“In the beginning, it was not so.”

The body expresses the person. We have to go back to the beginning, before sin distorted things. That is the standard. That is the norm. The Pope proposes an “echo” of the beginning exists within each of us. TOB for Beginners

John Paul maintains that, despite sin, an “echo” of God’s original plan remains deep within every human heart. In his TOB, the Pope aims to help people peel away the layers of debris that cover the true desires of their hearts so that this “echo” can resound. The more it does, the more our subjective experience harmonizes with objective reality. The more that echo resounds, the more we can read the “language of the body” and the desires of our hearts “in truth.” People who come to understand the Pope’s TOB cannot help but recognize the inner movements of their own hearts being laid bare. It rings true. “I can identify with this,” they respond. “I experience life this way. This is what I desire. TOB Explained


For as long as I can remember, I have always felt like I was trying to play catch-up.

What do I mean by that? I mean that feeling you get when someone tells a joke and everyone laughs but you don’t get it but you’re too shy to say anything. That feeling of everyone raising their hand in class because the answer is easy and simple but you don’t raise your hand because you have no clue what’s being taught. That feeling of seeing your friends and people your age getting married and having kids and you haven’t even had a serious boyfriend yet.

Part of this, looking back, was due to my age. Maybe I should have been held back in school by a year. I was one of the “young ones.” Do you remember the kids in your class that were JUST celebrating their birthdays when you started a new grade? I was one of those, being a September baby.

This feeling never really left me. Up until recently, I still felt like I was behind the times. Slow to catch on. Not getting the joke. Appearing perplexed and confused when everyone else has taken the test and handed it in and I’m still stuck on question number 3.

Finally, after almost 37 years, I feel like I know something no one else does and I feel like I just skipped to the head of the class. I feel like I just solved every single question to every problem I have ever had in my entire life and I can’t tell anyone.  Not because I don’t want to share this news, but because I have no earthly idea HOW.  But over the next few week, months, years(!?!)  I will attempt to uncover this through this blog.

“Echo! Echo! Echo!”

What were the events leading up to this “discovery?” I would say the retreat at TOB Institute was the Main Event. But reading Theology of the Body for Beginners was the dress rehearsal. It was in this book that I finally was able to answer questions I have had in my mind since I was young, especially concerning sexuality, marriage, love, the existence of God, pretty much every question every person has but might be too fearful to vocalize it.

I just took two quotes from TOB and put them up there at the top of this page to help explain a little bit of this “discovery” and perhaps you, reader, have felt this too.

Disclaimer: In case it’s not obvious, I am no theologian. I am no best selling author. So this explanation will pale in comparison to the real deal, the actual Theology of the Body written by Pope John Paul II. If you want to “skip ahead” yourself, I encourage you to read one of Christopher West’s books. They will change your life.

Pope JP2 refers to an “echo” that we all have in our hearts. I think of this as a feeling of wanting to do the right thing, a feeling of love, a feeling of enormous longing. A feeling of “there has to be more than this.” And “I know that this is NOT what my life is supposed to look like. I know there is something more. I can feel it.”

This line that I underlined describes perfectly the feelings I had while reading TOB and continue to have now: People who come to understand the Pope’s TOB cannot help but recognize the inner movements of their own hearts being laid bare. It rings true. “I can identify with this,” they respond. “I experience life this way. This is what I desire.

In short, one can observe that the TOB seeks to answer two of the most fundamental human questions: What does it mean to be human? and How do I live in a way that will bring true happiness? TOB Explained page 74

I know what you’re thinking – Geez, this is some pretty serious stuff you’re saying here. I’m not sure I can handle all this theology! And you’re right, it is serious. But, I believe in my heart, that this teaching, this catechesis on the body by JP2, is what will save lives. It certainly saved mine.

To be continued….

-Michelle

What I’m Currently Reading:

Losing my religion for equality

From Rene Descartes to Caitlyn Jenner

The Body God Gave Us Doesn’t Lie

Chivalry Is Making a Comeback

Love, Tolerance, and the Making of Distinctions

 

National Day of Prayer

national-day-of-prayer

Today is National Day of Prayer. It’s a good time for me to post my personal favorite prayer. But since I have quite a few, I thought, what the heck, why not post all of them? 🙂

Grant me, O Lord, a mind to know you, a heart to seek you, wisdom to find you, conduct pleasing to you, faithful perseverance in waiting for you, and a hope of finally embracing you.

St. Thomas Aquinas

 Let us therefore give ourselves to God with a great desire to begin to live thus, and beg him to destroy in us the life of the world of sin, and to establish his life within us.

St. John Eudes

Say to him: Jesus, look upon the stones, the thorns,and the weeds that I have, but look also upon this small piece of ground that I offer to you so that the seed may enter my hearts.

Allow it to grow, and God will nurture it.

Pope Francis

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

Psalm 139:23-24

Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again – My Savior and My God! 

Psalm 42:5

Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do no lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them. Everyday begin the task anew. 

St. Francis de Sales

Fit In Your Faith Today: Take 5 minutes to pray on this National Day of Prayer. Pick one or a few or even all of the prayers I listed above or seek out your own favorite prayer. Offer it up to someone that needs your intention today. You could pray for the leaders in office, you could pray for someone in your family or a close friend, you could pray for the Nepal earthquake victims or you could pray for a certain social justice issue to be resolved. As they saying goes, “Pray for those who don’t believe in Jesus. They need it the most.”

Preach On and Often

Matthew 28: 19-20

Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples; baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And I will be with you always, to the end of the age.

Ever have some good news that you can’t wait to share with someone? You remember that anxious and exciting feeling of anticipation as you told them, “I have something awesome to tell you!!” Well that’s how a lot of Christians feel too. As we learn more and more about our God and our savior Jesus Christ, we want to be able to share this information with others. Why? Because it’s helped us when we needed it. Because it’s great to know God!

Maybe you found hope in going to mass every Sunday. Maybe you attended a support group at your church. Maybe you found a great website or blog that shares inspirational scripture and it helped you through a difficult time. 🙂 Sometimes we need to share this news with others. You might hesitate because you aren’t sure if they want to hear it. Or maybe you’re fearful that they will reject your message as “hogwash” or hurt your feelings by telling you that they don’t believe in God.

Jesus wants us all to be his apostles. This doesn’t even mean we have to become great evangelists or professional speakers. You can share the message by just showing kindness to someone. Or by inviting them to come to mass with you. Let the other parishioners and the priest do the evangelizing for you. It really is easy to “preach” without sounding preachy. It’s in our actions and in our words but it’s also in the little things. Just showing someone kindness, giving a little gift to someone who is less fortunate, or simply sharing part of the written word on social media, or sending something nice to someone’s inbox (or the real mail too) is evangelizing. It’s a small but powerful way to share the Good News with others.

Fit in your Faith Today: Let the good news spread. Share part of your faith today in some form with someone today, either through the written word, or social media, or speaking to them, or showing them an act of kindness. Remember, don’t be selfish with your faith; share it with others!

The Word is Alive

John 1: 1-5, 9-14

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came to be through him,
and without him nothing came to be.
What came to be through him was life,
and this life was the light of the human race;
the light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
He was in the world,
and the world came to be through him,
but the world did not know him.
He came to what was his own,
but his own people did not accept him.

But to those who did accept him
he gave power to become children of God,
to those who believe in his name,
who were born not by natural generation
nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision
but of God.
And the Word became flesh
and made his dwelling among us,
and we saw his glory,
the glory as of the Father’s only Son,
full of grace and truth.

Merry Christmas to all the children of God on this most blessed day, the day our savior was born!

 

Fit in your Faith Today:  Be sure to spend some quiet time after the gifts have been unwrapped, after the last sip of egg nog, after the final goodbye to relatives. Spend time in quiet prayer in awe and wonderment at the true meaning of what this day signifies to all of us and to you.

Be Like St. John the Baptist

Most people probably don’t think they could possibly be like a saint. They might not describe themselves as being very holy or good or sin-free. But you can be saintly, everyday.

There is a light inside all of us. And each day you have an opportunity to show people that light. For some, it’s barely lit. For others, it’s burned out. But for most, it’s shining as bright as the sun.

To be like a saint, in particular like John the Baptist, you can prepare the way for something (or someone) good to enter someone’s heart. Especially to those whose light is barely shining.

How?

  • Recognize they are hurting, perhaps depressed, bitter, or lonely. Don’t make it about you and your feelings, remember it’s about them.
  • Steer conversations to how they are feeling, what they are doing to get better. Make them do most of the talking.
  • Your role is a listener. Listen as the saints listened. They were silent when God spoke to them. Be that good listener and hear the words your friend is speaking.
  • Show them your light by taking them to lunch. Buy them a small thoughtful gift. Something even as small as a smile and a “How are you doing today?” can mean the world to someone who feels like there is no one they can talk to.
  • The sense of touch can make all the difference. A simple hug/embrace may sound like nothing. And maybe it’s even a little uncomfortable for people who aren’t used to affection. But even a friendly gesture like a hug can brighten someone’s day.

After you leave your friend, you’ll have shown them some of your light. You can be like the saints and like St. John the Baptist and prepare the way for Christ to enter his or her heart. It may seem like no big deal on the outside, but on the inside, that friend is grateful and transformed. And you can say that YOU helped make it happen.

Fit in Your Faith Today: Seek out that person that needs a saint in their life and show them that light inside of you.

Are YOU the one that needs a saint?  Hold that mirror up to yourself and ask what you can do personally to become like the saints. Prepare the way for Jesus to come into YOUR life.

 

Anxiously Awaiting during Advent

Some might think of the “holidays” as a time to be impatient. Some might want to get them over and done with, while others love to enjoy every single day and take it all in because they think it goes by way too fast.

How do you view Advent and Christmastime? Do you get sucked into the materialistic world and think of all the gifts you need to buy or all the gifts you are anxious to receive? Do you ever stop to think about what this time of year is really about?

Although it was just a cartoon, Charlie Brown’s Christmas special is remembered as one of the most popular tv specials of it’s time. It’s repeated on the air at this time of year and I would be willing to bet most people don’t even think about how it is completely centered around Jesus.

Who knew Linus’ closing soliloquy would have such an impact!? All ages can relate. We can all find some comfort in his simple message of the nativity scene.

So don’t be in such a hurry to get this time of year over with. Take each day to wait, anxiously. It’s okay to NOT be patient.

What’s there to be so excited and anxious about, you might ask?! It’s not the anticipation of opening gifts, it’s not the hustle and bustle of standing in shopping lines or even remembering all the cooking you have to do for relatives or the holiday parties you committed to going to.  Those are all exciting and great things. But they have very little to do with the true meaning of Christmas. Remember what Linus said.

It’s the coming of our Savior.  Anxiously await in anticipation of his birth. That’s the best way to fit in your faith this and every Advent season.