Thursday, August 27, 2009

The saints of our time

Today's gospel talked about us being ready for the coming of our Savior. An old proverb says, "do not put off until tomorrow what can be done today." There are many times in my life, in my day, that I will say..."I can get that done tomorrow" and I'll spend my extra five, ten or fifteen minutes checking facebook or my email, or the score of the Steelers game on :) But today's gospel speaks to me especially, maybe to you too, about the need to be diligent in our work and in our faith. We don't know the hour that Christ is coming...and there have been times when I certainly would not have been ready to meet Jesus face to face if He would have come down. So hopefully, we can truly say at the end of each day I did everything I did today for the greater glory of God.

Today we also hear about St Monica, the mother of St Augustine...and man, to be the mother of St Augustine, you would HAVE to have been a saint! St Augustine was a bit of a party animal...he had mistresses and even had a child outside of marriage. But his mother, Monica, knew her son had the potential to be great. Yep, GREAT! And she prayed and she prayed and God worked in her son's life helping Augustine become not only a saint but a doctor of the Church! But as I listened to the gospel and heard about St. Monica, I found myself thinking about St Monica's fear as a mother for her child. Did she wonder if he would make it to heaven? Did she fear that Christ would come and her son wouldn't be ready? And as those thoughts crossed my mind and found myself thinking of my mom and all the grey hairs I probably gave her when I was going through "the world is against me" stage. Mom's have a special place in today's feast of St Monica. Mom's pray hard for their children to turn out well, and not just that, but they pray that their kids make it to heaven. Today's feast of St. Monica is really a feast for all mothers and for their strength to keep on praying even when their kids are making poor choices. What a gift to have St Monica and her intercessions for mothers today!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

fire, fire, FIRE!!!!!!

I used to be so afraid of fire I wouldn't even light a match. Yep, I didn't light my first match until I was probably 16 or 17 years old. I had my dad or my brother do it for me...or I'd get one of those cool fire starter plastic lighters with a long handle. I was so afraid of getting burned! I had this fear that I would catch on fire and my skin would fall off...that's gross! But as I got more bold I realized that if I was careful I wouldn't get burned. This analogy of fire is perfect for talking about our faith. Sometimes I am so afraid of getting "burned" by people that I shy away from certain issues because I don't want to chance my skin falling get me? I think it is pretty common that we back down when talking about Jesus to our friends, co-workers, families because of what might happen. Will we get burned? What if fire isn't such a bad thing after all though?
Lately I have prayed a lot in front of the Blessed Sacrament and over and over I find things keep referring to fire. In songs, in verses, in conversations it seems like things just keep going back to this idea of fire. As I was reading about St Alphonsus I came across a quote
"To cast fire upon the earth—that is my mission! And how I wish it were already blazing fiercely! Nothing in the world can set hearts ablaze with love for God like the Blessed Sacrament." This more than anything just affirmed what God has been speaking in my heart that we are called to truly cast the fiery love of Jesus Christ on this earth! How do we do that? Especially in a world of fires of the wrong sort? There is a lot working against us. But we were baptized with the fire of the Holy Spirit and we were confirmed in that later when the fire came down again through the Spirit in the sacrament of confirmation. There is a lot of darkness in this world and we are called to bring light to it. We're called to be burned by the fire of the love of God and to go and start that fire in others!
I was talking with my best friend about her retreat she just got back from and she was telling me about how in one of the Servant Songs, in Isaiah 50, there is a verse that says this
: "But all of you are kindlers of fire, lighters of firebrands. Walk in the flame of your fire, and among the brands that you have kindled!" All of us are called to serve, not one like another, we are called to cast fire upon the earth in a way that is uniquely ours. God did not make us to be cookie cutter images of the saints, no, He created each of us to cast fire upon this earth in a way no one else can. How are you called to do that? How does God want you to witness His message to the world? It will be hard. He says that upfront. But we know that at the end of the day God wins the war...He banishes Satan and we, His people, are victorious under the King. So I pray that today we can take that step together to be bold, and to cast fire upon this earth.
But don't play with matches, you WILL light yourself on fire, and your skin WILL fall off. Gross.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Redemptorist what????

Driving up the hill to the Notre Dame Retreat House in Canandaigua, NY this past weekend, I was reflecting on my month of working at St Mary's and what that has meant for me spiritually. One of the things I've been hearing a lot about since coming here is Christ's crucifixion gives us plentiful redemption! So when I went up to this retreat house for a symposium for the Redemptorist Order this was the focus of my heart. So I got to my room and sat down thinking I would be able to relax and take it easy for a while. God had other things planned as He usually does. So I went down to the chapel and was greeted by this French priest who was one of the most joyful people I have ever met. Was this the life of someone who had experienced plentiful redemption? This was my experience throughout the weekend. People were joyful and excited about this order of priests, this way of life. And I found myself getting more and more excited!

The order of the Redemportists was started by St Alphonsus Ligouri and is called the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, St Alphonsus is also a Doctor of the Church because of his influential thinking and practice of life. He had this call to aid the abandoned and the needy. Aren't we all abandoned and needy at some point or another in our lives? Don't we always need someone to look out for our needs? I know that sometimes I just NEED to fall back on my family or friends. I know that sometimes I feel alone. This is our world. Yes, we can focus on the actual poor and sick of this community, but we can only really serve when we can recognize that poorness and sickness in ourselves as well.

This past weekend I met a lot of wonderful people, doing great things in this world to further the mission that St Alphonsus lived by. It inspired me to go forth from that weekend and do the same! The Redemptorists take a 4th vow of Perseverance and I think that this is something that we can all learn from. There will be times that we will be spiritually dry and worn out by the battlefield that is this world. There will also be times when we see much fruit in our work...but what is most important is that no matter what we see, we can persevere through everything so that at the end of our lives we can look back and truly say that everything we did was "Ad majorem Dei gloriam"! (All for the greater glory of God!). This perseverance is what will sustain us when we want to give up. We must, as St Paul tells us, "pray at every opportunity" so that we can stand firm.

You know what they say...practice makes perfect!

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