Category Archives: vocation

Instrument of Your Hands

Lord, make me an instrument of your hands with care for my mother in her now season of life.

When she’s impatient, help me to be patient.

When she’s anxious, help me to be peace.

When she worries, help me to show faithfulness.

When she is angry, help me with self control and gentleness.

Lord, help me to not be overcome by the weight of this journey you have us on. For through it, it is not only to tend to her needs but lessons in selflessness and trusting your will I am to learn.

Take notes from St Catherine on Priests

I had found a quote so perfect from St Catherine and had wanted to share, but I have misplaced it.  Came to my computer again this morning to search for it and stumbled upon this passage which provided it to me in multiple search results.  Let me preface here, I have read many books on St Catherine and know her as a warrior of the Church. I know her accolades but for whatever reason, my mind over the priest scandals our Church is facing lately, I had forgotten about these specific talks from God to her.   For two weeks now, I, and I know many, have been in a bit of a slump. Reading and hearing about the U.S. Church today and the scandals that are now being uncovered. It’s devastating what has been brought to light on Cardinal McCarrick.

Yesterday, I began writing a blog on what I felt, but had to step away because I was overwhelmed. Most of the time, when I blog, it helps relieve tension.  Almost like I’m surrendering it to God and helping me receive peace afterward.  But I knew this time, I was wrestling with it differently.

Like I mentioned when I began searching writings on St Catherine, I came upon her dialogue and now instead of sharing my blog on my emotions, I replace it with this. This says it all. No need for more. It’s what I should now focus on and help others to recognize the truth in it as well.

For two thousand years plus, Our Church has given us Saints for every occasion, for every time. St Catherine was one who during much conflict in the Church evangelized in her capacity and selfless will so that the faithful would not lose sight of purpose and love for Jesus Christ or His Church.  With that, I pass on what has already been clearly identified and no more need for me to become fixated, but to continue in the way Jesus calls on me.

God the Father spoke to St. Catherine of Siena about his “ministers,” the priests. She recorded it in her Dialogue:

…[It] is my intention that they be held in due reverence, not for what they are in themselves, but for my sake, because of the authority I have given them. Therefore the virtuous must not lessen their reverence, even should these ministers fall short in virtue. And, as far as the virtues of my ministers are concerned, I have described them for you by setting them before you as stewards of… my Son’s body and blood and of the other sacraments. This dignity belongs to all who are appointed as such stewards, to the bad as well as to the good.

…[Because] of their virtue and because of their sacramental dignity you ought to love them. And you ought to hate the sins of those who live evil lives. But you may not for all that set ourselves up as their judges; this is not my will because they are my Christs, and you ought to love and reverence the authority I have given them.

You know well enough that if someone filthy or poorly dressed were to offer you a great treasure that would give you life, you would not disdain the bearer for love of the treasure, and the lord who had sent it, even though the bearer was ragged and filthy… You ought to despise and hate the ministers’ sins and try to dress them in the clothes of charity and holy prayer and wash away their filth with your tears.

Indeed, I have appointed them and given them to you to be angels on earth and suns, as I have told you. When they are less than that you ought to pray for them. But you are not to judge them. Leave the judging to me, and I, because of your prayers and my own desire, will be merciful to them.

 

St Catherine of Siena, pray for us! +++

I speak LOVE and you?

Let me begin by saying that this issue I’m about to speak of, I have expressed about before and have fumbled over it many times. I’ve also come to know that I am not the only one who has trouble with it.  It has to do with “LOVE LANGUAGE”.

Sometime ago, I heard on Jennifer Fulwiler’s radio show, speak about love language on her program.  I can’t remember who she was speaking with, but the topic was about being frustrated, down in the dumps about people’s behaviors towards oneself. Where you try to go the extra mile with certain people in your life so that they may revere you in the same way.  Where you share yourself with them the same way as you do with everyone else, but these individuals don’t bite.  This topic I come to again and find more and more lately, I am not the only one in this black hole.

Coming across others who experience the same thing, I tend to find the same characteristics.  Usually, the one who seemingly goes out of their way to engage with others, repeats the same tactics, feels like there is progress, and then find themselves right back where they started.  The lasting notion is that it is all very exhausting.

Going back to Jen Fulwiler’s talk, they hit on the answer well.  It has to do with people each having different love languages. What might be a way for you in how you engage your love is not the same for someone else.  This hit me like a ton of bricks!  I’m sure it is something I have heard before, but didn’t pay attention to. However, this time when I reflected on it, it gave me a whole new outlook.

Over and over again, I would find myself being squeezed into these situations.  It would feel like I’m running with a basket of love, carrying it here, there, over here, backwards, then running towards a doorway trying to not let it spill so they can receive it fully as I come towards a doorway that turns into a pinhole of their acceptance.  Most of the time, feeling like I just went from 20 yards ahead to 10 feet back! Never feeling the love I hoped for returned back in the way I was sending it.

This idea of love language allows me to focus on not tiring myself out in trying to appease, but to give what I normally do, and then let it go. It doesn’t exhaust me and I stop fretting over whether I did something right.

I also would like to touch on something that we heard in Sunday mass a couple of weeks ago and it goes with this scripture:

Cure of a Crippled Beggar. Now Peter and John were going up to the temple area for the three o’clock hour of prayer. And a man crippled from birth was carried and placed at the gate of the temple called “the Beautiful Gate” every day to beg for alms from the people who entered the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked for alms. But Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.”He paid attention to them, expecting to receive something from them. Peter said, “I have neither silver nor gold, but what I do have I give you: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean, [rise and] walk.”

Fr. John at our parish spoke about that in our lives of faith sharing…we give what we have whatever form that may be.  If it’s our time, we give our time, if we can financially share, then we share, if we are a good baker or a handy person, then we give in those forms.  You get the picture. So when I think about how I have a giving a heart, I just do that…give.  And with my love for writing or expressing my faith walk, then I do that by writing on this blog.  Care for my husband and my mom in best way.  Being accessible to family and friends, when they look to me for a listening ear.

We give what we are given.  What God has graced us with.  It’s not about waiting for the best time to do it because we are measuring what we think is most valued, but instead giving in what we have today!! It’s not about gaining more of the world just so we can float on by in this life, but to share what we know and have.  Our love and time are free.  Whether faith filled knowledge, church knowledge, love, care giving, helping someone by preparing a meal or driving someone who needs a ride, etc.  It doesn’t have to big on a big scale.  It doesn’t need much prepping.  It doesn’t have to look like someone else’s gifts.  We each have it. Our Lord has given it and the more we pass it on, the more grace He will fill us up with to give again.

STOP looking for things not in your basket and START reaching in it and share the gifts that are in it.

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Parts Truly Unknown

On Friday morning, I get a text at 6 a.m. from my friend Angela informing me that Anthony Bourdain committed suicide.  She knew how much I liked him and knew this would be hard for me to hear. My husband was on his way out for work as I read out the text to him.  He said, “I know. I didn’t want to wake you up with that news.” But he knew, it wouldn’t matter how it came, the news was not good.

The rest of the day and now, I still feel a sense of sadness as I know I am not the only one. The media has continually been interviewing his friends, showing past Parts Unknown (his show on CNN), and my social media is covered with his face.  Mainly, because I follow many chefs. I have a big interest in the culinary scene due to Bourdain.

After a pilgrimage to Italy in 2006 which came with much anxiety because of fear of travel, my craving for food and travel grew.  At that time, to my knowledge, there were not many travel shows other than Rick Steves and Samantha Brown.  Much to my delight, the Travel Channel gave us No Reservations where I first became acquainted with Bourdain’s witty culinary ways.  It right away captured for me an escape from my life in concrete Phoenix suburbia, track house living.

The trip to Italy placed a sense of adventure in me that I knew had to be somewhat contained. Let me preface here, my life is greatly blessed.  To date, my husband and I have traveled abroad two more times after our first Italy trip (London, Paris, Italy again). We travel within the States quite often.  However, I long for travel in the sense that I would like to discover it like Bourdain captured it.  Places not necessarily on the tourist map.

On Sunday’s, I would look forward to his latest episode.  Where was he now? Thailand. Croatia. Turkey. Sicily.  His demeanor was also a familiar connection to me.  He had a bad boy, rebellious nature. Reminded me of my youthful past and the group of friends I hung around with. His taste in music too was much like mine. A like of rock n roll and classics.  His wit also had me laughing as I was amused by how no matter whom he had in his show, he never changed himself to interact with them.  He had them laughing. Giving me a sense that no matter what part of the world you are in, we are all the same.

Once his show went from the Travel Network to CNN, I stayed with it.  I adapted a viewer relationship via his program.  This means about 12 years of fan watching.  And with social media, there became another connection.  It gave the fan a closer connection to his person who we all believed had the best job in the world. Travel and eat the best food. What could be better? He was the one who introduced me to taking pictures of food and share my experience of it.

He was also very vocal on Twitter about social issues.  One in particular had to with the Mexican immigrant and how interwoven their culinary skills are wrapped in America’s fabric.  Always pointing out that if we were to walk into any kitchen across the U.S., you would for sure find Mexicans working the kitchen, citizen or not.

Bourdain was not a believer.  Often on his show, he would give a tidbit on how he couldn’t rationalize believing in a higher power.  I don’t recall him ever pointing out one god over another or Jesus in particular, but he was clear he didn’t believe in any of it. Even when his close friend Eric Rippert was on his show speaking about Buddhism, you could see Bourdain wasn’t fully embracing.  Despite him not having faith, I never heard him bash anyone for believing.  But I know, it would strike him if he felt a religion was, in his view, destroying a people or nation.

So why do I dedicate a blog to him?

Bourdain’s suicide not only shook me, but it had my mind going.  I thought of my cousin Gil who committed suicide in 2010.  Thought of my Godmother who was married to him, his two sons, his family. All of us who went through that day with them. The feeling of life spiraling out of control. The big black hard depth of despair.  The confusion. The pain.

Here we all saw this man Bourdain on TV just about every week or on social media, seeming to live the life we all wanted. Celebration. Laughter. Good food and beautiful environments. But it wasn’t all true. I mean, did he have that?  Yes, I do believe he did. But he also had demons that wouldn’t let him go.

In his early life, he became addicted to heroin.  He spoke about the struggles of it and also shared how he was ‘recovered’, yet always conveying, recovery is day to day. Each day, he worked at it as many recovered addicts do.  I understand this well.  My Dad was a recovered addict. Difference was, my Dad found Jesus and lived his life with freedom from it.

However, from current family who is an addict, heroin is the worst of all drugs you could ever become addicted to.  This is one that has effects for the rest of your life. Now, that’s what I have heard scientifically, but I place all in God and know that if Jesus was in their life, it would be different. And you know, I’m no expert and I don’t want to go into heroin effects, mental illness, when is it not mental illness and we call it a demon, or lack of faith issues.  I don’t have expertise to discuss.

But what I do want to write about is the soul and how our faith responds to someone who has taken their life.

Because Bourdain was a self confessed non believer, my thought process on his passing made me think about the soul like I haven’t encountered before.  Some of his fans were leaving comments on Twitter or Instagram, saying things like “hope you have peace now in heaven or hell wherever you are’, or ‘give them hell’, etc.  I thought what darkness!

In my prayer time and reflection about Gil came forth. Thinking about his time of death and what we as a family learned. Although, Gil did believe in Jesus and was Catholic, family was confused on whether his soul went to heaven. And what I found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church forever changed my outlook.

Suicide

2280 Everyone is responsible for his life before God who has given it to him. It is God who remains the sovereign Master of life. We are obliged to accept life gratefully and preserve it for his honor and the salvation of our souls. We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us. It is not ours to dispose of.

2281 Suicide contradicts the natural inclination of the human being to preserve and perpetuate his life. It is gravely contrary to the just love of self. It likewise offends love of neighbor because it unjustly breaks the ties of solidarity with family, nation, and other human societies to which we continue to have obligations. Suicide is contrary to love for the living God.

2282 If suicide is committed with the intention of setting an example, especially to the young, it also takes on the gravity of scandal. Voluntary co-operation in suicide is contrary to the moral law.

Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide.

2283 We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives.

Bourdain stood up for the marginalized. He brought to light topics of the poor, no one else was touching in this form of media. He used his celebrity to bring witness, life that the world sees as dejected because they don’t live like we live.  But in reality showed more riches in their cooking or family members.   In a sense, we saw the Beatitude come to life “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”.  And he used that compassion, which I believe was placed in him by God. Even though, he never claim that. And it wasn’t always about the poor, but sharing stories of those living with wars around them.

In God’s mercy, we leave his soul and others who have taken their lives in such despair.  For we really do not know. I for one need to be aware to check on another.  From the one who we think has it all together to the one who looks like they are crumbling.

My food pics and travel will forever have root in Anthony Bourdain. For these I leave…

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Help us Lord to be more aware. Help us with courage to speak to those who do not show their belief in you Jesus, so that we may direct them to your love and mercy.  For we know as St. Peter says “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Heaven is not out there only in the sky, but can by the grace of God, can be attained in the heart with true joy.  In how Your peace can allow them to breathe again. +++

Little Talks with God

Little Talks with God by St Catherine of Siena edited by Henry Carrigan Jr.

Any book about St Catherine of Siena will catch my attention.  I hope someday Mel Gibson will make a film about her.  Because I believe that many women will see her as a fireball of strength.  Talk about feminism in the truest sense of the form.  Her femininity was one of her many strengths our Lord used to make her one of our greatest Saints of the Church.

Littletalks

In Carrigan’s best description of St Catherine’s life is “mystical experiences with fervent activism”.

During her later years, she had a several priests write down her thoughts that were later put into books and shared with communities.  At a young age,  St. Catherine had a burning desire to know more about God and truth. This desire would change into fortitude that became spiritual lessons others to this day still learn from, like myself.

I learned much from this book.  I pretty much have each page ear dogged.  Self contemplation to the greatest degree.  Where to start and where to go in prayer, examination of conscience, courage, and faith in action to name a few.

img_6695.jpgSt. Catherine’s passion for Christ grew even more so when God showed her the needs of the world and the offenses being made against God.

St. Catherine had a selflessness that at times frightened me. She understood the punishment God could give and at the same time his limitless mercy.  She would rather suffer for those who had no clue of their sin because she knew it would be redemptive in the suffering so she spoke in prayer always to take that cup for their sake.

 

“How very pleasing to God is the willing desire to suffer for him.”

Through St Catherine’s writing, my life has learned the beauty in suffering. How I had no clue that there is purpose in suffering.   Used to think any physical or mental suffering was a kind of punishment by God. Learning more about suffering through St. Catherine, has taught me the meaning of it by explaining how it is redemptive, unifies us with Christ, offering it to Christ, and understanding His love for us.

Her writing takes you to a realm that no other writer has taken me.  I feel like I’m in another place even though I’m most likely sitting on the couch in my home.  The power in her words gives me a sense of heaven that truly gives me a connection I’m most grateful I am aware of now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drunks and Monks

I learned about this book by mention on the Jennifer Fulweiler’s show.   It caught my attention because it had to do with addiction and recovery.

Once I started reading it, I was hooked.  It’s a raw memoir from John Carmichael. He recounts his life from childhood through finding his way out of addiction by becoming a Catholic.  It struck a chord with me because I too came from an upbringing of alcoholism.

DrunksMonksIn his book, he speaks about his rise to a successful career, finding his wife, until he becomes an addict and destroys all around him. His Mom was a hard core alcoholic.  Morning, day, night. Even though he saw the reckoning, he could not find himself out of it.  Much of the effects of what would cause him to drink, did come from his relationship with his Mom and love not received by either of his parents.

He describes his environment in sunny So Cal – Orange county. The pull of the riches and struggle with letting go. I pictured well where his life took place because I’m so familiar with this area since I have visited these neck of the woods since I was a child.

One spot in particular is San Juan Capistrano Mission where he first begins his attempt in finding God. First taking back by the beauty of the Chapel where Mass is recited in Latin. Then his courage to reaching out to a monastic priest who then becomes his confessor.  And even though he made these strides he shares his very real battle working out his faith through temptation and relapse. What I appreciated is how the San Juan Capistrano community, supported him and invited him to the faith. An example for all parishes to follow.  He felt so welcomed, he even became a part of the choir.

Even though most understand, that even when one follows the Catholic Church punch card, it doesn’t mean that all will be easy going. In Carmichael’s case, the timing of his initial prep in the faith became his strength when his Mom’s struggle with alcoholism became its worst and then her diagnosis of terminal cancer.

His style of writing was as if you were experiencing it yourself.  Truly can understand his battles and his journey through faith.

If you like reads like I do like this, pick this book up!

 

 

I am Woman and I can roar too!

There is something I would like to share, but feel a little concerned on how to express it.  Quite frankly, I don’t even know what to call it. It has to do with married women with children and all other women.

With social media as the daily recognition, you can’t help but view stories or pictures of Mother’s and their children, or images of babies or children in their discoveries each day.  Which before I go any further or come up sounding bitter, SHOULD BE FILLED WITH.  What joy! What forum for mothers to relate to other mothers!

But what about the women without children, like myself, who seek a connection or validation?

For example, there are many times where I have enthusiasm on something new I learned or want to share and it doesn’t get the same response as lets say a picture of kids.  I don’t have kid pictures to post.  I mean I could share pics of my nephews and nieces, but feel that would be odd since they are not my children.

It’s not that I’m sad, or feel neglected, or desperate for attention.  That’s not it at all. But it does have to do with valuing women at any stage or journey in their life.  You come to know women’s situations – career women, middle aged unwed women, divorced women, senior women, widowed women, women without children, college aged women, women married without children, married women with children.

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So at times, I feel like input isn’t as highly praised or sought out like married women with children from our Church.  Why is that?

I even notice it at my parish in its ministries. For a while now, I’ve thought of contacting our pastors and asking them if a group could open up for ALL women who can relate.  But for whatever reason, it hasn’t happened.

I do appreciate many Catholic Women organizations like Blessed is She, Catholic Women, Made in His Image, etc.  I do think they try to call all of us into a ministry, but the interaction directly outside of them seems like to lack a connection.

It would do us all better if we cheer others on when it appears a woman is seeming cheery.  It would do us all better if even though a woman’s despair she shared would be sympathized even if it seems like you’ve gone through worse.

I think more women who are married and are blessed with children living out their faith, could reach out and relate to other women who do not mirror their lives by just relating to all women in any degree.   There a many women I encounter who feel like they’re dangling out there and don’t fit in to what the example image is of a woman in the Church.  Let’s find them and grab them by the hand and pull them in.

There is much going on with women who don’t visibly show the Church life with kids but are in the trenches doing work for the kingdom as well. Their fruits may not be shown with a gift like a child, but their vocation is just as important!

Thanks to God, the bible is filled with stories of women living very different lives who find faith in God and who then uniquely demonstrate their journeys.  Jesus meets us where we are at and shows us the way.  Let us not forget.