Sunday, June 26, 2011

Would You Walk Away?

This Sunday we celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi, which solemnly celebrates the institution of the Holy Eucharist.  In the gospel reading this Sunday, Jesus says:  "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.  For my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.  Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him." John 6: 55-56  As Catholics we believe that when the bread and wine is consecrated, it turns into the actual body and blood of Jesus.  It is not a symbol or even a representation of the Last Supper.  It actually IS the body and blood of our Lord and God!

This mystery of transubstantiation is, admittedly, a difficult teaching.  One can try to wrap one's mind around it but how can one possibly understand that Christ can come down at every mass and become present, the blood and wine transformed into his very body and blood?  I wrote a post titled "Weird Pang" on an experience I had recently how my heart seems to have finally gotten the message, in a most unexpected way. 

A very interesting fact: 70% of Catholics do not attend church on Sunday.  I will be the first to admit that there was a time that I did not attend church regularly, if at all.  This was also during a time in my life that I was probably the least happy.  It just was easy not to go to church when I was in college and beyond.  It didn't seem like a big deal.  I think this is the reason most people do not attend church regularly:  mass is seen as not such a big deal.  I can talk to God anytime.  It isn't all that important.  Mass times are not that convenient.  I don't like the pastor.  The music is horrible.  The list of excuses could go on and on. 

But the conclusion that I have come to as to why people do not attend church on Sunday is that they do not get transubstantiation.  God loved us so much that he sent his only Son.  And Jesus then allowed himself to be tortured, nailed to a cross and died for us, for our sins.  I think we all THINK God's love is great, but have we allowed ourselves to FEEL this great love from God?  If you think about your own life, is there someone in your life who loves you like this?  If you are lucky enough to answer yes, I'm sure you spend time with this person.  Or would you find excuses and walk away from that kind of love?

I think we have either never understood what going to church is all about or we have let it become so routine that it now seems unimportant.  We are at church to gather as a community to praise God and most importantly to RECEIVE HIM!!!  He comes to us every mass in the form of the Eucharist to strengthen us on our journey.  Would you walk away?  Walk away from Jesus, from God himself?  Personally, I'm sad to say that in the past, I did walk away.  If only I truly knew what I was doing back then, I don't think I ever could have left.  If you have walked away, maybe it's time to come back home!  God  loves you and wants to be with you.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Seven Quick Takes Friday (1)

I stumbled across Quick Takes Fridays a few weeks back and think that this week I will venture my first Quick Take Friday!  To make things interesting, the woman who usually hosts, Jen at Conversion Diary is at the hospital with the arrival of baby #5 having occurred on Wednesday.  So this week Hallie Lord, aka Betty Beguiles, will be hosting.  Since I wasn't sure which page to link to, I thought to be safe, I'd link to both.

The Stanley Cup goes to the B's!!!  GO BRUINS!  Ok, so this is sort of old news, but had I been doing quick takes last week, this obviously would have made it to my post last week.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to watch nearly as much of this season's playoffs since we have 'po people cable.  But I was glad to be able to watch the last two games of the finals with my little ladies.  Below is a picture of them the night that the B's won it!  Hannah, the 9 month old, didn't last 5 minutes into the game and Alicia asked to go to bed after the 1st period.  Oh well!  No hockey until the fall.  Bummer.  But maybe, if I play my cards right, I may get to see a few more BC games this fall?!?  Hmmm, maybe...

"Yes, your majesty!"  For some reason, my oldest daughter has taken to answering some (a select few) of my questions or "demands" with saying this phrase and curtsying.  Can I just say again, that my daughter watches too much TV?  This is from her obsession with the move Alice in Wonderland.  I guess I am the mean queen of the house.  She (and I) better get used to it!  "Off with their heads!!!" HAHAHAHA!

So for the past few weeks, our 9 month old has been having an absolute blast in her walker.  I know that these things are not items you are supposed to be getting these days for your baby - they are bad for your children, potentially delaying walking, dangerous if they are near stairs, etc.  Anyway, having neglected this bit of advice, I've been really enjoying watching her buzz around our house.  She gets going at a pretty good clip and loves to bang into things.  The first hint I had that it may be a bad idea to keep her in the walker unsupervised was when I came into the kitchen and she was grabbing at her car seat that I had left on the bench by the front door.  It was pretty close to falling on top of her, so she was pretty lucky that I came in when I did.  So now I supervise her, but give her some reign to cruise around the house so long as I'm not busy doing something I can't stop to follow her.  Last week she was grabbing all the magnets off the fridge and throwing them around.  Pretty entertaining for Alicia and I when we are having lunch.  This week, however, Hannah's new trick is checking out the trash bag on the trash baskets we have in the kitchen.  She is attempting to touch, grab or knock over the lid to get to the bag.  I have to say that pretty soon she will be grabbing the trash baskets onto herself.  Potentially, pulling a car seat on top of herself, getting into garbage - I definitely cannot leave this girl unsupervised for long.  Hannah will be a fun child!  Thankfully I have Alicia around to keep an eye on her and report back to me what is happening if I do have to leave the room!  Above is a picture of Hannah looking all innocent after about the 5th time I had told her to stop.

Ok, so this bothers me.  The Governor of the state of NH vetoed HB 329 which is a law that would require parental notification of abortion for minors.  The basic premise behind his reason for vetoing this bill is that the law, as written, includes no clause for rape and incest and includes unclear and narrow medical provisions.  Hmmm.  BS!  I just hope the representatives and senators have some sense.  It seems to me that if a minor has to get permission from their parents for employment, to use an inhaler or receive aspirin from the school nurse, parents should at the very LEAST be notified that their daughter is about to have major surgery.  This decision is one that could risk her mental well being and physical health, and obviously is life altering to that of the unborn child.  Parents should be involved in this, if not to help her make this life changing decision, then to help her deal with the aftermath.

So, my husband told me the other night, after seeing a friend's FB link, that there is a group of atheists that want a new street sign in NY removed.  The sign is "Seven in Heaven Way" in memory of seven firefighters who died on 9-11 and is located right near the fire station where they served in Brooklyn.  You can find a link to the article here.  I'm tired of all this bickering about separation of church and state.  I'm tired of a lack of respect for God.  Why does this affect them if they don't believe, anyway?  Why do they care?  I, personally, am insulted as a Catholic by some things that the government is seeking to set into law, or has already set into law.  If I were to speak out, I'd be a bigot.  Are they not bigoted against people who believe in God?  It's a street sign, memorializing some fallen heroes.  Why can't they just leave it alone!?

I received an email that disturbs me.  Sometime last week I think, it hit the news that a group of middle school children in Massachusetts was asked to complete a graphic sex survey, without parental knowledge or consent.  The "Youth Risk Behavior Study" was administered to fulfill a grant requirement.  The principal says he cannot take responsibility for the content that was on that survey because it wasn't generated by the school system.  Well, that's just great.  Questioning seventh graders about oral sex, withdrawal?  REALLY?!?!  I feel like our children are becoming part of some great social experiment.  I truly don't understand when people say something like, "Well, do you want to shelter them?"  YES!  Yes, I do!  I would like to pass on some morals to my children, at a time and age which I feel is appropriate, which in these days is all too difficult to do.  They are bombarded by sex from an early age just with the commercials they are exposed to on TV, forget about prime time TV programming.  It really disturbs me that our school systems are now being just as careless as the media, although I guess it shouldn't really surprise me.

Ok, so, Fr. Corapi.  (Read a new stories about his situation here.) Now, this month, Fr. Corapi announces he will no longer function as a priest or administer the sacraments, since the Church has made it clear they do not want him.  I just don't quite know what to say here.  I guess I can start with this saddens me.  I've never seen him speak in person, although my husband has.  It's amazing to see all the commentary on articles that have popped up recently how he has changed so many lives and brought so many back to the Catholic faith. My hubby and I were excited that we were going to hear him speak this August in Boston, but it was canceled.  He is still a priest, has not left the church, but he is simply doing something else.  He said that he's not bitter, but from listening to his most recent announcements, I'm not convinced.  I'm also not sure that I blame him really.  He's human after all.  And I truly think that the devil finds ways to attack those who are getting an important message across and winning over people for God.  I will say this:  I'm not disappointed with him, I'm more concerned for him and for those involved.  I will pray for him, those involved in this whole mess and for a resolution that is just for all involved. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Holy Trinity - 1 God 3 Persons - TOB Style

Yesterday the Catholic Church celebrated the Feast of the Holy Trinity: the mystery of one God in three persons.  It is definitely a mystery we will not ever completely understand in this world.  However, the best explanation that has brought me to a much clearer understanding of the Holy Trinity stems from the teaching of Blessed Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body (TOB).  This is what I love about Theology of the Body: not only does it teach us the whys behind the Catholic Church's moral teachings on sexuality, it points toward an explanation of the sacraments and some of the basic foundations of Her teachings about God.

So, one God three persons...  What do we know about God?  God is love.  Ok, so if God is love, can one just love oneself?  One can, but that becomes pretty narcissistic.  Imagine God sitting around loving himself.  Ludicrous.  That is not God's nature at all.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son...

Love stories that move us are typically at least between two people, right?  What is it that is moving about a love story?  The exchange of love between two persons.  The very nature of love itself is that it has to be given, poured out.  And in true, pure love it is received and then given back, poured back out.

So, the first two persons in the Holy Trinity: God, the Father, gives of himself, pouring his love into the Son, who receives God's love.  The Son, in turn, gives of himself, pouring his love into the Father, who receives the Son's love.  For those of us blessed to have wonderful relationships with another, be it a friendship, parental relationship, spousal relationship, etc. we can well understand this two person exchange of love. 

Ok, so then why three persons?  Herein lies another truth about the very nature of love:  love by its nature is fruitful, life-giving.  The love between God the Father and God the Son is so perfect, so true and pure that it is out poured into another being completely - the Holy Spirit.  Their love is so beautiful, so awesome that it cannot be contained and the love that is "produced" between the two persons has its own person hood - the Holy Spirit.

Ok, so our understanding of time and space makes this last part a little bit tricky.  God existed in totality before time and space came into being.  Meaning, God the Father, Son AND Holy Spirit all existed together from the very beginning.  I think this is where the mystery part comes in - our understanding of time and place makes this confusing for our minds. 

But if God is love, this explanation does make sense.  And in Theology of the Body (TOB), since we are made in God's image, read we are made in the image of love, the marriage between a man and a woman mirrors the Holy Trinity.  The man pours his love out and it is received by the woman, who in turn pours our her love and is received by the man.  This unity of their love, God willing, produces a whole new being - a little human person.  Pretty awesome this plan God has for us.  His plan, his creation of us as male and female, is perfect.  It actually can reveal for us a bit about the nature of God himself.  Absolutely beautiful!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Women have the power... and no, I'm not a "feminist"

So the news has been shocking to me recently.  Whether it's the pageant mom who injected her daughter with Botox (and is now recanting the story saying it was made up) or the barbie mom who is giving her 7 year old daughter a gift certificate for her birthday of $10k to use for a boob job when she turns 16, I just don't understand what moms are thinking.  Maybe they aren't thinking, but it makes me sick.  Just what are they trying to tell their daughters???

As a mom with two young daughters to raise, I know that I don't like what I see out there.  Clothes these days sexualizes our daughters from far too young.  There are string bikinis for babies, yes, BABIES - even for the smallest sizes available!  Why?  Is this really cute?  I'm not sure I think it is, actually I KNOW I do not think it is cute.  And do we really want our seven year old girls wearing low cut shirts and short shorts with all the sick people out there in the world?  I don't even really think those fashions are appropriate for our older teens to wear.  Like it or not, and man is this going to sound old fashioned, modesty has been thrown out the window.

I can't say I've always been careful about what I wear and in the past have worn some things that now I'd be ashamed to wear in public.  Ok, so these days my figure isn't quite what it was and those clothes are no longer flattering, but now that I do pay attention, to be honest, these days it is hard to find any modest clothing.  I can't find a tank top that doesn't leave everything hanging out to layer under the "cute" clothes and maternity clothes was even worse!  And try to find a modest swim suit so that when you bring your children to a pool or to the beach, you aren't revealing yourself to the world.  Good luck!!! 

It seems as though women are saying "look at me, look at me," and then are offended when men do look.  I've told our young teen ladies in the Theology of the Body class, men are going to want what you advertise.  Can you really be surprised that a guy is looking at your backside when "PINK" is in big letters across your butt?  Do you expect them to look you in the eyes when you have some snappy saying written across your chest?  Yes, they should be looking at you as a person, but please realize that we need to take a look at ourselves and truly THINK about what we are doing.  (By the way, let's be real, the same goes for men!  Women will be looking if you are in the gym with your tight tank top!  Or walking down the street with tight jeans or your shirt off on a hot day!  Although not all guys will complain about women gawking at them!)

These women who are encouraging their daughters to have procedures done for external "beauty" seem to be setting their little girls up to be unhappy with their appearance.  They seem to be saying, you aren't perfect just the way you are.  If you just do this one thing, you will win the beauty pageant; if you just get this one little procedure done, you will be happy.  These are LITTLE GIRLS!!!!  There is no need for them to get this self image problem at such a young age, and at the hands of their MOTHERS?!?!?!  I just can't stand it.  Please let your little girls be little girls.  Do not shove them into the world of botox and boob jobs! 

God did make our bodies beautiful.  After all, He made them in His image.  Our bodies are supposed to point to the wonder and beauty of our God.  We are all beautiful in different ways.  However, the beauty of our physical bodies will change while we are here in this world; we will age.  There is no getting around that.  There is such a high value placed on appearance and, yes, it is important to take care of ourselves, but I think it is important to teach our ladies a different way to a positive self image.  There is something much more important that we should value - the impact we can have on the hearts and lives of those around us.

There is a quote from the Theology of the Body class (in one of the videos I think) that I absolutely love:  Women have the power to TURN HEADS, but more importantly to TURN HEARTS.  Think about this for a minute, ladies.  We all have the ability to WOW people with how we look on the outside (ok, some of us more so than others - I don't think I qualify in the WOW department these days).  But think of what it means when we can WOW people with who we are on the inside and be able to change someone's life and impact them in a positive way.

One case in point:  When I first met my husband, neither of us was going to church.  I slowly started going to mass again shortly after we met and one weekend he joined me, promising nothing.  It all stemmed from there really and we are now both practicing Catholics who love to learn more about our faith.  It simply amazes me that he has changed some things in his life as much as he has (and I have changes some things in my life too!  If you open your heart to God, boy can he do some amazing things!).  You can read about his journey with something that he titled "Every Guy Does It, Right?"  (It's a really, REALLY good read if I do say so myself).  Had I not started going back to church, this conversion of heart may have never taken place in him and I thank God every day that it has.  Nothing has meant more to me and our marriage than this change of heart that has occurred in him. 

The power to turn heads or to turn hearts?  I challenge you, ladies, to take a look at our world around us and see if you can regain a focus on turning hearts instead of just turning heads.  This is what true beauty is all about.  Let's please show our girls this by our example!!!