Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Undercover OPCarm

As neither of us are actual religious Sisters we are still as Catholics called to preach the Gospel. This is the vocation of everyone, to know, love, and serve God and to help others to do the same. I think in a way we as lay people have the harder vocation. We dont have a community of Sisters, a Mother Superior, grand silence etc. We have our own poor judgement and the world to contend with. We share our lives with people who dont instantly shut up at 9pm. We dont have classrooms of young eager minds to teach, instead we have co workers of all kinds to deal with. We dont have habits that people can see and think "oooh a nun" and possibly be nicer to us. The only cell we have is the "cell of the heart" as St Catherine of Siena put it.
I think its even harder when you've been there, living your religious vocation, and then you are forced back into the world. Nothing can compare to the peace and the structure and the graces of religious life. But at the same time, as I am now called to live out in the world, those graces are still up for grabs...its just much harder now to obtain them. How does one love God while struggling with the temptations of our modern age? How does one love their neighbor when you most of the time want to punch their lights out? It's all in the balance, and the figuring out who you are...and what road are you going to travel...the one more often trampled on that leads to hell, or the narrow abandoned one that leads to God?
The Christian of this age is persecuted, buffeted by all sides, hated, spit upon, looked upon with disdain...Christ experienced nothing less... and as He says, "No servant is greater than the Master..." and, "They hated me first."
Together, with Jesus, we need to "fight the good fight" and not give up lest we succumb to the darkness...hopefully our witness will effect those around us as we "preach" the Gospel. This war of good vs. evil that the world is locked in, is being fought on the frontlines, not only by those wearing religious habits, but those of us who are "incognito"---in the "undercover" plain-ness of our simple civies.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ash Wednesday

DS: The Sacrament of Reconciliation is probably my favorite Sacrament after the Holy Eucharist. From my first to my very recent, there are some confessions that I can never forget.

I recall one Saturday afternoon. The temperature outside was hitting 100 degrees Fahrenheit. I walked into Santa Cruz Catholic Church. The conditioned air hit me right in my perspiring face. I dipped my hand into the cool holy water and made the Sign of the Cross. Genuflecting towards the Tabernacle, I looked around at the confession lines. I had to make a decision. Do I go with Fr. Deane or with the visiting priest? The visiting priest wouldn't know me. Fr. Deane is a good friend. Sometimes its an advantage to confess to a priest who doesn't have any clue who you are. But most of the time, its good to confess with one who is familiar with you. I decided on the shortest line. So, into Fr. Deane's line I went.

I started praying the Rosary, asking Our Lady to help me to have a good confession and to remember all my sins. With each moment, my nervousness kicked into high gear. In between Mysteries, I went through an examination of conscience. My concentration was only broken by the sound of the confessional door opening and shutting.

I found myself timing each individual's confession. "Okay, mister took a whole 15 mins. sheesh." Then, I would stop myself and think, "should I confess that I'm impatient in line for confession?!"

Finally, my time had come. I was weak in the knees as I walked into the confessional and knelt down.

"In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Bless me, Father for I have has been ____________ since my last confession. These are my sins." I slowly spoke of my trangressions, my failures, my weakness---my sins, until I ended with, "and for all the sins I may be forgetting, that is all."

There was a period of silence. Father cleared his throat. In his thick Irish brogue, and in a manner that only Fr. Deane could pull off, he said, "For penance, you need a good kick in the 'arse!"

Tonite at Ash Wednesday Mass, Father reminded us that Jesus isn't the God who is ready to strike us down for our faults. We may deserve that good swift kick in the arse, but despite our transgressions, despite our weakness, the Lord loves us to the point of scandal. This doesn't mean we stay in our sorry state, but instead, we need to take advantage of His Love, His Grace and His Mercy to help us overcome our sins. Our Lenten journeys should take us there, to the foot of His Cross, to receive the ultimate gift of His Salvation.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Stage Four

Vee: Apparently my mom's cancer, which she is still in denial about, is in stage four. There is nothing that can be done now except manage her pain.

We each have our own path in life, however, I am reminded of St Therese's sister Celine who was only able to enter religious life after the caring for, and death of her father. For me discerning a religious vocation now is an impossibility as one of the admission requirements is freedom from obligations to others (debts, dependents, etc...) and the far remoteness of the reality of such a vocation would only come at the death of my mother. I only mention that as I once was discerning such a vocation. Now I just live everyone's vocation, to know love, and serve God. Im not waiting for a vocation to begin, Im already in it.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Team Carm at an End?


With the reappearance of DS, I guess the blog has regained the OP half of OPCarm. This does not mean that I will stop trying to totally Carmelize the blog though!! :D

St Teresa of Avila said that meditating on the Passion often will benefit you greatly and she's right of course. There is nothing I can't come to understand in my life that is not learned from reflecting on Christ's Passion. He has forgiven me first and in that I am able to learn to forgive others. Did Jesus suffer through His Passion alone? No, and we do not get to heaven alone either. In any vocation in life we are called to know, love and serve God, and to help others to do the same (I stole that line from Mother Angelica.) In marriage the goal is to help each other get to heaven and the children as well, not to just get married and be alone together in some love nest isolated from the world at large. In religious life the goal is to not just become a priest, brother or sister. All things are done for the greater glory of God (AMDG :D ) and to help others get to heaven as well.

The same is true for friendships and that does not exclude them from trials and tribulations. The trials will come in any vocation because any vocation is the way of the cross.

In my role as a daughter I am now carrying the cross of my mom having cancer that is in her spine, her lungs and who knows where else. The news is fairly recent and further testing is being done. I have to deal with my mom as she comes to terms with that and her new physical limitations as her bones are so fragile she can't lift more than ten pounds, etc., etc. It has come to that stage in my life where in some ways the child now becomes the parent to care for the parent who has become more like a child. I struggle to be a good daughter and a good friend. Basically the only person I can't upset and get rid of, even if I try, is St Therese who helps me to learn to bear wrongs patiently and loving since she puts up with my crap all the time. Im a terrible student!!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Apologies and New Beginnings

"[Jesus] breathed on them and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained." (John 20:22–23).

DS: Jesus said these words to His apostles just days after His Resurrection, thus giving the great gift and power to his priests to forgive men's sins in the Holy Sacrament of Confession. It is necessary to understand that it is not the priests who are doing the actual forgiving, but that they are mere instruments in the hands of Christ who does all the forgiving...

So, if it is Jesus who is reaching out to sinners in the confessional, why do a few Catholics feel it is not necessary? Instead, many echo the words of our protestant brothers and say, "Why should I confess my sins to a man? I go directly to God!" Well bro, that's not the way Jesus set it up! He would not have breathed the Holy Spirit on his apostles and given them this beautiful gift to forgive mens sins in the first place if all men had to do is "go directly to God." In all actuality, we humans do go "directly" to God in the confessional, in a much more powerful way than if we were kneeling at home confessing to God on our own.

In a few days time, it will be Lent...and Lent is the Church's perpetual call for all to end their sinful ways and embrace the love, mercy and forgiveness of the Lord. This is a common theme in our lives because as we all know, when Jesus died on the Cross, He gave us the hope of salvation, but he did not take away our ability to sin. Jesus didn't die on that cross to make us mere robots. He did not remove our free will. And because of our fallen human nature, Jesus ensured we would always have access to his mercy and forgiveness in the Sacrament He alone created by the spilling of His own precious blood...

There is just one thing we forget...

When Jesus forgave sins, he made sure to say, "Go and sin no more..." So Confession is not some magic trick that you go to to wash away your sins, keep on sinnin' and go back to for forgiveness. That is not how it works. It is there because sin is here. And there is a necessity and will be a necessity for reconciliation until the day we die. But we must strive to be better, and with the graces poured out to us in Confession, we can overcome sin...

Confession is good for the soul. Confession is a hard thing to do sometimes, and it can be a humbling experience presenting your sins to Jesus through a priest. Some of the more shameful sins you are tempted to keep hidden, but the Lord knows all, so why hide them? You also receive words of wisdom and advice and counsel from the priest in confession, who has probably heard every sin in the book...

In the spirit of reconciliation, I wish to make a formal apology to Vee. A few months ago, Vee's mother was diagnosed with an inoperable tumor at the base of her spine. It is metastatic....cancer. Ever since then, I've been really hard on Vee, because I myself have experienced the suffering (and death) of my mother...and I started to give Vee attitude because I felt like she was not responding like she should. So many people deal with suffering in their own way, and they have ways to survive it. I had no right to impose what my own feelings are on the subject and direct my own emotions in a lousy, attacking, biting attitude at Vee. I am very ashamed of this. Instead of consolation, I offered desolation. Instead of comfort, I handed out barbs. Vee, please accept my apology. You are my best friend and I would never want anything to destroy this precious gift of friendship God has so bestowed on me.

I want to begin anew. For Lent this year, I am going to keep away from my usual internet haunts. What I wish and hope to do is wake up this sleeping blog and keep it alive with posts about Faith, Hope, Charity, Suffering, LOVE and experiences with our Almighty God.

(...not to mention experiences with another gift from God: beer! This blog was meant to also offer our reviews on various beers we run into in our daily lives... lol....hopefully, we will not disappoint!)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

So True


are NOT the size of sardines.

Dos Equis

Beer Review Time!!!!

I had my first Dos Equis this past summer on a hot day in San Antonio alongside the beautiful river walk.  It tastes like summer and goes well with sitting down in the shade with my best friend.

woo hoo!!

You never see an OP dancing, Carmelites on the other hand have this saintly example

Party time!!

With no OP around to put a damper on things let the fun begin because, as we all know, OPs are incapable of fun.

It's mine now!!!

Due to internal difficulties at Team OPCarm (it's all ds' fault *cough cough cough*) she withdrew from the blog.  I suspect it is temporary however in the interim I will enjoy the lack of  an OP and  COMMENCE CARMELIZATION!!!!


Saturday, February 11, 2012

Team Carm

Since DS seems to have lost her appetite for this blog it shall be mine!!!  All Carmelite all the time!! WOO HOO!!!