Monday, February 14, 2011

"Will you be My valentine?"

So we went to Mass today, and we were pretty early so we had more than a few minutes to pray and prepare ourselves for Mass. I found myself staring at the above stained glass window, realizing that it was Jesus and His Sacred Heart. Then I realized....that every time we receive the Eucharist, we receive a Valentine from God. And the best part is that this Valentine is for forever. <3

(I really, really like this new song! It's a fun song by Jamie Grace.)

God's Dream (and Valentine)

God’s Dream

By Charles Peguy

The Lord God said:
I myself will dream a dream within you,
Good dreaming comes from me, you know.
My dreams seem impossible, not too practical
nor for the cautious man or woman;
a little risky sometimes, a trifle brash perhaps.
Some of my friends prefer to rest more comfortably
in sounder sleep with visionless eyes.
But from those who share my dreams I ask
a little patience,
a little humor,
some small courage,
and a listening heart –
I will do the rest.
Then they will risk and wonder at their daring;
run, and marvel at their speed;
build, and stand in awe at the beauty of their building.
You will meet me often as you work
in your companions who share the risk,
in your friends who believe in you enough
to lend their own dreams, their own hands,
their own hearts, to your building.
In the people who will stand in your doorway, stay awhile
And walk away knowing that hey too can find a dream.
There will be sin-filled days
And sometimes a little rain – a little variety
both come from me.
So come now, be content.
It is my dream you dream,
my house you build,
my caring you witness;
my love you share
And this is the heart of the matter.

Charles Peguy (1873 - 1914)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

God said: "Let there be Light!!"

Ok, so I didn't make up the idea behind the picture. ^^ It's pretty awesome though!

Christians are like lights for others, for everyone in all the world. If we are christians then we must become like Christ. If you want to learn how, then the art of foresight will make you more and more like Christ, for he was humble of heart and always attentive to people's needs. Great sanctity begins with this attention to others. If it is to be beautiful then our vocation must be wholly filled with this attention. Wherever Jesus passed, he did good. And the Virgin Mary at Cana only thought of the needs of others and passed them on to Jesus. A Christian is a tabernacle of the living God. He created me, chose me, came to live in me because he needed me. Now you have learned how much God loves you, what could be more natural than for you to spend the rest of your life spreading this love? To be truly a Christian is truly to welcome Christ and become another Christ. It is to love as we are loved, as Christ loved us on the cross.
~Mother Teresa

Monday, February 7, 2011

"Made to Love You" by TobyMac

“The only thing I really wish for
...Is to love until I die of love.”

“You know well enough that Our Lord does not look so much at the greatness of our actions,
nor even at their difficulty, but at the love with which we do them.”

"I do not desire either suffering or death, although both are appealing to me;
it is love alone which really attracts me...
I can ask for nothing with any enthusiasm
except the perfect accomplishment of the Divine Will in my soul,
unhindered by any intrusion of created things.
I can say, with the words of our father, St. John of the Cross,
in his Spiritual Canticle,
'I drank in the inner cellar of my Beloved, and when I went forth into the meadow
I forgot everything and lost the flock which I used to drive.
My soul has employed all its resources in His service;
now I guard no flock, nor do I have any other duties.
Now my only occupation is love.'
Or again: 'I know love is so powerful that it can turn
whatever is good or bad in me into profit,
and it can transform my soul into Himself."
~ St. Thérèse

Sunday, February 6, 2011

"Called to Love"

"We have been called to love the world. And God loved the world so much that He gave Jesus to it. Today, He loves the world so much that He gives you and me to the world to be His love, His compassion, and His presence through our lives of prayer, sacrifice, and self-surrender. The response that God is waiting for from you is to become a contemplative, to be a contemplative. Let us take Jesus at His word and we will be contemplatives at the heart of the world, because if we have faith then we are His permanent presence. In contemplation the soul draws directly from God's heart the graces that the active life has been entrusted to distribute. Our very existence is to be intimately bound to the living Christ within us. If we do not live in God's presence, we cannot keep going. What is contemplation? It is to live the life of Jesus. That is how I understand it. To love Jesus; living His life at the heart of out own; living our own at the heart of His... Contemplation has nothing to do with shutting oneself up in a dark cupboard but in allowing Jesus to live His Passion, His love, and His humility in us, to pray with us, to be with us, and to make holy through us. Our lives and our contemplation are one. It's not a question of doing but of being. In fact it is about the complete happiness of our spirit through the Holy Spirit Who breathes God's fullness into us and send us out into all of creation as His own, personal message of love."
~Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Saturday, February 5, 2011

That little something called "Love"

I kind of forgot that Valentine's Day was on the 14th. ^^ So I decided, for the next few days until Valentine's Day, to post something about that little thing called Love.

Here's Brandon Heath and his song "Your Love".

"My Jesus, how good it is to love you! Let me be like your disciples on Mount Tabor, seeing nothing else but you, my Savior. Let us be as two friends, neither of whom can bear to offend the other. Amen."
~St. John Vianney

Friday, February 4, 2011

Every first Wednesday of the month here on Oahu, the Co-Cathedral of St. Teresa has Adoration for Vocations. We attended one, and over the speakers they were playing a Latin/Gregorian Chant CD sung by Sisters. As we knelt in front of True Love Himself and listened to the beautiful music, all the day's troubles slowly melted away and were replaced by the quiet reassurance that everything will turn out in the end.
If you've ever been to the Co-Cathedral, you know how echoey it is there! The echoey effect added to the already mysterious sound of the Chant, and I began to wonder why the Chants are always so mysterious. But when you think about it, God is a bit of a mystery, and the Chants reflect Him...
Anyway. (I lost track of where this post was going...sooo many mysteries to figure out, and most of them we aren't supposed to figure out!) Here's a site that I found some time ago that's run by the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. It reminded me of the Chants that played over the speakers.

Monastery Podcast

It's like sitting by an empty beach letting the lull of the water sooth your soul...

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Emotionally Chaste

You've all probably heard about practicing chastity in a physical way, which is not easy to do nowadays. Well, there's another aspect to chastity that can really help with that.
This was written by one of our amazing homeschool moms, Aunty Jackie. "Emotional Chastity" is something all young people should apply to their lives.

I was rereading one of the books in our library called Surrender by Carmen Marcoux. One of the characters in this piece of fiction talks about "Emotional Chastity." This term totally grabbed me. It describes the system that we use in our home. (Or try to use.)

I have kids, lots of kids. And I used to be a kid. (Shocking, I know.) I remember all the likes, the hearbreaks and the wasted time spent thinking about boys...when I was not mature emotionally for relationships like that. Nor was I of an age where I could look at marriage in the near future. So all the "liking" was set up to fail because there was no option for sucess.

Some of these kids of mine are teens. The others should get there sooner or later. Since we live "in" the world we have to look at the relationship thing. It is, movies, books...and our community. After some prayer and research we deided (years ago) that dating is not for our family. Courtship is.

So, what is the difference? At its simplest: Dating is intimacy before commitment. Courtship is commitment before intimacy.

Dating is getting together because the other is cool or fun or cute. No real goal. No real purpose. Often alone. Most often artificial. Artificial? Well, you are going to do up your hair nicer than normal, put on stuff that makes you smell nicer than normal, dress nicer than normal, put on make-up (not the guys, of course). Then you get picked up and go to someplace out of the ordinary. If it is a movie, you will sit next to each other in a dark place and not communicate. If it is out to dinner, you will be talking and behaving in way to impress... "We are going to do this for now till we decide it isn't working any more. Maybe after a couple of dates we will kiss and ...well let's see where it goes."

Courting is a formal relationship where both people feel they have a calling to the vocation of marriage and they are exploring the possiblity of marriage to each other. (Assuming that both are of an age and situation to be eligible to be married.) In a courtship there are set boundaries. There is accountability. The idea being to have no regets if the courtship ends. Time spent together is in company, with family, and rarely alone. Learning about the person in their natural surroundings, learning about their family (this is important if you do decide to get married!) and talking. Courtship has a goal and a structure to finding that goal. Physical intimacy is very limited. It clouds the mind and draws the heart. And if the courtship doesn't work out, that is someone else's spouse you are kissing!

So, those kids of mine, that I mentioned, are still in high school. The age thing disqualifies them from marriage and courtship. They do have all these hormones, though, that they can't do anything about. The ups, downs, heres and theres. The "likes." I am finding that they will be drawn to others and some of that drawing will be romantically. And here is where the emotional chastity comes in.

We tell the youth of today to abstain, to save yourself for your spouse. What about saving your heart for your spouse as well? What about being romantically intimate with one person only? The one and only. True love. (sigh) Sounds like a fairytale...translation: unreal and unlikely.

---Get real, Jackie. The kids are going to "like" people. You can't stop that no matter how many rules you have.

That is true, attraction does happen. And it will continue to happen for the rest of our lives. That's right, attraction doesn't stop just because vows are taken, whether religious or marital. It is always what we do with the attraction that matters. Many people take that attraction and run with it, abandoning the vows made. Many others, note it and set it aside because it is not apropriate for their state in life. They pray about it, especially if it continues to trouble them. All people have to guard their hearts and keep them turned in the direction they should go. Love is a choice.

In so many ways, life is a marathon that requires cross training. One piece of that cross training is training and guarding the heart. Self control.

Example: Children get mad and they want to lash out...maybe hit. This is not ok! Yes, they are angry and that anger is real. It may be valid. But that doesn't mean that you strike someone. You use self control. It is learned, it is practiced, with the help of the parent who wants sucess for their child.

A youth may fall into like, this week. But that doesn't mean she needs to talk about it to everyone. It doesn't mean he needs to act on it. Infatuation is fleeting and acting on it leads to hurt, broken friendships and stuggles in the community. Drama. We know this to be true. Look around, you can see it everywhere.

- How does emotional chastity work when you have admitted that these kids are going to fall in and out of like?

To start with , it is a team effort including the youth, the parents and God. The youth feels herself being drawn to one young man. She should immediatly begin praying. Taking it to God. Praying for herself and for the young man and asking God to help her turn her heart to friendship. She does not talk to her friends, or the young man, about it. Doing that means it is going to get around. It also means there will be a reaction. Even if that reaction is pleasing for the moment, it won't last. It is not time. If she needs to talk then she can talk to her parents who are going to support her, pray for her, give her ideas and help to hold her accountable as she waits for the crush to pass. Ultimately protecting her heart and the heart of the young man. (This goes both ways, of course.) Don't worry, if it is truely meant to be, it will still be there when the time is right. Trust God to take care of it!

Begin each new friendship with an evaluation and be ready to focus on a friendship and only a friendship. This is important because a crush can sneak up on a friendship. And if fostered, the crush can damage the friendship. (Dont' wait to use sunscreen till after you get a sunburn!)

Pay attention to how you respond to your friends. Could your attentions be misconstrued or leading. Do not tug on the hearts of others. Don't flirt. Flirting is selfish and is simply about drawing attention to back to the self.

Talk with your parents! They have been there and they want the best for you! Your parents don't want to see you, or your friends, hurt and heartbroken. They want your joy and strong godly relationships. Don't discredit what they say because you think they don't know or understand. They do and they know the pain that comes from those mini-engagements and mini-divorces.

Don't talk with friends about romantic relationships. Even if you have decided to not go there, by hearing about the relationships that others have, it will create a desire in you to have what they have.

(I am not even going to go into the struggles with being physically chaste if you have a relationship, as a teen, that lasts into a couple of months, hormones being so powerful...that would be another paper.)

Maybe you think I am trying to steal your fun. I'm not. I am trying to steal your sadness, your heartbreak. I want you to be joyful and have vibrant friendships free from entanglements and hurt. So here I am sharing this with young people and parents alike. I want the fairytale for you!

Choose the best. Guard your heart and save it for your spouse. Choose to be emotionally chaste.

Patron Saints....Good Friends!

If you're like me and tend to just miss the deadline to request a patron saint for the year, well, thankfully someone understands that and has put up a Saint's Name Generator! The site isn't just for finding your yearly friend either. It's also a good way to get to know our heavenly friends who are well known, and not so well known.

Oh, and meet my new friend, Saint Dymphna!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

"Why We Have Children"

If you haven't already, don't forget to read this wonderful article that has been in the spotlight around the blogosphere!

"Why We Have Children"

I hate the memory of it. I hate it.

I hate how stiff my daughter's body felt in my arms that night. I hate how vacant and soulless her face had become, unmoving save for the veined whites of her eyes as the irises fluttered up under the skull.
It happened on a cold October evening, when an early snowfall still covered the streets north of Boston. We parked beside our friends' home, and I noticed the flush of red in my daughter's cheeks. I checked her brow—it was hot. I should have done something more, but I thought perhaps she had simply over-heated in her coat and car seat. So I took her inside and watched as she tried to play. On most days our daughter, thirteen months old, was an overflowing wellspring of energy and laughter and fleet-footed enthusiasm. On this day, something seemed off.
We sat down to dinner, and then it happened. Sitting beside me in her booster chair, she turned her head upward—further, further, and then unnaturally far, as though she followed the path of a butterfly along the ceiling and down the wall behind her. Her arms were clamped to her sides, and when I bent around her I saw her rolling eyes. She looked possessed.

A moment later we were back in the car, racing through the snow-swept streets as I clutched her tiny convulsing body against my chest. Her lungs did not inhale so much as they shuddered in pitiful little gasps. I whispered "it's okay" and "daddy's here," but it was not okay. Every time the orange glow of a passing streetlamp brushed across her face, it showed the same rolling white eyes. That's the memory I hate the most: the memory of what it felt like to be losing her. I was pinned between the immensity above and the miniscule below. The universe of my care, all my joy in the world, was wrapped in this frail two-foot and twenty-pound vessel, this brilliant soul enfleshed. And as the soul slipped through my fingers, I sensed it above me: the endless ocean of grief that would fall and consume me if I lost her.

* * * * *

Why do we have children? The question lies beneath social and political issues we confront today, from abortion and adoption to declining fertility rates in developed nations and the relative virtues of "eastern" and "western" forms of parenting. In 2010 a whole host of articles and commentaries debated the finding that parenthood does not make us happier. So what is the point? Why do we make all the extraordinary sacrifices that parenthood requires?

Read the rest here.