"There is nothing more beautiful than to know Him and to speak to others of our friendship with Him. The task of the shepherd, the task of the fisher of men, can often seem wearisome. But it is beautiful and wonderful, because it is truly a service to joy, to God’s joy which longs to break into the world." - Benedict XVI - Homily at the Mass for the Inauguration of his Pontificate - 24 April 2005

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Roma... presto ci rivedremo!

Rome Italy

This past year has been full of the same question from every side: "So when are you going back?"... "I don't know" I'd respond politely, but really I've wanted to shout at the top of my lungs. I'm fine with taking things one day at a time, really that's what I have to do. The part that seemed to "get" people the most is the fact that I really didn't care that I didn't know.

Maybe it's because I've spent a great deal of time in a state of not knowing that it has become second nature to me. But now there are other questions "How are you going to do this" or "What are you going to do after that?". Well, I'm guessing that most people ask these questions out of politeness in order to appear interested or to make conversation and some people are genuinely concerned too. I suppose my answers should better reflect these following paragraphs in order to help people understand that my attitude has nothing to do with recklessness.

God asks us all to trust. He asks us to make our decisions according to our love for Him. I have a lot of reasons for going where I am going and doing what I am doing, but ultimately I realize that the decisions themselves aren't so important, but the motivation behind them is what gives them value.

I've had time to acquire a true indifference. I could have easily decided to cancel the whole idea and go the ordinary route. I could have gotten a full-time job and/or gone to community college to get a basic degree. Or, as I have chosen, I could go through with something not knowing where it will lead, but trusting that I am in the hands of God, trusting that He will provide since I am moving ahead for the right reasons. 

What is this indifference? It is the calm in the eye of the storm. It is the cloud that covers the sweltering sun, the dew on the parched land. But it can sometimes be easy to confuse with the numbness that takes away the pain in frozen extremities only to reveal a sharp stabbing sensation at its passing.

Still the difference between them can be clearly revealed: indifference, like that of the saints, is ultimately abandonment to the will of God. It is rooted in faith and sustained by trust. Numbness has no root, brings no lasting peace and answers to neither faith nor reason.

The Lord blesses all that is done for love of Him...

Wednesday, September 05, 2012


So, I've been away for a while. OK a looong while. I haven't posted in almost a year. You may be aware that I've been going through some changes (if you aren't aware, you can see by my profile pic and maybe take a guess). Anyway, I'm ready to get back to blogging, I have a lot to say, though of course never enough time. So to welcome myself back, I've dug deep into the profound depths of the well of my unpublished posts (so really there were only three of them: one was "time sensitive" and the other quite unfinished), and have published for you the unedited version of this old draft from over a year ago. So here it is!

As I was brainstorming for a topic to post, the thought crossed my mind that today is St. Clare's feast day. In a second instance, I reminded myself that "in-theme" posts are strictly against my blogging policy. I don't know why I have such an aversion to them, and I mean no offense to anyone (blogger or otherwise) who diligently keeps accordance with the liturgical year, but I just can't abide posts on the readings of the day or reflections on the saint of the day, etc. 

So this thought brings me to reflect on where I've come from, and where I'm going.

As a teenager in Catholic highschool, my group of friends was known as the NITs [i.e. Nuns In Training], so I think that in itself gives a pretty good idea of where things stood. I don't think I could classify myself as a Traddie (since I didn't ever wear a chapel veil, and [gasp!] I may have even worn jeans to Sunday Mass a few times since I was always in the choir loft and no one ever saw me), but I was pretty much along those lines. I was a rule follower, but a clueless one.

With the passing of years, and especially because of a rather interesting experience in religious life, I've changed quite a bit. They say that suffering always changes us. Whether for the better or for the worse, it changes us. I'm still not so sure which was my lot, but I'm inclined to think the latter while still hoping that it will be transfigured into the the former.

What I do know, is that my point of view is drastically altared, and I experience what so many young people experience: a thirst for sincerity and truth toward oneself, one's principles and even one's dreams. I've been told that as we come to know Him who made us, we come to know ourselves. It should naturally follow, therefore, that in fidelity to our true selves, made in His likeness we are faithful to Him.

I love a properly celebrated liturgy, I love the Pope, I love Palestrina (who, as you know, comes right after the Pope in ecclesiastical hierarchy) and would never say not to follow them in order give precedence to personal preferences. I am saying that there must come a time when the letter of the law gives way to its spirit, and the Eternal Covenant of love becomes the only law. I suppose that is why Augustine says "Love and do what you will".

With joy and gladness they are led along as they enter the palace of the king.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Ocean stones

A score of months ago, I drew a stone from the sea; a gesture that began with a simple meaning which evolved into a deeper one and finally an even more profound significance.

Attracted by the way it captured the light, by the dancing rosy and charcoal streaks that seemed to have wandered onto its surface from some other colored mass, I collected it. Wanting to remember the beauty of the moment – for it was not just any old day, but a time that has forever changed me – I gathered some others as well. Soon however, as the water dried from it, I was left with nothing more than a pinkish grey lump of rock. I thought to myself: “Is this not a better reminder than ever of what I wish to take away from this place? Indeed, the stones of the sea are not beautiful apart from him”. So I threw back most of my collection, but kept the rosy-grey to remind me of that very reality.

To me this was an analogy for Jn 5:5 "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers...". I suppose the analogy still holds true, but with the passing of time, I discovered something else. I think many times - at least for me - it's easy to be attached to our own ideas, our own interpretations of what Our Lord tells us while leading ourselves to miss the real point. It's easy to take on a "do-this-or-else" interpretation, which may be one of the main reasons why young people are turned off by religion and therefore refuse the gift of faith. Whatever the case might be, I kept that rock in my pocket for quite a while. I held it often, trying to keep alive the rememberance of the grace I had recieved, reminding myself to remain in Him.

Then, something unexpected... with my constant handling of that pebble, the contact with the oil from my hands, it began to change. Its aspect began to liken it to the day when I reached into the salty water, picking up a brilliant and beautiful reminder of something dear to my heart. I was actually a bit disappointed for this, since it seemed that my metaphor had just been emptied, but later on I found a new meaning.

It's easy to think that "remain in me" is a mandate that depends on our will, on our efforts, on our docility. But what if my remaining depends very little on my actual efforts (not to say that these aren't important, but in themselves they cannot be efficacious)? What if the image of beauty in me doesn't depend so much on my throwing myself in the sea of prayers or works, or in the voluntaristic search for union with Christ, as if I could bring this about by my own desire or commitment?

That little pink pebble reminded me that the lustre of my life comes from His hands. It comes from my presenting myself to Him, from my allowing Him to work in me, to handle me if you would. So everything and anything that I should do to remain in Him is but a supplication the He should keep me in Himself. The branches need not fret over how to attach themselves to the vine, how to become what they are. The branches receive life from the vine, grow and bear fruit as ordained.

My stone, restored to beauty from the touch of my fingers, my soul restored to life from the touch of His hand.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Folly's fall

O Folly fury you, of irate tempest
whose pride and recklessness, domination
are wild, hungry beasts whose prey and meaning
are wont to find in roaming pilgrim's hearts.

But Folly do I name you, rightly so
because your reign has firm the earthly bounds
and are you arms but water, fire, wind
who as their destiny Another serve.

And Folly do I call you yet again
for this your title now has brought me bliss
as I thus wonder that your Master's hand
at your rebellion does not rebel.

But wise is He whose all enduring purpose
knows that your wayward will is still His means
as your anihilations clear his pathway
and render limpid heaven's fixèd sphere.

All-knowing One and judicious King
whose mystery feigns a silent watch
and grants permissions now that none can capture
but all is ordered to your solemn plan.

Omniscient Lord who o'er the squalling sees
the beauties that man's eye could never fathom
kept covered by the tempest's hazy rage
but then your calm destroys her every venture.

And there, as brilliant as the day that rises
from 'neath the blanket of the swarthy storm
the mountains soar to beckon to their climax
the traveler waiting long to see the light.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Choose your own adventure...

When I was a kid, I loved to read. The convent kind of got me out of the habit (strangely enough), but back then I read a lot. I went through certain "literary" phases before I decided to fall in love with classical literature. So I went from Berenstain Bears, to Boxcar Children, to those abbreviated classics, though I can't remember what the series was called. All of these, of course, I would read aloud to my grey miniature poodle, Pepper. One of my favorites (though, unfortunately, Pepper 's participation was a bit more limited because of the "language barrier") were the "choose your own adventure" books. Remember them? At a certain point the protagonist has to make a decision, and the reader gets to make it for him, so he turns to a certain page based on that choice and the story continues with more decisions until it reaches the end. I would read them, then go back and re-read them changing the decisions until I had read every possible story... or the second time around I would just read cover-to-cover to see what could have happened to my protagonist.

Many times we uses stories, books, as a metaphor for our own lives. But is seems that most of us differ in our opinions of how the story is actually written. As men and women of faith, we know that the Author of life is One, but what does he actually do with all that authoring? I personally, though I love writing, would get pretty bored or fed up if I had to invent billions of stories every day, and to fit each 80-or-so year long story into a millenniar time-line... that's a bit much. So we all know that our Author is infinite and almighty, and it's pretty easy for him, but cut me some slack because I'm just trying to make this a little more dramatic!

Still, it really is mind-boggling to think of how the life-stories are written, how life-stories - all of them, even the most tragic - are meant to be stories of joy and hope, how each one is meant to have a happy ending. Above all, the most staggering truth is that each and every story is meant to be a love story. So maybe they all aren't so sappy and romantic. I know mine isn't even though I myself am a pretty sappy romantic kind of person. 

I used to think that God having a plan for our lives meant that we had only two choices: the story He writes for me or the story I write for myself. I've come to realize that this is false. We do have two choices: the story that we write together, or the story that I write without Him. He didn't already write it, like an instruction manual and consign it to me at birth, or baptism, or confirmation or whatnot. This is the ultimate "choose your own adventure" story, because when we get to the point of, choose this and turn to page 25, choose that and turn to page 45, we can freely choose either one and the story continues it's marvelous and unique unfolding.

When we write the story together, sometimes he takes the pen, sometimes he gives it to us, somtimes he dictates how he wants it to proceed, sometimes he is silent and allows the creativity of his creature to flow. Most of the time, we have to talk about how we want the story to go. I tell him "Wouldn't it be cool if..." and he tells me "Yeah, that's pretty cool. But what about this...".

It's marvellous and unique. It's a real choose your own adventure. When we choose the adventure of love, the adventure of truth, the adventure of fidelity to ourselves and to our Creator, the adventure that is ultimately a living conversation with Him, then a kaleidoscopic explosion is bound to make this story the ultimate adventure.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Hi to my "Followers"

Well... I just realized that my blog no longer has 0 followers. I find that pretty cool, but I also realize that I should probably update a little more often, but I have quite a serious case of writers block. So just a quick "Hi" and thanks for reading my blog. I hope to write something meaningful soon!

Saturday, July 02, 2011

"Spiritual" friendship or Spiritual friendship?

The topic for this post is something that has recently been very close to my heart. As I've watched many of my past criteria fall to the ground, as the scales fell from the eyes of St. Paul, I've discovered a new beauty which is a shadow of Beauty himself. I find myself so impotent before the greatness of it yet humbled by its simplicity and I realize that divine love is the one and only source of human love.

I look back to my teenage years, on the many "spiritual" friendships in my life. These friendships were a gift from God, and I bless him for them and I don't undermine them in the least, but I've come to understand that a truly spiritual relationship does not mean adding rosaries, masses, adoration hours, novenas, vigils to the regular list of movies, mall, arcade, Denny's, Walmart at 2am.

First of all, it would seem that our understanding of "spiritual" needs to be slightly re-defined. Ordinarily we think of it as havina a lot to do with the first numbers of the dictionary definition:

 Webster's 1828 American Dictionary
1: [Adjective] Consisting of spirit; not material; incorporeal; as a spiritual substance or being. The soul of man is spiritual.
2: [Adjective] Mental; intellectual; as spiritual armor.
Etc. ...

But then we come to number 6, and find out that Mr. Webster had more insight than we might have immagined:

6: [Adjective] Pertaining to the renewed nature of man; as spiritual life.

So what is this renewed nature of man? St. Paul sums it up with cutting precision, "For me to live is Christ..." and again Ireneus, "The glory of God is the living man". It all points to the Incarnation, not as something distant from us, but something that takes place in us, something that we seek out daily and pray fervently for its realization in us, moment by moment.

So as spirituality is not something disjoined from life in all its circumstances, neither is a spiritual friendship something disjoined from our humanity, from our affections and desires. Still, it is more than just affection and desire. It is more than just pleasure in the company of another. It is more than just human love. It is the love of God transforming these and bringing them into the dimension of the sacred. Affection for the divine, meets affection for the human, sanctifying it without taking from its integrity and humanity.

How liberating it is to recognize the objective goodness in human nature, and see that our journey to holiness does not exclude who we are, but exalts who we are in Christ.

Thus it is revealed how rituality can be penetrated and transfigured to reveal its true meaning. It is revealed how the humility of the sacred incorporates itself into the ordinariness of the secular or even into the tragedy of the sinful. The ordinary is sanctified and the memory of the sinful is redeemed so that Christ may be All in all.

It is possible "to search for Our Lord in everything, for example conversing with someone, coming and going, tasting, listening, thinking and in all our actions, because it is true that the Divine Majesty is found in all things through his presence, power and essence" (Ignatius of Loyola, Spiritual Escersizes, III, 506, 513).

Our humanity is, in itself (but not by itself!) our path to the Eternal One. Human love as a participation in Divine Love is our most sublime capacity after that of recieving and returning directly Divine Love. Friendship is a gift from God for his glory. Grace and affinity, Love and love give birth to a blossom that is a reflection of the Incarnation: divinity meeting and redeeming humanity.