Sunday, September 28, 2014

~A Thought~


On my drive home one night, about a week ago, I was saying the rosary and meditating on the sorrowful mysteries. When I was meditating on the third mystery, the crowning of thorns, a thought came to me that I could not stop thinking about. 

Christ's humility.

Jesus was not overcome with the fear of humiliation. Being striped of His clothes to be scourged and having a crown of thorns forced upon his head to be mocked... I can think of nothing more humiliating. 

Yet, Jesus accepted it. 

How many times do we fear the risk of humiliation or embarrassment to an extent that we are willing to avoid what is truly right? To an extent that we let it control us? 

There are times we are terrified of experiencing embarrassment, even the slightest amount, and do whatever is in our power to stay away from the possibility. We are willing to go through great lengths to do so, even if it means not choosing to do the right thing. 

We avoid humiliation at all costs. 

Or, when we do experience embarrassment we fail to respond humbly. We fail to accept it as Jesus did and waste it rather than offer it up to God with love.  

Jesus is the ultimate example of what it truly means to have humility. What it means to fully accept one's humiliations and embarrassments. 

He did so out of pure love for us. He did so for our sake. 

If Jesus went through all of his humiliations for us, how can we be afraid to do what is right even if it means embarrassment, being judged, losing friends, and not at least try?

(I find it interesting how in this painting Jesus is shown bending down and leaning in so that he can be humiliated and mocked as well as have extreme physical pain)

I thought it was amazing how after thinking all week about this, and how to imitate Christ's humility, the second reading for today's Sunday Mass was all about just that! 

"So if there is any encouragement in Christ, 
any incentive of love, any participation in the Spirit, 
any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, 
having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 
Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves. 
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, 
but also to the interests of others. 
Have this mind among yourselves, which was in Christ Jesus, 
who though he was in the form of God, 
did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 
but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant,
 being born in the likeness of men. 
And being found in human form he humbled himself 
and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.
 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him 
the name which is above every name, 
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ 
is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." 
~ Philippians 2:1-11

Wow. That pretty much lays it all out. 

Do we empty ourselves of our self-love, ego, vanity, pride, and have a servant's heart for God's glory? 
Do we choose the path of humility, even if it means accepting our cross and dying to ourselves still more? 

If Jesus, the King of Kings, lowered Himself and accepted the most humiliating things to be done to him for our sake, how can we not strive to accept even the smallest humbling moments, for Him? 

I think now is the perfect time to pull out my handy dandy "The Imitation of Christ":
"Do not be concerned about who is on your side or who is against you; just be sure that God is with you. If your conscience is clear, be sure that He will defend you. The malice of others can never harm you as long as He is by your side. Be silent and endure for a while and you will experience the help of God in your need. No doubt about it, for God knows when and how to deliver you. So put yourself in His care. It is up to God to help and to deliver from all dilemma. However, we should realize that often it is good for others to know our defects and call us to order for them, for it keeps us humble. When you admit your faults, you easily pacify others and reconcile yourself with those you have offended. God never refuses the humble; rather He delivers and comforts them and fills them with His grace. He also opens to them the secrets of His Heart and draws them to himself, raising them to the heights of glory because of their humility. Humble people are always at peace, even when they are put to shame, because they trust in God and not in the world. So, if you wish to reach the height of perfection, never think of yourself as being virtuous until you know sincerely in your heart that you are the least of all." (Book 2, Chapter 2, page 71)

 "Christ: My child, as much as you can abandon your self-love, so much will you be able to enter into Me. As the longing for nothing exterior brings you peace, so does the complete surrender of your inmost self unite you with God. You must learn perfect renunciation of your will to Mine, without contradiction or complaint. Follow Me: I am the Way, and the Truth, and the life (John 14:6). Without the way, no human being can go; without the truth, no human being can know; and without life, no human being can live. I am the way you must follow, the truth you must believe, and the life you must hope for... Let us, then, all take courage and go forward together; for Jesus indeed is with us. It is for His sake that we have taken this cross upon us, and it is for His sake that we will persevere to the end. He will help us, for He has gone the way before us. See, how our king marches before us, and He will fight for us. Let us follow Him courageously, fearing no perils. Let us be ready to die for Him in battle; and let us not stain our honor by abandoning the way of the cross."
(Book 3, Chapter 56, page 224)

This is all incredibly powerful and beautiful to think about. 

Think about it. 

Con amore in Cristo,


Friday, September 19, 2014

Twentieth Year - Month Three

What I have learned my twentieth year: Month Three

I thought it would be neat to share a handful of different things that I learn personally in my own life, as I move through my twentieth year. Your twentieth year is the start of a new chapter in life. You are no longer a teenager, and your adult life is beginning to take off. You cannot go back, you can only move forward. These lessons are lessons I will learn again and again throughout my life in different ways, but I have chosen to share them because they have been the most prevalent in my life recently. I hope my lessons learned are just as helpful, thought provoking, and inspiring for you as they are for me.

I have officially been twenty for three months... I can't believe how fast they flew by. So much has happened in my life since then. I have already grown quite a lot since June 19th, and I can hardly wait to see what continues to unfold before me as my adventure into adulthood proceeds.

1. I must let go of things out of my control in order to grow and move forward.
I have heard this advice growing up more times than I can count, but I have never really understood it. The first three months of my 20th year have been a time where I have had to put it into practice more than any other time in my life thus far. I finally understand it. It has never been harder for me either. Throughout the course of my life I am going to have to let go and say goodbye to people I love most. It will happen every now and then. It will always be extremely difficult, it will always be painful. But doing God's will sometimes means letting go of people we love, or plans we aspire to, or dreams and goals we think are in accord with His plan for us. Instead of trying to control these situations and hanging on to what cannot be, I need to give them up and trust. Hanging on to plans or people who cannot be in my life right now keeps my heart from growing and transforming into who God wishes me to become. Hanging onto the past prevents me from realizing the present, and the future God wishes for me to partake in.  

2. There is always a need to grow more in knowledge. 
I sometimes become so overwhelmed just thinking of all the different aspects of knowledge I wish to obtain. There is SO much to learn and so little time. *Problems of a multi-interest nerd* As I continue to grow as a person, and experience new things, I am more and more aware of just how much wisdom and knowledge is out there for me to gain. I want to learn as much as I can, and there will always be a need to grow more in my knowledge of different subjects. Each conversation I have with others, and multiple times throughout the day, I am reminded just how much I have left to learn. I don't know everything, and I never will, there will always be something for me to learn and grow from each day of my life.  

3. Time is a precious thing, and it will not wait for me.
I swear a minute ago it was 4pm and now it's already 6pm. It seems as though hours are minutes and minutes are seconds. I am in a whirlwind of ideas, projects, hobbies and interests, but time is not waiting for me. It is one thing to plan or daydream about ideas. It is another thing entirely to take action on these ideas and thoughts. Time won't wait for me and my ideas. If time will not wait for me, why am I waiting on myself and others? God wishes for us to discern, pray, and think about things, but when He calls us to action will we be ready to jump on board with zeal? How can we waste the precious time God has given us to complete what He asks of us? Time shouldn't be wasted, it should be used to persevere on our God given path, and complete our personal missions set before us. The past few months in particular, I have learned just how vital it is to not waste time. It is a lot easier said than done, but is something I will always strive to perfect myself on.

4. God and my relationship with Him are my top priority.
It is one thing to believe this, and it is another thing to live this belief out in my life. If God is truly the top priority in my life, why do I catch myself making decisions without praying and asking God about it first? If God is truly the top priority in my life, why do I try harder to make time to grow closer to my friends than I do trying to grow closer to God? Why do I forget so easily to spend time each day with Him? How can I go an entire day only talking to Him once, if even that? The past few months I have learned just how important my relationship with God is. During painful, difficult times, I realized how much I need Him, and how He is the only one who can truly bring me comfort. My relationship with God does not begin after death when I am face to face with Him - He won't recognize me as a friend. It begins now, and I must nurture it by His grace each day for the rest of my life. Again, much easier said than done. Like growing in any relationship, it will take work, effort, discipline, determination, and lots and lots of love.

5. It is vital for me to make time to grow closer to those in my family.
The people in my family are very special because God chose for these particular people to be connected to me in a way that no one else can. Recently I have learned in new ways just how important it is to love them with my whole heart, to learn from them, and to strengthen my relationships with them. I want to take advantage of every opportunity I have to grow closer to them and be there for them. Love begins in the home, if I do not love those in my family as I should, how can I truly love others as I should? 

Con amore in Cristo,


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Pass it on...

It was my last shift at work for the time being, and I had to cashier. I wasn't quite looking forward to it. Being one of the only cashiers, I was grateful time would fly by and that I would be free soon. It was just one of those days where different unpleasant things, and just life in general, was weighing me down. I would have prefered to just be far far away from everything. 
Toward the end of my shift, after hours of checking guests out, almost in a robotic state of mind, I was awoken by the sound of my name being addressed by the only genuinely kind face I had encountered that night. 
Before I could even utter the usual, "Hello, how are you tonight?" she had already called me by name asking how I was.
"Hello Emily, how are you?" 
Taken by surprise that she actually read and addressed me by the my name on my name tag, I looked at her sweet face, beaming back, and answered,
"Hi, I'm doing pretty well!..This is actually my last shift before school."
"Really?? Well, I am honored to meet you!"
"Haha! It's great to meet you too."
"Where are you going to school?"
"I commute to Madonna."

"Oh how wonderful! What are you studying?"

"Really? Wow, what do you want to do with that?"
"There is a lot I would like to do with it. I love everything about it. I would like to do anything with writing, publishing, speaking, filming, everything!"

"Oh my goodness, that is so amazing!" 
"Awe, thank you. I am really excited!"
As our conversation progressed, she continued to pour out love in each word she spoke to me. Tenderly giving encouragement, praise, and making me feel valued. 
Her joy, love, and kindness toward me, for just 5 minutes gave me something I didn't realize I needed so badly at the time. Her words and conduct toward me, gave my heart a breath of fresh air. Her kindness gave life.
As she was leaving, she wished me all the best and lovingly expressed how proud she was of me for everything I was doing and pursuing. 
I'm pretty sure the smile she got out of me never left my face the rest of the night. 
The kindness and love she radiated out onto me, made it almost impossible for my heart not to cast out the same kindness toward others in return. The woman reminded me of one of my favorite quotes and life motto, 

“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.”
 -Mother Teresa

Through my special interaction with this woman, I witnessed a powerful example of what expressing God's kindness in one's face, eyes, smile, and most of all, words, looks like. I was reminded just how important it is to live this way. Love breathes life into the soul, and being kind to others does just that.  That's just what she did for me. She left leaving me better and happier. She was a stranger whom I will most likely never meet again, however her joyful spirit and kindness toward me caught me. She caught my soul and inspired me to try harder to be kind to others in my actions and words in everything I do. Whether it is with my own family or strangers who cross my path during everyday life. 

"Joy is a net of love by which we catch souls." 
- Mother Teresa

The next night, after a fun swing dancing event, my brother and I drove over with some friends to a cute little donut shop that had 90 cent deep-fried deliciousness. We walked in at midnight, trying to decide on what donuts to devour. I went last and asked the young man for 1 glazed donut, he casually grabbed 2 glazed donuts and put them in my bag. 
Worried that I would be charged more than I was willing to pay, I said, 
"Ummm.. That's two..." 
He looked right at me and simply stated, "I know." and handed them to me. 
Surprised, I thanked him and left with a huge smile. 
That was the first time anyone had ever given me more than I payed for. 
Again, even though it was a simple and small act, I was touched by another stranger's kindness.
Sitting at the table with our donuts I told these stories to my friend, who was just as inspired as I. As my friend got up to go buy another donut for her father, I was looking at my bag that held the extra donut, and realized I should pass on the random act of kindness. I stopped her, gave her the donut and told her to pass it on as well. 

"No kind action ever stops with itself. One kind action leads to another. Good example is followed. A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves." 
- Amelia Earhart

St. John of the Cross said, "At the end of our life, we shall all be judged by charity." It couldn't be more true. We are all called to love others, no matter who they are, in everything we do. It is so easy to forget, to be weak, to be selfish, to be caught up in ourselves, to be cold and not kind... Yet, if we do anything without love, it is worthless. 

Pass on the kindness...

Con amore in Cristo,