Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Thinking about suffering

I have been schooled today.  I read the post on SCL today, and have been checking back on the comments ever since.  So much stuff to think about.

Here is the question that Jon asks:
Does God have the right to crack the vessel if breaking it is the fastest way to share what He poured into us?

I don't have the answer to that.  I just want to think about it for a while.  Or maybe not actively think about it so much as let it soak in.

And the comments!  Everyone has shared so much of themselves in the comments. We all tend to hide behind the outer shell of "everything's okay", but there wasn't much hiding here.  There were a lot of people sharing some raw and real feelings.

I am praying for all that are suffering tonight. My prayer is that God will be found in the middle of suffering in a way that is past all imagining.  I pray that we find Him in the middle of the pain, the hurt, the anger, the confusion, the depression, the quiet desperation, the fatigue, the brokenness. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

What?!

Whoa!  What's this?? There is organ music playing in the apartment above me!  I'm not kidding!  There is hymn singing!  I am so confused.  It's probably the tv and not my neighbors breaking out with a Tuesday night worship session, but it's so clear compared to the normal muffled sounds of raising and lowering voices.  Weird!

Monday, April 27, 2009

By the way,

my friend really liked her bridal shower gift.  That's great, but it doesn't sound like I'll be getting it back!  A couple of my other friends really liked it, too, and wanted one as well.  I should have taken a picture so I could post it...I can't really describe it.  Anyway, success!  And I was not one of the two people that gave her the same mixer, or replaced her kitchen utensils.  All useful, and I know she appreciated it, but I love when I can find something that has a little more meaning than a measuring cup.

Much Ado About Nothing

Wow.  I have this serious urge to write, but nothing in particular to write about.  Usually I have an urge to write because I have something that I want to say, which is a much better scenario.  Actually, I take that back, I do get urges sometimes to write even though there is nothing to really say.  Those get a little random.  I was cleaning the other day and went through some grad school notes.  In the margins of one of my lectures I had a whole story about some barnyard animals, one of them being an uppity cow.  Yeah.  Maybe I shouldn't admit that.  That was in my pain class.  Hope we didn't learn anything too important that day, because I clearly wasn't listening.

In other news, I have no news.  That's right, my life is currently on the mundane cycle.  Which, all in all, is much better than an agitation cycle.  Actually, I guess there are things to be learned in all the cycles of life and they're all necessary, so maybe now is not better or worse than other times, it simply is the time that it is.  Haha! Did that make sense to you?  I don't know that it really did to me.  I mean, it kind of did, but then I threw in a few extra commas and I got confused.  You still reading this?  You are a fool!:)  Who's the bigger fool the fool who is writing the foolishness or the fool that keeps reading when there's clearly nothing to read?

I watched August Rush this weekend.  I really love that movie, but I don't quite know why.  Spacy kids that talk to the moon are usually not my cup of tea, but I like this movie.  The ending kind of drives me crazy, though.  If you haven't seen the movie and intend to watch it at some point, then you should really stop reading now.  But seriously, this kid spends the whole movie looking for his parents, and all we get to see is him smiling at them?  Ugh.  Anticlimactic. Also sad, because what else can the ending possibly be?  The kid's whole personality is his determination to find his parents.  They're found, so now what's he going to do or be?  And the parents finally find each other, but they spent only the one night together, so they don't have much to build a relationship on.  Other than their excited and wondering smiles at each other, what more do they have to say?  That's why the movie had to end as it did; there's no other place to go. Hmm, did not know that I was going to finish there when I started.  I really do like the movie.  I guess the mystery of why has gotten even deeper. 

 Right.  So I started with nothing, and I still have nothing.  I guess there's some good symmetry at least.  Even better I enjoyed writing it, so this inane little post has served some sort of purpose and can now be finished.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Good weekend

It seems kind of redundant to say that it's a good weekend, but it really is.  I got off early yesterday and got to go for a long walk in the gorgeous weather.  It was especially nice since the weather is not so gorgeous today.  I tried to get a little color on my pasty white shoulders.  Normally, I really don't care and I'll have a farmer tan all the way, but I'm in a couple of weddings this summer.  Let's just say that the pale yellow of the dress and the pasty white of my skin are not very complimentary.

Then I got to go to Mass this morning.  Always amazing.  Sometimes it doesn't feel amazing.  Sometimes I just feel like I'm there.  Whether I feel anything or not, a day is inexplicably different if I have gotten to go to Mass.  Then I went to confession.  I know some people are horrified by the idea of having to confess their sins to a priest rather than telling God you're sorry.  I like confession.  A lot.  As they say, confession is good for the soul.  Today, it required me to stop and take stock of how I've really been doing.  Of course, I'm a sinner and I sin every day, but it's one thing to vaguely tell God that I'm sorry (others may not be vague when they confess their sins to God in privacy, but I am) and it's another thing to honestly look at my sins and pinpoint them so that I can give the priest specific points rather than vague generalizations.  As usual, the priest had some good ideas for some ways to correct some of my sinful habits.  The best part about auricular confession is hearing the priest speak out loud the words of absolution.  Love it.  Confession is good stuff.

Then I went for a walk/run.  Some walking, some running.  Don't know exactly how far I went, but it was long enough that it had to be at least 4 miles.  That always feels good.  Still does, even though I kind of offset the health benefits by not eating enough of the right stuff for lunch.  Unfortunately,  all I have in the house are hot pockets and chocolates.  Lunch tasted fine, but not the best for me.  Anyway, plans for the afternoon include a trip to the grocery store.  I might even get some fruits and vegetables!  Hope they don't rot before I get around to eating them...

I'm thinking movie night tonight, but I'm not sure what.  Maybe The Recruit, or Sahara.  Twister? U-571? Or perhaps a chick flick of some kind?  Hmm, they all sound good.  I guess I'll just have to see what I'm in the mood for.  If I can get groceries, do the laundry and clean up the apartment, I'll enjoy it even more.

Then tomorrow, there's good times with friends for a bridal shower.  I look forward to seeing friends, eating some amazing desserts (I'll probably need another couple hours of exercise after some of the stuff that will be there!), and hanging out.  Of all the wedding things that are a shot to my single heart, showers are not one of them.  It's just stuff.  For my part, I definitely did not get her something useful.  I thought it was really cool, but if she doesn't like it, it will be one of those awkward things that take up space; usually you don't want to keep it, but you feel really odd about throwing it out.  I really hope she likes it! Maybe I'll tell her if she doesn't like it, she can re-gift it to me someday.

Yep.  Good weekend.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Music in the Hands of Talent

I recently had the privilege of going to a friend's senior recital.  He is a music major with a diversity of music interests/talents, and it was good to get to see him show this talent.  It amazes me how much emotion and life can be captured in a song.  I sometimes try to write about stuff, and I spend days and many, many words trying to capture it all.  And they fit all of it into a single song.

I was very impressed by some of his original compositions.  Really, really good.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

More about the Singleness

I've still been struggling with this.  (Of course.  I will be struggling with being single I ever get married.  Then I will proceed with the struggles of marriage.)  Anyway, I found a quote from the Papa (JPII) that I want to bring up:

"This is the condition of the true Christian.  He can nurture a trustful optimism, because he is certain he is not walking alone.  In sending us Jesus, the eternal Son made man, God has drawn near to each of us.  In Christ, he has become our traveling companion.  If time marches on inexorably, often shattering even our dreams, Christ, the Lord of time, gives us the possibility of an ever new life."

Right now, I am stuck in the part where "time marches on inexorably, often shattering even our dreams."  This is what I really fear.  I struggle with loneliness.  I'm tired of going to things and doing things by myself, but I can handle it if I know it's only for a time.  As I get closer to 30, I know that my chances of getting married are far from being over, but I also am becoming more and more aware that it may not happen.  It doesn't always happen.  Some people want to get married but they never do.

--Side note.  I remember once my grandma was telling a story (I think she was trying to be encouraging??) about a distant cousin I had never met.  She said he was very smart, a doctor, well-liked and so forth, but he hadn't found anyone by my age either...then she finished by telling me that he ended up dying from cancer in his mid-thirties, still single.  Umm, why did you tell me that?--

Here's the part that I often forget.  I can walk with Christ in trustful optimism, certain that I am never alone.  It is true that in the last month or two, I have spent a lot of time alone compared to what I am used to.  But I sometimes forget, or worse yet, choose to ignore the fact that I am never truly alone.  Here's what I have to remember. Christ always walks with me.  For all of the parts that I hate about being single, and especially in the last year when I have struggled with it on a whole new level, it has been worth it for one simple reason.  I have had to learn to rely on God in a whole new way.  I have had to learn to understand that He and He alone is the One that can truly satisfy my great desire for love and belonging.  And that is true with or without a husband in my life.  I have had to learn to rely on Him completely, because there is no one else around for me to rely on.

Now as time slips quickly on, leaving my dreams still unfulfilled and seemingly more fragile, I will try to focus more on the fact that Christ is the Lord of time.  He makes no mistakes and I can trust Him, no matter what the outcome.  I know that these deep desires of mine for marriage and family are beautiful desires that come from Him.  He did not give them to me by mistake.  It is most likely that He will eventually cause those desires to be fulfilled, but if not, at least I know that He can and will bring fruit from them if I let Him, and trust Him no matter what.

Here's one more quote from the Papa: "What could seem to human eyes a slow and uneven path, is actually God's method."

K.  I get the picture.  I can get through the day now.  Maybe not tomorrow, but then there will be more grace tomorrow that is just for it.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Just One of Those Days

I have been feeling especially alone these last couple of days.  I was hanging out with friends, and I was the only female present that wasn't pregnant.  Which meant that once again I didn't have much to contribute to the conversations. "Does your belly itch?" "Oh, yeah.  All the time."

It was interesting some of the things that were said.  One of the mothers was laughing about how "everyone here has big pregnant bellies.  Except CM."  Such a tiny little offhand comment, but a little part of me felt like it shriveled up and died.  Of course, she had no idea that it affected me at all.  Why should she?  I don't want my friends to bottle up their joy and save for when I'm not around.  Besides, I'm not sure what comments could be made that don't somehow turn my mind toward the fact that I'm alone.  That's just the direction that my mind is turned right now.

At a work meeting, everyone shared news about who was buying houses and how pregnant wives were doing and how wedding plans were going.  We do this every 2 months, and I never have anything to say.  When friends ask me what's new, I don't know what to tell them.  (Clearly, I need to get out more, but with who?  All my friends are busy.  Make new ones you say? They're also busy with spouses and children.  Unless I want to start hanging out with people that are quite a bit younger than me.)

I hate days like this, and I hate feeling like this.  I hate that there's nothing that I can do but try to get through this.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Memory, maybe

I found an interesting looking book the other day.  It's supposed to be help improve your memory.  I would love it if that means that you read the book and then automatically remember things more easily.  Instead, I bet it means that you have to do some work at it.  We'll see.  Apparently the author uses this system to remember names, dates, birthdays, grocery lists, and has even had his students call out 50 random numbers, then repeated them forwards and backwards.  I'm really curious to see if this works well, or if the author is just a mental freak of nature. (I mean that in the most complimentary way possible!) Personally, I would just love to find a way to keep info that I shove in my head from oozing immediately out of my ears.  Hopefully I can use it to help with memorization of Bible verses. Maybe someday I can memorize a whole book of the Bible.  I'll go for a really impressive one, like Philemon.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Noticing the Silence

I absolutely love with the Holy Week liturgies.  After weeks of preparation, we begin the solemn remembrance of Christ's passion, death and resurrection.  This year I especially noticed the things that we don't do in the liturgies.

On Holy Thursday, we don't have a final blessing and dismissal.  On Good Friday, we don't have an opening rite like we normally do, nor do we have the final blessing and dismissal.  It's huge.  Our prayers, our liturgies, are open ended on these days, because our watching and our waiting is not contained into the several hours at the liturgy.  Our entire attitude is to be one of watching and waiting and praying with Jesus for these days, starting on Holy Thursday night.  That night, as Mass ends, we are invited to stay and pray, like the disciples at the garden of Gethsemane.  

Then there is Good Friday.  As I said, there is no opening prayer, we simply continue where we left off the night before.  I was touched this year as the priest and the deacon came forward and prostrated themselves in reverence, in a heartfelt expression of humility and worship before God, Who died for us that day 2000 years ago.  In the Good Friday liturgy, there are two other very notable silences.  One is in the Gospel (John 18-19), where Jesus says very little.  The words that He does say are profound, but He often answers with silence throughout His trial.  Like the lamb led to slaughter, He opens not His mouth.  Of all His teaching in the Bible, His most profound lesson is the one that He teaches in silence, by His suffering and death.

The other silence is the lack of the liturgy of the Eucharist.  Everyday on altars throughout the entire world, the Eucharist is offered.  Except on Good Friday.  That day we have silence.  Emptiness, even though there is still Holy Communion.  There should be silence and emptiness.  How else can you express this remembrance of the day that Jesus died?  The lack of Mass is jarring when you are used to it.

There was no formal dismissal again.  Because we watch and we wait some more.  Still solemn, as Jesus' body lies in the cold, dark tomb.  Still a little shell-shocked if we have really thought about the violence of Jesus' death, and the horrible nature of sin that it required such a gruesome sacrifice.  But today there is also the slow building of great anticipation. Liturgies of solemn silences and quiet reflection will give way to liturgies of great rejoicing.  Because Good Friday is not the end.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Behold the Man

John 19 contains so many short things that require so much thought.

V. 5: "Behold the man."

Jesus had already been beaten, scourged and mocked.  The cross references in my Bible refer me to Isaiah 52:14: "...many were amazed at him- so marred was his look beyond that of a man, and his appearance beyond that of mortals".  This is the man we behold today, remembering.

V. 15 "The chief priests answered, 'We have no king but Ceasar.'"

What?  The priests of the proud Jewish people that have never accepted Roman rule?  These are the ones that are so desperate to be rid of Jesus that they will say what no Roman has ever heard them say before.  Then I realize when I sin, I say the same thing.

V. 28 "I thirst."

I love this verse because it has been pointed out that Jesus does not just thirst for water, but for our souls.  Though He prayed in the garden that the "cup would pass him by", because of His great love, He thirsted for more even after all He had suffered, if it would bring more souls to salvation.

Have a very blessed Good Friday. 

Thursday, April 9, 2009

It's Here

The beginning of the high Holy Days is here.  Back just a few weeks ago I was mentioning (whining, really) about the fact that Lent had barely begun.  But now the end is here, and we are entering the best time of the year.  Hands down.  In my book, at least.

I love that Lent is a preparation for this time of year.  In some small way, we are encouraged to die to ourselves.  Whatever we choose to give up can be hard, but it is also a little sacrifice so that we can have a little better appreciate of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.  We can empty ourselves to be filled with Him as He pours Himself out for us on the cross.  I'm so glad that so many Protestants are starting to celebrate Lent as well.  Yes, that is the proper term for participation in Lent.  

Today is Holy Thursday, or Maundy Thursday, if you will.  (What does "Maundy" mean?  I get confused.  In my head, it sounds like "Monday Thursday."  What day of the week is that?)  Anyway, it is the celebration of the Last Supper.  I love all parts of this.  Did you know that washing the feet was a job that was so lowly that even the lowliest slave of the Jews was not required to perform that task?  Just found that out from a footnote in the Bible.

Of course, we Catholics celebrate this as the institution of the Holy Eucharist and the fulfillment of the Passover.  (Well, not just this, obviously also His sacrifice on the cross.) 

Then the liturgy is so meaningful to me.  Especially at the end, when the priest will process with Jesus and we honor Him, but then the altar is stripped.  To me, there is nothing that is more sad than when the altar is bare and, worse, that the tabernacle is empty.  Yet, I can't think of anything that would be more appropriate for the emptiness of Good Friday when Jesus dies.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

All About Movement

Today was a good day at work.  I'm slightly stressed, because I have to work close to 50 hours this week.  That may not be a lot for some people, but it is for me.  However, I am very thankful to have a job, and it is currently one that is still in demand.

Today was gratifying.  My last three patients were all people that I could help.  I mean, I can help most of my patients at least a little, but some will get better no matter what I do, and some will not improve no matter what I do.  Some need physical therapy, but it's no great challenge to help them get stronger.  These three were different.  They challenged me and made me think, but they were getting better because they were getting physical therapy. One had been in pain for about 4 weeks with little relief, and in just one week, she's moving better and feeling improved.  One was a new evaluation who came in thinking there was not much to do for her pain that had lasted a year, and left with a lot of ideas of things to work on.  The last was my favorite.  She had decreased motion and with a little training in correct mechanics, she has made significant gains in just one week.

Yes, I think I am bragging.  No, actually I know I am.  I just like to hedge a bit rather than admit it outright. What can I say? I love my job!  

Of course, tomorrow I may have a rash of tough patients and feel that I don't know anything, but something's got to keep me humble.

The Message

I have some issues with the Message as a version of the Bible.  I did before, but recently I ran into some direct quotes from the Message that really bothered me. One was a quote from Mark talking about when Jairus' daughter died and how the people were gathered to bring casseroles and gossip.  What!? I have been running into the fact that we do not understand first century Judaism very well, and that when we better understand it, we will better understand what Jesus is truly teaching.  Every time I have had the meaning behind a custom explained or the settings of a parable or geography of where they were pointed out to me, there has been a whole new depth to my Bible reading experience.  

I think that attempts like this to make the Bible more relevant to our times further obscure the full depth and riches to be found in the Bible.  I do not know all the Jewish customs surrounding a death, but I don't think that it was exactly what we do today.  I don't doubt that gossip happened (human nature!).  I do doubt they had casserole (where are they going to get cream of mushroom soup?).  But I think that this was part of a deeper custom that we are now ignoring by assuming that it looks like what we do in America 2000 years later.

Question

Can anyone tell me how I can make my pictures smaller?  I pick the smallest setting, and they are all still huge.  Sometimes I want huge pictures.  But not very often.  Usually just a small one will do.  

Quotes!


The act of defending any of the cardinal virtues has today all the exhilaration of a vice. 
-G.K. Chesterton

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

More about Mary


I wanted to tell you about the end of my conversation with my cousin L.  After I told him that I had more or less ignored Mary, and that his questions had made me dig deeper and start to find some answers, he responded by saying that maybe I should ignore Mary.  After all, only in that one spot in the Bible does it talk about Mary like that.  After that, there is very little mention of Mary.  When Mary is mentioned, her role is downplayed by Jesus.  For example, when Mary comes to see Jesus and He is told that His mother and brethren are there to see Him.  His response is "Who is my mother and who are my brothers? Those that do the will of God."  That is not an exact quote because I am too lazy this morning to look it up, but that's the gist.

As I pointed out to L, Mary is still honored in this statement because she holds the will of God so highly in her life and follows it completely.  Later, I thought more about what he had said, and there was more to it.  You can't ignore one passage of Scripture in favor of another.  Even if it's only one passage, it's there because it's Scripture and is the very Word of God.  It doesn't contradict itself, but more than that, proper understanding of each passage should lead to greater understanding of the other passages.

L, I love you and generally think that you're doing an outstanding job of your search.  But you can't ignore one Scripture based on another one.  You have to find how they not only don't contradict each other, but how they build on each other.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Marriage

I really don't think that it is up to us to decide what marriage is.  It is only up to us to discover what it is.  Newton may have had something to do with describing gravity, but he didn't make it up.  He only described what he saw in his observations and experiments. Yeah, I know. We live in America and no one's going to tell us what we can and cannot do.  After all, we are way smarter than any of the previous generations or any other cultures in the world.  We will not be restricted by the old, traditional (read that "dumb") ways of doing things.

People. Seriously.  This is not about what we want, it's about what we need.  This is not about accommodating our wounds, this is about healing them in better ways than we can imagine.

Do you ever feel lonely?  Do you ever feel that ache in your heart, wishing that someone understood what you were going through, or at least cared? Is your heart crying out for a love that satisfies?

Marriage is not the answer to your questions, but properly understood it can help point you in the right direction.  Love, that deep love that you desire, is sacrificial.  It is willing to give up all for your sake. It is willing to deny itself pleasure, even feelings of need.  For you.  It is willing to give itself up completely to you, holding nothing back. This love is so alive that it brings new life.  It will never turn away from you.  It will never find someone better than you.  It will never become bored of you.  It will never stop being enchanted by you.

This love is the love that is for all of us.  Married.  Divorced. Celibate. Single. Homosexual. Lonely. Broken. Imperfect. Hurting.

Marriage is not the fulfillment of that love, but teaches us much about that love when it is entered into freely, both people knowing that the way before them is difficult and will require sacrifice. When each person is willing to give themselves up completely to the other holding nothing back.  When each person is committed to the other and no one else.  And when marriage is open and able to bring new life into the world.  Yes, I went there.  New life is essential to a true understanding of a love that reaches out to the other, that is sacrificial and truly seeks others instead of itself.

If marriage was the answer to the deepest desires of our hearts, then we should all be able to be married, no matter what.  It wouldn't be fair to me to be single.  It wouldn't be fair to homosexuals to be denied.  But then again, if it was the answer, there wouldn't be so many lonely and broken marriages out there either.  Following the true definition of marriage is difficult.  It will cause pain for all involved.  But as we all know: No pain, no gain.  And the gain is all we are looking for and more.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Quotes!



From the incomparable JPII:

"It is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness; He is waiting for you when nothing else satisfies you; He is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is He who provokes you to thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is He who urges you to shed the masks of false life; it is He who reads in your heart your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle.  It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your life, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourself to be grounded by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourself humbly and patiently to improving yourself."

Palm Sunday

Aww, man.  I have so much stuff going around in my head today.  I may be writing all day.  I kid you not.  I have at least two or three posts that I want to write, and none of them are short. (No shock there, I know.)

Today is Palm Sunday.  In the Catholic liturgy, that means that we open with the Gospel about Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem with the crowds yelling "Hosanna in the highest!" and laying palm branches at his feet...the old school equivalent of a ticker tape parade.  Actually, a ticker tape parade is kind of old school as well, but I digress.

As we go into the regular part of the liturgy of the Word, there are the haunting words of Isaiah, foretelling what Christ will endure.  In chapter 50, v. 5: "I was not rebellious, I turned not backward."  What?  From the exultant crowds?  No, Jesus is looking forward.  He didn't just keep going through tough times, but through humiliation (v. 6): "I gave my back to those that beat me, my cheeks to those that pluck my beard.  I did not shield my face from buffets and spitting."  Wait.... what?  Are these the same people that welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem?  The Gospel reading is the account of the Passion of Jesus from Mark.  I love that the Psalm reading (22: 8-9, 17-20) directly references what Jesus was thinking and feeling on the cross: "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?"  So not just the crowds, but even God?

There is so much in these readings.  I was thinking a lot about the crowds.  Because I am the crowds.  I can get caught up in emotions and consensus just like the next person.  There were probably a good number of people that praised Jesus' entry into Jerusalem thinking that they did so with good conscience.  There were probably a good number of those that probably thought that they had more information and were acting in good conscience again when they were in the midst of the crowd yelling, "Crucify Him!"  Some may not turned against Jesus in conviction that He was wrong, some were probably just too scared to try to go against the crowd.  I wonder about those that stayed home.  I could see me doing something like that.  Realizing that I couldn't change the final outcome, I might have stayed home so I didn't violate my conscience or go against the crowd.

Mary

The other day, when my cousin L. and I had our great chat, we mostly stuck to things that we agree on.  At the end, though, I had to bring up Mary.  You see, I have always been a little uncomfortable with the way that Catholics honor Mary.  I couldn't have said exactly why, but it bothered me a little.  I didn't and don't have  a problem with feast days honoring Mary, or saying a Hail Mary, but the level of devotion of some Catholics really kind of grated on me.

L, (L, of all people!) who believes that Catholics worship Mary (it's one of the reasons he left the Catholic Church) is the instrument that God used to open my heart to a little different view of Mary.  In an email months ago, he shared with me his concern about Mary and the fact that the Israelites worshipped the Queen of Heaven (Jeremiah 44, I think).  He became very concerned that this was also the case with Catholics.

His concerns made me think.  I have never personally known a Catholic that has crossed the line of worshipping Mary, but I think about some of the actions that we do...lighting candles in front of her images, processing with her picture to the streets, having novenas and consecrations to her.  I was finally able to pinpoint my problem.  We may not be worshipping her (we see her as an intercessor, not as the one that grants the graces), but there was a part of me that wondered if we take things a little too far.  Are we raising Mary to too high of a place?  Are we letting her stand between us and God?

So I turned to Jesus and asked Him.  How do you want us to recognize/acknowledge/treat Your mother?

Not long after that, I was reading Luke 1 trying to make some more sense of it all, and suddenly some things popped out at me.  Mary says in v. 48 that God "has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden" and if v.52 that He has "exalted those of low degree."  It finally made sense to me.  We Catholics do not place Mary on a pedestal higher than the tower of Babel.  Rather, we recognize the place that God Himself has placed her.  Then we fulfill the words of the Scripture where it says that "henceforth all generations shall call me blessed" (v.48).  Furthermore, Mary does not obscure our view of God.  Rather, her "soul magnifies the Lord" (v.46, my emphasis).  I've been Catholic all my life and have really enjoyed apologetics for over a decade.  I knew a lot of this stuff, but somehow it didn't click until a couple of months ago.

Thanks, L, for your questions.  We may not have come out agreeing on the subject, but you made me take another look and I really appreciate it.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009