3. Rosary: I could be ambitious and say I’ll do it daily, but I’m going to be realistic and aim for twice a week. 

4. Fasting/Abstinence: Along with giving up sweets, I’m following the Church instructions on abstinence on Fridays. But as a poor college kid, I don’t eat meat every day already, so I’m going to make sure my meals on Fridays are particularly simple.

5. Reconciliation: Required to go during the season, but definitely need to go anyway. Pretty straightforward.

6. Adoration: I love Adoration, and there are increased opportunities for it during Lent.

7. Ok, this isn’t really Lent-related, but I just loved this video. A story of the first man’s best friend.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

St. Valentine


It’s a commonly held opinion that the only people who think Romeo and Juliet is romantic are people who have never read/seen Romeo and Juliet. A guy with who falls for any flavor of the week is attracted to a na├»ve girl, and several people die as a result. Valentine’s Day is the Romeo and Juliet of holidays. It seems romantic until you realize that forcing displays of affection is not only disingenuous but not at all romantic. That’s my opinion of modern Valentine’s Day.

Now, I’m not a Down with Love girl. I like romance; I cry watching Love Actually or reading Sense and Sensibility. I like getting flowers. I just want them on a day when the prices aren’t marked up 400%. I want flowers picked out of sincere affection not cultural obligation. Where is the love in buying flowers and candy and dinner to fend off an angry partner?
 
Valentine’s Day isn’t supposed to be this shallow expression of romance. St. Valentine was a martyr who was killed for trying to convert the Roman emperor around 269. They tried to beat him to death, but when that didn’t work, he was beheaded on February 14. Valentine is also known for aiding and marrying Christians at a time when Christians were being persecuted in Rome, which is how his story got attached to the celebration of couples in the Middle Ages. I hate that a bold martyr’s memory is watered down to Hallmark cards and dinners-for-two. But he probably enjoys seeing all the expressively happy couples. He is the patron of love, young people, and happy marriages, as well as beekeepers and epileptics.

St. Francises tease St. Valentine about his holiday.