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A year ago yesterday I fell on my knees in this spot, before Our Lord in the Eucharist, for the first of many times.  As a missionary sang “This Is My Desire” – the song that the Holy Spirit had played over and over in my head that entire day – I wept in front of the altar at Our Lady of Perpetual Help and surrendered all of me to His use for the Kingdom.  I had no clue what that would mean for the next year.  What an amazing year it has been.  Fiat!

Living sanctuary…..

It’s been a crazy, blessed, busy summer!

In June, on Pentecost, our two oldest children (Peyton, 14, and Jazlyn, 11) made their profession of faith, were received into the Church, and received their First Holy Communion!

In July, Peyton and I had the privilege of participating in Prayer and Action – a week-long mission within our diocese with teens from other parishes.  I went without expectation and ended up profoundly moved!  It seems selfish to have gone to serve others and somehow received so much.  I would live P&A year-round if I could!  We got a lot done in the little town of Belleville during our week there, and I know the other weeks did too!

Last week I went on a 4 day hermitage at the base of the Rocky Mountains (just enough to be out of the city, not enough to get nauseous while driving up the mountain).

 
I’ve been trying to not keep God in my little box (aka not have expectations) but wowsers did I not expect the hermitage to go as it did 🙂  I will spare you details, though, and instead share some reflections that I journaled while I was there.

DSC_3916     During the night last night, I was given Psalm 96 to read.  When I read it this morning, verse 6 struck me:

Honor and majesty are before Him; strength and beauty are in His sanctuary.

You’re familiar with the song “Sanctuary” right?  “Lord prepare me to be a sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true.  With thanksgiving I’ll be a living sanctuary for you.”  Beautiful song!  While we were at Prayer and Action we sang that, a capella, during communion every morning at Mass.  While I’ve known the song for many years, that was the first time I’d sung or heard it since my conversion, and my heart melted.

As Catholics He truly does call us to be a living sanctuary for Him – after all, we receive Him – body, blood, soul, and divinity – in the Eucharist.  Outside of death, we cannot get any closer to our Lord and Savior than when He enters us in communion.  At that time, we come into union with Him and we truly are His sanctuary, acquiring the strength and beauty written in Psalm 96:6.

Lord thank you for calling me to holiness, for purifying my heart, for making me transparent, and firm in my love for you, that I may be, with thanksgiving, a living sanctuary for YOU!

I come not to bring peace, but a sword…….

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I have been blessed with some of the most Godly, holy, on-the-road-to-sainthood, all-in-for-Our-Father’s-Kingdom mentors.  Not only were they instrumental in my conversion, but they’ve become family – they’ve bore some of my hurt, pulled me back up when I’ve fallen, given me ever-so-gentle shoves to get outside of my box, and always given me Godly advice – I am so thankful that God has placed these people in my life

Early in my “official” conversion (aka I was already Catholic in my heart, but it was time to make it visible, official, which meant discussing it with those I love), I received some of the most harsh persecution from someone I loved and respected very much.  It hurt horribly and damaged the relationship, maybe permanently.  As I spoke with one of my mentors about this, he gave me scripture that I didn’t recall ever seeing before:

 
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.  For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;  and a man’s foes will be those of his own household.  He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” Matthew 10:34-37 RSV

 

We are not to put any relationship before God.  If we lean on others more than we lean on Him, He will cut that relationship.  Sometimes it’s done easily – someone moves and our lives move different directions.  Sometimes it’s hard like the situation I mentioned earlier.

I tend to get lonely as a stay-at-home mom.  In that loneliness I find myself reaching out to others – sometimes just to say hi, sometimes for fellowship, sometimes for support in life issues, sometimes simply to have adult conversation sans teenage logic!  But God continues to remind me to seek Him instead.  Seek Him when I feel alone and abandoned.  Seek Him when I want to scream and pull my hair out.  Seek Him when I hurt.  Seek Him when I see Him transforming the heart of my husband.  Seek Him when I see my children growing in their love for Him.  Seek Him when I see His little smiles throughout the day.  Quit running to tell others about what’s going on – share it with Him.

Reflection on a reflection on a reflection………….

My girl Cristina @ Filling My Prayer Closet posted a TBT blog-style, reflecting on a reflection………..and asked her readers to reflect too!  That’s a lot of reflection!  I decided (especially since I’ve been a horrible blogger and not blogged about all of the awesomeness going on) that I would share my reflections with you, and in turn as you to share back (reflect lol) in the comments, too!

Are you comfortable talking with others about your relationship with God?
+ This is an interesting question for me to reflect upon at this point, since my relationship has drastically changed with Him over the last year. I don’t think I’ve ever been uncomfortable sharing, but I do think that coming home (and all of the journey that has lead up to that) has made me more bold in sharing. That while I need to be sensitive to where someone is at, and how much I should give them (thank you Holy Spirit!) that I can and will endure any persecution that may come back at me.

 

Would you say that you’re a “normal” Catholic using the criteria outlined below? Or are you a “typical” Catholic, fighting that feeling that interest in the faith is only for a few pious eccentrics?

-It is NORMAL for lay Catholics to be excited Christian activists.
-It is NORMAL for lay Catholics to be knowledgeable of their faith, the Scriptures, the doctrinal and moral teachings of the Church, and the history of the Church.
-It is NORMAL for lay Catholics to have fellowship of other committed lay Catholics available to them, to encourage, nurture, and discern as they attempt to follow Jesus.
-It is NORMAL for the local parish to function consciously as a house for formation for lay Catholics.

+ Normal! Although while I agree that those things should BE normal, I definitely recognize they aren’t normal. What can we do to change that? I had to chuckle at your mention of “if you’re at a weekday Mass it’s because you WANT to be there” – YES!!! Even if it’s just you and the priest! 😉

 

Do you personally have, within your parish, a group of Catholics you meet with regularly, to discuss the faith, study the faith, and encourage each other to greater virtue?
+ I don’t know if I can say that this is within our parish, although it’s sprung from the parish and is ultimately a result of a parish mission last fall 🙂 But I’m so grateful to have a group of Catholics that I meet with (almost) weekly. We fellowship over a meal, enjoy praise and worship time, share what God has spoken to us through the week through scripture/lectio divina/prayer (amazing how others can help give insight as to what He’s saying if we’re open enough to share!), and minister to each other through the laying on of hands and prayer, and using our gifts given from the Holy Spirit! Can’t imagine my life without having a group like this 🙂

 

At this time, does your parish have in place a working system for actively mentoring those who want to grow in their relationship with God?
+ nope. Very unfortunate. ^^^ we’re working on that! ^^^ I think the work mentoring is key here too – it’s not just about having a lesson, but a relationship! Building each other up! Guiding each other!
Whaddya think?  How would you answer these questions?  How is God calling you to step out, be bold, and foster a need in your parish?   

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Acts 2:42

Brylie is baptized!

One of the things I get to experience having come into the Church with my kids at an older age is their decisions and participation in the Sacraments.

Baptism has always been very important to me – even from the time I was baptized at age 8, I felt that baptism was an essential part in a person’s walk with the Lord and accepting His gift of salvation.  I don’t recall if this was taught to me or if it’s a belief that I formed on my own, but it’s in line with the Church’s teaching on the importance of baptism 🙂

Brylie (7) has been asking for almost a year to be baptized.  When I decided to come into the Church I knew why I had hesitated before – now she could be baptized and in doing so become part of the Catholic Church! During the last of my formation/education I had asked Father Norbert, and we set the date.  Brylie was THRILLED!!!  Father knew some of her knowledge of Christianity because we had met with him as a family, and just wanted to meet with her once to make sure this was her decision (at about this age the Church considers them to be the age of reason – they know right from wrong and can choose for themselves).

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Yesterday was the big day – we had talked and talked about what it meant, the awesome gift that Jesus had given us on His Cross, and she was READY to be cleansed, become a child of God, a daughter of the King, a new creation in Christ, and receive the Holy Spirit!  Her baptism was to take place after Mass, and as Father was making a couple of brief announcements she knew Mass was all but over and could not sit still, lol!

 

She listened to everything Father said with such intensity.  It was absolutely precious!!!  10308267_572079106239420_8195425157472823316_n

She answered all of his questions perfectly (she was worried that she’d mess up) and was full of joy (Holy Spirit!!!) as she was baptized

In the name of the Father.

And of the Son.

And of the Holy Spirit!

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After her godfather lit her baptismal candle from the Paschal candle, she received a blessing (as did the rest of her family and her godparents).

10152389_572079199572744_8186176104247482169_nIt was such a joyful day for all of us!  She was still floating this morning – Mom!  Yesterday was a REALLY BIG DAY FOR ME!!!

It’s so renewing to see child so seeking God, no holding back, that reminds us to come to Him as children – without hesitation and full of joy, anticipation, hope, excitement, and love!

 

What about………? {a series}

 

Many who aren’t in the Catholic church (and many who are, even) see the Church as nothing but a rule-imposing, overbearing, government of sorts.  But I’d like to take a moment to put a different perspective on this.

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As Catholics, we don’t worship the Church.  When Christ created the Church, He set it up to be a “household” of faith (2 Timothy 3:15 …..God’s household, which is the church of the living God…..).  You have parents that you love and honor, but do you worship them?  I hope not! 😉  The Church, in a sense (more on this analogy later) acts as a parent.  Just as parents we are to guide, educate, and direct our children to God, so does the Church for it’s parishioners. 

 

 As parents we have to set rules, boundaries, and routines in the home, and so does the Church in the Catechism.  If we let our children roam free, no guidance, no boundaries, no rules then they end up a mess – they don’t know right from wrong, they are sometimes fatally insecure, and they often feel no true love.  Not to mention the chaos that would ensue as a household!  The Catechism takes scripture and applies it to our modern-day lives, answering the question of “How do I apply the instruction that God has given us in the Bible to my life 2000+ years later?”.  The Catechism is here to give us boundaries, security, and to guide us.

 

The Sacraments (Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Marriage, Anointing of the sick, Reconciliation, Holy orders) are put in place to further our relationship with God, to aid our weak, human, simple, and sinful minds to relate to and experience Him fully, to help fill us with the richness of His love for us!

 

I know that these were some of the misconceptions I had prior to hearing the call to convert  that I have grown to greatly appreciate!  What are some subjects of the Catholic Church that you don’t understand?  I’d love to share my knowledge and address some misunderstandings!

 

There are not more than 100 people in the world who truly hate the Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they perceive to be the Catholic Church.”  – Archbishop Fulton Sheen

 

 

I choose you – you are Mine!

The class of 2014 in our parish celebrated the Rite of Sending and the Rite of Election  just over a week ago.  I should have carried tissues.  The hymn at both events was “You Are Mine”.  Here are a few lines from it:
I will come to you in the silence
I will lift you from all your fear
You will hear My voice
I claim you as My choice
Be still, and know I am near

Do not be afraid, I am with you
I have called you each by name
Come and follow Me
I will bring you home
I love you and you are mine

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“Do you think you are here because of any choice you made?  Because you chose the Church?  NO!  You are here because Christ chose YOU!”

That’s what our Bishop said in his homily at the Rite of Election.  He could’ve not said another word and I would have been left in awe.

Christ chose me.

It still leaves me speechless, and humbled, and with more thanksgiving than I could ever express!

I recently went through some inner healing, to allow Christ to heal and rebuke lies that I’ve believed about myself since I was a wee one.  It has blocked me from receiving His love all this time and I had no idea.

God doesn’t want us to go through life not knowing how much He loves us!

Our Father sent His ONLY Son, who was without ANY sin, never did wrong, to suffer for us – to receive ridicule, condemnation, persecution, lash after lash from whips, chains, blades, thorns pressed into His head, nails penetrating each of His hands, and His feet, and a spear piercing His side – unimaginable pain.  For us.  FOR ME.  Even then, He chose to suffer for me.  While He bore the weight of my sin on His back, His blood poured out FOR ME.  For the first time in my life I can accept that love – yes, with humility, but it was for me.

During these 3 Sundays in which we, as elect, celebrate the scrutinies, I invite each of you to embrace what they mean.  This isn’t a time for you to scrutinize and judge yourself or others, but a time to open up and let God scrutinize you.  Let Him seek those dark corners of your heart.  Let Him shine His glorious light on them and heal them so that you can receive His love, so that you can melt as it pours into and over your heart.

He chose YOU!  He loves YOU!  You are HIS!

    I have called you by name, you are mine. Isaiah 43:1