Who We Are in Christ – Catholic

September 20th, 2011 | Posted by Bryn in Faith - (Comments Off on Who We Are in Christ – Catholic)

This is an awesome video that I wanted to share. It focuses on being Catholic as who we are not as something we do. It is part my identity.

I was raised Catholic, so some may say that I just don’t know any different. While that may partly be true, I have done Bible studies with people of Protestant denominations and have taken several classes on world religions. These learning activities have reinforced my belief that the traditions of the Catholic Church are just as important to my faith as the Bible, the word of God.

Catholic or not, let me know what you think of the video.

Word of God Speak – On Forgiveness

September 11th, 2011 | Posted by Bryn in Faith - (Comments Off on Word of God Speak – On Forgiveness)

There are days when God’s word speaks so directly to me that it would be a sin not to acknowledge it. Today is definitely one of those days.

It’s no coincidence that today, the ten year anniversary of the most appalling act of terror our country has experienced, the Mass readings and Gospel are on forgiveness.

The first reading is Sirach 27:30-28:7

Wrath and anger are hateful things,
yet the sinner hugs them tight.
The vengeful will suffer the LORD’s vengeance,
for he remembers their sins in detail.
Forgive your neighbor’s injustice;
then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven.
Could anyone nourish anger against another
and expect healing from the LORD?
Could anyone refuse mercy to another like himself,
can he seek pardon for his own sins?
If one who is but flesh cherishes wrath,
who will forgive his sins?
Remember your last days, set enmity aside;
remember death and decay, and cease from sin!
Think of the commandments, hate not your neighbor;
remember the Most High’s covenant, and overlook faults.

The bold section is the part I wanted to highlight. 9/11 was the greatest tragedy this generation of Americans has seen; there is no doubt about that. Of course, many were and are still angry at the terrorists, letting their fury consume them. The initial reaction from our entire country was that we needed to start kicking @$$ and punish those who had shaken us to our core. Our government has taken the necessary actions in trying to protect us from another attack, and those who lost their lives are honored today and every day.

However, it is clear from this passage, that God is calling each one of us to forgive in our own hearts. Forgive those who hate us. It seems contrary to instinct – our minds say, But this is righteous anger! How can we just let this go? 

I still believe we should never forget what happened, and we should honor all those who died as heroes for our country. I just don’t think we need to carry around any hate for others in our hearts, even for those who have committed heinous acts. I hate what the terrorists did. I hate that they killed, maimed, and destroyed our sense of security. I hate their actions, but I forgive them in my heart because that’s what God tells us we need to do.

So – Could anyone nourish anger against another and expect healing from the LORD? No. Although my sins may not be as treacherous or as apparent as the sins of the terrorists, if I am to receive God’s forgiveness, I need to forgive others.

Just remember, our God is just, and we don’t need to keep anger or hate in our hearts for the terrorists. God will take care of them. The vengeful will suffer the LORD’s vengeance, for he remembers their sins in detail.

The Gospel is Matthew 18:21-35. Part of that reading says:

Peter approached Jesus and asked him,
“Lord, if my brother sins against me,
how often must I forgive?
As many as seven times?” 
Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.”

We are all called to be more like Christ, toward holiness. If we truly want to be like Him, we need to forgive. Today, I am starting by forgiving the terrorists. Each day, I want to examine my own heart and figure out if I am carrying any resentment toward anyone in my own personal life and really start forgiving and letting things go.

On the anniversary of such tragic events, will you take time to start to forgive those who have hurt you?

Are You a Singer or a Thudder? Nothing Can Separate Us From the Love of Christ.

August 2nd, 2011 | Posted by Bryn in Faith | Living Simply - (Comments Off on Are You a Singer or a Thudder? Nothing Can Separate Us From the Love of Christ.)

My honey and I celebrated our anniversary last weekend with dinner and a show at our local community theatre. It was an awesome Saturday date night, and Sunday morning we attended Mass with our kids and my parents, as usual. The second reading for Sunday was Romans 8:35, 37-39, which reads

Brothers and sisters:
What will separate us from the love of Christ? 
Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine,
or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? 
No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly
through him who loved us. 
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life,
nor angels, nor principalities,
nor present things, nor future things,
nor powers, nor height, nor depth,
nor any other creature will be able to separate us
from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

During his sermon, Father Tom talked about this reading and used a very good metaphor for our attitudes when it comes to Christ’s love. He said that when a potter makes a vessel, the way he knows if it is a “good” is to thump it. If it thuds, it’s no good. If it sings, it is good. We each get “thumped” all the time. When things don’t go as planned, when we lose someone we love, when something threatens a relationship, this is getting thumped. When we are thumped, we can choose to thud, or we can choose to sing.

If we choose to sing, we look on the bright side. We tell ourselves that God has a plan. We have faith and know that God will get us through it.

About a month ago, our little Illinois town was hit by the worst thunderstorm we’ve had in as long as I can remember. We, along with the majority of our county, were without power for two days. The damage was mainly to trees, branches falling on powerlines and houses, only a few injuries, and one reported death (that I can remember). We had no cell phone service at all the first day, and just a few gas stations were open. The traffic lights weren’t working, and most of the groceries stores were closed until many hours later. Thump.

Within this whole ordeal, there were many “thudders.” People who honked and were impatient when they had to turn around because of downed trees on the road. People who saw life without power as the most devastating thing ever. People who couldn’t stop complaining about the whole situation. I know I had my moments to thud. I had slight road rage at the now four way stops that previously had traffic lights. I found myself asking, exasperated, “Do people just not know the rules of a four way stop, or are they just not paying attention?!”

I like to think that most of us were “singers” for the most part. Friends with power were helping out those who didn’t have it yet. The men and women who work for Ameren CIPS (our power company) were local heroes. My parents, who did have power, stored all of our freezer and refrigerator food so it wouldn’t all get ruined. We grilled out and used candles and pretended we lived in the 1800s.

Facebook was littered with statuses like “Thanks to our Ameren workers” and “Thanking God no one was hurt during this storm” and “Praying for all the families affected by the storm.” My personal favorite was by my friend Leigh (who I believe copied it from someone else… someone take credit here, and let me know!)

Friends without power: I have power! Come juice up your computer, refrigerate your medicine, blow dry your hair, charge your cell phone, hang out under a fan, watch the news, or just flip on and off a lightswitch now and again to feel better. Whatever you may need, please don’t hesitate to call. I would love to help you! You might even get lucky and get a meal out of it…

She was truly a “singer” during our little disaster. When things go wrong in a community, it seems like people come together, and I know I have a brighter outlook on people in general because of the kindnesses shown to me and others. Christ’s love was present throughout our community.

I call this our little disaster, and even though it wasn’t all that bad, it puts life in perspective. On the news tonight, CBS was showing pictures from the drought in Somalia, starving children, crying mothers, looks of death on their faces. Christ still loves each of them, even in these horrid conditions. Nothing can separate them from His love.

It makes me realize the gift we have of living in America. We truly are in a land of prosperity. So today, I’m thankful that I was able to feed my children tonight, and that we have power and running water. The love of Christ is all around us.

When is the last time you were “thumped” in your life? Are you a singer or a thudder?

Mommyrexia – Selfish Pregnant Women Aren't Cherishing their Gift

July 28th, 2011 | Posted by Bryn in Faith | Kids - (Comments Off on Mommyrexia – Selfish Pregnant Women Aren't Cherishing their Gift)

Every once in awhile, I catch a little snippet of the Today Show when I have to sit down and nurse in the morning. This morning the hot topic was “Mommyrexia,” which is when celebrities and others try to gain as little weight as possible during pregnancy so they can still look glamorous.

Dr. Nancy Snyderman is the chief medical editor for NBC, and she was disgusted by this, as was I. She called it “vulgar” and “an upper East side white girl obnoxious problem.” (Go Dr. Nancy!)

I miss that beautiful round belly!

These days, some people don’t see pregnancy as the gift that it is. They see it as a distortion of their bodies, as being ugly, and as just getting fat. Perhaps I’m against the norm, but I have always loved being pregnant. I have never felt better and more confident about my body during pregnancy than at any other time in my life – even better than when I was a senior in high school running 8 to 10 miles a day. That beautiful round belly contains the most precious gift, a child. When a mother feels a child moving inside her, the love grows and grows.

Although I can sympathize with the feelings of being fat and wanting to be thin again, the love overshadows everything else when I’m pregnant.

Pregnancy and children are truly a gift from God. I have many friends and acquaintances who have had trouble getting pregnant and have longed for years for a child. This story about “Mommyrexia” would make them all want to puke. These women are given the responsibility to care for a child growing inside them, and they squander that gift by trying to be thin? It truly is sick.

Pregnancy is the best reason ever to “get fat”, to take care of yourself, and to let your body do its job. Pregnant women everywhere: cherish this gift! Far too many women out there wish they were as blessed as you.

Please pray with me for all those men and women who long to be parents.

Prayer to St. Gerard

O good St. Gerard,
powerful intercessor before God
and Wonder-worker of our day,
I call on you and seek your help.
You who on earth did always fulfill God’s design,
help my friends to do the Holy Will of God.
Beseech the Master of Life,
from whom all paternity proceeded,
to make my friends fruitful in offspring,
that they may raise up children to God in this life
and heirs to the Kingdom of His glory
in the world to come. Amen.

Christian, with the Works

June 23rd, 2011 | Posted by Bryn in Faith - (Comments Off on Christian, with the Works)

“Preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.”
– St. Francis of Assisi

My honey and I are in a couple’s bible study this summer, and we are talking a lot about what a Christian should look like in the world.* I’ve always heard the children’s song, “They’ll know we are Christians by our love.” But how do we show Christ’s love in the real world? How do we really preach the gospel without words?

We are called to be holy. A couple of years ago, I read the book Rediscovering Catholicism by Matthew Kelly. In the book, Kelly explains that we are all called to holiness, and that we are called to become “the-best-version-of-ourselves.” We must have a goal in mind (holiness) if we want to become better Christians.

Our study group has been talking about how Christians should look different, how we should behave differently from those who don’t know Jesus. This is a harder problem to solve than it sounds.

Acknowledging Deficiencies

To reflect on how my own life should truly be Christian, I have to think about the hindrances in my life to following Christ. It’s different for everyone. For me, I tend to judge others when I should just accept them for who they are (Jesus did teach us to love your neighbor as yourself). I gossip from time to time, I tell lies of omission, and I watch TV shows that don’t reflect the values I want to uphold. These are difficult aspects to think about and admit, but avoiding them can bring me closer to Him and to the life I want to lead and follow Christ more closely.

Showing Our Faith through Good Works

In addition to avoiding bad behaviors, there are also good things I can do to show that I follow Him. I can be kind and patient with my husband and children. I can listen to and pray with those who are hurting. I can not only attend Mass, but also participate, pray, sing, and listen to the homily. I can receive the Eucharist and take it (Him) to those in the hospital and in nursing homes. I can pray the rosary.

I can donate food, money, and my time to help the less fortunate in our community. I can volunteer to help out with retreats like Great River Teens Encounter Christ. I’m just barely scratching the surface on the works I can do to show that I follow Christ.

What do you do to show that you are a Christian? Are you striving for holiness? How do you preach the gospel without words?

*Of course, the most important thing to being a Christian is having faith in God. We show our faith through our works. Not everyone who does good works has faith, but everyone who has faith in Christ should show that faith by their works. Read James 2:14-26 for more information.

May the Daddy Bless You

June 19th, 2011 | Posted by Bryn in Faith | Kids - (Comments Off on May the Daddy Bless You)

Peach turned two years old about a month ago, and we all “practiced” singing the birthday song over and over. Many, many times.

When she sang it (to herself apparently), she’d get to the “May the dear Lord bless you” verse and sing confidently, “May the Daddy bless you!” I thought it was pretty adorable. Toddlerisms crack me up.

But when I really got to thinking about it, she replaced the words “dear Lord” with “Daddy”. It’s actually pretty profound. In Mass today, we celebrated the Feast of the Holy Trinity. The trinity is the belief that God is actually three persons in one – the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. Three persons, but one God.

In the past several years of my life, I have focused on having a “personal relationship” with Christ, always trying to think of Jesus as a best friend that I can easily have a conversation with through prayer. I think is a good way to think about God because He does love us and He knows us better than anyone.

The Daddy

Today at the end of Mass, we sang the song “Abba, Father”. The word abba is translated to English as “daddy”. Our “dear Lord” is our “Daddy”. God is our father, our daddy. We can lean on Him, go to Him for advice, and rely on Him because He’ll never let us down. What an awesome example He is to fathers in this realm. My honey shows that godly love for our children with a smile on his face every day. Even when they’re acting like maniacs.

I know I’m so blessed that I still have my own father here on earth, and that he’s a loving, faith-filled Daddy. I am able to relate to God better in a father/daughter relationship because of my dad.

As we celebrate our fathers today, let us not forget God the Father, our Daddy in Heaven.