Friday, December 31, 2010

Blessed New Year

Wishing all of you a blessed and grace-filled new year. I don't know if you make New Year's Resolutions (i don't, tried it MANY times, just didn't work for me!) but if you do, that's great.

One thing I learned many years ago and something that I still do every year on New Year's Eve, is to entrust the coming year to Our Blessed Mother and commend the previous year to her heart as well.

I ask her to take care of me and all those who have asked me for prayers and  for whom I have promised to pray. I ask her to receive the graces that I didn't receive because of my failures in the previous year and I ask her to prepare me for the coming year as well.

Although we do not know what is on the horizon for us, for our country and for the world this coming year, this might be an opportune time for all of us to dig deeper into learning and living our faith.

Take a Bible study, join an adult education class at your parish or take up some spiritual reading on a regular basis. Even if you can only do a little everyday, at the end of the year, you will have learned and grown much.

We cannot afford to be ignorant of our faith and the Truth. We must know Him and proclaim Him and this gift is open to all.

The divine openness to every person on the face of the Earth is very important. Jesus does not deny those who seek Him in truth. He will not hide Himself from the person who seeks for Him. Eternal riches that are infinitely deep are open to every person. What other King would do this?

When Prince William and Kate Middleton have a child, we will, as commoners, be able to greet that child personally? No. They have security personnel to keep the ordinary out. Those who greet that child will be the royal, the powerful, the wealthy-

But God isn't like that. The King of Kings chooses to be born in humble surroundings, greeted at His birth by shepherds.

In a world of competition where we must compete for a finite amount of money, power and attention, God offers Himself freely and openly, with no competition. He is not competing with us in a battle of wills, all He does is give and love.

I know, for myself, so often I don't even know how to not compete (does that make sense?). I am so used to competition (though in its proper place, there is nothing wrong with it) that often unconsciously I think I must even compete for God's love and holiness, but this is untrue for perceived competition in this reality is out of place and unnecessary. God is not impressed with my boastful attempts to exalt myself.

God's love is infinite and fulfilling and complete. It is whole and healing. He heals our sin, our darkness, our wounds. He takes our little selves into His heart and gives Himself to us.

So, in a world where many are celebrating a new year with intoxication and darkness, may we pray for Jesus, the Light of world, to shine in the hearts of us all.

God bless you.

Happy New Year :)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Motherless by Brian Gail

 

Devouring the new book Motherless by Brian Gail was an amazing experience. The second book in this trilogy gripped me from the opening sentences and once again, the unexpected happens. I found the twists and turns surprising and magnetizing.

Set in the present day, the story divulges the latest endeavors of our friends from the first book. We learn where life has taken them, how they have suffered and where they have triumphed.

As we all face, these characters will make hard decisions between wealth and morality, notoriety and justice, life and death. And one of them will pay the ultimate price.

Its not just the story that is so interesting but what I found most gripping and disturbing was the reality of the issue of reproductive technology.

Much of this story deals with the dark side of reproductive technology and Mr. Gail has done an amazing job researching and writing about things that are indeed happening.

Technology that would have read well in a science fiction book is now a horrific reality in 2010.

It will blow you away.

I highly recommend it for an entertaining but truthful portrayal of the choices we must make, who we will follow and what we are willing to give to speak the truth at all times.

Nuns Are Very Serious :0

Here it is! Finally video footage that nuns must be serious at all times.

Click here to see it....if you dare.....(he he he....)

Sr. Miriam's January Speaking Schedule

Saturday January 15th- Serra Club Fundraiser- St. Joseph's Parish, Vancouver, WA- 6pm

Friday January 28th-- Catholic Answers Live Radio Show- heard on your local Catholic radio station or stream live here- 4pm Pacific Time


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Thing of Beauty

Here is a video of Taylor Swift singing and playing the piano-- just because she is so lovely!

Dont Feel Sorry For Me!

As I recently (5 minutes ago) wrote about joy- the gift of God that is contentment of the will (possessing a true good), I also wanted to share a little about one of the biggest robbers of joy (aside from anxiety- listen to our radio show for that one!) which is self-pity.

We all, from time to time, experience the feeling of self-pity, where something seemingly or truly unfortunate has happened, and we find ourselves a victim in need of sympathy. Many times this is a normal reaction to certain situations until we can gain since distance from them and assess them more closely. However, if we find we struggle with chronic self-pity, there are some things we might want to take a look at because as long as self-pity rules our emotions, thoughts and actions, we will never be able to fully embrace the gift of joy (because our spiritual "hands" will be full of negative things)

How do you know if you struggle with self-pity? Here is a definition: Self-pity or "feeling sorry for oneself" is the psychological state of mind of an individual in perceived adverse situations who has not accepted the situation and does not have the confidence nor ability to cope with it. It is characterized by a person's belief that he or she is the victim of events and is therefore deserving of condolence. Self-pity is generally regarded as a negative emotion in that it does not generally help deal with adverse situations.

Please note two things: that self-pity is a psychological state of mind ( not necessarily a reality) and that it comes from not accepting a situation out of the fear of not being able to cope with it.

It seems in many ways, as a self-defense mechanism to keep oneself "safe." For rather than feeling unpleasant feelings and admitting the truth of realities, it's easier to hide under the covers of self-pity and see oneself as a victim and often that "victimhood" ends up defining a person's life. We can isolate ourselves with the "you just don't understand me" mentality and then indulge in addiction because "if you had the same thing happen to you, you would do this too."

Are we legitimate victims of certain things? Most certainly. But we all have a choice to either remain in victim mode forever (which usually leads to an addition of some sort-- self-pity has been called the "fuel of the fire of addiction") and become closed in on ourselves and "lick our wounds" so to speak or we can make the courageous decision to admit what has happened to us, talk about it to people we can trust, admit and feel our feelings (even and especially when they are ugly and unpleasant) and ask Jesus to come in and heal us and choose daily forgiveness. We can go to 12 step groups and pray daily to become honest, open and willing.

Are we still a victim of certain things? yes, we have had experiences of victimization but those events no longer define us or make decisions for us. We can choose gratitude, even for the smallest things, and write them down. That creates a shift in our brain to look for the good things rather than the next event to feel sorry for ourselves.

It's a life-long process but one that is worth fighting for.

God is on our side! He wants our souls to be free and filled with joy. As one poet wrote "God did not come to take away our suffering, but to fill it with His presence"

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference...

Pleasure Vs Joy

During this Christmas season, we hear many songs and much talk about joy. "Joy to the World", we sing at Church and often people wish one another "joy and peace" during this time.

But often, I don't see too many people full of joy. People get upset if they didn't get "what they wanted" on Christmas day and trying to navigate through a big city during the Christmas season can be anything but "joyful."

and this got me thinking, "what is joy, anyway?"

As i dove further into this mystery, I realize that I often confuse pleasure with joy.

Let's investigate....

CatholicReference.net defines pleasure as: The satisfaction that accompanies the exercise of a human faculty. Depending on the faculty used, there are different kinds of pleasure, namely, sensuous or intellectual.

Is pleasure a bad thing? In and of itself, absolutely not. God gave us pleasure as a gift to enjoy the things of life. We enjoy reading a good book or seeing a good movie. We enjoy watching a beautiful sunset or beholding a rose in bloom. We breathe in deeply the scent of baking cookies and we delight in hugging the ones we love. These things are very beautiful. They give us pleasure. And if we allow it, pleasure can lead to joy which is on a deeper level.

 

 Joy is defined by the same source as: In spiritual literature, the feeling aroused by the expectation or possession of some good. One of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Joyful emotions affect the body, but they are essentially in the higher faculties of the soul. Differs from pleasure, which may affect the human spirit but originates in some bodily sensation. Thus joy is possessed by angels and human beings, and its source is the rational will. 

Perhaps we could look at this difference as contentment in the emotions and then contentment of the will. As I looked at these two definitions and reflected upon my own experiences in life, I can see where I confuse the two. This may also explain how Jesus, and those close to Him, can undergo deep suffering but still experience joy.

Because most of our society lives at a very superficial level, we are constantly encouraged to abandoned pursuits and relationships that no longer "feel good". Once the natural feeling of pleasure is gone or absent for some time, society says that is a signal of a deeper reality that "love" is gone.

But this is completely backwards.

Emotions (the word "emote" means "to move") move us. They are given by God, they are good. But emotions are at the service of our will. They are guided by our will. Which is why we discern with our will whether a pleasure is good for us or not. A 13th cookie may give us pleasure but is not in our best interest.

If pleasure leaves a relationship or a pursuit, it's not a sign that "true love" is gone. It's a signal to dive deeper and grow.

Joy is a deep gift from God that we can pray for. We can pray to be open to this gift of true joy. This kind of joy is like the depths of the ocean, where the seas at the top may be choppy and turbulent (something that we know is right may not always "feel good" and suffering does not usually "feel good") and so there may be difficulties and obstacles but at the bottom of the sea of our soul, all is quiet and we persevere by the grace of God.

When we interviewed Sr. Catherine Marie, O.P. on our radio show "Sisters in Christ", she said, "True joy cannot be faked, it radiates from within".

While pleasure may fade and we may become weary, joy is a gift from God that never ends.

It's an eternal gift.

Just like you are.

Merry Christmas.

I wish you peace and true joy :)

Mama's Song

I came across this new song by country singer Carrie Underwood written to her mother. She calls it "Mama's Song" and the video features Carrie's mother, new husband and family photos. Very, very touching.

Enjoy :) (and grab a box of tissues ;) )

A Blessed Christmas...

Wishing all of you a very blessed and holy Christmas season and also a joy-filled New Year.

As a new adventure dawns with the rising sun every day, may you know the love of Jesus and Mary. May they grant you peace and hope, now and always.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Joseph's Lullaby

This is a VERY beautiful song by Mercy Me entitled, Joseph's Lullaby.

Wow, it moved me to tears.

I think so often we relegate the personhood of St. Joseph, as if he wasn't a real man with real desires and a real love as a father to Jesus. This is a delightful song- a song of a father singing to his baby son.

Monday, December 13, 2010

More Installation Excerpts

Here is an article that appeared in The Progress, the Archdiocese of Seattle's newspaper. It features more details about Archbishop Sartain's Installation Mass and some excerpts from his amazing homily.

Human Beings With Bar Codes?

ok, this is just WRONG! (I would say that it's just getting "wronger" but that's not a word...)

Why are we as humans so arrogant as to think we can play with human life, categorize it, separate it from its natural environment, mix and match it and then bar code it and think it's ok? Yikes. Scary stuff.

This ending quote of this article says it all-
“The embryos develop normally and once we’ve perfected everything, they will lose the code after implantation," she told FoxNews.com.

"So you won’t be producing a baby with code on it,” she said.


Read about it: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/12/13/tag-human-embryos-bar-codes/#ixzz183UXW3zI

How Many Kings?

I heard this BEAUTIFUL Christmas song on the radio and wanted to post it for you. The lyrics are deep and meaningful and the person who made this video uses some powerful imagery.

This song is called How Many Kings and is written and performed by a group named Downhere

Breathe this one in......

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Words from Our Mother

I just wanted to post the words of Our Lady of Guadalupe to Juan Diego, as he was concerned about many things when she appeared to him.

Please allow these words to sink into your heart and soul, because she is speaking to all of us, all of her children.

“Listen and let it penetrate your heart…do not be troubled or weighed down with grief. Do not fear any illness or vexation, anxiety or pain. Am I not here who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not your fountain of life? Are you not in the folds of my mantle? In the crossing of my arms? Is there anything else you need?” 

How she loves us! :)



Our Lady of Guadalupe

Happy Feast Day to our beautiful Mother and Patroness of the Americas, Our Lady of Guadalupe.

If you don't know much about the image of Our Lady or how it came to be, please READ about it here. 

It is no coincidence that in this time in history, when the skies are growing dark and truth is being challenged on ever increasing levels, that we have been given a Mother to protect us.

The name Guadalupe, as she referred to herself,  is a shrine in Spain but it also sounds very much like the phrase "she who crushes the serpent" in the native dialect of Juan Diego, the simple man whom Our Lady appeared to in 1531.

Sometimes people relegate this special love for Our Lady of Guadalupe as a Hispanic devotion, since she appeared in Mexico but this not a geographical affection. Our Mother has been declared by two Popes as the Patroness of the Americas and she is very, very powerful.

There are so many amazing things within the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, so many profound things. 

She is truly a Sign and Patroness, Mother and Defender of her children.

May this Woman, the most beautiful woman ever created, watch over us and pray for us. May Jesus, her Son, look with mercy upon us and grant us peace.

"Tangled" Up

Looking for a good movie to see over the Christmas season? I don't usually do movie reviews and I am not always a fan of animated movies but I recently saw a movie that might be worth your while.

I am going to talk about the plot within this blog post so I am giving you a SPOILER ALERT! :) if you don't want to know what happens...well, maybe I will just talk about the beautiful themes of the movie without revealing everything, so you can go and experience it for yourself.

Disney just released an animated movie entitled "Rapunzel." Perhaps we all know that traditional story of the girl with the long hair who locked in a tower, awaiting her rescue-- but Disney gives it just a little different flavor and perhaps without realizing it, they creators of the movie delve into realities that speak deeply to the heart of every human being.

So the story goes that as a little girl, born to the King and Queen, Rapunzel has the gift of magic, healing hair. Whenever she sings a certain song, her hair glows and it heals whoever touches it. An old, selfish woman who wants to be "healed" of her old age and remain "young and beautiful" forever, kidnaps Rapunzel and locks her away in a tower and raises her as her own child.

She tells Rapunzel that the world is evil and mean and full of selfish people and so locking her in a tower is the woman's way of "protecting" her. But Rapunzel grows up and her longing to experience an authentic life deepens with each passing day. She does not know who she really is, she only longs for more.

One day a young man, a thief by trade and on the run from authorities for stealing a crown, escapes to the forest and find shelter in the tower and thereby meets Rapunzel. Rapunzel, who is filled with lies about the outside world and the people who dwell there, is terrified but soon she and the young man, Flynn Rider, come to an agreement.

Much hilarity happens around this and we see Rapunzel's struggle to be free of her exterior "prison" while still battling the interior fear she has of a woman she thinks is her mother.

Meanwhile, the King and Queen are heartbroken over the loss of their daughter, not knowing her fate, and every year on her birthday, they release beautiful lanterns into the sky as a sign of their love for her.

The truth of who Rapunzel really is must come out, but will it be too late? Will darkness triumph over light or will sacrificial love win out over all?

You get to find that out for yourself when you see the movie but I think what struck me the most were the spiritual realities on display in this movie, because to me it parallels much of our spiritual life and our journey back to our true Home and Destiny.

The old woman very much reminds me of the evil one. The evil one seeks to destroy light, goodness and healing. He very much tries to fill our heads and our hearts with lies, therefore obscuring the Truth of who we really are and who our Father is. The evil tries to tell us that we are stupid, worthless and unlovable.

These lies create fears within us and we become a prisoner of the dark, never knowing that we are noble sons and daughters of the Eternal King. The evil one seeks to use us only to destroy us.

God sends people in our lives to help free us from the prison we live in. These people, broken little people just like us, help heal us. And it's in knowing good and true friends, having that experience of love that is unconditional, that helps prepare our hearts for Him.

Our Father never ceases looking for us. He never gives up on us. He sends people to help us and bring us back. His heart yearns for us. He knows that we are little and lost and broken and He seeks not to condemn us, but to heal us from our darkness of sin and pain and bring us back into the Family.

There are very powerful images of light and the sun in this movie that weave a thread from beginning to end. In this movie, I laughed and I cried and it led me to ponder deeply who I really am and who my Father is.

We do not have to live in the darkness of lies. The true Light is always there, waiting to free us.

May these remaining days of Advent lead you to open your hearts more deeply to the Son, to the Light, and to your true destiny and dignity.

Bless you :)

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Installation Mass of Archbishop J. Peter Sartain


Today, we received a new Shepherd of the Church in Seattle, WA. Archbishop J. Peter Sartain was officially installed during a beautiful two hour Mass at St. James Cathedral in downtown Seattle.

Within the cathedral it was standing room only as people watched and listened attentively to their new shepherd proclaim the word of God. As he officially accepted his new position and took his seat on the cathedra (the Bishop's chair) every person in the cathedral stood and applauded for nearly 5 minutes. It was a beautiful sight to behold. There was such joy within those walls today.

I am including a link to the Seattle Times article about the Mass, which features video portions of the celebration. 

(Please note as you read the article that is written for a secular audience so consider that accordingly)

Archbishop Sartain, you are in our prayers!!  :)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Archbishop J. Peter Sartain

Tonight was the Rite of Installation and Vespers with new Archbishop of Seattle, J. Peter Sartain. It was a very powerful and symbolic Rite, which began with the Archbishop knocking on the door outside the Cathedral, as a symbol of his desire to be accepted as Shepherd of the people.

After entering and being welcomed by retiring Archbishop Alex Brunett, Archbishop Sartain venerated the processional cross of the Cathedral and received a blessing with Holy Water from Archbishop Brunett.

The two archbishops sprinkled the entire congregation with Holy Water and Archbishop Sartain greeted representatives from various communities and organizations within the Seattle Archdiocese.

Within the recitation of Vespers (evening prayer) Archbishop Sartain gave an amazing and moving homily. This man brings with him a powerful presence. Not a presence of domination and self-importance but a presence of holiness, kindness, truth and love. He bear a weight within, the weight of the Cross.

As I sat there listening to him speak about the desire of the heart for holiness and for Christ (his episcopal motto is "of You my heart has spoken") I very moved to reflect once again on the basics of life.

A few days ago, Jesus in the Gospel urges us to remain vigilant- that the anxieties of life do not over take us.

It is so easy for us to allow daily living, and all its busyness, trials, struggles and distractions to dull our hearts to what really matters. Its easy to get caught up in the drama, politics and gossip that surround us (and is even created by us at times although we'd probably rather not admit it!).

And when we allow these things, the daily trials that come to all people, to overtake and overwhelm us, we lose the simple joy of living. We lose gratitude and begin to focus on ourselves. We begin to worry over what people think about us or what they're saying about us vs what life is really about. Because in the end, we are accountable to no one but God. He sees our heart, our interior sentiments, hidden from others and sometimes from ourselves.

Archbishop Sartain said that every single person on the face of the earth has the same fundamental calling; to "be" for God. That God delights in every single person on the face of the earth. God desires us at every moment of every day. These words truly moved me to tears as I sat there in the silent Cathedral filled to near- capacity. The weight of Christ in this man spoke deep within our hearts.

How often we forget. In this Season of Advent and Christmas, when most of the country is focused on what to buy people and what they want to receive personally, we are called to simply and quietly "be" for God.

This is the fundamental truth for our lives. As Jesus comes to earth to "be" for us, for our redemption, so we are called to "be" for Him. We are His delightful children. We needn't be afraid.


Rock on Archbishop Sartain! We are blessed to have you here.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Debussy's Arabesque #1

Tonight is a full moon :) and I posted some time ago a work by Claude Debussy entitled "Clare de Lune" but tonight i post another of Debussy's works "Arabesque #1"


Its such a beautiful piece, one of his earlier works, written while he was still in his 20s. It's amazing how talented people usually suffer with some deep struggle. Wikipedia states that "Debussy was often depressed and unable to compose, but he was inspired by Franz Liszt, whose command of the keyboard he found admirable."

Beauty often resurrects from darkness. I hope you enjoy this piece.

A blessed solemnity of Christ the King to all of you. May Jesus truly be the King of our hearts and the Divine Lover of our souls.


Condom Clarification

For those of you who have read that astounding news "headlines" that the Holy Father has "changed the Church's stance on the use of condoms" PLEASE read this great commentary by Catholic Apologist Jimmy Aiken.

He explains what the Holy Father said and DID NOT say and the context in which the comments took place (and were taken out of place!)

Be informed and spread the word!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What Should I Do?

Perhaps this the perennial question we face during many phases of our life- the question of "What should I do?" What is life about anyway? Should we live our lives to please others? Should we be who others want us to be? Should we listen to our friends? the media?

Or shall we follow our destiny and become the people we were born to be by allowing God to reveal Himself and our destiny to us? Who knows best? our little finite selves or the infinite, beautiful creator of the universe?

Tomorrow in the Gospel at daily Mass, we see Jesus weeping over Jerusalem. As He looks out over Jerusalem, knowing it will be the place of His death and the ultimate betrayal by some of His closest friends, He weeps. Jesus knows that peace is not found in self-righteousness and power, He knows that peace is found in surrender to God and the turning away from sin.

But even as He looks over the city, He does not curse the city, He longs to heal it.

He sees us in the same way. Jesus longs to heal us. He knows what will bring us peace.

So, what should we do?

Here is Lebron James' take on the matter of the choices he has made in his life.

Happy Campfire Song

Happy Autumn Wednesday to you! Here's a happy little song by Christian artist Chris August, called The Campfire Song. It's a peaceful little song about the love between a man and a woman.

Enjoy!



Lyrics:

When it's cold outside count on me to keep you warm
And when we arrive there I'll be to hold the door
When we talk at night I promise I'm all ears
I will turn into your prince if you kiss me here

You love music and the smell of summer rain
Well, I have this old guitar and a pocket full of change
So, I might be what you're looking for
What you're looking for

When your day goes blue I'll find a way to make it bright
When you need a laugh I'll bring a smile right to you, to you
When we're all alone I'll be the sweetest man
You will fall into my arms or at least that's my plan

You love sweaters and the feel of linen sheets
Well, I'm not begging you, no I'm not that hard to please
So, I might be what you're looking for

At night, I watch the sky to find a shooting star
If that's what I have to do to be right where you are

You love fairy tales and the thought of growing old
We'll have a happy life, that's how our story goes
So, I might be what you're looking for
I just might be what you're looking for
I might be what you're looking for
What you're looking for

Saturday, November 13, 2010

What is it with men and commitment, anyway?

Check out the text of this talk about men and commitment, aptly titled "What is it with men and commitment, anyway?" 

The prevailing thought of many is that men never want to commit and that living together before marriage is a good way to see if "two people are compatible".

Both of these thoughts are seriously flawed and Scott Stanley, PhD, explains why.

Some awesome resources for you

Check out this link to a page from the Family Life Center website. This organization is dedicated to strengthening marriage and family life and this page lists resources to help or give information on a variety of topics.

With links about topics on various issues from alcoholism to end of life decisions, from, homeschooling to help for hurting marriages, check this out. it's great stuff. sometimes we struggle or wonder about certain things but don't know where to turn for solid info or help, this is a great resource.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

You Live, You Learn...

I came across a song by Alanis Morissette that I hadn't heard in many years. The song is called, "You Learn, (Jagged Little Pill)" and it was very popular in the 90's. But as with many things in our lives, we revisit themes on deeper levels as we grow older.

Here are some of the lyrics-
I recommend biting off more then you can chew to anyone
I certainly do
I recommend sticking your foot in your mouth at any time
Feel free
 

Throw it down (the caution blocks you from the wind)
Hold it up (to the rays)
You wait and see when the smoke clears

You live, you learn
You love, you learn
You cry, you learn
You lose, you learn
You bleed, you learn
You scream, you learn


There is a very famous saying that goes, "live and learn" and isnt' that the truth? Perhaps for those of us perfectionists out there, we would rather just "know everything" without having to make mistakes and live through things, but that's not reality.

Here's another saying for you, "We cannot control the direction of the wind, but we can adjust our sails."

How often I find myself wanting to control the direction of the wind and what an utterly frustrating waste of time that is!

Perhaps I want to control the outcomes of situations, or other people's reactions and responses to things. Perhaps I want things to turn out the "right way" (aka- how I think things "should" turn out) or perhaps I just want to simply avoid suffering.

But all of these coping mechanisms are an illusion. They do not allow me to live the fullness of life. Jesus came that we might have life and have it to the full, not some artificially controlled mediocre existence.

So what this means is that we get to embrace everything that life brings. We get to embrace the joy and the sorrow, the triumphs and the failures. We get to embrace good days and bad days, the sun and rain for we need all of it to live a full life.

Suffering comes with the promise of Resurrection and opens our heart at deep levels.

So let us take the hand of Jesus and live.

Archbishop-elect Peter J. Sartain

Check out this great article about our Archbishop-elect Peter J. Sartain, set to be installed here in the Archdiocese of Seattle on December 1st.

Brings much hope to us here in the Northwest.

Rock on! :)

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Surfer Andy Irons 1978-2010

Surfing legend Andy Irons passed away on November 2nd in Dallas, TX. He was 32 years old.

Read the story of his amazing life and untimely death here.

Andy was much beloved and respected in his home of Hawaii and across the world. A man who was very human in spite of being wildly popular.

When I read the article posted above, I was filled with a sense of sorrow and an immense sense of awe for the sacredness and gift of life.

Why things happen the way they do may not be known in this life.

All we do know is that God makes sense of our confusion and accompanies us in our deepest sorrows and mysteries.

My prayers go out to his family, especially his wife, due to give birth to their first child next month.

May he rest in peace and may perpetual light shine upon him.

God bless you, Andy.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Masculinity in Question Part 2

I wrote some time ago about the struggle in society today with the question of manhood and what it means to be a man. Just as women question themselves, men do as well.

And perhaps for men it's more difficult because in many arenas they are not allowed to question, to ask themselves what it really means to be a man, they are just supposed to "know" and so for many men, they swallow the stereotypes that the measure of a man is money, power and women.

A deep lie.

I also mentioned in that previous post about a celebrity couple, in which the husband admitted to having an affair and he mentioned on a nationally known radio show that the affair "made him feel very manly" (his words).

Well, it seems that the truth has come out. The affair did not make him feel manly. It broke my heart to read these words that he spoke concerning this very thing a couple of days ago.

The article about this celebrity man stated that he admitted that he cried when sleeping with someone other than his wife  for the first time.

He says, "After the first girl I slept with ... a few days later ... I was, like, crying," he said. "It was the end of all the intimacy I shared with my wife. It was like a new thing. It was like ... putting that away."

Men, my beloved brothers, there is a better way to live than this. Society tells you that this mentality is the fulfillment of being a male but that is untrue.

God has given you His own heart, the heart of a warrior, a soldier, to ardently seek and nobly pursue the heart of your beloved bride. The deepest aspect of your manhood is your ability and desire to lay down your life, to sacrifice for the good of your Bride-- whether she be a woman or the Church.


When a man takes from his beloved and sacrifices her at the altar of his lusts and disordered desires, he damages her and he emasculates himself. 

There is a better way.

The path of the warrior is difficult and it requires much discipline and battle but it is worth it, the victory, the redemption is so worth it.

This is not a path or a battle you can navigate alone. The Man, Jesus Christ, accompanies you at every moment along your path. You cannot do it without Him. He gives you the strength, the example, the fortitude to fight and be victorious.

All you need to do is ask Him to show you the truth of what it means to be a man. Ask Him to lead you on this journey of manhood at every moment. He will you do this for you, His beloved brothers.

Please know that you have a sister who prays for you, who desires your healing and ardently fights for you on this journey. You are not alone.

May our Mother, Our Lady of Guadalupe, keep you in her heart and under her mantle.

How she loves her cherished sons....

The Only Girl In The World...

The number 5 song on iTunes most downloaded singles is the new song by Rihanna called Only Girl In The World.

When I first heard the song, I liked it a lot, its a fun song but it was the lyrics that really got me. In the chorus she sings the cry of the human heart- the longing for exclusive love-- she sings (and it's yet another example that the desire for lasting and exclusive love is written in the heart of every person)


"Want you to make me feel like I’m the only girl in the world
Like I’m the only one that you’ll ever love
Like I’m the only one who knows your heart
Only girl in the world…
Like I’m the only one that’s in command
Cuz I’m the only one who understands, like I’m the only one who knows your heart, only one…"


Please notice that, contrary to what society tells us- (that we can be with many people in many ways and it doesn't matter because we have no deeper yearnings), Rihanna is singing about wanting to be the only woman in the heart of this man. She wants to be his exclusive love, to give and receive in return in oneness.

She doesn't sing "please love me like all the other women in your life, compare me to them and love me like I'm just another number" for that is not what the human heart desires. And although the entirety of this song has some disordered ideas in it (which is why i am not posting it here), i just wanted to point out the deep truths in the heart that are never extinguished.

Pope John Paul II wrote, “Young people are always searching for the beauty in love. They want their love to be beautiful. If they give in to weakness, following worldly models of behavior…in the depths of their hearts, they still desire a beautiful and pure love. This is as true of boys as it is of girls. Ultimately, they know that only God can give them this love. As a result, they are willing to follow Christ, without caring about the sacrifices this may entail.” 

 Keep seeking for authentic and true love. 

He will be found when we seek Him.



Beautiful Girls Part 2...

Good morning :) A friend of mine sent this to me and I thought it was very beautiful and holy. We live in a world that tells us to hate ourselves, what we look like, and our very being. We are told that we are "too much" or "not enough" but that is untrue.

The antidote for this worldly poison is not more plastic surgery or yet another diet. The antidote is the receiving the truth of who we really are in the eyes of God, the only eyes that matter.....

Bless you, enjoy your day.- Happy Friday

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Life is Sweet and Short

We went to the Seattle Art Museum today to see the Picasso exhibit. There is much to say about that in and of itself but another painting by an entirely different artist from a different era truly caught my eye and captured my heart.


One of the galleries in the museum is entitled Darkness Into Light and it features several paintings done in a sort of  "Caravaggio-style", dramatic uses of light and darkness within the painting.

This painting that caught my eye is not one of Caravaggio but of a Flemish woman (exceeding rare at the time to be a working female artist) named Michaelina Woutiers.

The name of this work is Boys Blowing Bubbles (seen here at right) and I stood there before the painting for quite some time just looking at it. The painting is quiet and deep and peaceful.

Obviously posting it on this small space does not do it justice.

And as I read the explanation of the symbolism of the painting, I pondered it for the rest of the day.

At first glance perhaps the painting is seemingly innocuous, just a moment in time captured of two boys having fun but something deeper in being portrayed.

The bubbles symbolize the fragility of life, that life is beautiful and awe-inspiring but cannot be grasped onto. When one tries to grasp it and hold onto it as one's own, the bubble pops, and it is gone. I think it's fitting that the painting features two young boys, as youth is fleeting and soon passes away.

The candle extinguished in the background is also a symbol that life passes by very quickly and the open book is a symbol that art lasts longer than life.

The painting is somber and serious yet very beautiful and evocative.

There is such profound truth being portrayed here. How much we try to cling to the things of this world, hoping they will sustain us. We grasp at the beauty in this world hoping it will satisfy us at the deepest level and yet as we grasp for these things, they continually elude us.

We are made for something more.

A priest I heard yesterday told a group of high school students, "Don't be afraid of loneliness, don't be afraid of it. Don't seek to fill every lonely moment you have, for in doing this, many people have filled themselves with negative things."

The ache we experience within, the longing and the yearning, are signs of very good things. They are signs that we are made for something more. The pangs remind us that earth is not our final home, but that Love Himself is our resting place and destiny. When we give the longing to God, it becomes redemptive.

Seek the things that are above. Seek Goodness, Truth and Beauty.

St. Augustine said it best, "Our hearts are restless, O God, until they rest in You."

Amen, brother.

Amen.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Conspiracy Theory

con·spir·a·cy
[kuhn-spir-uh-see] 
–noun, plural -cies.
1. the act of conspiring.
2. an evil, unlawful, treacherous, or surreptitious plan formulated in secret by two or more persons; plot.
 

One word: Wow. 

I don't think I have enough space (or enough reader interest) to share all of my thoughts on this amazing and brutally honest work. But I must tell you one thing:

Read this book.

I was astounded at the conspiracy that took place to bring about the legalization of abortion in this country. I deeply commend Dr. Nathanson for his honest reflection of his life leading up to his aggressive promotion and practice of abortion, his transparency of admitting the lies that were propagated in order to sell the general public on the idea of killing the most defenseless members of our society and his humility in asking the deep questions about life, admitting his wrongs and opening his heart to the search for more- the search for Eternal Mercy. God bless him, wow.

I am not a philosopher, a theologian or a literary critic but in this eloquent and thought provoking book, I could see the workings of a deep conspiracy-- a conspiracy of the culture of death. The culture of death that seeks destruction, uses people as a means to an end and discards humanity when it is no longer "useful". 
 
Ah, it pierced my heart, for this culture of death is alive and well on the planet today and death masquerades as "choice", "dignity", "freedom" but is really the antithesis of these realities. 

The culture of death has its origin in the Father of Lies, the evil one himself. For he is bent on the destruction of humanity, with no other agenda- the complete destruction of humanity. He seeks tools (often us, unwittingly) to advance his cause and if we do not know who we are and the value of every human life (including our own) then it's easy to let arrogance cloud our minds and darken our hearts. 
 
We forget that there is a God, and we are not Him.

If we do not know who we are and what it means to be a man or a woman, our knowledge or lack thereof will not remain in a vacuum. This is not a matter of "well, I don't know much about my faith and who i am, but oh well, I'm not really a religious person, its not a big deal."

Oh, my friends. it is a HUGE deal. For if we do not know the truth of who we are from the One who loves us, then we will believe the lie of who we are not from the one who seeks to destroy us. 

This is a battle of eternal life and death. We cannot remain ignorant of our image and likeness, our identity and dignity. For when we know who we are and live that truth that flows from our hearts, it CHANGES EVERYTHING. 

As dark as the world seems today and as intensely as the battle rages, all is not lost. In fact, we know who wins the battle. 

You see, God has, what I would say, His own conspiracy. But this is not a conspiring between people for an unholy purpose, far from it. This is a love conspiracy-- perhaps better stated as a transformative secret. 

The conspiracy of God is merciful redemption. He whispers merciful redemption to every dark corner of our heart and soul. His merciful love knows no bounds, seeks to heal us in our wounds, and brings about our deepest freedom and dignity. 

Love never fails. Merciful redemption never fails.

There is a solution to sin. The solution is not death but merciful redemption. The solution to sin is Jesus, the Divine Physician.

Our God is the Father of Life, Love and Peace. He is the Father of Goodness, Truth and Beauty.

We must allow Love to reveal to us who we REALLY are. It is Jesus who reveals us to ourselves and He ardently desires to do this. 

Ask Him. Ask Him to whisper His secret in your heart. 

The more we allow this merciful redemption and the truth of who we are to penetrate our hearts, the more we are transformed and the more true love comes into the world through our hearts.

As the gospel speaks of today, when we are open to God in humility, He redeems us. And as we are redeemed, so the world is redeemed.

Love never fails.

Sr. Miriam's November Speaking Schedule *Updated*

Howdy folks, here is the November speaking schedule-


Thursday November 4th- Kennedy High School, Vocations Panel, AM

Saturday November 6th- Holy Family Kirkland, Family Life Conference, afternoon TOB Presentations to Junior and Senior High School students

Sunday November 7th- Bellevue Community College, Archdiocesan Youth Conference, 9am Keynote Address on Transformation in Christ, 10:15am Mega Workshop on Discernment

Saturday November 20th- Monroe, WA, Discernment Retreat for UW, afternoon

Friday, October 22, 2010

Puffy Taco Trauma


You may have heard (okay, you probably haven't) that in the history of the San Antonio Missions minor league baseball team, there has been only one child, ONE, who has ever failed to take down their mascot, Henry the Puffy Taco (seen here in deep thought)


At every game, a young, bright eyed youth is chosen among the screaming throng to RACE THE PUFFY TACO to home plate.

Alas, every child but one, ONE, has tackled the seemingly helpless taco along the third base line before Henry the Puffy Taco reaches home.

Who knows what happened that fateful night when a young Randolph Neuenfeldt failed to pounce upon the squishy entree. Were dreams shattered? Was hope lost?


No longer.

Now as a grown man, Mr. Neuenfeldt was invited back to conquer the one serving he let pass by....would he prevail?

Would he finally conquer the Puffy Taco Test?

OR

Would he suffer Puffy Taco Trauma forever?

Watch with anticipation.......




Dream big, folks. Dream big.

National Catholic Register Article

I would like to thank my friend Trent Beattie for writing such a kind and gracious article about yours truly that appears in this week's National Catholic Register. 




I think this photo of my college days captures my likeness very well :)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

You're My Beloved...

I LOVE this song by 10th Avenue North entitled, "Beloved". It brings tears to my eyes whenever i hear it. This is the love we are all longing for and it tells me that the person who wrote this song has a very deep interior life.

You are beloved, forever and always.

10th Avenue North will be performing live in Seattle tomorrow night at the Mars Hill Church, Ballard.

Drink this truth in and live!!

Who Said Slavery Was Dead?

Another jarring reminder that slavery is alive and well in the world. In the year 2000, the buying and selling of humans was the 3rd largest money maker in the world, following drugs and guns.

If there was ever a time for Theology of the Body, that time is now.

N.Y. Sex Traffickers Branding Girls, D.A. Says

Empty...

Here is a deep song by Ray Lamontagne. It's a song for the mature and it's called "Empty."

He sings of the yearning for "more." Many times in life we can be "full" of everything we think we will satisfy us and we still feel something lacking within. This "ache", this yearning, is for God. We yearn for more than this world can give us, and that's how it's supposed to be. We only reap frustration and pain when we continually try to stuff ourselves with things of the world, expecting them to quench the "fire inside."

Will we always feel this way? Only temporarily.

Eternal satisfaction is close at hand.

 


Empty

She lifts her skirt up to her knees,
walks through the garden rows with her bare feet, laughing.
I never learned to count my blessings,
I choose instead to dwell in my disasters.
I walk on down the hill,
through grass, grown tall and brown
and still its hard somehow to let go of my pain.
On past the busted back of that old and rusted Cadillac
that sinks into this field, collecting rain.
Will I always feel this way?
So empty, so estranged.

And of these cut-throat busted sunsets,
these cold and damp white mornings
I have grown weary.
If through my cracked and dusted dime-store lips
I spoke these words out loud would no one hear me?
Lay your blouse across the chair,
let fall the flowers from from your hair
and kiss me with that country mouth, so plain.
Outside, the rain is tapping on the leaves,
to me it sounds like they're applauding us the the quiet love we made.
Will I always feel this way?
So empty, so estranged.

Well I looked my demons in the eyes,
laid bare my chest, said "Do your best, destroy me.
You see, I've been to hell and back so many times,
I must admit you kind of bore me."
There's a lot of things that can kill a man,
there's a lot of ways to die,
listen, some already did that walked beside me.
There's a lot of things I don't understand,
why so many people lie.
Its the hurt I hide that fuels the fire inside me.
Will I always feel this way?
So empty, so estranged.

The Lover Seeks the Beloved

I came across this song a couple of days ago. Yet another secular example of the deep desire to find the Beloved and please the Beloved. We may continually fall short, but we desire an all consuming love and knowledge of the Beloved, a small spark of the THE perfect love we yearn for. Love it!




"I Wanna Know"

Yeah, oh yeah
Alright, oh, oh, oh

It's amazing how you knock me off my feet, hmm
Everytime you come around me I get weak, oh yeah
Nobody ever made me feel this way, oh
You kiss my lips and then you take my breath away
So I wanna know

[1] - I wanna know what turns you on
So I can be all that and more
I'd like to know what makes you cry
So I can be the one who always makes you smile

Girl he never understood what you were worth, hmm no
And he never took the time to make it work
(You deserve more loving, girl)
Baby I'm the kind of man who shows concern, yes I do, oh
Anyway that I can please you let me learn
So I wanna know

[Repeat 1]

[2] - Tell me what I gotta do to please you
Baby anything you say I'll do
Cause I only wanna make you happy
From the bottom of my heart, it's true

[Repeat 2]

I wish that I could take a journey through your mind, alright
And find emotions that you always try to hide babe, oh
I do believe that there's a love you wanna share, oh, oh
I'll take good care of you lady, have no fear, oh
So I wanna know

[Repeat 1]

[Repeat 2 (2x)]

[Repeat 1 till end]

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Seen on the Streets....

Seen on the billboards of Seattle:
Planned Parenthood adspace soliciting MONEY (because $1 billion in revenues at the cost of millions of human lives apparently isn't enough) featuring a picture of two young, smiling women- one a "doctor", the other a supposed "patient" together with HUGE WORDS:

OUR PATIENTS NEED YOUR HELP!

For once, I couldn't agree more.


Read more about the truth of racism and planned parenthood at www.toomanyaborted.com

Monday, October 18, 2010

Beautiful Girls...

What is beauty?

It's scientifically proven that beauty, symmetry, holds our attention longer than asymmetry. Babies stare at pictures of beautiful people longer than they look pictures of "unattractive" people. And perhaps when we think of beauty, the crown of beauty on earth is the beauty of a woman.

Jason Evert, in his book Theology of His/Her Body, explains this reality when he says that women are the earthly reflection of Divine Beauty. He says that one day we will meet God, Eternal Beauty, face to face but until that time, women are the visible creation of Divine Beauty, so it's no wonder that we find women so attractive.

Bishop Fulton Sheen would often encourage young women to practice what he called an "Apostolate of Beauty". He told young women that they have a very powerful gift of beauty that has been given to them by God and that they can use that gift to bring people to God.

And it is, just as with any other gift, women can use their beauty to heal and bring the hearts of men closer to God, or they can use that gift to destroy and divide, taking the hearts of men away from God and toward themselves, or worse, toward sin. And don't we all misuse our gifts at times.

So, what does it mean to be truly beautiful? That is the question in the heart of every women, "Am I beautiful? Am I desirable?" just as in the heart of every man lies the questions of "Am I strong enough? Do I have what it takes?"

Is beauty merely a physical attribute to be cherished and worshiped by the world? When a woman is past the age of "physical attractiveness", does that mean she ceases being beautiful? The world says "yes"-- hence the obsession with looking youthful but the Truth says "no"-- our beauty is far more than something mere physical.

So, what is the secret. It took me a long time to really delve into this because i too, for so many years- especially growing up- bought into the lie that a woman has to look like a "Barbie doll" to be considered attractive and beautiful, and so, boy, did I strive for that when I was young.

However, as I grow in my life, I find that there is something far deeper than that. Bishop Fulton Sheen gets at the matter when he says "The beauty on the outside never penetrates within but the beauty within radiates on the face."

For us, as women, to really understand, value and give the gift of our beauty, we have to go to the one who is All Beautiful. We have to go to our Mother Mary, the most beautiful woman ever created. Why was she so beautiful? I am sure she was probably physically attractive but that's just the tip of the iceberg.

The real reason why she is so beautiful is because she is full of grace. Dr. Michael Waldstein remarks that grace/glory is the Divine peak of beauty. I love that.

So when I look at Our Mother, I see how she radiates beauty. Her beauty is not something "in your face" or a "hey, look at me, I am so beautiful" but her beauty emanates from her and she always, always brings us back to Jesus. Always.

Her beauty heals us and always brings us back to Jesus, never to herself. I think there is answer. At least, that's the answer I found in my heart.

So we as women needn't compete and compare ourselves with other women. We needn't be slaves to passing fads or mutilate our bodies in order to be considered attractive.

It takes a lot of courage to live real beauty. It takes a lot of courage to let true beauty shine from the depths of our souls and radiate upon our faces, but this is the kind of beauty that is God given, this is the dignity of our beauty.

This kind of beauty heals the world and brings souls to Jesus.

Let the healing begin.