Emily | A Year of Living Adventurously
This is one of those mysteries that you can ponder for a long time and never quite finish pondering it. The “preaching of the kingdom” covers just about everything in the gospels: the Sermon on the Mount, the parables, the cures, the Loaves and Fishes, the Bread of Life discourse–all of Jesus’ preaching and activities. In that sense, it’s an easy mystery to pray, because you can pick your favorite image or story or event and meditate on that.
But I think it’s also fruitful to use this to ponder our own sense of mission. For nuns and sisters, it’s their prayer and their apostolate that is their preaching. For married women, it’s their married life, and growing in holiness with their husbands; for a mother, it’s taking care of her family, and raising her kids to know God and to be devout Catholics. For the single, it can be a little harder, but we are all called to holiness, to prayer, and to bringing that to the world.
In the Dominican order (of which I am a part), we believe that you must fill your own well first, then bring it to others. St. Thomas Aquinas gave us the phrase ‘contemplate and share with others the fruit of your contemplation.’ So we have to pray, study, and live the Gospel ourselves before we can go out and give it to others. In secular parlance, you can see it as having to take care of yourself, before you can take care of others.
We can see this clearly in the second Greatest Commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” As yourself. How do you love yourself? Do you take care of your spiritual, physical, and emotional needs? Do you beat yourself up constantly, thinking that everything you do is wrong, that you are unlovable?
Meditate on this mystery and realize that God loved us so much that He sent His Son to us. That is immense, unchangeable love! God loves you as you are. You are so important to Him. Go to Him in prayer, in study, in lectio, and fill your own well. Realize that God has placed you here to serve Him and preach to others in your own unique way.
St. Teresa of Avila said that she found God among the pots and pans. In that same way, Jesus went among our pots and pans–our daily lives–and ministered. He preached everywhere He went. He used the basic things of life–loaves and fishes, bread and wine–to work His miracles.
In our own lives, we can preach in the most basic things. Doing our jobs well, making dinner for our family, even having coffee with a friend and providing a listening ear. Everything we do can be sanctified, and we don’t need to pass out tracts to do it.
Holiness is attractive–real holiness. That’s something we can work toward.Jesus preached the kingdom to us so that we could know it, know HIm and His Father, and then follow Him. Following involves telling others what we have heard and seen.
In 10 days we’ll celebrate Easter. Mary Magdalene on that morning ran back to the Apostles and said that Christ has risen. She brought them news of the kingdom, indeed. Let’s realize how much God loves us, and use that love to motivate us to preach the kingdom in our own small corners of the world.
Emily | A Year of Living Adventurously
In iconography, St. Catherine of Siena, a lay Dominican, can often be found with a ship on her shoulder, the saint holding it steady as she looks ahead. The ship is the Barque of St. Peter–the Catholic Church–and the papal insignia is often found on the ship’s flag. Why the boat? St. Catherine is intimately connected with the papacy. During her lifetime, she worked to achieve peace among the warring Italian states, implored Pope Gregory XI to leave Avignon and return the papacy to Rome, and encouraged clerical reform. In 1378, she was summoned to Rome by Pope Urban VI, where she worked for the reformation of the Church, served the destitute, and wrote eloquent letters on the pope’s behalf. Because of all the work she did to support the papacy, she had a vision that the Barque of Peter had been placed upon her shoulders, and it was crushing her to death. She was also a recipient of the stigmata and is one of the four female Church Doctors.
In this time of papal interregnum, St. Catherine is a perfect patron saint. Her novena would be a great practice to adopt as we await the beginning of the conclave, and the election of our next Holy Father. No matter how much her work on behalf of Christ and His church drained her physical energies, she never stopped proclaiming the Truth and showing Christ’s abundant love to all she met.
Novena Prayer to St. Catherine of Siena
O marvelous wonder of the Church, seraphic virgin, St. Catherine, because of your extraordinary virtue and immense good which you accomplished for the Church and society, you are acclaimed and blessed by all people. Turn your benign countenance to the Church who, confident of your powerful patronage, calls upon you with all the ardor of affection and begs you to obtain, by your prayer, the favors of peace in the Church, blessings upon our past Pope, and the grace of a saintly Supreme Pontiff.
You, who were a victim of Charity, who in order to benefit your neighbor obtained from God the most stupendous miracles and became the joy and hope of all, you cannot help but hear the prayers of those who fly unto your heart–that heart which you received from the Divine Redeemer in a celestial ecstasy.
Yes, O seraphic virgin, demonstrate once again proof of your power and your flaming charity, so that your name will be ever more blessed and exalted: grant that we, having experiences your most effacious intercession here on Earth, may come one day to thank you in heaven and enjoy eternal happiness with you.
O God, Eternal Shepherd, who govern Your flock with unfailing care, grant in Your boundless fatherly Love a pastor for Your Church who will please You by his holiness and to us show watchful care. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever.
Monday Sunday Night, in Lent, I am…
Thanking God For
::dancing wind chimes on the front porch
::reading aloud to Chris, Folks, This Ain’t Normal: A Farmer’s Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World
::“Cold Coming On” soup for kids and daddy with colds
::recliner in front of the fire place to sit up with a stuffy baby
::a friend who lives near by calling with an offer to pick up something…anything to help us out
“It is the Bible that provides the best book for private prayer. The best way to feed prayer is to ponder the words of Scripture. Carmelites (in fact all Christians) make the great mistake in trying to practice “the presence of God” without sustaining it by the Word of God.”
Lectio Divina and the Practice of Teresian Prayer
I am learning to crochet, again. Obviously I never really learn how to crochet or I would not need to “relearn” each time I feel the need to crochet something. My very sweet and super patient neighbor is teaching me to crochet Granny Squares. (Since my house has been down with a cold, I have been watching videos on the internet). I have this very grand idea. I do not want a long term commitment project like a scarf or blanket…boring. But I want to make something. Granny Squares seem like the perfect project. I can make a couple a day, theoretically; the girls can make some too, and once we have a substantial pile of Granny Squares, we’ll connect them to make a blanket.
It’s March! This month we will be memorizing the traditional Prayer to St Joseph. I hope to get our memorization helps posted this week. My plan was this weekend, but a house full of my people with a cold changed all that.
Obviously we have already started praying for the Conclave of Cardinals and our next Holy Father. And I’m just praying as the needs come: a friend here, a child there, an urgent request for health, a quiet request for peace.
Tamar Adler–a friend gave me this link, she said the roasted veggies are amazing so I have her book on hold at the library
40 Breakfast Casserole Recipes–I know we need a great breakfast every morning, so I am going to make up a bunch of breakfast casseroles and freeze them. Put them in the fridge the night before and then put them in the oven first thing in the morning..Breakfast!
In the Garden
Chris went and got a truck bed full of free mulch on Saturday (obviously before he realized the kids had shared their cold with him). Can I say it was lovely? It was warm and smoky, earthy and woodsy scented. We got the idea from that movie I linked to, Back to Eden. We’ve always heard how important mulch is, but never thought much about it. But that movie is so convincing!
How I Spent My Weekend
Join us each Monday as we record our days in a Catholic Woman’s Almanac.
Emily | A Year of Living Adventurously
I would not have wanted to be a first century wedding planner.
Instead of an event that last a day, these weddings went on for multiple days. People knew how to party in first century Israel. And anyone who’s ever planned a party knows that the two most important things you have to provide are drinks and food. What humans like hasn’t changed that much.
And you also had one heck of a guest list. No wimpy “plus ones” at these events. Jesus was there with Mary and all the disciples. Can you imagine that today? “Miriam? Hi, this is Mary, down the road…we’d love to come to Elizabeth’s wedding. My son will be coming, and about twelve of his closest friends…”
So we have the wedding. And then we have the party–a days long party.
With apparently very bad planning, because the wine ran out. Early.
At these parties, you started with the best wine you had, and then, as people “enjoyed themselves”, the wine got progressively “less good”, shall we say. It was prudent not just monetarily, but after a day or so of drinking, people probably weren’t noticing the quality anymore.
But at this wedding, there was no wine, of any vintage. Imagine the scene in the classic film A Christmas Story, after the dogs have devoured the holiday turkey: “No turkey! No turkey gravy! Or gallons of turkey soup! Gone, all gone!”
The wine was indeed gone. All gone.
Now, Mary had probably thrown a few parties in her day, or watched her mother do it. There was probably a party when she and Joseph became officially engaged. And like many seasoned hostesses, she didn’t panic. She simply turned to her son and said, “they have no wine.”
Now Jesus, like sons (and daughters) throughout the ages, had a little “do I have to” moment. (Remember, Jesus was human, in all ways but sin). “My hour has not yet come.”
Mary ignores this, and calls over the servants. “Do whatever he tells you,” she says. Then, Jesus performs his first miracle–he turns the large jugs of water into wine. And not just any wine–wine so good that the chief steward is amazed at its quality.
This is a “fun” miracle. No one’s life hangs in the balance, but the appearance of the wine saves the hosts from a lot of embarrassment that would probably be mentioned at every social gathering until the Second Coming. (It’s a quirk of human nature that we remember the ‘imperfect’ parties, but not the perfect ones.) But it’s also a nice reminder that Jesus and Mary care about the small events of our lives, things like parties and celebrations. We can turn to them in all times, when we need a healing, but also when we just need a party to come off without the turkey falling on the floor or someone spilling red wine all over the carpet, or the kids destroying the leather couch or the basement dry-wall.
Jesus and Mary were involved in every aspect of humanity, and that included the social aspects. In Lent, we’re probably not throwing a lot of parties. But we can remember that our heavenly family cares about everything we do, even our feasts.
Catholicism isn’t just a religion of the cross, although that’s an important aspect. It’s as Hilaire Belloc said: “Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine/ there is always laughter and good red wine.”
Emily | A Year of Living Adventurously
The Baptism of the Jordan begins the Mysteries of Light, or the Luminous Mysteries, given to us by Blessed Pope John Paul II in October of 2003. It’s the only change, really, that’s been made to the rosary in its long history.
Before my transplant, my parents asked me what mysteries of the rosary they should pray. I said they should start with the luminous, because they’re my favorite.
Looking at this mystery, we can ask, “why did Jesus even need baptism? He’s perfect, right? Why is this necessary?” Jesus himself gives us the answer in the Gospel of Matthew:
“Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized y him. John would have prevented him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?’ But Jesus answered him, ‘Let it be so now: for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he consented.” Matthew 3: 13-15, RSV
“To fulfill all righteousness.” Jesus doesn’t need John’s baptism, and John knows it. But just like the Virgin Mary didn’t need purified in the Temple after Jesus’ birth. But Jesus didn’t shun the outward signs of faith and belief. So why, then, the baptism?
To show us what we need, that we may imitate him. As we imitate Jesus when we honor his mother, and partake of the Eucharist, so we do so when we baptize our children, and repent of our sins.
Ash Wednesday is quickly upon us. On that day, at Mass, the priest will mark our foreheads with ashes and say, “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.” This is an echo of what John said and did during his ministry–he called his people to repentance, and to believe in God’s word. He prepared the way for Christ, so that when Christ appeared, he could say, “This is the Lamb of God. This is one you should follow, not me. I am only his messenger.”
We tend to discuss John more in Advent, but he also deserves our attention in Lent. We are to prepare the way for Jesus now, just as we did in December. Lent and Advent are both penitential seasons. Are we preparing, or starting to think about preparing?
John, from the moment he met Christ, He was ready for him. He was always prepared to welcome him. Are we? What can we do to make our lives more open to God, so we too can fulfill all righteous, and fulfill our baptismal promise?
How do we prepare the way of the Lord?
I am finally getting around to this exciting post letting you all know the vision I have for Suscipio in 2013. This vision was just kind of floating around until your comments and suggestions on the Book Club Survey. Thank you for taking the time to respond and help make Suscipio an even better place on the web for the Catholic woman.
Here’s my vision for us…
Each month has a theme, based on the traditional dedication of that month, a book or reading that we will discuss, and some memorization for us to work on in community.
Dedicated to: The Holy Family
Discussion: Splendor in the Ordinary: Your Home as a Holy Place
Memorization: 1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Dedicated to: The Sacred Heart of Jesus
Theme: Love of and for Jesus
Discussion: Consoling the Heart of Jesus: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat- Inspired by the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius
Memorization: Matthew 6:25-34
Dedicated to: The Immaculate Heart of Mary
Discussion: The 4:8 Principle: The Secret to a Joy-Filled Life
Memorize: Luke 1:46-55 (The Magnificat)
Dedicated to: The Holy Rosary
Theme: Daily Prayer and Devotions
Discussion: The Rosary: Keeping Company with Jesus and Mary
Memorization: The Rosary
Dedicated to: The Poor Souls in Purgatory
Memorization: The Prayer of St Gertrude for the Poor Souls in Purgatory
Dedicated to: The Immaculate Conception
Memorization: John 1:1-16
For example, January has been traditionally dedicated to the Holy Childhood of Jesus and our theme is “Littleness”. We will be discussing The Story of a Soul and memorizing Ephesians 4:25-32 together. I know January is half over, don’t worry. I found The Story of Soul online or a free audio version for those of you who do not own the book and the memorization is only 8 verses!
I want you to contribute, you want to contribute, and having a theme will help you. You may be inspired to write on sacrifices…that happens to be our theme in September. We would love to read your thoughts and meditations on sacrifice and you have eight months for that post to brew if you need.
Do you see a favorite book or topic on the vision? Great! You could help lead the discussion. Is there a prayer on there you’ve always wanted to memorize, but haven’t? (Um, you all know the trouble I have had with memorizing the Magnificat!) How about a Scripture verse you would love to have tucked away, but have not found the support or encouragement to memorize…we’re going to memorize together! Our own accountability and support group.
See those two blank spots under November and then again in December? I’m stumped. What, if anything should we discuss during the busy time of November and December. Any suggestions?
So look this over, print it out if you like, and let’s celebrate this Year of Faith reading, praying, learning, memorizing and discussing as the awesome group of women that we are here at Suscipio!
Emily | Catholic Poster Girl
I’m going to guess that Mary’s first thought here was whew.
Her second was probably: What sort of punishment can I give the Son of God?
OK, I’m guessing–and kidding–on that last one, although I’m sure that any other kid that disappeared for three days would get an, “I love you and you are so grounded!”
This is one of the mysteries that seem very relatable, almost modern, to us. Who hasn’t been in charge of children and suddenly, one was missing? The heart starts to pound, the breathing increases, panic sets in.
A few years ago, my aunt took me, my sister, and my two cousins to the water park for the day. She couldn’t stay, because she had a little boy at home and errands to run. So I was in charge of the three kids. This was before transplant, so breathing wasn’t all that great, and my swimming skills are OK, but not lifeguard worthy (My brother and I flunked swimming lessons because we couldn’t float. True story.). As the second-oldest cousin on my mom’s side of the family, I was often put in charge of the kids, on land or in water. Land, OK. Water made me nervous.
We found chairs and dropped our beach bags and towels over them. Before the kids could go in the water, I very firmly said, “I cannot swim that well. You are not to go out beyond the three foot section, especially when the waves are going, because I won’t be able to get you, and I don’t trust that the lifeguards will see you in the craziness. You will stay close, and you will stay where I can see you.”
The kids obeyed (my sister, a bit grudgingly, because she can swim, and very well). Of course, their safety was paramount, but also, I didn’t want to have to face my parents or my aunt if one of them drowned. (Yes, I do tend to think worst-case scenarios when I’m in charge of other people’s kids!)
We got through the day without incident. But every time those waves started, I was as alert as a Tijuana cab driver at a stop light.
Now, Mary and Joseph were traveling with a lot of people, so it made sense that Jesus was with someone in the family. That also happens with my family. “Where’s the baby?” “Oh, Aunt so-and-so took her out on the deck.” Even if you can’t see your kid, someone has them, and she’s OK. So Joseph and Mary probably just assumed that.
But then, they realized no one had him. Well, crap.
This isn’t losing a kid at the mall or the amusement park. This is losing a kid anywhere between where they were and Jerusalem. Three days ago. I bet they flew back to the city, panicking the entire time and thinking what ifs.
And there was twelve-year old Jesus–totally old enough to know better–in the temple, calmly engaging in discussion with the rabbis and other religious leaders.
“Son, why have you done this to us?” A perfectly valid question that Mary asks him. In other words: What were you THINKING?!?!?!
Jesus is very calm when he answers. “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
Jesus had faith: in his Father, and in his mother and his adoptive father, that they would find them. Jesus had to be in the temple, speaking with these learned men, preparing them for him when he would come so many years later and begin his public life. He also knew that his parents would find him, and take him home and all would be well.
But Mary and Joseph didn’t know that. Maybe they felt silly on the way back for worrying, Jesus being who he was. Maybe they felt a little chagrined at his cool confidence and steady answer. But I imagine what Mary felt was all-encompassing relief.
Like before, Mary trusted when she really had no idea of what was going to happen. She must have trusted that God wouldn’t let anything harm His son. But I’m sure there was still some worry. She was human, and a mother. But Jesus had total faith in her and Joseph. He knew they’d come for him.
God is like that lifeguard, or like me, standing at the water’s edge, watching those kids like a hawk. Jesus says that even a sparrow is accounted for before God. We have to have faith that God is protecting us, even when we seem lost, like Jesus did, and like his parents did. Because to God, we’re never lost.
by Emily | Catholic Poster Girl
“When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, …and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, ‘a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.’ …Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him….Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother, Mary… ‘and a sword will pierce your own soul too.’” (Lk: 2: 22, 24, 25, 35, NRSV version)
The Presentation is a perplexing mystery. Not so much in what it is, because that’s fairly simple. After Jesus’ birth, his parents take him to the Temple to be presented to God. They are following the Jewish customs, even though Jesus is the Son of God, and has no need of presentation, or Mary of ritual purification, which she also received at this time. They are both perfect. But they also follow God’s law to the letter, and do the things he has commanded. They bring two turtle doves, the offering of the poor.
In the Temple, strange things happen. Two old people–one man and one woman–appear. They come to see the sight they have wanted to see for so long: the Son of God, the Messiah, in their midst.
“Now, Lord” cries Simeon, “you may let your servant go in peace; your word has been fulfilled. Mine eyes have seen the salvation of your people Israel.”
But he says something else, something troubling: A sword will pierce Mary’s heart. Sorrow will come upon this young mother, and this perfect child. Remember that Mary is a young woman, still a teenager. She doesn’t know the plan that is before her. She doesn’t know what God is going to ask of her, and of her Son. She might have an idea, because she is versed in Scripture; she knows what the prophecy of the Messiah says. But there’s not a road map there, there are few specifics. Most of it is couched in poetic, prophetic language.
Imagine you’re Mary, holding that little baby in your arms. Jesus is a little more than a month old. He’s asleep there, maybe sucking his thumb. His skin is soft and so perfect. There are ten little fingernails, and his hands are so tiny. You love this child more than your own life.
Your happiness is tainted by this man’s pronouncement. What can he mean? Joseph doesn’t understand, either. Certainly, Mary “pondered this in her heart,” as Luke tells us. And also, surely, she had faith. Faith that God, who had taken her this far, wouldn’t let her or her son fall. They had to trust in His plan–in the Divine plan–and keep moving forward.
An angel would warn Joseph to take them to the safety of Egypt, where they knew no one. They had to trust in God’s word. And a few years later, the same angel would call them back to their home country. Their lives, from the beginning, were not the calm, ordered ones of their neighbors and friends.
I like plans. I like to know what’s going to happen, and when. I have a certain amount of flexibility built into my life; I never know what part of my body is going to go on strike next and demand that I drop everything to fix it. So I make plans, while knowing that they could be changed because of events outside my control. To me, ER runs and unexpected tests are normal. A bit challenging, but normal.
I imagine Mary’s life was a bit like that. She never really knew what was going to happen next. Jesus wasn’t any other child. She was raising God in her house! I think that would present a formidable challenge to even the best parents. But she had faith that God had chosen her and Joseph for this task. She didn’t know what was ahead, but at the moment, she didn’t need to know.
Later in his life, the babe-in-arms would admonish us to not worry about tomorrow, but instead focus on today. I can imagine him learning this lesson from his parents, who knew that today often brought its own surprises. Mary knew to always place her faith in God, even when she didn’t quite understand what He was doing (as we’ll see in the next mystery).
In this new year, and during the Year of Faith, let’s ask Mary to help us do the same: to trust, even when we can’t see the way; to believe, even when we don’t know why.