Sunday, November 29, 2009

Are we there yet?

In the midst of all this paper-writing, writing a blog post is the perfect way to honor God this Sunday!

Remember that question all the kids on long car rides in movies used to ask? "Mahhh! Are we there yet?!?!" They would repeat it OVER and OVER and you would laugh, all the while wondering in the back of your mind how the parent resisted the urge to reach into the back seat and strangle his/her child.

Don't we do the same thing to God? "God, I have SO many papers due!! Are we there yet? How about now? I can't do it!" We are so good at seeing the end point, but we don't understand how long it could take to get there. Trips that were meant to be five hours become nine-hour, epic journeys due to snowstorms, getting lost, or rain. Unforeseen conditions extend the time it takes to get us to any given destination - traffic, a flat tire, running low on gas.

We are the little children in the backseat of God's car. We see beautiful forests, mountains, lakes, and rivers passing by in the window, but we get scared when we can't see anything outside at night. Everything whips by so fast, Lord! And sometimes, we don't even know where we are going - so far from the comfort of what we know as "home"! We know that You have told us some destination, like "Maine" or "New Jersey," but we don't know what it looks like, Lord! You have told us that we are on our way to Heaven, but we are scared because we don't know where our destination is!!

No matter! You are the GPS, the driver, and the one who can calm even the stormy seas, Lord! Every delay is carefully calculated by you to get us to our destination at the right time, avoiding accidents and any serious harm.

There have been several times when I was driving that I passed by an accident after getting out of the house later than I wanted. I always think, "what if that were me in that accident? What if I had left the house fifteen minutes earlier?" Suddenly, arriving late to a destination is something that I will forget about in approximately 1 hour, whereas a car accident is something that will stick with me for much longer, and perhaps have resulted in my death.

God is a Master Planner. Nothing is done without reason in our lives. So, the flat tire, the red "check engine" light, the fear of being alone in a dark back seat - all of this is meant to get us home in one piece. So, what is a child to do?

A child is to hope, to have faith and trust in the Driver and His ability to know the Way. I'm a horrible driver and have no sense of direction, so it's not too hard for me to imagine that God would be a better driver than I would be. :) But what about those of us who could actually drive? Regardless of our skill, God is always a better driver - what driver do you know that can control the weather, miraculously fix engines without even getting out of the car, and died for us to save the world?!?! None other than Jesus!!

There is a song by Ingrid Michaelson called "Are we there yet" that keeps asking the question: are we there yet? It expresses this sentiment of feeling like there is something more yet to come, but not knowing what that something is. It cries out for a destination, for closure, for something that signifies that we have made it home. Yet, at another point in the song, she sings, "And it won't be too much / 'cause this is too much for me to hold."

There is still a lot of understanding that we have yet to grasp. We understand implicity that God will never give us too much to handle, yet at times it feels too overwhelming because we heap so much on ourselves instead of giving it to Christ. In those times, we simply need to open our eyes, look into the rear-view mirror, see Jesus's smiling face at the driving wheel, and sit back in our booster seat, confident in Our Loving Father. And then we can focus on watching the scenery fly by outside the window - in the darkness or in the light - because it really is beautiful. :)

Then, the question of "are we there yet" becomes irrelevant. We are too focused on the beauty that already surrounds us to even worry about why or how we are getting to our destination. That's for Our Driver to worry about. Our trust is whole, our contentment in Christ full. Man, we have it good, huh? :)

Love in Christ through Mary,
Christina :)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

We use every last part!

I was struck the other day during Mass at how carefully the celebrant was cleaning out the chalice and the paten - so meticulously, making sure to get every last crumb and every last drop! None of the Body and Blood of Christ is to be wasted, and he was making sure to use every part of the consecrated host!

What a beautiful analogy for our community and our Church! Every one of us is called to communion with one another, both Communion (capital "c" - literally the Communion of the sacrament of Holy Communion!) and communion in the sense of community. We need one another, and others need us. How perfect it is that the priest demonstrates the necessity of a community that uses everything to its fullest extent!

God uses everything that He has placed in us! All of our weaknesses, our failings, and our doubts; the things that are seemingly useless to us and merely a hamper to our journey toward sanctity, all of these things are crumbs in the bottom of the paten! Christ insists that we receive every last piece of His consecrated body, that we don't waste a single moment of our lives!

He uses our pride to teach us humility, our sins to give us grace, our hurts to give us healing! What a good God this is, He who brings people into our lives - through our communities and through our travels, through our rough times and through our good times - that can help us and bring us closer toward His light! There is a bright and glorious side to every moment of darkness that we experience, and that side is the Mercy and Love of Jesus Christ.

The difficult test you think you failed, the anxiety you experience when waiting for the grade, the sadness you feel when you receive, and the true joy you feel when your best friend, as a surprise, takes you out for a coffee or an ice cream - all of this process is intended by God to create the best person in you. You can't mix up the process of failing, or else you wouldn't leave with the same appreciation for your friend. Your friend might not have the opportunity to show you how much she loves you had you not failed. You might have not seen Christ as much in your friend had she not been given that opportunity to serve you like she did. It's all part of a Master Plan that we cannot ever fully comprehend until we reach the Beatific Vision in Heaven, and what a glorious plan that is!

God uses our every moment, our every breath, our every everything to bring about the Kingdom of God, and still gives us the free will to choose what we will do! Talk about a loving God!! He incorporates OUR decisions, OUR input into HIS creation!!! And HIS Will is still always done!! This God is truly amazing and glorious!

Not only within us, but outside of us, God conserves every moment we spend with others. How many times have you fought with your siblings? But, those fights offer the opportunity to make up, to forge stronger bonds with them that you don't have with others! Why are we so opposed to fair-weather friends, to friends we never argue with? Could it be because we never have an opportunity to serve them? To allow ourselves to be vulnerable in their sight? To allow ourselves to see the merciful and risen Christ in their eyes, and allow them to see Him in ours?

Even if the crumbs in the paten of our souls, minds, and hearts seem insignificant to us, they are precious in the sight of God. They are still His Body and His Blood! If Christ could multiply a couple fish and a few loaves of bread, imagine how much more He can do with those few crumbs of goodness that we have!!

Let us, this day and every day, be reminded of Christ's ability to grow Faith out of a mustard seed, His ability to foster true passion for His Word out of a simple "yes" to His call. If we turn over these crumbs to Him, just like the boy with the fish and the loaves, He will prepare for us and our communities a feast on Earth, create for us a Heaven out of this Communion that we share with Him!!

And there will still be baskets left over as a reminder of the goodness of God, yet another reason to always praise His Name! :)

In Christ through Mary,
Christina :)