Thursday, March 30, 2006

Women

I have been listening to some talks that our Superior Sr. Anne Marie Walsh gave, along with another woman Dr. Clare Ten Eyck, at a retreat for women, on the topic of women. They spoke of many important and profound points but perhaps i could highlight a few of them from time to time. I think you might find them relevant, true and liberating.

One of the first things Sr. Anne talked about was the fact that women and men are different ("big deal" you may say). As obvious as this sounds, we live in a world that tries to meld the two sexes together until neither is perceived as too different and the gifts that are unique to each sex are over looked.

She mentioned that women especially are damaged by what society sells us. She talks about how contraception, a very deep disturbance in womanhood today, attacks the natural processes of the body that have to do with reproduction, giving life. Aside from the moral implications of contraception, they are also a health hazard. Sterilization involves the mutilation of the body in order to prevent reproduction. Abortion involves a direct attack upon, and ultimate destruction of, the fruit of a woman's body, which is new life. Prostitution, pornography, eating disorders, abuse and the like all attack the body and image of women. All these things are distortions of the true image of woman, according to the likes and dislikes of society, the dictates and whims of the world.

There is an open attack on women today, we see that in the book of Revelation, when Satan went off to wage war on the Woman and her children. Women have such a crucial part to play in salvation and life that it is no wonder that Satan went after Eve first in the garden, he went after her because she was key. And the evil one still wages an open war on women today.

So we deal with a deep attack on women. Because of God's plan for establishing His link with humanity through women, and its tremendous importance, the evil one wants to wipe that out. Satan wants to destroy God's plan to become one with us. Satan seeks to prevent life being conceived in the first place. Look at the numbers of those who contracept and then if that doesn't work, abort. Satan also seeks to keep people from being baptized or ensnaring young people in mortal sin. he seeks to constantly attack this mystery, we see many examples of this attack in the Bible and even now.

This is a deep reality, not a story or a fairy tale. It's an ongoing battle that has become violent in our days, especially against women and children. So there are deeper realities than what appears on the surface. We think that because everyone does something, it must be okay and that is not true.

Who we are as women is something we find in Christ, we come to know ourselves in Christ. Outside of him, we remain a mystery to ourselves. So to see these realities in ourselves, we need to do that in Christ.

Pope John Paul II has been able to really relate to women the plan that God has for them, he has written many letters to women and about women.

We need to really know our gifts as women, our personal plan that God has for us, and also be able to work in the areas of self-knowlegde as women. If we don't work in these areas within ourselves, then we do'nt become spiritually mature or progess along the path of holiness. But also when we have stuggles with who we really are and don't deal with that, then the problems become global. All global problems began as personal problems that were never dealt with(look at Hitler, Stalin and Mao Zedong).

People with the same type of problems, even unconsciously, seek each other out. There is a saying "pathology seeks pathology". You may find that the people you hang out with or the person you married has similar problems to you or has something in them that you want to fix in yourself.

So we look to Christ and use the resources available to us to come to know ourselves. We need to look within ourselves and find out the ways that we have allowed the world to distort us and all the ways we have bought into things that aren't true and that have, in fact, worked to wound us. Because when we come to know ourselves, live in the truth and are healed, then we become happy and free. Then we become a light. We need to know who we are as women, understand our dignity and calling. If we do'nt understand the greatness of our calling, then the whole world in in jepardy. No one is alive today without a mother.

more to follow...

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

New trip for the Holy Father??

The Holy Father has been talking about a possible new venture......

something to think about......

although i don't entirely agree with everything in this article, i thought it was interesting that MSNBC would pick it up. check it out!

i haven't posted in a while, things have been busy here. We had Fr. Santan Pinto, one of our awesome SOLT priests, visiting and giving the parish a Lenten Recollection. It was great to have him, if you don't know him, check out his website here.
if he is in your area any time soon, go hear him speak, it will amaze and edify you, he is really great.

Lent is going by quickly! don't forget to make it to Confession before the end, Jesus gives graces during this time that he doesn't give the rest of the year! so, go! you won't regret it and you'll be amazed at what happens to you interiorly!

Ciao! :)

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Your Inherent goodness

The further we journey into Lent, the more this particular thought has come to me, that we are inherently good. You may think this is nothing earth-shattering or perhaps to you it is obvious but then how come we don't relate to each other or even ourselves by our inherent goodness?

It seems that so often we relate to each other either by 1)reaction 2)judgement or 3)according to the faults of one another. Not all the time, mind you, but often. How often have you put someone in a box and said, "oh, that person, she's just......". Or when someone is unkind to you or is upset with you, do you find yourself just reacting and taking a self-defensive stance?

I mention this because it is common. It common because we suffer from original sin and are all wounded. I see this within myself. But when I look at Christ, I see that He doesn't behave in this way.

One of the reasons why we judge other people is because we can't see into their hearts. All we do is look at someone's behavior and make judgements based upon that when in reality we don't know why people do what they do (man, I don't even know why I do what I do some of the time). People (including ourselves) make all sorts of decisions out of habit, past experiences and what we believe is the right thing to do (when it very well may not be). But God peers into the heart, and He alone can judge, but He has mercy. He sees His children so little and lost at times and has mercy.

Fr. Emmerich Vogt, an awesome Domincan priest, says that "we love others with the same love that we see ourselves loved with." So, I am going to find it difficult to love others when they are displaying less than desirable behavior if I can't see that God loves me when I am displaying less than desirable behavior. And SINCE God still loves me when I am being a total jerk, then I should work to love others when they are behaving in the same manner.

The key to this is seeing ourselves as God sees us. God sees us in goodness. He sees us in goodness because He sees in truth. And that is the truth. We were created in the image and likeness of God, in goodness. God doesn't see us in terms of what we have done for him, how "good" we are or how much talent we have. He sees us as the beautiful, unique and unrepeatble human beings that we are. He knows us. He loves us.

So often we look at ourselves and see all of the mistakes we have made. We see our areas of woundedness, we see the wounds that others have inflicted upon us and the goodness of God becomes marred in our own view. We say, "I have done this, how could God love me?" or "someone did this to me, how could God love me?" And so we relate to ourselves and others in wounds and faults, instead of goodness.

During Lent, ask God to show you the goodness within yourself. Ask Him to show you the goodness within others. God wants us to live in truth. Yes, we sin and have fallen short of the glory of God, but we are His children and from that love comes our dignity and joy and the ability to rise above anything. And that's how our Father wants us to live.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

You aren't an end in yourself....

How is your Lenten journey so far? What are you finding that is the most difficult? If you have fallen in your resolutions, get up and try again. Don't give up. Remember that Jesus fell three times on the way to Calvary and didn't bemoan His stumble. He got back up and finished the job that the Father had asked. So, you do the same as well. If you fall, no problem, just get up and talk to Jesus about it. Maybe you need to take yourself to Confession. Whatever it is, don't stop along the journey. Keep going.

Something has occurred to me lately. So, we know that man is the crowning glory of all creation. Jesus created in ascending order, so He began with day and night, water, stars, trees, animals, etc. and then man. Man is the only creation that was created for God alone. Everything else in creation was created for man to have dominion over and tend. Man is not supposed to live in slavery to creation, he is to master it and have dominion over it.

So that means that we were created to be stewards of the things of the earth and that our beings are created for God. He alone is what fills us and completes us.

So often we don't look for our meaning and end in God, we try to look to other places. Some people look to money, some people look to education, some people look to shopping or cars or clothes or cosmetics and some people (many I would say) look to other people, and even themselves to find their ultimate end and meaning.

Objectively speaking, there isn't anything wrong with material things or enjoying the company of others or looking to ourselves for answers and contemplation, it's when these things overshadow God or replace Hm that throws our lives way out of order.

We won't find out who we really are or our ultimate satisfaction in someone else. We won't find the meaning of our lives at Nordstrom's or Starbucks. We won't even find our purpose for living just by looking at ourselves with no reference point. What we are TRULY looking for we find in God alone. As David says in the Psalms "my happiness lies in You alone."

These material things and other people APPEAR to have the answer. But since they are creations, they won't have all of them. If we look to these things to fill our hearts and lives, then we become slaves to them. When we lose focus on our beginning and end (we came from Heaven, the heart of God, and hopefully we are going back there) then it is easy to worship what is here on earth.

One of the biggest forms of idolatry today is the worship of one's self. We do whatever we want without recourse to God. And when we do that, we are the ones who miss out. We are the losers for taking that path. Instead of being masters over creation and giving ourselves in loving service to our neighbor, we become subject to material things and also other people or try to lord ourselves over them. Neither way is the road to true peace because that's not how we were created to live.

Thank God, He is our end! We don't have to look to ourselves or other people or things to fill us because Jesus is more than happy to do that. When He fills us, it is lasting. His love, peace and joy are not a passing whim or fancy. It is not just a nice feeling but the very truth and tenderness of love. And that is what Lent is about, getting rid of what holds us back and rising in love.

So, whew, we aren't an end in ourselves.

Monday, March 06, 2006

True Beauty

So we were doing our Spiritual Exercise this morning and the topic was "gifts." One of the sentences for mediation (put together by our founder) said this, "Virtue purifies us from the ugliness and disorder of sin, bringing beauty, strength and joy."

Hmmmmm.......let's ponder that for a moment. The true ugliness, the worst thing in the world, is sin. Most people think death and suffering is the worst thing the world, but that can actually be the best thing in the world. Sin makes things ugly.

I saw this great ad in a magazine that was acutally for a drug for liver disease or something but it showed a close up is this guy with his face all bruised up and scratched, looking like he just had the tar beat out of him, and the caption read something like this 'if liver disease were attacking your face, you'd do something about it.' Good point.

If our sin was attacking our face, we'd do something about it...

The sneaky thing about sin is that it attacks our soul. It devours our soul and robs it of it's beauty. Mortal sin kills the life of grace in our soul, but venial sin too, mars the image and likeness of God within us. While mortal sin is like breaking the window of our soul, venial sin is like specks of mud that, over time, reduce the amount of light and clarity of the window of our soul.

Everyone today is talking about the Academy Awards from last night and what everyone was wearing and how beautiful they looked. That's the world's idea of beauty, that what is on the outside counts, forget about within, what's a soul anyway?

If our sin was attacking our face, we'd do something about it...

The practice of virtue, goodness in its various forms, makes us beautiful. It frees the soul from the ugliness and stench of sin and makes it holy, while making us happy. We are happy when we do what is good. We are truly happy when we follow the plan that God has for us. True joy, the kind that Jesus gives, the kind that no one else can give and that no one else can take away, comes from being one with Him, allowing Him to mold into something magnificent, the person we were originally created to be. This repeated practice of what is good, true and beautiful strengthens us and gives us joy.

The world wants to dictate the rules of beauty. It tells you that beauty lies in how you look and also in all the other external things. You won't ever open a Cosmopolitan or Glamour magazine and find an article about how going to Confession cleanses your soul and recreates you, that you walk out of the Confessional a brand new person every time. No. You will read about plastic surgery, immodest clothing and promiscuity. Gee, sounds happy....

Don't buy into it. Don't buy into it in even little ways. Live the truth. "Become who you were born to be."

Remember that your soul is where your beauty lies. Why? Because you are made in the image and likeness of God. And that something that no one can take away.