Category Archives: Quotes

Remembering Ms. G on “Chews-day”

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

– Maya Angelou

I generally tend to avoid pithy quotes, particularly mushy-sounding ones, but when I learned today that one of my former teachers died unexpectedly on Monday, this quote was the first thing that came to mind.

I only remember a few of the lessons we covered in Ms. G’s classes. She taught me American History in seventh grade, and the only things I remember from that class are being forced to work in small groups with boys that I thought were dumb and writing an angry letter to President Clinton (post-Lewinsky-scandal), telling him he ought to have more integrity and set a better example for us kids. My classmates and I used to joke that we were obviously Ms. G’s favorite students of all time, because after teaching us in middle school she “followed” us to the big public high school to teach us again there. In her high school Bio class, we dissected frogs and talked about dominant and recessive genes, and I learned that the red hair I had when I was born was rare… or something. As far as lessons go, that’s about all I can recall.

What I remember much more vividly is the way Ms. G delighted in her students. No matter how annoying we were—and as Gifted and Talented students, one of our greatest “talents” was pushing our teachers’ buttons—she was always beaming at us, even when she “fussed” us. Despite how I loathed Biology and wasn’t particularly interested in History, I never disliked being in her classroom. It was a place of joy. I remember how incredibly easy it was to make Ms. G laugh, and how she didn’t mind when we laughed at her quirks, like her pronunciation of the word “Chews-day” or the photos of Brad Pitt (her “future husband”) that she had taped up on the door of the mini-fridge behind her desk. She never took herself too seriously, so when we were on her turf, we couldn’t take ourselves too seriously, either. Now that I teach some incredibly bright teenagers who often suffer needlessly because they’re so caught up in themselves and the all-consuming seriousness of EVERYTHING, I recognize just what a gift we were given in Ms. G—to have the chance to be around at least one person every day who reminded us to “chill out!” and told us (without actually telling us) that everything was going to be fine.

I can’t remember everything Ms. G taught me, but I will always remember her contagious joy. If it’s within my power to leave a mark on my students’ memories with that same sort of positivity and love (and I’m not sure I was convinced that it was within my power until today), then I have some big shoes to fill indeed.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Quotes, Reflections

On the Calendar: The Immaculate Heart of Mary

IHM and Child Jesus

“Mary, my dearest Mother, give me your heart so beautiful, so pure, so immaculate, so full of love and humility, that I may receive Jesus as you did and go in haste to give Him to others.”

– Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

Today is my “liturgical anniversary,” the Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, so it seemed like a good a day as any to resume my regular blogging about my vocation as a consecrated virgin – a Bride of Christ! What a year it’s been! The demands of my new teaching job (which I love!) unfortunately made it  impossible to blog regularly during the school year, but I know that I need to be writing, so I have plans to resume (and possibly redesign!) By Love Alone this summer.

I am calling today my “liturgical anniversary” since the actual date of my Consecration was June 16 (not June 8) – however, the Immaculate Heart will always be my special feast, and after today I’ll share it with FOUR – that’s right, four! – friends who were ordained to the priesthood for my diocese this morning. My heart is so full! I honestly don’t have words to express my gratitude for the friendship of these young men and for all the work our good Lord has done in our hearts as we were formed for our vocations. My prayer for those dear friends (and for myself) today is that we might always be generous with our God so that He can bring this work to completion, according to His will and in His time.

Please continue to pray for me! And look for more posts (and perhaps a new look?) sometime soon.

Charity

1 Comment

Filed under About the Author, On the Calendar, Quotes

JPII, I miss you.

Karol Woytyla, Marek Skorupski/Agencja FORUM

Photo credit: Marek Skorupski/Agencja FORUM

This morning I woke up with a pang in my heart, thinking about grief. Not my own grieving for any particular person (though I have been doing a great deal of that lately), just about grief itself: how it weakens us, overwhelms us, humbles us. (I am beginning to think that that is one of the goods God brings out of grief: the grace of humility.)

Then, around lunchtime, I was reminded that today (April 2) is the seventh anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul the Great – and it struck me that my heart might have remembered this, even if my brain hadn’t. His death had affected me profoundly. I didn’t expect to grieve the way I did then, but the emotions were there – and perhaps they were so overwhelming because, while sitting there weepy and sniffling at my desk in the Business College that afternoon, I had my first real experience of the Communion of Saints. I just knew, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that I’d gained a friend in heaven.

JPII was the first person to convince me that the saints really are present to us, that they love us deeply and are rooting for us every step of the way, particularly when we feel friendless or alone. I owe him a great debt of gratitude for that. Whenever I am feeling really burdened or discouraged, I think of him repeating the words he loved to quote from the French poet Leon Bloy:

“The only tragedy in life, dear one, is not to be a saint.”

Blessed John Paul II, we love you. Pray for us!

Leave a comment

Filed under Quotes, Reflections

It’s only Week 2! There’s still time!

For anyone who, like me, feels like they’ve totally failed (so far) to make a holy Lent:

“When you fail to measure up to your Christian privilege, be not discouraged, for discouragement is a form of pride. The reason you are sad is because you looked to yourself and not to God; to your failings, not to His love. You will shake off your faults more readily when you love God than when you criticize yourself. God is more lenient than you because He is perfectly good and therefore loves you more. Be bold enough, then, to believe that God is on your side, even when you forget to be on His.”

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

We’ve still got five weeks left of Lent – let’s make them count! And when we’re tempted to focus on our failings, let’s turn our gaze to our loving Father instead, remembering His tenderness and mercy.

(HT to Maggie at Ten Thousand Places)

1 Comment

Filed under Other Blogs, Quotes

Bride of the Crucified

St. Teresa of Avila and the Cross

St. Teresa of Ávila, bride of the Crucified

In a Holy Hour earlier this week, I was reflecting on Mother Teresa’s intimate, personal response to the question posed by Our Lord in Matthew 16:15 – “Who do you say that I am?” – written while she was hospitalized after a fall. The prayer is arrestingly straightforward, and powerful in its simplicity (just like Mother herself, I suppose). I’d read it many times before, but yesterday it was the end of it that really struck me:

Jesus is my God.
Jesus is my Spouse.
Jesus is my Life.
Jesus is my only Love.
Jesus is my All in All.
Jesus is my Everything.

Jesus I love with my whole heart, with my whole being. I have given Him all, even my sins, and He has espoused me to Himself in tenderness and love. Now and for life, I am the spouse of my Crucified Spouse. Amen.

I had to keep reading that phrase over and over again:

“I am the spouse of my Crucified Spouse.”

The bride of the Crucified. Of all the titles I will assume when I am consecrated by my bishop this June, I can admit that this is the one I am most reluctant to own. To be the “bride of Christ” can sound like such a romantic, picture-perfect, sunshine-and-roses thing. What a life, to be married to Jesus!

But being the bride of Christ means marrying all of Him, His whole Person. In this way, it means being the bride of the Crucified One, and not only that! Not only is the bride of Christ asked to accept her Spouse’s suffering – she’s asked to share it. She must allow her uniquely sensitive, feminine heart to be conformed to all of the dispositions of Christ’s Sacred Heart. Which, of course, doesn’t sound intimidating in the least.

I’ll be honest – sometimes when I try to think about what that could mean, I’m frightened. “Bride of the Crucified?” A life full of sufferings yet unknown to me? Doesn’t seem like something to look forward to. Doesn’t seem very natural or very human to desire such a thing. Doesn’t sound consoling in the least. The prayer of my heart this Lent has been: I am not very good at suffering, Lord! How can I learn love the Cross?

That phrase – “spouse of my Crucified Spouse” – kept resounding in my mind throughout the Holy Hour, and I kept trying to get away from it because I didn’t know what it meant, and didn’t really want to know. I was still thinking about it when I walked out of church and ran into some ladies from the parish. We’d just started chatting when we were approached by an elderly priest who I’d been hoping to meet for some time. (He has such a reputation for sanctity that I’d been hoping for a chance to be near him and hopefully “soak up” some of his holiness and wisdom.)

When I introduced myself and briefly explained that I was in formation to become a consecrated virgin, Father’s face lit up, and he took my hand, saying: “Oh, God bless you, dear!” And then, without missing a beat: “You know, there is nothing greater, no power greater than the power of the Cross. When things get hard, when you’re tempted, just remember that: the Cross. Make the Sign of the Cross and the devil will have to flee.” With that, he grinned, gave me his blessing, and left.

I was speechless. Not only had I been praying for weeks for guidance to help me overcome a particular temptation (the Sign of the Cross – I feel pretty foolish for not having thought of that!), but I had also been asking the Lord to use this Lent to teach me how (and why?) I am supposed to love the Cross. Then this little priest came out of nowhere and spoke straight to my heart.

The reading for Evening Prayer that night had been from the Letter of James – Submit to God; resist the devil and he will take flight. Draw close to God, and He will draw close to you (James 4:7-8) – and when I remembered that, I had an epiphany.

Becoming the “bride of the Crucified” shouldn’t frighten me, because that’s really just another way to talk about drawing near to Jesus. Love the Crucified One, love the Cross. So long as I cling to the Cross, none can touch me. So long as remember the Cross, the devil will flee. And when I embrace Christ Crucified, He will be nearer to me than I am to myself – and that is a very consoling thought, indeed.

“Yes, I love the Cross… I love it because I always see it behind Jesus’ shoulders.”

– Padre Pio of Pietrelcina

4 Comments

Filed under Quotes, Reflections

Potpourri: The world needs heroes!

Inspired by my incredibly creative friend Maggie and her beloved “Clippings” posts over at Ten Thousand Places, I thought I’d try out a similar series of posts on this blog. Each Potpourri post will consist of a list of miscellaneous links, photos, videos, quotes, and/or other tidbits I came across during the week that I thought might interest you all. Let me know what you think!


March for Life 2011

March for Life 2011: Mary marching toward the Capitol.

First things first: everyone ought to pray in a special way this weekend for all those who will be standing up for LIFE at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., as well as at local marches around the country. (For readers outside the U.S., January 22 is the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in the United States in 1973. Current estimates say that hundreds of thousands of pro-life marchers take to the streets of our capital each year to be witnesses for LIFE.) The world needs heroes who will be a voice for the voiceless!

Speaking of heroes, I was inspired and touched by two articles that came in one of my “Daily Dispatches” from Zenit this week: one about persecuted clergy being unjustly detained by the Chinese government, and another about the ministry of maritime chaplains in Italy following the Costa Concordia cruise ship tragedy. The life of the priest is, by nature, a heroic life – not because it wins the priest acclaim and earthly glory (quite the contrary, actually). No, the life of the priest is heroic because of what it requires: a total death to self for his beloved, the Church.

Of course, all of the faithful are called to be heroic in their own way. I have always taken great delight in the Church teaching which affirms that heroic sanctity can be achieved in every state of life, in every situation, in every vocation (cf. Lumen Gentium 39). Catholic blogger Simcha Fisher has posted a beautifully-written reflection on the sufferings and joys of being a mother of many (nine!) children: To the Mother With Only One Child.

And now for the most pressing issue of the day: by now I’m sure you’ve all heard (at least, readers residing in the U.S. will have heard) about the deeply disturbing statement put forth by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) yesterday. You can find a few worthwhile Catholic commentaries about this serious (albeit not unforeseen) threat to religious liberty here, here and here. While I am indeed disturbed by this turn of events, I take great comfort in two things.

First, Church leadership is on alert and fully aware of the gravity of the situation. Just days ago (incidentally, the day before HHS published their statement) Pope Benedict addressed a group of bishops from the United States with these words:

“The Church’s witness, then, is of its nature public: she seeks to convince by proposing rational arguments in the public square. The legitimate separation of Church and State cannot be taken to mean that the Church must be silent on certain issues, nor that the State may choose not to engage, or be engaged by, the voices of committed believers in determining the values which will shape the future of the nation.

“In the light of these considerations, it is imperative that the entire Catholic community in the United States come to realize the grave threats to the Church’s public moral witness presented by a radical secularism which finds increasing expression in the political and cultural spheres. The seriousness of these threats needs to be clearly appreciated at every level of ecclesial life.”

(You can read the Holy Father’s entire address on Zenit.org.) Cardinal-elect Archbishop Timothy Dolan, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, is also taking a public stand against this outrage. Check it out:

According to this article from the National Catholic Reporter (HT to American Papist), President Obama had the audacity to call Archbp. Dolan to “tell him the news” when the HHS statement went out:

“NCR has learned that the President called Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, this morning to tell him the news. Wouldn’t you have liked to be on an extension to listen in on that conversation. The president looked Dolan in the eye in November and said he would be pleased with his decision [regarding conscience protection legislation]. I am guessing that Dolan is not pleased.”

Well, if that isn’t the understatement of the century! (NB: I do not look to the National Catholic Reporter for authentically Catholic news and commentary – though I did find the aforementioned article helpful. You’d be better off getting your Catholic news from the National Catholic Register.)

I also find a great deal of consolation (as I always do) in remembering that no matter what happens in our country and in our world, we always have Our Lord and our Blessed Mother, we always have the Church, we always have the Communion of Saints. The world needs heroes – and thank goodness, we have them: we have the saints!

On that note, I wanted to share this fantastic quote by St. Augustine (HT to Ten Thousand Places and Happy Catholic). Let it be a reminder to us all, especially as we enter into the thick of what my be the United States’ most divisive, most frightening, most crucial election season yet:

Saint Augustine - Botticelli (detail)

Botticelli, St. Augustine (detail)

“Bad times, hard times – this what people keep saying; but let us live well, and times shall be good. We are the times. Such as we are, such are the times.”

– St. Augustine of Hippo

3 Comments

Filed under From the Holy See, In the News, Other Blogs, Potpourri, Quotes, Videos

At Long Last: Photos from Rome!

“What is the first reaction to the extraordinary action of God, who becomes a babe, who becomes man? I think that the first reaction can be none other than joy… [Joy] is the theme that opens the Gospel, and it is the theme that concludes it… But let us go one step further: where does this joy come from? I would say that it is born of the heart’s wonder in seeing how close God is to us, how God thinks of us, how God acts in history; it is a joy, then, that comes from contemplating the face of that humble Child, because we know that it is the Face of God present to humanity forever – for us and with us. Christmas is joy because we see – and at last we are sure – that God is man’s good, his life and his truth; and He lowers Himself to man in order that He might raise man to Himself: God becomes close enough to see and touch.

– Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, January 6, 2012 (emphases mine)

Without a doubt, this was the most joy-filled Christmas I have ever celebrated. Not to be dramatic or anything, but 2011 was probably the hardest year of my life thus far – and I suppose it was precisely for that reason that I was able to approach the Christmas season with such a deep thirst for Jesus. I had never before been so desperate for Him to come into my heart, and by the time Christmas Eve rolled around, I was so fed-up with everything and so exhausted from trying to “have it all together” that I felt as though I didn’t have any words left with which to pray. So I went back to that psalm which had become the song of my soul all through Advent, and prayed:

“Restore unto me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.”

(Psalm 51:12)

It was a prayer from the heart – and even though the Lord has indeed been good to me throughout my life, I never could have imagined just how good He would be to me this Christmas! Spending the Octave of Christmas in Italy with four of my dearest friends sounds amazing – but I’m telling you, I never could have foreseen how much the Lord would use that week to refresh my soul and restore my joy.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here are a few dozen of my favorites.*

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The first fifteen photos are from the two days we spent in Assisi. We took a train from Rome and stayed at a guesthouse owned by the Secular Franciscans, who gave us a fantastic tour of the Basilica of St. Francis on our second day. We were able to go to Mass at both Basilicas (St. Francis and St. Clare), as well as visit Francis’ family home, the Cathedral of St. Rufino of Assisi (where Francis and Clare were baptized), San Damiano (Clare’s first convent), and the Porziuncola (the tiny chapel that Francis rebuilt) in St. Mary of the Angels. I got in some really great prayer time at Francis and Clare’s tombs, and it was just the most tremendous blessing to be able to tell them “thank you” in person.

The rest of the photos are from our time in Rome – and yes, that is a photo of Pope Benedict (near the end of the slideshow) celebrating Mass in St. Peter’s! We were able to attend Solemn Vespers with the Holy Father on New Year’s Eve and Mass with him on New Year’s Day, the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. (Mario used his “seminarian magic” to score tickets for both.) What a gift!

I have to say, though – the greatest gift of the entire trip for me was the presence of Mario, Peter-George, Pius and Etsy. Words can’t say how grateful I am for their kindness, love and laughter. My life simply would not be the same if any one of them were not in it.

“There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.”

– St. Thomas Aquinas

Indeed!

* All photos are mine – except the photos I’m in, of course! (For those who don’t know me in “real life,” I’m the blonde girl with glasses!)

Leave a comment

Filed under Photos, Quotes, Travel

A Very Merry Christmas to All!

Ragin Cajun Catholics O Come Let Us Adore Him

Image credit: Trey Petitjean, from the Ragin Cajun Catholics Facebook page (www.facebook.com/ragincajuncatholics)

“At Christmas we encounter the tenderness and love of God, who stoops down to our limitations, to our weakness, to our sins – and He lowers Himself to us. St. Paul affirms that Jesus Christ ‘though He was in the form of God … emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men’ (Philippians 2:6-7). Let us look upon the cave of Bethlehem: God lowers Himself to the point of being laid in a manger – which is already a prelude of His self-abasement in the hour of His Passion. The climax of the love story between God and man passes by way of the manger of Bethlehem and the sepulcher of Jerusalem.

“Dear brothers and sisters, let us joyously live the feast of Christmas… Let us live this wondrous event: The Son of God again is born ‘today’; God is truly close to each one of us, and He wants to meet us – He wants to bring us to Himself. He is the true Light, which dispels and dissolves the darkness enveloping our lives and mankind. Let us live the Lord’s birth by contemplating the path of God’s immense love, which raised us to Himself through the mystery of the Incarnation, Passion, Death and Resurrection of His Son… Above all, let us contemplate and live this Mystery in the celebration of the Eucharist, the heart of Christmas; there, Jesus makes Himself really present – as the true Bread come down from heaven, as the true Lamb sacrificed for our salvation.”

– Pope Benedict XVI,  General Audience, 21 December 2011

Leave a comment

Filed under From the Holy See, Quotes

G.K. Chesterton on Santa Claus

G.K. Chesterton

G.K. Chesterton, a "jolly, happy soul" if there ever was one!

“What has happened to me has been the very reverse of what appears to be the experience of most of my friends. Instead of dwindling to a point, Santa Claus has grown larger and larger in my life until he fills almost the whole of it. It happened in this way.

“As a child I was faced with a phenomenon requiring explanation. I hung up at the end of my bed an empty stocking, which in the morning became a full stocking. I had done nothing to produce the things that filled it. I had not worked for them, or made them or helped to make them. I had not even been good ­– far from it!

“And the explanation was that a certain being whom people called ‘Santa Claus’ was benevolently disposed toward me. … What we believed was that a certain benevolent agency did give us those toys for nothing. And, as I say, I believe it still. I have merely extended the idea.

“Then I only wondered who put the toys in the stocking; now I wonder Who put the stocking by the bed, and the bed in the room, and the room in the house, and the house on the planet, and the great planet in the void.

“Once I only thanked Santa Claus for a few dollars and crackers. Now, I thank him for stars and street faces, and wine and the great sea. Once I thought it delightful and astonishing to find a present so big that it only went halfway into the stocking. Now I am delighted and astonished every morning to find a present so big that it takes two stockings to hold it, and then leaves a great deal outside; it is the large and preposterous present of myself, as to the origin of which I can offer no suggestion except that Santa Claus gave it to me in a fit of peculiarly fantastic goodwill.” 

G.K. Chesterton, Letter to The Tablet of London

Leave a comment

Filed under Quotes, Reflections

On the Calendar: St. John of the Cross

St. John of the Cross

Ora pro nobis!

“What we need most in order to make progress is to be silent before God… for the language He best hears is silent love.”

St. John of the Cross

For more of my thoughts on the saint who inspired the title of this blog, check out last year’s post.

Leave a comment

Filed under On the Calendar, Quotes