Categories
Domestic Church Ink Slingers Karen Motherhood Vocations

Do You Know Who You Are in the Father’s Eyes?

Recently, I attended a monthly diocesan women’s night where women from the area are invited to listen to a speaker on a topic related to our Catholic faith, as well as have a chance for confession and Eucharistic adoration. It is a wonderfully enriching time!

On this particular night, Father Prentice Tipton spoke to our group on the topic of Jesus and the Baptism of the Lord, and specifically the the moment when God speaks to Jesus saying, “This is my beloved son with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). -This is my beloved Sonwith whom I am well pleased.- When the Father said this to Jesus, it grounded Jesus. His identity was not wrapped up in how men viewed him, but in the love of His Father. His relationship with God and his identity as His Beloved Son came before ministry to others, and certainly took priority over the accolades of man. This carried him at every point of His ministry, both when crowds gathered to see him, and when the crowds called for His death on the Cross.

Just as Jesus found relationship and identity in the Father’s love for Him, we must also find the same validation through God the Father, Fr. Tipton went on to share.  We must believe that we are the beloved children of God and that He is well pleased with us too.

As God’s creation, He is pleased with what He has made. We did not have to earn that. We have His eternal Love regardless of our actions or self-perception. Whether we stay home with our children, work outside the home, get a PhD, are homeless, wealthy, a criminal, or a saint on Earth, we are loved by God. Certainly our actions impact whether we attain heaven– but those are choices we make, not measures of our Father’s love for us.

But how many of us truly rest in that fact? Satan would have us believe that we are never going to be worthy of God’s love; even that Heaven is unattainable entirely. Satan would have us believe that the whisperings of disapproval from others is the measure of our worth.

We need to instead trust God when He sends the message to us that we are loved and only need to follow Him and rest in Him to have a relationship and identity rooted in Him that gives us peace. It was this peace that pulled Mother Teresa through when she went through spiritual darkness. Even when she didn’t think she could hear God speaking to her, she knew her value was that of God’s daughter, doing His work. She might not have had constant exuberant joy, but she had peace in her role as God’s beloved daughter.

Fr. Tipton closed his talk by asking of us, “Do you know who you are in the Father’s eyes?”

Do you know

And so I ask of you, do you?

As mothers we are drawn, by the nature of our vocation, to sacrifice for our children. We sacrifice our bodies in pregnancy and nursing, and in sheer physical exertion in caring for kids and keeping them safe. We sacrifice our sleep when our children wake at night.  We sacrifice our selfish desires in those times where we comfort our crying child rather than taking that long shower we yearn for. We sacrifice our time when we play with PlayDoh with our child instead of reading a book we were interested in. We even sacrifice spiritual practices when we walk a crying baby in the narthex during Mass, missing the readings and homily. Some mothers had careers they sacrifice to stay at home. Other mothers have to work to help their family financially. We often sacrifice to the point of feeling exhausted and drained.

All this sacrifice is very sanctifying. It prepares us for heaven by allowing us to infect our selfish urges with a spirit of giving. It forces us to use our God-given abilities to help others, often without a second thought.

But much of the time, those tiny people never say thank you. That stranger at the grocery store gives you a thorough disgruntled once over with any number of reasons for their disapproval. Your extended family members tell you how you should parent your children. Moms at the playground give unwelcome advice or admonition about a perceived trouble, or brag about their child’s advancements in light of your child’s average skills.

Are you rattled when this happens? Rest in the Father’s love. You are doing His work. You do not raise your children the best you can so as to please your children, neighbor, spouse, friends, or family members. You are raising your children up because it is God’s will for you to do so. It is too easy to allow Satan to work in you with your doubts about your mothering when you experience the disapproval of others. All this sacrifice isn’t about them or for them. And your worth does not rest in them.

Focus on God. He is the One who laid out this vocation for you, and who gives this hard road to you in order that you may become sanctified and able to enter His Kingdom. He is calling out to you as his beloved child, and He is well pleased with you.

 

Do you know who you are in the Father’s eyes?

Categories
Splendid Sundays

Spendid Sundays – Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Ninth Week of Ordinary Time

You can find today’s readings here.

1st Reading: Deuteronomy 4: 32-34, 39-40
Psalm: Psalm 33
2nd Reading: Romans 8:14-17
Gospel: Matthew 28:16-20

Today we celebrate our Lord’s existence in the Most Holy Trinity. The Truth of the Trinity is one of the most difficult mysteries of our faith to understand. Some non-Catholic Bible believing faiths argue that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are three distinct and separate persons, which is much easier for our human brains to grab a hold of. However, to understand how three persons can be distinct, yet the same One Holy God… well, we have nothing on Earth that quite replicates this Truth, so we accept it on faith. We take this Truth on faith so much, that it’s not explicitly spelled out in the pages of Sacred Scripture, but we can see where it is referenced in both the Old and New Testaments. The doctrine of the Holy Trinity is clearest in Holy Mother Church’s Sacred Tradition.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines the Trinity as, “The mystery of one God in three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The revealed truth of the Holy Trinity is at the very root of the Church’s living faith as expressed in the Creed. The mystery of the Trinity in itself is inaccessible to the human mind and is the object of faith only because it was revealed by Jesus Christ, the divine Son of the eternal Father.”

It is by this Holy Trinity we are saved and can delight in life eternal in Heaven. God, the Father created us, created our souls and bodies. The Son, died for our sins and reopened the gates of Heaven so that we can gain salvation. We receive the Holy Spirit at baptism, and are sanctified through uniting our suffering to Christ’s suffering and through keeping our Lord’s commandments.

It is simply wondrous that after 2,000 years, the truth of the Trinity has been protected and handed down, generation by generation, such that so many Christians today can properly believe in God. The doctrine of the Trinity is a testament to the Holy Spirit protected truths taught by Holy Mother Church.

 

Categories
Doctrine Emily Faith Formation Ink Slingers

It’s a MYSTERY…

Think back to when we were kids – waaayyy back for some of us {{cough, cough… ahem}} – and try to remember what the word “mystery” used to mean to you.  The word conjures up feelings of secret passwords and dark hallways, hidden images and underlying meanings… oooooh and those who were clever enough to figure things out felt like we were transported into a new dimension of knowledge!

Now as adults the word “mystery” just doesn’t feel the same.  So many of our childhood mysteries have been solved.  The hidden images are blatant and the underlying meanings that once brought us to tears now feel pedantic to discuss.  We wash away the thoughts and feelings that made our hearts and minds swoon only to fill them with the answers, as if we were filling in a scan-tron on a standardized test.  We’ve turned the pursuit of knowledge into a race to the finish line – and now that we’ve all earned our medals we can’t quite figure out what all the fuss was about.

But mysteries are a huge part of our Catholic Faith.   How do we view these mysteries as Catholic adults?  Do we look on them with childlike wonder?… Or do our eyes glaze over with boredom?  When people ask us questions about our faith do we try to have all the answers?

One of the central mysteries of our faith is the Trinity

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit

 In fact, the Catechism speaks beautifully on this mystery of our faith:

The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life. It is the mystery of God in himself. It is therefore the source of all the other mysteries of faith, the light that enlightens them. It is the most fundamental and essential teaching in the “hierarchy of the truths of faith.” The whole history of salvation is identical with the history of the way and the means by which the one true God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, reveals himself to men “and reconciles and unites with himself those who turn away from sin.”

Wow… that’s pretty intense.

In my free time (HAAAAHAHAHA!) I participate in a small faith group at my parish.  We are using a program called “Why Catholic?”, which, like many other great programs that are out there, helps guide us through different discussions in the faith.  This particular program goes through the Catechism in different sections.

Our group is made up of several moms with kids at the Catholic school, as well as our principal and vice principal… about 10 of us in all. We’re pretty diverse – wide age range, kids in various grades, very different backgrounds, and I find it really interesting to hear everyone’s perspectives and individual thoughts on each topic.

Lately we’ve been discussing the Trinity and how we address God in prayer.  We were surprised at our unique views.  The principal, who is the eldest in our group, said she mostly invokes the Holy Spirit in prayer.  One mother in the group was raised in France and was taught by nuns – she, on the other hand, was never comfortable addressing God as the Holy Spirit – this side of the Trinity was just not familiar to her, so she mostly called upon God the father.  Another mother in the group was raised protestant and was most comfortable speaking to Jesus in plain language – formal prayers are more challenging for her to truly connect to God through.  And there were also those of us (including myself) who rarely saw God as a single one of His Persons… to me, they are always the three-in-one.

Really, there’s no “right” answer.  Of course, God is always His Triune Self, no matter how we, as individuals, tend to encounter Him.

And the Catechism goes on to discuss…

The Trinity is One.

The divine persons are really distinct from one another.

The divine persons are relative to one another.

… all of which should completely negate each other… and yet, simply are.  What a BEAUTIFUL mystery to ponder!!

The MYSTERY of the Trinity is just so extremely beautiful.  As we wait in hope to encounter the Incarnation of Christ during this season of Advent, it’s always nice to take some time to meditate on some of the rich mysteries of our beautiful faith.

Categories
Adrienne Apologetics Doctrine Ecumenism Faith Formation Ink Slingers Sacred Scripture

That They May All Be One

Jesus prays we would be one before He is arrested. John 17:20-24

Jesus prayed that we would be one, with the same singularity of the Trinity as three persons in one.  If this was a prayer of Jesus, then it must be what God truly desires.  Yet, how can us sinful people who make up the Church on Earth be One in the way Jesus prayed?

St. Paul, Ephesians 5:32

This kind of unity cannot be achieved through man, it can only be achieved through the power of our Lord God.  Jesus said He has given us the glory the Father gave to Him so that we may be one, and it is indeed a great mystery.  However, St. Paul gives us much insight into the nature of the Church.

St. Paul, Ephesians 5:21-29

Jesus prayed that we would be brought to perfection as one, and St. Paul explains that Jesus sanctifies the Church through His body, baptism and the word of God.  God unifies and perfects us in the Sacraments of the Church.  We are baptized into the body of Christ, into His Church through water, and this baptism cleanses us of our sin so that we are made holy and without blemish.

Jesus says to the disciples in his first appearance to them after His resurrection, John 20:21-23

However, baptism does not prevent us from the stain of future sins.  We are to be presented to God as holy and without blemish, and thankfully, our benevolent God provided for that too.  We can be made perfect again through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, as provided by Jesus via the Holy Spirit upon the disciples in the Church.  Jesus died on the Cross for our sins, came back to life and His first order of business was to provide for the application of the remission of sins through the Church He established, so that we could be perfected as one.

St. Paul, 1 Corinthians 10:16-17

Another great mystery in the Church is the Eucharist.  Not only did Christ give us His body for the atonement of our sins, He also gives Himself perpetually today.  Every time we partake of the Blessed Sacrament we are partaking of the same singular Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity that we did every time before, as has everyone who has partaken of the Holy Eucharist all the way back to the apostles.  The Eucharist is a timeless, miraculous Church unifier.

Hebrews 12:1-2

At the Holy Sacrifice of the mass heaven and earth are mystically united in time to Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross.  If our senses fail to detect the miracle made present before us by transubstantiation, then they may also fail us in detecting how at mass each and every week we are united with all of the angels and saints worshiping Jesus by our side.  The Eucharist not only unites us among the Church Militant by participation in His singular body and blood, but it also unites us with the Church Suffering and the Church Triumphant!  When we attend mass we are worshiping Jesus with all of our loved ones who have passed on, literally worshiping with the whole of the Body of Christ!  How is that for unity?

St. Paul to Timothy, 2 Timothy 3:14-16

If the unity found in the Liturgy of the Eucharist isn’t uniting enough, we can also explore the unity found in the Liturgy of the Word.  Every mass, every day, around the world Catholics are unified daily by the lectionary because you can walk into any ordinary Catholic mass and hear the exact same scripture readings (Old Testament, Psalm, New Testament, and Gospel) as you would hear if you’d walked in to any other Catholic mass that day, even in another country.  If one attends mass daily for three years they will have heard the entire Bible!  Holy Mother Church makes sure all of her children have God’s Word made available to them as She understands the utmost importance of it for a believer’s journey.

1 Corinthians 1:17

St. Paul reminded Timothy to remain faithful to what he had been taught because, as St. Paul confesses to the Corinthians, what he teaches is from a source greater than his human self.  In the homily our priests combine Sacred Tradition, teachings not of their own but those handed down by the apostles and protected by the Holy Spirit, with Sacred Scripture for a powerful combination of God’s Word.

St. Paul, 1 Corinthians 1:10

By combining Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition in every homily, the Church ensures that the faithful may all be able to agree in what is said.  This works directly to fulfill Jesus’s prayer that others might be brought to salvation by the testament of unity amongst believers, especially by the unity of their words.

Matthew 18:14-17

Being Catholic means to give up your “right” to be right, which is the super glue of Church unity.  In today’s society we’ve developed a sense that relativism is correct.  Everyone has a right to believe whatever it is they feel is the truth.  No one has to or even should submit to someone else’s truth.  Yet Jesus tells us that the Church He built has the final say in all matters among the faithful.  One of the biggest ways a brother can sin against you is to try to convince you of a heresy.  It is of the upmost importance that we remain united in the teachings of Christ, and so Jesus provided a definitive source of answers for us fallen souls (because He knew full well we would disagree if left to our own devices).

Ephesians 6:1

St. Paul echoes this divine paradigm in his letter to the Ephesians.  Ephesians 5 contains a graceful passage which weaves teachings about marriage into an explanation of Christ’s relationship to the Church.  This profound creative genius elevates Christ’s relationship with the Church to that of the Sacrament of Marriage.  Simultaneously St. Paul depicts the elevation of marriage to a Sacrament by comparing it to the Christ and the Church.  As a result, St. Paul leads us to an illustration of Christ and the Church as our Father and Mother when he immediately presses into “Children obey your parents in the Lord for this is right” (don’t be fooled by the chapter markings, St. Paul’s original letter did not contain chapter breaks!).  Both the laity and the clergy (even the Pope!) are to be subordinate to the Church.  All Catholics are to put aside their man made understandings on truth (say on life issues, contraception, fertility issues, women’s ordination, anything prefaced by “It’s between me and God”) and submit to the wisdom of God’s Word that the Holy Spirit protects within Jesus’s bride, the Church (remember two become one flesh!).  This view of the Church brings a whole new meaning to Jesus’s words, “Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.” (Lk 18:17) as well as  “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of Heaven is theirs.” (Matt 5:3)

This takes an amazing amount of faith.  It takes much faith to believe that the bread and wine become the literal flesh and blood of Jesus in the Eucharist when it still looks like bread and wine.  It also takes an amazing amount of faith to believe that the Infallible Truth of God can be preserved amongst ordinary humans, when they are still ordinary sinful humans.  “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” (Jn 6:60) Well, so is accepting the actuality and Truth of the Trinity, believing that a man died for three days came back to life, and furthermore flew Himself up to Heaven forty days later.  Nothing in Christianity is easy to believe, that’s why it takes faith, a saving kind of faith.

(Yesterday’s Mass readings dovetail nicely with this topic!)

My Lord God, I pray not only for us the Church, but also for those who will believe in you through our word, so that we may all be one, as you, Father, are in Jesus and Jesus in you, that we also may be in You, that the world may believe that you sent Our Savior. And Jesus has given us the glory you gave Him, so that we may be one, as You and Your Son are one, He in us and you in Him, that we may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent the Son of Man, and that you loved the world even as you loved the Lamb of God, Your Son. Father, we are your gift to Jesus. I wish that where He is we also may be with Him, that we may see His glory that you gave Him, because you loved Christ Jesus before the foundation of the world.  Amen.