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?
1. (initial capital letter) a Christian festival, observed on January 6, commemorating the manisfestation of Christ to the gentiles in the persons of the Magi; Twelfth day.
Well…yes…we did already celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany as explained in the first definition above. I still reflect on this wonderful event in the life of Christ on this date even though it has been recognized already. Yes…I still have all the decorations up, the tree is lit in the window every night, we are still listening to Christmas music. I am savoring the very last moments…
2. an appearance or manifestation, esp. of a diety.
In reflecting on the second definition, I realize there are many manifestations of God in our daily lives. Some will be magnificent and wonderful…others small, ordinary, obscure. If we are not aware, we could miss those *smaller* epiphanies that *appear* in the daily…in the ordinary. Sometimes the manifestation occurs right within our souls~an invitation Spirit-whispered urging us closer to God.
3. a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely or commonplace occurrence or experience.
I love this!…the simple…the homely…the commonplace…isn’t that where most of us our living the daily…not in extraordinary circumstances but the everyday…the mundane? Finding God amongst this takes more perspective, awareness, living in the present….living in His Presence. By being grateful for the simple and even for the mundane, the gritty, we are drawn into that very moment ordained by God. He is there to manifest to us His Very Presence…an epiphany!
4. a literary work or section of a work presenting, usually symbolically, such a moment of revelation and insight.
How many epiphanies, insights, revelations have met me through the many readings I have immersed myself into. Scripture, the writings of the Carmelite Saints and many other good holy books.
I am taking small steps…beginning to be grateful for the epiphany of every moment…it is not an easy task and one that I have to will myself to do for love of God. I am learning the more I thank, the more I see, the more I am aware of God in that very moment…even in suffering. All is hallowed ground…
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!
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.