Friday, August 10, 2018

There is Mess and Noise in The Building of The Church. By:C.C.

I could be better focused,and I "should raise my hand before speaking".This is the reminder I was faced with growing up by countless teachers frustrated at my clowning antics and such. If a squirrel ran by the classroom window I'd be the first to yell it out during the taxing lesson of Math or other such items. I did indeed get my fair share of payback when I became a teacher myself! 

But there's something immense learned by focusing on the most important, while also value found in knowing that the squirrel resides outside of the window. Not to distract us from what demands our prominent attention, but to have us informed of our surroundings in a healthy way. There are plenty of squirrels, to put it kindly running around the Church at moment. But the centrality of our attentiveness belongs to Christ alone. 

Currently our parish is being built and it is a construction zone of noise, filth, chaos, beeping machines, and hard working men. Sundays they do not work. For those of us attending daily Mass we are greeted by their hammers, the piercing sound of steel being cut, machines backing up with loud beeps. 

Still, they do not drown out the bells rung at the Altar. When Christ our Lord is there in our midst the peripherals are silenced. As I knelt down following the Eucharist one day this week I had to almost remind myself that there was clanging outside, it remained unnoticed at the moment of Consecration. There was a presence of Peace untouched by the chaos of machinery. 

I couldn't help but think about the current climate of the Church, the noise, mess, and chaos that is haunting it outside and oozing within. The most important of tasks for us as faithful begins at the Altar in silence before our Lord. The centrality of focus on Him is far more worthy than any algebra lesson, I'd say, or feisty squirrel.

There is noise and mess in the building of the Church. But we're reminded by faith that we do not build alone , with human hands or limitations. We need embrace the reality of mess to deal with it properly. We need to call it sin, to name the noise of Satan's evil, to conquer it in Christ's name.  To begin to clear out what demolishes the building and what preserves Her structure, we must rest primarily in prayer. We must recall daily the promise of our Lord to His Church, entrusting ourselves desperately to Jesus lovingly, to show us the light in this darkness and to lead us accordingly to help build His Church.

By faith and love of Christ alone we join the Master Builder to aid the Church, and there is found the clarity to clear out the mess and noise. 

Policies and protocols most sufficient take their form from efficient prayer and reverent silence before Christ.

Do we add to the chaos and noise of the building? Or do we help nurture the silence needed to build with our Lord?

St.Peter, Pray for us.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Our Daily Bread, Literally. By:C.C.

"Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor
and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me."
At that statement, his face fell,
and he went away sad, for he had many possessions."

It is only from a place of privilege, it may seem, that these questions can be asked: "How can I choose poverty?"  "How can I grow purer in heart to rely on God's provisions?"  "How can I use what I have received to serve,and to give Him glory?" More so, to be willing to give even from our sense of poverty is the increase in understanding of where our wealth rests, in God alone. We risk being empty, to discover our soul's poverty and to recognize the way that our Lord fills us and supplies for our needs. 

When our sense of want exceeds honest sense of our need is when we have great unrest, this is fertile ground for growing hard of heart. This is the risk of making objects our god. To know God's provision we must declutter from the possessions we have made our gods, and risk being uncomfortable, to recognize that what most holds us together and sustains us is not the latest fad or purchase but an eternal God. 

I can admit, in comparison to others in society, that I know very little of authentic poverty in regards to basic needs. I sit in a furnished home, with the air condition on for comfort, pantry full of food, this laptop to write on, and other such things that in beginning to list them makes me feel quite uncomfortable. Discomfort from the honest sense of having prompt access to a series of items that I have seemingly unmerited, easily acquired, none of them that I will take with me, none of them define me, or proclaim worth. 

How can I choose poverty? This question is one that encouraged me to leave my job (temporarily so) after the birth of our first child. It was a decision that truly shook things up a bit. Including our home at first as my husband looked at me asking his most common question "Catherine, are you nuts?"  "Yes, Yes, I am , and God is so good."

What has flowed from this decision is the humble recognition of how much is needed and how much is truly unnecessary. This has made me appreciate and better understand the way that God provides and the fragility of true wealth , even the eternal riches, woven in the temporal that surround us daily. We cannot perceive them swamped in things of the world, with an appetite solely for material goods. I am not suggesting people to strip down naked and run through the streets, leaving their place of employment and give everything to the poor, but I am suggesting an honest risk of deciding even in minor ways daily to choose to be poor, to fast from a luxury, to sacrifice and go without beyond the time of 40 days in Lent. 

On May 5th, just some few weeks ago, I was given a deliberate view into how God often provides quite noticeably so, making Himself apparent and known. It is a moment that still makes me chuckle and fills me with awe. 

When the babies sleep about 12:30 I usually workout at home, if the husband is home then I go for a run in the neighborhood, Anyway before leaving for my run, my husband said "I'll barbecue for lunch today, but we need bread so when you're back can you please go buy some?"

While I was on my run the wind was gusty (we had a terrible storm on the 4th) and right before me caught in the grass but not blowing away is a $5.00 bill. No one around. And I'm like "Man, God is so good. Bread money!" 

Then I reflected so much on how our Lord is the bread, yes, but by knowing this then we're secured that He truly has our needs fulfilled, an enforced providence to sustain our needs, thank You Jesus! I was more joyous to share this with my husband because now I had a beautiful way of showing God's love to and for us in a tangible way to my husband, who has become the sole "breadwinner" now which poses it's own daunting task and pressures at times. 

So I ran home excited....and I find my husband and said humorously, but obviously in a profoundly serious way too.
"Jesus says keep running the good race and He'll always help provide your daily bread, here's 5 bucks, go buy your daily bread" 
The husband was pretty moved  "that's amazing." And I reassured him,  "You see, I'm not crazy! "

Anyway the bread that day was $3.49. 

Our Lord gave a small glimpse to me of His sustaining hand.

The next day was Sunday, and though we are monthly Family of Faith tithers at our parish, I was feeling quite moved by the fact that the money on the ground belonged to someone, not to us. I made my daughter put a $5.00 bill into the collection that day.

I recognized that when God gives us what is unmerited and not ours, but so incredibly His, we cannot help but feel impelled to give back and serve Him in some small way. 

That God provides is certain, what we make of His providence makes certain our share in the Eternal riches. 

May we all grow to be poor in a society that suffocates us with the need to be materially rich, finding there the opportunity to serve from any wealth received for His glory and the good of others. (CC)

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Persevering in Vocation: Monks, A Mouse, A Snake, and Embracing The Cross By:C.C.

photo from Catholic Courier- 24 Hours of Prayer
Retreat has been on my mind as I am preparing to head back to the Abbey soon. In this reflecting on my upcoming retreat, also returning to my mind are the lessons I took home with me last July, primarily that of persevering in vocations, and a deepening of understanding the necessary purification greeting us along the way.

I assure you the curious title will make sense by the end of this.

My most recent insight on the reality of enduring in vocations and fulfilling what God asks of us have brought me to consider the way that we can have a tendency to become enamored with the point where He calls us. That day of His seeming proposal filled with jubilation and love, ignorance of all crosses to come, vowing to embrace their reality, but still too entrenched in the fantasy that it's resonance evades us. Even the crosses within us that we carry in the hidden places of our hearts often remain obscure to us.

This is a gift though, we need to taste the depth of this joy to know it exists, it affirms blatantly God's goodness, but in advancing and enduring the blows and marks of time it becomes evident that the point is greater than this. The marking of all vocations is the Cross and only a deep love of God can endure this.

We can delude ourselves in longing for that joy born in ignorance,chasing a sensation over an eternal reality. When we consider loving another for God's sake alone it seems to be the only thing that makes sense. in fact loving only makes complete sense by loving God. For no one possesses enough good to turn us from sin, it is not by another's good, surely not even our own good that we remain strong in ourselves.

The fleshy inclination will always be to call most good the baseness of some passion, it is a flight of descent. It is by our being truly possessed by good, complete goodness, and the measure that we allow God to possess us that we can persevere in the task of our vocations. In religious life or married life alike.

To neglect this necessity of personal radical love for God is to neglect knowing the depth of love in the goodness of the other. Even the young seminarian or priest who vows to a life of loving God and serving for love of Him is only ever as good and sustained to the degree He is motivated by a deep love for Him and desire for the Cross.

Sustenance is not in the joy of the call, but the point of discovering why we remain. To remember why we remain is the sobering balm. Because if we endure out of love for the Cross then we are sustained. Remember why you remain and for Whom you do. It is only this that can take us out of ourselves long enough to grow in virtue of love of Him and persevere in loving.

Defeat is in willing lesser loves. The obscurity is in the middle where we can't fully rest yet in the Cross and know the pangs of the lower options. We're won over by consenting to the Cross and to be made strong in the weakness of our will desiring to do opposite. God takes the struggle of our will, if we take it to Christ and brings tremendous richness.

I experienced a mirroring of this lesson in a small capacity over the course of my four days in Genesee last year. It was time much different than the others. Primarily because, it was quickly evident that my peaceful expectations of what my retreats were most recently normally filled with, would be tested greatly by exterior disruptions and presence of my greatest temporal fears.

I am afraid of very little. Mice and snakes are the two things that make me shudder. Thankfully I managed to reach 30 years without having to see a mouse, a living one scurrying at least, and only ever had to see a tiny little snake in my youth.

However, my first night I was greeted by a mouse, he lingered just long enough to stare me dead in the face before heading off. The kids were already in bed, I alone. Suddenly fear overcame me, embarrassingly, and I realized then how the simplest and even insignificant events can test our sense of interior peace. How could such a small thing cause me such great disturbance? There was much more to learn.

The following day, I felt stronger, as if I had conquered my little squeaky friend and could move on, but, while returning home again just to the side of the house there bathing in the sun was a snake. Hanging out in the clear day , and it was then I realized that I was in for a much different stay. I believe at that point I uttered something like "You're funny Lord" before praying a couple Hail Mary's recalling she crushes them, but I truthfully felt less disturbed, at the sight of this frightening reality I somehow had an understanding brewing about detachments. I took a photo of my slithery friend for reference of this day, while my daughter gently said "what's that mama, can I touch it" Pretending to be calm, explaining it was sleeping *and secretly hoping it was. This turned out to be a pleasant encounter though, the snake stayed put completely at peace in the sun.

zoom in, frightening thing!

In a sense I had every reason to flee, seeing my two biggest fears however small they may be in comparison to others, it took a lot of remaining focused on the most important to remain there and lovingly so. I had a fantastic time. And perhaps learned the most profound lesson. Here below are my reflections written there the morning after the snake sighting...

I learned more from a mouse and a snake on this retreat than I have learned in any book or spiritual counsel here. Ironically following seeing the snake I had my greatest sleep here and I have remained rested ever since.

I awoke the following day on July 13th at 2:30 a.m. Unable of course to go to vigils having the kids sleeping in the house, I joined in as I often do from home and meditated further upon this lesson. It brought me to think more about the monastic life, about what leads men here, about what can discourage them, and of course Who it is that keeps them.

I am sure in the beginning of postulancy there is overwhelming consolation from God, an almost addictive attractiveness to the peace that the monastic way of life seems to ooze out of those men who persevere in their vocation amidst the immense seasons of change within the soul. This too is reflection of the joy and eagerness of newlyweds as they approach their wedding.

The grounds alone boast of God's Beauty. The humming of tireless joy-filled birds, imbued with Heavenly hymns can soothe the heart and reflect boldly the Majesty of God. 
This beauty is necessary, for this pulls at us and invites us to desire the Creator of all these good and lovely things.

And yet, the vastness and beauty of this isolated setting eventually becomes a great source of necessary desolation and disenchantment. The allure of a hidden life in Christ is purified and tested over the course of time, exposing the weakness of our feeble will, and the true intention of our hearts in coming here.

So too this is in marriage, though an active vocation in the world, we cannot hide from encountering the depths of hidden places within our hearts, disordered longings, and the need to always purify our attachment and understanding of why we too have chosen to come to the Altar and vow to a life of love of another out of love for God.

One is wrong to assume that monastic life will silence the noise in their life, this is true to some degree, as The Rule will prevent partaking fully in worldly communications as before, but there is greater noise that greets the starry eyed postulant, or the fairy tale newlywed, and that is the noise within the soul and the wrestling of wills. 
So many people walk around deaf to this noise, afraid of encountering what it says of them and most importantly avoid facing the reality of Whose they are. It is no way to live at all.

The more attentive we are to the inner noise and the more earnestly we seek to be a student of silence and obedience, the peace emerges, even if ever so slowly. 
This touch of grace is enough for us, it keeps us and affirms us as we cling to our cross, as we cling to Christ our Lord.

You can hide from the world, but you cannot hide from God, nor the truth of yourself before Him. Retreating from the world and all of the freedom that it seems to propose only faces us more deeply and more intensely into the encounter of God. We consent to be held captive by Christ where there is found freedom like no other.

The difficulty experienced with the passing of time and the pruning of our pathetic human weakness serves to aid us in attaining the peace that attracts us initially to this way of life to begin with. We need only consent to always being made new, to strive to be better and to live perpetually captivated by Christ.

It is not for everyone, and for such reason Jesus reminds us many times of the difficulty faced if we desire eternal life.

Courage is needed, and an unwavering trust and love of God.

No greater love for us could He show to us than by the grace of revealing how so desperately we need His love,revealing it upon the Cross, by inspiring us to seek Him deeply, earnestly, and perpetually so that we can remain with Him as He resides in us. So that we may hope to find ourselves at that moment of final perseverance before his glory, finished the battle, won the race, and surrounded consumed in His love.

The beauty of this retreat was a deepening of detachment and an understanding of persevering through fear and even learning to to appreciate the Cross in a new way. Our Lord was filled with surprises of consolation this day. And it unfolded as a gift for me as I prepared to pack up for home. At 5:30 in the morning, while the kids were sleeping, before heading off to Mass ,I began to load up the van for our departure

As I stepped back from my van, facing the Abbey, I saw a deer about 100 ft in the distance, the most beautiful delicate deer. I love deer tremendously. And ironically my first retreat to Genesee I saw them each evening, and would just gaze at their beauty. Had I seen the mouse and the snake, I probably would never have come back. it is love that prepares our embrace for the Cross. Just behind the deer was a little fawn.. that is when I began to weep. A mother and child. It was a warming and consoling good bye gift. 

and today as I finished writing this in the morning a dove showed up on my deck :)


I know not what will be encounted this time in Genesee, I admit to being taken back for a moment in fear at the thought of seeing my squeaky and slithery friends. But I am more assured this time of God's grace, more aware that all things sent to us are for our good. 

Our love in Him alone encourages our perseverance..and all of it must be oriented toward the Cross if it is to endure at all.(CC)

Saturday, May 19, 2018

What's In A Name? Feast Day of St.Celestine V, By:C.C.

Pope Celestine V
Information below aided by a film found at Formed.Org "Saint Celestine: The Pope Who Quit"
and my Nonna
The extent I knew of my middle name, Celeste  in 2011 when I opened up this blog, was that it's meaning is "heavenly" and that I share a middle name with my paternal nonna, and also with my godfather whose middle name is Celestino. 

Beyond this, I had no deeper care for meaning. However, it did seem all the more appropriate to be using this "heavenly" name as I blogged the experience of attempting to draw nearer to meriting heaven (still stumbling and typing away). 

Celeste stuck, and I grew to like it. Although in learning Catherine means "pure" I was quite drawn to that too. Too bad I wasn't made aware of the meanings of my first and second name before many falls..names better suited then would have been impure and hellish, I digress. 

Over time, I became more interested in origin, precisely listening to my grandmother share stories of her hometown Sant'Angelo, Limosano in Molise, Italy. My father was born there. It is good to learn our history, there are lessons and wisdom to unearth. 

I recall speaking to my nonna some years ago about our shared name, she went on to tell me that her nonna was also named Celeste and many others down the line in her family also had the masculine name of Celestino. It's not uncommon in Italian tradition to be passing down names, so it wasn't completely unnatural to see this pattern. However, one day she told me that this name came from a Pope born in her town. I was quite confused, primarily because I hadn't heard of him, and secondly because her recollection of the history was very scarce as well. I dug deeper. And in digging deeper I discovered a fascinating man, a holy man, who desired a quiet life of solitude as a hermit, and ended up briefly serving as Pope before resigning. He is also the patron saint of Sant'Angelo.

His life, I came to learn was one of mystery. Even the exact town and date of his birth are argued over. There are two places in Molise that claim to be his birthplace, Isernia and our hometown of Sant' Angelo in Campobasso. Obviously, I choose to claim him as belonging to Sant' Angelo....shamelessly. 

Saint Celestine was born Pietro Angelerio, also known as Pietro of Morrone. in arguably 1209 or 1215, he was the 11th of 12 children and came from a farming family. He was not poor so was able to have his studies paid for. 

He felt called to enter the Benedictine order, as he felt strongly drawn to ancient tradition and especially a call to detach from the world. He sought to live alone in caves and other very solitary places removed from the world. 

A professor from the University of Verona, named Paolo Golinelli stated that "Pietro felt life should be articulated by prayers and very little sleep" He longed for living a life of simplicity and austerity. He also lived in a very turbulent time of the Church history. Between 1217 and 1270, five crusades were announced and several chaotic situations arose from there, including a great deal of heresy.

Pietro's quiet life in the caves and mountains surrounding Molise became noisier as people were made aware of his apparent holiness. People flocked to visit with him often, and he would soon then quicken his steps to flee seeking the solitary and prayerful life in a new secluded place. 

He was considered then a living saint, and also attributed to being a "miracle worker" people claimed being healed by him in various ways.  Golinelli said that "his miracles were very peculiar , almost as a type of rural and country healer" He was also very cautious about company with women, and never wished to see them, if they should have required his aid for healing then the husbands of these women were sent to see Pietro on their behalf. 

He had grown a small following of men who desired to live his way of life, a way of life based on the traditional Benedictine order, with an even more intense austerity than what was observed being lived by him. It is noted as being similar to the Cistercians, even in dress. I found this point to be most intriguing. For me, the Cistercian charism has been one of great inspiration and has helped form me. 

There seems to be scarce information about what the life of his order was like specifically, making it difficult for me to draw definitive differences or concrete similarities. But the depth of reverence for silence and solitude from the world and prayer is woven within both. 

Pietro wanted to escape the political current of his time, while also mindful of it's reality and his desire to establish his order securely he walked to Lyon, France in 1274, travelling 1200km to speak with Pope Gregory X ,and to take part in the "Council of Lyon in hopes to get his order approved. Because it was not possible to found new orders.During the Fourth Council of the Lateran, a special decree had already been issued : ne nimia monacorum 'Let there not be too many monks" ..limiting the proliferation of orders, but his order is included in the Benedictine tradition, for this reason it is not a new order, but rather a particular version of the Benedictine monasticism."

Through such Pietro was able to have his order secured, they would become known as the Celestines, following his acceptance of the Papacy and him taking the name Pope Celestine V, an event which came about in the oddest of fashions. 

The Church was in a complete mess. There was a struggle between the powers of Roman families and the Cardinals within the Church, and for nearly 28 months at the time there was no Pope in Rome. 

Pietro wrote a letter to the Cardinals in the conclave and expressed great concern for the misfortune that this is bringing upon the Church in not being able to elect a new pope. 

Essentially the cardinals unanimously chose Pietro to be Pope! 

It was noted in the documentary that reasons for this included the facts that he was not involved in the power games of the royal families, nor did he enjoy great prestige, and that he could be a great calm to the storm. 

His tone of humility and poverty was amplified when he rode into L'aquila (the place of his coronation ) on a donkey and not a white horse. It was said that he wanted to deliver a message of poverty and a truly Christian lifestyle of holiness into the church of his times. 

He was also most inspired by St.John the Baptist, and chose the day of his martyrdom to be the one of his papal coronation. It was noted that over 200,000 pilgrims came to this event, yes, even before the world of twitter and social media, that is quite profound! Even Dante Alighieri was in attendance from Florence! People were so hopeful for renewal in the Church by the hands of this new hermit holy Pope.

A month into his papacy he appointed twelve new Cardinals and wanted to quickly weed out influences of noble Roman families. 

The documentary spoke of a letter he wrote in his acceptance of the papacy, where "he references the beheading of St. John  the Baptist, and compared his tiara to the scimitar on the saints neck" meaning that he would sacrifice himself for the unity and forgiveness of the Church. For Celestine, the greatest sin is the separation, the schism within the Church."

He resided in a castle in Naples, and demanded to live in an underground , damp cell, opposed to the luxurious apartment prepared for him. He sought to maintain as much as possible his life as a hermit. That is what he most desired to be, praying and meditating. It was evident during this time that resignation was on his mind, however there naturally arose the question, "Can a pope resign?"

The man who would become his successor, Pope Boniface VIII, came forth with a solution 

"When a cardinal agrees to become Pope , then he gives his consent to the election of the Pope. Therefore, he may withdraw this consent without being influenced by anyone but his own will. "

In Decemeber of 1294, St.Celestine summoned the Cardinals, and announced what has become historically known as the "great refusal"

Fr. Quirino Salomone of Studi Celestiniani ,shared that "Celestino did not refuse , but rather gave up, he resigned. Celestino did not refuse the papacy he accepted, and then resigned."

People were very disappointed in this. The faithful were hopeful in him for change in the Church, and to put an end to the "material church".

As for Pietro , the humble monk , he returned to a cell, although this time as a prisoner of Pope Boniface VIII, who feared he would become an antipope, and held him in the castle of Fumone, where he resorted again to a life of prayer and meditation. 

He passed away on May 19th , 1296.

As for the Celestines, they are no more. But as for me, I find great comfort in coming to learn of this holy man and saint from my father's hometown.

I am equally thankful that the message of needed holiness is alive in the Church today. 

Celeste, has now become a name of greater value to me than it was before. In speaking with my godfather today, in light of my recent learnings, I assured him someday we would venture to Sant'Angelo and the surrounding areas to pay homage to a humble holy monk from our ancestral home and the reason for our sharing of middle names. (CC)

St.Celestine , pray for us, and for the holiness of our Church.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Motherhood: Learning About Holiness in Fragments. By:C.C.

On April 9th, The Pope released his Apostolic Exhortation, Guadete et Exsultate. In this lovely exhoration, Pope Francis highlights the very important and personal call that all of us faithful, within our various vocations, have to strive toward holiness. 

Perhaps it seems rather obvious that in taking one's faith life seriously, there is an element of desiring to be "holy" demanded of us. Though, at times this can be something that may be lost on us. We could struggle from unhealthy ideas of what holiness truly is and where it is found. 

It is important to recognize that holiness deeply belongs to where Christ has called you to serve, presently. And has also provided there a grace to enter into what is before you, keeping always present God above. 

This may seem a rather idealistic portrayal. In the practical, moments and circumstances demand questions, peace may seem far out of reach, and the mundane items seem overwhelmingly unholy. There is nothing further from the truth! It is quite dangerous spiritually, to envision holiness as belonging somewhere in the clouds and not in the trenches of ordinary and practical life. 

My reflections on this area increased greatly by the very means I had to approach this document. In fragments, due to my natural obligations that I have throughout the day. By doing such , the call to holiness in motherhood became even more evident to me than it has been made known already through experience. 

I read the first section riding the bike while the kids were napping.

While I would have preferred to sit with a coffee and indulge in the document, I recognized that part of my being able to remain holy throughout my day is tending well to myself, and disciplining myself to have daily exercise increases the peace in me and aids me to be better to those I serve.

The area of motherhood is one that I have a very big heart for. In saying this, it also seems to be an area that is incredibly challenged and deeply misunderstood by society at large, more tragically by many women themselves. 

There is a certain reverence owed to it, that when forgotten , robs it's very essence of sacrificial servitude and replaces it instead as a self-loathed burden. 

I had to stop reading to vacuum the stairs

While I vacuumed I thought about what I read, the service of my day amplified the call to personal holiness in the deeply practical areas. Even vacuuming the stairs is not excluded from striving for holiness. Holiness manifests in the practical, on the ground. To be obedient to duties that confront us responding with love, gives rise to peace. This simple work becomes a prayerful offering.

Motherhood is often described as a thing to simply "survive" and to me that is a wounding claim, though I am sure moments can arise where one feels they are clinging off a cliff dangling , holding onto dirty bibs, screaming babies, and explosive poo. This is not a task to simply survive, but to find immense life in, and to discover the grace of God's sustenance in all of it. To see that there is nothing untouched by the providence of God, especially towards the heart of woman, offering up her many tasks in caring for the beloved , His beloved, that were sent to them.

Where there is holiness there is freedom. Our vocations call us to become holy. To discover the implications of this is where we find freedom and the grace of endurance to greet every task with joy and balance. To know to place proper emphasis on the ordinary, extraordinarily, we need to be mindful of our deeper purpose. 

We need to reclaim that we are called and sustained by leaning into the love and providence of God. That nothing is insignificant, nothing too mundane or apart from His movements.

I had to prepare the chicken for dinner..

Yet another pause, another means to fulfill a task oriented toward personal holiness.   

For a mother, especially as a mother at home full-time, the call to holiness is evident in every natural rhythm of my day. Balance and structure is a primary necessity to be able to have peace, and so this has been source of much clarity for me in order to see the moments that welcome a call to holiness. 

For those, who present the task as near impossible do a tremendous disservice to themselves, and primarily place limitations on the goodness of God's graces that are especially near to us, should we desire to remain in Him. There are practical means to living this out. It belongs and begins in prayer. Because alone, we learn quite quickly that we sink without this. 

There is need then to practically make time to sit with God.Even if ever briefly , formally in prayer. One must strive to make that important and a priority. It is the fuel and the source of anything good that we will do throughout the day. If God is not primary in our order of things then secondary items in comparison only spiral out of control. The yearning for "me time" as often pitched by our secular society, is truly a starvation for time with God. The more we avoid this, the more sense of motherhood as a burden surfaces.

 Most of what I learned practically about my vocation, oddly came from observing the monastic life, prior to even knowing I was called to marriage, let alone to motherhood. The natural rhythm of work and prayer (ora et labora) was incredibly helpful to understand and recognize the fundamental sustenance of God's grace through prayer, to endure work, which was not separate from the prayer itself, but only the manifestation of prayer in the practical. The service of our hands is the offering we make to God. 

I sat across from an old monk in my young adulthood, and he shared with me how he was greatly moved by a woman who had come to the Abbey with her TWELVE children and her husband. They were annual retreatants.  Her children were of varying ages. And there was a newborn. As he spoke to me, I was amazed by his amazement at her sacrifice, not that it isn't heroic, because goodness.........I can't begin to claim how many ways it indeed is. 

But what struck him the most was the thought of rising in the middle of the night to feed a newborn baby. He said to me "You have really got to have a profound love for someone to be able to do this, joyfully, and lovingly, and not despise it". I did not offer much to that, as I couldn't claim experience yet to know what such a love, was. But I quickly thought of his life, and this is where the call to holiness, became quite evident. 

I was amazed by his awe, precisely because this is a man who has woken every day for nearly 60 years then, at 2am to pray his Vigils, without fail, without complaint, simply with a fullness of love for the Lord. If he could do that for the God that he "cannot see" , then how much more gracious is motherhood in giving to us this life, this infant, whom we see, hear cry, and can wake for in those early hours, during the early phases of development to hold and caress, and to love?

 This to me began my formation in motherhood. Long before a vow was even a thought. It resonated deeply with me there, and it remained.

It has been the source of tremendous courage and importance. The sacrifice of another that we experience helps us to endure our own. It is for such that we do not journey alone to holiness but as a Church at large. It is by each of us being faithful to the vocations we have and the call to personal holiness that encouragement is fostered.

My husband came home from his meetings hungry

By this point I was sitting with a coffee and quite enjoying myself, so this moment particularly demanded me to put my thoughts into action and to serve and tend to him lovingly. There would perhaps be nothing more troubling than reading about holiness in our personal vocations and having it take us away from doing what brings forth our holiness. I found renewed joy in his grumbling hunger, and the opportunity to serve.

Part of the freedom and enjoyment of fulfilling the very demanding role of motherhood is in growing in an understanding of it's dignity and value. We can only recognize such by remaining near to God. And in having a practical sense of what holiness is and the clarity to see that the opportunity greets us daily. 

The kids woke up from their nap

At this point I put the exhortation away and tended to my children. I was just about done my reading though. My son awoke with the most horrifying poo, there was nothing more grounding and humbling. There is great holiness in praising the poo. Though it may be often tough to "doo doo" ;)

"Go to Joseph"

Holiness manifests in the ordinary. The means to see this begins by starting the day with time in the Lord. It is the foundation of peace to lovingly endure what comes. If you can get to daily Mass this is also very helpful. I always tell moms to keep near to the Blessed Mother, but on Easter Sunday I received a message from a priest in Rome, at the bottom of his signature was "Ite Ad Joseph" , it resonated with me. Quite often I have petitioned him for my husband's vocation as a man and father, but I see him now as a very helpful intercessor for us mothers. For what better care can we expect than from a saint who cared for the most Blessed Virgin Mary, and our Lord Jesus? 

May we all strive daily to be faithful to what is presented to us as a means for our good, God's glory, and our long journey to becoming holy.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Help Us To Know You Dead. By:C.C.

Today we stop to pay homage to Your going.
The sun shines intensely and it's wounding, radiant with reason for it's being.
Burnt offering proclaiming God's goodness,
and the darkness of Your endured absence.

To the tomb , to the tomb, dead within us.
Weeping without hope, insensible despair.
Hidden from this great unknown
Yet, known to us it is by grace of time , 
how unmerited it seems.

The dream they wept for 
we live out daily.
All of this faith, all of our disbelief
woven in the experience of Cross to tomb

We slumber there in disobedience of the garden 
Trembling with the obedient consent You prayed in yours. 

While they mourned the loss of their hope
We mourn in the disbelief that is frequently ours.
Standing at the Cross in solidarity, 
mourning at the tomb in confused offering .

Messy praise ,and faithless glory, unknown Lord.
At times we come so unprepared.
What we know to call good emerges from this darkness .

Why have You told the sun to shine so brightly today? 

Haunted by the grace of Your rising
Please Lord , help us to know You dead!
Help us to see Your lifeless and bloody body offered. 
Help us to stand beside our Mother, Your Mother , 
help us to feel that sword!

Help us help to lay you in the tomb...

Just so maybe, for once, we can purify what we think we own in faith
Yet lack to claim by love.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Remembering The Cross. By: C.C.

A spirit of irreverence toward God increases to the measure that one lives mindless of the Cross.

The Cross that we can often be mindless of bleeds for our attention. Not just a look of acknowledgement but of trembling reverence, of complete and honest submission in whatever capacity we have received to offer ourselves. 

This remembering, though not pretty or comfortable is a necessity of our spiritual life and faith in Christ . It is by this alone that we begin to grasp the fragments of the understanding available to us about the height of Christ's radical love.

Love is taught here. 

Love is revealed.

Given life, learned in the giving up of Christ's life for us. 

The Cross is our unified place of belonging. It is the inescapable reality of our humanity . We , would rather suffer it without naming it, live chased by its shadow but keep running on our own esteem. 

Silly we are to run from such love. Strange love no doubt , but only in meditation of it do the implications of this love unfold to us, shaped as a cross.

"Do this is in memory of me"  becomes the necessity of remembering our belonging. The harness to our striving toward sanctity, and our encouragement along the way toward the eternal end. 

What we gain by our nearness to Calvary is the gift of the third day, the Resurrected Bread to consume and sustain us. 

The Liturgy is the place we walk this journey from the incarnation to the resurrection , intentionally. In this fullness and this completed mystery, yet ever hidden, we're made ready to see what has been eternally left to us. 

Do we know Who is among us? 

Are we aware of what is taking place?

We speak of encountering Jesus, we speak of authentic witnesses. He is met in the Calvary of our hearts an encounter all consuming , we must consent to be attentive to this greeting. This eternal encounter. At the table of Christ is where witnesses are made, where the Apostles were fed with necessary remembrance, and where transformation is radiated; from what dwells in the interior, and not from the peripheral matters we often select to be consumed by.

The priest at the altar carries us to this remembering, Fathers to us, Sons in the Son, to give us a nourishment eternal. 

We suffer from infinite longings in those areas of finite limitations. Only in relationship with the infinite can we sober ourselves to the uses of our finite things, our journey here, and of Calvary's visitation to us. 

The Eucharist is the Son, our light, so much the sun risen on the third day, conquering evil and darkness, not absolving us of our suffering, but claiming us as beloved. 

The Eucharist.  Father lifts the Son before us, in this rising mirrors that of the sun , expelling all darkness, redeeming so much by His light. This spotless , unblemished Eucharist that we gather to consume even before the sun is risen shines eternally for us even if the sun outside does not. There is such an important grace here, this is the only essential Light for us. This is what sustains us even if darkness was all we could perceive outside of Him. 

In the priests hands is lifted the Son, filling the faithful with rays of love, mercy, hope, and belonging. A grace of "keeping watch" with Christ . Of standing at the foot of the Cross while others fled. 

Stand there first fixed at the Cross. The love is agonizing.

Irreverence toward God begins in our forgetting of the Cross. You will know how to receive with an awe of reverence the Bread of Life, the love of Jesus, when you remember to remember the Cross.