Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The State of Becoming

Sharp reminder: the Christ image we feed ourselves and how subjective our prayers can become.  Am I thinking of others before myself? Am I reiterating the past or trying to spell out the future?  God asks that we *be with Him and to trust Him in that we are exactly where we need to be.

There is a dichotomy between contentment and complacence just as there is a difference between being patient and being passive.  Patience is actively listening to know when to act or respond whereas passivity reverberates inactivity and an uncaring attitude.  Contentment means finding peace and joy in our daily lives as well as challenging our comfort zone so as not to become complacent.

We are always in this state of becoming: stripping down flaws and growing in humility; growing in confidence of our skills and purpose; redefining our daily habits.  We are always seeking to understand the self: the rational mind that logically analyzes each problem and aggressively pushes onward and up; the animalistic mind that is blind to reason and would prefer to remain static, to keep stemming and returning to comfort/pleasure.  Then, there is the Will that can choose between right and wrong; light and dark; positive and negative.  There are these intense moments when we say, feel, or do something that we do not expect of ourselves.  Nothing brilliant, but the excess cobwebs are no longer clouding judgement and the images become clearer, sharper.  Sometimes we crave stimulation, but our souls require peace.  Time and solitude can be healing in order for our GABA neurotransmitters to inhibit and clean up all of the excess Glutamate excitatory neurons from overthinking.  Are we constantly giving and growing?  But amidst the busy schedules there is also a need for solitude and rekindling a friendship with yourself.  Speak kindly to yourself and be gentle when uncovering wounds.  Sometimes I think that I am doing my best, but I can be better.  I hope so because the best is yet to be.


Saturday, August 22, 2015

Rome Sweet Home

There is something so freeing and releasing about a blank slate. A new beginning. A foreign feeling of being somewhere that I don't quite belong, but also feeling inclined to stop and lean my ear against another's heart, understanding the rythym and beat of that particular heart, the pain and and the joys, the constants and inconstants.  At the same time realizing that culture, space, time and travel do not make a difference for the human heart beats with the same constancy of love. Every time I reflect in a church ornamented with the most beautiful paintings, frescos, and sculptures, I am reminded that the heart is the same familiar beat I hear every time I pray in front of the Tabernacle whereever I may be -  school, home, abroad - and I am reminded that home is where He resides.

The world is a massive massive place my friends and as my heart is taking in all of the wonders and history, my spirit within me feels smaller, but also more invincible. There are moments of doubts and worries of being on my own, but that is exactly how I feel in this life.

I feel alive and new.

That was written while I was abroad.  Now that I am starting my senior year, I am taking some time to reflect on some of the messages imprinted on my heart from only 1 month ago when I was in Italy.

The world is big and beautiful and, at night, scary.  Use reason. Trust God.  Don't just rely on faith to feel good, rather, expand, give, hurt, while seeking healing and deep, immesurable peace.

Know yourself and change your habits to probe deeper and deeper until your conscience is formed the right way.  

Review your journey.  The story that led you to become the person who you are today.  It is a story of fallenness but also grace.  Praise God for the grace He has given you.  Thank Him everyday.

Make the most of time.  Time is a gift to form relationships.  Don't take the people in your life for granted because one day your journey and their journey will change.

Yes, change is good, but change is hard.  Change is good when you know that God is leading you to become someone you couldn't be without His grace.

Never stop growing and serving and dying to self.  The Lord is going to use you in so many beautiful ways.  If only you could see yourself as Christ sees you.

Embrace beauty, embrace truth, and embrace the cross.

Rome, Rome,
How you remind me of home.
I taste sweet Heaven's gates
There is so much to see
In the goodness that surrounds me.

Shattered hearts, broken souls
Made anew, to be used as vessels.
Torch of truth blaze the way
Til our hearts are numb
And our hair is grey.

Cloaked in mystery
Shrouded by humanity
Yet, internally, there is such chemistry
A heart of gold lies within
Being purged from a world of sin.



Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Forgivness

How am I called to forgive?
Do I forgive others in my life now?

These are questions parading my mind that have been enhanced by bible study this week.

Matthew 18:22
Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven."

Matthew 6:9-13 Our Father 

I have heard from a priest in confession that forgiveness is constant.  This is a hard truth because sometimes I want to say that I have fully forgiven someone, but I soon realize how flawed I am.  It is hard to forgive someone and let go.  But we are also called to learn from our mistakes.

How are we called to forgive in our day to day life? 

God loves and forgives us as shown by the love He poured out on the cross for us.
But in order to receive God's forgiveness, we have to choose to accept the love He gives us.   We also have to repent from the times that we have rejected God and disrupted our relationship with Him through sinning.  

I wonder if our heart's capacity to forgive is directly proportional to our capacity to love.  

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Suffering and Healing

This week started with a household talk about healing.  I almost didn't go to the meeting.  I had just been at a soccer team leadership meeting and all I could think about was the homework I needed to complete.  But I felt a nudge so I went and I am always happier when I listen to my intuition.  A senior talked about the 3 different levels of healing that occur on the physical, psychological, and spiritual level.  I am not proficient in all of the levels, but for the most part physical wounds are the tangible wounds that we see and can pray for, such as "Pray for Bob's broken foot."  The psychological wounds cut deeper and have to do with emotions, obsessions, or lies that we believe about ourselves.  Spiritual wounds are the deepest wounds and require spiritual direction, confession, and invoking the name of Jesus to break the bonds.  During the discussion that followed, one of the freshman made a comment that stuck with me.  She said that sometimes we hold onto our scars or suffering because we have formed our identity in them.  But we are called to form our identity in Christ, not in our crosses.  I came home that night and experienced healing through a deep conversation with one of my dearest friends.  God is just so good.

I believe that the most intimate encounter I can have with another person is to understand how Christ is working through their lives through personal suffering.  Whenever I have been vulnerable and told a friend about a personal matter, whether that suffering is from eons ago or from a recent experience, I have always felt like I was sharing the deepest part of me.  This is partly true because sharing our personal journey requires vulnerability and maturity.  Intimacy is misguided, though, if my identity resides more in suffering rather than listening to Christ.  He calls me to heal from suffering in order to glorify Him and even help others heal from wounds as well.

At bible study the next day, the bible verse we focused on was John 1:1-18 about the light overcoming the darkness.  The topic of suffering came up again and the discussion focused predominately on how God always brings good out of something.  How sometimes we feel as though we are in the dark and that changing our perspective of suffering to have purpose can help us.  How God can use our journey to help someone else going through a similar experience and draw people together.

Then, at mass tonight, the topic of suffering came up again in the homily.  A Eucharistic adorer and personal friend of the abbot, Marty, is in his final hours after battling ALS for many years.   Marty wrote a book called "Joy and Suffering: My Life with ALS" that I hope to read one day.  As the abbot explained the biological process of ALS, when all the muscles of the body shut down, I revisited my good friend Parkinson's disease and the neurological implications that PD leaves the patient with.  PD is such a personal battle for me because my Dad was diagnosed with onset PD almost 10 years ago.  This past summer my dad received a Deep Brain Stimulation surgery that has greatly increased his daily functionality.  But the progression of the disease will continue, even though his symptoms have become much more manageable.  The homily reminded me of how a disease weighs on a family and also draws them closer together.

I don't know if I consciously choose to define my personal journey as my family's suffering with PD, but I know that subconsciously it affects my friendships.  The important lesson to remember, however, is not to be so attached to personal suffering, but to continue to work on breaking that bond and focusing on Christ's eyes.  It isn't about the amount of suffering someone has experienced, but on growing closer to Christ.  

Speaking of Christ's eyes, today I found out that Bl. Titus Brandsma is my patron saint of the year on the same day as the memorial of the liberation of Auschwitz 70 years ago.  Bl. Titus was a priest, studied philosophy, and was tortured as a medical experiment and killed at Dachau concentration camp.  He wrote an awesome prayer contemplating Our Lord's eyes.

Before an Image of Jesus Crucified

Dear Lord, when looking up at Thee, I see Thy loving eyes on me; Love overflows my humble heart, Knowing what a faithful friend Thou are.
A cup of sorrow I foresee, Which I accept for love of Thee, Thy painful way I wish to go;The only way to God I know.
My soul is full of peace and light;Although in pain, this light shines bright. For here Thou keepest to Thy breast.
My longing heart to find there rest. Leave me here freely all alone, In cell where never sunlight shone. Should no one ever speak to me,
This golden silence makes me free! For though alone, I have no fear; Never wert Thou, O Lord, so near. Sweet Jesus, please, abide with me!
My deepest peace I find in Thee

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Beauty of Priests

If there is anything I've learned in the past year, is that God works in mysterious and, often, comical ways.  Only He could orchestrate for ordinary, very human and full-of-fault men to participate intimately in sharing the Body of Christ.  They spend their days conversing with God and sharing Him with those entrusted to their care.

These priests have been such a good influence in my spiritual journey.  Not only are they busy with ministering to the sick and dying, but they still care for others and are attentive to the needs of others.  The highlight of my Christmas break was encountering Christ through friendships with priests who know me and my family so well.  I love the monks on campus and  they often have very pertinent teachings.  I especially connect with the monks or priests on campus who intentionally minister to the students and participate in academic or sport functions.  Br. Edward is a good friend to me because he has taken me under his wing and enabled me to open up about my struggles to him.  There is also something beautiful about rekindling old friendships with priests who have stuck with me through my formation and transition from highschool to college.  I think Fr. Vander-Woude just looked at me and laughed because he knows me.  he told me that he has been asking about me from friends.  How silly of me to think that he would forget.  He still exudes care and holiness and I think he sees my mom in me.  Oh goodness! "Your mom, she's something else."  

Fr. Larry has such a grace of remembering as well.  He always knows just what I need to hear and confession with him is SO GOOD.  And just the mutual friendships his spirituality has lead me to discover is something that only God could orchestrate, like my summer physical therapy internship.  Such a blessing and privilege to go to confession with this good man.  And he also understands the broader picture of me because he knows my family and our values.  

Fr. Paul just knows my family so well and he has walked through the journey, even from a distance, of our struggles and joys.  He has chosen to participate in the journey with us because of his loving personality.  What a blessing it is to know these priests! And his friendship is such that he still opens up about his personal relationship with Christ.

A popular event on campus is Theology on Tap where priests have a relaxed discussion with students and answer questions.  Oh and alcohol is also involved for those 21 and up so it's a pretty sweet deal. The most recent priest talked about the difference between confession, spiritual direction and spiritual counseling.  Confession is when we confess sins and receive the grace of forgiveness.  Spiritual direction is accountability and receiving recommendations for self-improvement in the spiritual life.  These include telling the spiritual director of one's struggles with sins while also forming a game plan of how to avoid sinning in the future.  On the other hand, spiritual counseling is much more psychologically based and goes through the struggle of removing a sin by expressing the origin of where the struggle resulted from in child hood.  It was very enlightening to distinguish between these various spiritual aides.

God speaks to us by consoling our hearts through the twists and turns of life.  Sometimes I am fearful of the change that God is directing towards my heart and would prefer to assert my own independence.  But He calls and soothes me back down toward him.  Then, there are times when His hand is very obvious: through conversing with others, spiritual reading, and things He brings up in our hearts.  We just have to have the perspective to see His work underlying EVERYTHING and to grow in awe of Him.  Like Fr. Kirby said, God's ways are strange to those who are strangers to God.


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

I'm Such a Girl

Life can be measured by heart to hearts because that is where the true, the good, and the beautiful blooms.  Heart to hearts are when your aching soul opens up to another aching soul and the exquisite delight of God's grace becomes prevalent.  When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable to our very core, nothing but growth and change occurs from within.  Life giving love is the "expansive" feeling of giving of ourselves and receiving another's empathy.  Only selfless love can stem from such an intimate encounter because we begin to see Christ's image in another soul.    

"To love another person is to see the face of God."
- Les Miserables

Self - Reflection

Dear world, aka myself,

I feel like I write on this blog when I want to professionally publish any philosophical musings I have.  These philosophical musings usually occur when I need to study and suddenly I just have to write down every single thought - good or bad- on a nearby scrap of paper or else I will dieeeee.  How cool is it to discover hidden depths through writing that you didn't know that you possessed before? God is so at work in our day to day lives.  He is so cool.   

I love reviewing my internal growth through writing.  I also have so much to continue to grow in. He is always so so so good.  

Recently, I have been feeling very imperfect, but yet I still have this overwhelming sense of worthiness.  I know that I am worthy of greatness and excellence and virtue, but I am so very imperfect and have very limited means of attaining these goals.

And yet, to be imperfect is to be human.  I am learning to compartmentalize work and play in order to not have an emotional response when someone constructively criticizes my work, instead of viewing them as criticizing my worth. That's part of being a student athlete who has deadlines and dates that I have to attend to.

Edith Stein has wise words for women in her Essay "The Separate Vocations of Man and Woman According to Nature and Grace."  She says that a woman's professional activity "counterbalances the risk of submerging herself all too intimately in another's life and thereby sacrificing her own; however, an exclusive preoccupation with her professional activity would bring the opposite danger of infidelity toward her feminine vocation."  There has to be balance in a woman's life or else she will be too involved in someone else's personal life and forget about her own life or if she is too involved in her professional life than she can neglect her duties as a wife and mother.  In order to achieve this balance of thinking objectively while understanding that feminity is a gift, women must go to God and "surrender themselves completely into the Lord's hands." (78).  Have I mentioned before how much I love Edith Stein? She gets it.  I just want to have her over to my room, drink tea and discuss masculinity and feminity.  

Junior year has been pretty hectic so far.  There is a general shift in how I present and view myself this year academically and socially and I am still adjusting to my journey and season of life.  Actually, junior year has been heavier and more serious, but also so much fun.  There is less awkwardness, but more pressure because you are pretty set in your major and have to work through it.  

But there is also this internal peace in knowing that I am where I need to be in my life and that I have the ability to take risks and grow in confidence and grace.  There is still a blessed openness to God's Will.      

And now I really do need to get back to studying,

TTFN! 
Robyn