Sunday, May 11, 2014

My Beautiful Mamas

 This is the second Mother's Day where I've been caught off guard.  At Mass, Father starts his little speech about honoring mothers...and grandmothers...and then, surprise! Godmothers! Oh yeah, that's me!  So weird.  I'm technically a "mother."  Hmm.
This is also the second Mother's Day since I made my Marian consecration, and since I had fewer family obligation than usual, I got a chance to thank my heavenly Mama for her influence.
She didn't give birth to me, I've never seen her in person, but she's still my "mother." That's weird too, right?

Ok how about this one?  Religious sisters, who give up having children of their own, live in a "motherhouse" and answer to "Mother Superior." Crazy.

I guess a lot more than biology goes into the role of a mother.  It's something deeply spiritual, and I think it's part of every woman's calling.  What is motherhood, then?  

Mothers are so many things, but I'm going to focus on three main qualities that I see in my two wonderful mothers, and that I think all women should strive for.

Mothers are blessed by God with creativity. We are all brought into the world and given the precious gift of life by our mothers, through their cooperation with God the Creator.  Thanks to my mom's beautiful creativity, I was born two minutes before midnight in August of 1995 and began my exciting journey.  Thanks to my Mama Mary's creative "fiat" when she was asked to be Christ's mother, I'll live in eternal joy in Heaven after.  Not every woman has a vocation to bear children, but through spiritual motherhood, we are all called to be creative.  God wants us to imitate Him and bring beauty and life to the world around us.  He gives us talents to help us bring beauty to others, to produce new art or ideas, or to restore His life to those around us who are spiritually or emotionally dead. 

Second, mothers are nurturing.  They have to provide for their children and help them grow.  For my mom that meant feeding me, clothing me, homeschooling me...  And now that I'm a godmother, I have a responsibility to make sure my godson grows close to Jesus and learns about his faith.  There are so many ways to strengthen the people around us, to help them grow.  Women are gifted with gentleness and compassion to see the needs of others and to offer their help.  We all need to nurture God's children.

Finally, mothers need to be able to sacrifice.  I'm sure my mom didn't enjoy finishing her college degree with a breastfeeding infant at home, or waking up in the middle of the night to take care of me.  I'm sure it was painful for my Mama to watch her son die on a cross.  But they both had enough love to overcome what they wanted and accept what their loved ones needed.  Archbishop Fulton Sheen sums up very well the amazing sacrificial love of motherhood:
 "A woman is capable of more sacrifices than a man. Man is more apt to be a hero, through some great passionate outburst of heroism. But a woman's love makes a thousand small sacrifices, sprinkling them through the days and the months; their very repetition gives them the character of the commonplace. Not only her soul, but her body, has some share in the Calvary of Redemption; furthermore, she comes closer to death than man, whenever she brings forth a child."
 How many little unnoticed sacrifices mothers make every day!  How much they are willing to endure to make life better for their children! 

This sacrificial love is what makes my two mamas beautiful, more than anything else.  This is what makes me want to be like them.  They have learned the secret of love, which is to put the beloved first.   I can only hope and pray for the grace to do the same.

~Sarah

Monday, May 5, 2014

Expectation


 Don't you hate it when you're looking forward to something, you get your hopes up, and somebody lets you down?

They expected a King, and they got a criminal.  Or so they thought.
Thousands of years ago, God promised the Jews that he would send them a Messiah from the line of David, someone who would free them from bondage.  When the Roman empire oppressed them, they felt sure the time had come and that He would finally come through.  The extremist Zealots would cause uprisings in their anticipation, and they got enough attention that Pontius Pilate, the Roman prefect was worried. So worried that he was willing to let a carpenter from Nazareth, who preached in the temple, die between two thieves...just to calm the crowds.
 A lot of people rejected Jesus, because he wasn't the Messiah they drew up in their heads.  He was a carpenter, not a prince.  He taught peace, not violence.  He hung out with tax collectors and prostitutes and dissed the Pharisees, who were supposedly devout, exemplary figures. 
 From the prophet Isaiah, chapter 53:
"He had no majestic bearing to catch our eye,
no beauty to draw us to him.
He was spurned and avoided by men,
a man of suffering, knowing pain,
Like one from whom you turn your face,
spurned, and we held him in no esteem."
Even the Apostles, who were willing to let go of the common ideal about who the Messiah was, couldn't handle the fact that Jesus had to die, and ran away. How could God possibly bring good out of this situation?  Jesus was on a cross and their hopes were crushed.

Flash forward a couple thousand years and I'm dealing with the same problem of idealism.  My creative brain comes up with a thousand scenarios trying to predict where my life is going.  I think I know what's best for me and when God chooses something different, I get mad.  My hopes for my future are crushed.  I complain, I try and fail to "fix" things...and then I start the guessing game all over again.
I focus my friendships on whether the other person is returning my favors, meeting my standards, giving me what I need.  I love with strings attached.  I come up with a list of what my family members should improve to be "good enough" for me.  I daydream about the perfect future boyfriend and wonder why all the guys I know fall short. 

 What would happen if I stopped expecting things? What would happen if I just placed my trust in God and watched his plan unfold?
Well, what happened to the Apostles?
They witnessed the Resurrection, the victory of Christ the hero.  They received the Holy Spirit and spoke in languages they didn't know.  They went out to tell the world that death had no sting anymore because God had transformed it.  Heaven was opened to the most humble on the earth.  Sin had no power over us anymore.  They expected freedom from Rome, but instead they got eternal freedom from their weaknesses and from the darkness of dying.  They expected the cross to be followed by the grave, but instead it brought life.  When Jesus suffered, they thought that they were wrong about him, that God must have forgotten him and His chosen people.  Jesus was crucified while the Zealot rebel Barabbas (literally Bar-abba, son of the Father) was released.  Jesus cried out on the cross what we often think when life doesn't fit our ideals: "My God, My God, why have you abandoned me?"
Isaiah continues:
"Yet it was our pain that he bore,
our sufferings he endured.
We thought of him as stricken,
struck down by God and afflicted,
But he was pierced for our sins,
crushed for our iniquity.
He bore the punishment that makes us whole,
by his wounds we were healed."

Jesus did not leave us to die and suffer forever afterwards.  God did not abandon His son, and he will not abandon us.  His plan is a mystery because it's too good to predict- He has proved that.   Honestly, if He gave me my idealized version of life, most of the time it would be disastrous.

I really struggle with giving up my dreams.  I find it hard to stay grounded in reality.  I don't know how to have the patience I need for full co-operation with God.  But on my own, I have no idea how to do this crazy thing called life.

So I try to let go of all my expectations, except for one.

I expect Him to surprise me, in all the best ways possible.

~Sarah <3

The Forgiveness Myth

I do not enjoy forgiving people because it makes me feel like a doormat. I would honestly rather get all Carrie Underwood/Miranda Lambert up...