washed clean

Hi Again!

During these crazy times, access to the sacraments have been scarce. We’ve had to adapt to streamed masses, reserving spots for mass online ( if your quick enough!) and a whole lot of hand sanitizer….. Let’s just say, it hasn’t been easy.

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But there is something that has brought me (and perhaps you, too?!) A LOT of peace and comfort during the past months and that is:

Confession!

Confession has been the one sacrament that has been relatively easy to receive during the chaos of Covid-19. I don’t know about your experience, but we could make appointments with our parish priest anytime and every Saturday morning from 11:00-12:00 there was “drive through” confession!

I found so much solace in the sacrament of Reconciliation, because it was the closest I could get to Jesus when our masses weren’t taking place.

The Lord knows how painful these times have been and still are. He wants us to receive him again through the Holy Eucharist. He wants to be united, heart to heart. But if we are unable to go to mass, don’t forget to encounter Jesus in confession, as well ! It is a powerful encounter where Jesus himself, through the priest, can heal all our sins, anxieties, mistakes, fears and missed opportunities to love.

I can testify to the power of this healing and life giving encounter with Jesus through confession! Every time I went to confession during the “pandemic”, Jesus was speaking so clearly through the priest about my heart and the areas that needed deep conversion. That kind of realization is humbling, but I drove away every time feeling more loved, joyful, peaceful, motivated and light. It’s a feeling you cannot buy, and one that comes only from the healing touch of Jesus our Saviour.

God bless you all!

right now.

So last Sunday, we were watching the mass with Fr. Mike Schmitz and he said something in the homily that has stayed with me all week. He said ( I’m paraphrasing here) we can’t encounter God in the past or the future, only in the present.

Obvious? Maybe. Profound? Definitely. If we actually believe this, it has the power to change our attitude, our perspective and our life!

How many of us are guilty for playing on repeat the mistakes of the past, or the way things should have gone? Or how about the worries of the future? How much time is wasted thinking about what might happen, what could be, or the perfect scenario?

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What Father Mike is encouraging us to do, is to radically trust in the power of God working in the present moment! Isn’t that freeing?! Just think: actually letting go and surrendering all that happened in your past, and all that you worry and fear for in the future. Just living moment to moment with your Heavenly Father.

Lord Jesus,

You see each one of us right now. You know our hearts, and our thoughts. You see the burdens we carry from the past and the fears that we hold for the future. We surrender all of these moments, worries, anxieties and hopes to you. We want to live in the freedom that you have won for us on the Cross. We want to live with you right now! Come Jesus into our hearts and meet us in this exact moment. Show us how to live a life that is truly present to you and your people. Send your Spirit to guide, inspire and enlighten us. We love and thank you.

Amen.

steeped in love ☕️

I think it’s safe to say that most of us experience desert like conditions in our prayer life! Perhaps our prayers seem insincere or maybe we have no desire to enter prayer because we feel lost, empty or confused.

That’s pretty much where I found myself today during my prayer time. After a lot of non prayer related thinking and worrying -I tried to actively receive the love of the Lord. Father Larry Richards gave a talk in a virtual conference a few weeks ago, and he mentioned how crucial it is to let ourselves be held and loved by Jesus. That talk and his words have really stayed with me and came back to my mind in prayer today.

So after finally letting go and just focusing on the love of Christ- I had this beautiful image. It was a very simple cup of tea. The tea bag was released into the hot water, and slowly the water was changed into a beautiful rich brown, full of flavour and depth.

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It seems to me that we could be likened to this bag of tea. We are called to steep in the waters of the love of Christ; in his warm, constant and life giving presence. Christ gives us this daily invitation to accept, receive and steep in his constant, perfect and all fulfilling love. What could be more wonderful?

learning or living forgiveness?

A street corner in the area of Düsseldorf, Germany

Forgiveness.

The theme of forgiveness has been on my heart after hearing the parable of the unmerciful servant ( Matthew 18:21-35) a few days ago in the Gospel. 🥜 Nutshell version: A servant owes money to his master, begs for forgiveness and is forgiven. However, the servant does not forgive his own servant’s debts. The master gets word of this, calls the first servant back, and punishes him for not extending the mercy he received.

The theme of forgiveness is not new to most Christians. We’ve been learning about what it means to forgive since we were in primary school!

But that’s just it. There’s a difference in learning about it, and living it. I guess it sorta hit me this week. Forgiveness has the power to change our lives, if we let the Lord help us! It’s one of the hardest things to do; especially when we have been wounded unjustly. But I’m starting to see how crucial forgiveness is, if we want to grow in holiness.

What makes the saints so special? That’s a loaded question! It’s a combination of factors….But in my opinion, what separates them from the rest, is their radical mercy! Think of saint John Paul II, St. Bakhita, St. Kateri… so many of the saints had a pivotal moment in their lives where they could bear a grudge for the unjust treatment they received, or forgive. They had every reason, according to the world, to get angry, resent and retaliate. But they didn’t. They chose the higher way. They chose to forgive.

I don’t know about you, but that inspires me! I want to start living this mercy more and more radically. I want to mirror what the saints did, following the ultimate model of Christ on the cross. What joy and freedom the Lord wants to offer us through the power of forgiveness. For many of us, this is a hard and rocky road.. but we have the intercession of the saints, and our Saviour Jesus Christ to teach, guide and strengthen us!

letting go: the sweet life.

“None of the thoughts that render us anxious, and agitated in spirit in any way comes from God, who is the Prince is Peace…” (St. Frances De Sales)

This morning while reading Searching for and Maintaining Peace (Fr. Jacques Philippe), I came across a quote from St. Frances De Sales. I find this seemingly simple and perhaps even obvious statement, so rich and compelling. These words invite me to honestly reflect on the kinds of emotions and reactions that dominate my life. Are they anxieties, fears, agitations and doubts? Or are they ones of hope, peace and trust?

I chose to write about this today because I know that I am not alone in this battle of positivity vs. negativity and ultimately of good vs. evil. We are ALL struggling, at varying degrees, with the pressure, stress and demands of “life”. It seems that now more than ever, people are crumbling under the often crippling demands to be perfect, powerful,  rich, put together, successful and flawless.

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* God speaks to me in analogies… even if they are seats on the train hehe *  This image spoke to me of the redemption and newness that comes from God. He takes us when we feel dull, faded and used, and transforms us into something beautiful again!

Even as I write this, it seems a bit crazy and naive of us to fall into this trap. But when it’s our own lives, careers, relationships and life choices… things can become a bit blurry. We often find ourselves putting unrealistic expectations on our shoulders and fighting back feelings of failure, shame or regret when we fall short.

The good news is, we are not destined to stay in these low and often dark places. It’s not something we can just wish away, and for some of us, this journey is going to require more work and care than others, but there is always hope.

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The sweet life!

As the quote above says, God is the Prince of Peace and therefore with Him comes a peace that no one can destroy. God isn’t some magician who just takes away every hardship in our lives… but he gives a different and deeper kind of peace. I think this quote says it best:

“Peace is not the absence of something, but the presence of Someone” (unknown)

I pray that all of us can enter into the deep peace that is of Christ. That we find solace and hope in He who is the Prince of Peace. Let’s pray for each other, that we can let go of the anxieties and agitations that try to hold us back from freedom, joy and peace! Perhaps a little piece of cake and tea is just the perfect place to start?!

the very bad, terrible, no good day.

Is it just me, or does it seem like a lot of people right now are going through a hard time?

It’s like that kids book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst on repeat. Ugh. And while this Alexander kid in the story had a pretty rough go, I feel like the adult version can be a lot more bleak. Sometimes I just wish it was gum in my hair, no toy in my cereal, or no one liking my painting in class…

I can name quite a few people in my own circle (me included), who just seem to be handed a very crappy set of cards these days. Whether it’s external circumstances, or things in their inner life being brought up, they are swimming upstream.

adult art conceptual dark

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Sometimes it’s really a fight to stay positive, focus on the good, and resist the temptation to despair or give in to the unhappiness. I read a blog today and she posted one of my favorite bible verses!  I really needed to read it today. I think it’s worth keeping in our hearts, especially in these troubling times.

 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect”- Romans 12:2

Yessss! We are not to be conformed to this world. The world right now is preaching a lot of stuff that can lead us astray. Money will bring happiness, the rich and famous are more happy, perfection looks like a beauty blogger with the perfect body, you need to have impressive material goods to show off on your Instagram account, life is about cool holidays and eating fun food and documenting them on social media.

Don’t get me wrong, some of these things in and of themselves are great; taking care of our bodies, enjoying traveling (which I love to do!), and celebrating the gifts God has given us through food and experiences. But so often these things become the ultimate goal.

However, God calls us to renew our minds, to discern with Him, what is good and acceptable and perfect! The joys that He has to offer are so much greater than any mega yaht, beach body smoothie mix, perfect instagram worthy scene and amount of money sitting in our bank accounts.

God wants our ultimate HAPPINESS and that is found in Him alone. Even as I write this, I am not necessarily “feeling” completely happy in Him. But I also know that this is true despite any feelings I might have. Even in these darker seasons, God is still rooting for our happiness. It might not come with bright snazzy lights, and warm fuzzies, but it’s going to be a beautiful final product. I guess were like that clay that the Potter is working on. It might be messy, unclear, and a little bit uncomfortable as things are moved around, but that final masterpiece is going to be worth saving and treasuring!

red lighted candle

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So if you find yourself a little like Alexander on your no good, terrible, horrible, bad day; its alright! Seasons come and they GO, and your not alone. Right around you is someone else who is suffering, working through stuff, and figuring out life just like you. Pray for them, and they can pray for you! Let’s continue to renew our minds in the truth that is of God and His Kingdom!

 

freedom.

There is a line in that Joni Mitchell song, “Big Yellow Taxi” that says: ” don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone…”. (aaaand now I’m singing along to the rest of the song.. “they take paradise and put up a parking lot!“)

photo of yellow taxi parked near sidewalk

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It’s not everyday you find solid lyrics… but I think this line is pretty accurate. We often say we wished we would have appreciated that (insert person, place, thing, season, emotion) more. It’s usually after the removal of something from our lives, that we “snap into it” and realize just how important it really was.S

The other day, I found myself in a situation where I felt my freedom was being “attacked”  (okay maybe thats a bit too dramatic- but bear with me a moment). I am the kind of person who was raised with a lot of freedom, independence and room to “breathe”. Growing up my dad came from a religious community that was extremely restrictive and controlling. These two characteristics were exactly what my dad (and mom) did NOT do while I was growing up. They had an incredible gift for letting us kids be free, in a responsible way. I never felt that my choices were taken from me unjustly, that I had no say in my own life decisions, or that I was under the constant and oppressive watch of my parents. I felt valued, seen and heard.

In this situation I mentioned earlier, I felt so confronted with the reality that many people don’t function this way. For one reason or another, they have taken on controlling behaviour.  Trying to speak for the others, always making their opinion the “best way”, and over focusing on certain people/topics. They don’t leave room for others to have a plan, an opinion, or a new idea. They are always “one step ahead” and feel a false sense of authority to advise others how to act.

I honestly don’t think people completely realize they are doing this. I mean, to one extent or another, we have all probably done this. But I am talking about those people who are pushing the limits on control, and making others uncomfortable. At one point, I literally felt a sort of claustrophobia. I felt like I had to constantly justify myself, or fight for my own opinion. I felt as if I was fighting against a force that always tried to be stronger. This is something I don’t think we should ever have to do.

This whole situation brought me to the theme of freedom. Sadly, so many people don’t have freedom of ; speech, religion, movement, thought, expression, life… the list goes on. In the grand scheme of life, my “oppressed freedom” is like a grain of sand, compared to so many other men and women in this world. And yet- it hurt my heart nonetheless. The feeling that my freedom was being tampered with, made me realize how much I take freedom for granted.

I then had to think about the freedom that is of God. God is the one person who would have the most right to be controlling. He is all knowing, all perfect, all love, all justice, all mercy. He could completely put us “into check” at any moment.

But he doesn’t.

He gives us our freedom.

How radical is this reality! God, who has every right to control, chooses the greater gift which is LOVE. This is why God’s ways are so far above ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). He let’s us freely choose him, or freely reject him. He has no agenda in forcing something upon us. Although his ways are truly the best path to happiness, holiness, and peace ( and he sorrows so deeply when we do not come to him) he values your and my freedom even more. This is hard to wrap our heads around. He will, out of pure love, let us reject him who is love. All because he wants us to be free. To have the freedom to come to him without coercion or deception.

woman stands on mountain over field under cloudy sky at sunrise

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So the act of control, manipulation, obsession, guilt… these are not a way to love. These are actually doing exactly the opposite of what God does. So it makes sense that when our freedom is being attacked, in little moments, or big, our hearts are wounded by this. We are created for a freedom that should lead us to our Father. He will be there waiting for us, with outstretched arms, ready to bring us home. And on that day, we can rejoice, because this journey to him was out of love, it was out of a holy pursuit, and it was done freely.