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It has been 6 months. 6 months since I’ve been in my childhood room. 6 months away from my family. 6 months away from the great state of Texas. Being home after a long period of time always makes me a little nostalgic. I begin to think of how things have changed since my last time home. How my bedroom is rearranged to be a guest room. How my parents attend Mass at a different church than my home parish. How my dog can’t greet me at the back door when I come home anymore. But I also think of how some things stand the test of time. How my mom and dad still tease each other about who’ll being doing the dishes. How my brother always uses me to practice his new two-step moves on. How Whataburger still is and always will be my favorite place to go for late night snacks. Everything about home simply amazes me.

But the most mind boggling part of returning home after such a long time away is realizing how much I have changed since I’ve been here last. The last time I laid in this bed was 6 months ago. At the time, my heart was healing from years of wounds. I was weary of a new relationship arising. I was my own worst critic. I was dead set on becoming an occupational therapist. My heart ached from the lack of friendship with my fellow women. I had change quickly approaching and I was afraid what was going to come of it.

Now, I sit in the same bed 6 months later. I’m here with a healed and mended heart capable to love and be loved. Happily in love with a man that’s merciful heart leads me to the Cross daily. Content in who I am and joyously accepting myself, even in my shortcomings. In authentic friendships with women that inspire me and push me towards Heaven. And I sit here excited to see what the future has in store for me, whatever it may be.

In just 6 short months, God has done some pretty big things in my life. 6 months ago, I could’ve never seen myself coming back home like this. If God had told me all the things that He had planned for me during that time, I probably would’ve laughed and said, “Yeah right.” But God likes to do that. He enjoys catching us off guard. He has fun in surprising us in the most unexpected ways. He finds joy in loving on us when we don’t suspect anything. And He never ceases to amaze me with His bountiful amount of blessings that He pours into my life. All I can do is praise the Lord for His constant goodness! Thanking Him for looking with favor upon me, His lowly servant. These past 6 months have been grace filled thanks to Our Loving Father.

Though time changes things and home becomes less and less familiar, it will always hold a special place in my heart. Although I may change, when I come home I’m reminded of how the Lord has been so good to me. How His work within me has been full of good fruit. I get to see who I used to be and reflect on His goodness in my life and how He has done marvelous work within my heart. Sometimes it can be sad, looking back and seeing how my home has changed drastically from my memories of it, but I find comfort that God has willed these changes. He does not wish for me to remain as I am. He longs for me to be in constant pursuit of His Most Sacred Heart. He asks me to open my heart to Him and allow Him to do as he wishes with me.

So cheers to being home! Cheers to the changes of heart, mind and soul that has occurred over the past 6 months! And lastly, cheers to a gracious Creator that loves us far too much to have us remain as we are!

Timeless Mercy

Mass. I participate in the celebration of Heaven touching earth every Sunday with all the angels and saints as we celebrate the Eucharist as one; One Church. But such an incredible celebration does not always receive the joyous celebration that it deserves. We get to be back at the Last Supper every single Mass with Jesus Himself. Giving His Body and Blood for us. If we truly realized this, we would DIE of JOY! But too often, we go through Mass almost mindlessly. Too often, we’ve forgotten the miracle that is happening on the altar.
I’m guilty of doing just that. Of taking for granted the literal MIRACLE of the Mass. And when we lose sight of what’s taking place right in front of our human eyes, God makes sure to remind us of what it’s all about.
This past Sunday (July 24th), I headed to the 5 o’clock Lifeteen Mass at my home parish like any other Sunday back home. I expected to see my normal parish priest, Fr. Wencil, to be celebrating Mass up on the altar as I am so used to. But this Sunday, though I came in expecting the normal, was anything but what I define as “normal.” The entrance song began and I see the altar servers proceed in, followed by the deacon and when I would normally find Fr. Wencil follow, a frail man was being pushed down the aisle in his wheel chair. Shocked by the change in priest, he began Mass. This priest was far past his “prime” but that wasn’t going to stop him. He was paralyzed on his entire right side of his body dues to a stroke he had in years past. He was retired due to his age and disability but here he was performing the celebration of Holy Communion for all of us.
Watching this frail old man act in persona Christi as he was wheeled up to the altar and spoke of mercy as the face of Christ crucified, it hit me. How he spoke of the mass as Jesus’ continuous giving of Himself every day; Calvary takes place on the altar and Jesus has chosen to endure Calvary over and over again simply because He loves us so stinkin’ much! On the white as snow altar, crimson blood is flowing out of Our Lord. My heart was coming to fully accept this reality after the Homily but it wasn’t until the Eucharistic Prayer that I saw what my heart had come to know.
The retired priest who had been helped around the altar all Mass in his wheelchair… He rose. The Church was dead silent because at that moment the entire congregation was witnessing a man hand all that he is to God. Nothing would stop him from celebrating Mass in its fullness. His great love for the Eucharist was so tangible, you could not ignore it even if you tried to.
My eyes were stunned by the sight they were beholding. Just that fact that he was standing, wow! But when it came time to change the bread and wine into the Body and the Blood, my heart was not ready for what was coming its way. The half paralyzed priest who had been holding himself up with his arms on the altar, he took his right hand, took the Host and raised the Body of Christ with one hand above his face as he consecrated the bread into the Body. In that moment, I wasn’t seeing a retired priest but Christ Himself- scourged, whipped, stripped- standing there upon the altar. He had already endured every pain imaginable for my sake, but He still gave of Himself, even when there seems to be nothing else to give. That instance, my heart was wrecked by Mercy. Gazing upon this priest brought me to the foot of the Cross, where I witnessed the most brutal murder but also the greatest act of love. Jesus didn’t need to give of Himself again and again but every Mass He stands beaten, bruised, broken and gives all that He has left for me. This love, so very real, is what He does for us every single second of every single day. My heart was transformed as I saw My Savior on the altar. Not only was I seeing Him, but He was gazing upon me too.
And what is one to do when Love sees them in their wholeness? Simply cry out of pure love, repentance, mercy. It was absolutely, without a doubt, the most beautiful moment in my life. Nothing else can compare.

A Call That Must Be Answered

“In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us.” – 2 Corinthians 8:2-5

Humble service. I have heard this time and time again, “You’ve been blessed with so much, it’s your duty to give back,” or something along those lines. Don’t get me wrong, I believe this to be true. We should all give to others as much as we can. But when people hear that and think of it in this way, the intentions behind service become out of pity. BIG red flag. Rather than selfless service to our brothers and sisters, it turns into, “Oh they’re less than me, so I should give them the things I can live without. My scraps. My hand-me-downs.” Things like this give us a mindset of serving others as a charity case rather than an act of love.

The Macedonians give us an example of the love which we should long to give. A love like Jesus Christ. “They voluntarily gave according to their means, and even beyond their means.” While in times of affliction, poverty, struggle, they gave. They gave more than they could afford to give. These people are like the people whom we, “feel sorry for.” The people who we give to because they don’t have it as good as us. But I’d say, they got it . They have what I want. They have the love, sacrificial love , that God has for all of us. And they aren’t keeping it to themselves, but they are spreading it to the world. Their love outweighs any and all material things. It is valued more than any amount of money. It’s a priceless gift and a grace from God Himself. We can’t put a value on it! As we get sucked into a world where individual success outweighs the well-being of all humanity, we begin to lose sight as to why we are here. We are not here for ourselves, oh Heavens no, we are here because of love. His love for us.

We walk on this earth for solely one fact: God loves us, oh, so much. He didn’t have to give us life, but He did and we must use the life we have been given as a way to point back at Him. We may be on this earth, but our lives are His alone. That’s what Paul is trying to tell the Corinthians, that we are given our lives freely, a pure grace, so we must give our lives BACK to Him. Become a slave of Christ and a vessel of the Holy Spirit. In order for the people to do such a thing as to give all that they have on this earth, they had to do something else first. “…they gave themselves first to the Lord and, by the will of God, to us.” Yes!!! When we decide to serve our fellow brothers and sisters, it is not done with an intention to look good to others or to make oneself feel better. No, no, no. When we serve Christ, fully and authentically, it is done solely out of love, which in itself is selfless. So when we are set out to serve the world, we must encounter Christ. Encounter love, the love which we shall spread to all nations. Once we’ve done so He directs us to those whom we are to serve. Becoming His instruments that shower His love upon the earth. Becoming the dirt which others walk on as they journey toward Christ.

Love Hurts… But It Hurts So Good

We all have heard it time and time again, “Love hurts.” Some may see it as to love someone so much and seeing it end can be painful, but my experience hasn’t been much of that. The love I’ve experienced these past few months are best explained through the cross. The ultimate sacrifice. God humbling Himself down to our flawed human form and choosing to save us from our sinful selves. Choosing to give up His own life so we may live with Him forever in Heaven. This love that strikes me down unto my knees. Completely in awe of Christ hanging on a tree. This Love that I will never be able to comprehend for it is so beyond me and my humanness. But, oh, how my heart finds refuge in this Love.

To love someone means so many meanings in our world today. People use it to describe a song, food, act or person. And then it gets even more complicated. You have love for your best friend, your parents, an author; the list goes on and on. In the midst of all of this, it’s easy to lose sight of what it truly means to love someone. I got lost in the mix of it all and wasn’t sure how to love. I could no longer recognize the true Love in my life. Instead of loving those around me with my whole heart, I kept some of it for myself. I’m still not entirely sure why I did this, most likely a combination of fear and distrust. But it was incomplete and I could tell. Unfortunately, I wasn’t sure what to do to change this. Loving with my whole heart is what I always hope to do and work towards. But why was it so hard? I could not wrap my head around why this love for others wasn’t fulfilling my heart.

For some time, my heart was seeking. At the time I didn’t know what was going on, but I knew I wasn’t content. I had heard time and time again how much God loves me and how He died on the cross for ME. But by hearing it over and over again, the reality of that statement had lost its impact on me. It was common knowledge and more of a fact than a belief. But, God knew exactly how to show me the Love that has been freely given to me. He has blessed me with some incredible brothers and sisters in Christ. They never fail to be the light of Christ in my life and He’s used others to open my eyes to the Love which was given to us on the cross. Despite my attempts to push away those who love me, those friends rooted in Christ persevere and love me when it is hardest. Through little and big sacrifices that they bears to show me love, they point me to the cross and the love of Christ. The sacrifice that bears the weight of the world. As Jesus sacrificed His life, He has called us to love one another in the same way. Love is not all rainbows and fairy dust, it’s tough, exhausting, a sacrifice. Oh, but it hurts so good.

Aimlessly Wandering

There are just times in college when you are looking at a problem for a good hour and half, trying to find what it is you must do to find the answer. It seems that you’ve exhausted every possible way of going about the problem and they have all failed miserably. During this time, your brain gets so fried that you begin to aimlessly stare at a blank page and fight the urge to just draw a picture of a T-Rex and call it a day. Yup, I’ve done that. Actually even this past week. Oh the joys of college. But something I’ve discovered in my pursuit to answer ridiculous calculus problems, no matter how hard I try a certain theorem, principle or test there is only ONE solution to the problem. I may feel like I’ve gotten the right answer from a different approach but nope. Nuh uh. Gotta start over.

It may seem from my tone of voice that there’s some underlying bitterness to this whole college thing, and yes in several ways there have been. It’s been quite a roller coaster so far but that’s beside the point. What I’m getting to here is no matter how hard I’d like for the choice I make to be the route to the answer, more times than not, it’ll be wrong. God likes to do this a lot. He allows us to have free will and choose where we go but if our will doesn’t match His, we’re always going to get to the wrong answer.

I’ve never put too much thought into this until about a month ago. When it comes to my life in big picture and what God wants me to do during my time on earth, I have pursued His Will above my own, or I hope I have. But I never knew how important it was for me to pursue His Will for me each and every day.

During this last week, a priest at my church gave his homily on the end of time when Christ will come back and make the great divide. Those who lived their lives comfortably and for themselves would be left, while those that submitted to His will above their own would be rewarded with complete unity with God forever…. If He came back right this instant, what side would I be on? I would love to say I am 100% positive I would be with Him forever, but I can’t. More times than not, I have gone about my life in my bubble that I formed years ago. It’s the safe zone, where I’m most comfortable and life isn’t much of a threat. But what’s the point of living in this state of complacency, if I’m not pursuing His will for me each and every day? I may have a consistent relationship with Him, but what kind of relationship is it if I say I’ll do something and in reality, don’t? There isn’t and when I realized this, something needed to change.

Despite how much I DREAD change in my life, that’s what God is calling me to. He wants me to be placed somewhere out of my comfort zone. Somewhere that I have no idea what to do because it is so foreign. Just thinking of it makes me have to catch my breath. It’s scary! I’m not going to lie, it terrifies me.  But despite the initial fear that comes to mind, I have been able to find peace. My heart is content and that’s why I know it is His will. As apprehensive as the whole idea that my entire world is going to be flipped upside down from what I thought God wanted for me, I am overwhelmed with excitement and joy for His plan. When our will matches His, our hearts are transformed to be like His.

At times it can be tough to hear Him and where He wishes to guide you. Our world is filled with noise and sometimes God’s voice gets blurred out from all the commotion. But do not fret, He isn’t going anywhere. In the silence, in the people He places in your life, in the Sacraments, everywhere, He is awaiting you to turn to Him and listen. Maybe He will speak to you in the breath of the wind, in praise and worship, in the silence, or in the words of a friend. He is all around us, we just have to take the time to listen to Him.

To Veil Or Unveil?

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For a good two years now, my heart has been drawn to veiling when in the presence of Christ. I never put much thought into doing so since I wasn’t very sure why women chose to veil in the first place. The women who I did know that veiled at Mass had grown up with it as a tradition and it seemed unnatural for someone already grown up to randomly choose to veil themselves. But the tug on my heart would not stop. The idea of humbling myself in front of The Lord in an outward form of expression kept stirring in my soul. Why wouldn’t I cover myself before Christ? By no means am I worthy of such a wonder as to consume Christ. But He has chosen to love me and humble Himself down to the bread in the host that becomes His Body. The Lord of the universe chose to humble Himself down to a small circle of bread for me? With all the power He contains, He decided not to use it on the world with extreme signs nor with unimaginable spectacles but chose to humble Himself to a form so vulnerable. Just as He chose to die on the cross for me, He’s chosen to make Himself so vulnerable that I may consume Him and be united with Him in a tangible and earthly way. We have a God who loves us so much to put aside His power and control He could choose to have over is, and instead become an edible piece of bread so that we may become more like Him when we are united with Him through the Eucharist.Knowing that, when receiving the Eucharist my heart is filled with an unfathomable joy.
The Mass, the wedding between Heaven and Earth, is taken place within each and everyone of us during Communion. Personally, as I approach Our Savior down the aisle of the church, it is my wedding day. I’m walking to my One and True Love, Jesus Christ. When I say, “Amen” I am saying, “I do” to being one with The Lord forever. When I receive My Savior, I’m kissing my bridegroom at the alter because He is the one who my heart longs to be one with. It only makes sense that He has called me to veil myself when I come to Him in the Eucharist. I am His bride and He is my bridegroom.
Look to Our Mother, the perfect spouse of the Holy Spirit, who gave the most beautiful fiat to The Lord as she said, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word”(Luke 1:38). She became the living tabernacle of Jesus for 9 months, and every Mass God allows me to become that same living tabernacle, even if it is just for a second. In Exodus, the Holy of Holies where God dwelt in the Ark of the Covenant was veiled by extravagant linens and material. Only the priest was allowed to enter once a year because of how sacred a place it was. The tabernacle is where God dwells. I, the entire Catholic Church, become The Lord’s tabernacle; the dwelling place of God. By His grace alone, we become the dwelling place of Our Lord and to me that’s kinda a HUGE deal.

Looking back at all of it, I don’t think there was ever a question: to veil or unveil? My groom is waiting for me every Mass to walk down that aisle to Him. Why not be His bride in an external way that personifies the pure joy of the union of my soul with its Creator?

Sehnsucht

As my first post I believe it is fitting that I give an explanation for the title of this blog, “Sehnsucht.” More likely than not, this is a new word to most people, and I would be lying if I said it was not for me. Recently I came across the word sehnsucht and it fascinated me. The dictionary describes sehnsucht as, “the inconsolable longing in the human heart for we know not what”; a yearning for a far, familiar, non-earthly land one can identify as one’s home.

One thing came to my mind when I read this definition; Heaven. As a child, I was told by my mom of how I always told her I wanted to go home, even when I was in my own house. And every time I exclaimed this to her, she asked me, “What do you mean? You are home.” But little six year old me was not talking about my earthly home, but my heavenly one. Even at the mere age of six, I had already realized where my heart wanted to be. A desire to be with my Creator was instilled in me at a young age and drove me through the years in all that I did. My one goal in life has become to reach complete unity with the Lord in Heaven. Ultimately, all of us should have Heaven as our final destination, or at least planning on it. And that is why every day, I strive to do all that I can to achieve that unity.

In the depths of our hearts, we all have a longing for something. Some try to satisfy this desire with love of another, some with some sort of substance, but nothing of this world will fulfill the needs we have. Only the love of the Father will quench the thirst we have inside of us. Therefore, that unknown longing in the human heart is not unknown, but rather very present to us. Sometimes it takes some trial and error for us to come to this conclusion, but that home we search for during our time on Earth is  to be united with Christ in Heaven. Little me had insight far beyond her years. Yet it is not until today that I can honestly say that the one and only sehnsucht I long for is eternity with my Father in Heaven.

Searching for sehnsucht in a world with false idols, secularism, and hedonism will not be a walk through the park. Entering into this battle will challenge my faith, but in the end I will prevail over all the odds and reach my final destination with triumph and be able to celebrate it with my Father.

“God created us to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this life, and then enjoy Him in the next life, in heaven.”  -St. Pius X