The ‘yes’ of Saint Joseph

Often times in the Catholic community we reflect on the fiat of Mary. The fiat of Mary refers to Luke 1:38 when Mary says, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word.Fiat is Latin for “let it be done.”

Mary’s beautiful consent and willingness to trust God’s plan is always something truly wonderful to reflect on. Though, honestly, it can be hard for me to relate to the Blessed Mother’s beautiful response. Often times my response to almost everything is anything but beautiful. I have been known to be quite blunt and abrasive, so elegance and beauty with my words is an area in which in need to grow in.

I can relate far more to the choppiness and confusion of Saint Joseph’s ‘yes’. That is mostly to do with the fact he first said ‘no’. Saint Joseph originally planned to politely and discreetly say no and walk away from Mary and unborn Jesus. Which at that time would have made him a good man. He could have had Mary killed for adultery. He chose to do the good thing and just leave her quietly.

God wasn’t calling Joseph to goodness, though. He was calling Joseph, as He calls each of us, to greatness. Joseph in a relatable fashion wrestled with this a great deal. My heart can relate to the wrestling Joseph must have endured when faced with the will of God.

The will of God, in all honesty, is a profoundly difficult path to not only follow but to choose again and again each and every day of our lives.

With Joseph, the Lord was clear in Matthew‬ ‭1:23‬‭:

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means ’God is with us.’”

After a great deal of wrestling Joseph surrendered to the will of God. Joseph gave up His own plans and chose to follow the perfect plans of God’s. I deeply admire the struggle of Joseph and then the full commitment he made once he set his mind on it.

That is the yes I desire to imitate, as well and the beautiful fiat of Mary. I desire to surrender and then fully commit. I struggle with the fully committing part, not so much the wrestling with God’s will (I do that just fine).

I pray that we can all, in this glorious season of waiting for God to be with us that we can meditate on the ‘yes’ of Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus.

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Am I Complete?

 

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I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately on love. At the beginning of this year, in January, I went to a conference in Chicago with an organization called the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS). It was put on my heart at that conference that this year I should focus on love. Not the love for the culture tells us and promotes. Not the naked pictures, empty promises, and physical companionship. God was calling me to understand a love I hadn’t really understood before. Not the love of my parents, not the love that I see so many people striving for and losing themselves in the process. But the love that Jesus has plans for me. The love He has planned for everyone to understand better.

Oftentimes relationships are looked at as the completion of self. I hear so often I wish “I was in a relationship so that I would be more understood” or “I wish I was in a relationship so I be complete”. I’ve now come to know that if you don’t feel complete here, today, alone by yourself then you’re going to go your whole life feeling incomplete.

I was so fortunate to be able to witness of holy matrimony this past week. I watch my two friends stand up on the altar and vow to love each other matter how hard it hurts. The biggest thing that stood out to me was that they were two normal people that vowed to love the person right in front of them just how they are. They had to have acknowledged they cannot fix the other because only the Lord can do that. All they are called to do is to love the person as they are, right now, and grow with that person with the Lord’s continued help.

It’s far too easy these days to live in a false reality that life will not only be better with a partner beside you but that life will be complete, satisfying, and you’ll have never-ending happiness. In all honestly as much happiness can and will come from marrying the one whom your soul loves (Song of Songs 3:4), there is still going to be pain, disappointment, and hardships. But I believe if more people can genuinely be content with themselves first, then they can learn how to be happy with another without looking at that person as the sole answer to all problems.

You are a whole person. You are complete on your own. When the time is right and if you are called the Lord will give you a partner to help you run to heaven’s gate. Until then, though, you’re strong enough to run there on your own. You’re not alone. Find good people to run with!


Here is a lovely prayer by St. Anthony of Padua  

Be Satisfied with Me

Everyone longs to give themselves completely to someone, To have a deep soul relationship with another, To be loved thoroughly and exclusively.  But to a Christian, God says, “No, not until you are satisfied, Fulfilled and content with being loved by Me alone, With giving yourself totally and unreservedly to Me. With having an intensely personal and unique relationship with Me alone.  Discovering that only in Me is your satisfaction to be found, Will you be capable of the perfect human relationship, That I have planned for you. You will never be united to another Until you are united with Me. Exclusive of anyone or anything else. Exclusive of any other desires or longings. I want you to stop planning, to stop wishing, and allow Me to give you The most thrilling plan existing . . . one you cannot imagine. I want you to have the best. Please allow Me to bring it to you.  You just keep watching Me, expecting the greatest things. Keep experiencing the satisfaction that I am. Keep listening and learning the things that I tell you. Just wait, that’s all. Don’t be anxious, don’t worry Don’t look around at things others have gotten Or that I have given them Don’t look around at the things you think you want, Just keep looking off and away up to Me, Or you’ll miss what I want to show you. And then, when you’re ready, I’ll surprise you with a love Far more wonderful than you could dream of.  You see, until you are ready, and until the one I have for you is ready, I am working even at this moment To have both of you ready at the same time. Until you are both satisfied exclusively with Me And the life I prepared for you, You won’t be able to experience the love that exemplified your relationship with Me. And this is perfect love.  And dear one, I want you to have this most wonderful love, I want you to see in the flesh a picture of your relationship with Me. And to enjoy materially and concretely the everlasting union of beauty, perfection and love that I offer you with Myself. Know that I love you utterly. I AM God. Believe it and be satisfied”   

Too Quick To Forget But Not Forgive?

“First, we must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. It is impossible even to begin the act of loving one’s enemies without the prior acceptance of the necessity, over and over again, of forgiving those who inflict evil and injury upon us.”

– Martin Luther King Jr.

Our culture doesn’t know how to forgive. We have lost the ability to do so. When we think we are forgiving, in reality, we are just forgetting. We are encouraged to push past the hurt and either continue a relationship with that person or forget about them. Move on.

The truth is that maybe this forgetting might make you feel better for awhile. It might ease the pain from the wound to a degree but truly it’s just a band-aid over internal bleeding. The wound is still there and it’s holding you captive.

I spend a good part of the last six years trying to forget the wrong that has been done to me. I have spent that time pretending there weren’t any damages to the relationships I had. I played the part I thought I was expected to play. But that’s all I was doing; acting. I wasn’t living. And my personal growth could only go so far before I realized the forgiveness I thought I had in my heart was just a false version. I was just pushing down all the pain and hurt. I put a mask over the wound and called it ‘forgivness’.

What we aren’t told is there is nothing to be done about the past hurts that have been inflicted upon us. They can’t be made up. That person that failed us can’t go back to our childhood and love us better. They can only try and love us better now. And even though that is such a blessing, it will never be the same. No one can go back to your past self and love you better. Not even you. No one except an all powerful God. Only He can enter into those moments more deeply. Only if you let Him.

Forgiveness is not forgetting. We must admit the wrong that has been done. The rejection that has been done to us. The anger that we feel towards others. We need to bring the hurt to light before we can truly forgive it (see Genesus 45:4-5; 50:20).  Forgivenss is not ignoring the problem. Forgivness is recognizing the hurt, anger, and disappoinment. Recognizing there is nothing to be done about the past even. Wheather it was yesterday or 10 years ago no one can go back.

Finally, fogiveness is letting that go. It is chosing to not let a past hurt contiune to ruin your furture. Forgiveness is freedom. It frees us from the the idea that we will get back what we feel is owed to us. What has been done to us can never be undone. It can be forgiven though. It can be cancelled out.

A perfect example of forgiveness is on the cross. Colossians 2:13-14 reads:

“And even when you were dead [in] transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, he brought you to life along with him, having forgiven us all our transgressions obliterating the bond against us, with its legal claims, which was opposed to us, he also removed it from our midst, nailing it to the cross.”

Christ nailed our debts to the cross. Freeing us from our debt that is owed. The debt that we continue to build everyday of our life. Every day we need forgiveness and everyday we need to forgive. Every day we need to be saved again.


Forgiveness might seem impossible but this prayer might help. Baby steps at a time the Lord’s love will heal.

Lord, I forgive. Help my unforgiveness.

Saint Simon of Cyrene

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I have a strange attraction to Simon of Cyrene though his story is very brief and beautiful.

As they led him away they took hold of a certain Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country; and after laying the cross on him, they made him carry it behind Jesus.” Luke 23:26

As they were going out, they met a Cyrenian named Simon; this man they pressed into service to carry his cross.” Mattew 27:32

They pressed into service a passer-by, Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross.” Mark 15:21

These are the only three verses in the bible of Simon of Cyrene.


Simon was just traveling to the city, minding his business, and focused on the task at hand. When Simon stumbled upon the commotion that arose due to the crucifixion of Jesus. Presumably, Simon was not pleased. He looked at Jesus carrying the cross and said, “Oh no no no, I do not want this mess. I can’t deal with that mess of a man. I have enough problems in my life right now. This problem of a man cannot be added to my life right now!”

How many times have I looked at Jesus and said the same? How many times have I sworn to God that I could not do what He was asking of me? How many times have I told Him I could never bear that cross He wanted me to pick up?

Far too many to count.

Simon did not choose the cross. Simon was forced to carry the cross for in Jesus’ weakest point in the passion. Many of the crosses in my life have been forced upon me similar to Simon. I didn’t have a say in the matter, and neither did Simon. Sometimes it is not always the choices of picking our crosses that makes it sanctifying. Most times it is our perspective of the journey with the cross that makes the path holy.

One line from Simon’s story can speak volumes into this, “and after laying the cross on him, they made him carry it behind Jesus” (Luke 23:26) The aspect of Simon carrying the cross and following Jesus is a sign of discipleship. Simon followed Jesus’ path, he followed him to His death.

Through the cross, Simon became a disciple. He fell in love with Jesus in the struggle, in the pain, and in the burden. What he once might have seen was a cross that was a burden too heavy to hold was now is chance at redemption; a chance at salvation.

Haven’t we all, also, become disciples while carrying our crosses?

Without the crosses of following Jesus, I would not have become the disciple I am today. I would not have learned how to be more Christ-like without first following alongside His passion and picking up the crosses in my life and turning them back to Him.

Heavenly Father, whose most dear Son, as he walked the Way of the Cross, accepted the service of Simon of Cyrene to carry his physical burden for him: grant us each the grace gladly to bear one another’s burdens, for the love of him who said, “As you did it to the least of these my brethren, you did it to me,” your son Jesus Christ our Lord, who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.*


*(https://thevalueofsparrows.com/2016/08/22/prayer-simon-of-cyrene-cross-bearer/)

More resources:

Dr. Edward Sri Simon & The Unexpected Cross http://directory.libsyn.com/episode/index/id/6411587/tdest_id/602045

 

Stop Planning.

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I’m a planner. I’m the friend that makes the plans, organizes the plans, and ensures the plans get followed through. If they don’t go as I had hoped resentment grows in my heart.

I’m a control freak. I’m sure everyone close to me can agree with that 100%. I need things done my way because it’s obviously the best way to do it. I’m open to talking through other ways to do things, but I pretty sure I’ll ways think my way was a little better.

College and group projects are difficult. Relationships are a whole different level of difficulty (though I’ll have to admit there is more to that than just my controlling nature).

Our culture tells us to go out and get what you want. Don’t stop at any cost. Our culture tells women especially to pursue. Get that job, get that guy, get that outcome you want. It tells us no one will respect you if you are just simply a woman. You have to be a woman who makes money and controls everything in her life down to her ovaries.

There it is again. Control.

To avoid being controlled ourselves we must do the controlling.

But what about when life, as it normally is, is just simply out of all control? What if there is no hope of controlling any aspect of life?

Well as a Catholic control freak of a woman I tend to control anything I can to fill my broken heart and as quickly as I can. I want control back. I want the hurt to end. And I want it done now, ASAP.

Unfortunately (or I’m learning may actually be, fortunately) the Lord doesn’t work like that. It’s not a quick and easy process. Nothing true is. God is love itself. He will tear out this fake love we think we have and put in the real deal. Real, true, and deep love.

I see so many women as well as men my age and in this society grasping for control and immediate comfort. I see people rejecting the idea of a God who transcends understanding and simply accepting that ‘I as a human control everything except the things I can’t.’ Even though we all know we truly can’t control anything. We can try but ultimately we are so limited. Everything we learn in college can be taken deeper and then will no longer make sense or follow everything we have previously learned.

For example, we are told all our lives nothing can be in two places at once. As humans, we think we have found the answers that we have found some control over the world. Recent studies have found that electrons indeed can be in two places at once. Not only that but they ‘know’ when they are being observed. (*Disclaimer I’m not a physicist just took AP high school physics!)

Science isn’t outside religion or God. Science will always prove God’s existence. It will always prove that we have very little understanding of anything. We have little control of anything.

I’m learning that that is okay. I need to stop planning. I need to stop pursuing. I need to stop controlling. I need to accept what comes my way and the gifts God is giving me. As well as the gifts God has already given me which I fail to utilize daily.

I need to accept the perfect and complete love God never fails to offer me. I need to allow that to be enough for me in the here and now. This will always be a work in progress. I will always need to stop myself from doing God’s job and planning my life out. It’s a hard and painful process, but anything worth it is. That is something we have been told that I will always agree with.

Anything of value will always be difficult to come by, but the reward will never fail to satisfy. Even the heart of a 19-year-old female college student.

Come Holy Spirit, living in Mary, help me to give great glory to God by giving all I have to Mary. Amen.