Monday, May 25, 2009

As the Church, So Let Wives; As Christ, So Husbands

I found an archive of Amanda blogs from my old myspace from years ago, but thought it would be fun to share one here. Many are from my semester studying abroad and has too much personal information to be sharing on the internet. But this one, I think, is one that may be worth sharing:

April 19, 2006

I spent alot of time today contemplating why so many girls don't respect themselves and allow themselves to be disrespected in relationships. I started thinking while watching Dr. Phil (I know, but I was bored!), but then I moved on into deaper reasons. Why? Girls, why do you lack self-confidence and self-worth? Why do you desire to feel loved so much that you're willing to do anything to get that counterfeit? Why do you settle for what our world tells us "love is" and lower the beaty of sex to a simple act of self gratification? Why does a guy have to want you physically for you to feel beautiful? Is it because you were abused (as 1/3 to 1/2 of women are)? Why do women look for what they think is "love" in all the wrong places and settle for the counterfeit of true love?

I continue my thought into my study of John Paul II's Theology of the Body. What an amazing man JPII the Great was! Women, we're not meant to be in these situations! Men are supposed to love us, not dominate us! And we're meant to love and protect them in return! Not use our bodies and manipulate their weaknesses! Christopher West, in his study of JPII's T.O.B., looks at the verse from Eph. 5 and breaks up the word submission:Sub means under; mission means you are sent with authority to perform a particular service. St. Paul is calling the wife to put herself under the mission of the husband. The mission of the husband is layed out in the next verse: Husbands love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (Eph. 5:25). Christ came into the world not to be served but to serve and to lay down His life for His bride. In this passage, St. Paul means to tell women to allow their husbands to serve them. The love to which St Paul calls husbands clearly excludes every kind of subjection whereby the wife might become a servant or a slave of the husband, an object of unilateral domination. Love makes the husband simultaneously subject to the wife and thereby to the Lord Himself, just as the wife to the husband (Thelology of the Body).the Husband is above all he who loves, and the wife, on the other hand is she who is loved. John Paul then concludes that the wifes submission to her husband, understood in the context of the entire passage. . ., signifies above all the experience of love.

Girls, we shouldn't be settling for the counterfeit! We should respect ourselves. We're not sexual objects and our bodies are beautiful temples of God! We shouldn't desecrate this temple, nor the bodies of men! You, as a woman, are BEAUTIFUL! You are worth more than this counterfeit love! Don't treat your body with disrespect, and don't allow anyone else to either. You ARE Loved! By your holy Father and Jesus Christ! You don't need to be in a relationship (especially one of counterfeit love) to be loved or beautiful.

Please, repsect yourself, demand respect for yourself, and never settle for the counterfeit! Turn to the love of Jesus Christ who died for you, and never settle for less than a man that fits Ephesians 5! One who will love you as Christ loved the Church; who gave himself up for her . . . that she might be holy and without blemish." THAT'S not a counterfeit!

Believe that dreams come true every day . . . because they do.

"Take a look at yourself in a mirror. Who do you see looking back?
Is it the person you want to be?
Or is there someone else you were meant to be. The person you should have been, but fell short of.
Is someone telling you you can't or you wont? Because you can.
Believe that love is out there.
Believe that dreams come true every day . . . because they do.
Sometimes, happiness doesn't come from money, or fame, or power. Sometimes happiness comes from good friends and family, and from the quiet nobility of leading a good life.
Believe that dreams come true every day . . . because they do.
So take a look in that mirror and remind yourself to be happy, because you deserve to be. Believe that.
And believe that dreams come true everyday . . . because they do."

One Tree Hill - Season 6 Finale

One Tree Hill is one of the two TV shows I faithfully watch each week, and after catching up on the season finale tonight, I was inspired and impressed by the above words, the last words of the episode. Am I the person I want to be, or am I falling short of who God meant me to be? I am inspired to believe that I can do what I am meant to do, and that my dreams will come true. I am reminded that happiness come from leading the life God is calling me to live.

So, here's to summer, becoming the person God is calling us to be, and making dreams come true!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


1 John 4:7-21

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love. In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him. In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us.

This is how we know that we remain in him and he in us, that he has given us of his Spirit. Moreover, we have seen and testify that the Father sent his Son as savior of the world. Whoever acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God remains in him and he in God. We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us. God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him. In this is love brought to perfection among us, that we have confidence on the day of judgment because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, "I love God," but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. This is the commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

This past Sunday, the 2nd reading consisted in this passage. As I sat listening in my pew, I smiled with joy at the reading. This is the passage I picked for my senior seminar paper and project. Let me start by expressing how beautiful the Word of God is! It is so old and has so much history (much of which must be learned in order to understand the meaning of the passages), and yet, it is the Living Word. It means something today. God speaks to you through each word read, many times in a new way each time it is read.

This was my experience on Sunday. I studied this passage extensively just last year. Spending hours upon hours studying the words and their meaning, what Pope Benedict, St. Augustine, and others had written about it, and anything else I could find about the passage. I spent hours comparing everything, and learning just how many layers of beautiful meaning were held in the words. And yet, much to my surprise, the passage I knew so well spoke to me in a brand new way. What stuck out this time: Remain: "God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him."

It has been a struggle for me lately to stay constant in my relationship with God: To set aside that time dedicated soley to Him in prayer, to sacrifice my desired sleeping schedule in order to attend daily mass each morning, to be a woman of constant prayer and service to Him. And Sunday, as I sat listening to His Words, it was clear to me that this is what he wanted me to hear.

Remain . . . remain in love . . . remain in Him.

Remain: to stay; to continue to be in a place; to be in existence or in a certain state for an indefinitely long time.
Remain: abide, be left, cling, continue, dwell, endure, go on, hold on, hold out, inhabit, keep on, last, live, lodge, make camp, nest, outlast, outlive, persist, prevail, remain standing, reside, rest, sit tight, stand, stay, stay put, stick around, survive, wait.

Each of these words has a beautiful meaning of remaining in Him. To remain in God, we must abide by Him, be left in Him, cling to Him, continue with Him, dwell in Him. We must hold on, endure, last, persist, prevail, reside, stay. We must remain constant. Constantly remaining with Him in each moment of each day of our lives. We cannot: depart, forge, go, leave, or move. We cannot be flakey with God. We cannot only go to Him when we are in trouble, we cannot only spend time with Him when it is convenient, we cannot live with God as simply a part of our lives. He must BE our life. He must be where we dwell, where we lodge, where we make camp, nest, reside.

Today, as I reflect on what God is revealing to me through this passage, I see ever more clearly that one is either moving toward or away from Christ. There is no standing still. And if it seems that one is standing still, it is most likely that they are drifting away from Christ. I see that He is challenging me to remain in Him when things are difficult, remain in Him when I am tempted, remain in Him when I am tired, remain in Him when I am scared, remain in Him when I am am restless, and remain in Him when I am lazy. I see that He is callling me to consistently remain in Him.

"God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him."

"Are you saved?"

Many times, I have been asked "Are you saved?" To a Catholic, this question does not make much sense. I'm not dead yet, I'm not in heaven yet, how can I be "saved"? The best answer to this is: I have been saved, I am saved, and I will be saved. It's a continual process that is not complete until death. It is not a one time decision to "accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior". Proclaiming these words and making this decision does not miraculously "save" you. It's only the start of the journey. "Accepting Jesus" is a constant decision. It's a decision one makes every day, every moment. We are constantly presented with the choice to love Christ, or to love the world; to accept Him, or to reject Him; to remain in Him, or to depart from Him. At every single decision in our life, we have the opportunity to stay with Christ or to leave Him. And at each of these decisions, I choose to be "saved", or not to be "saved".

Monday, May 4, 2009

For your nearness Lord I long

For your nearness Lord I hunger
For your nearness Lord I wait
Hold me ever closer Father
Such a love I can't escape

For your nearness I am hoping
For your nearness Lord I long
Have no need of any other
I have found where I belong
Yes, I have found where I belong

So draw me nearer Lord
Never let me go
Closer to your heart
Draw me nearer Lord
Draw me nearer Lord

In your nearness there is healing
What was broken now made whole
Restoration in it's fullness
Lasting hope for all who come

In your nearness I take shelter
Where you are is where I'm home
I have need of only one thing
To be here before your throne
To be here before you throne

So draw me nearer Lord
Never let me go
Closer to your heart
Draw me nearer Lord

So draw me nearer Lord
Never let me go
Closer to your heart
Draw me nearer Lord
Draw me nearer Lord

And keep me here, keep me here
There's nowhere else I rather be
So keep me here, keep me here
There's nowhere else I rather be
There's nowhere else I rather be

So draw me nearer Lord
Never let me go
Closer to your heart
Draw me nearer Lord
Draw me nearer Lord
Draw me nearer my Lord

- Meredith Andrews "Draw Me Nearer"

A beautiful song I heard today that I thought I'd share!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Ave Maria

"I guess I have forgiven myself. Although sometimes in the night my dreams will take me back to sadness, and I have to wake up and forgive again. But Mary is always there. I feel her at unexpected moments. She will suddenly rise, and when she does, she does not go up into the sky, but further inside of me."
- The Secret Life of Bees

In reflecting on how the second part of the Secret Life of Bees quote inspired me, I thought it pretty "coincidental" that the month of May is the "Month of Mary" in the Catholic world. And in light of Mother's Day, I thought it appropriate to explore the influence of Our Blessed Mother.

Many people do not understand the Catholic belief of Mary, mostly out of ignorance. I remember the first time I was asked about this. The setting was 7th grade health class. A fellow classmate informing me that I "worshiped Mary" and insisted this to be true even after I corrected that I, in fact, did not worship the Mother of Our Lord. Let me be clear, I do not expect anyone who is not Catholic that reads this blog to necessarily believe what I believe, but to learn the reasons why and understand.

For me, Mary, "the mother of my Lord" as Elizabeth addressed her, is the perfect example of joyful obedience to the Lord's will. There are many times in our lives when we have our own plan, and more often than not, those plans for me do not end up being the same as Our Lords. Often when I am learning to follow a path I had not planned, I think of Mary's selfless "yes". She truly had an "unplanned pregnancy" and gave up her life for her Son.

Many people have asked why I "pray to Mary". Allow me to be clear in this, in "praying" to Mary, there is never any worship of her, or belief that she is God, or anything close to it.

It may be beneficial to start at the bottom here: saints in general. The easiest way for me to explain the Saints is to explain the interaction between the members of the body of the Church. When our loved ones enter heaven, they are still part of the body of Christ, but more perfected as they are no longer affected by sin and the things of this world. Just as I would ask my friend to pray for me, I also ask saints to pray for me. And why might their prayers be more beneficial than my brothers and sisters still on earth? Simple, they are fully with God now. Their prayers are unified with his will, and without sin to affect them, they are able to purely pray, knowing better than those on earth what I need. In the same way that I would probably ask my minister or friend that has a strong faith to pray for me over someone who is not as close to our Lord, it makes sense to ask those who are fully in the presence of God over those still on earth.

All souls in heaven are saints, and some have been confidently declared to be in heaven. These Saints are often deamed "patron" of something (teachers, struggling marriages, mothers, lost souls, etc.). In these cases, while that Saint was on earth, he or she dealt with the same circumstances, and lived through them successfully following Our Lord. They are an example for us (just as Michael Phelps may be an example for swimmers). So, as a youth minister, I may look to both youth ministers I respect here on earth for an example, along with someone like Saint John Bosco, patron of youth, who also worked with youth.

Not only are these patron saints a good example of their particular areas, they are also one to ask for prayers. It would be fitting to ask a parent who has lost a child to pray for someone else who has lost a child. Someone who has had that experience has a much better idea of what heartache and struggle consists in losing a child. Their prayers will be much more direct to the needs of that person, as they have experienced those struggles and know what details to pray about. In the same way, a mother with a rebellious child might ask St. Monica for prayers.

In all of this, I hope I have been clear that these are simply our "champions of the faith", those who have finished the race and fought the good fight. Those who have endured life as we are, who have experienced what we are experiencing. Those who can pray for us without the influence of this world and with knowledge of our circumstances.

Now, back to Mary. All of this works in the same way with Mary. However, Mary is Jesus' mother and obviously very close to her Son. When Elizabeth addressed her as "mother of my Lord", this meant more than what it may mean today. "Mother of my Lord" was the title for the queen, the mother of the king. And as a brief history lesson, if someone had a request, they would not go directly to the king. They would place their petition before the queen, who would then take it before the king. She was their "intercessor". This is where we get the idea of intercessions. It is not that we cannot pray directly to God, it's just like another avenue (just as asking friends to join in prayer for you strengthens your prayer). And Mary, as Jesus' mother, is clearly closest to her Son. She brings our needs to His feet, just as we do.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
"Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus." - The first half is the words spoken to Mary by the Angel Gabriel (Luke 1:28-35). The second half those spoken by Elizabeth (Luke 1:42-48).

"Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen." - Acknowledging Mary's position as holy and mother of Jesus, and asking her to pray for us.

In my personal experience, Mary has been a beautiful example to me of joyful obedience, the most beautiful example of the patient and loving mother and wife I desire to be, and a woman that has endured the greatest heartache in watching her Son scoured and crucified.

I pray that these explanations have been helpful in understanding Catholic beliefs!