Tagged: Christ

Slow and steady

I am a runner.

I have worked really hard to be able to call myself that.

I am not the fastest runner or the longest-running runner, but I am a runner. I lace up my shoes and map my routes like the best of ’em.race bib 6
In return, I get a ridiculously-low resting heart rate and big calves (hills). My resting heart rate is so low that whenever I give blood, the tech asks me if anything is wrong with me. It’s quite funny to see their reaction when I say that I run… I don’t look like a runner (besides the calves). I look like I eat too many cookies and too much ice cream.
But I am also learning to be patient (Lent, anyone?) while I run. I know that I can’t make my watch (or GPS) go any faster. I can only go as fast as I can talk my legs (and brain) into running. The corner won’t come any closer to me. I have to RUN to it. And that hill won’t get any smaller by complaining or by walking up it.
Running is the only answer.

Slow and steady. Easy pace. Keep going. Don’t quit.

These are the mantras that run through my head as I run. I also turn around (just my head) sometimes and look at how far I’ve come. Wow. I impress myself.
2013-07-04_07-47-01_629
So, I know slow, I know how to move slow on a running route.
But when it comes to the men in my life… I don’t know how to go slow.
So another mantra I use, in the rest of my life, is:
“Wait for the Lord with courage; be stouthearted and wait for the Lord.”
Psalm 27:14

Last Thursday, the man in my life gave me a book.

It blew my mind. We had only gone on three dates – coffee to meet, dinner, dinner again – and he gave me a book.
A book, first of all, goes straight to my heart. I mean, you can’t buy a book without being thoughtful about the person you’re giving it to. You have to think about what they like, about who they are, about how they think.
When I saw it was a book, without knowing what book it was, he won my heart. Already!
Then I realized it was a book about Croatia! What?!
A travel book about Croatia…
let me give you some back story. His parents were both born in Croatia. He’s a first generation American, and he still goes to a Croatian Mass and is a member of a folk lore group.
When we met and he told me this, I was fascinated. He’s actually passionate about something.
So I asked him all sorts of questions about it when we met for the first time.
I gave him a hug when he gave me the book. One of those hugs where you don’t want to let go and just lay your head on his shoulder, right? One of those.
He told me later that he bought the book before we had gone out the second time.
He bought it after we had that awkward coffee date? Mind blown again. Wow.
I devoured most of the history and culture sections of the book the night he gave it to me. I am just amazed by the beauty of this country.
I am also amazed at my ability to put him and I there in a few years. Together. Married. Thinking about our kids back home, or having them with us.

WAIT. WHAT?

Married. Kids. A home. Vacation together.
Slow down, lady. What are you trying to do?
Just what I know how to do, go fast and ruin things.
In my last relationship, as I’ve shared before, I didn’t go slow. We slept together right away. We didn’t date. We didn’t get to know each other.
With Robert, I want to date. I like dating, I’ve found out after the last few weeks. I like talking to him on the phone. I like getting his “good morning” text message every day… or beating him to it.
I like thinking of date ideas and organizing our schedules. I like learning about his friends and talking about running plans. I like this. I like where we are right now.
For our most recent date, we were going into the restaurant and he reached in front of me to open the door and put his other hand on my back.
I don’t think I’ve ever felt like I did for those few seconds. I imagine that he’ll be the kind of guy that waits for me at the end of the pew so I can go through the Communion line in front of him.
THAT’S WHAT I THOUGHT OF. COMMUNION. Of going to Mass with him.
Not of how his hands would feel on my bare skin, but of Communion. I can’t really chastise myself for thinking about that, can I? He and I have talked about going to Mass together soon, probably after Easter.
I think that most of the time my head and heart are in the right place with this relationship, I know that he wants to take it slow to and see what happens.
But there are just some things, some moments that shoot me way ahead of where we are.

He asked me, yesterday morning, if I had read any more of the Croatia book.

I told him no, because I couldn’t afford to go and I didn’t want to get excited about a place I couldn’t go to for a while… AND I told him I felt like I was getting ahead of myself with “us.”
I think he knows what I mean.
We talked about a road trip I’m planning for myself in July. I told him I was thinking about inviting him but that it might not be a good idea.
It’s NOT a good idea for a lot of reasons:
1.  the car ride is six hours.
2. we’d be sharing a hotel room.
3. I don’t want to give up my goals for his goals.
I know that in my last relationship, I was so READY and willing to give up my goals to help with his goals.
I forgot about what I wanted to make sure he got what he wanted.
And while in a marriage, goals become “ours,” right now, I’m only a week into dating the man, and these need to stay my goals.
I’m going on a road trip in July, by myself, to see the Apostle Islands and to run a 10K. It’ll be great.
By myself.

So how am I going slowly?

I have to constantly remind myself that we are DATING. We are not engaged.
I remind myself to be STOUTHEARTED and to WAIT FOR THE LORD.
I still don’t know this man THAT WELL.
And I can enjoy this time. I get to learn more about him, I get to learn about his family and his past. I get to hold his hand and be happy when he texts me good morning.
It’s all new and happy and I want to enjoy it NOW instead of enjoying the FUTURE now.
I am also planning on weekends, sometimes, maybe once a month, that we don’t get together.
Planning retreats, more of my bucket list goals, going out with my friends.
Gardening.
Any advice on taking time to fall in love is much appreciated.
God bless.

Learn something: Mary, Queen of Heaven

Learn something

Queen of Heaven

Why is Mary the Queen of Heaven?

 

Mary. Our Queen and Queen of Heaven.

 

Our Blessed Virgin has a lot of titles. Our Lady of Good Help, Throne of Wisdom, Mother of Mercy, Our Lady of Peace, Our Lady of Mount Carmel… the list is nearly never ending.

 

Maybe those titles will be other posts. I do love the Blessed Virgin Mary. She really is the model for following Christ. She was there every step of the way.

 

But… QUEEN of HEAVEN. What does that mean? Where does that title come from?

 

First: Queen.

Why is Mary our queen?

 

She was crowned after she was assumed into Heaven.

They don’t crown just anybody. They crown those worthy of being called King and Queen.

 

Diego Velazquez (link to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Diego_Vel%C3%A1zquez_012.jpg) painting of the crowning of the Blessed Virgin.

 

There are so many paintings of this. Beautiful.

We can look at all these, and just imagine that Heaven is SO MUCH BETTER than all of that. So much better.

And we can’t even imagine it. We can only know that we’ll be WITH CHRIST. There’s nothing better than that.

 

And we get to be with Mary.

 

Sometimes, when I really start thinking about my Catholic faith and our church, it just blows my mind. Our traditions and beliefs are so beautiful and wonderful I don’t know why anyone would want to practice any other religion.

Clearly, it happens, but why????? I can’t begin to answer it.

I’ve never thought about leaving the Church. I’ve had moments of not being as faithful as I am now (am I’m still not super concrete in my faith), but I’ve never thought about leaving.

 

ANYWAY. Back to Mary, our Queen.

 

Think about when Jesus was a child. Mary was there, leading him, teaching him, correcting him.

All that time, she knew, he knew, Joseph knew, that Jesus was going to go through trials but eventually overcome them and become king.

Mary played a vital role in Jesus’ life. And that’s why she should play a vital role in our lives.

It doesn’t mean we need to develop a devotion to the Blessed Rosary, though that’s a good thing that I sometimes think I should return to.

It doesn’t mean that we need to forget about our other devotions, but Mary is a huge advocate for us.

 

Imagine if your mom asks you to do something. She’s usually right, huh? Yes. Of course, she’s right. She’s your mom.

And you just have to do what she says, right? And it works out, right?

Moms are amazing.

 

Mary is even more amazing. She talks to Jesus. About us! About what we ask her.

 

She’s the Queen because she has power. She’s not a god. No. We don’t worship her, no. I’m not even going to really get into that. There are answers to that complaint elsewhere on the Internet that would do it better than I can do.

 

Mary intercedes for us with Jesus, she doesn’t do it for us.

But she’s strong and can talk to Jesus for us.

 

Joseph does the same thing.

But there can only be one King, and that is Jesus.

Not that Joseph isn’t an amazing intercessor as well, but let’s not get off-topic which I am so prone to do.

 

 

So by bearing Christ, she became our mother, by being crowned in Heaven, she became Queen.

 

Queen of HEAVEN, though.

That’s tricky.

 

So, the Queen of England only has power in England and the Commonwealth (I think that’s what all the countries are called when grouped together).

The Queen of Heaven, though, she has power everywhere.

 

There are some references to Mary, Queen of Heaven AND EARTH, but I haven’t read anything definitive on that.

But those in Heaven all have influence on what happens on Earth. They all can intercede for us if we ask.

 

Mary’s power extends to EVERYTHING. Heaven. Earth. Universe.

 

That’s not to hard to understand, I don’t think.

 

Mary, then, is Queen, and she should be treated like a Queen.

When we ask Mary to intercede for us, we should do so like we talk to our own Mom when we want something.

No, be respectful and honest with the Blessed Virgin. She has earned that dignity.

 

 

In 1946, Pope Pius XII sent the encyclical Deiparae Virginis Mariae to all the Bishops.

He referred to Mary as the “Queen of Heaven” in the letter.

“For a long time past, numerous petitions (those received from 1849 to 1940 have been gathered in two volumes which, accompanied with suitable comments, have been recently printed), from cardinals, patriarchs, archbishops, bishops, priests, religious OF BOTH SEXES, associations, universities and innumerable private persons have reached the Holy See, all begging that the bodily Assumption into heaven of the Blessed Virgin should be defined and proclaimed as a dogma of faith.”

He asks the Church to respond to his question:

“We earnestly beg you to inform us about the devotion of your clergy and people (taking into account their faith and peity) toward the Assumption of the most Blessed Virgin Mary. More especially we wish to know if you, Venerable Brethren, with your learning and prudence consider that the bodily Assumption of the Immaculate Blessed Virgin can be proposed and defined as a dogma of faith.”

 

It’s interesting how Catholic dogma is adopted sometimes.

And it’s cool that the Church keeps great records.

 

In Bendito seja, Pope Pius XII said, “He, the Son of God, relects on His heavenly Mother the glory, the majesty and the dominion of His kingship, for, having been associated to the King of Matyrs in the unspeakable work of human Redemption as Mother and cooperator, she remains forever associated to Him, with a practically unlimited power, in the distribution of the graces which flow from the Redemption. Jesus is King throughout all eternity by nature and by right of conquest: through Him, with Him and subordinate to Him, Mary is Queen by grace, by divine relationship, by right of conquest, and by singular choice [of the Father]. And her kingdom is as vast as that of her Son and God, since nothing is excluded from her dominion.”

 

In 1954, Pope Pius XII wrote Ad caeli Reginam, proclaiming the Queenship of Mary:

“From the earliest ages of the Catholic Church a Christian people, whether in time of triumph or more especially in time of crisis, has addressed prayers of petition and hymns of praise and veneration to the Queen of Heaven. And never has that hope wavered which they placed in the Mother of the Divine King, Jesus Christ; nor has that faith ever failed by which we are taught that Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, reigns with a mother’s solicitude over the entire world, just as she is crowned in heavenly blessedness with the glory of a Queen.”

 

Can’t put it any better than that.

 

God bless.

Learn something: Missing Mass

Learn something

 

I missed Mass on May 12.

I could have made it to the 6 p.m. Spanish Mass at a Parish near mine.

But… I would have been in my Army uniform and smelly. I had spent four hours riding in the back of a HMMWV and three additional hours driving from my unit to my home.

I would have had 20 minutes to shower/change/get ready and leave for Mass… and I would have been late to Mass. At least 10 minutes late.

Or I could have not changed or showered and been on time.

To a Spanish Mass… which I’ve gone to before.

And it’s almost like going to a Latin Mass for me. I don’t know what’s going on.

The Spanish Mass is the ordinary rite, but it’s… in Spanish.

I don’t speak Spanish.

So… I didn’t go.

I figured this would be a good time to see what the Catechism said about this.

2192 “Sunday… is to be observed as the foremost holy day of obligation in the universal Church.” “On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass.”

Bound to participate in Mass. Wow. That’s pretty clear.

Bound to do so. We need to, have to, must do so.

2178 This practice of the Christian assembly dates from the beginnings of the apostolic age. The Letter to the Hebrews reminds the faithful “not to neglect to meet together, as is the habit of some, but to encourage one another.”

Dates from the beginnings of the apostolic age.

It’s been going on for a while. This isn’t some “new rule” the Church just thought of.

We know the Church doesn’t work like that, anyway.

Our traditions have generally existed since the beginnings, we just don’t always have them written down. We don’t always have them in concrete.

That doesn’t mean they aren’t legitimate.

This is my favorite:
2179 “A parish is a definite community of the Christian faithful established on a stable basis within a particular church; the pastoral care of the parish is entrusted to a pastor as its own shepherd under the authority of the diocesan bishop.” It is the place where all the faithful can be gathered together for the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist. The parish initiates the Christian people into the ordinary expression of the liturgical life: it gathers them together in this celebration; it teaches Christ’s saving doctrine; it practices the charity of the Lord in good works and brotherly love:

Let me break in here. “The parish initiates the Christian people into the ordinary expression of the Eucharist.”

Ordinary, in this case, means what we should see as normal, usual. It’s the usual practice that we should receive the Eucharist, that we should receive Christ.

We shouldn’t receive Christ at home (unless necessary). We shouldn’t say an act of spiritual communion if we can make it to Mass.

The usual, normal, ordinary way, is the way we should do it. That’s in the Mass.

2179 continues:
You cannot pray at home as at church, where there is a great multitude, where exclamations are cried out to God as from one great heart, and where there is something more: the union of minds, the accord of souls, the bond of charity, the prayers of the priests.

You cannot pray at home as at church.

Hm. You cannot pray at home as at church. You can not pray at home as at church.

I just have to repeat it to make it stick.

… from one great heart…

There is power when we gather together that we don’t have when we’re alone.

This doesn’t mean that our personal prayer doesn’t matter.

But prayer together matters too. It’s important.

A religion necessitates this community aspect. We must gather.

Jesus asked us to gather together.

“He who is not with me is against me; and he who does not gather with me scatters.” (Matthew 12:30)

2180 The precept of the Church specifies the law of the Lord more precisely: “On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass.” “The precept of participating in the Mass is satisfied by assistance at a Mass which is celebrated anywhere in a Catholic rite either on the holy day or on the evening of the preceding day.”

2041 The precepts of the Church are set in the context of a moral life bound to and nourished by liturgical life. The obligatory character of these positive laws decreed by the pastoral authorities is meant to guarantee to the faithful the very necessary minimum in the spirit of prayer and moral effort, in the growth in love of God and neighbor:

The obligatory character of these positive laws decreed by the pastoral authorities is meant to guarantee to the faithful the very necessary minimum in the spirit of prayer and moral effort.

The minimum. These laws are the minimum we need for sanctity. That’s what we want, after all.

2042 The first precept (“You shall attend Mass on Sundays and on holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor”) requires the faithful to sanctify the day commemorating the Resurrection of the Lord as well as the principal liturgical feasts honoring the mysteries of the Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the saints; in the first place, by participating in the Eucharistic celebration, in which the Christian community is gathered, and by resting from those works and activities which could impede such a sanctification of these days…

This paragraph continues with the second and third precept. Those aren’t topical right now. I’ll get to them someday.

1382 The Mass is at the same time, and inseparably, the sacrificial memorial in which the sacrifice of the cross is perpetuated and the sacred banquet of communion with the Lord’s body and blood. But the celebration of the Eucharistic sacrifice is wholly directed toward the intimate union of the faithful with Christ through communion. To receive communion is to receive Christ himself who has offered himself for us.

Makes sense to me.

Of course, there are reasons one can miss Mass. But it should be a rare occasion.

A dire need.

I plan to add this to my next confession.

God bless.

See my previous Learn something post:

Confirmation

Learn something: Confirmation

Learn something

I think I should get some LEARNING back into the whole idea of Learning Mass, so here goes.

My intention is to make this a twice a month event for the foreseeable future, with an increase in frequency after I am officially out of the U.S. Army.

 

I’ve already sat through a Confirmation Mass this Easter season.

It was beautiful and all that, and everyone one is supposed to say about a Mass that brings “the youth” into the Church officially.

I don’t mean to sound sarcastic or anything. I’m glad when I get to see it, but for someone who didn’t know anyone getting confirmed, it’s hard to really realize the impact and importance of such an event.

 

I didn’t mean to look it up in the Catechism or anything. I just kind of stumbled on it when I was trying to catch up on my Year of Faith goal to read the whole thing this year. (Eek, I’m a little behind, I confess, but I know I’ll get there.)

 

This is what I found in the Catechism:

 

1294: Anointing with oil has all these meanings in the sacramental life. The pre-baptismal anointing with the oil of catechumens signifies cleansing and strengthening; the anointing of the sick expresses healing and comfort. The post-baptismal anointing with sacred chrism in Confirmation and ordination is the sign of consecration. By confirmation, Christians, that is, those who are anointed, share more completely in the mission of Jesus Christ and the fullness of the Holy Spirit with which he is filled, so that their lives may give off “the aroma of Christ.”

 

The aroma of Christ… interesting.

 

I looked into that reference a little further.

 

2 Cor. 2:15-17: “For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things? For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.”

 

Wait… what?

Let me break it down. I don’t even really understand yet.

 

“We are a fragrance of Christ to God”

OK. Christ was a sacrifice, like in the Jewish tradition. He was atonement for our sins.

God sacrificed Christ, for us. He is the fragrance.

 

See Gen. 8:21: “The LORD smelled the soothing aroma; and the LORD said to Himself, “I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done.”

The fragrance of the sacrifice was pleasing to God.

 

“among those who are being saved”

We are a fragrance of Christ to those being saved… um….

We serve as an example to those being saved. We share in Christ’s saving grace with those saved. I think it really is as simple as that.

 

“among those who are perishing”

This is confusing to me… how can we be the same thing to two very different groups of people?

It makes more sense with the next clause.

 

“to the one (group) [those being saved] an aroma from death to death”

According to my Bible commentary, Roman priests often carried incense, so Paul is using a current era reference for the readers.

The Romans lit the incense when they were returning from war, which meant life for the Roman soldiers but death to the prisioners.

The same is here with the “fragrance of Christ.” We are life to those that believe and death to those that don’t… though in our case, those that don’t know my not realize that we “smell” that way.

 

So, we smell like Christ. We smell that way as a continuous reminder that we are saved, that we are an offering to God, that our lives are offerings to God.

 

With confirmation, we “share more completely in the mission of Jesus Christ.”

We share in his mission. Not that we didn’t before we were confirmed, but it’s more so after the confirmation. That’s what the anointing bestows on us: a responsibility to share in Christ’s mission, to spread the Gospel and to love as Jesus did.

 

It’s nothing that should be taken lightly.

 

When I watched that group of high school students process to the altar for anointing, I wasn’t thinking about the extra burden they will now carry… well, I shouldn’t call it a burden. It’s a vocation.

I wasn’t thinking about that.

I’m glad they are entering the faith fully as adults. I was thinking about how catechizes never really ends.

Not for priests, not for moms, not for anyone. We must continue to learn, to develop our faith and to share it.

 

It’s the sharing that makes it stronger, which is another reason I need to get this blog focused back on learning again. (And writing Mass responses, but that’s another battle.)

When I do a little research for a blog post, it helps me. I hope it helps another.

It helps build and strengthen and my faith (along with writing for a different audience than a newspaper article).

 

I hope I didn’t confuse you more.

 

God bless!

Tribulations

 “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”

(Acts 14:22)

I may not live in one of those countries that are outright hostile to Christians… praise the Lord, but I still have hardships.

We all do. We live in a culture full of death, abuse, immorality, sin, lust, vulgarism… It’s easy to look around and say…

“My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and come to an end without hope.” (Job 7:6)

Without hope.

That’s kind of how I felt this morning when I woke up around 6:15 and realized it was a “run day.”

I started the Couch to 5K program on Friday. I was already doing interval training on the treadmill, and I like it, but I was ready to transition to running outside again. (Here in Wisconsin it is just about to be spring.)

Whenever I switch from treadmill to outside running, I get caught up. It’s almost as though my body is completely new to running. I have been doing intervals on the treadmill pretty steadily three times a week for a while. Those intervals are jogging/sprinting.
 
Now I’m starting over, and it’s killing me! I ran on a treadmill last Wednesday. Nearly 1.5 miles in 16 minutes (intervals of 4.something and 7.something).
 
On Friday, I ran outside. 1.47 in 25 minutes. Wow. That’s because I was walking. But I was still beat.
On Sunday, I tried a little harder though. I new the route, and I wanted to beat Friday’s time. And I did. I mean, distance. The Couch to 5K program keeps the time the same and the program the same for the week. So I wanted to cover more distance in the same time. Oh boy did I.
 
Anyway, back to how I was feeling “without hope.” Hopeless.
I was up. I knew  I had to run (I have a calendar printed with the info). I knew I had a distance to beat.
But still… wasn’t it more important to clean out my ears? I really just did not want to run. I wanted to go back to bed.
I didn’t think I could do it, so instead of trying, I wanted to “quit while I was ahead.” No trying, no failure, right?
Wrong. Not trying is the failure.
 
Hope doesn’t just come out of nowhere, anyway. I can’t just wake up and… hope (for lack of a better word) that (more) hope floats out of the air and falls on me.
Hope comes from faith. In my run, it’s faith in myself. Without faith, without hope.
 
In Catholicism, without faith, without hope. Meaning, if we don’t believe, we won’t have hope for our lives. We can’t see the positive, the silver lining, the end point.
 
We are just without hope.
 
I ran. And afterwards, I felt so great. I beat the distance again, and I’m starting to get used to sidewalk under my feet instead of the treadmill.
 
I’ve also been running without any music. And it’s wonderful.
When I run in the afternoons, there is the sound of kids playing.
In the mornings, it’s the birds chirping and some dogs out for a morning stroll.
 
I got to see squirrels acting crazy… it’s probably that time of the year for them. Mating and such, right?
 
I digress.
My point is that hope begins with faith. Faith that Christ won’t lead us to anything we can’t handle. Faith that we’ll get through it.
 
That’s what hope is: the faith that we’ll get through it together with Christ.
 
I talk to myself (out loud) when I run. It used to be (still is) really embarrassing. But that’s just how I work. That’s how I sort things out and plan for a day, week, life.
Talking to myself is part of who I am. I’m trying to deal with that, as embarrassing as it is.
 
Sometimes, I pray that my guardian angel could talk back to me.
I know s/he’s there, running (flying?) next to me. Praying for me, probably, unceasingly.
Thank God for that, but sometimes, I just want to talk to him/her. You know, bounce a couple questions off him/her.
 
Instead, I just know that s/he’s there. And I know that Christ is there, and that everything will work out.
 
With hope, with faith, and with tribulations.
 
God bless.