We Get By With a Little Help From Our Friends

Right now I’m taking the Communion of the Saints pretty seriously. Virtually every prayer I am praying right now either starts or ends with petitions to my patron Saints. And I can’t express how much it helps. And its not just the prayers that I know they are offering for me, but it is the example that they set for me or the inspiration from their lives.

For example, St. Olaf is right now one of my patrons that I am relying on a lot. His is not an example of quiet solitude, but one of conquest, no mercy eradication of those things which oppose God. Even when forced into exile, he was planning on coming back and died fighting for the spread of Christ. That’s inspiring, even if he was not super holy all the time. Then I look to St. Meinrad who was so self-giving that he died because people took advantage of holiness. That might not seem great, but he cared so much for others that he cared little for his own needs or comfort. Or St. Kateri, who defied her entire culture to conform her life to Christ. It often feels like that for me because our culture is one that pretty much disrespects anything godly whether it is the dignity of life, dignity of marriage, humility or any other Catholic concept. Obviously attempting or wanting to go against the flow that virtually every other American gay guy is going can be quite difficult, but surprisingly, Kateri offers an astounding witness in that battle.

But its more than simply asking them for prayers or looking to them as one looks to a fictional character, like a Gandalf or an Aslan. The Saints are our friends, intimate friends. They are our family, our brothers and sisters. They know me because Christ knows me. They love me because Christ loves me. They are near to me because Christ is near to me. They  live in my heart because Christ lives in my heart. They desire nothing more than my salvation because Christ desires nothing more than my salvation.

I would be totally and completely fulfilled if my salvation was a relationship with Jesus Christ and nobody or nothing else. How could one not be? But its very exciting that salvation is also a relationship with everyone who is in Christ as well. I am thankful that God has given me extraordinary, wise, and holy brethren to be a part of my life from beyond death! Without these friends, these gifts from the treasury of God, I don’t know that I’d get by.

Knock You Down Prayer

Enough of this wussy myeh myeh myeh crap prayer.

That’s what I’ve learned. That. Does. Not. Work. Being too unwilling to actually be knocked down in prayer when you pray is not going to sustain one in a moment of weakness. Perhaps the reason we fall too much is that we don’t want prayer to hurt. Anything more than a finger prick and we run away.

Prayer is like a deep and dark thicket. Peace and joy are deep inside, but you’ll never get there unless you ware willing to get scratched, unless you are willing to go through the rough and painful parts. Last night I decided to go beyond in my prayer. I did more than just a few seconds of whining and then turning around because I hadn’t received Christ’s peace before I even had a chance to fold my hands.

You have to stay there in prayer. You have to offer up the weakness to God over and over. It may just so happen that the moment you offer up the weakness, another weakness comes in from the sidelines. Keep lifting them up. It becomes painful. The mental anguish might be a little overwhelming, but offering it up continuously is necessary.

I can’t say for how long I prayed or how many times I simply said “Jesus take it.” But I can say that when it was finished, my heart felt a little bruised, but I had reached a place of refreshment. I can also say that this place of peace was not the final nor the deepest peace I was meant to find, but is just a stop along the way to the eternal refreshment that never ends.

Pray without ceasing.

1 Thessalonians 5:17

 

The Triumph of My Cross

I can’t even express how much I love the priests at the Cathedral. They have the greatest homilies. And I’m not talking about the kinds of homilies that one might find at a megachurch that are all hip and cool and edgy; I’m talking about the deep, yet simple, lead-you-to-holiness, real-life, jesus-loving kind of homily that springs forth from the ancient foundations of the Church.

Today being the Feast of the Exultation of the Cross, the homily was not about Jesus’ cross directly, but about the cross that each one of us receives from Jesus: the thing that we often wish would be removed from our lives. Msgr. reminded us that we aren’t supposed to really ask for our cross to be removed, but rather to embrace the cross and lift it high, the way that a hockey team might lift the Stanley Cup up high in victory. Our cross is a victory. Our cross enables us to move from death to life. Nobody arrives at Easter without first going through Good Friday. The cross that I bear can be a great source of shame, a great source of pain and agony, but it is only because I do not look hard enough at the cross. It is only because I do not fully embrace the cross. If I were to do those things, the cross would cease to be difficult, and would actually become the ultimate source of my joy and the font of God’s love for me! The cross is where we are to meet Jesus. There and the Eucharist.

What I have taken away from today and added to the small fragments of wisdom that I already possess is this:

1. I need to meet Jesus more often and more sincerely in the Eucharist. I have to start going to daily Mass more often as well as to Eucharistic Adoration.
2. I need to stop running from my cross and ignoring it, but inviting Jesus to meet me there, or rather, accepting Jesus’ invitation to meet him there.

Updated My Story

I just wanted to let everyone know that I updated the page about my life story. I realized that it hadn’t been updated for a long time and that certain elements were not included in that version, but were included elsewhere. So I’ve combined the two stories I’ve written and extended it to the present. So click on the story in the menu bar to check it out!

Keeping His Heart in Mine

The pedestal on which the tabernacle at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit sits is made of marble and has the Sacred Heart, surrounded by a crown of thorns, carved into the front. Whenever I pray there it becomes a simple reminder of the divine love. It carries a simple message: that for true peace and happiness, our hearts must rest in Jesus’ heart.

What that rest means, though, is that we must conform our hearts to his, we must love as he loves, and the image of the thorns encircling his heart reminds us what that love truly is: a love of sacrifice and suffering. We must embrace suffering and pain, not run from it. The image is also remarkable in that it shows us that we don’t embrace suffering alone. When our heart encounters thorns, Jesus’ heart already understands.

So my prayer, my intention, is to keep the image of his heart always in the eyes of my mind. To contemplate in my weakness, in my suffering, the suffering of his heart, and to find peace in Christ by conforming my life to his as I receive him.

Cell

Let me alone, sheltered in my cell. Let me be with God, who alone is good. Why should I move out of my cell? Back to that which I left? Let me be. I want to cry and mourn over the days and nights I have wasted.

St. Symeon the New Theologian

Birthday, Autumn, and Mourning

Today is wonderful. It is my birthday. It is also September and the fall equinox will soon occur, and the greatest of the four seasons will be in our lives.

But this year, I’m afraid it is going to be much different. Let’s start with the birthday. There is a subtle truth that I had never given much thought to when it comes to birthdays. That is the truth of the mother-child relationship. Duh. That’s obvious. But the birthday isn’t really just about the one who was born, but is also just as much about the one who gave birth. This being my first birthday without my mom is just…weird. I’ve been thinking about that a lot last week. My mom has been on my mind a lot. And though its been a few months since I’ve shed a tear over it, there is a new sense of mourning setting in.

The fall season now carries with it the last memories I have with my mom. In October I went home to celebrate Halloween festivities, and in November I went home for Thanksgiving when I saw her for the very last time. So while I come to what has always been my favorite time of year, there is a certain sense of loss that will always be present in this time of year for me. Each day now slowly marches on and slips through my fingers: one year since I last tasted her chili, one year since I had my last Thanksgiving, one year since my last supper, one year since I last saw her alive, one year since I last spoke to her, one year since I got a 6am phone call….

I pray that Jesus gives me extra strength during this time. And I pray for patience and understanding from those around me, especially from those who have experienced this before.

 

Why the Blog Shut Down

The last five weeks have been very…full of discernment.

The last post I published was about doubts. The doubts that always seem to accompany me had/have been growing significantly, and right after posting, I took a look at myself and realized that I didn’t really believe what I was preaching, or that at the very least, I had some serious obstacles in my way. And that’s why I shut the blog down, it was an integrity move. I was in no position to teach or comment on the Catholic faith until I was able to overcome the things that were holding me back or definitely conclude that the Faith is indeed not true.

During the last few weeks it has been of utmost important for me to determine what I actually believe, whether it is Catholicism or something else. This required asking questions and seeking answers, and spending lots of time alone in the woods, and some frustratingly lonely time in the Adoration chapel. The questions ranged from whether there is a divine element in any of the things which exist to whether the divine could be polytheistic or must be monotheistic, and whether the Trinity is truly monotheistic or polytheistic. Questions of whether the First Cause must be “made” of spirit only or whether it could be “made” of matter came up too. Why must matter be created, but spirit could be uncreated? Questions arose on whether time truly had a beginning or if time is eternal, and how neither choice gives a satisfactory answer to how I exist here and now in this moment. There were questions about how Christianity spread, and whether it was by divine intervention or simply by power and force, and how it came to my ancestors specifically, the northern Germanic peoples and the Scandinavians. I questioned whether there really was only one true religion, or whether all religions could be true. I questioned whether Original Sin made sense, why I should be punished for the sin of Adam, why God would let his sin be passed on to us at the very moment of our conception. Perhaps most importantly though, the question gnawed in the back of my mind whether all of this questioning was simply me looking for an excuse, any excuse to not have to live chastely as the Church defines it. Was all of this really just about sex?

And so after 5 weeks of reading arguments both in favor and against monotheism, polytheism, theism, Trinity, eternal matter, the first cause, paganism, and heathenism, I came to the conclusion that some of the questions are unanswerable through human reason. I realized that there are some things that I need to just take on faith, and thankfully, that has lead me full circle back to Catholicism, which at certain point (probably after the second Sunday in a row that I skipped Mass in that whole time) seemed highly unlikely to ever happen.

I can’t say that I’m “back to normal” because my faith was never “normal” to begin with, whatever that might mean. In fact, my faith is quite different than it was before, but it is difficult to explain how its different other than  that it just is.

I’m very glad to be back, and I’m taking life and faith a little more seriously now. As far as this blog goes, I’ve reopened some of the content I’ve previously posted, but you’ll notice that I cut the amount of posts by over 75%. There was just so much that was a waste of space, so much that was so politically charged and whiny, that I just got tired of looking at it. I’ll be posting regularly, but not every day because it is an unreasonable and untenable goal for someone who is not blogging for a living. What you can expect, though is two to three posts each week, and that the overall tone is going to (hopefully) different than it has been in the past.

Anyway, sorry for the long post. I look forward to posting soon!