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!!  :)