Friday, April 30, 2010

Worry

Did you know that it's my job to worry? Because it is. It must be. Well, it should be, anyway, because I am good at it. Not just good, but great.

I am currently in the process of worrying about how everything's going to turn out. As if there were any details for me to take care of! Seriously, I am in a situation of everything falling into place beautifully and unbelievably perfectly.

So I worry that it's too perfect. I worry that something will fall through. Yeah, that's how I roll. I know it's not Lent anymore, but I am still going to have to give this up. It's ridiculous!

You know, now that I think about it, maybe it's not so much the worry as the lack of control that I have right now. I might like to have a certain amount of control in my life. There are certain things that look like they're going to fall into place, but they might not, and I can't control how the chips fall, so I go to worrying about it.

Ahh, I feel better now. Blogging is cathartic. Nothing like looking at all this in black and white to realize that I'm being a little silly. When I get on a plane, I don't worry about it's going to get there. I just sit back and relax and trust the pilot to do his job. I'd even be able to sleep, except for the fact that I can't relax enough to sleep around strangers. Clearly, God is way more capable and in control than any pilot, so I am ready to enjoy the ride. Also, Jamie's #7 here was speaking right to me, so I thought I'd better listen! :)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

True Church

I have been accused at times of arrogance. I'm not sure that anyone has accused me personally of arrogance (if they did, I have forgotten about it because it was not worth my attention). However, they have accused the claims of the Catholic Church of being arrogant, and therefore, I am arrogant by association as a Catholic.

I think it is true that I have been arrogant and cocky about my Catholic faith and beliefs. If you accuse me personally of arrogance, then you are right to do so. I hope I am better than I was, but I am still not where I need to be on that issue.

Accuse any individual Catholic of being pompous, and you have a decent shot of being right. There are plenty of us jerks to go around. On the other hand, if you accuse the Catholic Church of being arrogant, you are barking up the wrong tree. This is not to say that you have to agree with the Church. Definitely not. I am saying that if you disagree with the Church then the accusations of so-called arrogance (while understandable) should be the least of your worries and accusations.

The Catholic Church claims that it is the one, true, catholic (universal), and apostolic church. It claims that it is the Church that Jesus Christ founded with Himself as the cornerstone and the apostles as the foundation. We celebrate Pentecost as the "birthday" of our Church for crying out loud! I don't think that anyone perpetuating such claims is simply arrogant. I think that more accurate accusations would be that the Church is power-hungry, or seriously misguided, or started off the right direction then colossally de-railed. With claims like the Catholic Church makes, I would be more concerned with the Church being downright evil than with it being merely arrogant.

Either that, or the claims are true.

I have struggled with that at times. I think I've written about it before (but I'm too lazy right now to go looking to see whether I am just repeating myself right now). It's tough to have to take a black and white stance in our relativistic world. We prefer the wiggle room of saying that this is right for you and that is right for me. Still, that's not how Jesus was. Either He was both God and man, or He was a lunatic or a liar and a con man. It doesn't seem too far of a reach to me that His Church would have similar types of claims that either require acceptance or rejection, but not allow for a lukewarm comfort zone.

There's something else that we need to talk about, though. When I read the Bible, and I see the word "church", I think of the Catholic Church. I think that is a consistent thought process with the rest of what I believe. When I talk to my Protestant friends, when they read the word "church", they think of kind of an amorphous body of believers. You know what? I think they're right, too. I think that the Church truly contains all that believe in Christ. I believe that the Catholic Church contains the fullness of the truth given to us by Christ and passed down through His apostles and their successors, but that doesn't mean that non-Catholics don't have the truth. In some areas Catholics may manifest the truth most clearly, but there are certainly other aspects of the truth that are manifested more clearly by others.

Furthermore, to say that the Catholic Church is the true Church is not to say that I think that Catholics are the true followers of Christ. That would be crap. True followers of Christ are found everywhere in the Church (and by that I mean in all that profess the name of Christ), just as everywhere you look there are many that are only lukewarm in their pursuit of Christ.

Here's where I'm a little hesitant to tread, but I have to say it anyway. Would I like it if everyone were Catholic? Yes, yes I would. It's not so much because I'm right and "they're" wrong. It's more because I have great respect for many non-Catholics and think that the treasure that they would bring (and that many converts have brought) to the Church is invaluable. It's also because I can think of no greater gift than being able to participate in the Eucharist. If you have come to know Jesus on any level, you can't help but want to share Him with others. And if you have come to know Him in the breaking of the bread, then you long for the day when everyone else does, too.

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Little Follow Up

Remember this post? First of all, thank you all SO much for your prayers!! It has been an interesting month exploring the possibilities. I would now say that I have a definite preference in the matter. I do think that there has been some direction from God (mostly in the peace I've been feeling through this whole process). However, nothing is decided, and there are still some things that are out of my control as far as making a final decision. Hopefully by early next week I will know more.

It's interesting. Normally things being out of my control really bugs me, but in this case it really doesn't. I can tell you that I will be pretty disappointed if it doesn't work out, but I just have a really strong feeling that if it's God's will it will work out perfectly. Anyway, I'm dying to be more specific about what's going on, but I think I'd better wait until things are a little more settled one way or the other.


Saturday, April 24, 2010

It's My Body

There are a lot of people that get upset about the teachings of the Catholic Church, and in particular, the teachings of the Catholic Church on sexuality. Namely, that the Church teaches that sex should be between one man and one woman, and that they must be married. Oh, yeah! Also, contraception is out. If you want to get people incensed, try to discuss this with them.

Nobody wants to hear it. "It's my body!" they insist. "What right does the Church or anyone else have to tell me what to do with my body? It's mine, and I'll do what I want with it." If you talk with them long enough, you will hear about how the Church has come up with all of these extra, unnecessary rules. For example, a lot of churches believe that sex belongs within the context of marriage, but since 1930, the Catholic Church is one of very few that continues to insist that contraception is not right. Is the Church just determined to give people as much guilt as possible? What right do they have to dictate what's going on in the bedroom?

Not only that, but they look at the celibacy of the priesthood, and it raises more red flags for them. I've had people tell me that if priests weren't celibate, we wouldn't have sex abuse scandals. Really? Think about that for a moment. Because if marriage would fix sexual abusers, then maybe as a single person, I have missed a section of marriageable candidates in society. I mean, not that I could marry a priest that has committed sexual abuse, but there are plenty of sexual abusers that are not supposed to be celibate. Maybe I could marry one of them.

What is the point of all of these rules and restrictions? Are they merely superfluous, made up to add to the infamous Catholic guilt syndrome? Does the Catholic Church just think that sex is evil or dirty, and only to be put up with in order to procreate children?

No. That's not it at all. The Catholic Church actually sees sex as something more, something greater, than we can imagine. These "rules" are not in place to impose burdens on anyone, but rather to help us to come to understand the true value of sex.

I understand that these are not easy standards are not easy. I'm not married. You see where that leaves me in this scenario of the Church's teachings. It's very hard sometimes. On the days that I am feeling particularly lonely, or not feeling like my worth is very high (because if it was, then surely someone would have wanted to marry me, right?*), then I feel like the burden is too great, and that maybe a little more leeway in the rules would help me feel better.

I don't know. You tell me. How many of the unmarried people that you know that end up having sex on a lonely night end up feeling better about themselves in the long run? Maybe you know some that do. I don't know too many that have.

Instead, I have found myself looking into the reasons behind the "rules". Once again, thank God for JPII and Theology of the Body! Each of the teachings of the Church about sex is ultimately related to love and life. In every case, that bond is maintained. Sex outside of marriage is often more a moment of passion and lust rather than love. Contraception is not open to life. Every teaching of the Church can be boiled down to the fact that sex is both life giving and love giving, and the two should not be separated. When we are made, male and female, in the image and likeness of God, then there is something deep and profound about the union of male and female that teaches us about the greatest Love, our God.

Currently, much of our sex lives says, "This is my body, and I'll do what I want with it."

Think of what would happen if the way we lived our lives in general and our sex lives in particular instead echoed this: "This is my body, given for you."**

*I'm not saying that I feel like that right now. In fact, I don't feel like that at all, but I have felt that way in the past.
**This is something that I've been thinking about because of what I read in Jesus Shock, by Peter Kreeft.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Worship on Sunday

There is an evangelical Christian blog that I read that recently had this line:

"I don't think God cares about what happens on Sundays nearly as much as we do."

The context is that he is a pastor of a small home church and he was talking about when all the pastors get together and compare notes. He said one of the popular things to do right now is to say that our services or our church has been very "Spirit-led". Right after he said the above line, he said "Of course we care about Sunday worship. We put all our money and effort into it. We want it to be awesome, and if we can say that the Holy Spirit showed up, you'd better believe that we're going to point that out." Go here if you want to read the whole thing.

Do I think the Holy Spirit shows up at their churches? Absolutely! This isn't about that. This is about that first statement.

"I don't think God cares about what happens on Sundays nearly as much as we do."

I love the devout evangelical Christians who have been a part of my life and my faith. I have grown so much because of them, and I continue to learn from their perspective on faith. We agree on many, many things. This is SO not one of them! In fact, this is completely foreign to me.

I think God does care what happens on Sundays. I think that He cares than we do. You know my bias toward liturgy and the Mass. So this opinion should not come as a surprise. The more that I study, the more that I see a continuity of worship from the first sacrifice of Abel, through the entirety of the Old Testament, the worship of the first Christians in the Bible, the worship in early Church and worship right up to this very day. This worship is ancient, yet ever new. This worship has echoes of the past, but also points toward eternal worship in the future. This worship is the marriage supper of the Lamb. The form of worship is important. From the Jews in the Old Testament until now, worship is not just about what we think it should mean, it's about in some mystical way participating in and preparing for the true worship in heaven. Our liturgy is not something that is just made up, but something that points us toward and in some ways is a copy of heavenly worship.

Sounds kind of crazy, doesn't it? It is. It is so very crazy and awesome and wonderful. Maybe you think I am overstating things. I'm not. I'm sure I'm understating them, but it is not possible to overstate them, not when it comes to the Mass.

It does matter how we worship. It matters intensely. Don't get me wrong, the many and varying worship services of Protestantism often honor God in a beautiful way and lead people to Christ. But I have never been to any kind of Protestant worship service (and I have been to a few!) that satisfies the depth of my need for worship in the way that the Mass does.


Friday, April 16, 2010

Successfully Let Down

People have let me down a lot recently. Some things have been kind of on the big side. Some have been on the rather small side. Nothing has been too crazy, though, and most of them are due to some very good reasons. Here's the weird part for me: It hurt. Every time, it hurt, and sometimes it hurt a lot.

That's just weird. For example, a friend of mine and I were supposed to talk on the phone tonight. I called, and she wasn't able to answer. We've been trying to get in touch for a couple of weeks, and the last couple of times that we arranged to talk, she hasn't been able to. I know that she's busy. I know that she feels bad. Normally I might be little frustrated, but I'm usually pretty understanding about it. I'm not angry now, but it does hurt, and that is actually a very foreign feeling for me. Not only that, but it's happened kind of a lot in the last couple of weeks.

At first, I didn't understand in the slightest. It's not like I've never been let down before. I've just never hurt about it before. You know what I finally realized? The difference is not in these other people in my life. The difference is in me. At some point in my life, I decided that I didn't really need anyone. I mean, I wanted people in my life, and they were great and all, but I didn't need them. If they wanted to be a part of my life, great! If they didn't, I would wish them the best, but I wouldn't blame them. I guess what I did was to put up a wall. I wouldn't need anyone and they wouldn't hurt me.

I never realized how well it worked until the wall was breached. Now when these people let me down, it hurts. My friend that didn't call tonight? She has a good reason, or she would have called. I can guarantee it. But it still hurts because I needed her.

All the other times in the last couple of weeks? They all hurt, too. Some of them a lot. I immediately found myself reaching for the bricks to put the wall firmly back in place. But you know what I realized? I kind of like the hole. The view is better.

The wall keeps me from hurting, but it doesn't keep me from needing people. It just keeps the people I need at a slight distance. The hurt will not last, especially given the good reasons that everyone has. The wall, now. That lasted a lot longer. I didn't even really know that it was there for a long time. Then it took quite some time for me to let people close enough so that the wall could come down. I'm just glad it's gone.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Bags of Sunchips

For the most part, I am over whatever fun little bug that I had over the weekend. In fact, I felt pretty good by Sunday. There is one little problem that I am still having, though. My ears are clogged. My entire world is muted. My poor receptionist talks to me, and I can't hear what she's saying. Although, she's also got a little bug of some kind going, so she's kind of losing her voice and talking more quietly than usual. It's a good combo, let me tell you!

This happens sometimes, but it usually goes away in a day or two. I'm going on day 4. I've tried some of the usual remedies, but not a lot of them. Soon I'll be driven to try a few more. I hate the feeling that the world is a few steps farther away from me!

My alarm clock is not as loud as it should be. I'm not hearing as many of the sounds of the apartments around me (so it's not all bad!). However, bags of Sunchips still sound way louder than any bag of chips has a right to sound. You know what I'm talking about? Their new, easily biodegradable bags? Those babies are loud!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

God's Will

The other day I asked God a question: How on earth am I supposed to know whether I am following Your will or if I am just skipping after what I want and labeling it Your will because it sounds better than saying that I'm just out to get what I want?

Convoluted much?

But anyway, God can follow my run-on questions even if you cannot. (Sorry!) He answers, too.

In this case, I have two options. Both seem fantastic and wonderful. Yet to do one excludes doing the other. Today I realized that there is no possible way that I could pick between one and the other. There is no way that I could have a true preference. The ONLY thing that could possibly make one of them stand head and shoulders over the other is if it is God's will. If I don't know what I want more, then hopefully the deciding factor really will be God's leading in this.

Normally when I am trying to decide, there is all kinds of crazy back and forth going on as I try to make a decision. At this point, there's not. There is simply peace at taking one day at a time and seeing where it leads.

Monday, April 12, 2010

I Am a Morning Person

I actually like mornings. Well, kind of. I mean, I don't really like Monday mornings for obvious reasons. But I like mornings that look like this:







This is from a few years ago from a hike I went on with my mom. We both woke up early, and it was one of the prettiest hikes I've ever done. With my extra time over the weekend, I was looking at some old pictures and thought that I would share. Happy Monday!





Sunday, April 11, 2010

Uncertainty

This entire last year, (due to some circumstances at work) I have been ping ponging from feeling like there is direction and purpose in what I'm doing, and feeling like it is all pointless. I've worked hard, it's been rewarding. I've made mistakes, but I've learned a lot. I'm still not perfect, which really irks me sometimes, but I don't suppose that's going to change any time soon! :) But no matter what, I have to start over in a couple of months.

Then some of the uncertainty and lack of direction poured into my personal life as well. Part of it is due to the fact that I have to move in a few months, and part of it is due to the fact that life is all too fluid.

This uncertainty and drifting has reawakened a Thought. I don't know if this Thought is a valid idea, or just way to run away, trading my current uncertainties for new ones. This Thought has certainly come up plenty of times before, but then it goes away without really doing anything, kind of like Braxton-Hicks contractions. I don't know if this is just another practice run or if this time the Thought really will give birth to Action. I guess it's hard for me to believe that anything will come of it this time either, but that won't stop me from chasing after it a little bit and see where it leads.

There is a certainty in my life that I am not concerned about: God is, and He cares. Whichever direction that I go, I want to follow His will, because I love the way that He works out my questions and makes me grow through my fears. That is my prayer, that God will lead me down the path of His will, because then the uncertainties don't matter.

I would appreciate any prayers while I try to figure this out! Thanks so much for caring!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

I Think I Might Have a Fever

You know those people that make fun of blogging and bloggers? They make fun of them (i.e. me) because of posts like this. Posts of things that no one could possibly care about, but I post them anyway, because I'm like that. Also because I apparently have a dearth of actual things to say given that a week went by and I suddenly realized that I hadn't posted anything.

But seriously, I think I might have a fever. I know I have some kind of a bug, but I don't have a thermometer, so I can't test out the fever theory. I've felt worse in my life, but I've also felt better. Last night, I was hot under the covers, but I was also too cold to throw them off. Gotta love it! Today I feel a little weird when I stand up, but that may be because I've been laying around all day... Not sure I'm going to make it out of pj's.

The strangest thing about it is that I almost don't mind. Don't get me wrong, I would rather be well. I would rather be in my car on the 5 hour drive to see relatives this weekend. I miss them! On the other hand, I feel just bad enough that I clearly had to cancel, but still good enough that I can luxuriate in the fact that when I'm laying around, taking it easy, I'm doing exactly what I should be doing. Normally, I'm either running around like mad, or I'm being lazy, but feeling guilty about all of the things that I should be doing but am not.

Instead, I can watch hulu until I go cross-eyed (what does it say about me that I was watching Biggest Loser while eating cookies before lunch time?), I can write boring blog posts, I can finish a book that I started last night, I can sleep if I feel like sleeping. No guilt! (Well, maybe a little about the cookie.) The only problem is that the weather is gorgeous and I will not be going for a walk or a jog today. Oh, well. I guess you can't have it all!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Confessions of an Occasional Drama Queen

Someone recently laughed at me and said I was being a little dramatic. Huh? Me? No way!

Although I might have said this:

"I'm going to die!"

And meant this:

"I'm coughing hard because I have a tickle in my throat."

***

I might have thought this:

"My glands are the size of baseballs!"

And meant this:

"My glands are slightly enlarged."

***
I might have said:

"I'm going to die!"

And meant:

"I think I'm coming down with a cold."

***
I might have felt that:

I'm the worst physical therapist in the world.

Because:

A patient didn't get better, never mind whether they ever did a single exercise on their own or might have had another health concern or 10.

***
I also might have felt that:

I'm the best physical therapist in the world.

Because:

Someone got better.


But I'm not overly dramatic. Nope! Not me. And I haven't even told you the half of it from this week. (Nor will I!)