I “rescued” this brass crucifix from an antique shop this weekend and waited to put it up until today.
Happy Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross!
It was through His passion (suffering) and death on the cross that my soul is saved!
On the holy cross Jesus said, “Forgive them Father…”
At the foot of the cross speaking to his Mother Mary and St. John he gave the world His own mother to love us.
There are many Christians who do not like and/or disagree with crucifixes, but after discerning and praying about it I realized that the cross without the CORPUS CHRISTI (the body of Christ) is just that - a cross, an ancient Roman torture pole that criminals hung from as they slowly died - many many criminals on many many crosses for many many years.
But this cross, this "criminal" was different!
The crucifix shows me the PERSON who made the SACRIFICE- He wasn't just another criminal on another cross hanging and waiting to die. He is my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
And in my hardest moments, in my own sufferings, when I look upon the CRUCIFIX, seeing the PERSON and the SACRIFICE reminds me that I must take up my own cross and suffer too! And that I am never suffering alone and that my suffering now has purpose when it is joined with His.
So lift high your cross fellow Christians and declare with me the saving power of Jesus Christ!
What a blessing it was to attend a most reverent and beautiful Holy Sacrifice of the Mass this morning at St. Patrick's in Columbus, thank you Lord!
As I was sitting in the pew listening to the Holy Gospel being proclaimed, this particular Scripture (Mark 18-23 †) that was shared made its way into my heart...
“Hear me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile."
My thoughts immediately took me to my childhood traumas - molestation, rape, abuse - all things against my control that happened TO me (my interpretation of 'enters one from outside'). That Scripture brings me peace. Many, if not all, childhood survivors experience feelings of shame and blame themselves for what happened to them. But that is a lie and when we begin to feel that way, we need to ask Jesus to rebuke those feelings and pour His Truth and peace into our hearts and minds.
The Scripture continues with...
..."but the things that come out from within are what defile." But it does not end there as it explains...
“From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile.”
In my own experience within myself and in serving others, I have come to learn that many of these behaviors that defile stem from unhealed woundedness from traumas. In my darkest moments - these were my behaviors. And even when I began to see more light, little by little, I still would get caught up in some of these behaviors as well.
God in this Holy Scripture is telling us that we are not what has been done to us; but we ARE responsible for what we choose to do in response. If we hold anger, resentment and malice in our hearts, then these are evils that are from within that defile us as well as others.
No matter how our hearts got dirty to begin with - we need clean hearts. <3
The great news is that He gives us everything we need to cleanse our hearts - to turn them from stone to flesh!
But we must first acknowledge our own behaviors for what they are, accept God's love and mercy in our own lives and then commit to living a life faithful to God and His decrees. This is what each and every one of us was created for.
For new, fleshy, clean hearts to know, love and serve Him. <3
I <3 Sundays.
I <3 the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
I <3 Holy Scripture.
I <3 God.
I <3 His mercy and forgiveness.
And I <3 you.
You are NOT what has happened to you, but you are responsible for what your heart does next.
Happy Sunday y'all!
#columbus #stpatrick #holymass #noshame #donotdefile #stonetoflesh #cleanheart #restlesshearts #mommaletics #forgiveness
It is important for me to share this today. It is important for everyone but most especially all women to see this image and read these words for the sake of everyone, for the sake of the dignity of ALL persons.
This is an image of a young girl holding her high school graduation cap that she decorated. (I know her personally and have permission to share this). It includes all of the typical girly things like fur, rhinestones and pretty butterflies. But it also includes something that was not around in 1973 - ultrasound pictures. Her cap proudly includes pictures of her unborn child with the words, "I did it for us!"
This young girl is my hero and I know that her little daughter due in October will look up at her and call her hero too one day.
Why you ask?
Because in a society that tells you to terminate a life so that you can still have your "hopes and dreams and aspirations," to get an abortion so that you can "succeed," seeing this show of motherhood, of solidarity with the unborn child and quite frankly the courage of someone so young going against the tide makes me drop to my knees and thank God for His unending mercy.
Our young people today are being lied to.
Our young women today are being lied to.
Our society screams out that you cannot succeed if you get pregnant. That you cannot accomplish your dreams and aspirations if you carry a baby to full term and give birth. That you are not strong enough. That you are not brave enough. That you are not courageous enough. That we as your family and friends are not able to support you. That we as strangers are not charitable enough to support you. And instead of encouraging you to bring forth life and fulfill your dreams, our society is trying to convince you that you just cannot do it.
Well I say, "Not today Satan, not today!"
Today I show you a young woman who has embraced the life inside of her no matter her circumstances. I show you a family who has chosen to support her AND I show you a city, a state and a nation of people who are willing to step in and help her when those close to her cannot. That is the true strength and power and courage of a WOMAN. A woman in relationship with her community. She absolutely CAN do it!
I also show you the sonogram photos. The ultrasound that when introduced should have changed our minds about legal abortion, it should have revealed the truth of the humanity and personhood of the unborn fetus. But instead, we now use it to locate the unborn in the womb in order to tear it apart and discard of it. May God forgive us.
Be a mother no matter the cost if that is where you find yourself.
Knowing that the true purpose of a valedictorian speech is to INSPIRE OTHERS to go out and accomplish their goals, THIS young high school mother is a valedictorian to me!
Personally, I lost my second child to abortion.
I should have been a hero to my child just like this beautiful high school mother is to hers right now! But I wasn't.
So now I join in spirit with every teenage mother who has chosen life for her child! Please know that your decision to be strong, to be powerful and to be courageous so your child can live is a balm for my aching heart, a salve for my soul.
Your choice for life helps heal all of our broken hearts.
You are the true valedictorians, you are the true heroines of our time - our hope for the future is in you and the fruit of your courage. THANK YOU!
#motherhood #teenagepregnancy #highschoolmom #capandgown #truevaledictorian #unbornlivesmatter #strengthpowerandcourage #wecandoit #chooselife #trueheroines
I was going through old photos last week to make a video for our son's high school graduation and I found this- my high school Senior picture.
But here is the thing...I never actually graduated from high school.
That is correct. Actually, I dropped out of high school in 10th grade because I became pregnant and eventually on and off homeless.
I took some classes while pregnant in a special home for unwed pregnant teenage girls...that was awkward.
I took some classes at a high school when I was shipped out to Northern California because I was so severely abused by my boyfriend at the time that we all feared for my life...that was traumatic.
But I never graduated.
Finally, at around 20 years old and only a 10th grade education, I heeded the pleading and begging of a dear friend's mother (who was a teacher) and I took my GED exam. Thank you Ms. Gail Purvis, you were a sprinkle of hope in my life at that time.
I remember sitting in the GED counselor's office after taking the "prep test" to see if I would actually pass the GED exam or if I needed to take some classes and listening to the counselor say, "Why aren't you in high school finishing your diploma? Your scores are so high you could go to college on scholarships!"
I muttered, "No, thanks, just give me the damn test please."
And there it was. I took the GED exam and passed with a score that made the counselor shake his head as I walked out of there that day.
But I never graduated high school, so when I come across this picture I tend to laugh inside. And then it makes me sad because it reminds me that...
I have never heard the graduation march play as I walked across a stage.
I have never been on the stage, receiving my diploma and shaking someone's hand at the same time.
I have never turned and looked into the stands and smiled as all of my family screamed and cheered for me.
I have never turned my tassel or have thrown my cap up in the air.
I will never have a high school reunion.
So that is why I go big when my children do all of the things I never was able to experience. When my children walk across that stage, they take me with them in spirit - not just as a proud mother but as an 18 year old street kid who dropped out of high school but who is now living in this moment with them!
My children provide so much more for me than I could have ever imagined and I am so thankful to them, my husband and God for this amazing life I have.
Congratulations to all the graduates out there this month! Appreciate it deeply, not everyone gets a chance to experience it. You are truly blessed.
Ahhh, apparently that is the million-dollar question over these past couple weeks! As we read all over social media “your silence is compliance” and we feel the judgement that follows: in many ways it feels like a national bullying party and you are the poor kid who is at the end of the hit. I know for me, a Christian, this has left me in a very uncomfortable position. One that has sent me into study, research, prayer and discernment. #silenceisgolden
And now I will speak. But not because someone’s hashtag told me to or because a private message from someone who “cares” about me has pressured me into it. Certainly not because social media will label me as they please if I stay silent – nope. None of that is more important to me than God and what He has asked of me as His daughter and disciple. #donotbeafraid
My absence or silence on social media for the past week has been a blessing. It has allowed me to withdraw from the world and connect more closely with Heaven, with God. I am not of this world; I am merely in it. My true home is Heaven and all that I do and say here is part of my journey to my everlasting home. What I do here is important because what I do and say here communicates to God what I want, and where I would like to be – WITH Him or WITHOUT Him – for all of eternity. It reminds me of that saying YOLO, you only live once. True. But you live once for ALL OF ETERNITY, so I better try my best to get it right! I want God to know without a doubt that no matter what #ichooseHim
Some people are offended by my withdrawal from social media. Some people have issued threats on our relationships. Some people have made it perfectly clear that if we do not necessarily agree on what I should say and when I should say it that our relationships are over and even worse, they hope harm comes to me. My answer to them is this – I LOVE YOU. And my love for you is not conditional, regardless of what you do, say or believe. If and when you want my friendship again, please do not hesitate to come back to me – I will welcome you with open arms, no questions asked. It will be like you never left – you will always have my unconditional love. #lovelikejesus
I am choosing to speak right now because I want to share a few things that I feel are important.
Racism is evil. As a Christian, I denounce and reject all things that are evil. How I go about denouncing evil is my choice as well as my responsibility and I answer to God alone through His Holy Church. I discern what God desires of me, and I do my best to be an obedient child of the Father.
Black lives matter. Every single black person who has ever, is now and will ever exist carries the dignity in which God alone has bestowed on them and no one, no matter what they do or say, can take that away from them. With that being said, I do NOT align myself with the organization known as Black Lives Matter (BLM) as they do not hold the same Christian values as I do and even though we may be united in the goal of dignity for the lives of black and brown people – there are stark differences with what they believe and how they propose to achieve it and what I am called to live as a Christian.
ALL black lives matter. My Catholic faith has taught me the importance of the FULLNESS of things. God is the fullness. His love has no empty spaces, no missing parts. To that end, the absence of unborn black lives from this movement is something I cannot support. The fullness of this “movement” for the dignity of all black lives MUST include unborn black children. If your group or organization supports the killing of black unborn children, then I cannot be a part of it.
Defund the police? After spending years being homeless and in the welfare system as a young person and after more than 20 years working with low/no income families, I absolutely believe that reform; an absolute change should be made to all public service departments. The biggest job I have outside of street outreach is accompanying our families on the social services journey. I have also witnessed mistreatment of homeless on the streets by police officers, especially in regard to homeless women, regardless of color. Sexual crimes and harassment of women is real out there. I testify to it. Change needs to happen. The system is definitely flawed and needs major reform. How to do this? Last year, SOFESA, began researching a new care model for our mission in helping families. The first thing we realized is that change happens in healthy and trusting relationships. So first and foremost, the answer begins with RELATIONSHIP. And I believe that relationship is also the foundation to the issue of policing as well. I feel like there is a relationship between our current police force and local organizations who serve those in need that needs to be foundational. But, with this being said, I am in research mode right now. I am reading, listening, studying all sides of this issue. And I welcome you to email me studies, models, research on what you believe should happen. I want to read it all, I want to hear it all, I want to know it all because then I can process it and come to an educated result of where I stand on this issue. I am not there yet. Important issues need time, they deserve time to be properly discerned and evaluated.
I see color. A few years back I saw a billboard that said God does not see color, and it had a picture of people of all races and colors on it. I hated it. It was wrong. God not only sees color, He created color! Teaching our children to be “colorblind” is a lie. It goes against Truth. What needs to be taught is human dignity. Human dignity applies to all colors, all people. It represents the holiness and love of God in each and every single person. What we should teach is how beautiful all of these colors are and to love each and every single human person just as God loves us. God sees the beauty in all of the colors He has created us to be, now we need to see it too. #notcolorblind
Lower your expectations of me. I am a sinner. I have killed someone as well (RIP Esperanza). I will disappoint you. I will not meet all of your expectations. I will make mistakes. I am not perfect. But my desire to do what is right and good for every single human being I encounter is who I am. And when I fail at it, please know that I will get back up and try again with every ounce of my being. #iamnotmyfailuresormysins
Peace without Justice. Being a victim to child sexual abuse, as well as many other crimes, created in me a strong desire for justice. My anger demanded it. There was a time when in despair for not finding this justice I even attempted suicide, twice. My journey led me eventually to forgiveness, and I wanted to share with you one of the books that helped me along the way, A Just Forgiveness: Responsible Healing Without Excusing Injustice by Everett L. Worthington, Jr. There can be peace without justice. Not a single person who committed crimes against me was ever caught, none of them even so much as apologized. I never received “justice” from any of them - but I did find peace. I know that in our hearts, we cry out for justice, as it should be. But we should cry out to God, because Justice is His to give. He is the Lord of Justice. I hope that you do not believe that without justice you will be unable to find peace. That is just not true, and my life’s journey is a testament to that fact.
Lastly, I want to leave you with a prayer that was my father in law’s favorite (may he rest in peace). You probably have heard it before, some of you may be very familiar with it, but I feel very strongly that its words, its message should be heard right now, in this time we are in currently and I pray that in all that we try to do to fix our society’s problems, that these words are what encompasses each and every one of our hearts as we move forward in our efforts.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may
Not so much seek to be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
And it's in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it's in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us! †
**Trigger Warning: This article discusses the effects of child sexual abuse on adult survivors. Some may find its content difficult to read. I do encourage everyone to read it even if you are not a survivor yourself, chances are you are a partner or friend to one.**
As many of you are aware, I am a child sexual abuse survivor (CSAS). I was molested at 10 and raped at 12 years old. I have also survived homelessness and other forms of abuse in my earlier years. All of which have resulted in dysfunctional and maladaptive adult behaviors. In my 30s I struggled terribly with low self-esteem and control issues, which is most common in CSAS. “Among the problems and symptoms that have been associated repeatedly with a childhood sexual abuse history are symptoms of posttraumatic stress, low self-esteem and guilt, anxiety, depression, somatization, dissociation, interpersonal dysfunction, eating disorders, sexual problems, substance abuse, and suicidality.” (Briere, 1989; Browne & Finkelhor, 1986)
For me personally, control was a big issue. Needing to have control of myself and my environment started immediately after my rape occurred, I recall the exact moment and time I swore to myself that I would die before I let anything like that happen to me again, I was 12. The need for control was what kept me from doing drugs and drinking. I was the only one in my group who never got high or drunk. Which turned me into everyone else’s caretaker and gave me a sense of empowerment! Here I am keeping myself safe and now protecting others who are vulnerable too. That created many instances of fighting, stealing, lying and petty crimes – all for the sake of “protecting” the ones around me. Flash forward to my 30s now married with children. As an unhealed CSAS, I demanded control over my household and family members, including, if not especially, my husband. He nicknamed me Jessica “The Master Planner” Echeverry. God bless him for his patience! Everything had to be a certain way (my way of course) all in an effort to “protect” my people. But it was a very unhealthy behavior that was slowly ruining my marriage and my personal relationships. I was struggling.
Eventually, I experienced around 7 years of therapy which helped me tremendously. I also found Jesus Christ in the Catholic Church which combined with a healthy marriage and loving husband I was able to finally find healing of my early childhood wounds and abuses and get ‘control’ of my control issues. But healing of wounds does not take away the truth of what happened. The reality of actions. And so yes, I still suffer from flashbacks. I am still triggered by certain things. I still “suffer” from the recall of the heinous crimes that were committed against me as a child.
As a Christian, I feel a closeness with God that allows me to surrender myself completely to Him when it happens. I say yes to it and embrace it, knowing I am suffering with Him on the cross He has allowed for me. I think of it similar to St. Paul’s own labor for the church, “I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church.” (NIV Col 1:24) For the sake of the church. Just like Jesus.
But it still hurts.
It is still real.
Just as the day it happened.
Because we don’t change the reality of historic events.
They will always be there, like 9-11.
We learn to deal with them and hopefully we heal from them.
But they never actually disappear.
So what does quarantine have to do with all of this? Lack of control. For many CSAS being in quarantine has triggered (knowingly and unknowingly) our need to feel in control. Stay at Home orders remove freedoms, remove a person’s control over one’s self – something very important for a CSAS to feel. Wearing a mask can trigger a flashback if the abuse was violent in anyway, if the CSAS was held down or smothered in anyway (my attacker placed his whole hand over my nose and mouth to keep me from screaming). For the first few weeks of the quarantine I felt weird. I felt aggression. I felt depressed. I felt like I had no control. I felt suffocated by the facemask now required in order to go out into society.
I struggled so much through prayer and trying to find a reason for all of these feelings. And after much prayer and research I realized that it is the quarantine that is the trigger. Once you realize you have been triggered, then you have the awareness to start the process of working through the trigger and memory. Awareness is the key and it is the start to finding healing and peace to what it is you are suffering from.
So yes, quarantine is difficult on people for all of the regular reasons. But please be mindful, be aware that for the CSAS it brings about another deeply profound level of suffering and stress you could only imagine, especially for those CSAS who have never told anyone what has happened to them or hasn’t had the opportunity to find the healing they so deserve.
If you are a victim of child sexual abuse and need help, please call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673. Live Chat (safe and confidential) available on their website as well: https://hotline.rainn.org/online
Easter Sunday (Resurrection Day) is the holiest day of the year for Christians. It is a moment in time where all hope is realized – death has been made a slave to love and is overcome. God has redeemed the world.
And so on this day we do our best, wear our best, give our best – for God. We don our finest suits, fanciest dresses, richest foods, elaborate decorations, feasts and parties!
And every year, on this day, since becoming a Catholic Christian, I have adorned our front steps and our home altar with Easter lilies – rows and rows of them! Beautiful, fragrant and perfect white Easter lilies which find a permanent home in my yard after Eastertide each year.
But this year, this day was different. Our domestic church has taken front and center. Most Christians went without receiving the sacraments and our ability to buy the best and present the best was debilitated. I felt like my hands were empty. My cupboards were bare. My porch steps were naked and exposed. And the most important house guest in the world (and outside of it) was coming over! For me, it left me feeling a sense of absence or closeness from our Savior in the moments I was looking forward to and cherishing the most. I got used to giving only the best that I lost sight of what the best gift to give God is – my heart, my true desire for Him.
In anxiety, I dug out old Easter decorations and started hanging fake flower strings, slightly molded Happy Easter signs and brushed off cobwebbed baskets. I made it work. It was all I had.
I went out in my yard in hopes that my previously planted lilies may have miraculously bloomed overnight, having a quiet conversation with God about how He is capable of making it happen, and hoping He did so that I would feel like I had something valuable, something beautiful to offer Him.
But they hadn’t. He didn’t.
And then I looked in my grass and saw the small yellow petals popped up and out of place and happy the lawnmower had failed to come by this past week, opening up to the Sun. Dandelions. Flowering weeds.
This time, instead of pulling them and tossing them in my green recycle bin, this time I handled them delicately, put them in a vase with water (and other flowers and weeds) and gave them the center place on my Easter table.
This Easter Sunday, there was no taking in the fragrant smell of lilies or seeing the proclamation of the King in their trumpet shaped petals. No, this Easter I only have weeds for the King.
And the King is happy. Because even though perfect white Easter lilies are beautiful, it is the moment when we are left with nothing, we are poor and we scrape together whatever measly offering we have and we say, “Here Father, these are for you because I love you. It is all I have. Forgive me.”
And He says, “Thank you for these, they are the most beautiful Easter flowers I have ever seen.”
Even at our lowest, at the moments in our life where we feel we have absolutely nothing to give, God reminds us that the most valuable gift we can give him is our heart, weeds and all.
#weedsfortheKing #easter #heartsdesire #jesuslives #iamsaved
My goal in life is to have sins like popcorn. Sounds crazy, I know. But let me explain.
I haven’t always been a Catholic. I entered into the Catholic Church in May of 2008 knowing absolutely very little about the Church as well as my own faith. Full disclosure, I was more anti-Catholic than passive about the Church. Yes, I married a “Catholic” and promised to raise my children Catholic, but my husband was a cradle ‘culture’ Catholic, so little was expected of me in this regard. I had a spiritual experience inside of a self-realization temple a couple years prior and was propelled into this search for Jesus Christ afterwards.
After that spiritual experience I was sure of one thing – it was Jesus the Christ that I had been searching for my whole life. And now that I had experienced Him and His never-ending love for me I was set out to truly find Him and worship Him. I prayed to Him, I asked Him to take me to exactly where He was, where I could experience Him like I did in that pagan temple. He led me to His Catholic Church.
It took many years to learn the faith (and I am still learning) and to truly understand sin. Coming to a fuller understanding of what sin is was extremely important for me. Being a Catholic allowed me to process my own sinfulness within His mercy through the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession). It was in my First Confession that I experienced Jesus yet again in a truly mystical experience – His grace literally touching me. Let’s just say I walked into the confessional with a hard heart and closed mind and only doing this ‘thing’ so that I could become a Catholic. But I walked out a converted and true believer in the sacrament! The full mercy of God and the love of Jesus Christ is present in His sacraments!
And it has been through Confession that most of my life changing moments, my bearing of soul and sin have happened. My first confession as I have already shared, the confession about my abortion which led to my healing and understanding of my motherhood to my lost child, Esperanza. My confession about my earlier life experiences and the hatred I held in my heart for those who harmed me which propelled me into a years long journey of prayer and trust in God in order to find authentic love and forgiveness for them. All of which allowed me to discover the core of my own identity – my human dignity. These all happened through the life changing graces of God that I received through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Which leads me to popcorn. I know, sounds crazy. Here is the connection…
Archbishop Fulton Sheen is known for this quote, “Hearing nun’s confessions is like being stoned to death with popcorn.” I remember when I first came across this quote, I laughed. But I could not forget it. I kept remembering it, it kept coming back to me. Eventually, I realized that it wasn’t just something the good Archbishop said to garner a laugh, but it was a subtle truth being revealed in the wisdom of God he possessed. Their sins were like popcorn. He referenced being “stoned to death” by them. Quite funny, truly. But let’s go deeper.
Which would you rather be stoned to death by – stones or popcorn? Exactly.
Listen, we are all sinners. But, we must analyze and ask ourselves - are my sins more like stones or more like popcorn? I know that when I first started out in this quest to follow Jesus, my sins were absolutely stones, more like boulders that required the grace of God to remove. We even used the metaphor to teach our children that our sins are like stones that we keep filling a backpack with, and when we go to confession we empty out the backpack- the weight of our sins is lifted off of us. But if you do not go to confession, if you do not make your sins right with the Lord, then you are continually adding more and more weight to the backpack (journey).
This is also where the beauty of the Church’s teachings can be found – the fullness of understanding about sin. What is sin? This post is not a theology lesson, but I do encourage you to take the time to read what the Church teaches about sin here: https://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s1c1a8.htm
Simply put, sin is an offense (a stoning of) against God. My sin like a boulder was me stoning God with it. My sin like a stone was me stoning God with it. My sin like popcorn is me stoning God with it. For me, I have found that the more I trust in Him, the more I commit to prayer and the sacraments, the less weight and brutal my sins have become. Now, I am in no one saying I am sinless, or even that my sins are all like popcorn all the time.
Like I said in the beginning of this post - my goal in life is to have sins like popcorn.
But now you get it, right?
A dear friend of mine shared a quote from Archbishop Fulton Sheen this morning about St. Joseph that is beautiful and it got me thinking. Here is the quote:
“…Joseph was probably a young man, strong, virile, athletic, handsome, chaste, and disciplined; the kind of man one sees sometimes shepherding sheep, or piloting a plane, or working at a carpenter’s bench. Instead of being a man incapable of love, he must have been on fire with love… Instead, then, of being dried fruit to be served on the table of the king, he was rather a blossom filled with promise and power. He was not in the evening of life, but in its morning, bubbling over with energy, strength, and controlled passion.”
And this makes me think of God’s call to the men in the world today. Because in my experience, I have seen the expectation of the call to young men for the priesthood and the expectation of the call to older men to the diaconate.
Truth be told, my husband Charlie and I were the youngest couple in our diaconate formation class and our presence came as a surprise to many people. I remember being called in for our first interview and waiting in the lobby for the person interviewing us. His first words upon greeting us were, “Wow, you guys are young!”
All throughout our time in formation we (and one other couple who was a little bit older but also had younger children at home) were different because of our age. Surrounded by couples who had already raised children and were grandparenting, some celebrating retirement and most others in a completely different stage of life then us; sometimes we doubted whether or not it was the right “time” to do this. The right “time” to answer God’s call. We stayed the course and as you know now, my husband is a Permanent Deacon for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. All praise and glory be to God!
But this quote from Archbishop Sheen reminded me once again about the importance of answering God’s call WHEN He calls you. Joseph is described as a righteous man and was going to divorce Mary quietly. But when the angel appeared to him and told him not to be afraid and who she was carrying, Joseph was receiving at that moment, God’s call to him and he answered it then and there.
And if we apply Archbishop Sheen’s interpretation of Joseph, then Joseph chose his vocation, he answered God’s call in the time of his life that we automatically associate with fruits to be offered to the world. What we have given of ourselves to the world, God has called us to give to Him, right now. First fruits.
If you are waiting to retire to become a deacon, why? Do you only have dried fruit to offer the king? Are you under the assumption that you will not have the time to offer to God until you retire, your kids move out, etc.? Then what really are we offering to God? We hear the call, but do not respond. Worse yet, we hear the call and ask God to wait. Even worse than that is allowing ourselves to be distracted with what we feel we have to give to the world that we do not even hear the call of God in our lives. We miss the call entirely.
Did you know God was calling you? Yes, you. Answer Him.
Today, I pray that in the hearts of all men, young and old, that there is a willingness to hear God calling them and a courage in them to answer that call – right now. God knows who you are (He created you!), and He knows what you have got going on in your life right now as well (He is the Creator of Time itself!) so do not be afraid. Do not worry.
Be like the example of Joseph and answer the call. God bless you!
St. Joseph, foster father to God Incarnate, pray for us! †
#stjosephfeastday #answerthecall #firstfruits #vocations
***This post has been edited from it's original version***
I have been working on my book and have found so much wisdom in going through different aspects of my life. One big one that I am feeling called to share is the reality of divorce and generational pain. What I am about to share is based on my own life experiences.
(The following paragraph simply paraphrases what the Catechism of the Catholic Church shares with us about this topic. For further reading go here: http://www.vatican.va/…/ccc_…/archive/catechism/p3s2c2a6.htm)
You see, as Christians, when a couple marries they become ONE FLESH. And so when they have children, those children receive their identity from their ONE FLESH. Stay with me here as I explain. You see, inside all of us, at an ontological level is our identity as a created human person and it is born from and relies on those two people who made you. Just like we were created in the image of God, so it goes for our children. They are born in our (mother and father's) image. So imagine what happens at a level so deep within you when those two people separate and divorce from one another. What created you now no longer exists. You see, you got WHO you are from their love, their ONE FLESH. That is how important marriage is. That is why in our vows we say, “For better or worse, till death do us part.” Because the separation of the ONE FLESH then separates the identity of the child at its very core (being).
(Now this is my personal opinion based on my own life experiences and the extensive research done on this topic)
Inside of this child there is now chaos and sadness, turmoil and heartbreak because everything inside of them that told them WHO they are has now been dissolved. Most of these children who feel this way can't even explain why they feel sad or angry, they "just do."
Take a look at the picture, those are images that pop up when you Google children and divorce. Now, before you start to attack me for posting negative about divorce let me share with you that I am not judging anyone in this post and if this post upsets you because you have gone through a divorce (or two or three) then I ask you to ask yourself why the TRUTH of divorce would make you upset?
Personal opinion based on my own experiences---> This needs to be shared far and wide. Families are suffering because of divorce and we are passing on this generational pain because adults are choosing their own needs/happiness over the well being of the child. We need to recover from this divorce epidemic and fast.
My opinion of some solutions for the problem ---> How do we do that? Support marriage! Support couples who are struggling! Unless a person’s life is in danger, reconciliation is what we are called to. We need to celebrate engagements, betrothals and weddings! We need to discourage divorce. If we know someone who is thinking of divorce we need to counsel them in hope that reconciliation can be had.
My personal message to these particular people because of the various conversations I have had recently on this topic ---> If you have willingly (not if you had no choice and your spouse took you to court and forced the divorce) gone through a divorce and are reading this then I want to share something very important.
(If this applies to you and your situation) You may wish to stop expecting your child or children to be happy about your divorce or to understand it. At the core of their being they are not happy about it (and again don't know why) and are adjusting and adopting to the situation the best they know how. At the appropriate time and age, acknowledge that the divorce has torn them apart not just outside but on their inside as well. Let them grieve, let them be angry, let them mourn the loss of the love (ONE FLESH) that created them. Apologize to them. Tell them you did the best you could at the time and didn’t realize how much it would affect them and then let them know that you are there for them in their saddest and most difficult times. Let them know that it is OK to feel terrible about it because it is something that makes a person feel terrible. The key here is to help them to not feel so alone. And if you are a person of faith, instill that in them, share with them the Good News and that with God nothing is impossible. That even after divorce He is capable of healing and restoring all that is broken! (These are the things that are suggested to help children of divorce feel understood and not so alone, that is why I am sharing them.)
No fault divorce has been on the scene now since 1970 and we are seeing the fruits of this decision and the affects it has had on the children. These children are now adults who are speaking out about the pain divorce has caused in their lives. We should let them speak. We should hear their voice. They have stories to tell in the hopes that other marriages can be saved. (There are Private Support groups for Children of Divorce available, email me if you would like more info).
(Something I recently learned and felt called to share.) The point of this post is to help people understand that divorce affects children in so many different ways than just what we see on the outside. Because their inmost being was created by these two people, when those two people split, there is an ontological change. And research shows that there is also a psychological change as well as a physiological change too.
"The study from University College of London found that children who experienced the breakdown in their parent's relationship before the age of 16, regardless of whether their parents were married or not, had 16% higher levels of C-reactive protein at age 44. C-reactive protein is a marker of inflammation measured in blood samples...long term raised C-reactive protein is a known risk factor for diseases such as coronary artery disease and type II diabetes." (McCarthy, Torn Usunder, page 43).
This post is to educate. Why? Because I myself had no idea and the findings are tremendously important to helping future marriages, families and children as well as divorced families. I have had a few conversations about this with divorced friends recently and they have been so grateful to hear it and try and understand it because they knew in their hearts that it is true and they want to help their child in whatever way they can.
It hurts to think that your child may be in pain, but it hurts everyone even more to pretend that it doesn't matter or affect them negatively and that is what we are seeing more and more of in our social norms today.
Once again, I stress, this post is NOT a judgement on you and your own personal situation. I am not a heart reader (that is God's job). After re-reading my initial post I totally agree with the feedback I received that it sounded hopeless and strong. I have done my best to explain myself and the context in which I am writing this and I hope now that those who took offense to the original post will better understand what I am trying to share.
I do recommend the following books/articles on this subject for those who are interested:
Familiaris Consortia, St. John Paul II, number 14
Primal Loss, Leila Miller ISBN#9780997989311
Torn Usunder, Margaret Harper McCarthy ISBN#9780802872050
The Case Against Divorce, Diane Medved, PhD ISBN#0804106339