coffee chaos.

In the past week or so I keep coming back the fact that:

We live in a CHAOTIC world.

It started last week when I was having my prayer time in the morning. I had the door to the balcony open on my left, I had just put a load of laundry on in the kitchen and I was about to enjoy my cup of coffee! A few minutes passed, when I noticed the stunning melody of the birds outside. They were singing and chirping so beautifully. They seemed to be proclaiming some sort of joyful masterpiece. It sounded like mini praises being lifted to the Lord. Then, at what seemed to be the same moment, my ears narrowed in on the load of laundry that was washing to my right. The cycle was advancing, and the faster it went, the louder it got.

Instantly I felt divided between two “worlds”.  To my left out the window was peace, joy, prayer, God, and beauty. To my right in the kitchen was machines, work, noise, distractions and busyness.

It struck me again how often we feel torn between this world (the right side) and the eternal world (the left side).  We enter into this space of beauty, prayer, contemplation, or joy but the noise of the world is constantly trying to dominate with it’s messages;  be productive, make something of yourself,  be important, earn enough money, be perfect.

close up of coffee cup on table

Photo by Chevanon Photography on Pexels.com

This “right side” world can sometimes seep into our own thoughts and actions without even knowing it. And while there is nothing wrong with my washing machine in the kitchen, it was a great “God moment” where I was reminded of the importance of true silence, peace and prayer. This world is constantly throwing signs, lights, messages, ideologies, false gods, and obstacles in our way. I think that the Lord calls us out of the noise, into the silence and beauty of his presence. It’s there, when we put the phones away, turn the T.V off, and walk away from work for a little while, that we will find his joy. A joy that often comes in unexpected places; sometimes even in your own backyard.

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morning masterpiece.

Another day before us now,

the sun begins to shine.

Dew is fading, birds are singing,

How wonderfully divine.

With coffee and a peaceful heart,

I watch with pure delight;

This gift of God, His masterpiece,

a perfect morning sight. 

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heavenly roses.

Over the years, I have struggled A LOT with praying the rosary. I seem to find a way around praying it by saying things like, ” I’ll pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet- it’s shorter” or ” I prayed it a few days ago, so I can wait a little while” or “Why don’t I just pray 1 decade”… you get the idea!

It’s not like I had anything against the rosary and in fact I wished to pray it more regularly and genuinely. I usually avoided it because it would take around 15-20 minutes and I could always think of “other” prayers I preferred. When I actually did pray the rosary on my morning or afternoon commute, I was totally distracted and found myself only saying the words instead of praying the words. I just decided to kind of give up on the whole devotion because I didn’t want to be a hypocrite who prays but doesn’t mean it.

beautiful bloom blooming close up

Photo by Jovana Nesic on Pexels.com

This whole narrative has been pretty accurate until about two weeks ago. I found myself on what felt like a chaotic emotional rollercoaster with no end in sight. I was wondering what I could do to calm my spirit and find peace again. I ended up (#ThanksHolySpirit) thinking back to a moment years ago when (during a very blessed time I was praying the rosary quite regularly) I felt this profound peace during an absolutely mental day at the daycare I was working at. The kids were literally running around like monkeys with no parents, jumping on beds and making so much noise during NAP TIME. On any other day this would have pushed me to the limit, but that day, I was sitting rubbing the back of a child watching mayhem unfold with an incredible peace in my soul. I just knew that the profound deep peace I felt was coming straight from the graces of the rosary!

After recalling this beautiful moment, I decided I should “try the rosary” once again. I ended up writing a very wise priest, in some what of a desperate e-mail, asking how to learn to love the rosary. He recommended quite a few great tips but one that has been especially helpful is a book called “The Secret of the Rosary” by Louis De Montfort. It gives so many stories of miracles that have been performed through the intercession of Mary and Jesus through the rosary. It’s so inspiring to read.

I thought I would just quickly share a few tips that have been helping me lately to delve into the beauty of this devotion. Perhaps it can help someone else out there who is struggling to enter this wonderful and truly blessed prayer.

  •  Choosing a moment to pray the rosary without distractions: I have stopped praying on my morning/afternoon commutes. I pray the rosary in silence at home so that I can really focus and contemplate on the words
  • Using a “visual aid” (hahah I sound like such a teacher here): I have a little Roary book with pictures for each mystery. It’s helping a lot to direct my thoughts towards the mystery of the life of Jesus that I am meditating on
  • Reading a short excerpt from “The Secret of the Rosary” book: Before I begin the rosary, I read one short “chapter” from De Montfort’s book to be reminded of the importance of this devotion, and how so many men and women for hundreds of years have been changed through the rosary!

I have to say, in the past days that I have been praying the rosary again, I (and my husband) have felt a greater peace in the home. I am definitely just beginning this “new” journey with Mary through the Holy Rosary, but I am confident that the rosary is truly a path to her Son. The rosary is not to glorify Mary, but to honour her as she rightly deserves, and as her Son asked us to do (on the Cross) and let her pray for us and gently bring us to Jesus, her Son.

 

God bless you all in your journey of faith!

Mary Mother of God: Pray for Us!

 

 

” Good and devout souls, who walk in the light of the Holy Spirit: I do not think that you will mind my giving you this little mystical rose tree which comes straight from heaven and which is to be planted in the garden of your soul” (P. 13, The Secret of the Rosary)

don’t stick to the status quo

A few months ago I wrote a poem called “Chained to our Choice”,  in response to the New York State legislature legalizing late term abortions and lighting up the World Trade Centre in pink to celebrate. Aside from a few short stanzas, I haven’t been able to blog about this topic very much given the fact that my heart (along with so many of yours) is breaking. The Germans have a word that captures this emotion and it’s called Weltschmerz. It literally means world pain. To have Weltschmerz is to hurt and ache with something that is taking place in the world. Something like abortion.

It’s interesting how God works, because the topic of abortion has been placed on my heart for years now. It all started in high school at a New Years Eve party. A young woman opened up to me about an abortion she had a year earlier. We weren’t even in the same friend circle, but I suppose one too many drinks and a heart full of sorrow caused her to share her story so unexpectedly. I will never forget this moment. Fast forward to when I taught chastity education and spoke about the beauty of life from the moment of conception until natural death. And here I am now:

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This photo speaks to me of the power of standing out. Abandoning our camouflaged hiding spots to become a bold and vibrant sign to the world of life, dignity & love !

Even now in Germany, God continues to lead me to places where I can speak about the beauty of life and the dignity of every human person. I have had two very intense encounters in my German classes where I was the only one who spoke for the life of the unborn. The reality of how mislead our society has become, how far from truth we are, how twisted the enemy has played with “Women’s Rights”… is shocking. I left both of those conversations and cried in the hallway. I cried for those in my class who believe the baby is only a lump of cells, I cried for those who call abortion  freedom, but most of all I cried that I was alone in fighting for life.

The world needs Christians who stand up for life and speak about it! After the second conversation, one man came up to me and thanked me for my opinion. He seemed genuinely appreciative that I had brought up a new perspective.

It is not easy to stand apart and disagree with something that has become the “status quo”. But this is the call of Christ when he said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 5:10).  Let us pray for one another. That we might find the strength in Christ to be a light in the darkness. That we might receive the gift of courage to speak the truth, in love, without fear. It’s not an easy road, but by the grace of God all things are possible : )

 

a holy glow.

Good Morning & Happy Saturday!

So as I mentioned in my previous post, I am enjoying the Wild Goose series SO MUCH.  I watched episode #5 with my husband and he too was touched. Not to mention my mom, who recommended the series in the first place. She couldn’t say enough positive things,  which is why I ended up checking it out. You can actually watch the entire series for free on youtube ( I had said only episodes 1-3, but that was wrong).

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Fortitude is a gift of the Holy Spirit and thats what this orchid has. Though close to death, it is miraculously blooming once again! I love this crazy plant.

…aaaand let’s change topics here:

For those of you following the daily mass readings, have you also noticed how incredibly rich the first readings are right now!? I feel like everyday I am saying “this is my favourite bible verse” or “I have to write a blog about this verse” or “I have to write that down in my journal”. St. Paul is on fire!

I am a mega St.Paul fan because he writes so eloquently, clearly and boldly. The style of his writing makes it easier for me to hear the voice of God. I guess God inspired different prophets, kings, apostles and psalmists to write His word for this exact reason; to appeal to the uniqueness of his people. He knows that his children learn  and understand differently. The great diversity of the scripture writers helps the Word of God come alive to the nations. Talk about a creative God! He is so thoughtful.

Here’s a few verses from the 1st Reading from mass on Thursday:

“Even today, whenever Moses is read, the veil is over the minds of the Israelites. It will not be removed until they turn to the Lord. Now this Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, with our unveiled faces reflecting like mirrors the brightness of the Lord, all grow brighter and brighter as we are turned into the image that we reflect; this is the work of the Lord who is Spirit”- 2 Corinthians 3:15-18

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These verses always remind me of a person in adoration; kneeling before the King of Kings and being transformed by His light and Presence. It’s like an “Adoration Tan”, where we receive a holy “glow”. We become mirrors of Christ when spend time in adoration and prayer. Not only are our hearts enlightened by the presence of the Lord, but we are freed by the power of the Spirit. Free to understand clearly the plans of God, free to understand His voice among the voices, free to live a moral life through God’s grace, free to live true love and mercy.

Let’s be the mirror of Christ today! Let’s radiate the love, mercy, kindness, faithfulness, generosity, strength, integrity and joy of our great God.

God bless you!

 

 

Eternal love & a wild goose.

Last night I watched the first two episodes of the ” The Wild Goose” series (the link will lead you to episode 1 and you can view episode 2 & 3 for free as well!) and wow! It is so powerful to hear men and women speaking about their encounters with the Holy Spirit and how He has changed their lives. The personal love that our Triune God has for us is so real.  A few things that touched my heart while watching:

  • The Holy Spirit wants to give us peace. Fr. Dave Pivonka said ” Peace is not the absence of something, but the presence of someone”  #truth
  • God doesn’t want us to remain in the “upper room” of our hearts; afraid or dejected. He wants to send us, as he did for the Apostles, His Holy Spirit. He wants to set us ablaze with love and courage to speak the truth about God.
  • Living with the Holy Spirit is not only reserved for Pentecost Sunday. We can invite the Holy Spirit into our hearts daily, minute by minute.
  • When we feel like: “something is missing” “I don’t feel I am living my full purpose” “There has to be more to this life” “My faith life is dry” it usually means we need to invite the Holy Spirit (for the first time, or once again) into our hearts.
  • The presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives can change us profoundly. He can bring the gifts of joy and peace that we are longing for.

    black goose flying

    Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

Father also spoke about the story of the Valley of Dry Bones (Ezekiel 37:1-6) and how the Spirit breathes life into us, like he did the bones. We all go through this valley; the times when our positive emotions fade, the consolations from God seem far away, the struggles of our daily lives and sinfulness seem to weigh us down. But God says, ” … Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord” ( Ezekiel 37:5-6). Our spiritual life is NOT meant to be dead, hopeless, dry and bare. It’s meant to be fruitful, vivid, joyful and promising. What a wonderful hope this is!

PS. I still don’t know why it’s called ” The Wild Goose”- I’ll have to keep watching and find out : )

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!

 

 

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!