Friday, December 30, 2011

An Open Heart


I have been reading The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis and reflecting on the advise that Screwtape gave to Wormwood about how to prevent people from really praying.  
"The simplest is to turn their gaze away from Him towards themselves."
How often do I find myself doing this.  I pray but I am only praying for my own self satisfaction.  When I pray I try to make myself better or I try to solve my problems and difficulties.  When I pray it is often me closing myself off from the world and talking to myself.  
Prayer should be a conversation with our Lord.  I should be asking God to make me a better person.  I should be asking God to try to solve my problems or my difficulties.  When I pray I should be opening myself up to the Lord, talking with Him and listening to Him. 


Dear Lord, Help me to pray with you with an open heart.

Wishing everyone a very happy new year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Best of 2011 - Blog Hop

I'm joining in with Shanda at A Pause on the Path for her blog hop highlighting everyone's best blogs of 2011.  I choose to repost the following post because it has not only been my most viewed post but I feel that has had a significant impact on my actions, my thoughts, and on my writing and studying this year.
Be sure to jump back to a A Pause on the Path to read some awesome posts.

Conserve, love, understand, be taught

"In the end, we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught."

This was said by Baba Dioum about environmental conservation issues. 

This is one of my favorite quotes for environmental education and conservation but I also see it as true in other parts of my life as well.  I have been reading about the American Catholic identity and the decrease in mass attendance of Catholics on Fr. John Zuhlsdorf's blog and Fr. Longenecker's blog.  There is a huge amount of Catholics who do not attend mass each Sunday.  What should be done about this?  I do my best to attend mass each Sunday and try to attend daily mass when I can but sometimes I feel like I am just sitting in the pew, following along with the actions and just waiting for mass to be over.  I am physically at mass but my mind is somewhere else.  
Why do I do this?  Because I don't understand the mass.  How can we expect people to take time out of their busy lives to go to the church and sit in the pew every Sunday morning when they don't really understand what is going on around them or why they need to be there?  In order to increase mass attendance and more importantly mass participation we need to teach people about the mass.  

"In the end, we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught."

We can not conserve and increase participation in the mass until we love the mass.  Mass should not be something that you have to do because you are Catholic but something that you love because of what it is.  In order to love the mass we need to understand what is happening at the mass, both the big event and small prayers and actions of the priest and the congregation.  But we can not understand the mass until someone teaches us about the mass.  This is where we need to start.  
Today in mass I tried to really focus on every thing that the priest said and not let my mind wonder.  I realized how much I don't know and understand about the mass.  The more I know and understand about the mass the more I can love it and be an active participant in Sunday and daily mass.  So now it is my goal over the next few weeks to take a closer look at the mass, really learn what is going on and share that information here and with others.


Yarn Along

Joining in with Ginny at Small Things with a yarn along.

I don't have a picture this week (no working camera) but since I have been knitting and reading so much in the past week I felt like I had to share.

What I'm knitting?  I am still working on this sweaterHere is my last yearn along post where you can see where I was on this project almost 2 months ago.  It is coming along quite well but very slowly.  I am almost done with the back panel.  I am thinking that I might take a little brake from it when i finish the back and maybe work on a quick fun, project.  Any ideas?

What I'm reading? I just finished "The Hippocratic Myth" by Gregg Bloche.  It is a very interesting book about how doctors are being forced to act against the Hippocratic Oath.  I found it very thought provoking and felt it brought up some very interesting points.  It has made me realize that there are definitely problems with the healthcare system and the responsibilities of doctors but I don't feel that it presents any solutions or answers to the problems.  But definitely worth reading anyway.

Hope everyone had a very merry Christmas and wishing you a Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Matthew 5:8

Matthew 5:8
Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.

The Sermon on the Mount, in my opinion one of the most beautiful sections of the bible.  It is packed full of beautiful truths and are still so very relevant in my life today and they are so poetically written.
It starts with The Beatitudes.  A perfect example of this beauty and truth.  One line stands out to me tonight.

Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.

How can I have a clean heart?  By making sure that there is nothing on it that will make it dirty.  My heart should be focused on the Lord.  When I fill my heart on Earthly things that will pull me away from the Lord it becomes dirty.  I can not expect to spend my day filling my heart with the mindless chatter that surrounds me and then be able to clearly see the Lord.  This verse reminds me that in order to see God in the Kingdom of Heaven (or even to be able to form a relationship with him now on Earth) I need to keep my heart focus on Him.

Dear Lord, Help me to keep my heart clean and focused on you.

Friday, December 9, 2011

What is your favorite color?



What is your favorite color?

A question often asked by children.  Everyone has a favorite color.  Everything has to be that color.  You identify with that color.  You have something in common with other people who have the same favorite color as you.  Why?  I don't know.  It is a very simple connection but a connection that children love to make.  An important piece of information that children love to find.  Why?

What is your favorite color?

This was a question that one of my students asked me the other day.  I immediately replied "blue" without even thinking.  Why?  Because that has always been my favorite color.  Almost immediately many other students joined in sharing their favorite colors as well.  
It was so simple and childlike.  When we have so many 'important' issues on our minds and it seems like every question will lead to a heated debate or argument it is nice to see children having this simple conversation and making these simple connections with others.

What is your favorite color?


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Still unchanged through the change

I will admit that I was a little unsure about mass this morning.  I find comfort in the well known and familiar prayers and responses in the mass.  I know that wherever in the country I attend mass I can expect the same thing.  Even if I had never been there before I know what the priest is going to say and I know how I am meant to respond.  I am suddenly part of a larger community even if I don't know a single person in the church.
All of this was to change today.  The new translation of the mass was starting today.  Many of the prayers and the responses were changing.  They would all be unfamiliar and strange.  I was a little concerned that this comfort and sense of community would be lost.
But this is not what happened.  The word were different but the mass is still the mass.  Yes the word were unfamiliar and new but the mass was not.  The mass is not the words.  The mass in the miracle of the Eucharist.  The words changed.  The Eucharist did not and it never will.  How ever the practices and customs may change over the years the truth of the Church will not change.

The words may change the the truth will not.

This is comforting.  

Dear Lord, Help me to always find comfort in the truths of the mass.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Five Minute Friday Unexpected

Five Minute Friday



I like to have things planed.  I like to know what I'll be doing, when I'll be doing it, where I'll be, who I'll be with and any other details that I can put together.  I like to know what's going on.  Then I feel ready.  Everything is going to go as planned.  But the unexpected always seems to come in and ruin my plans.  Why? Because I am not the only person on this Earth.  Other people have wants and needs.  Other people have plans as well.  Then I get upset because my plans did go come out as planned.  This is selfish.  I need to leave room for other people's plans in my plans.  Sometimes it is not another person's plan that interferes with my plans but it is His plans, the Lords plans.  The Lord has a plan for all of us and as much as we try to follow it sometimes our plan does not match his plan.  Maybe sometimes the unexpected is the Lord trying to push us back onto His plan.  


Dear Lord, Help me to accept the unexpected and allow you to push me back onto your plan when I stray.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Someone you know

Yesterday at mass the Gospel reading (Matthew 25:1-13) spoke about the Lord returns and we meet him.  My deacon said something in regard to meeting the Lord that has been stuck with me for the past two days.  He stated that he believed that when we do meet the Lord he will be someone that we know, someone that we are familiar with.  

This has been stuck in my head but I'm not sure what to make of it.

The Lord should be someone that we know.  We should be building a constant relationship with the Lord through prayer and worship.  When we meet the Lord it should be like meeting an old friend, not someone that we have never spoken to before.

This thought could also be viewed as the idea that we need to see the Lord in everyone.  Each person is made in the image of the Lord.  We need to see that image in everyone that we come into contact with.  We need to see the Lord in our neighbors, friends, family and even in people that we hardly know.  If we see the Lord in all the people around us then when we meet the Lord he will not be a stranger because we saw him everyday.

These two ideas really make me think about how I view my relationship with the Lord and with others.

Dear Lord, Help me to grow closer to you and to see your face in all those that I meet.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Psalm 34- Reminds me of Elementary School

I haven't even read this psalm yet but already it reminds me of my idea of writing poetry in elementary school.  When I read the footnotes for psalm 34 this is what I read: 

"A thanksgiving in acrostic form, each line beginning with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet."

This psalm was written in the same style that I became so familiar with in elementary school.  For example in preparation for Thanksgiving we may write the word thanksgiving down the side of our paper.  Then we had to come up with something that we were thankful for that begins with each letter of the word thanksgiving.  This is the same thing that the writer of the psalm is doing except they used the entire alphabet (maybe my teacher thought that would be too much for us).

And I always thought acrostic poems was something that the teachers made up so we could write 'poetry' without having to worry about rhyming, syllables or meter.

I found this interesting so I just thought I would share it.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Psalm 33 The Word of God

Just a few thoughts on the Lords "Word"

Psalm 33: 4
For the Lord's word is true;

Psalm 33:6
By the Lord's word the heavens were made;

Psalm 33:9
For he spoke, and it came to be, commanded, and it stood in place.

The Lord's words are not just regular words.  His words have true meaning.  They are not like our words.  We can say anything but that doesn't make it happen or mean it is true but the Lord's words are true.  Simply by the Lords words the heavens were made.  When he speaks it becomes.  His words are truth.  It is by his words that we are given life.

Dear Lord, Help me to listen to your words.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Yarn Along

Joining in with Ginny at Small Things with a yarn along

What I'm knitting? I'm working on a little girl's sweater that I found on ravelry.  It is my first project of this type but it seems to be going a lot faster than I thought it would although if you look closely you can find quite a few mistakes.  I'm really excited to see how it turns out.

What I'm reading? Designer Genes by Steven Potter.  A very interesting book on how we are (or soon will be) able to control what genes are children have.  I find this intriguing for 3 reasons.
1) I am amazed at how far science has come from Mendel's studies to be able to actually define each gene in the human genome and possibly be able to use this information to control specific characteristics in humans.
2)  I am in awe of the wonders of the human body.  The fact that so few genes can code for all the functions and workings of the entire body is just amazing and mind boggling.  I feel that this is something that points to the fact that there must be some divine inspiration to creation.
3) To tell the truth what I am reading terrifies me.  It terrifies me that humans will have this much power.  I know that this information can be used for a lot of good but I know it could also be used for a lot of harm and destruction when it is used for selfish reasons.  I just can't see how the ability to choose the genes that future generations have will not lead into some kind of problem in the future.

Read more about thought that I had from this book here.