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.
Holy Mother Church recognizes each day of the week, each month of the year and even a year itself carries unique characteristics. She has set aside certain devotional practices for each day, month, and sometimes in a very special way a year as we have seen Pope Benedict XVI name this year, The Year of Faith. We too can attach a particular intention, virtue or focus to our days, months and years.
We have taken up this noble practice here at Suscipio by following the custom of setting aside Tuesday’s as a day to recommend ourselves and the prayers close to our heart to St Martha.
There is a common practice of “Naming” the year by setting aside a word for the year; a focal point to direct our days, weave our weeks together and attach month to blessed month. Just as a North Star, or the straight arrow of a compass will redirect the lost, weary and confused so our word for the year can gently lead us back on the path we have set out for ourselves. All steps are directed by God the Father, but the way in which we choose to walk is up to us.
We may begin the year with the grand and noble idea of working on our patience, so we name the year “Patience.” And in the course of the year, not only are we given the opportunity to work on our patience level–meaning our temper, or or reaction to life’s little annoyances–the good God may see fit to lead us to a deeper appreciation of patience as we await medical results, employment after a layoff, or the patience that can only be found in the depths of grief. The Lord may refine our patience as we grow large and heavy with new life tucked deep within our womb…or new life held deep within our heart. The body of patience can carry a variety of meat and bones.
In years past I have focused on such words as Trust, Joy, and Abide. And now another year has chosen its name. As I began praying about this year, “simple” kept coming to mind…but that it not my word for the year. As I looked up the definition and synonyms for simple, quiet caught my eye…but that is not my word for the year. One of the synonyms for quiet reached out and grabbed me–a kindred word to humble, lowly, meek, moderate, nice, proper, prudent, quiet, silent, simple, temperate and unassuming.
This new year has chosen to be to focused on what is good without being distracted by irrelevant superficiality. A word where life is essential, rewards are superfluous and nature opens to a wider world where ornamentation stifles. A year which contains the essence of self-forgetfulness.* I will take the words of Emily Dickinson to heart as I continue to wade through the fickle and ever-changing world. I will remind myself the internet serves me and not the other way around.
“My barefoot rank is better,” Emily Dickinson said and I type these words out on January 1st, sitting in my pajamas…barefoot.
I rang in the New Year with my family and friends at 11pm Mass, and literally, when the clock struck midnight and fireworks were exploding throughout the neighborhood, and the Times Square Ball slowly descended, so did our Lord’s body and blood in father’s hands upon the altar. I was focused on the supreme Good and the essential Life. The virtue of modesty in thought, word and deed encompassed my new year.
My word for 2013 is
Welcome back ladies to Suscipio–a place of support, acceptance for the Catholic Woman.
*above quotes taken from an article entitled “The Virtue of Modesty” by Donald Demarco.
The month of waiting is about to be over in a few short hours. We will celebrate the birth of Christ. God made Man to save man. Can you even believe it? Could you ever imagine it? The Creator…becoming like the created…to save the created! That makes no sense does it?
But neither does joy in the midst of sorrow, peace in the midst in trials and comfort in the midst of suffering. But our God does not have to make sense to the world…although He created this world, it does not know Him.
If this world knew Jesus, Christmas would not end tomorrow after the gifts were opened, the turkey eaten and the trash carried out to the curb…it would just be starting.
Let’s celebrate Christmas as a season, not just a day.
The preparations of Advent are past, now is the time for rejoicing and our baby Savior deserves more than one day don’t you think? Holy Mother Church thinks so; traditionally the Church has celebrated the birth of Jesus through at least the Epiphany on January 6. But the season of Epiphany, which begins on the Eve of the Epiphany, is not over until the end of the Octave of Epiphany, which lasts for eight days, so not until the 13th. And the season of Christmas actually runs all the way through to February 2, the Feast of the Purification or Candlemas Day.
The time is at hand, continue to prepare the way of the Lord!
Christ as Emmanuel (God is With Us)
The night before Christmas…are we ready? This whole month has been spent in preparation for the coming of Jesus Christ, the Son of God the Father, the second person of the Blessed Trinity, the King of Kings, the Savior of the World. And He comes as a baby.
The time of waiting is a time of testing. There is nothing else to do but trust in the living God. There is nothing harder for an imperfect soul like ours to do, than to learn that we ourselves can do nothing and all things can be done by God.
The time before birth always seems longer than any other. I have thought God made it seem so long so that we would be forced to wonder about Him–the Father of ourselves and of our children.
You are with God, and you must look at Him with the eyes of faith in those long nights.
–Blessed is the Fruit, from an article “How to Have a Baby” which appeared in St Joseph Magazine by April Ousler Armstrong
All but two of my children have been planned inductions. I spend the week before in methodical preparation. I pack my hospital bag, prepare babysitting for my other children, and I always make it a priority to go to confession. I spend the night before in anxious anticipation. Eager for the birth, afraid for the changes it will bring.
Birth and death are sisters, the strange twins who bridge the verge between eternity and time. The hour of birth draws near and no woman in the world can be completely free of fear. It is not pain or danger that haunts you most. Though you may not have the words to capture it there is in you an awe at the fact that there will be one moment when life and death graze in passing.
–Blessed is the Fruit, from an article “How to Have a Baby” which appeared in St Joseph Magazine by April Ousler Armstrong
Are we ready for the moment in time when eternal life and death meet in the stable? Jesus came, born as baby in a manger to poor humble parents so we might have life…and have it more abundantly. This time of preparation, has been to prepare us for the new life we live found only in Christ.
God is with us! And that fact alone should produce abundant living.
He has overcome death so we could live full earthly lives and glorious eternal ones.
So are we? Living an abundant life?
An abundant life is filled with hope. Are we living full of hope?
A synonym for hope is faith.
“I hope my husband gets a raise and if he does not, I have faith everything will work out anyway…maybe even better.”
A synonym for hope is belief.
“I hope my situation turns out for the good, but I believe all things work together for the good for those who love God.”
A synonym for hope is endurance.
“I hope my marriage, my children, my job, etc, will turn around and be a source of comfort and joy. Until then, I will endure and love like Christ…because He loved me first.”
God is with us! This is a time of great rejoicing!
Christ as Rex Gentium (King of All Nations)
Isaiah 9:7 Isaiah 2:4
Three more days. Are you ready? Does it seem like Christmas is so close or does it seem like it’s still a ways out? How about 80 miles away? 80 miles is the distance between Nazareth and Bethlehem.
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirin’i-us was governor of Syria. And all went to be enrolled, each to his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
Do we have somewhere–maybe closer than 80 miles or maybe farther–that we need to travel this Christmas?
Do we need to walk down the hall, take a left in the first open door and spend some quiet time with a little one who has been hustled and bustled until their little heart almost broke and their temper did?
How about the distance between grown siblings? Hurt feeling, harsh words and plain old misunderstandings can create a chasm greater than 80 miles wide and 80 miles deep. Is the crevasse filled with sour memories and more time than we know how to make up for? One step…one call…one generic Christmas card could make all the difference in the world.
When we crawl in bed at night, what’s the mathematical equation to find the area between us and our husband? Him hanging off the right side + me hanging off the left = a span of separation not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well. What would happen if we just reached out yonder, across crumpled sheets and through flannel pajamas and touched his arm as we fell asleep? Would that be the first step to help fill that void?
Does God the Father seem so far out there, way past the tiniest of stars we stare up at each night, wondering where He is and not really caring what the answer may be because we don’t feel like he’s near us. As the animated character Buzz Light-Year would say, “To infinity and beyond!” Is that where God seems right now? Beyond.
Do you know how much you are wanted and loved? God loves you and wants you sweet sister in Christ. He longs, LONGS, to be near you. So much so, He makes Himself available all the time, 24/7, 365, on too many altars to count and way more churches to name and number.
That noisy child following you around, he longs to be near you. That’s why he sticks so close. If he were a toddler, he cold be unrolling the toilet paper roll. If he were a young boy, he could be hidden in some secret fort out back. If he were a teen, he could be gone…just gone…period. Instead he’s around, maybe bugging you, but around none the less.
Those families ties stretched to the breaking point and beyond. There may be hope. And if there is no hope, and in some families there is not, there is prayer. Whether you see them or not, you must pray for them. Fill that hole with prayer and all will be well someday, maybe not until heaven, but all will be well.
The man you share that expanse of bed with, if he does not long for you…ache for him. Yes, ache.
verb (used without object)
to have or suffer a continuous, dull pain: His whole body ached.
to feel great sympathy, pity, or the like: Her heart ached for the starving animals.
to feel eager; yearn; long: She ached to be the champion. He’s just aching to get even.
Ache for your man, ache for your marriage. God promises to make all things new and let Him start with you.
The baby Jesus is coming to be the King of all nations and everyone knows a good king restores and unifies…families, marriages, hearts…all things.
Christ as Oriens (Radiant Dawn, Dayspring)
Isaiah 9:2, Malachi 4:1-3
This sure is a season of light huh? LED, flashing, twinkling, blinking, glowing, icicle like. We use terms of light to describe lots of things: “A smile that lights up a room…An attitude that chases away darkness…A vibrant personality…A glowing report.”
I want to be lit up this Advent and Christmas—and I am not talking about the kind of lit up from my brother in law’s Apple Pie Moonshine (although it is yummy). No, I want the light of Christ, the Son of Justice to light me up. And the Light of Justice will reveal all.
Let it all be revealed I say; I want to be illuminated. I would rather see it now; it–the sin, bad habits and faults that keep me so far from God. I want to see deep down in the crevices that hide my sin and the dark recesses that conceal my faults and the gray, tangled, cob-webs of vice accumulating in the corners. These can only be seen if I’m filled with the light of Christ…or the flames of Purgatory. Um, I choose the Light of Christ, how ’bout you?
But that’s a part of any preparation isn’t it? Bringing everything into the light to get a good once over. The cleaning and clearing, making room for something better. Getting rid of the unused, the ugly…basically the junk. And so we drag it out and examine it in the light. ”Yes, this has to go,” we may declare as we look at it from all sides. Or, we may decide it can stay, but we clean it up and use it differently.
Let’s take a good look and see what needs to be tossed to the curb and what can stay, but used differently. I’m talking physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally. Let’s take a great big inventory, digging deep, asking ourselves the hard questions, holding ourselves up in the Light. And once the inventory is completed, if there is sin, let’s confess it and get it out of there…for good. Let’s end the old year and start the new year off as clean and shiny as possible. I figure the less sin and bad habits cluttering my soul, the more room for the Love of Christ.
Jesus has already come once in the dark, only to be told there was no room…I do not want to be the one to say it this time.