Thursday, February 26, 2009

CL: Today

Today I had a rare chance to do a solo road trip, and thus to spend some time contemplating in silence. My mind went to my involvement in CL and what it means to me right now.

I realize now that what attracted me so strongly to CL when I first encountered it was this sense that I was being given myself back. It was a strong sense of affirmation of those aspects of myself that I found difficult to affirm because they felt too unique. I think this is at least part of what Fr. Giussani calls the "I" of a person. What I experienced was this "I" being called out into fellowship in the Church and into the world, to love. I still remember the sense I had after watching Fr. Giussani (on dvd) expound on the gospel where John and Andrew first encounter Christ. I spent that afternoon sighing in a way that released something pent up in me for decades. It was like a cutting through of so much second-guessing of myself to embrace that yes, God really does mean for me to be me.

So, it's kind of funny right now. The other night I was reading something written by the current leader of CL, Fr. Carron. I know the general point of what he was saying, but the verbiage was so dense (verbiage being a big sticking point for me) that it hit me like a lot of blah blah blah. In general, a lot of the CL spiritual reading just isn't gripping me right now, which is odd for a woman who was lead to the Catholic Church primarily by reading. I'm finding it distracting me from prayer rather than leading me to it.

At the same time, I am really excited by my life. This sounds lame and trite, but it is true. I keep being struck over and over by the realization that real human beings have real human needs, and pointing myself towards those needs seems far more vital and life-giving than reading about theology right now. I recognize this as a fruit of CL in my life. It's just kind of funny to me that the fruit of CL leads me to not really want to sit around and wallow in CL texts.

The whole Legion of Christ debacle of late has impressed on me the absolute necessity, regardless of which other Christians may impact our lives, of conscious allegiance to the gospel of Christ alone. I heard a really great homily today in which the priest spoke of the supreme danger of life being the temptation of living according to someone else's expectations (including one's own), other than Jesus' expressed in the gospel. I think this is what St. Paul must have meant when he was trying to straighten out people who claimed to follow Peter or Apollos or Paul, or Christ. While we cannot divorce ourselves from the body of Christ and become our own judges of truth, beauty and goodness, we also cannot be said to be leading others as Christ if we add or detract from the gospel as it is entrusted to the Church, or if we try to make some servant of Christ into something else, like someone who excuses us from following Christ ourselves, because we watch him follow Christ and applaud from the sidelines. An ape can imitate actions. Ah, but it is the heart that must follow Christ, and this each one must move him or herself, compelled by Christ's call.

CL reproposes the basic truths of Christianity in a time when this proposal is desperately needed not just "in the world" but in the Catholic Church. I, personally, have a tendency to hold things too tightly, to make them about me, to make that which is helpful into a box to lock myself into (aka a coffin). It takes courage to live without a coffin. So I just find it very interesting that the Lord who calls me to CL also is making sure I don't make CL my coffin, a new way to shut out the world and shut myself in with "nice people like me". CL and other charisms seem a little like John the Baptist, whose work it was just to point to the Lamb of God. Only charims are, of course, Christian, and therefore in a way in pointing to Christ they point to themselves as Christ's body. Yet, "not I live, but Christ who lives in me." There's some subtle nuance there, and while I can't articulate it well, I feel like I am experiencing what it means.

Food and Freedom

This thought-provoking article which expresses the view that obsession with "healthy eating" is no different than anorexia was posted recently in the "O diet" forum of which I am a member.

I responded with the comments below:

I am a parent and this article is very relevant to me. I have seen the effect of being restrictive with my [type O] 7yo son, who is what some would call strong willed. He will now go to a salad bar and eat everything -- and only that -- which is not on the O diet.

I believe the issue is not really health food vs. junk food, but the issue is respecting the individual freedoms of our children. We can advise, we can lead by example, we can not bring certain foods home, but lecturing about how some things are awful are better left to be learned by experience. So much better if kids learn to think for themselves about what their bodies thrive on and what makes them feel yucky.

My husband just will not stop bringing home gross candy & chemical-laden sweets that I would never buy. It is an issue. But I will admit it helped me lay off being the (pardon the expression) food Nazi in our house, a role I undertook because I lacked this ability to be gentle with and respectful of my own freedom when starting the O diet.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Getting the Point of Lent

I heard a great homily yesterday that was a good segue to Lent, all about how the disciples really missed the point when they were arguing about who was greatest. Jesus had just revealed that he was going to be betrayed, suffer, and die, and they were hung up on debating which of them was the most special. The priest illustrated his homily with an example of Christians fighting over when to pray the Divine Mercy chaplet, and he pointed out how we can miss the point of Lent, or indeed the Christian life in general, when it becomes all about us, all about me.

I have tried to do Lent like an endurance contest, and I have done Lent as if penances are a minor annoyance. This year I want to walk through Lent with Jesus. The Church of course gives us the basic guide of how that is done, and of course I am free within my relationship with Christ to choose little gifts to give to Him. But the point is Him.

I am still thinking about this blog post from Willa entitled Serenity and Vigilance. Serenity speaks to me of not getting myself worked up. Vigilance speaks of watching, pondering, being with. Both speak to me using my mind in fully intentional ways, prudent ways. This is what I want to keep pondering as we enter this season of preparing for the high holy day of Easter.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Organic Co-op Raided at Gunpoint for Lack of a Permit

On December 1, 2008, the Ohio Department of Agriculture and the Lorraine County health department executed a search and seizure SWAT raid against the Stower family, who operated a food co-op for friends and neighbors from their home. Snipers were stationed outside the home. Two women, ten children being homeschooled, along with babies and toddlers, were corralled at gunpoint while a dozen agents swept through the house for six hours, taking co-op property along with the family's personal meat supply for the coming year, and the computer the family's daughter-in-law used to communicate with her husband, stationed in Iraq.

Oh, and the search warrant had expired.

The family lacked a permit to operate a retail operation. This is a 3rd degree misdemeanor in Ohio, and the family had been in communication with the health department, asking for legal documentation to prove or disprove that the allowed exemption to the permit requirement did not apply to them.

This account includes a statement from the Stowers. Read comments from the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund and the Buckeye Institute.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Ohio Joins the Move to Remind the Feds of the 10th

Ohio is one of the states currently working towards a vote on a resolution to inform the federal government of the contents of the 10th amendment to the constitution.

If you live in Ohio, visit this website to sign the petition in favor of the state's rights resolution and constitutional limits on federal government.

If you don't live in Ohio, perhaps you live in one of the other states who either has already passed, proposed, or is working on legislation of a similar nature?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

What Happens When You Follow Jesus?

One of my favorite gospel passages is when Jesus calls Matthew to follow him. (Already, an aside: I saw what I think is the worst portrayal of this in the children's version of the Jesus movie. It showed Jesus walking up to Matthew, the two with no apparent history. Jesus stares at him, walks past him, and says "Follow me" while walking away. Matthew gets up, follows down the road, and suddenly he is a disciple. The movie proves the mere literal portrayal of Scripture as dreadfully one-dimensional and begging for an infusion of humanity.)

Ok, back to that gospel passage (Mt. 9:9-10). Jesus issues the call to Matthew to follow Him, and where do you find them immediately afterward? At Matthew's house having dinner at a big party. I love that! Is Matthew following Jesus, or is Jesus following Matthew? Or does Jesus lead Matthew back to his own self, to deal with what is really there? That is how it has always struck me. When Jesus bids me follow Him, it is because He wants His life deeper in me.

Some time ago I wrote about an experience of being welcomed into my church choir. I have since joined. (After that post, what else could I do?) It was a following Christ thing, and yes, lo and behold, I find Christ using it to gain deeper access to my heart. I can't really explicate exactly how it is happening yet. I'm guessing it is about 10% sprouted at this point. But this much I can say: I've never been very good at just owning my abilities, talents, or assets. My reaction to this expression of my "I" has been either a self-deprecating denial (which begs contradiction) or a self-conscious and egotistical self-aggrandizement. The latter has left me burnt out with super hero self-expectation, and sometimes has led me to accept responsibilities that don't fit me well. Recent seasons of my life have seen me flying under the radar of various social commitments and responsibilities. This has felt very good, and has given me lovely breathing room to grow up at my own pace.

And here I am in the choir. There is something about a talent community** coming together. Everyone is there to give something of themselves -- of their very soul, really. If you are fortunate (we are) it is under the direction of someone capable of eliciting good things from other human beings. (This talent amazes me.) Everyone struggles to some degree. And yes I mean with the notes but I also mean on a more basic human level of giving, for whatever the reason. Yet there is one desire shared, to give the best one can give.

That's the best I can do right now to explicate. Like I said, 10%.

There's another endeavor I've gotten into recently (which deserves a post of its own), the Jefferson County Federated Republican Women (JCFRW). This has been humorous to me, since I have always shuddered at the thought of association with political parties. More on that later. Of all things, I am not only a member of JCFRW but an executive officer! But I have been really amazed to watch the excellent work these women do. It is inspiring. It's yet another example of talents pooled and group efforts bringing together something of much greater service than what one individual could do.

Right now I think I'm doing what some children do when entering a new environment. They step back, watch, and see what happens when others venture in.

So stay tuned for the emergence of the other 90%.

** Terms like "talent community" remind me of the goofy-speak I first encountered as a new Catholic. It makes a point, which is why I used it here, but honestly I strongly dislike phrases like this. Please say parish, not "faith community." Btw, I also really got a hoot out of the word "rectory" in those days. Is that where the proctologist lives? I wondered.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Memory and Journey

Many years ago, when I had not yet been received into the Church but had begun attending daily Mass, I did not know that February 11th is the feast of our Lady of Lourdes. But I remember arriving for the 5:30pm Mass on that day, and as I prayed beforehand, my mind kept going towards healing. I sensed the Lord desired for me to pray for healing. Then Mass stated and the feast day was mentioned in the prayers and I made the "aha!" connection.

This is just one of the many little memories I have of those days when, due to the dire circumstances of my life -- that of being drawn to the Catholic faith without the benefit of having any real Catholic friends about me -- the Holy Spirit did a lot of interior tutoring within the context of Holy Mass. Daily Mass was my primary catechesis then (Fr. John my primary catechist), and in many ways the liturgy still has this function for me. Thankfully now I am surrounded with friends who are walking the path of discipleship with me.

I've been thinking a lot about my spiritual journey of late because of conversation with an old friend which has come to focus on Protestant/Catholic doctrinal differences. Mostly I am simply amazed. Face to face with the most pure, the most lovely, the most humble, the Almighty God of the universe, for me there is only love. My sin, my pain, my deformation, my arrogant blatherings and mess-makings -- the worst that I could possibly dish out -- all transformed like little dandelion seeds that puff away with one breath of His mouth. His desire is to touch me, to hold me, to dance, to be one: and I -- I am transformed. What can I say but "Lord! I am not worthy to receive You, but only say the word and I shall be healed."

Something I appreciate very much about this aforementioned friend is that there is no need for our conversation to even touch on questions of "how much" the Lord "requires" of us or "whether" the Lord has permission for this, that, or other from either of us. It is a given, for both of us, that the Lord's desire toward us be met with complete, thorough-going abandon. On that point, we have received a formation that is very similar. This gives me great joy. We differ on how we know what the Lord's will is. This causes me some pain, but I entrust the pain and my friend to Our Lord and Our Lady, knowing that it is to his own master than each servant stands or falls (Rom. 14:4)

He has shown thee, oh man, what is good, and what the Lord requires of thee: but to do justice and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God (Micah 6:8)

Sunday, February 01, 2009

That Jesus is with us makes all the difference

On the first of every month, Our Lord gives Anne a new message about His call to service.

February 1, 2009


Dearest apostles, how lovingly heaven ministers to you in your hard work. If you are moving calmly, from one task to the next, conscious of heaven’s presence in your day, then you do not feel overwhelmed. If, on the other hand, you forget that heaven is with you and that you are only one part of a big plan, you may be feeling overwhelmed or feeling that you may not have what you need to fulfil your part of My plan. I have designed your life in such a way that you can live it in each moment with Me. I have all that you need for every moment of time. Your service is important to heaven. It is so important to heaven that heaven would not risk leaving you without the necessary graces for each task we have assigned to you. Are you working hard? Are you carrying a heavy cross? Are you worried about your loved ones? Are you lonely? I have the graces for you. I have what you need both to be holy yourself and to allow others to draw from your holiness. I am here, with you, working through you and alongside you, and I am sturdy. I will not falter, dear apostle. I will not change my mind about you. I love you today and I have loved you for a long time. I know you. I know what you need. You are making progress. Your willingness to sit quietly and read My words, conscious of My love for you, gives Me happiness. Allow My graces to give you happiness. Allow My graces to give you a light heart. Yes, there is work to be done, but not work without joy. Yes, there are crosses to be carried, but not carried without trust. You are concerned for your loved ones but I share your concern and I bless your prayers and efforts on their behalf. You may be lonely, dear apostle, but you are not alone. Rejoice. I am with you.