Monthly Archives: July 2012

The Ignatian Family

Because today is the feast of St. Ignatius Loyola (the founder of the Jesuits), and as Juli explained, we all met at a Jesuit school, I’m going to talk about the Jesuit tradition in my family.

Both of my grandfather’s attended Jesuit schools, (Maternal Fordham, Paternal Loyola Baltimore), four out of my nine aunts and uncles (and two of their spouses) also attended a Jesuit school, and of course I did, as well as my younger sister and one of my cousins (so far…there’s still a lot of them, I have a really big family.)

As a result of this, certain Jesuit ideals just kind of crept in to the way that my entire family thinks about faith, but specifically became a big part of the way my mother taught my brother, my sister and myself about being a Catholic.

The big one was education. I come from a family that pretty much holds education as the third most important life necessity, after food and shelter. And because of that, I was encouraged to read and learn as much as possible. When I was curious about other faiths, other belief structures, my mom wanted me to read about them, to learn, and question. When I got to college and started to learn about Ignatian ideals, I learned that this was a big Jesuit thing.

One of the big things that the Jesuits taught us was that the only way to grow in your faith is to learn about it and question it. When I was about nineteen, I had a conversation with my mother about how I was considering leaving the Church. I knew I would still crave spirituality and some kind of structure, so I was thinking about becoming an Episcopalian. This way, I could keep the bones of the faith that I love, without some of the things that (still) drive me a little nutty about the Catholic Church, mainly, the exclusion of women from the ordained clergy and the dismissal of homosexuals. My mother’s answer was actually pretty cool (my mom also knows me really well…)

“If that’s really what you believe your heart is calling you to do, then you should do it,” she said simply, “but don’t do it quickly or rashly. Really do the reading, learn about The Episcopal Church.” This is the most Ignatian answer to this issue I have ever heard.

I did do the reading. And while there are still aspects of the Episcopal structure that I prefer (namely, their stance on women and gay people…but also the communal nature of their governing body.) I realized I didn’t want to give up the devotion to the Blessed Mother that’s always been a huge part of my faith experience, or the ties to the community and family that had always been a part of my life.

I feel like that story would have turned out very differently if my family didn’t have a Jesuit mindset. It probably would have ended in a fight or the parent dismissing the thought outright.

The best way to grow in faith is to more deeply understand that faith. That’s the Ignatian legacy that I’ve always depended on.

St. Ignatius of Loyola

Today is the feast day of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus.  Since we (the writers) met at a Jesuit university, I think it is only natural to recognize and thank St. Ignatius on this day.  His conversion experience has touched the hearts of many and his faith and love of God as well as his devotion to educating brought us where we are now.  Thank you St. Ignatius, for the impact you’ve made on our lives, may you continue to intercede for us to God so that we can live in His name, Amen.

Prayer for Religious Freedom

My favorite app just added a new feature, a “Prayer for Religious Freedom” and I wanted to share it with you!

O God our Creator,

Through the power and working of your Holy Spirit, you call us to live out our faith in the midst of the world, bringing the light and the saving truth of the Gospel to every corner of society.

We ask you to bless us in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty. Give us the strength of mind and heart to readily defend our freedoms when they are threatened; give us courage in making our voices heard on behalf of the rights of your Church and the freedom of conscience of all people of faith.

Grant,we pray,O heavenly Father, a clear and united voice to all your sons and daughters gathered in your Church in this decisive hour in the history of our nation, so that,with every trial withstood and every danger overcome; for the sake of our children,our grandchildren, and all who come after us; this great land will always be “one nation, under God, indivisible,with liberty and justice for all.”

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

(Laudate App)

Rise

On my first post here, I wrote about Christ figures in popular culture. It’s a fascination of mine, I’ll admit, and has been since high school.

And because of that, I’ve observed that many, if not most, superheroes, can be considered Christ figures.

And for the most part, I pointed the finger, as most did, at Superman. I’d never considered my favorite superhero, Batman, to be a Christ figure. I just hadn’t. That wasn’t what Batman was about. Batman was about other things. He’s about   brutal justice, about capitalism and so many other things.

Batman could never be confused with Jesus.

But until this past week, The Dark Knight Rises didn’t exist.

The Dark Knight Rises is Batman’s Book of Revelation, and it’s final half hour is the second coming. I’m putting in a cut so as not to reveal spoilers (although, I bet everyone who cares knows what happened)

Read the rest of this entry

Mt 12:49-50

And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said,
“Here are my mother and my brothers.
For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father
is my brother, and sister, and mother.”
– Mt 12:49-50

Sheep in the Midst of Wolves

My apologies for not posting sooner, schoolwork has been getting the better of me lately, but this was the Gospel on Friday (7/13) and I wanted to share it with all of you because of how inspired I was by it:

Jesus said to his Apostles: “Behold,I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves. But beware of men, for they will hand you over to courts and scourge you in their synagogues, and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake as a witness before them and the pagans. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. You will be given at that moment what you are to say. For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will hand over brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town,flee to another. Amen,I say to you,you will not finish the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.”Mt 10:16-23

In this passage from Matthew, Jesus is telling us that we must spread His Word and bravely go forth in His Name even if we’re scared.  He tells us to use caution, but wants us to have faith that we will know what to say and do what is right at the right time.

I know I’ve been posting a whole lot about proclaiming God’s word lately, but we are called to action in this day and age.  We need to show the world our love and mercy and confidently defend our Catholicism!  I know I’ve felt called to action lately, and the first step in taking action seems to be sharing it with all of you.  So every time I hear His message and it is clear I need to make a change or step up, I am going to share it with you as well!

I know it may be difficult, even within our own families and friends to step up and speak the truth, but if they truly accept us for who we are, they will accept that we believe what we believe and we may even be able to convert others by our understanding and love.  Remember, if you stay with Jesus, He will always stay with you and you will NEVER be alone!  Although times are difficult, we have Him and we have each other!

God Bless, Juli

Quick Change of Plans…

I’m sitting on the hood of my car outside a Firestone shop at the moment, finally writing a new post, waiting for my dad to pick us up. My mom is leaning on the hood of her car, making business calls. Why are we waiting for a third family member to bring a third car here? Because my mom’s car, the one we’re supposed to be picking up, won’t start. We were also dropping off my car for an oil change. It would start just fine, except that I already dropped my keys in the night deposit box. So here we sit until our night in shining Honda arrives. Isn’t that the way life goes?

I’ve had a lot of those “quick change of plans” moments lately. In June, I started a job in Philadelphia  teaching science at an alternative-to-juvy shelter. As I finished my first day of training, I got a call from an out-of-state charter school I’d interviewed with the week prior. I didn’t go back for the second day of training (I did call them and explain, though). In the month since, I found an apartment, interviewed for a summer job, took the math teaching test, and spent three weeks as an RA supervising a dozen adolescent girls in a college dorm. A wonderful summer, to be sure, but all very last-minute. I’ve got this week to prepare to officially move out of my parents’ house, next week to relax and catch up with the family on our annual Wildwood shore trip, and then I’m moving to start my new job near NYC. Somewhere in there, I’m turning 25. Luckily, there’s no time for me to have a quarter-life crisis (or was I supposed to do that at 20?).

Being very busy and the “qcop” phenomenon both have the tendency to disrupt my spiritual life when it’s going well. I’m sorry to say that I wasn’t praying or reflecting much before this madness started, so that wasn’t really a concern. Instead, the chaos has helped me see more clearly that my plans are meaningless without God. He knows what I need better than I do, He knows who I am better than I do, and He certainly knows what the future holds better than I do. I wasn’t trying to discern God’s path for me as all of this unfolded, but in God’s great mercy, His plan for us will always pick up from wherever we land in our wanderings. When the prodigal son realized his folly, God’s plan for him began right in the pig’s pen. As I start to ask for direction in the midst of this crazy summer, it calms my heart to know that He will find me here, that He has always known I would end up right in this moment and seeks my love and trust now as much as ever. I have to keep faith; the world around us is ever-changing, but the love of God endures.
I have a feeling I’ll be writing often about change, saying goodbye, and bringing God with us into new chapters of our lives in the coming weeks. Some of the chaos is resolved for now, and I’m at peace with the fact that some things can’t really be planned, but there is a potential problem with my roommate’s ability to rent with me that’s really worrying me. If you could say a prayer that we end up in the lovely, safe apartment we picked out or that God’s will be done, I really appreciate it. Hope you’re all having a great summer!

Pace e Bene,
Cherie

1Flesh – We Are Young

Y’all need to check this out:  http://www.1flesh.org/we-are-young/

Browse their site, there’s some awesome stuff…I just read this post though and really loved it.  Not to spoil it all but the last paragraph spoke to me.  I may not have that special person yet, but I hope that when I meet him I won’t be afraid to give him everything!

“So if and when you find somebody to carry you home, don’t be afraid to give him everything. Not just your vow, but your fears, your insecurities, your hopes, your dreams, your tears, your laughter, your children. Don’t stand on the edge of the plane contemplating whether or not to jump. You’ll only make yourself miserable. Jump. Fall. For only in falling completely and vulnerably will any arms be able to truly catch you. And only in submittingfully to the adventure of love, whatever that adventure may at the time require, can you really know what it is like to be young.”

God Bless, Juli

Love Always.

I’ve had a very strange week. I moved out of my apartment in Brooklyn and back in to my parent’s house on Monday. I started a new job on Tuesday. I was starting over, again, for like the fifth time since I graduated last May.

But then something else happened on Monday. My older brother’s best friend from high school didn’t wake up on Monday morning. He’d struggled with many demons since they finished high school, not the least of which was serious drug and alcohol abuse. He’d just left rehab a week earlier, and Mike (my brother) said he seemed confident and happy to be clean.

I’m not going to speculate on Darrell’s state when he died. That isn’t the point. I’ve had a lot of trouble forgiving him for the pain he’s put my brother and their other friends through in the past ten years, and now I’m really worried about my big brother.

Mike’s path hasn’t been easy. When he was not yet nineteen he sustained a back injury that took his one real passion, playing football, from him. After that he fell in to a haze of depression and failed out of school. That Christmas, my father’s younger brother, Mike’s godfather dropped dead of a heart attack. To make matters worse, his best friend from childhood, and the one person who no matter what was always able to get through to him, Lacey, was killed when a truck hit her bicycle the next June.

It took Mike years to find his footing after that one awful year. His injury proved to be the thing that did it. He now has a passion for physical therapy, and sports injury rehabilitation, and has been working for a physical therapy practice as an aid and trainer for the past three years. He’s back in school, and his life seems to be going well.

But his two oldest friends are dead. And he isn’t even thirty yet. There’s something fundamentally wrong in that, and Mike has never dealt well with wrong.

People who know me know that I have a difficult relationship with my brother. I love him very much, but we butt heads constantly. We’re the same in all of the bad ways and different in all of the bad ways too.  I want to help him, and there for him, but I know the only way to do that is to keep my mouth shut. Because otherwise we’re just going to end up screaming at each other.

This is where God provided. I woke up on Tuesday morning with a soar throat and no voice. I could barely croak. After a few glasses of water and a tea I was able to form speak very softly and with a lot of strain. Luckily my new job doesn’t require a lot of talk.

I’ve been praying constantly for my brother, for the repose of Darrell’s soul and for the comfort to the people that love him. I’d ask you all to send your prayers too. Because right now, not having a voice, all I can do is send love and prayers. So that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to send love, always.

Feast of St. Thomas, Apostle (And Doubt)

Today was the feast of St. Thomas the Apostle.  I know I’ve already written about St. Thomas here (https://confidentlycatholic.wordpress.com/2012/04/15/thomas/), but I think there is always room for more of him.  St. Thomas shows his true humanity by doubting.  I all too often find myself doubting, whether it be my confidence, my abilities, my call, or God’s plan for me.  I might break down thinking God has forgotten me or that my life isn’t what it’s supposed to be and often I wonder if it is.  It is understandable that, at 24, I want more in my life but at the same time, God is trying to lead me to the “more” I am looking for in His own way.  I had a plan; my life was supposed to be figured out, my friends weren’t supposed to be getting married while I am alone, those younger than me weren’t supposed to be getting real jobs when I’m struggling with two part time jobs and finishing school.  I know it’s not a race, and trust me, God has been yelling at me to slow down, but I thought there would be something more to my life by now.  It must be funny to God, who can see what we will become, looking at us fighting His will and doubting His plans for us.  In fact, I may one day look back and laugh at myself at 24, wondering how I got to be so stubborn, so misdirected, so disbelieving…

So the question still stands: what is God calling me to be/do?  Well I know He is planning something, and what it is, it will surely be worth the wait. 

Short story:  When I was younger I thought 24 was the perfect age to meet Mr. Right.  I would have enough time to date him before getting engaged at 26 and married at 28.  Why I felt this way, I’m unsure.  It’s clear now that I very easily could still be single at 26, if that is God’s plan.  While I’ve been discerning His call to me, I have realized that there is a clear, almost too easy of a reason for me to be single right now, besides the fact that I may not have met my future husband yet, I am called to live out a calling which requires me to be single and without a full time job.  The strange thing is how long it had taken me to put these two things together.  I used to figure being single was nice because when I graduate I could get a job wherever I wanted without someone holding me in a certain location.  Now I feel that wherever I am called to (as of yet I am still discerning that) I will need to be free of many things.  God is so smart how He makes things the way that they are.  It still worries me, but every time I doubt Him, I must think of Thomas.

I also used to doubt that I would find an individual much like myself that I could grow together with in a healthy Catholic relationship that included Christ.  I tended to date Catholic boys that I believed it was my responsibility to bring to Christ and conversion.  Yeah, maybe I helped them a bit, maybe I showed them my love for God and that inspired them to become closer to Christ, but you know who that didn’t help grow closer to Christ?  Me.  I know other couples that are in good places with each other and Christ, but I started to think that all of those guys were taken, gone, or discerning the priesthood.  This was a silly notion, but I was getting discouraged, doubting the God who was working to somehow bring me to the place where I needed to be.  Yeah, I haven’t really met the man I am going to marry, unless he is standing in the background somewhere so that when the time comes we will be free to accept each other and fall in love, but that mostly happens in books.  The biggest hint God has given me lately in the future husband category was an image that seems completely ridiculous right now, but may not in the future.  This is how I know that having faith and believing and not doubting are all things the Father wants me to practice right now.  Again, I need to have patience and also to stop thinking selfishly about my life instead of what I can do for the lives of others.  Hopefully in sharing myself I will find comfort in God and satisfaction in knowing that He is eternally there for me and will lead the way when the time comes. 

God Bless, Juli