Sharing in the Psalms

So I don’t believe in coincidences, or fate, or luck, but I do believe in the Holy Spirit, and that’s who arranged the blessing of today. Allow me to explain!

img_6676.jpg

We are Beloved Children of the King! Let us never forget. Though this photo when taken in “healthier times”, its a reminder to always hope in the Lord! He is our sustainer and our stronghold!

Earlier this afternoon I had two separate conversations with women very dear to my heart. They are women whom I trust, who support me, who encourage me, and most of all, who love me! In our chats, I opened up about how I am feeling/doing these days. At the moment I feel a lot of things (mostly health problems) are piling up on my shoulders and weighing me down. I suppose you could say my faith is being tested a little, or I’m just not learning the lesson of surrendering to God… so I keep getting new opportunities to do so. Yay? Being stubborn is not always a good thing. Maybe its never a good thing? Still not sure about that….

Anyways, these are both women of God and they were able to encourage me at a faith level. This is exactly what I needed and both of them said the same thing:

“Why don’t you read and meditate on the Psalms?”


They challenged me to really live and pray with the Psalms during this heavy time. The Psalmists are often lamenting and crying out to God for his help, his protection, his mercy. So if the Psalmists are so free in their prayer, why aren’t I?

So, I did it. I opened my bible to the Pslams and started reading. The verses that struck me the most today were actually from the very beginning. Pslam 1: 1-3:

 

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seats of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he mediates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers”

 

Isn’t this imagery wonderful! We can be that tree- soaking up the graces of the Lord, and not withering away in despair or sadness (as I am so often tempted to do). In these streams of life and hope, we can be renewed both in body and spirit, and yield fruit. I guess it isn’t a calling to plant fruit trees on my balcony this summer ( although that would be lovely), but he wants to help us (me) grow in the virtues; in love, in charity, in patience, in humility, in perseverance!

red and yellow coffee berries on branch

Photo by Daniel Reche on Pexels.com

I think I am going to start reading the Psalms each day. Maybe I’ll share a few more of the verses that speak to my heart as this journey in the Psalms continue.

What are the verse(s) that speak to you?! I would love to hear how you live with the Psalms right now. Let us encourage one another in faith & hope!

 

Advertisements

Whoops!

Baking Tip # 1: Never let dough (containing yeast) thaw overnight with the lid on! Waking up to this doughy-monster-mess on my counter, was hilarious. It looks like it grew legs overnight and tried to walk away! So much for my perfect buns for breakfast….

img_6318

Baking Tip #2: When making black bean burgers, be sure to use black beans!! I kept telling my husband I was making these delicious black bean burgers, but used kidney beans the whole time. It wasn’t until they were in the oven that I realized I had used the wrong beans!

Sometimes the whole cooking/baking world can be harsh. You check out a nice recipe on Pinterest and buy the right ingredients, but when it’s finished, it looks or tastes NOTHING like what it was supposed to! Or perhaps your like me. You set out to make a new recipe but make so many mistakes that your left with kidney bean burgers, and monster-dough!!!

Isn’t life a little like this though!? We have areas in our lives where we expect flawless results (diets, relationships, marriage, Church, gym, even cooking). We have this “perfect” vision of how something should be, but in reality, things turn out differently. Perhaps we fail that diet with whole lot of snacking, or we choose the wrong words in the argument with our spouse or our colleague.  We all fail each other in one way or another. We see their flaws, and they see ours.

art artistic black and white blank

Photo by Lynnelle Richardson on Pexels.com

Life is always throwing us curve balls, and we are often going to drop the ball. I’m trying to learn to take the road of humility. The road that learns from mistakes, is quick to say sorry, laughs it off and moves on! I think this sort of perspective is in line with what Jesus meant for us. He knows we are imperfect. He knows we make mistakes. He knows we will fail each other. But he calls us out to live a positive, and fulfilling life which includes accepting our moments of weakness and failure, and letting them change us for the better. So whether its failing our colleagues at work, our family at home, or failing in the kitchen with those dang kidney bean burgers… we are invited to see these moments with eyes of hope, and a sense of humour doesn’t hurt either 😉

 

 

Come to the Cross

gold and black crucifix

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

“By the light of faith then, rise above every sort of selfish love. And to attain the most perfect love, as I’ve told you before, set before your mind’s eye Christ crucified and the indescribable charity he has demonstrated for you by shedding his blood with such blazing love” – St. Catherine of Siena

Today the Church celebrates the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, and what an important feast this is! Its funny, today I was standing in line at the pharmacy and the pharmacist was wearing a crucifix necklace. I mean #1- I hardly ever see people wearing such a bold and beautiful statement of faith (which inspired me to wear mine again!)  and # 2- so great to have this little wink from Jesus on His great feast day!

In the reflection today in the Magnificat, its a short excerpt from St. Catherine of Siena (which I quoted above) and she goes on to say, ” This must be your study: to love God in truth and your neighbour as yourself; to be humble and obedient; patiently to suffer pain, hurt, disdain, and abuse...In times of struggle and weariness, run with this light of holy faith to embrace the most holy cross, and there put your hope confidently in the Blood of Christ crucified…”  

I find this text so life-giving. Its a call to receive and share love in the world. It’s a reminder that although we feel pain, grief and suffering, its shall not pull us down. The cross says one thing; I love you. This love is so real and raw. It is not a fairytale love that sugar coats life. It is not a love that eliminates suffering. But it is a love that can heal our souls. It is a love that can comfort our hearts. It is a love that would conquer death and sin. Jesus on the cross is love. He loves us.

The Lord invites us to give back this kind of love to our neighbour. To endure hardship, to forgive, to be merciful, to die to our selves. Surely not from our own strength, but from the hope and strength of the holy cross of Christ.

I think todays feast is simply an invitation: to receive the love which was poured forth from the cross, and to let it transform us! That is my sincere hope for you and me.

God bless !

let your lips reveal his glory.

Why is it that we are so quick to ask for prayer, but so slow to share about our answered prayers?!  Perhaps its just easier to pray when we suffer? Or maybe when we feel better, we are so quick to resume our ‘regular life’, that we forget to offer prayers of thanksgiving.

This winter I had been very ill and found myself clinging to the prayers of friends and family. Often I did not have the strength or desire to really pray on my own. After a lot of doctor appointments, tears, waiting, google searching and praying, I am feeling back to my good old self. Even a bit better! I owe a lot of the success to the intercession of St. Kateri Tekakwitha (a story for another day). Just a few days ago, I came across Psalm 40 and the following verses stood out to me:

I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure…I have told the glad news of deliverance  in the great congregation; see, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O Lord. I have not hidden your saving help within my heart, I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation.

I just love this so much! The Psalmist is deeply touched by the saving grace of the Lord, that he finds no other answer but to tell the ‘glad news of deliverance’ and ‘speak of your faithfulness and your salvation’. After reading this verse, I saw so clearly that the Lord wants us to proclaim His mercy ! When he heals us, when he hears us, when he consoles us, when he inspires us, when he sustains us, when he speaks to us! We are called to share of how God works in our lives!

Like the Psalmist, I too must share my thankfulness to the Lord. That even through months of being sick, battling hopelessness, feeling abandoned, the Lord was holding me. This time of suffering was a time to really rest in the arms of my Father. To surrender to my own littleness. I didn’t think I would ever write a blog post like this, because I felt so stuck in that state. But the good news ( for anyone who feels this way), is that it doesn’t last forever. God will answer your prayers. God will bring you comfort. It might be a different timing, or a different style then you expect. But he will act. Let us continue to be like the Psalmist. Proclaiming the great and small wonders of the Lord in our lives!

 

a little closer

Silent but fierce,

Interior war.

Trigger is loose,

Don’t want anymore.

Holding them back,

Demands all of me.

Words in my head,

Just want to be free.

Count your blessings.

But where do they hide?

Always choose joy.

That path I have tried.

Look to the cross:

More close than before.

See His pierced heart,

Do we still want more?

Look to the Cross,

More close than before.

 

 

stepping stones

Being engaged is a dynamic, adventerous, challenging and joyful expereince. As the days of my engagement draw to a close, I am reflecting again on this theme of marraige and particularly, the sacrament of marriage.

Nowadays, there seems to be a profound misunderstanding of this coventant, and sacramental promise. Very often, a marraige is just an excuse for a super expensive and galmorous party (and after planning a wedding I see how one could go crazy with their bank account!), a pinterest-perfect event, or a commitment founded entirely upon emotional-love.

It seems to me that these popular ideas regarding marriage fail to understand the depth, magntiude, beauty, and mystery of the sacrament. A marriage is designed to be a beautiful union between a man and a woman, a fruitful and free relationship and a space of authentic joy. It is also however, a pathway to holiness. In mass the other day, our priest said,  ‘when we choose the path of love, we must pick up our cross’.  These crosses must call us out of ourselves; to grow in patience, self-giving love, compassion, forgiveness and humility. There are two people fighting for sanctity together. This battle can be messy, unclear at times, require healing from wounds, but this story can always end with victory!

I chose to share the following quote from the Cathecism of the Catholic Church. I think it nicely outlines how Christ can always be the anchor of a marraige. That no matter how weak, tired, sinful we are, if we let him, Jesus will carry our crosses and give the necessary strength for a joyful, lively, exciting, holy marraige. This is good, good news!

‘ This unequivocal insistence on the indissolubility of the marriage bond may have left some perplexed and could seem to be a demand impossible to realize. However, Jesus has not placed on spouses a burden impossible to bear, or too heavy – heavier than the Law of Moses. By coming to restore the original order of creation disturbed by sin, he himself gives the strength and grace to live marriage in the new dimension of the Reign of God. It is by following Christ, renouncing themselves, and taking up their crosses that spouses will be able to “receive” the original meaning of marriage and live it with the help of Christ. This grace of Christian marriage is a fruit of Christ’s cross, the source of all Christian life’ 

(CCC# 1615)

 

Our marraige is a stepping stone,

to sanctity and grace.

Our crosses are the only way,

we come to see His face.

Sin and weakness are close at hand,

though they define us not.

May truth and trust forever reign,

Let Christ transform our thought.

 

 

Glowing at Midnight

This morning while looking at the daily mass readings, I was reflecting on the Gospel; the beheading of John the Baptist. I began thinking about the sins that lead up to the murder of this holy man. In the end it had me thinking about sinfulness in general. Even if we arent committing murder, all sins share a common ground of darkness; lies, deceit, selfish gain, pride. This can  happen in the darkness of our hearts and minds, but very often sinful behaviour is a nighttime “activity”. My mom always said ” nothing good happens after midnight”. She really has a point there. People often commit crimes or engange in sinful behaviour in the darkness. Trying to hide away behind the curtain of the night. Pornographic images lighting up a dark bedroom, break ins happening as other sleep, prostitution taking place under the street lights, one night stands in a dark and dingy dorm room.

But the whole point of this post is to speak about the fact that we are:

“Freed from sin, you have become slaves of righteousness” – Romans 6:18

When I read this verse it just hit me so clearly. We are called to be a slave to righteousness! A flame in the darkness. A word of truth in lies. A model of the beautitudes. A radical follower of Jesus. The Lord doesn’t want us to remain in the dark. That’s why he use countless parables about darkness and light. It’s not just a nice literary detail. It’s literal. We need to stop sinning in the darkness. Now, this definitely doesn’t mean the struggle of sin is instantly over. No! The fight goes on. Every. Single. Person. is in this battle. Our sinful habits are different. No use in comparing or judging each other in them. If we only see the sins of others, it probably time to re-read Matthew 7:3 (log in our eye & speck in our brothers). We need to bring ourselves, our baggage, our trials and sins to the foot of the cross. Beside Mary who remained at the cross, we can lay our burdens down. We entrust all our weakness to Him who takes our sin and gives abundant freedom. The more we come to the cross, the more we enter into the mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection. He knew what struggles we would face, and he gave us somewhere to bring them. Only then can we walk away in the light of His truth, lighter, free from chains and hopeful in our steadfast refuge.

I’ll end with the song that also motivated this post. I don’t know if I should admit how many times I listened to it on repeat this morning!

 

 

a Refuge in the rain

On this rainy afternoon I find myself slightly melancholic and over contemplative (also procrastinating homework). It seems as though these gray skies have a way of inspiring more reflection than usual. I find myself pondering the theme of loneliness which is a common side effect of rainy days I suppose. We all experience loneliness in one way or another. For some, its the absence of friends, for others its the consuming demands of a job that keep us away from loved ones. Some find themselves living away from their homes for work, school, love… but we all experience loneliness. Even if we are surrounded by people, we can still feel alone at times. Why? I suppose because our friends, parents, siblings, boyfriends/girlfriends, husbands/wives are not meant to fulfill us completely. There is someone else who has this task. He is the ultimate Lover in our lives. He really plants  truth, freedom, joy, acceptance and purpose deep into our hearts. Of course, others are meant to bless us and reflect the love of Christ in our lives. But no matter how wonderful these men and women are, they can’t fill the void of loneliness that we all have in our hearts. I have always heard that God has to take the first place in my life, but in practice this is really difficult. How quickly we expect others to make us happy. Making internal demands for the perfect words and actions of others around us. When they don’t meet our expectations, we are left feeling hurt, disappointed and even defeated. Its incredible how easily this kind of attitude can seep into our lives, and how it can really wound our relationships.

I guess the purpose of this blog today is a reminder that God is really the only one who fulfills those lonely parts of our hearts. He is the path to joy. When we find ourselves in our room, our office, a party, a family dinner and we feel empty; God is there. He is calling out to us, and he wants to enter into those places that feel cold. He wants to be central. He wants to bring warmth and life. He wants to overwhelm us with everything we need and desire! At the same time, He gives us an understanding of what it means to live in relation with others. Life isn’t about being served. Its about service. The Gospel for today was exactly that; ‘ …It shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many’ (Matthew 20: 26-28). When God takes ownership of our hearts, we no longer dwell in loneliness, because we know we are not alone. We then start to change our expectations of others. We accept our weakness and our poverty. Just as we cannot love others perfectly, they too cannot love us perfectly. And once this is understood, we turn to He who can and does love perfectly. He who came to serve and not be served. He who loved until the end. This is where I want to find fulfillment.  O Sacred Heart of Jesus, let us abide in you where there is perfect love. In you we find peace. In you we are never alone. Amen.

 

Shifting into the Deep

I recently had to sell my vehicle for a move thats taking place very soon. I had to part with Maxwell; my trusty, reliable and automatic beauty. Since I was 16, I have been driving automatic cars (avoiding at all costs the possibility of driving a standard vehicle, which quite frankly, scared me completely).  When I practiced with my mom years ago, I gave up after mistaking the break for the clutch and stalling every. single. time.

Fast forward about 8 years and I found myself confronted with the same standard car predicament. However this time, the only vehicle I had access to was a little zippy manual car from my sister. Honestly, I was tempted to start taking up biking. I never bike. But I felt like desperate times call for desperate measures, right?

Wrong. Thankfully I realized that my irrational fear of driving a standard vehicle and stalling in the middle of the road had gone on long enough (thought I admit, if I wasn’t forced to learn I probably would have avoided this scenario for a few more years). Either way, I took that vehicle out on the road and my oh my, I’ve learned a lot. I thought I would just share a few lessons I’ve learned :

  1. 1. Becoming more compassionate with bad drivers: Prior to this whole standard driving thing, I was pretty critical for slow and bad drivers. I’m not excusing bad driving, but now I’m much more inclined to ask the question “Maybe, they just suck because it’s their first day of learning how to drive a standard”. It’s actually helped me to be less critical behind the wheel.
  2. 2. Patience is a virtue learned in 1st-4th gear- In the past few weeks I’ve been forced to slow down a lot. From my acceleration time at a green light, to learning how to drive on the free way, I’m a rookie. In the past, I’ve loved pretending I’m a race-car driver, but I see the benefits to just enjoying the ride for what it is. Not always being in such a rush.
  3. Laughing at yourself is necessary-  The amount of laughing aloud that is taking place in my car is incredible! I’m not stalling much anymore, but at the beginning I just had to give a solid wave in my review mirror to the guy waiting for me to restart my vehicle and then smile as they drive past with their snazzy car, leaving me in the dust. #humility
  4. Give yourself more credit- I realized I can acquire new skills even if they scare me a lot! Although we know this, we often don’t believe this. I’m so happy I was forced to take this car out, face a little humiliation and come out on the other side laughing and enjoying the memories along the road.

 

Advice from Avila

Reading the Interior Castle (or the Mansions) by St. Teresa of Avila is incredible!  Although a very deep and theological read, I find it quite entertaining . This woman (epic saint, doctor of the Church, religious sister) amazes me. How humble, real, inspired and funny she is! It is evident how great her trust in the Lord was as she wrote this. Time and time again she is confronted with her “ignorance” in respect to many theological topics ( she is often apologetic for her intellectual “roadblocks”). However, it is through her YES to Holy Spirit, that St. Teresa would produce some of the greatest spiritual writings in the church. To inspire, teach, and direct the hearts, minds and souls  of men and women to God himself. Here is an example of something that made me laugh out loud! I can just hear her mumbling this aloud to herself, questioning the Lord on his crazy plans for this book, but moving forward with such an expectant faith and joy.

” God help me! How I have wandered from my subject! I forget what I was speaking about, for my occupations and ill health often force me to cease writing until some more suitable time. The sense will be very disconnected; as my memory is extremely bad and I have no time to read over what is written, even what I really understand is expressed very vaguely, at least so I fear…”  (Interior Caste, P. 58) 

 Lord, thank you for the life of St. Teresa. Even if we feel inadequate, forgetful, ignorant and simply unqualified, You can work in us. You have shown this to be true in the life of the holy, humble and truly blessed Saint Teresa.  St. Teresa : Pray for us!