Better Than I

At this point, I’m beyond offering excuses for why I
haven’t posted in a while. In my defense, I have been guest writing for Taming the Wilds and have just forgotten to post the links here :).

On a related note, here is my latest blog post for them, Better Than I . Sneak peek below :).

This post has been a really difficult post to write. Not even for the reasons you’d expect. I haven’t lost my job (my dad and sister haven’t either). None of us are sick (yet). I’m able to work from home (though that is in a house that constantly has 10-12 people running through my work corner). Overall, I can’t complain.

I’ve rewritten this post 5-6 times now and I’m still not 100% sure what it is I’m supposed to be saying.

Because seriously, what do you write when the world is at a standstill? What do you write when thousands of people are jobless and wondering how they’re going to pay for the things their families need? What do you write when it seems like everyone is wondering if this pandemic is a chastisement for sins (especially those inside the Church) or the beginning of the end?

 

Our Lady as Our Path Back to Christ

I know it’s been a while, but I swear I have a good excuse :).

A few months ago, I was asked to be a contributing writer for a Catholic blog, Taming the Wilds. The blog focuses on recovery from a Catholic standpoint, and while I was super excited, I was also really nervous. I already had an idea of what I wanted to write about, but it’s pretty daunting to write about Our Lady, especially when it’s something as deep as Marian Consecration.

Thankfully (and probably unsurprisingly), Our Lady helped me get past that, and I’m happy to announce that my first post, Our Lady as Our Path Back to Christ , is up! Check out the sneak peek below and then head over to Taming the Wilds for the full post!

 

I was 21 when I realized I was being stalked by Our Lady.

In my defense, it wasn’t as obvious as it sounds. Her books just randomly showed up where I might see them, even though they hadn’t been read in forever. I was constantly surrounded by ladybugs, even inside buildings. I had discussions with two different people about Marian consecration and I didn’t even know what that was.

…On second thought, maybe it was obvious.

Honestly, though, at that point in my life, a relationship with Mary wasn’t even something I considered. Why would I need to? I didn’t hate her. I didn’t disrespect her. I believed all dogmas concerning her. What more was there for me to do?

 

Ireland

Mother Mary, be with those voting in Ireland today. Guide their hearts towards love and the protection of the defenseless. Turn them towards your Son, who chose to come to Earth as a helpless infant. Mother of Mercy and Life, be with them.

Come Alive

Come Alive (Dry Bones)

Through the eyes of men it seems
There’s so much we have lost
As we look down the road
Where all the prodigals have walked
One by one
The enemy has whispered lies
And led them off as slaves

But we know that you are God
Yours is the victory
We know there is more to come
That we may not yet see
So with the faith you’ve given us
We’ll step into the valley unafraid, yeah

As we call out to dry bones
Come alive, come alive
We call out to dead hearts
Come alive, come alive
Up out of the ashes
Let us see an army rise
We call out to dry bones, come alive

God of endless mercy
God of unrelenting love
Rescue every daughter
Bring us back the wayward son
And By your spirit breathe upon them
Show the world that you alone can save
You alone can save

As we call out to dry bones
Come alive, come alive
We call out to dead hearts
Come alive, come alive
Up out of the ashes
Let us see an army rise
We call out to dry bones come alive

So breathe, oh breath of God
Now breathe, oh breath of God
Breathe, oh breath of God
Now breathe

Breathe, oh breath of God
Now breathe, oh breath of God
Breathe, oh breath of God, now breathe

As we call out to dry bones
Come alive, come alive
We call out to dead hearts
Come alive, come alive
Up out of the ashes
Let us see an army rise
We call out to dry bones come alive, yeah
We call out to dry bones, come alive

Oh come alive

 

Easter didn’t end the course of salvation. Christ didn’t rise from the dead, appear to His disciples and say, “Our work is done, y’all go relax.” He breathed on them, gave them the power to forgive sins, sent them His Spirit, and told them to bring the world to Him. 2000 years later, as He calls us to Himself, He gives us the same order.

We’re not all called to be priests or religious, but we are all called to be missionaries. Sometimes that’s in the simple things: going to the grocery store with a bunch of children in tow or praying before a meal in a public place. Sometimes it’s more extreme, like going to a foreign country to preach the gospel. But we are all called to bring others to Christ. We are called to be the tools Christ uses to infuse life into the world.

Christ knew His apostles believed in Him, but would He have been satisfied if they had not spread that belief? If they had locked that faith and that love for Him deep inside their hearts and showed up at Heaven’s gates as only the twelve of them? Those to whom much is given are called to give more. To believe in Christ, to love Christ, is not passive. We are called to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world, meant to keep the world from rotting and being enveloped in darkness. Now that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. John 15:18-19 makes that very clear:

 

“When the world hates you, remember that it first hated Me. If you were of the world, the world would love its own, but because you are not of the world and I chose you out of the world, the world hates you.”

 

Christ doesn’t mince words. We won’t be barely tolerated. Or ignored. Or even disliked. We will be hated. Despised. Loathed with a passion, just as He was. And it may seem like it was for nothing. You may never see the fruits of your labor. You may go through life being despised and thinking you’ve touched no one. Yet some of the greatest saints have been those with little show of success. Those cloistered in a convent. Those who spent their days praying in the middle of the desert where no one could see them. Those who lived alone and died the same way. St. Serafina. St. Therese. St. Mary of Egypt. Sometimes we’re not called to be great in the eyes of the world because sometimes it takes the little lives to touch the hardest of hearts.

You were made to be a saint. What that means in terms of your life is between you and God. It doesn’t mean you lock that faith inside you and live a sterile, faithless life. You were meant to bring the world to Him. As St. Catherine of Siena once said, “Be who you were made to be and you will set the world on fire.”

There is nothing else to it. So come alive.

If I Believe

Chains by Bellarive

Search my heart

Let mercy overtake the parts of my doubting

Lift my head

That faith would overtake the rest

Of my fear

 

If I could just touch You

I know I would be healed

For You will overcome

With power eternal

My very soul You’ve sealed

So give me faith

 

If I believe Your name can save

Then I will trust in what You promised

If You can overcome the grave

Then You will overcome me

Jesus, overcome me

Loosen my chains

 

Lord of all

Bring courage just enough to fall

At Your feet

God, sustain

Give breath, oh just enough to say

Jesus

 

If I could just touch You

I know I would be healed

So give me faith

 

If I believe Your name can save

Then I will trust in what You promised

If You can overcome the grave

Then You will overcome me

Jesus, overcome me

Loosen my chains

 

Chains loosen your grip

Chains loosen your grip

Let freedom rise

The blood of the Son commands you

 

If I believe Your name can save

Then I will trust in what You promised

If You can overcome the grave

Then You will overcome me

Jesus, overcome me

Loosen my chains

 

The part that sticks out in the song for me is the word “If.” If I believe Your Name can save. If You can overcome the grave. We live in 2018. We know how the story goes. Christ rose from the grave. Death and evil were defeated. We know the ending.

But we forget that in the aftermath of Good Friday and before Easter Sunday, there was Holy Saturday. There was a Sabbath when Mary and the apostles were grieving. For the apostles, it would have been one of pain, confusion, and guilt. One of their own had betrayed Christ. One of their own had denied Him. Nearly all of them had deserted Him. They didn’t know how to reconcile what He had told them with what had just occurred. Remember that for the Jews, the idea of a Messiah was one of a physical king, one who would destroy their physical enemies. Though the apostles’ ideas about the Messiah had no doubt changed since they began to follow Jesus, it would still have been hard to reconcile the idea of a Messiah with the bloody, cruel execution Jesus had gone through.

Yet Mary offered a different reaction. She knew her Son’s identity as the Messiah. How much she knew about the details is nearly impossible to determine. But she knew He was the Messiah. She knew He was the One Who would save His people. She may not have known how, but she trusted. That Sabbath would have been one of mourning, but not simply grieving. It would have been one of waiting. Trusting. Believing that “The things promised you by the Lord shall be fulfilled” (Luke 1:45).

From the beginning, Mary’s life had been one of constant faith. Faith that the angel’s promise of a Son would come to pass, even though she was a virgin. Faith that the Infant she birthed, the Child she carried, the Son she raised would save the world. Faith that even in light of Calvary, there was still hope. For her, even in grief, there was hope, and she trusted that a Messiah Who could heal the sick, cure the lame, and raise the dead could overcome the darkest of days. So she waited.

We are called to have faith as Mary did, even in the moments when prayer seems pointless. Even in the times of grief when hope seems lost. Even on days when evil seems to have won. So often we associate faith as something we do. Something active. A leap of faith like Indiana Jones performs in The Last Crusade. But sometimes, faith simply means waiting and trusting. And when we don’t know how to, may we echo the words of a desperate father: “I believe. Help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24).

The Timing of God

Thy Will by Hillary Scott

I’m so confused
I know I heard You loud and clear
So, I followed through
Somehow I ended up here
I don’t wanna think
I may never understand
That my broken heart is a part of Your plan
When I try to pray
All I’ve got is hurt and these four words

Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will be done

I know You’re good
But this don’t feel good right now
And I know You think
Of things I could never think about
It’s hard to count it all joy
Distracted by the noise
Just trying to make sense
Of all Your promises
Sometimes I gotta stop
Remember that You’re God
And I am not
So

Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Like a child on my knees all that comes to me is
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will

I know You see me
I know You hear me, Lord
Your plans are for me
Goodness You have in store
I know You hear me
I know You see me, Lord
Your plans are for me
Goodness You have in store
So

Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Like a child on my knees all that comes to me is
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will be done

I know You see me
I know You hear me, Lord

 

Maybe we don’t understand it. Maybe it’s painful for us. Maybe it seems to fly in the face of everything we think we know. Maybe we look at God’s Will like the apostles looked at Calvary and we wonder how on earth that’s supposed to work out.

We’re not supposed to understand it, just conform to it. Not necessarily supposed to enjoy it, but accept it. Not supposed to know everything, just to trust Him. His will is perfect. His timing is perfect. We can’t understand the mind of God. Our knowledge is trapped by time. In the instant things happen, they often don’t make sense.

Someone once brought up an interesting point that I still don’t know the answer to: Why did Christ die then? Why, in all of the points of human history, was that time, that day, that year, the perfect hour for salvation? He could have chosen 2018. He could have chosen 5000 BC. He could have chosen 2240 AD. Why was that year perfect?

My favorite theory (not my own) is one that’s relatively simply: what if it was simply to give the Good Thief a chance at salvation?

This was a man who, unlike Christ, was being executed for crimes he had committed. This was a man who, according to the Gospel of Matthew, taunted Christ in the early hours of crucifixion. This was a man who had either not heard Christ’s message before or had ignored it. This was a man who had hours left to live and precious little breath. The world had judged him as worthy of death for his crimes and it would not offer him mercy.

Can it be a coincidence that the Man he defended in his dying hours was the Messiah? That the Man he had taunted before was the One Who could forgive him and tell him, “You will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43)? That the One who hung next to him knew his sins, could forgive his sins, and was dying for them already?

Any other year might have been too soon or too late. Any other day might have been the difference between repentance and death. If Christ chose that day to die simply to offer the Good Thief a chance at salvation, how can we doubt that His Will and His timing will be any less perfect for us?

Be Satisfied

(I meant to post this last night, but I was having some technical difficulties… forgive me).

Perfect – Ed Sheeran

I found a love for me
Darling, just dive right in and follow my lead
I found a girl, beautiful and sweet.
I never knew you were the someone waiting for me

Cause we were just kids when we fell in love
Not knowing what it was
I will not give you up this time
But darling, just kiss me slow
Your heart is all I own
And in your eyes you’re holding mine

Baby, I’m dancing in the dark
With you between my arms
Barefoot on the grass
Listening to our favorite song
When you said you looked a mess
I whispered underneath my breath
But you heard it,
Darling, you look perfect tonight

Well, I found a woman, stronger than anyone I know
She shares my dreams, I hope that someday I’ll share her home
I found a love to carry more than just my secrets
To carry love, to carry children of our own

We are still kids but we’re so in love
Fighting against all odds
I know we’ll be alright this time
Darling, just hold my hand
Be my girl, I’ll be your man
I see my future in your eyes

Baby, I’m dancing in the dark
With you between my arms
Barefoot on the grass
Listening to our favorite song
When I saw you in that dress
Looking so beautiful
I don’t deserve this
Darling, you look perfect tonight

Baby, I’m dancing in the dark
With you between my arms
Barefoot on the grass
Listening to our favorite song
I have faith in what I see
Now I know I have met an angel in person
And she looks perfect
I don’t deserve this
You look perfect tonight

 

This is what we all dream about. For all of our cynicism, all of our quips about how Prince Charming doesn’t exist, we dream of someone who will love us unconditionally. Someone who sees our worst side and still would rather die than live without us. Someone who finds us on the days without makeup, our hair in a ponytail, decked out in floppy socks and sweatpants, and somehow still sees our beauty. Someone we can give the totality of our being to, scars and bruises included, and know it will be loved because it is all of us.

Yet we forget that Someone already does.

That longing we have to be loved unconditionally was intentional. It was etched on our hearts by the Creator, and He is the only One who can satisfy it entirely. He sees the worst of us and would still rather die than live without us in eternity. He sees our scars and bruises and failings and still says, “I choose you and I do not make mistakes.”

So often, though, the pure love that God has for us is something we can’t understand. It feels too abstract, too 2000 years ago. It is difficult to love what we cannot see, what we cannot feel, what we cannot touch. We are physical beings and how we express love attests to that.

Christ meets us on that level. He gives us a version of love that we understand, and not just in terms of His death. At the Last Supper, when He said, “This is My Body, given for you,” He was giving us the totality of who He is. He not only gave His Body on the Cross, He also gives it daily in the Eucharist. When we receive the Eucharist, we are receiving the totality of God. There is a reason the relationship between God and His Church is compared to that of a Bridegroom and His Bride. If, as Scott Hahn describes, we understand the Mass in terms of the book of Revelation, then the Mass is the wedding feast. It is where Christ offers himself in totality to us, knowing that we can reject him, knowing that we have hurt him, yet loving us anyway.

There is a theory that, when Jesus was in the garden before His crucifixion, it was not the awareness of the pain to come that caused Him to sweat blood. It was the recognition of all the souls who would still reject Him, no matter how much pain He suffered. Even in terms of the billions of people who have existed throughout history, the thought of losing just one of them would have been enough for Him to justify the cross. The thought of losing you and you alone would have been enough.

The billions of people who existed before us were not enough. The world without us was incomplete. The victory over death did not satisfy Him. Even now, He looks at the world, at the evil and hate strangling it, and says, “I have won this, but this victory isn’t enough. I want to win you. I want all of you, all of your failings and everything that’s ever hurt you. I can heal you. I already love you. Will you let me?”

Look at the crucifix. Look at the figure on it, bleeding, broken, all for you, and tell Him, “No. Nothing You do will make me love You. You will never be first in my life. Your sacrifice means nothing to me.”

And then know this: He would still have chosen you. Our rejection of Him didn’t come as a surprise. He did not offer His life with the assumption that all of humanity would instantly love Him. He gave it knowing some would never chose Him. But even for those, He gave Himself in the hope that they would come back to Him because He loves completely and without reserve. No matter what we do.

In the garden of Gethsemane, He thought of you and He said, “You are worth all of this pain and more. This is My Body, given for you. This is My Blood, shed for your sins. I do this for love of you and I am happy to.”

There is a prayer commonly attributed to St. Anthony of Padua called Be Satisfied. The entire prayer is beautiful, but the last few sentences are my favorite and there’s no better way to end this:

“Know that I love you utterly. I AM God. Believe it and be satisfied.”

 

I Am More

I am more than the money I make.

I am more than my IQ.

I am more than my job or my race.

I am more than the things I can’t do.

 

I am more than my popularity.

I am more than my flaws and defects.

I am more than my sexuality.

I am more than your biased respect.

 

I am more than the child of my father.

I am more than how often I speak.

I am more than my weight or my height or my health.

I am more than your opinions of me.

 

I am beautiful and I am more than enough.

I am more than the image you got.

I am unique and I am worthy of love.

How could you tell me I’m not?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Between Heaven and Earth

What If by Nicole Nordeman:

“What if you’re right?
And He was just another nice guy
What if you’re right?
What if it’s true?
They say the cross
Will only make a fool of you
And what if it’s true?

What if He takes His place in history
With all the prophets and the kings
Who taught us love and came in peace
But then the story ends
What then?

But what if you’re wrong?
What if there’s more?
What if there’s hope
You never dreamed of hoping for?

What if you jump?
And just close your eyes?
What if the arms that catch you
Catch you by surprise?
What if He’s more than enough?
What if it’s love?

What if you dig
What if you dig
Way down deeper than
Your simple-minded friends

What if you dig?
What if you find
A thousand more
Unanswered questions down inside
That’s all you find

What if you pick apart the logic
And begin to poke the holes
What if the crown of thorns is no more
Than folklore that must be told and retold

But what if you’re wrong?
What if there’s more?
What if there’s hope
You never dreamed of hoping for?

What if you jump?
Just close your eyes?
What if the arms that catch you
Catch you by surprise?
What if He’s more than enough?
What if it’s love?

It’s easier to ignore the Cross. Easier to live our lives without a thought of God. Easier to excuse our sins by saying that God will always forgive us than to acknowledge how much we have hurt Him. Easier to embrace the world than to follow Him. Because to follow Him is to follow His bloody footsteps to the Cross. The Cross is our one defense. Our one claim to His mercy. It is the bridge between Heaven and Earth, the only thing that can stretch across the abyss of sin. And it is easier to ignore it. Because to find Heaven, to find Christ, we must go through the Cross.

Christ never told us it would be easy, only that He would never leave us. We will be persecuted. We will be mocked. We will suffer. How can we expect anything less when He was treated so first?

On the Cross, Christ showed us what it means to love. But the Cross was not meant only for Him. Even Mary, His own mother, could not avoid the Cross. Standing at the foot of it, she showed us that to follow Him is to embrace suffering. That the path to His kingdom is through the Cross.

We can’t forget that before the joy and glory of the Resurrection, there was first the Cross. First the Crown of Thorns before the Crown of Glory. First the days of darkness before before the brightness of Easter morning. The road to Him is the road to Calvary. We do not walk it alone, but we must walk it. There is no other path to glory, no other path to Him. For between Heaven and Earth stands the Cross.