smells like home.

If someone asked what your favorite place in the world was, how would you respond?  For some it is a travel destination, a place where family comes together and for others it is a secret location that only they have explored. Regardless of the location, I think we all have a place that speaks to our heart in a special way. A place where we feel ourselves. Where we feel at home.

For me, this place is my parents summer cabin. Countless childhood memories stem from this beloved place! Year after year I celebrated by birthdays there, played and explored in the woods, learned to drive for the first time and consumed countless smores and bush pies (best cabin foods ever!!) around the campfire.

This whole topic came up last weekend when my husband and I were walking along the seaside where he spent many summers as a child. It was a beautiful moment of peace and serenity. At one point he commented on how much he loved and cherished the smell of the sea. How it evoked so many good memories for him. It was funny because in those same moments, I was thinking that the sea smell was a bit too strong for me. That I could only smell the plants and soil of the grasslands around.

We had a similar moment a few months ago. While we were sitting around the campfire, I was closing my eyes, breathing in the smoke and sharing that this is my favorite smell in the world (I even love the smell of my clothes after a campfire). For my husband, the campfire smell is nice, but not that exciting.

After our seaside walk, I realized again how God uses our sense of smell to bless our lives abundantly! Smells can bring us back to a moment, a place, a person or an emotion. These smells are often capable of bringing peace, joy and comfort to our hearts. I also found it interesting to see the connection between our favorite places in the world and the smells related to that place. For example, the smell of the sea is especially beautiful to my husband because it is linked to his positive childhood memories there. The smell of campfire is especially beautiful to me because I always think about our summer cabin and I have such wonderful memories.

Just as our sense of smell is a blessing, the Lord didn’t stop there. He gave us the sense of taste to enjoy the most vibrant spices, flavors and food combinations possible. He lets us hear the voices of our loved ones, the notes of a gentle melody, the laughter of our children and friends. We can touch the hand of our beloved, cuddle in a cozy blanket, hold the hand of our dying parent. We can see the wonders of nature, communicate to others with our eyes, and observe the world around us.

Perhaps when we go about our daily routine today, we can take a moment or two to thank the Lord for the gift of our memories, our senses and for how he created us!

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It’s not Abram, it’s Abraham!

Today’s first reading from the book of Genesis is about the call of Abraham. The Lord called Abraham to be the leader of nations, the father of the Jewish people. This covenant promise between God and man through Abraham, was and reamains so fundamental for the life of the Church. For us! However, what struck me most about the reading today was the following verse, ‘ …no longer shall you be called Abram; your name shall be Abraham, for I am making you the father of a host of nations’ (Genesis 17:5).

We often read stories in the bible where men and woman receive a new name through the Lord: Abram becomes Abraham, Saul becomes Paul, Simon becomes Peter (the Rock on which the Church was built).

For Abram, Saul and Simon, their new name is a permanent reminder that they have been changed and transformed through the call of God. These men truly ..’put on the new man, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness’ (Ephesians 4:24). The new Abraham, Paul and Peter could proclaim the inner transformation of their heart through something external like their name*

A few months ago, this topic of names and naming in the bible was on my heart a lot. After getting married, I took the family name of my husband. It just struck me one day. I also had my name changed in the Lord! This was done through the sacrament of matrimony. When I gave my life to my husband, I said YES to the vocation of marriage. This was and is answering the call of God in my life!  When I now tell someone my name,  I bear a new identity through my marriage! Its so beautiful. It was a HUGE joy for me to change my name. I couldn’t imagine it any other way. For me, taking my husbands family name was a concrete sign of my unity with him, and with this new life in Christ.

Sometimes in life we need a name change, a big step or something radical to symbolize our YES to God. It is through these moments or occasions that we allow the Lord to step into our lives! We give ourselves to him so that we can, like Abraham, Paul and Peter, become the ‘…new man, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness’

 

 

 

* There is also a much deeper discourse about the significance of name change in the bible. Names in the Old Testament were so highly regarded. There was a profound sense of identity when called by name ( see online resources for more info)

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.