A few months ago my friend was experiencing a crisis situation. I took the matter to prayer, earnestly praying for her to emerge victorious through it all. I very deeply and sincerely prayed with this outcome in mind; after all, it was good thing I was praying for out of love for my neighbor.
Crash! Her victory for which I was praying ended in defeat. She was crushed! Not only that, but I felt awfully let down from a prayer point of view. What happened? Why did God not deliver?
Two things that keep this lady ticking: Jesus & Coffee. It’s how I start every morning: a cup of Maxwell House and time with Jesus. One fills my corporal need for caffeine, the Other filling my heart with love. As I take out my coffee, the words on the Maxwell House can strike me as I am preparing my java to accompany my morning prayer: “Good to the last drop.”
As I went to prayer this morning, I brought to the Lord a sorrowful heart, a heart that had been wounded by some individuals that I’m close to. As I looked up at the image of Divine Mercy that hung in my living room, I looked upon the Blood and Water flowing from Jesus side, and I heard these words beckoning from His pierced side… “good to the Last Drop.”
When I was a sophomore in college, I began a tradition of blocking out some time during Holy Week to watch The Passion. There is definitely an assortment of opinions that surround this movie, but for me being a more visual learner this film allows me to be immersed in the great sacrifice that Christ made for each of us.
There is one scene that has always moved me in particular- Mary seeing her son collapsing under the weight and strain of the cross, so she runs to Him. The movie then flashes back and forth between Mary running to Jesus as a child who had tripped, and Him currently weak falling under the cross. All Mary wants to do in both cases is simply let Him know he is not alone. As she embraces Him, Jesus looks into her eyes and says, “See Mother, I make all things new.”
Just that word can make us shutter. It can make us want to run in the other direction. Or maybe it can make us think, “No, not another one of those talks on Catholicism and sacrifice…”
I know for myself when I hear this word, I immediately think of those times I heard “offer it up” when I was growing up, but not understanding what that meant.
But Sister, hear me out…I think a healthy and open conversation about sacrifice is so important to our Church today.
So, Valentine’s day is right around the corner.
It’s a lovely time of year when love is in the constant forefront of our minds and conversations. We see all of the cards, chocolates, and flowers for sale- the advertisements of men getting that special someone something unique to commemorate their love…
Now, don’t get me wrong- none of these things are wrong. It’s a beautiful thing to give and receive, to have a reminder that we are loved- not only by our friends and family, but by God who loves us eternally. These are all really good things.
But sometimes it can be easy to reduce that good, beautiful, and hopeful love to things like cards, chocolates, and flowers. I mean, I love chocolate as much as the next girl- but sometimes it can be difficult to remember that love does not revolve around a single day.
Love requires sacrifice.
One brisk winter day a few weeks ago, I walked through the rosary garden at a local shrine. A cool breeze brushed up against my face, and the setting sun left a picturesque view over the hills of Pennsylvania. Taking in this beautiful scenic day, I was talking with the Lord about the burdens of my heart.
I would like to say that 2018 ended with a joyous close, but in reality, it was quite a time of wrestling with the Lord. I was bringing to Jesus and Mary all that has been on my heart-the joys, struggles, hopes, and relationships.
I came on retreat to take time to find answers with the Lord and to talk with Him as a friend. In the midst of my day at the shrine, the words of a meditation I had read years before came to mind.
“God does indeed give people to us; he gives us brothers and sisters in our humanity... Every such person, in some way, is a gift to us, and we can say of each: 'God has given you to me'” – Meditation on Givenness
A cold night. Animals as neighbors. Sharing your child’s “crib” with food that animals eat from. Sleeping on Straw. Smells of a stable day and night…
This definitely is not what we image as the first Christmas. Usually, we picture the perfect looking Christmas card image- Mary and Joseph radiant with Jesus, Kings and shepherds all neat and pristine to see their newborn King, where Jesus looks He is sleeping comfortably as in a crib.
And yet, even with this all too common image of a beautiful Christmas, how often does it sometimes deter us from the reality that God became Man, not in the perfect ideal setting, but rather, in probably one of the most difficult and messy situations.
Mary, the mother of Christ, a 14 year old young woman, probably could have preferred that God choose another time to have this happen in her life. Along with Joseph and her newborn child, they would be pilgrims in an unknown land. Mary would give birth to her child without her whole family celebrating with her. There were many parts of this situation which seemed to go against the ideal. Yet, God became man in this. He chose out of all times, places, people, and situations in history, to come into this one.
This... This was the circumstance that God chose. Throughout thousands of years, God told His people that He would send a Messiah, He encouraged them to eagerly await His coming. His people, generation upon generation, waited for this moment in history when God would redeem his people, and this was the time He chose.