This is the Sea of Galilee.
That’s the sea Jesus walked across, in the midst of a storm, to get to his disciples, who were rowing through the storm in an attempt to reach the other side.
Photo credit: Frank Starmer. More awesome pictures here.
He is Jesus. I am Marie. I’m not capable of a lot of the amazing stuff Jesus accomplished in his short lifetime. Something about that whole divine-and-human thing, perhaps? So I’m the kind of person who has to get in a boat and actually row across the sea to get to where I’m going. No walking on the water for me. But moving on…
The visiting priest at Mass today actually reflected back on last Friday and Saturday’s gospel readings, to tie them into today’s.
(FYI: Friday - Jn 6:1-15, Saturday - Jn 6:16-21, today - Jn 6:30-35.)
When it was evening, the disciples of Jesus went down to the sea,
embarked in a boat, and went across the sea to Capernaum.
It had already grown dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them.
The sea was stirred up because a strong wind was blowing.
When they had rowed about three or four miles,
they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat,
and they began to be afraid.
But he said to them, “It is I. Do not be afraid.”
They wanted to take him into the boat,
but the boat immediately arrived at the shore
to which they were heading.
And Fr. Joe made me laugh when he summed it up as such - the disciples, here they are fretting and waiting for Jesus (who was up on the mountainside praying, if you look back at the previous verses) and they’re rowing and rowing for miles in this storm, and then Jesus shows up. And before they even have the time to fret on how to get him off the sea and into their boat, they’re at the shore. Boom. And Jesus is all, “couldn’t take an extra few moments to pray, but had to get out there and tackle the storm, eh? Well, I took those extra few moments, and did we not arrive at the shore at the same time? Think on that.” (not a real quote. obviously.)
I’m stubborn. Sometime it takes quite a few iterations of the same exact thing for me to have one of those ‘lightbulb’ moments. Well, apparently the disciples had the same issue at times. We can look at the tasks ahead and think, “I’m going to have to climb out of bed this morning and buckle down to work first thing if I plan to accomplish everything I need to.” And how simple that segues into “I can’t possibly take the time to pray this morning. Or during the midst of my day. Or before I go to sleep. Just too much to do.”
And then hours, or miles, later, we’re left with that realization that nigh everything is easier when the burden is shared. And those 10 minutes we couldn’t seem to find in the morning to focus, not on ourselves and our problems, but on the Creator who loves us and wants to walk (or row) with us through all those problems… well, we suddenly realize those 10 minutes could have made the next 100 that much easier.
(Today’s) Psalm 31: In you, O Lord, I seek refuge; do not let me ever be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me. Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily. Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me. You are indeed my rock and my fortress; for your name’s sake lead me and guide me, take me out of the net that is hidden for me, for you are my refuge.
So what did I get out of today? Don’t fight the storm for miles and miles before turning to the God who loves you. Start there, and then tackle all the rest of it.
Direct quote from Matthew Kelly’s Rediscovering Catholicism (which just happened to be on the bookshelf in the chapel during my Holy Hourandahalf last week):
The reason prayer and contemplation are so integral to the Christian life is because thought determines action. Thought determines action, and so the actions of your life are determined by your most dominant thoughts.
Certain thoughts give birth to certain actions. With each passion day God invites you to change, to grow, and to become a better version of yourself. God loves you as you are, but he loves you too much to let you stay that way.
Kelly continues in this vein for a while, and I didn’t write down page numbers so I can’t properly cite the passages (librarian fail) but his conclusion to this line of thinking rests in the discernment of a vocation. As such, he says that there is but one question that, when actively and earnestly sought, can lead one to actual happiness in this earthly world: "God, what do you think I should do?"
Ah, a reminder unlike any other - the best part of this question is that it’s never old, or tired, or cliche. It’s the timeless question. Sure, there are times of the day where I don’t need to ask it - for example, the answer to “should I make coffee this morning” is always yes, because I believe in a loving God - but there’s never really a time in life where I can say “by George, I’ve got it! I understand everything now and know exactly how it’s all going to go down!”
With that out of the way, there have been a number of times in life where I’ve said “repeat the quote that concludes the paragraph above”. Apparently I don’t always get the memo the first time around. But isn’t that the beauty? Every time I’ve figured out that I’ve gotten it wrong because I’ve stopped, looked, and listened, and realized to start asking “God, what do you think I should do?” Is it sad that it sometimes takes me trying to be in complete control and failing miserably at it to remember this? Sure, it’s sad. But it’s also the beauty of redemption - one failing does not a failure make, whatsoever.
Simple thoughts? Perhaps, but if our thoughts determine our actions, then perhaps thinking more about remembering to cede control of those aspects of life I can’t control to the God who wants to be a guiding force will lead me to act more in ways that recognize this truth. And based on previous experience, that would definitely be a positive change.
Let’s start with the important news: my team’s hockey season isn’t over… YET. In a game which could have been the eliminating 4-game sweep, the Penguins ended up taking it to Philly, in Philly, and won 10-3. (Yes, 10 goals. In a hockey game.) So at least there’s that. Game 5 is tonight, in Pittsburgh, and I’m currently wearing my #71. Do or die, boys. Step up. #PensIn7
<—I like this slightly old-school logo.
I finally got my haircut last Friday. It had been since September. So, it’s shorter, lighter, not nearly as psychotic - oh, okay, it’s just as psychotic as before - and I like it. Now it can grow out for another 6+ months, because I’m such a cheapskate that I simply refuse to get my haircut frequently.
I made some fantastic oatmeal peanut butter banana bars this week. A good way to use up a ripe banana that was just too mushy to eat on its own, plus, I love oatmeal. Also, peanut butter. Here’s the recipe if you’re intrigued!
And here’s the picture if you’re not tempted yet…
Yesterday I attended the #140cuse conference. You can search twitter for that hashtag, but there were 12k+ tweets, so it could be confusing. The wrap-up is that is focused on social media, new media, “the state of now”, and featured lots of different speakers/representatives. I met the co-creator of Reddit, social media team members from Wegmans, a school administrator from Canada…it was a definite mixed bag of people. My favorite presentation was probably the social media guy from MLB, who went through the history of Sept. 28, 2011, and how things went down on day 162 of the regular season last year. Very cool.
I’m done with this semester in about 10 days. They are going to be some very long days, indeed. Pray for my sanity! I’ve made it this far; I know I can finish.
I am somewhat last-minute-decidedly going to my cousin’s wedding next month. Because it’s so far away (South Carolina), I’ll be gone for almost an entire week. Not only will I get to see my parents again, but my sister, her husband, several aunts, uncles, many cousins, my grandmother… it’s basically a family reunion of sorts. Exciting! (And a lovely post-semester gift.)
I kinda miss Lent already, but I’m not entirely sure why. I just felt so very focused. Perhaps I need to come up with 40-day-at-a-time challenges for myself. There’s something about breaking things down into manageable pieces that makes it more motivating and, mentally, reinforces the idea that I can actually succeed. While I do try to “be the best version of [myself]” everyday, it’s more overwhelming some days than others… and life is just one heck of a long string of days, if we’re so fortunate. To be continued as I ponder more.
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Have you ever looked around at the massive number of people - perhaps you’re one of them; sometimes I am - walking around in this great beautiful world, insulated by those little pieces of plastic we call headphones?
Of what are we so afraid? Is it the silence inherent in loneliness? Is it that we might hear the plaintive cries of one of our fellow persons, and be forced to act? Are our headphones simply an attempt to avoid that which is unpleasant? After all, if I have my headphones on at the park, I can’t hear the two schoolgirls discussing their crackhead mom and her inability to stay sober. And I can’t take on at least a small fraction of the pain they’re feeling, as they spend hours at the park escaping the place they call ‘home’. And I don’t have to worry, days later, how they might be doing.
And if I have my headphones on while riding the bus to campus, I don’t have to hear the student fighting with her boyfriend. I don’t have to hear stories about drunk and high students and the drama that ensued Saturday night (and Sunday morning). I don’t have to be surrounded by the collapse of society - or at least, a microcosm of the world that seems to indicate a collapse of society.
But then again, with my headphones on…
I would never think to pray for the little girls at the park. And I wouldn’t have the opportunity to pray for their protection from the destructive forces around them.
And I wouldn’t hear the other student on the bus, discussing the great plans she has to make the world a better place, with the other student who is encouraging and lifting her up, and being a true friend and supporter.
And I wouldn’t bother to say a cheery “thank you! same to you.” to the bus driver, because I wouldn’t hear him say “have a great day, Miss” as I walked away. And because I wouldn’t hear him say that, and I wouldn’t reply, I wouldn’t see the bright smile that came about as a result of just one of the many nameless faces that walk past every morning taking five seconds to acknowledge his presence.
Mother Theresa, in a long commentary on silence, said the following:
"In nature we find silence — the trees, flowers, and grass grow in silence. The stars, the moon, and the sun move in silence.
Silence of the heart is necessary so you can hear God everywhere — in the closing of a door, in the person who needs you, in the birds that sing, in the flowers, in the animals.”
(taken from “In The Heart of the World”, 2010)
And just a week ago, in his Wednesday address, Pope Benedict XVI said the following:
“Interior and exterior silence are necessary in order that this word may be heard. And this is especially difficult in our own day. In fact, ours is not an age which fosters recollection; indeed, at times one has the impression that people have a fear of detaching themselves, even for a moment, from the barrage of words and images that mark and fill our days.”
(excerpt taken from March 7, 2012 address to the Wednesday general audience; translation available at http://www.zenit.org/article-34420?l=english)
A challenge - one I have no right to issue, but do so anyway: contemplate. What are you avoiding, but even moreso, what are you missing? God speaks to us in silence, surely - but we innately tend to hide from that silence. Perhaps then, just perhaps, he is speaking to us in the voices around us. He has a habit of finding us where we are…
Sidenote/correlary: while I was thinking about this, and starting to put together this post, the song “Headphones” by Jars of Clay came on my Pandora. I’ve never heard this song before. So there’s that. I post an excerpt of the lyrics here:
At the Tube Stop, you sit down across from me
(I can see you looking back at me)
I think I know you
By the sad eyes that I see
I want to tell you
(It’s a heavy world)
Everything will be okay
You wouldn’t hear it
(I don’t want to have to hear it)
So we go our separate ways
With our headphones on, with our headphones on…
I’m talking about part of the Mass, specifically the words we pray before reception of the Eucharist.
Previously - before this “new translation of the old Latin” - we said the following:
Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.
We now pray:
Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.
Ask any practicing, Mass-attending Catholic how this went over the first few weeks after the implementation of the new translation here in the US. At my parish here in NY, St. Daniel, there were some interesting variations, to say the least. I’ll admit to even wanting to laugh at the imagery/wordplay inherent in the use of the word ‘roof’.
Oddly enough, this was one of the first “new translation” prayers that was picked up easily by the congregation (again, using my parish as the example). Perhaps it was just tricky enough, with the changed terminology, to encourage participants to read the pew cards instead of stumble-mumbling through it. I’m not sure the reason; all I know is that we’re back in unison again just a few short months after the big switch.
Today, it hit me, in a special way, why I love the new translation (of the old.)
1.) The parallel to the scripture is all the more apparent.
Matthew 8: 5-8, RSV (for brevity; I recommend verses 5-13 for the whole ‘picture’, but I don’t want to take up too much space. )
(5) As he entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, beseeching him (6) and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, in terrible distress.” (7) And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” (8) But the centurion answered him, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant will be healed.
2.) When I think ‘receive’, I tend to think ‘passive’. There is an action - the giving - and the counteraction is to receive the gift. But the Eucharist is much more than just a gift to be received. Yes, it is that, but it is more.
My thoughts turned this way: when I receive a gift, I take it, and I do something with it. Depending on the manner of the gift, I may place it on a shelf, hang it on a wall, set it on a table to be looked at later, shelve it among the many items on my bookshelf, wear it, eat it, or spend it.
When I receive the Eucharist, I answer an invitation, I sign the RSVP card to attend the party and the reception, and I promise to do my best to be worthy of such an invitation. I state with the entirety of my soul that though today I am not worthy, I will accept, internalize, and cooperate with grace. I won’t use my unworthiness as an excuse; rather, I sign an agreement to be greater than what the world sets as expectations.
That’s not just receiving a gift. That’s more.
If someone knocks on your door - friend or stranger - and you let them in your house, they will stay until one of two things happens: they need to leave and go elsewhere, or you ask them to leave.
If there’s one thing I know, and just one thing, it is that Christ doesn’t abandon us. Ever. Even when the world eclipses us and it would appear there isn’t a single beam of light to bring us out of darkness, He is there. We need but turn our heads to see the light. So knowing this, I know that accepting the invitation of the Eucharist by offering our own invitation to Christ to enter under our roof, is to invite a guest into our very soul. And not just any guest - the kind that doesn’t leave until we kick him out. And let’s face it, even then, he will not abandon us. A God of love does not abandon his children.
And then I realized just how great the Father’s love is for his children. We’re not lucky, but we are blessed - continually, unfailingly, blessed - with an absolute gift.