Holy Slavery

Orazio Lomi Gentileschi (Italian artist, 1563–1639) Madonna and Child

 

If you are friends with me on Facebook then you probably saw my post earlier saying that I was going on an internet hiatus for the entire month of December.  I didn’t really go into any details as to why, just that I would be back sometime around January 2nd.

Over the next 33 days, I will be going on a spiritual journey and preparing myself for Holy Slavery.  I know in our culture that anything with the word “slavery” sounds horribly, horribly wrong, but stick with me for a bit.  I’m not entering into the kind of slavery that you first imagine. Far from it. Instead I am going to be totally consecrating myself and my life to Jesus.

Please visit The New Evangelizers website if you want to know just what all is involved and what is meant by Total Consecration to Jesus Through Mary.  I had originally thought that I was going to post more about this topic, but I think that’s going to have to wait until after I return.

I know that many of you reading this (family included) are probably thinking that I’ve finally gone off the deep end and all that jazz.  *shrug*  That doesn’t bother me.  I’ve been waiting to undertake this for several months now and I’m excited to see what is in store for me.

May each of you have a blessed Advent and Christmas season!!!

Seeking God’s Guidance

I have been exceedingly happy and full of joy with life lately. Sure there are things out there that are a source of great stress for me, but over the course of life I’ve learned to manage the stress and get everything done.

*sigh*

There are however certain events that cause someone (me) to begin to prayerfully discern if they are still needed in particular ministries. I am involved in several, and I’ve felt a tug to get involved in one or two more, however before I get involved in anything else something is going to have to give. And so I have prayerfully begun to discern where it is that God wants me, where would my time and talents be the most beneficial, and all that jazz. Any extra prayers for my being able to hear and listen to the will of God would be great.

I feel almost as if I’m at a crossroads of sorts, and I don’t want to let anyone down, but I know that I’m going to have to do what is best for me and my family.

O creator past all telling,
you have appointed from the treasures of your wisdom
the hierarchies of angels,
disposing them in wondrous order
above the bright heavens,
and have so beautifully set out all parts of the universe.

You we call the true fount of wisdom
and the noble origin of all things.
Be pleased to shed
on the darkness of mind in which I was born,
The twofold beam of your light
and warmth to dispel my ignorance and sin.

You make eloquent the tongues of children.
Then instruct my speech
and touch my lips with graciousness.
Make me keen to understand, quick to learn,
able to remember;
make me delicate to interpret and ready to speak.

Guide my going in and going forward,
lead home my going forth.
You are true God and true man,
and live for ever and ever.

               –St Thomas Aquinas, 1225-74

Stewardship

The month of October went by very fast and I was very busy.  Never fear, I have returned.  As you may know, there is an election here in the US that is about to take place, and I don’t know about you but I’m so tired of hearing about it. I feel emotionally drained by all the vitriol out there towards both of the major candidates.  The mood in our country is so divisive right now and no one seems to want to hear the other side out.  It definitely has this mood of “I’m right on everything and you’re wrong, and you must agree with me or else.”  I may be looking forward to November 7th because then I won’t have to hear about why you should vote for so and so, but I’m not looking forward to hearing people say that because so and so won it’s your fault if you voted for him or someone else because now our nation is going to go down the crapper.  Especially if you vote third-party, then which ever side looses will cry out that those who voted third-party took their vote away from whomever lost.  And that’s all I will say about that for now.

About a month ago, I was asked to stand before the congregation at my parish and give a short talk about the many blessings of stewardship that my family and I have received from giving. I’m so very thankful that they gave me a month to prepare for it; I just wish that all that time would have helped me get over my nerves.  Last night I spoke for the first time in front of everyone, and I get to do it again later this morning. It went well last night and I received a lot of praise for my witness; now to just not be as nervous today when I speak before a larger crowd.  Here is the transcript of my witness:

Hello, my name is Christina, and I’m here to share with you the many blessings that God has given to me and my family through our stewardship.  For the past 6 ½ years I have joyfully been married to my best friend, Michael.  4 ½ years ago, we were blessed with our first child, Alexandra, and 2 years later Owen was born. Many have asked me if we are done now that we have a girl and a boy. I can honestly tell you I don’t know.

Why do I bring this up? Because we are called be good stewards of all the gifts God has given us. Everything that we have is from God:  our bodies, talents, time, and yes our material wealth.  I’m not going to tell you about why nor how we are to be good stewards of our bodies. That is a talk for another place, time, and for someone more knowledgeable than I.

I wasn’t always a good steward, but then I didn’t have the best examples growing up. My parents never gave to any charities, and when they would go to church they gave exactly $2; one for me and one for my brother to place in the collection basket.

Flash forward to my adulthood and I still thought that putting a couple of bucks into the basket was more than enough. Being married to Michael has changed all of that. One day, He wrote down a number and said, “This is what we should be giving.” Seeing that number terrified me. At that time we were both employed and I still felt as if money was tight. I worried about how we could make ends meet. Then, I took a deep breath and decided to take a leap of faith and said, “Okay, let’s do it.”

Every year he writes down a number, I get a lump in my throat – even more so now that we have two kids and are on a single income – and then I take that deep breath and agree. But you know what we are still able to pay all of our bills and our lifestyle hasn’t changed very much since we began to give more. God has provided all that we need to make it work.

Perhaps money is so tight that giving from your treasure isn’t an option for you. Never fear…Remember God’s gifts are many.

If you have the time, volunteer for one of the many ministries here at the Church. Some of them only require that you help during Mass, for example lector, usher, greater, sacristan, and extra-ordinary Eucharistic minister.  Perhaps your gift lies in a special talent. There’s a place for you as well. If singing is your thing, see about joining the Choir. If it’s decorating, find out how you can get involved in decorating the Church.

Maybe there’s a ministry or group of some sort that isn’t currently here at Saint Mike’s. No worries. Just get in touch with Father Milhton and Michelle Green. If it’s plausible and something that will benefit and help grow the Church, you’ll most likely be given the green light. For example:  I’ve wished we had a Bible study group that touched on many topics of our beautiful faith. And now I’m facilitating such a group on Thursday evenings.

Being involved and plugged into our parish has been a huge blessing to me. My husband and I have been parishioners here for about five years. I don’t know about him, but I never felt overly welcomed here. I felt as if the only ministries here were geared toward either the Jr. High/High school crowd or those whose kids were already grown. What I wanted most of all was to feel a real sense of community here at this parish…to make it my home.

Two years ago, I sat where you are now and decided to check off every box that I was either A) slightly interested in or B) wanted to know more about. That year I became an extra-ordinary Eucharistic minister, attended a St. Vincent de Paul meeting, and heard back from several other ministries that unfortunately didn’t fit into my busy mom schedule.

Since then I have also become a member of Kathy’s RCIA team and a sponsor to those coming home by becoming Catholic. My spiritual growth is so blessed now. Not only do I get to minister to those becoming Catholic in the RCIA program or those who want to learn more about the Church via Bible Studies, I get to do the most incredible thing of giving Christ in the most Blessed Sacrament to each of you.

I want to give you a challenge this week: to prayerfully consider giving more of yourself to Christ and His Church either from your time, your talent, or your treasure. And remember, that God really does provide and without Him we have nothing.