Feeling distracted and overwhelmed this Advent Season? Loosing sight of the reason for the season? Christmas blues?
-A Poem Attributed to St. Anthony of Padua-
Everyone longs to give themselves completely to someone,
To have a deep soul relationship with another,
To be loved thoroughly and exclusively.
But to a Christian, God says, “No, not until you are satisfied,
Fulfilled and content with being loved by me alone,
With giving yourself totally and unreservedly to me.
With having an intensely personal and unique relationship with me alone.
Discovering that only in me is your satisfaction to be found,
Will you be capable of the perfect human relationship,
That I have planned for you.
You will never be united to another
Until you are united with me.
Exclusive of anyone or anything else.
Exclusive of any other desires or longings.
I want you to stop planning, to stop wishing, and allow me to give you
The most thrilling plan existing . . . one you cannot imagine.
I want you to have the best. Please allow me to bring it to you.
You just keep watching me, expecting the greatest things.
Keep experiencing the satisfaction that I am.
Keep listening and learning the things that I tell you.
Just wait, that’s all. Don’t be anxious, don’t worry
Don’t look around at things others have gotten
Or that I have given them
Don’t look around at the things you think you want,
Just keep looking off and away up to me,
Or you’ll miss what I want to show you.
And then, when you’re ready, I’ll surprise you with a love
Far more wonderful than you could dream of.
You see, until you are ready, and until the one I have for you is ready,
I am working even at this moment
To have both of you ready at the same time.
Until you are both satisfied exclusively with me.
You are beautiful. You are enough. You are Made in His Image. Happy Advent!
A medieval tradition, the St. Andrew Christmas Novena or Christmas Anticipation Novena beings on the Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle and continues all four weeks of Advent ending on Christmas Day. This novena helps prepare us for the Birth of Our Lord. Tradition states that women used to pray this novena for a good and godly spouse.
Please, join me in praying the Christmas Anticipation Novena!
Please. check out my latest blog post published on Catholic Match Institute’s Blog. I’m hoping this article helps provide a Catholic perspective on relationships, marriage, and high risk pregnancy. Please, enter into a very personal and important topic that has touched my life and many other women. May God bless and keep you all!
As a child, I couldn’t have imagined the complexities and complications of my twenty-seven years of earthly existence. I had a very active and developed imagination too! As the Jesuits would say, “Life is a Journey.” After eight plus years of Jesuit education, you master the reflective, meditative tone while reminescing on the journey of life and God’s will in one’s life. Many times on this journey, I feel that I slipped into the Space Between.
Not only the title of an iconic Dave Matthews Band song, but a literary explanation of the middle ground, the grey area, the limbo land, the space between, etc. Etc. When an unexpected turn in an important relationship transpired, I felt thrust back into that space in between. One moment the world finally made more sense. The darkness abated, and the light shone out a bit brighter. The fears and anxieties dimished while hope and joy grew. Someone finally chose me and accepted me as I was. Then life shifted course yet again.
Yes, I trust in God. But saying I trust in God and trusting God are two separate concepts. I’m practicing the latter.
When discerning my vocation, I always felt in “the space between.” As an elementary school child, the obvious vocational path to the outside world was religious life. I spent time at convents and with dynamic religious sisters. But I knew from an early age, no religious order would accept me with my chronic physical health conditions. I spent quality time around religious orders because I recognized the intrinsic beauty and importance of consecrated life regardless of whether that was a viable vocational option for myself.
In my adult life, when religious sisters recruit me for discerning consecrated life, I can smile and laugh with gratitude while thanking them for their kind invitation. Or I ponder quietly and wryly smile when they ask whether I’ve asked God for physical healing. Mhmm.
For similar reasons that would prevent my acceptance into consecrated life, these reasons follow me into dating relationships and the vocation of marriage. These reasons cast an additional layer of gravity on the vocation of marriage and prospect of biological children. At times, I feel at odds against the vocation of marriage too. To find a man, especially an orthodox practing Catholic man with depth of character and virtue, willing to embrace those odds and grow together in love beyond those odds provides a natural filtering method. I’m attempting to sound charitable.
Some may mention the generous single vocational option which I live now. The Spirit still seems to be moving me in a different direction. Jesus, I trust in you.
Today I feel like I’m floating yet again in that space between. The certainites and possibilites of yesterday don’t exist or not in the same manner today. The hope of tomorrow gleams. For now I’ll float on the ocean of God’s mercy. Hoping and trusting the boat will be guided to safe havens no longer adrift in the space between.
This exerpt comes from Much Ado About Nothing, Act VI, Scene II which means more than a witty Shakespearean comedy but a former dramatic production I participated in as a high school sophomore. The dialogue is an exerpt from the humorous and witty banter between eventual lovers Senor Benedict and Lady Beatrice. Unlikely yet likely lovers engaged in a battle of wit and avoidance of each other until both fall hopeflessfly in love.
But an exploration into the merits of Shakespearean comedy and the two protagonists aren’t my goal. I’m focusing on the actual line, ” And, I pray thee now, tell me, for which of my bad parts did thou first fall in love with me?” This line transported me to other scenes within my own life. We all have our good qualities and less than admirable qualities all of which enter into a dating relationship. I’m not advocating for tolerance of bad behavior nor avoidance of growth and maturation beyond bad behavior and poor character. Virtue should be pursued both individuals.
Most romantic comedies don’t highlight the nitty, gritty less than cinematically pleasing moments of an ordinary yet extraordinary love story that makes a lifetime not a fleeting screen moment. When I recollected Shakespeare’s line about loving all your bad parts, I didn’t mean you or I are bad, but those aspects of ourselves that illuminate our weakness, fragility, and mortality. The aspects of ourselves we keep private and hidden either to protect ourselves from harm or out of embarrassment. But when you enter into an intimate relationship, at some point in time, the cat is out of the bag. Then both individuals are faced with a choice to flee or not. To choose each other or not.
Obviously, the title of my blog is Chronically Catholic for various reasons one highlighting young adult life with chronic illness. To the outside world, I’m a vivacious, healthy, accomplished, and somewhat fearsome sight to behold and interact with. Yes, I am all that, but the wold rarely witnesses the me behind closed doors. When a man witnesses the me behind closed doors, he must choose to stay or flee. Most have fled for various reasons, and it’s just as well for their sake and mine.
Yes, he must chose me not only at the height of my glory and prestige but at the height of my suffering and weakness. He must chose me in my moments of intellectual greatness and my moments of intellectual demise. Either we both choose to fall to our knees together in moments of struggle or we chose to turn inward and cower. You can’t peiecemeal a person. You can try certainly but the end result is less than helpful or lasting. Relationships challenge and define aspects of a person. Do you fight or flee? Choose or abuse? Suffer with or suffer without? Love all or love some? Take the narrow road or not? Am I a tool or a person?
Our First Christmas Gift Exchange:
Twas the Night of New Years and all through the house three creatures were stirring including the cat. The tree gleamed bright and cast whimsical colors and shapes on the walls and the windows. With my family snug in their beds an earshot away, only he and I remained in the soft Christmas tree glow while the cat never ceased staring in her watchful vigilance. All prepared and excited my festive wrapped gift lay upon the coffee table alone. No gift joined it’s side. I stared in astonishment and wonder. My mind buzzed and blew with more thoughts than Christmas ornaments. With each moment my brow furrowed and lines etched my face like stringed lights on the tree or lines on a stocking. My thoughts mirrored twinkling light colors all fuzzy and bright. Still no gift appeared and my heart lept in fright. Despite being seated by my side, I strained as his words floated in and out one-side. I heard. I processed. But it all seemed too bizarre. The words seemed too light and the meaning too dense like snow in a blizzard one moment fluffy and the next moment sleet. Bracing for a gift packed like a wet snowball, I quietly closed my eyes. The Christmas light glow matched my thoughts. Breathless I awaited.
Some rustle and bustle. A pause. A disclaimer. My breathe became frosty and slow. As I opened both palms to receive the gift, my brain turned to meringue while my hands trembled like tinsel. The cat kept her perpetual gaze while I stood frozen awaiting. A coolness brushed my palm and settled for landing. Daring to open my eyes, I peeped down. My thoughts exploded into fireworks while my vision turned into sparkling cider. Little bubbles floated up and up and up. Everything suddenly stopped. All fireworks and cider bubbles screeched to a halt. Numbness settled in and the void of pure silence settled. He waited for a response. A noise. A sign. A reaction. Anything.
A warm glow washed over me like candlelight Christmas Mass. The lights refocused as I peered below and sighed.
A ring box peered upwards while my gaze focused ever more sharply as the ivory coating glinted in the low light. Opening the box, my muscles eased. A warm, serene calmness flushed over me replacing the frigid tinged of panic.
To be continued . . .
Please, join me in praying the nine Day Novena to St. Jospeh, Husband of Mary. The novena already started through PrayMoreNovenas.com. Mea Culpable for missing the novena start date. However, St. Joseph’s Feast Day occurs on March 19th and the novena invokes a powerful intercessor.
March 19th marks my brother and sister-in-law’s sixth wedding anniversary. Yes, my brother and his wife were married in the Feast of St. Joseph, Husband of Mary. What an amazing wedding date! And a wonderful reminder to all of us to pray for the intercession of St. Jospeh, husband of Mary. He is the model of human fatherhood: a provider, a leader, and a protector. A devout, virtuous, and humble man God chose to watch over the Holy Mother and our instrument of salvation, the child Jesus.
May we ask for his intercession in our relationships, marriages, families, and children. May we all receive the grace to be a Holy Family. And may we all have the grace and blessing of dying in the arms of Jesus and Mary.
St. Joseph, Husband of Mary, pray for us.
St. Joseph, Guardian of the Redeemer, pray for us.