Saturday, July 30, 2011

And so begins Redemption

I apologize for not blogging in a while; I returned from Europe on Wednesday night, and since then, have been flitting here and there for parties and such. But tonight I stayed home instead of journeying to the land of Club Rodeo; I thought it would be good to spend time with my family--and it was! My brother and I went to see "Captain America" (which was AWESOMELY EPIC; I think I even like it better than "Thor"), and I hung out with the rest of my family at home. Quite a lovely evening! And now I am taking some time to blog. Because I love blogging. Getting my thoughts out on paper (or a screen) is really good for me. I love being able to piece together what is in my mind, because it helps me develop ideas and connections. So here I go.

"The work of redemption began in utero." ("The Prayer of Mary" by Keith Fournier)

So I bought this book at Borders yesterday, because I had a gift card (thanks to being nominated for student of the month several months back), and because Borders is going out of business! Sad day.....e-books are nowhere near as awesome as an actual book with pages. But I digress...
I went to Adoration today, and just started reading the book. And right there, in the preface--BOOM! "The work of redemption began in utero." Just like that. So I sat there, and thought about it for a second. And then I was like "well, I can't fully develop my thoughts right now; I'll have to blog about it later." So I kept on reading the book, which I highly recommend reading, because it is awesome! So here I am, a little after 11 p.m., and its time for me to think about this sentence.

Jesus Christ came down to Earth to redeem us. Everyone knows the story. The whole Old Testemen sets the stage for the greatest work of redemption that will ever be known; the Son of God saving the world, opening the gates of Heaven, throught the ultimate sacrifice: bringing about life through His death. But how did He come down? Again, the story is very cliched at times. Sweet little Jewish girl, doing her thing. Wahhh woooh wahh! Angel appears! Sweet Jewish girl is surprised, but says "Whatever God wants, and I'm good with it." Next thing ya know, she's off to help her cousin, who is very pregnant. And then follows the whole saga of this journey to Bethlehem, no room at the inn, etc. And then Jesus comes out! Yay! Baby! But not just any baby--He's God!

So many times, I think people (myself included) will hear this story, and just focus on the end of it: the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. And don't get me wrong; that is a ridiculously important part of the story! But how many people also focus on the beginning of the story? Did you know that the Annunciation (March 25) is actually a Solemnity? It's not a HDO (Holy Day of Obligation) and no one really talks about celebrating it or anything, so I think it can easily pass by. But it is so crazy important! I remember the first time I really started thinking about the Solemnity of the Annunciation; it was at youth group, when Tony Brandt talked about what a big deal it was. So I began to celebrate the Annunciation, and meditate on the mystery of the Incarnation, and of Mary's fiat. And now that I have this epic sentence from this awesome book, I believe that I shall think about it more :)

Jesus is/was the redeemer. We got that set in stone. So the work of redemption was Him coming into the world, beginning to set things into place. Check. But where/when did that begin? In utero. I've never really thought about it that way before. In utero. Nobody could actually see the redemtive works that were taking place; no one could see baby Jesus developing--His fingers, toes, and hair growing. Nobody could see it happen, but it was very important work that was happening. After all, how could Jesus journey miles during His life if He didn't have fingers and toes? Important work was taking place-unseen in the womb. After a while, Mary's tummy began to grow as Jesus grew bigger. People could begin to notice that a new life was growing. To quote one of my good friends, Ellen (when speaking of pregnant women) "her tummy is exciting!" Mary could begin to see the growth of the redemptive work; she could see her tummy expand with the baby Jesus. Yet she still could not fully see what God had been doing. She could not physically see Jesus yet. More time needed to pass, more developments had to be made. And so, in patience, she waited. Nourishing Jesus, loving Jesus, she waited to see what God had been doing--unseen--in her womb.

So many times, we expect to see results--complete results--at once! I am very guilty of this; I am part of our society where "instant gratification" is the norm. But this is not always how God works. God will, at times, work in a way that people can instantly see it and be changed. But many times He chooses to work in hidden ways. He likes to do His work in utero, so to speak. Hidden, developing, so that when the time is right, His plan may be revealed. What are we to do, as He goes about His hidden workings? Like Mary, we must nourish His work. We must foster deep relationships with God, keeping ourselves spiritually healthy, so that we can support the life-giving work that He has planned for us. We must not commit abortions; we must not try to put a stop to what God is trying to do in our lives. We cannot stop our prayer lives, in an effort to destroy this hidden work of God. We cannot abandon God's will for us. No, we must be ever mindful of His work, and His plan. That even if we can't see it, knowing that God's work is present, and will be revealed at the proper time.

And so begins redemption.
How will you respond to it?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Out of the Box!

"Do not be afraid when Love requires Sacrifice." ~Blessed JPII

This quotation is found in the subheading of my blog. In fact, the very title of my blog comes from this quote! Well, I suppose it would only be fitting for me to go into why this quote is the theme of my blog. (I wrote a post on my title on March 29, but as time has gone on, I feel that I need to write another post on the same topic. Or maybe I just like repeating myself. I don't know! But bear with me, please. If you read my March post, you can skip this one if you want. Or you can keep reading and compare. You have free will, but its all good with me!)

I can only scatch the surface, though--partially because I need sleep, since I am traveling to Europe on Monday, and mainly because God has wrapped layers upon layers of meaning around this simple quotation. As humans, we are inside the box, given this quotation and theme; we are supposed to get out of the box, so that we may live in the fulness of God's presence. But in order to find our way out of the box, we must go through the levels and depth of meaning--of love and sacrifice. I cannot do this topic justice, but I shall hopefully get across my very faint understanding of the Great One's words. And maybe, you can take these ideas to prayer-dig deeper, as God takes you through the layers-to get out of the box, and into the fullness of His presence!

What is love? Well, there are various definitions and understandings of love. So I shall hold to agape love, that is, the love of Christ. The love that we are all called to! "This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends." (Jn 15:12-13) This love that Christ details for us--this is our purpose! We are not put on this Earth to be comfortable, we are put on this Earth to love! And this love is not easy! "No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends."

It can be somewhat easy to love our friends and family. I mean, we like to spend time with them, they do a lot for yeah, it doesn't seem like it would be extremely terribly difficult to lay down our lives for them. It would be hard, since they can get on our nerves--so why should we die for them--but we could do it. God obviously wants to challenge us, though. Let's backtrack to one of His earlier teachings: "You have heard that it was said 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you!" (Mt 5:43-44)

So, Christ's words are pretty direct. To summarize: Our vocation is to love. And who do we love? Well, our families and friends, and our enemies. How do we love them? We die for them! To die for someone, particularly for an enemy, is a sacrifice.

So there's that solid tie-in with JPII's words. "DO NOT BE AFRAID when Love requires Sacrifice!" We should not be afraid of the sacrifice and dying that will come, because sacrifice is necessary for true love to happen! How did Christ love us? He died on the Cross for us! Not only that, but He went through an agonizing week of suffering for us. Love is not a one-time deal; love is constant! I am continuously discovering this constancy of love. There are a few people out there who I simply have a hard time loving. I honestly do not jump at the opportunity to be in their company, but will find myself around them due to mutual acquaintances.

A priest once told me that "God does not call us to like everybody, but He calls us to love everybody!" And I always thought that this command must be pretty easy. I can still harbor a dislike for some individuals; I just have to love them! Not that tough! WRONG! I am constantly discovering the necessity of loving those people who I don't altogether like being with that much; holding my tongue when I want to say sharp words, and learning to see their true beauty as children of God. And do you know what I've been finding? As I seek to love these people, I find that I do not harbor an intense dislike for their company anymore! I may not first choose to be with them, but I am learning to love others as children of God, not because of anything that they have done to merit love.

This lesson that God has been teaching me has been a long process, which is still going steady. Every day, He has been teaching me new things, and letting me discover new ways to love. An example of this happened Friday morning. Thursday night, I set my alarm clock for 7:10 a.m., so I could wake up in time to bike to morning Mass. (I love starting off my day with morning Mass! As long as I can pull myself out of bed...) Well, with summer being...summer, and facebook, blogs, and books all luring me away from sleep, it can be tough jumping into bed before midnight. And then once I get into bed, I like to pray. And think. So sleep....not as much as I need. But whatever--this is shifting off of the main story. Sorry 'bout that!

Anyway, my alarm sounded off on Friday morning. I hit the snooze button--I was exhausted! Nine minutes later, my alarm sounded off again. I looked at my alarm through sleep-laden lids. I was about to shut off my alarm, and go back to sleep. Yeah, time for more sleep, I said to myself. I'll miss morning Mass. I'll go tonight. I'll just pray a spiritual Communion and go back to sleep...But Annie, why not morning Mass? God, I'm tired. I'm sleeping. I'll say a prayer and sleep in. I'll go to Mass tonight. It's your choice, Annie. You have free will. But aren't you My Sacrifice of Love? Yes, God, but I'm tired. Aren't you My Sacrifice of Love? But you have free's your choice. God...okay. I am Your Sacrifice of Love. Turning my alarm off, I pulled myself out of bed, and groggily changed into a skirt and shirt for Mass. At Mass later that morning, God woke me up with His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity. He loves me so much! And here I was, hesitant to be His Sacrifice of Love!

We are Sacrifices of Love in ways great and small. By dragging ourselves out of bed for morning Mass a few times a week. By trying to love those people who we may not like being with. By striving for humility constantly, even if it isn't that fun. By putting ourselves aside, and putting others first. By holding our tongues when we want to criticize someone, or needlessly tell them that they are wrong, and we are right. Each and every day, God gives us an abundance of opportunities to be a Sacrifice of Love. Just as He revealed to me Friday morning, it is our free will, our choice. We can take it or leave it, but His desire is clear: "Love one another as I love you." Which can take on another meaning:"Sacrifice for one another as I sacrifice for you." And how did Christ sacrifice for us? How does He continue to sacrifice Himself for us? By giving up His body for us. So this simple command of Christ can even take on another meaning: "Die for one another as I die for you."

We have countless opportunities each day. We have free will, and we have a choice.

Will you be a Sacrifice of Love today?

“A Love Song”
I’m sitting here
In wonder at Your gaze
I’m sitting here
My heart just melts away
For You gaze-You gaze
Upon me
With love and tenderness
And I wonder what
I could do to deserve this
But You look at me
Reaching out to my heart
Come, my Beloved
Come to Me
I am a Sacrifice of Love
Come, My Beloved
Arise, and come
I give Myself for you
I look back
Gazing at the beauty
Calling out to me
Love pours forth,
Bringing hope into
The world’s misery
I hesitate-not sure
If this can be my reality
But He calls out
Tugging my heart
Reaching out,
Pulling my soul,
Crying out to me
Arise—arise, and
Come, my Beloved
I am a Sacrifice of
Love for you
I give you Myself
I give it all
For you
The spurns and the scorns
People turning away
The pain of a
Deceased friend
Seeing all of the
Sorrows in the world
As I go through My Agony
Sweating Precious Blood—
Drops of my life—
Falling to the ground
The accusations flying
Around Me,
The soldiers beating
My Body,
Ripping away My
Clothes and My Flesh
Puncturing My HeaD
With sharp, strong horns.
The jeering, the mocking;
My hardships and
The steel nails being
Driven into My Body
The weight of the Cross
Pulling Me up, against
The forces of gravity
The struggle to breathe,
The flies hovering around
My rotting Flesh
As I hang, unable to
Swat them away.
My last painful breath
As I bow My Head
And die,
Closing My Eyes
To the jeering, mocking
Closing My Ears to the
Hate, the insults, the sacrileges
Giving over My
My Beloved,
I am a
Sacrifice of Love
For you.
Freely, completely,
I have given
Myself for you
So that you may
Have eternal joy and peace.
I’m sitting here,
Wiping away my
As Love pierces the
Hardness of my heart
The beauty calls to me
The Sacrifice gazes
With compassion and desire
I no longer hesitate
I look deeper at Him
And let the grace in
Taking a step forward
Love reaches out
A blood-stained Hand
His voice calling
Out to me
Arise, My Beloved
My Beautiful One,
And come.

Lay's Potato Chips are Delicious!

I am not a huge junk food girl. Seriously, I'm addicted to both baby carrots and chocolate. So put a bag of chips and a bag of carrots in front of me, and most likely, I'll grab the carrots. Except---maybe--if those chips are BBQ potato chips. When I was younger, I LOVED BBQ chips. Then, somewhere around the middle of my elementary school years, into middle school, I switched over to Sour Cream & Onion chips. But now, just these past several months, I have discovered a rekindling of my great affection for BBQ potato chips. They are amazing. I will eat handful after handful after handful! They are sooooo good!

Well, at dinner on Friday night, I made egg salad sandwiches. I am well aware that the "meatless" restriction on Fridays has been lifted outside of Lent, and that Catholics just do another form of penance (well, they should...unless they haven't really been informed. But now they are, so ha! Do something penitential on Friday-Jesus died for us on Good Friday!). Still, in my family, we try to do meatless on Friday. So I made these sandwiches. After evening Mass, my dad ran over to Target, and grabbed two containers of Lay Stax. Well, he didn't get the BBQ chips, but I didn't complain. He got Cheddar, and then....he had also bought a container of the regular original, too. Seriously? Who ever eats the original anymore? My siblings are digging into the cheddar, and I'm thinking that sounds pretty good, too. Then my dad makes the comment "Oh, so I guess you guys don't like Original..."

Well, I am my daddy's girl. He went to Target to buy these chips as a treat for us, and now he seemed a little disappointed that he must've gotten the wrong kind! Was I going to sit by and scarf down Cheddar potato chips, while the Original sat by, untouched? I grabbed the can of original, and pulled out a stack, and set it on my plate. I picked one up, broke it in half, and popped it into my mouth. It was delicious!! Hurredly, I ate some more, not believing the incredible taste. "Guys," I told my siblings. "I forgot how good the Original chips are!" Well, each of my siblings--a tad bit disbelieving of my words--took some out of the container, and ate them. Gus's eyes grew wide. "She's right! These are so good!" I definitely had way too many chips, but that's okay--you only live this day once, ya know?

God's plan for us is like potato chips.

See, God knows what He desires of us, where we will be happiest--all along! And He will guide us towards His will. But then we decide that us--the mighty humans--must be smarter than God, so we decide not to listen to Him! Don't even try to deny it; we've all ignored God's will at times, or tried to actually change His plans to fit our desires. God has this master plan, but we don't just trust Him; we go on and decide what we're going to do to find joy. And then that doesn't work out for us, so we move on to something else.

We start out eating Original Lays potato chips. But then we get bored. We think the chips are bland; we need something fresh, something new, something exciting! And there are all those options out there--all those different kinds of potato chips! Jalapeno, Cheddar, Sour Cream & Onion, BBQ, Salt & Vinegar (nasty!)....the list goes on! So we pick a kind that appeals to us (Sour Cream & Onion), and we run with it. The Orignal Lays are sitting there, but we ignore them! We enjoy these new, exciting potato chips! But then after a while, those chips get old. They seem to get bland, routine, mundane. All of a sudden, we discover this incredible attraction to a new kind of chip (BBQ). We will do anything for these chips, even eating nearly half a bag in one sitting, just to be fulfilled and have joy! But then one day, those BBQ chips are not there for us. In desperation, we reach out for something--anything--we need those chips in our life, so we can be fulfilled! And we see the Original chips just sitting there, waiting for us to make the first move. So--in a dive of faith--we plunge our hands down into the container, pull out the chips, and eat them. And do you know what we discover? The chips are DELICIOUS! These Originals are so much better than we even remembered them to be!

God has this plan for us. And at first, it really seems awesome. But then, other attractions come by us, distracting us from His plan. All of a sudden, God's will for us seems boring and routine. Kind of bland and stationary. So we see a new path that we can take. So what if God isn't exactly pointing us to this path; we'll just go with it, and have Him modify all of His plans to fit our desires! So on this new path, we're doing our thing, having a grand ol' time. But then after a while, that life gets bland, routine, mundane, and we're ready to totally freak out. But, on the brink of freaking out, a new plan comes sauntering by, and we become infatuated! This, we figure, must be it. We will do anything for this pathway; it brings us happiness, it seems to fulfill us. This pathway must be where we need to be! God hasn't been running with us at the same pace, it seems, but He'll catch up. He'll just change His will for our lives yet again, so that we can have what we desire!

But then, one day, that pathway isn't there for us. It looked so promising, so fulfilling. But it wasn't there when we needed it. We have an empty space inside of us, that can only be filled with a pathway to lead us to joy. We see a couple options sitting in front of us. And one of them is sitting there, waiting. Waiting for our response. So we take that dive of faith, and plunge into this pathway, and rediscover God's will for our lives. God has been waiting the whole time. He has been with us throughout life, ever present, even as we reject His will time after time after time. He is there, waiting for our joyful response--our fiat! And when we make that joyful response, that fiat, He fulfills us. We experience true joy that no other pathway could bring. We experience true love and sacrifice. We truly begin to live. No longer searching, going from one pathway to the next. Our feet are now on the path of God's will, so that we may steadily journey forth to Heaven.

"May it be done unto me, according to Your word." Lk 1:38

Monday, July 11, 2011

Come See!

Oh goodness...where to begin? Maybe with a seminarian wearing a cassock, showing up on my doorstep Saturday morning a little before 7 a.m. Said seminarian proceeded to take me and two other people to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, which was completely awesome. Followed by breakfast at the rectory, with an amazingly holy and humble priest. I love the Extraordinary Form of the Mass!! And I know so little about of my good friends is a lot more knowledgable, and the various things that he has told me are awesome! We've talked about the direction that the priest faces. No, the priest does not have his back to the people; he is facing East with the people, facing the same direction as they are, as they offer a sacrifice and gift to God! To summarize an analogy that my friend gave, if the priest is facing the people at Mass, it is like a group of friends who are giving a gift. The friends have one spokesperson who will present the to present the gift, they stand in front of the group, and face their friends. Are they offering the gift to their friends? No! Yet they are still facing their friends, not facing the recipient WITH their friends! To be honest, I get distracted so much at Mass....but at the Latin Mass, my whole being is captured up in prayer. Honestly, I know without a doubt that I am experiencing a piece of Heaven!!!

Continuing on.....Saturday evening I hung out with my family, and had an Irish dance lesson with my siblings. Oh yeah--and while I made dinner, I had a fantastic phone conversation with my friend whom I needed to lead a prayer thing with on Sunday! So during the Irish dance lesson that I was leading, my siblings were great! They were wild, it was so much fun! Then we all played cards, which was awesome. Sunday morning, I lazed around with my family, went to Mass with the bishop---oh, and the homily was great. He totally started, at the beginning of his homily, to talk about the very thing that my friend and I had talked about the night before! My friend and I were just looking at each other from our respective seats, laughing silently, shaking our heads. I love the Holy Spirit!!! After Mass, I went to ConTEC. ConTEC is a gathering which takes place about a month after a TEC retreat, for any members of the TEC Community. It is a fantastic way to catch up with friends who live far away, to pray, eat, and have fun! Then we had a Harvesters gathering, which is a group of people who pray for the next TEC retreatents. Then, four of my friends and I hung out at Taco Bell, which was great. And crazy. And fun!

Then I went home, hung out with family, and started watching "Braveheart" with my parents and brother. Honestly, I love that movie. I really, really get into it! And I'm totally in love with the character of William Wallace :) And my brother has never seen it before, so its really fun to see him experience it for the first time!

Okay, now that I've totally filled your mind with random, unimportant events in my life, its time to get down to the core of this post. If I don't fall asleep while doing it =)


(I will reference Scripture quite a bit, 'cause that's always the place to start. So have a Bible handy and be ready to reference it)

Many times, when people have something explained to them, they say. "Yes, I understand. I see." Seeing implies understanding and knowledge. Knowledge comes from knowing someone or something. In order to have knowledge about your mom (when her birthday is, her habits, her favorite food) you need to know your mom. This knowing then implies intimacy. Some type of intimacy in relationships. In fact, in some translations of the Bible, Mary says "How can this be, for I KNOW no man?" By this, Mary meant that she had not become intimate with a man. But see how that sentence is phrased? Knowing implies intimacy. You can only truly know a person who you are intimate with on some level. Many times, best friends know each other so well that they can rattle off likes/dislikes, know reactions before they happen, finish each other's sentences, etc. How do they do this? They have a type of intimacy. They spend time with the other, they KNOW the other! So looking at this long chain reaction, I draw the conclusion that in order to truly see someone for who they are, one must be intimate with that person. So, in order to truly see God and His movements and call for us, we must be intimate with Him! And that intimacy comes from a personal relationship of prayer, sacraments, conversation, etc. with God!

Have you ever realized how many times "sight" is referred to in the Bible? Look up passages sometime; it is ridiculous! Take a look at Matthew, chapter 13. You might think that this passage only has to do with hearing, but think again! As the bishop so awesomely pointed out, when a sower goes out to sow seeds, he does not do so blindly. He has a vision; he sees what can happen when he sows the seeds. When we go out to "sow the seeds" of the Gospel message, we aren't supposed to do it blindly! We must see and have a vision of God using us in His mission. Mt 13:16 "But blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears because they hear!"

But do we all see all the time? Let's look back at the Scriptures.....Mt 20:29-34. There were these blind guys. And Jesus walked up, cured them--and they could see Him. We become blind so many times throughout life. We have scales over our eyes, that keep us from being able to truly see God. These scales can be busy schedules, noise, bad relationships, and sin, among other things. These scales keep us distracted from God, so that we cannot truly see Him and see His movements. But He removes these scales for us! He picks us up, time and time again in the sacraments, and heals us! He restores our sight! But then what are we to do with this new-found sight? What did the guys in the Gospel of Matthew do? "Immediately they received their sight and followed him." There ya go. We need to follow God, and go out with our sight fully restored.

(On a sidenote, this is also fantastic when it comes to vocational discernment. By having that intimacy with God, and removing those scales from our eyes, we can more clearly see what He desires of us, and see the way that He acts in our lives, many times.)

In the Beatitudes, Jesus says "Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God." We can only truly see God is those scales are removed from our eyes! But we do not just sit with our sight restored and do nothing; God calls us to go out. Acts 26:14-18.

So get to Confession. Get to Mass. Clean up your life, and ask God to remove those scales from your eyes. Then, go out to all the world, and help them to see God in their lives!

May the peace and joy of Christ be with you all!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

There's Nothing like a Queasy Stomach...

"Faith is one foot on the ground, one foot in the air, and a queasy feeling in the stomach."~Mother Angelica (the nun who founded EWTN)

ATTENTION: Towards the beginning of this post, I may get a bit gross. I don't think its that bad, but I'm the second oldest of six kids. I'm used to puke and such. So happily read on :)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Thank you, Katy Perry!

“Do you ever feel like a plastic bag,
drifting through the wind
wanting to start again?
Do you ever feel, feel so paper thin
like a house of cards,
one blow from caving in?

Do you ever feel already buried deep?
6 feet under screams but no one seems to hear a thing
Do you know that there's still a chance for you
'Cause there's a spark in you

You just gotta ignite, the light, and let it shine
Just own the night like the 4th of July

'Cause baby you're a firework
Come on, show 'em what you're worth
Make 'em go "Oh, oh, oh"
As you shoot across the sky-y-y”~ "Firework" by Katy Perry
Thank you, Katy Perry.
Last night, as I sat on the front lawn at a friend’s house, the sky exploded above me. Bright, beautiful fireworks showered down from all sides. My family, friends, and I all lit fireworks, from sparklers to Roman candles, to ones that went way up in the sky. And they were beautiful!

As I took part in the 4th of July festivities, I began to ponder the very mission of the person as God’s firework. Think about a firework: many times, it looks pretty unassuming; a cardboard shape, maybe with a pretty design on the outside. But the fuse is uncovered and/or pulled out, and lit—and then the beauty really happens. Fireworks are awe-inspiring. They light up the dark night sky, directing the attention of people throughout a neighborhood to the radiant beauty that is bursting forth.
People are just like this firework. We all look pretty unassuming; just ordinary people, living life through different vocations. We are all different shapes, sizes, and designs of fireworks: some people are married; others are single, religious, or widowed. But we are all still fireworks, called to a particular mission: to proclaim God’s kingdom. So we’re sitting there on the street or driveway, waiting. Then the Holy Spirit comes along. 

But, the Holy Spirit cannot utilize us for God’s work if we are not open. Our fuse must be uncovered, pulled out, and ready. We must not put barriers around ourselves; we must be completely open to whatever the Holy Spirit desires of us. Once we do this, the fire of the Holy Spirit will be able to ignite our fuse. When the fire of the Holy Spirit ignites us, we will began to send out sparks, and act in our own unique firework “performance.”
Not every firework performs in the same way; some fireworks go way up in the sky and burst into huge, breathtaking views of light. Other fireworks stay close to the ground and light up like flowers. Other fireworks are like strobe lights. There are fountains, sparklers, tanks, and killer bees. Despite how different all of these fireworks are, they all add beauty to the celebratory night; they attract people with the beautiful light against the night sky.

Each person is called to a different vocation, from their particular state of life. People are called to rise up to what God desires: that each person will be a joyful outburst of love for Him, witnessing to countless other people. Unfortunately, so many people think that God will just take them and do crazy things with them—as they put in no effort or openness. God wants each and every person to explode with joy for Him as His firework! However, this can only happen if the Holy Spirit can ignite the fuse. People must be open—completely open—to whatever the Holy Spirit wants, in order to be ignited with His fire. When people are totally open and willing, the Holy Spirit will enable them to explode into beautiful showers of sparks, drawing all people closer to God.
1 Thessalonians 5:19
“Do not quench the Spirit.”

Sunday, July 3, 2011

A Needle in a Haystack

A needle in a haystack.

This cliched phrase typically refers to a difficult search: "Finding my glasses in this crowded basement is like looking for a needle in a haystack!"

But, even if it is difficult to find a needle in a haystack, who is to say that the needle is not there? Just because the needle is hard to find does not mean that the search shouldn't take place! For when one finds a needle in the haystack, what really happens? Well, think about a big, scratchy haystack. You've been moving around in it, looking and looking for a long time. And finally, you find it: a SHINY needle! Yes, shiny. And shiny things are AWESOME! But is the ultimate shinyness worth the scratchy, tedious search through the haystack? I believe that, if one truly is looking for a needle, the search through the haystack is well worth it. Perhaps this theory can best be illustrated through a few examples from the past week.

On Thursday, I went to the doctor's office for a general physical before going off to college. Well, I had ridden with my dad, who had work in the area. So, when I came out from my appointment, I had to sit and wait while he finished up his work. Soon after I sat down, a woman who had just come in spoke to me: "Did you make your purse?" she asked. I replied that I had, and we began to talk about knitting, yarn, awesome stuff like that. This woman was probably in her thirties, and was Hispanic, with a thick accent. Well, after a little bit, we moved from yarn talk to more serious--MUCH more serious--avenues of conversation. We talked about life; about my future plans, and about her struggles. This woman was amazing. Her dad left her mom when she was just 11 years old. The woman I was speaking to has a second husband (she lost the first one either to divorce or death, I presume--I didn't press the question). A few weeks ago, her cousin died; she had to spend her birthday at his wake. She has at least three kids, one of whom--a teenager--refuses to go to church. And on top of everything, she has fibromyalgia, which causes her extreme pain every single day, constantly. Yet she goes through life, trying to give her children the best life that she can give them; she also has started contacting relatives who she hasn't spoken to in a very long time, because she wants to try and repair or keep up family bonds. Like I said, this woman is amazing; she has all the reasons in the world to just throw it in the towel and give up; yet she keeps going.

Saturday, I went to morning Mass at the IHM convent, because it was the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Well after Mass, they had a light breakfast reception of rolls and coffee. Naturally, I went over, and sat with a Novice and a Postulant, talking. A few minutes later, this Hispanic man who looked to be in his thirties or forties, very weather-beaten and hardworking, came and sat with us. He began to talk. And talk. And talk! He apparently has this amazing grandma, who is incredibly faith-filled and constantly keeps a Rosary with her, dedicating everything to Mary. And then he talked about his pro-life work. This guy was seriously like a firecracker. He would keep popping up with more and more stories. He had incredible passion for the pro-life movement, and once even had a gun pulled on him. He had spent countless hours at Tiller's, praying and praying. He reiterated that the power of the Rosary is incredible. This man also had incredible passion for the faith; he says that he is "hardcore Catholic." He couldn't believe that the church was only about half full for Morning Mass; with everything that God has done for us, he thought that people should've been filling that church! He believed the same thing with Sunday Mass. People must really realize what God has done for them, and come to Mass to thank Him. What a witness of passionate faith!

These two people were "needles" in the haystack of life. One goes through life, piece by piece of straw. Sometimes, the journey gets scratchy and uncomfortable. But God has those shiny needles stuck in the haystack of life. And those shiny needles are true gifts. But, they can only be found and appreciated if one keeps their eyes open.

So keep your eyes open for the needle in the haystack!