back to the Author of beauty

Happy Sunday All,

So my first plan was to write about the Maria 2.0 protest that is taking place in the German church right now (#facepalm). It’s extremely frustrating to watch these women tell the media that this is how they see the future of the church. I have a lot to say about this topic, but I’ll save that for another day.

Instead, I am choosing to write upon something entirely different and so needed right now. Something positive. It’s time to speak words of life, truth, beauty and goodness. It’s time to take the focus off the horrible news articles for a moment and fill our minds and hearts with something uplifting.

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Beautiful flowers from my thoughtful husband!

I’m not implying that we become ignorant citizens or hide from the realities of evil in the world, but I’m encouraging us to take a break from the bad news. That’s why I want to simply list my top 5 blessings over the past few weeks. The little or big moments that spoke to my heart about the beauty of God through his creation and creatures.

I would be SO happy if you also shared a few of yours in the comments below. We need to hear the good news, the blessings, the mini miracles, and the triumph stories of one another. We are playing on the winning team! We need to remind ourselves that the evil and darkness of the world does NOT have the last word. Jesus does!

  1. Hearing “my” First Communion kids singing along at mass- Although that sounds extremely ordinary, I have been so touched to hear the sweet little voices of these boys and girls singing along to the hymns on Sunday. The openness of their hearts to praise God is touching.
  2. Wasp Nest Crumbles- We were so devastated to find a diligent wasp building his nest on our balcony!  I decided to bless the balcony with some holy water, and I kid you not, the wasp nest fell down (a few days later). The wasp decided to move out I guess?! We found the remains of the nest on the floor. Halleluja!!!
  3.  Friendly Drivers- It is so refreshing to have a friendly drivers on the road! I have noticed lately, a lot of drivers who have made room for me on my bike, waited a bit longer, or even smiled at me! For Berlin.. thats big.
  4. Stunning Sunsets- As spring arrives we have the opportunity to enjoy the sunsets them from our balcony! It’s warm enough to sit outside and watch the glorious colours and shades dance around, changing from pink, to orange, to blue and purple. It’s easy to feel God’s greatness in these moments.
  5. Enjoying spaghetti bolognese & wine with my husband-  I feel the blessings of God so clearly in my marriage to my wonderful husband. It is such an exciting journey as we grow deeper in love with one another!

 

 

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Ice Cream Lover and Heretic?!

Happy Thursday Everyone! I decided some ice cream might sweeten my mood a little after a surprising commute home….

Very rarely do I feel so compelled  to write a post about a particular topic, that I start talking out loud to myself about what I will write, while riding my bike home (#crazyladytalkingtoherself). But that was me today.

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Ice Cream & Apologetics=Thursday afternoons

How did I get to such a state you might ask? It all started on the train. On my commute home, I decided to visit the WordPress website and browse the category “faith”. I love scrolling through the posts, reading the testimonies of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, reading inspirational bible verses, and just generally being uplifted by the journey of faith that so many people share in the blogging community.

As I scrolled through the posts, I stumbled across a blogger who- to make a story short- said that the Catholic faith is heretical…and a lot of other things that weren’t so nice. You know that feeling you get when somebody insults your mom, or your closest friend? That feeling that causes your temperature to rise, your thoughts to spin and the blood to boil… that was exactly how I was feeling when I read the post. I actually started to comment because I wanted to defend the faith in which I love. But in order to do that with more class, and more calmly, I decided to eat ice cream and write a more succinct response here. Yay!

Let me also say quickly that:

  1. This is NOT the first time I heard someone call Catholics heretics. But I guess this was the “last straw” and I just want to stand up for the faith, instead of saying ” I’ll pray for them”.
  2. This post is written with respect towards all Christian denominations, and not meant to point fingers. But it’s meant to call out a few misconceptions and harsh judgments that some people are holding against the Church unfailry
  3. I also understand I cannot resolve years and years of  harsh prejudice and sometimes hate towards the Catholic Church in one post, but I do hope to shed some light to a few areas

In response to the post I read, I will write about the topic of Scripture vs. Tradition

  • Catholics have a deep and profound love for scripture in the Mass- While we Catholics have a lot to learn from other Christian denominations about memorizing scripture, and taking bible studies to deepen our understanding of the bible, the mass is filled with scripture references and scripture itself. We hear every Sunday* the 1st reading from the Old Testament, a Psalm (sung) the 2nd reading from the New Testament and the Gospel. The Eucharistic prayers come from scripture as well. * It is also possible to go to mass every day of the week where one reading from the Old Testament is read along with the Gospel. So, those attending weekly mass are hearing a lot of scripture as well : )
  • Scripture Alone vs. Tradition- Let’s talk about the very important, but very overlooked question: Where did the bible itself come from?  Jesus didn’t hand it to us, pre-written. It came to be through the inspired writing of people (prophets, kings, psalmists, disciples etc) preserved through tradition. These stories that we have from the Old Testament and the life of Jesus in the New Testament were passed down through oral tradition. It took a very long time until the bible existed as we see it today. Christians who denounce any sort of Tradition, are reading a bible that came precisely from Tradition.
  • Catholics love Jesus– I am not quite sure why people think that Catholics don’t love Jesus? The whole reason we have the mass is to be united with Jesus- our Lord and our God. We believe in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Yes, we believe that his Mother Mary is an incredible aid for our sanctity. Not because we place her above Jesus, but because Jesus told us to take her as our Mother (John 19:26-27).

 

It’s not everyday you get called a heretic, but when you do, eat a bowl of ice cream and defend yourself (my new rule to live by)

I truly love being Catholic. I am not saying that the Church is perfect. In fact- she is very far from being perfect. But I believe that Christ himself instituted the Church and we can encounter him profoundly through the Sacraments He gave us.

I don’t know if that blogger will ever read my post, and to be honest, I can’t even find the post anymore (maybe a blessing), but I do pray that Christians and Catholic Christians can open their hearts to one another. There is already so much hate, name calling and judging in this world. Let’s not add to it. Let’s not call each other heretics, or bad Christians, or “less-Christians”. Let’s start loving. Let’s start seeking the truth!

 

Divine Mercy, Light & Blessings

Yesterday was Divine Mercy Sunday, so I would like to write about why this image and devotion is so wonderful and important!! At one time though, I found this representation of Jesus a little cheesy (especially the image of Divine Mercy with a blue background).  It wasn’t until I had a profound experience in Vilnius Lithuania in the convent of St. Faustina, that things changed… Here is a quick list of why this image is so important, and how I came to love it:

  1. Jesus revealed himself to St. Faustina (a polish nun) in 1931 and this image (see photo below) is the painted representation of his appearance. The image of Divine Mercy was not painted by St. Faustina herself, but she directed a painter to record each and every detail of what she had seen and experienced.image1.JPG
  2. This image is powerful. So many people, including myself, have had an encounter with Jesus through this image. In the convent house in Vilnius where St. Faustina received this image of Jesus and the Chaplet of Mercy (will explain soon), I had the blessing of saying my first chaplet. I wasn’t familiar with this devotion, but I felt a strong urge to pray the chaplet (using my little pamphlet with the prayers)  in front of the image (not original) . I cannot express the power and beauty of that moment, but I truly felt the gaze and presence of Jesus Christ in that room. It still brings tears to my eyes to write about the moment, which has touched me forever. I knew in that moment that Jesus is alive. I could not even look at the image, for the presence of Jesus was so strong. In an instant, I knew that this prayer can work miracles, and Jesus wants to encounter his people through this image.
  3. The Divine Mercy Chaplet is profound prayer that can be said on the beads of a rosary and is quite quick to pray. Given the fact that this prayer does not require a long time, I find it easy to stay focused on the words and their meaning. For more information about the chaplet please visit thedivinemercy.org
  4. In the image, Jesus has his hand outstretched to bless us. His left foot is one step ahead, showing us that he comes to meet us, wherever we are. The contrast of his bright and merciful heart against the pitch black background, indicates his victory over sin and death. The blue/white rays from his heart are the waters of Baptism that wash us clean from sin. The red rays are the blood that was poured out for us on the Cross, and the Body and Blood of Christ that we receive in the Eucharist. This image is packed with profound symbols of how Christ redeemed us on the Cross and how we can encounter the Risen, Merciful Christ- especially in the sacraments of the Church and through the Eucharist. 

Just writing about this image makes my heart happy! I hope that these little bits of information have helped you understand more about the image of Divine Mercy and the Chaplet. If you have other stories or facts to share, please do! There is waaaay more to be said about this devotion, but I wanted to keep things short ish. I hope and sincerely pray that you (through this devotion or another) come closer to Jesus and his merciful heart. It is burning for you. It is burning for all of mankind. He wants to come to us today, and remind us that his love for us is real. It can change our lives and heal our hearts.

 

Jesus I Trust In You

 

Gardener with a twist.

Happy Easter Everyone!

After a beautiful Easter Triduum, way too many Cadbury Mini Eggs, and a few days away (well mostly away) from the internet, I want to respond to the Gospel reading from yesterday. I find this reading extremely powerful, and it reveals so much about our identity as humans, and God’s plan of love. Let me just quickly quote a few verses from Scripture where Mary Magdalene is weeping at the tomb and encounters two angels who ask:

“They said, “Woman, why are you weeping?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she replied, and I don’t know where they have put him”. As she said this she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, though she did not recognise him. Jesus said, “Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?” Supposing him be the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and remove him”. Jesus said, “Mary!” She knew him then and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbuni!”- which means Master”- John 20:13-16

 

Talk about confusion at the tomb! Mary comes to grieve the loss of Jesus, only to find his body missing and two angels instead. To top it off, she encounters the gardener who also asks the same question as the angels, “Woman why are you weeping?”. If that was me, I would be getting pretty annoyed that everyone was avoiding the fact that Jesus’ body was missing!

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“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? “- 1 Corinthians 15:55

It isn’t until the gardener says, “Mary”, that she “knew him” (verse 16). Jesus reveals himself to her, by calling her name. In this simple and intimate moment, Mary is overwhelmed by the love and presence of her Master and Saviour. It was not only her name that he knew, but her whole heart. Though physically changed, the heart and power, love and mercy of God, reveal itself to Mary through the Risen Christ.

Jesus knows us, like he knew Mary. This isn’t just a heartwarming story about Mary encountering her Master. This is a story that is meant to mirror our encounter with the Risen Christ.

Very often, Jesus comes to us in unexpected ways. Perhaps we are looking for him in the wrong tomb. Who are the gardeners in our own lives? Where and through whom, does Jesus want to reveal himself to us? Why are we still weeping?

The time for mourning, the time for hopelessness, the time for condemnation is over. Jesus Christ truly conquered and defeated death and sin. This gives us every reason to celebrate. Even in the midst of suffering, pain and darkness. Mary Magdalene could rejoice that the Risen Christ, by calling her name, knew the depths of her heart. He had not abandoned or forsaken her, but rather redeemed her, and all of humankind from sin and death. Let us celebrate this great truth today, with joy!

 

 

 

Hope in the flames

Wow. I praise God that something beautiful could come out of something so tragic. God is real. He is moving. He is thee sign of hope in our dark times. The Cross is victory. The Holy Cross of Jesus saves! What a beautiful sign on this Holy Week.

Let’s pray for the conversion of hearts through this great sign and miracle.

JP 2- we love you!

O.K Seriously– how true, wise and beautifully written are these words of the late Saint John Paul II?IMG_0984.JPG I stumbled across this quote in a Confirmation preparation book this afternoon, and after reading it over, I realized just how important this quote is for everyone: every person who is searching for meaning in their lives, every person who is longing for something more, every person who is questioning and searching. Let us find peace and strength in the words of this holy Saint:

” It is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness; He is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; He is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is He who provoked you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is He who urges you to shed the masks of a false life; it is He who reads in your heart your most genuine choices; The choices that others try to stifle. It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be ground down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal” 

Saint John Paul II

 

 

 

Rap it up. Please.

“Let the Words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord my rock and my redeemer” – Psalm 19:14

That verse right there, is one of my all time favourites. What a simple, clear, beautiful and powerful call to a greater integrity of speech. In an earlier blog, I reflected upon the culture of dishonesty that has swept through society, destroying trust and accountability from the corporate world, to our own homes and families. Not only can our words contribute to a dishonest world, but they can contribute to a culture of criticism.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

WAIT WHAT?

Yesterday I saw something on youtube ( youtube… you bring me so much joy and so much pain) which motivated me to write this post. The show was called Drop the Mic  (I linked the episode I watched with Ashlee Simpson and Christina Milian). Here’s how the shows works: 2 famous people (or “used-to- be” famous people) stand on the stage and have a rap battle. They try to roast (silly synonym that means ridicule, insult, or humiliate) one another on the grounds of personal life, career, character flaws, physical appearance and so on. Then the crowd cheers to indicate their favourite performance, and one of the hosts ultimately disregards the cheers of the crowd and crowns their own favourite performance. Hahaha! I am serious. This is how the show works.

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Alright:

  1. Yes it was funny to hear these celebrities try and rap  (I briefly saw one with Dr. Phil because that’s something you don’t see everyday)
  2. It is interesting to see what celebrities will battle against one another

But honestly, I can’t come up with any other reasons why this show is worthy of watching. It was so hard for me to see these women completely insult one another about very personal things. I am sure a lot of people say, ” It’s just a joke”, but I challenge you on that one. Is it really a joke? There is no way that those two ladies walked off that stage, went home, and felt good about themselves. Especially the woman who lost (Ashlee Simpson). Of course, to help soothe their wounded hearts, they, as with all the contestants, have to talk themselves out of it by saying ” this is just a joke, it’s funny, it’s part of the show”. There is a fine line between laughing at ourselves and others with respect, or insulting and belittling them with disrespect. Tell me one person who thinks those celebrities enjoyed hearing horrible things said about themselves and their personal lives when no one was watching? I am deeply saddened to think that this is what America/North America thinks is funny. We are giving in to a culture of criticism, and calling it comedy.

 Let us not forget:

Words can make our break hearts. Words can inspire or belittle. Words can give life or bring death. Words can free or chain us. 

After watching a few clips of Drop the Mic, it was again so clear to my heart that we must use our words more wisely. It’s not just the show that is wrong, it’s the tendency in our heart to be over sarcastic, play on someones failure, laugh at the other, tear them down. We all do this, in one way or another. Drop the Mic is a larger reflection of what takes place in our own hearts. I pray that we can all receive the graces from Jesus to speak life, peace, joy and encouragement to those around us. May we truly let the words of our mouth and the meditation of our hearts be pleasing to God who is our rock and our redeemer (Psalm 19:14).