Saturday, December 31, 2011

an unexpected lesson....from Star Trek

My husband is going to love this. He is a big star trek fan. I was walking by the T.V. during one of the "Star Trek Deep Space Nine "episodes earlier. Captain Sisko is in charge of a space station that is the hub of many different alien species. One of the alien species, the bajoran, are a religious people that believe there are a group of "prophets" that watch over them and determine what happens to them. As Captain Sisko takes the position of captain of this station, they begin to believe he is someone very important for their faith, calling him "the emissary" a sort of messiah figure for Bajor. He struggles with this role throughout the series, first dismissing it as someone's superstitious religious ideas, then eager to relinquish the job to someone else, then being confronted by the prophets themselves and struggling to embrace the calling upon his life. There are some who "believe" in him the whole time regardless of what he thinks, one being his First Officer and friend, Major Kira, a Bajoran. I have a point, I promise.

So, in the scene I saw for about 5 seconds which I am basing this entire blog on, ahem, there was a potential replacement for his emissary role, a Bajoran that appeared to be perfect for the job, giving Sisko an out. When asked by a friend how he felt about it all he said, "Great! I feel like I am on vacation!" He wouldn't have to deal with being some great messiah figure that everyone looked to for guidance, for leadership, even protection. Being captain was enough!  He felt. I didn't ask to be anyone's emissary!

Here's where it all comes together....wait for it. God has created each of us for some great purpose, the gifts he has given us, the circumstances we have grown up in or live in now, somehow it is all forming us to be this great person he has ordained us to be since the beginning of time. But, it's part of our fallen nature, we don't WANT to be great. We are perfectly happy being, mediocre. What we don't realize is, as painful as the process may be, becoming all that we were created for will be the most fulfilling and exciting experience of our life. When Sisko said, " I feel like I am on vacation!" I could relate. There are times I want to take a vacation from growing and stretching myself just a little bit more than before. But then something entices me, somehow I know that what is around the bend, is so much greater than anything I have ever seen in a movie or listened to in a song. Because, it is full of the infinite, a world where the impossible doesn't exist. So I guess what I am wondering is, are you on vacation? from who God has called you to be? Something to think about, as the new year comes in. It's what I am thinking of anyway. Happy New Year Everyone.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Favorite quotes/conversations with Fr. Pinto

Fr. Santan Pinto

Sorry but, he gets 2 blog posts. You don't have to read it, but I need to write it. So, if you want, take a look at why we loved him so much. When I say "disciple" this is how he referred to anyone going through formation, as the formation is called "Disciples of Jesus and Mary". Please add or correct fellow disciples. This is how I remember it.

1. Fr. P: "Whenever I go to (some particular area of the country) I always have much opposition and persecution."
Disciple: "Then why go there, Father?"
Fr. P: "Because it's the way of the cross."

2. In response to a question about a family member living an immoral life:
Fr. P: "How did Jesus change people? He loved them. He didn't judge. It was his LOVE that changed them."

3. When people meet you, will they find Jesus or will they find you? This is the test of a true disciple.

4. Holiness is hapiness.

5. It was profound humilty that preceded all of God's great works, Christ becoming man, Christ becoming bread, Mary and her "fiat" ("I am the handmaid of the Lord") and the incarnation.

6. When you are a disciple you are hated. If everyone likes you something is wrong.

7. If you truly know the peace of God, no one should be able to upset you.

8. We, all of us, are afraid to be great. If I told you right now that God would call you to disciple a thousand people would you accept it? We are afraid of greatness.

9.  God was teaching me humility, he said "You are dust on a flea's back". I went to the store and some man started shouting profanities at me. I said "God, am I supposed to take this?" and he said to me "Remember you are dust on a flea's back, so he is really complimenting you."

10. I saw a line of ants walking across the road and the Lord said to me, "Wait my son, wait for the little ones." This is how he teaches me humility.

And 2 things he said to me that I will share with you:

(about dryness in prayer) "You sit there praying the rosary feeling like an idiot, and the Lord says, Ah, but she's MY idiot."

Mary says, "She's inlove with my statue, tell her I am right here and to talk to ME."

Please add more if you wish!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Saying Goodbye to Fr. Pinto

 Life is full of surprises, isn't it? You never know how attached to someone you really are, how much you love them, until they are gone. As you have probably gathered by now, I lost a dear mentor and beloved father just a few days ago. I began going through the formation program that he wrote 6 years ago. 6 years ago, I thought I was pretty well where I needed to be. Until a good friend, another homeschooling mom, talked to me about the DJM formation and asked if I'd be interested. I politely said...maybe, but didn't mean it, honestly. Then I was invited to a family potluck where Fr. Pinto was visiting. I and my family went to see other friends. Fr. Pinto sat in a chair off to a corner of the room, a bit intimidating in appearance. He was a very large indian man with a heavy beard and eyes that would pierce the deepest part of your soul. My friend leaned in to me and whispered "Go talk to him. You want to talk to this man." Um, ok, what was my deepest, most heart wrenching question? Ah yes. Here goes. I still can't believe I did it. I slipped into the chair next to him and said, "Father, I just heard about an old man who was beat to death by some teenagers late at night and killed. Father, he was a prayerful man, went to adoration every day. I am really struggling with this, why do you suppose this happen?" He looked off into the distance with complete peace yet with total confidence answered, "You know, that is a hard one, but all I can tell you is, you know the souls of the Holy Innocents? they were slaughtered for baby Jesus, and they were glad. They wanted to be martyred for his sake." I was completely baffled. But like every other time he has ever spoken to me, it made me think long and hard about, my trust in God, and my love for him which go hand in hand. He was what you would call, a straight-shooter. He was very blunt, and unapologetic about it. He would often say things to us like, "You see, that's the problem, we don't really want to know the truth..." and then he would let out a deep, hearty laugh, the kind I would imagine if God the Father laughed, that is how it would sound, almost like thunder, but joyful thunder, if that even makes sense.
He was never scandalized by human weakness, in fact, it made him laugh. I guess, in a way, this is God the Father's attitude, as nothing is too difficult for Him to overcome in us.

When I think of how he related to those who were privileged to be his spiritual children, I am reminded of my voice teacher in college. We worked together for many hours a week. He rarely gave me positive feedback. The majority of my lesson time was spent in correction. In his group of voice majors, I imagined that I was the most in need of improvement. We were like one family though being instructed by the same father figure. One day I ate lunch with the pianist that always worked with us and him. She looked at me with a smile and said, "you know you're his favorite. He says you're the best. That's why he's so hard on you." I was stunned, but I had a new found confidence in myself I had never had before.

I believe as his spiritual children, we were all his favorites. He was passionate about one thing, leading souls to perfection and union with the Holy Trinity, and if he had to whack you over the head with a 2 by 4   to get you there a little faster, he was perfectly willing to. He loved us just the way we were, but he would be damned if he was going to leave us that way. Whenever I had the privilege of meeting with him, I had no doubt that the Holy Spirit was speaking to me directly through him.

So, while I know as a dsciple I should be rejoicing at his glorious state in heaven, and trusting God that all is for good, I still have a lump in my throat, an ache in my heart, and continuous waves of grief that are overwhelming at times. And while he tried his best not to allow us to become too attached to him so that our hearts would become only attached to God, I'm afraid I faltered there a bit. As my own natural father says, "this too shall pass." but I will forever be changed by the life and ministry of Fr. Pinto. He taught me to believe that God has called me to be something great, and I, by His grace, am capable of becoming all He intended for me to be. I am so grateful for the time I had with him, and until we meet again, I will try my best to live as he taught us: For the glory of God and the salvation of souls!

May you rest in His everlasting peace, Fr. Pinto.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Vigil of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception

So we had snow yesterday. We woke up to a beautiful blanket of white. In my former AR days, I would have said, "hold on, we have to learn about the formation of the snowflake first!" or "can anyone tell me what precipitation means?!" but that morning I came out of my bedroom and imediately started stuffing food in babies mouths so they could plunge into it. Aren't you proud? Yep. Well, after all, they are only kids for a little while, and we don't get snow that often.
Snow on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception

What I did think about almost immediately is how beautiful it was, and oh my goodness! This is the vigil of the feast of the Immaculate Conception! Snow-spotless-clean-pure-immaculate. If you know me well, you know I am about to get a little catholicy on you. But, it will only be for a minute, I promise. And there are fun pictures ahead, so stick around. The Immaculate Conception refers to the catholic teaching that Mary was conceived in the womb of her mother without original sin. For my protestant brothers and sisters, you might say she "got saved" before she was born! And what makes her so special? She was God's mother. I'd say that ranks pretty high on the "special people" list. If I were God, and I could make my mother any way I wanted to, I would want her to not have that burden either. You might be thinking, why do all you catholics make such a BIG deal about Mary?!

Do you have an awesome mother? I do. The older I get, the more awesome she is. I have been known to brag about her from time to time. And even if you don't, maybe you have an awesome mother-figure in your life, someone who would do ANYTHING for you. Well, we have that kind of heavenly mother, times bazillion. Her son, Jesus, gave her to us while he was on the cross. So, yea, we make a big deal out of her sometimes.

Anyway, I really wanted to get more pics, but quite honestly, it was freezing. I have no snow boots, and I didn't want to get wet. So this is it folks.
All bundled up and ready for trouble. 
This could be my favorite.
However, it was NOT the Queen's favorite. You don't mess with the Queen. 
See what I mean?
And there's no face to face combat with her. She'll sneak right up on you.
Relentless, too.
This would be a snow....column. There were tears at it's demise, if you can believe it.
This would be baby boy trying to make the escape. 
"Talks to the hand, Mama!!"
And a group snuggle after a cold morning. 
A little Mickey Mouse will warm you right up. 

I am just grateful there was only ONE outing.

Happy Advent!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Being Countercultural is Cool

Being Countercultural, Advent Wreath

   It sounds like a really cheesy logo on a t-shirt. One that I probably would not wear. But, I couldn't resist. Because, being countercultural IS cool! Do you often have the desire to go against the flow? Maybe a hint of rebellious nature in you to NOT do what everyone else is doing? Then this is for you!!

In case it slipped your notice, everywhere you look it is "Christmastime" or should I say, the Holidays. Even if I say, "the holidays" I  cannot get away from the meaning of Christmas, because holiday actually comes from the term "Holy Day". So, whatever you like, Christ-mass or Holy-Day, it's all the same to me.

Here's some ideas to guarantee you will be "countercultural"this Advent Season. Put advent decor out instead of Christmas right now. Try it! A purple tablecloth, an advent wreath, some candles. Maybe even use the advent wreath with your family. We have been saying a beautiful prayer together every night and reading from scripture about the coming of the Christchild. Put an "advent wreath" on your door instead of a Jingle Bell Wreath, and use purple ribbon instead of red, if you really want to go all out. Instead of focusing on all the "party"aspects of Christmas like Christmas music, treats, and decor, focus on penance! Fast from those things until it is closer to the big day. Yea!!! Do a bunch of good deeds without telling people about it. We have a "good deeds jar" for advent, the kids get excited about pulling out a card every day.

Wait to put your tree up until the 3rd Sunday of Advent and then put ornaments on gradually, not all at once. You don't have to wait until Christmas Eve, that would be a bit stressful, but just wait some. Why? Because the Church is waiting. And if you don't care much about that, be a rebel, do it because no one else is waiting. And there is something to be said for waiting these days. Waiting without, say, spraying someone with pepperspray. Just sayin'. And if you don't do any of these things, I will still love you. :) But, I am going to wait to open my Christmas spirit, and trade it for a little Advent spirit right now.

Many blessings for you and your families!!
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