Chasing After God

A Quick Catch-Up

I had fully intended to post extensive reflections about Easter vigil and Easter Sunday because it was an AH-MAH-ZING weekend! Really fantastic, I tell ya. Despite staying up until 4:30AM cleaning the house in anticipation of the resurrection of my blessed Lord, (40 days and 40 nights I had to prepare and I wait until the night before) I went to bed Sunday night smiling and saying over and over again, “It was just a lovely Easter, wasn’t it?”

Well, due to a steady stream of circumstances, I never got around to doing it. In fact, it’s been almost 2 full weeks since I’ve been on here at all. I suppose I was meant to treasure my Easter blessings quietly in my heart instead of sharing them with the world.

So, how does one fail to post a single blog entry during Easter week when she took most of the week off? For one thing, I got myself a new job! It was quite unexpected. I had applied for a position at a commercial real estate zoning company a few weeks ago and had an absolutely tragic interview. I usually do pretty poorly at interviews, but this one took the cake. I was fighting back tears as I walked back to my car, repeating, “Jesus, I trust in You!” until I felt a little peace. It worked–I realized that if I failed in that interview, God didn’t want me at that job. If God did want me to be there, nothing could stand in my way.

Monday, I received an email asking me to fill out a formal application (they had just gone off of my resume before), Tuesday evening, I received a job offer, and Wednesday, I was up at the CellPhone Store putting in my notice! After 2 years of praying for a new job, after searching and searching, finding few prospects and getting even fewer responses, suddenly I’m starting a new adventure! I’m terrified and excited. It’s an 8-5 shift with weekends off, so no more retail hours for me. I’m the kind of person who needs a steady routine, so spending over 2 years on a constantly changing schedule has wreaked havoc on my productivity. The pay…is going to be a little less because I won’t have commission like I do now, but our store traffic is so low I’m hardly making any commission anymore anyway. Regardless, Scott and I have agreed that it will be better for both of us.

I received more good news on Easter Monday: I won Catholic Fiction’s facebook contest for March! I won a $100 Amazon gift card, which I promptly spent on a stand to hang my Topsy-Turvy tomato growers. Go and like their facebook page and maybe you’ll be next! 

Lent was just so stinking LENT this year, but it seems as if the clouds have lifted and the sun is shining through with more warmth than ever. Good news followed by good news. I was disappointed that I was unable to get my garden planted while I had time off, especially since I’ll be getting a lot fewer vacation days at my new job. I’ve been anxious to start growing so I can get some canning done this summer and fall. I was off work yesterday, and I got a lot of aerating and weeding done, but I still wasn’t able to get the planting done.

Just after I finished, a cold front moved in and we’ve had freezing rain all day. If I’d planted last week like I’d wanted to, or even last night, everything would be dead by the end of the day. Thank You, God, for Lent, the season of penance and ash. Without it, we wouldn’t clearly see the mercies You shower on us through Your death and resurrection.

 

 

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From the Byzantine Rite

For our Good Friday service, we were treated to a Byzantine Lamentation. It was so lovely, haunting, and true, I wanted to share it.

In a grave they laid Thee,
O my life and my Christ,
And the armies of the Angels were sore amazed
As they sang the praise of Thy submissive love.

Thou hast enjoined Thy commandments, that we should keep them most diligently.

O my dear Christ Jesus,
King and Ruler of all,
Why to them that dwelt in Hades didst Thou descend?
Was it not to set the race of mortals free?

I will confess Thee with uprightness of heart, when I have learned
judgements of Thy righteousness.

In a grave they laid Thee,
O my Life and my Christ,
Yet the Lord of death has Thou by Thy
death destroyed;
And the world of Thee doth drink rich streams of life.

In my heart have I hid Thy sayings that I might not sin against Thee.

O my sweet Lord Jesus,
My salvation, my light,
How art thou now by a grave and its darkness hid
How unspeakable the mystery of Thy love.

Make me to understand the way of Thy statutes, and I will ponder
on Thy wondrous works.

Thou, O Christ was buried
In a tomb newly made,
Thus renewing the whole nature of mortal men
By arising from the dead as God in truth.

Before I was humbled, I transgressed therefore Thy saying have I
kept.

“Who will give me water
For the tears I must weep?”
So the Maiden wed to God cried with loud lament,
“That for my sweet Jesus I may rightly mourn.”

Thou art good, O Lord and in Thy goodness teach me Thy statutes.

Savior, Thou wast hidden
‘Neath the earth like the sun,
And was covered as with shrouds by the right of death.
But more radiantly do Thou arise, O Lord.

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A Most Unwelcome Homily

Last Monday, my Kindle Fire announced a new post was available in my Google Reader (which I need to just delete and move on, but it’s tough) and the moment I glanced at it in my feed, I knew I didn’t want to read it. There was nothing in the title that was would cause offense, and I wouldn’t be following the blog if I didn’t enjoy the posts. However, despite the seemingly benign nature of this post, I was consumed with dread at thought of reading it. Was it a premonition or just a lazy bone? Who can say? I just know that I did not want to read that post!

So, I did what all good Catholics do when we there is a particular task we are avoiding and it’s right smack in the middle of Lent: I forced myself to sit down and read that article. And I was right–it was a message I did not want to hear.

Throwing the First Stone by 8 Kids and a Business is a transcript of Father Eric Mah’s homily for the 5th Sunday of Lent. Read it if you dare. Here’s a particularly unsettling excerpt:

The French philosopher René Girard has spent much of his career studying the particular psychology – and even spirituality – of the mob.  And he basically says this: human communities – whether we’re talking about families, towns, cities or even nation states – are typically characterized by a sense of tension, rivalry and conflicting desires.  In other words, there’s only so many things to go around – we all want the same thing – and so, we fight!  And so, again, there’s this ongoing sense of tension and conflict within the community.

Now, the question arises: how does a community deal with this sort of problem?  Well, according to Girard, one of the classic ways in which we deal with it is that we tend to scapegoat.  And scapegoating is essentially this: the town – the community – or the mob finds some person or some group upon whom they can project their own sense of tension and violence.  And so, the violence that would otherwise destroy the community is now channelled and transferred onto the scapegoat.

And what does this do?  Well, oddly enough, it does seem to effect a kind of peace and unity within the community.  In other words, we do tend to bond and come together – precisely through our common hatred of a particular person or group.  The down side, of course, is that it’s a very phony and unstable kind of peace – because it’s ultimately based on something that’s actually very evil.    

Now, I don’t know about you, but for me, this has been a long time coming. I have just been waiting to be scolded for this since, oh, Junior High? There was a situation where there was tension and unrest in my little circle of friends. This went on for some time before one of my friends was brave enough to say something. She was, therefore, declared the source of all of our problems and was shut out. The next few weeks, those of us that remained bonded like we never had before. There was no more infighting–but it was an uneasy peace, because I could not escape the reality that we had obtained this new strength by standing against one of our friends.

I’d love to say my worry stemmed from my love for my friend, but it didn’t. I was mostly concerned that I would become the next scapegoat. We all had our turn, I think, and learned nothing.

Of course, I don’t have to worry about such things anymore since I’ve crossed over into adulthood, right?

After going out with a friend a few months ago, I came home in a cloud of frustration. “We’re not really friends!” I told Scott, “She just wants to talk trash to me about XXXX and I don’t want to anymore!” What upset me most was that I was so easily led into temptation and said horrible things about people I love very much. And whatever for? I knew the answer: ENVY. That’s the big one. I envy what someone else has and I need someone to blame for what I lack. Envy leads to gossip leads to scapegoating and where does it go next? Scapegoating is a poor foundation for relationships, but how many relationships do we have that are based solely on tearing others down?

I decided to take a step back. If I can’t control my trash talking with certain people, maybe we should spend less time together until I can. I blame no one but myself–I know what is good to say and what is destructive, but I react so very poorly to temptation, it makes me sick.

We know that the law is spiritual; but I am carnal, sold into slavery to sin. What I do, I do not understand. For I do not do what I want, but I do what I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I concur that the law is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that good does not dwell in me, that is, in my flesh. The willing is ready at hand, but doing the good is not. For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want. Now if [I] do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.

Romans 7:14-20

I want to cry and scream in frustration when I read this passage. In the moment, when my frustrations are boiling over, it seems just to point a finger, but almost instantly, I’m filled with regret. I’ve driven a wedge between myself and the ones I love, and by my poor example, I’ve lead others astray. Worse still, I’ve also turned my back on God. All so I could blame someone for something that was never really their fault.

Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!

That homily cut like a knife, but we need a knife to cut the cancer from our hearts sometimes.

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St. Joseph the Worker, Pray for Us!

Today is the feast day of St. Joseph, foster father of Christ, who is renowned for his work ethic. It is also the official start of Pope Francis’s ministry as he celebrated his inaugural Mass today! As a member of St. Joseph’s Parish and a huge fan of people name Francis, this is a big day for me. I think it’s terribly appropriate that the two intersect because it’s time for our new Pope to really get to work! It’s time for the lot of us to get to work, really.

Then he saith to his disciples, The harvest indeed is great, but the labourers are few.                                             

–Matthew 9:37

If you don’t think the world is in desperate need of the Gospel, you haven’t been keeping up with the news. In the news, I see nothing but heartache, despair, animosity, and hopelessness. It’s time for us to spread a little hope and show the world what love actually is!

 

Prayer to St. Joseph the Workman402884_117115251769190_160324476_n

Composed by Pope St. Pius X

O Glorious St. Joseph, model of all those who are devoted to labor, obtain for me the grace to work conscientiously, putting the call of duty above my natural inclinations, to work with gratitude and joy, in a spirit of penance for the remission of my sins, considering it an honor to employ and develop by means of labor the gifts received from God, to work with order, peace, moderation and patience, without ever shrinking from weariness and difficulties, to work above all with purity of intention and detachment from self, having always death before my eyes and the account that I must render of time lost, of talents wasted, of good omitted, of vain complacency in success, so fatal to the work of God. All for Jesus, all through Mary, all after thine example, O Patriarch, St. Joseph. Such shall be my watch-word in life and in death.

Amen

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Habemus Papam! From the Ends of the Earth!

733846_10151352015597582_2079022186_nWhen I checked facebook from my work computer on Wednesday (we were dead slow all day) I was shocked to see a picture of white smoke in my news feed. So soon! I was expecting at least a day or two more of voting. I did a quick news search via Bing and Google and saw nothing but the same old headlines decrying the Cardinals’ inability to select a new pope. So, of course, I pulled up the live feed on EWTN and there it was! White smoke pouring from the chimney, the bells chiming, the crowd cheering–Habemus Papam! I was able to watch for the next hour (dead slow at work, I tell ya!) as we waited with such great anticipation. I ended up having a customer walk in, so I actually missed the formal announcement!

When I got back to my computer, his name had been announced, but he hadn’t appeared yet. My fingers flew as fast as they could: “Cardinal Jorge Bergol Aregentina,” (I was in no position to try to spell Bergoglio without seeing it first!) “Cardinal Buenos Aires,” “first Jesuit pope,” “Pope Francis.” The information I took in as I briefly scanned the results before doing another search was thrilling to say the least!

  • “champion of the poor”
  • “washed feet of AIDS victims”
  • “prepared his own meals”
  • “simplicity and pastoral humility”

And he took the name Francis! Now, that’s making a statement!

It was a marvel to finally see Pope Francis, successor of Saint Peter, step out onto the balcony for the first time. My heart was so full, I thought I would burst into tears right then and there. After so much speculation, so much uncertainty, there he was, so poised, so full of peace. Standing there in the plain white papal vestments, he looked as if he had been pope forever.

As he began to speak, of course, I didn’t understand a word of it until he started to lead the crowd in prayer. While I didn’t know what the words were, as soon as they started saying the “Our Father” and then the “Glory Be” and the “Hail Mary” I understood what it meant. It was a few minutes of pure bliss.

Thank you, God, for hearing our prayers! We were so uncertain looking at this candidate or that candidate, but now it’s clear as can be: this is the shepherd we need!

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