The Beauty of a Woman Week 3: The Traits of Ruth

met&emot20171026_0084

Welcome back to week 3 of this study! Just a little recap: week 1 we talked about what ‘the beauty of a woman’ means.  We talked about your worth as a daughter of Christ and the gifts that God gives us.  Last week we walked through Ruth 1 and talked about 5 lessons it teaches us (you never have nothing to offer, we are called to carry others, freedom is found in faith, commitment in a relationship, and there is goodness to come).  This week we will continue with the story of Ruth.

Please take this time to read Ruth 2.


In this chapter we meet Boaz.  A true light in the darkness that the last chapter held.  A man whom is not only kind and God fearing, but also a redeemer for Naomi’s family which means the possibility for Ruth to remarry and carry a child has just been rekindled.  A truly glorified chapter that brings hope back into both Ruth and Naomi’s life.

This week we are going to talk more about the universal call to motherhood.  If you remember last week, I defined this, in short, as the call every women has to carry those in their life physically (for those of us called to bear children), emotionally, and spiritually.  This chapter reveals 3 beautiful qualities Ruth has that allows for her to fulfill this call to carry Naomi.  These qualities are gentleness, strength, and humility.

1) Gentleness

We see gentleness throughout the entirety of the book of Ruth.  In Ruth 1 we see how she insists to follow Naomi back to her home city, radically sacrificing everything she knew and every comfort she had.  What tenderness, compassion, empathy, and love Ruth showed to Naomi! Again in Ruth 2, we see Ruth sacrificing her time and energy to serve Naomi in working to provide her with food to eat.  Note that Naomi didn’t make Ruth go and glean.  No, instead Ruth offered herself gratefully to this work.  This form of sacrificial kindness shows the gentleness that Ruth possesses.

This gentleness is key in Ruth being able to carry Naomi.  If Ruth didn’t possess the kindness and love that she shows she would never have followed Naomi, and she definitely would not have gone and provided food for her without complaint.  However, due to Ruth’s gift of gentleness, she did all of this for the service of another.  THIS is what we should be striving for.  Sacrificing ourselves for another.

Now let’s remember a key point in a true sacrifice: not complaining.  Doing a service for another with great joy.  So many saints have shown us this.  St. Therese of Liseaux (the little flower) is perhaps the best example of a woman who radiated this gentleness.  Her passion was making small sacrifices with great love.  St. Therese never did anything “great,” however she did everything with great love.   Ruth is the same way.  She didn’t levitate in prayer, or part the red sea, and an angel never appeared to her, but she shows us how to draw near to God in sacrificing yourself for another.

Notice how gentleness isn’t a weakness.  It doesn’t mean that Ruth lacked passion or courage.  It doesn’t mean Ruth was a pushover.  It means that Ruth had the grace to put others before herself, and the love to do so joyfully.

2) Strength

Look at the strength Ruth holds! She works tirelessly without breaks (Ruth 2:7) in order to do her absolute best work.  Ruth doesn’t allow for her own feelings of exhaustion to stop her from gleaning the field so she can bring home grain for Naomi.  Instead, she uses Naomi’s need as motivation to work harder.

It may seem weird to follow gentleness up with strength, but honestly the two go hand in hand.  In order to be gentle you must have great strength and in order to have strength you must be gentle.  Think of gentleness as love and strength as sacrifices.  In order to show your love you must make sacrifices.  No one is going to feel loved if you never show them that love through sacrificing your need and wants for theirs (need strength for gentleness).   However, on the flip side, you would never be able to make a sacrifice (with no selfish motives and not complaining) if you didn’t love the person you were sacrificing for (need gentleness for strength).  Strength is what allows for us to show our gentleness to others.

Last week, we talked about the struggles we have within our call to carry others.  The exhaustion the fear.  However, when we possess strength we are able to put down those weaknesses and continue to make sacrifices to carry others.  Ruth never stopped working.  Nor should we.

Now in order for Ruth to possess such strength she needed to replenish herself.  She needed food, she needed water.  We too must replenish our souls in order to carry others.  Let the Eucharist be your food and prayer your water.  Let Jesus replenish your soul.  He will make your burdens light and illuminate the path of service we are called to.

3) Humility

Humility.  What a hard idea to grasp.  Humility is found only with true and complete understanding of God’s goodness, and it is a trait that Ruth near perfects.  Look at how Ruth took even her ability to pick up leftover crops for food as a gift.  She truly sees herself as nothing but a servant for those around her.  Everything given is an act of kindness and a way in which Christ reveals His goodness.  She is truly thankful for everything Boaz does for her and understands her littleness and status underneath him.

So often in society we expect too much.  Now maybe you’re thinking you don’t.  Maybe you’re grateful for the iPhone 5 you have and understand that even if it’s not the latest technology it’s still an amazing gift.  Maybe you understand that your stocked closet is an amazing sacrifice your parents have made for you even if it’s not as full as you would like.  Maybe you even know that the food you get 3 times a day shows God’s goodness and blessings in your life.  Now these are all great things, and yes understanding this is crucial in being humble.  But lets take a step back even further.

Do you demand respect?  Do you expect others to be nice to you?  Do you see the flaws in other’s small yet rude gestures?  Of course you do! I’m not going to let others disrespect me, I expect everyone to at least act nice, and coming from the south if the person in front of me doesn’t hold the door that is the just plain rude.  But you know what? That’s my pride showing.  Yes, God created us to love and to be loved.  He gave us a worth of dying on a cross for (remember week 1).  However, He didn’t have to.  Yes God calls us to respect each other, and be kind, and be generous, but God also gave us free will to choose not to.  Expect nothing and recognize everything you are given as gifts that shows the love that person is giving us.

Ruth saw Boaz’s most simple gesture of allowing her to pick up fallen grain as an act of great love.  Seeing the love of others is a way to more fully see and appreciate God’s goodness.  The more we see God’s goodness, the closer we are drawn to Him and the better we understand the way He is calling us to live.  Therefore, as Ruth’s humbleness drew her closer to Christ replenishing her strength to carry Naomi, we too can better serve others by understanding we are not worthy of the love God desires for us to receive.


Wow! What beauty Ruth possesses! What traits we should aim to possess and grow in!  Ruth has thus truly revealed to us the way Christ is calling us to live.  This week I would like to challenge you to pick one of these traits and strive to work on it.  I think you will find focusing on one helps to strengthen all because truly gentleness, strength, and humility are all connected in a beautiful way.  Until next week remember you are loved and you are created in perfection.

-St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us

 

Note: inspired by reflection here

Advertisements

The Beauty of a Woman Week 2: Finding Light in Darkness

IMG_E0522

Hello my beautiful sisters! Welcome back to my bible study series on authentic femininity.  Last week we talked about where this study got it’s name from. This week we are going to dive into Ruth, but before we do that I want to give you a little historical context.  This book of the bible takes place in the time of the Judges, which was historically a very dark time. We can get a glimpse into it by reading the very last line of the book of Judges which is placed right before Ruth in the bible.  The verse says “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in their own sight” (Judges 21: 25).  This was a time when there was no cultural right and wrong.  There was no accountability.  There was no consequences for wrongdoing.  However, Ruth serves as a glimpse into the light of goodness that Christ gives us in this period of darkness.

I would now like to invite you to read Ruth 1.


So here we go.  Ruth, a young widow whom has just left her native land to go and care for her mother in law.  I must admit, when I first read this I just saw the loyalty that Ruth had.  I wasn’t really sure what Christ was trying to tell us through Ruth’s story.  But then I read this awesome blog post which helped me to be more open to the lessons God is speaking to us.  Through reading this blog post, time in prayer, and discussion in bible study, I have come up with my top 5 lessons from this chapter.

1) You never have nothing to offer

In this time it was practiced that if a woman’s husband died the husband’s brother or near relative would take the widow’s hand in marriage to continue to care for and protect the woman.  In this chapter, we see Naomi reflecting upon how she has no more sons or relatives suitable for these women.  Naomi is broken, bitter (see her new name), empty, husbandless, and childless.  She has nothing left to offer these women, so she send them back.

Sometimes in life we feel empty.  We feel like failures.  We feel destroyed.  Depressed.  Anxious.  Exhausted.  We feel as if we have nothing left to offer the world.  In these times, it becomes incredibly easy for us to shut down.  We, as women, have an instinct to care.  An instinct to help others especially emotionally.  So when we get these feelings of emptiness, it’s incredibly easy for us to shut people out of our lives because if we have nothing to offer those around us, why should they come and follow us?  This, my sisters, is a very common flaw that we have.  A flaw that causes us to feel worthless.  A flaw we see in Naomi. The rest of this book will show how Naomi was wrong.  She did have something to offer Ruth, but she was blinded by the current darkness in her life.

You never have nothing to offer.  God is always giving us gifts of strength, courage, and goodness to fill us up and shed light to those around us.  But perhaps more importantly, is Naomi’s final willingness to let Ruth come with her.  If you’re feeling empty, let yourself be filled.  It is a great sign of humility (and I mean humility in the good, virtuous, way) to allow for yourself to be served.  Let people walk with you.  Let people fill you up.  Remember you always have the love of the Lord to offer.

2) We are called to carry others

Now, on the flip side of allowing ourselves to be served is that we are called to serve.  One of my favorite things to talk about is the universal call to motherhood.  This is the call that every woman has to carry their children, brothers, sisters, friends, coworkers, and even strangers through life by using their God given gifts of beauty, strength, wisdom, and gentleness.  In short, we are called to carry.  For many of us that will include the physical carrying of a child, but for all of us it includes the carrying of others spiritually and emotionally.

It is a natural desire for us to want to help others.  It’s rewarding.  It makes us feel good.  But sometimes, its hard.  Sometimes it’s really hard.  Because sometimes we are carrying our friend’s, neighbor’s, brother’s, and that random person from the bus’s problems that they all dumbed on us within the same hour, and that’s exhausting.  We carry the emotions of four or five different people and we begin to wonder: ‘if I’m taking care of everyone, who is taking care of me?’ This is a true question I have been reflecting upon for the past three months.  It’s a question many women have because it’s a very common issue to feel over whelmed when you are trying to carry others to goodness.  But God gives us an answer.  He will take care of us.  He will carry our crosses, our anxieties, our problems.  And when we give our loads to Christ, we have the strength to carry the loads of others.  So yes, allow others to serve you, but remember your call to carry others as Ruth carried Naomi.

3) Freedom is found in faith

So Ruth is pretty much the strongest woman to ever live (well minus Mamma Mary).  She is a woman who gave up everything to support a woman who appeared to have nothing.  Ruth left her birth place, her culture, her language, even her religion to go with a woman and dedicate her life to one of chastity and service (let’s remember Naomi didn’t have any more sons so Ruth couldn’t remarry).  And she does all of this because she believed in the goodness that God (whom she only heard of from her husband and his family) would provide for her.

Ruth had faith that there was goodness to come beyond the present darkness, and because of that faith was able to detach herself from every comfort and security she was use to.  The Lord provides.  Ruth put her faith in the Lord before her desire for a family, a husband, a child.   She instead turned to faith in Christ and service for others.  I find this especially important for us to remember in times when we may desire a relationship that isn’t currently present.  I know we as women tend to get a little over dramatic when we aren’t in a relationship.  Sometimes I myself believe that I’m going to end up with 16 cats and I’m not even a cat person.  But it’s times like this we need to find freedom by detaching ourselves from that desire of a relationship and instead trusting in God’s plan for us.

4) Commitment in a relationship 

Now obviously there are different levels of commitment depending on what stage of your relationship you are in.  This is by no means meant to say that you can never break up with your boyfriend.  In fact, in some ways, being committed to a relationship might mean you need to break up.   You are COMMITTED to doing what is best for the future of both yourself and him.  If it’s going bad, if you know y’all don’t have a future, be faithful and honest to him and not lead him on.  But when you find ‘the one’, or you are in a relationship discerning if you have found ‘the one’, be committed.  Ruth is the best example of this in a completely and totally radical way.  Once again let us look back at how she left the possibility of remarrying by staying with Naomi who could not offer her a man to marry. Ruth understood the sanctity of marriage and the importance of commitment and faithful.  Let us do the same in every relationship we are in.

5) There is goodness to come

Let us remember this the most.  Christ promises us goodness, and Christ gives us goodness.  Never let the darkness in life outcast the light.  As we continue on through the the next four weeks we will see how God gives Ruth goodness in a time of darkness.

St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us

The Beauty of a Woman Week 1: Introduction

My dear sisters in Christ, this post is designed to intro a summer series where I will be posting a bible study I’m calling ‘The Beauty of a Woman.’  This is a study I’ve designed specifically for you, daughters of Christ, and focuses on authentic femininity-  how to use the gifts and talents God has given you to become the person Christ created you to be.   This study will follow along with the bible study I’m leading for a group of truly amazing high school women striving to grow in relation with Jesus Christ.  While all testimonies will remain personal to the group and not be shared here, I’ll be sharing the lessons we learn and a reflection on the verses we discuss together.

The name of this study was inspired from Song of Songs 4:1-11 which is called “The Beauty of the Woman.”  I want this study to teach women not only what true beauty is, but also teach the true beauty that they posses in body, mind, and soul.  We will be doing this by following along with the beautiful story of Ruth.

However, before we begin this book of the bible I want to use this blog post to talk about my goals for this study.  I want this to be a study that builds you up.  I want this to be a study to show you your worth.  I want everyone reading this to know that their worth is not based off of how they are treated by any friend- any boy- any person in their class- any aspect of society- or anyone who does not make them feel that they are infinitely loved.  I am so tired of seeing truly beautiful, smart, and all around amazing women put their worth in how they are treated by people that do not love them in the way that Christ is calling them to be loved.  You are worth more then that- and Christ showed you that worth when Jesus was beaten, humiliated, in pain, and hung on a cross for you.  THAT is your worth- the worth of a daughter- the worth of dying for.  YOU- my sisters- are infinitely loved, and NO ONE has the right or the power to take that love away from you.  That is the purpose of this study.  To show you how much you are worth, and the importance of living your life in a way that reflects that.

Now this study will focus a lot on inner beauty.  The poise, strength, and grace that dwells within our hearts and minds.  Truly amazing gifts that God has given to us.  However, there is yet another gift that is given to us, and that can be found in good old Song of Songs 4:1-11 (Yes the chapter that this study is named after), and that is the gift of outer beauty.  I would like to invite anyone reading this to next read another post of mine called ‘There is No Flaw,’ which reflects upon this chapter and is intended to address the lies society teaches us about outer beauty, as well as designed to prefix this study.

So my sisters, I hope you will join me on this journey to learn how to truly become the women God created us to be.  We were each created beautiful. A beauty that can be found in body, mind, and soul.  Let us find that beauty, and show it to the world.

Posts for this study to come every weekend.

St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us

What Happened When I Deleted Snapchat

phone

When I was about a freshman in high school, social media really blew up, mostly, because iPhones did. Everybody found themselves trying to come up with a cute Instagram handle and post the artsiest photos. Well, Instagram quickly turned into proof that you had a good life. What I mean by that is, we all began posting pictures with friends at school dances, Friday night football games, and even that delicious meal our moms made for Father’s Day. For obvious reasons, you rarely saw someone post when they are not proud of what they were doing. Because of all of this, everyone began to really know everyone’s life through their phones, and it has damaged the way we live. This is because in reality, we all have weakness and social media is the beginning of our generation pretending that we don’t.

Quickly after everyone had an Instagram, there was a new iPhone app taking high schools all over the country by storm: Snapchat. Through this app, you could send selfies to people lasting only 1-10 seconds. It was perfect to take ugly photos of yourself to send to your best friends with just enough time to not have them screenshotted… at least that’s how Snapchat started out in my friend group.

Over the course of about five years, Snapchat has made many many changes and “improvements”. Now, on the app, you can also send videos, send messages, apply filters that you can play with to distort your face, view different news websites, and even check out your friends’ locations. Early high school is an extremely vulnerable time in someone’s life, so of course, my friends and I fell into the trap, along with many others. The app quickly turned from being sending silly faces to friends to snapchatting the most boys/getting them to snapchat back. I had friendships with people on Snapchat that I would not dare talk to in person.

I have known for at least two years all of the reasons I hated Snapchat, which is funny because I used it like crazy. Yes, it had some great perks: like asking your girlfriends which belt to wear with an outfit, sending quick pictures of a cool view or experience you had to a friend that wants to see it, and of course the best perk is when your best friend send you a face so “ugly”, you can’t help but laugh. These are good things, but the bad things about this app, definitely out weigh the good.

Parents, y’all think texting is killing language, well what’s worse than that is Snapchat messaging. It is similar to texting but to the advantage of a sneaky teen: the messages disappear right after they are read, never to be seen again. This is so scandalous! The only thing I can imagine that being useful for is if your are planning a surprise party. A newer feature of the app is being able to check someone’s location. This is just let alone creepy. Your friends shouldn’t really have to know where you are at all times but even creepier, I know people who are friends with RANDOM PEOPLE that they don’t know on Snapchat.  How could you share where you live in that situation and it be safe? However, its these last two features that irk me the most.

The news feeds on Snapchat are, I’m putting this simply, raunchy.  I, a 21 year old girl, have been disturbed by images and/or articles I have seen on the app. Talking about sexualization of our generation? Snapchat is doing just that and NOT holding back. Along with that, the last thing that I can not stand is the filters, which seems so innocent. These filters have parents allowing small children to download the app, because who is kidding, those filters could entertain any age group for a very long time. It just scares me when I would check Snapchat and see one of those disgusting articles with detailed photos and then my nine year old cousin would Snapchat me. I can not imagine growing up seeing those things- how different my life would be.

Because of the age that I am, I did a little growing up with social media, and a little without, so for Lent and Advent every year, I’ve give up social media. Just like my fellow peers, I was addicted to it all, but because I’ve seen the world without, I knew it was somewhat hindering our generation. The whole point of Lent and fasting is to give something up in order that you may know Christ better and get to love Him more through His suffering on Good Friday.  I did not really struggle that hard when I would give up social media, but I did know that I was understanding God more through His creation of other people, something I was lacking when I would talk to them through social media. So, I discovered that this whole time social media has been running my life.

Like every other teenage girl, I knew the potential God had for me without it. I did not really want it in my life, but in reality, I didn’t want it in anyone’s lives.  However, that was impossible, so I just kept it.

Throughout late high school and early college I grew more in my faith. I understood more fully the fact that God created me, and that all that God stuff I was raised on, wasn’t fake. I did a lot of praying on the meaning of life and came to this conclusion: The meaning of life is simply to figure out why God created you, and to do it. In order to figure this out for myself, it was going to take a way more serious relationship with Him, so I took to prayer. I simply spent more time with God, made Him more important to me, and I could hear Him more and more clearly. This is where my journey really begins.

I am not going to lie, and everyone will relate to this. From about age 18 to 20, my life was run by a longing for a romantic relationship.  I did talk to God about this and I knew that this relationship I wanted with a man had to call me closer to God.  However, it didn’t matter how hard I prayed or tried to ignore it, the longing was still there and was not being fulfilled. I genuinely thought I was repulsive- I had to be! There was absolutely no guy showing interest in me. This really began to stress me out when I got to college because in my head, I needed to find a husband, and nobody wanted to marry me.

Snapchat was one of the main sources I used to get my fix of boys. What I mean by this is, almost all of the friendships (yes, just friendships) I had with boys, were simply just us snapchatting. I usually did not hangout with them in person or even text or call, although you know I wished for that. These Snapchat relationships amounted to nothing in reality, and I knew that. I knew that I did not desire whatever future relationship I may be a part of to start over Snapchat, or even exist over Snapchat.

This year, after I gave Snapchat up for Lent, I grew in my faith immensely.  I decided I would not download it back. LOL because guess what?  I did download it back. After that, I went through phases. I would tell all of my friends that I was deleting it, and I would delete the app.  Then a week/month later I would download it back.  Honestly, I am proud of myself for trying during all of that time, but I was also mad I couldn’t just take the plunge and let it stay off my phone. I needed my fix of just talking to a boy.

Well, one day in Mass, I realized that the only way I will be able to really get Snapchat out of my life was to completely delete my account.  That way if I wanted to Snapchat someone, I would have to make a whole new one (I’m too lazy to do that). I knew it was what I had to do, so I did it. I am not kidding when I write this- I immediately felt filled with graces. My life does not feel much different, because like I said, I would go through large phases of not having the app, but in my time of prayer I have heard God so much more clearly. It’s not like I was snapchatting in the chapel or anything, but I guess it was a distraction anyways. Boys were more important to me than I thought.

Now, since then, I am much more open to God’s call for me. I have no idea where He is taking me but I don’t care. I am ready.

This article is kinda geared toward the high school- college aged woman, but I hope that it is enlightening to all.  If you have had thoughts of deleting the app, my advice is don’t go half way. Make prayer your new Snapchat, and human encounter the most important thing to you because seeing God’s image in other people, is one of the best ways to encounter Him.

I don’t know how else to convince someone, but your life will be better without Snapchat. The meaning of life, is not found through your iPhone.

 

Saint Maximilian Kolbe, pray for us.

Perfection

 

2623861E-A550-4C45-B74C-53428C699D3DAdoration has always been the place where I have some of my most powerful prayer experiences.  It’s a need I have to put into my week to keep my faith life alive.  I’ve experienced the Lord speak to me in crazy and powerful ways, and have learned so much about myself and Jesus through these hours.  This is why I was so excited to get to be involved in setting up adoration once a week for my campus ministry.  Every Monday night, I get to turn the church lights on, place the monstrance on the alter, and light candles around the place where Jesus will sit.  After three semesters of doing this every week, I still get excited to prepare the alter where others will have the opportunity to meet Christ is a true, real, and powerful encounter.

I knew that helping to prepare adoration would bring me great joy, however I did not expect this preparation to help me find an even deeper love for the Blessed Sacrament.

When I first started this job I wanted everything to be perfect.  Anxiety would be running high as I strived to get all of the candles to stay lit, get the thurible hot enough for the incense, and made sure the monstrance was in the place of preference for whichever priest would be doing exposition.  However, after a while I realized that if a candle blew out, or there were no alter servers available to bring the incense forward, or even if there was no priest, adoration would still go on.  I stopped freaking out about making adoration “perfect” because I realized the true perfection comes from the Eucharist alone.  It doesn’t matter what the alter looks like, or how many people show up, or if the lights go off half way through our holy hour because in adoration Jesus Christ is truly present body, blood, soul, and divinity.  Jesus Christ who is perfection itself is present, and through His presence, adoration becomes perfect.   After realizing this, I began to be more at peace with my job.  I began to accept the small things that went wrong.

But just as I began to become comfortable with things happening, I started setting up adoration this week to discover- 20 minutes before adoration was suppose to start- that the host was missing.  Now it turned out that our priest had simply moved the host from its normal tabernacle, but, as you can imagine, the ten minutes that followed were very stressful.  It was in this time- and my hour of prayer that followed- in which I reflected upon something very important.  Adoration couldn’t be done without Jesus.  Every other problem that came wouldn’t deteriorate the perfection of adoration.  Every problem, except for a missing Jesus.  The only way to have adoration was to find Jesus.

Now what I reflected upon was that life is very similar.  Whatever problems life gives us, whatever hardships, whatever struggles, can be overcome and turned into something good by the grace of God.  However, when Jesus is missing in our lives- when we cast Jesus out of our hearts in our thoughts and words and actions- the only way we can fix this problem is by finding Jesus.  Every other problem and hardship on Earth can be perfected into goodness, but in order to inherit the goodness God promises us, Jesus needs to be present in our heart.

Now here’s the kicker.  All I needed to do to find the Eucharist was to go to the correct tabernacle, open the door, and there He was.  In life, we may find Jesus missing.  We may not feel Him, we may outcast Him, we may deny Him.  But all we have to do to find Him is open our hearts to His love and grace, and there He is.  He is waiting for us to accept Him.  He is standing there knocking on our hearts.  Jesus never leaves us.  Jesus is never lost.  He’s always right there.  Go and seek Him, and you will find the joy of life and the perfectly beautiful grace that God has to give.

St. Francis of Assisi, Pray for us

There is No Flaw

DSC03665.jpg

‘The Beauty of the Woman.’  This is the title of Song of Songs 4:1-7.  ‘The Beauty of the Woman.’   A few months ago, a verse in this passage was brought to my attention by a young woman in my bible study.   “How beautiful you are, my friend, how beautiful you are!” (Song of Songs 4:1).   A truly perfect verse that deserves to be heard by each and every woman on this earth.  “How beautiful you are!”  The bible is the word of God being spewed forth from the lips of His messengers by the Holy Spirit.  The bible is Truth.  This is what we believe.  Therefore, in this simple verse, God is speaking of the true beauty that each and every human being holds.  You are beautiful.  This is the Truth.  These are the words Christ is telling you.

But society has poisoned us.  Firstly because it has taken away the beauty of human beings through the images we see, the things we read, the comments people make.  And secondly, it tells us that if we do see the beauty in ourselves then we are being vain- that we are self absorbed.  We are taught that we should complement everyone, but never accept complements of ourselves.  We are taught to be confident, but never admit you see your own beauty.  We are told to be sincere in what you say, but whenever someone complements you it’s out of obligation.  

This has created a foundation, built by society, that we are expected to walk upon, that is so unstable, that to take a step without crumbling is impossible.

We are told that it’s not what’s on the outside that counts, but what’s on the inside.  And this is so true.  But this should NOT be something we say in order to convince ourselves- or others- that we are just as valuable as the person who is sitting next to us whom we see as more beautiful than us.  Instead, it should be used to acknowledge that inner beauty is granted by love, courage, and strength, while outer beauty was granted to all of us in our creation in God’s image and likeness.  Inner beauty is given when we turn away from sin and treat others the way Christ taught us to.  Inner beauty is a gift from God that is given when we accept it.   However, outer beauty was given when we were formed in the womb.  God gave us the option to sin, but God did not give us the option to be made in anything other than His image and likeness- in any way other than His beauty.

Society has stopped us from not only seeing the outer beauty in others, but most importantly, from seeing the beauty in ourselves.  Yes, outer beauty isn’t going to get you to Heaven.  Outer beauty isn’t going to get you friends.  Outer beauty isn’t going the make you happy.  Outer beauty isn’t the most important thing.  But that doesn’t mean that outer beauty doesn’t exist, and it doesn’t take away from the fact that it is a gift that God has granted you.  In fact, not acknowledging the outer beauty God gave others AND yourself means that we fail to see the beauty in God’s creation.  It means we reject the goodness that God created.  We reject the perfection that God crafted.  And to be perfectly honest, that is sinful.  We should be able to see ourselves as beautiful and not have that be vain because you know what- God created us to be beautiful.  There is nothing vain about that.  We didn’t do anything to gain that beauty.  We aren’t taking any credit.  All glory to God.  All beauty to God.

‘How beautiful you are, my friend… you are beautiful in every way… there is no flaw in you!” (Song of Songs 4:1,7).   God said it.  God wants you to know it.  God wants you to look at every single person on this Earth and see that He created them perfectly.  He created them beautifully.  God wants you to look in the mirror every single morning- and not see anything less then the perfection He created.  God created us for perfection- God created us for beauty.  Let’s search for it.  Lets find it.  In who we are.  In what we look like.  Strive for that inner beauty.  Accept your outer beauty.  “My friend… you are beautiful in every way… there is no flaw in you!”

 

St. Francis of Assisi, Pray for us

A Piece of Toast

DSC01729.jpg

 

I like to joke saying a majority of my faith life consists of Fr. Mike Schmitz videos, The Imitation of Christ by Thomas A. Kempis, The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, and adoration, and to be honest, the joke isn’t too far off from the truth.  All of these things have noted important parts in my faith journey.  Fr. Mike’s videos have taught me so much about the Catholic Faith (a lot of this post is inspired by two of his talks The Hour that Will Change Your Life and his 3 part True Worship series), The Imitation of Christ is my go to book for all things Jesus (besides the bible of course),  The Screwtape Letters taught me how to combat the devil,and I often say that eucharistic adoration is a major reason I’ve remained not only a practicing Catholic but a Catholic that has grown in their faith throughout college.

Today, I would like to talk about one of these key components in my life: adoration, but more specifically: the Eucharist.  “The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life (CCC 1324),” which means that the Eucharist not only contains the essence of our faith, but also becomes the climax, the most important teaching, and perhaps the hardest teaching for us to understand and fully believe.

And it’s true, the Eucharist is one of the greatest mysteries of our faith.  In fact, a survey says that only 27% of Catholics truly believe that what we receive is the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus.  Every single Christian born before 1517 believed that consuming the Eucharist was consuming Jesus: body, blood, soul, and divinity.  For 1,500 years, every single Cristian believed in the True Presence.  And now only 27% of Catholics believe in the foundation on which Christianity was founded upon.  27%.   My brothers and sister, in 500 years our culture has turned billions of people away from the Truth.  We have turned away from the Truth.  We have turned away from the source and summit of our faith.

In Fr. Mike’s talk, True Worship, he states that with giving us the Eucharist, Jesus is telling us that “’The greatest gift I can ever give any of you is my body and my blood.  So if you don’t want to accept it – you don’t want to accept me.’  Here’s the reality, if the Eucharist really isn’t Jesus, then Jesus really isn’t Jesus.  If the Eucharist isn’t really His body and blood then Jesus isn’t God- because He said that it was.  And if He can’t change bread and wine into His body and His blood then He is not God and none of us should be following Him.  To leave the Eucharist is to leave Jesus.”  My brothers and sisters THIS is our faith- THIS is Christianity- THIS is love.  The Eucharist is God’s love, and if we turn our backs to this teaching we turn our backs to Jesus.

It’s hard to believe.  It truly is.  How does bread and wine turn into someone’s body and blood? Let us remember the teaching that “nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).  It’s in the bible.  It’s the word of the Lord.  If we believe in the bible- if we believe in what Christ says- if we believe that nothing is impossible for God- then it’s easy to see how bread and wine can truly turn into the body and blood of Christ.  And it does.  Because Jesus says that it does.  This should be enough.  This should be enough for us to believe.

Still not sold? Read the Bread of Life Discourse (John 6:22-59).  Look at how the crowds left Jesus when He told them they must eat His body and drink His blood.  If Jesus was just talking symbolically, if Jesus didn’t mean the people didn’t physically have to eat His actual body, then why would the crowds have a hard time accepting this teaching? They wouldn’t, but Jesus was talking literally.  He was saying that we need to eat His real, true, and physical body and blood, and the people couldn’t accept this radical teaching.  Jesus gives us the Eucharist.  Jesus gives us His true body and blood.

Last year I was kneeling in front of the Eucharist. Staring into the monstrance durning adoration.  I remember thinking that if someone walked in who wasn’t Catholic and saw 50 college kids kneeling in front of what appears to be a piece of toast, they would be completely and totally freaked out.  And then it hit me.  For 2,000 years, billions of people have been worshiping the Eucharist.  Billions of people for 2,000 years.  My brothers and sisters- do you think that billions of people are stupid enough to be kneeling in front of a normal piece of toast- consuming a normal piece of toast- and think that it was God for 2,000 years?  Of course not!  God created us with knowledge and wisdom! Billions of people aren’t that stupid!  A religion built on a piece of toast can NOT sustain 2,000 years and touch the hearts of billions!   But Catholicism has.  So, this can only mean that the Eucharist is so much more than a piece of toast.  It must be the King of the Universe.  It must be that we aren’t wrong.

A truly hard mystery to accept.  One that 73% of Catholics can’t believe.  But my brothers and sisters, we must strive each and every day to open our hearts more to accepting this mystery.  We must read the word of the Lord more, we must spend time more with the Jesus, we must pray that the Holy Spirit will work in our hearts more and more so that we can truly see the glory of God in the Eucharist.

If your faith life has not brought you to fully accept Christ in the Eucharist yet, do not get discouraged!  Instead, bring that doubt to the Lord in prayer.  Read about the Eucharistic miracles that have changed lives throughout the world (this article talks about 5 miracles that have happened in recent history).  Ask Jesus to reveal Himself to you and then listen.  Truly listen for the response that God will give you, for the signs that the Lord will give you.  The Eucharist is so much more than a piece of toast.  The Eucharist is Jesus: body, blood, soul, and divinity.  Let us pray to God to open our hearts and minds to truly accept this radical teaching.  Let us ask God to reveal His glory to us through the Eucharist.  Let us go out and change that 27%.  Let us proclaim Christ in the Eucharist.  Let us bring the love of Christ to the world.  Let us bring Truth to the world.

St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us