Friday, December 31, 2010
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Monday, November 1, 2010
"Poverty was a means and not an end for Peter. The goal was following Christ in ever greater purity of heart. Whatever obstructed that path could be eliminated with no real loss.
The philosophy of our consumer age—you are worth what you own—may find Peter of Alcantara's approach severe. Ultimately his approach is life-giving while consumerism is deadly."
"I do not praise poverty for poverty's sake; I praise only that poverty which we patiently endure for the love of our crucified Redeemer and I consider this far more desirable than the poverty we undertake for the sake of poverty itself; for if I thought or believed otherwise, I would not seem to be firmly grounded in faith" (Letter of Peter to Teresa of Avila).
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Thursday, October 21, 2010
And I've just been posting things as I come across them and they relate to poverty. There is so much more! With hesitation, I'd like to point you to a website I created for a class project, one that I hope to continue developing and growing over the rest of the semester. It's definitely a work in progress (so don't judge me!), and I'm not sure what I hope it to become or what it even could be with my limited web development skills. More than anything, I wish it to be a tool that points people towards beautiful Mother Teresa so that they too might be touched by her light in their lives. You can find it here.
Monday, October 18, 2010
The good news is that after the month of not eating out, I did not immediately run out to the nearest restaurant and order the most appetizing thing on the menu. When some co-workers invited me to lunch a few days after the experiment "ended," It was very surreal. I found myself thinking: "O yeah, I'm free to go out now. September is over. I've 'done my time'." But I almost didn't want it to end. There is such a freedom in detachment!
Friday, October 15, 2010
Someone once brought to my attention the fact that this is not about being so stubborn that "come hell or high water, I will not eat out this month!" but that it is more about the spirit of the undertaking. In the case of my Cheesecake Factory experience, I had to surrender to the poverty of 'yes'. By adhering to our plans and "breaking my commitment" I had to swallow my pride, proceed with the dinner plans, and realize that not eating out for a month is not about gaining bragging rights or proving that I can do it: it's about what I learn by making (or not making) that sacrifice. The fact that I even set out on that path and was open to the lessons that would come with it is more important than if I "succeeded" in the mission of the month. Success is such a relative term anyway.
This experiment is not perfect, and I realize that more and more each month as I think of a greater challenge, a more authentic form of poverty that I should be living, but my shortcomings do not limit God's work in and through this experiment - it has still been beautifully fruitful. +
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
It's hard to know what the right answer to that question is, and I think my conscience, in it's moments of rationalization, would like to think that depending on the circumstances there are different right answers. Maybe polite society would argue that this is true, but you don't win souls for Christ by being polite.
In a cut-throat culture that takes and does not give, it can be hard to believe that someone might actually be good enough to be capable of this charity. I cannot help but think this may be why so many people reject the greatest gift ever given to us: Life, found in the Most Holy Eucharist.
God Himself comes down and allows us to consume Him in the simple form of bread and wine - the Creator of the entire universe allow us to take Him into our mouths! He willingly travels through our bodies, feeding our souls, filling us more than we could ever hope to be filled by anything else: and all this, humbly, only if we choose to receive Him. To receive His Gift. of Everything.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Two particular topics have captured my attention over the past couple months, so much so that finding the words to write about them has proven to render me silent, but it is my hope that today I can pen my thoughts on these: food and time.
I'll save the rest of my thoughts on poverty and food for another day. That tangent is still being formulated in my head.
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Advice for her sisters
Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta asked her sisters to follow these virtues. "God needs our poverty, not our abundance. These are means of being humble:
- Speak as little as possible about oneself
- Take care of one's personal matters
- Avoid curiosity
- Do not meddle in the affairs of others
- Accept contradictions with good humor
- Do not focus on the faults of others
- Accept reproach, even if undeserved
- Yield to the will of others
- Accept insults and abuse
- Accept feeling uncared for, forgotten, despised
- Be courteous and sensitive, even if someone provokes you
- Do not try to be admired and loved
- Do not hide behind one's own dignity
- Yield in arguments, even if one is right
- Always choose what is most difficult."
Source: "Heart of Joy: The Transforming Power of Self-Giving" by Mother Teresa, Servant Books, 1987
Monday, July 26, 2010
In one month, ask me if I still want a new Moleskine planner...mine suffered a significant amount of water damage tonight, and well, I felt like crying. I have been somewhat dramatic and asked Julie if I could possibly bend some rules (using a dusty Border's gift card? asking for a "gift" from someone?) to obtain a new one. Like tomorrow. I am attached to this thing at the hip. (Planner = life...?) Her advice: wait a month and see how you feel. She reminded me that she has made it this far without a watch...
So, maybe I don't need it as much as I think I do...and we're back to this again.
He makes everything glorious. +
Friday, July 16, 2010
Sunday, July 4, 2010
Now and then, I’ll think of something I would buy if I was living a normal life, things that “I could really use.” I thought maybe I’d start writing a list of all these things so that next year I would remember to buy them. A friend advised me against this and the more I’ve thought about it the more I realize the absurdity of such a plan. Honestly, Missy? If I need a list to remind me to buy something in six months, then it can’t be that critical of a belonging. It’s becoming a discipline, to stop myself from thinking, “I’ll buy that next year, when I’m allowed.” That is not what this is about! I haven’t made these rules and entered into this experiment to cage my shopping habits for a year, only to let them loose with wild abandon when the time of oppression comes to an end. No! This is deeper than that. I am seeking a change of heart and attitude, a platform for a greater perspective of poverty and hopefully, therefore, solidarity with those who are less fortunate. If I cannot recognize the value in all I have, the gifts God has already bestowed upon me and their full potential, and acknowledge that no material possession will ever make me more complete, then this year of commitment to a spirit of poverty is in vain. If I do not let this transform me totally, I will have done it for nothing.
I don’t do things for nothing. +
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
There it is, the greatest reminder: anything worthwhile or successful must begin with The Alpha and end with the Omega Himself. Striving, tripping, falling, but ever pushing on, I will fix my eyes on Christ. +
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
It seemed somewhat unfathomable that something like this could be happening (and to me!) so that none of us even became too concerned about it. Fr. Rick had a copy anyway, and it's not like we're in Europe. Still, the knots in my stomach grew as I realized I didn't particular want to part with my pretty picture or Australian stamps (and now Haitian!) but that would be my new challenge: detachment from my passport!
A funny story for people at home...until it turns out the Haitian government won't let me through with my color copy and driver's license. I would need to go to the US embassy in Port-au-Prince the next day to obtain an emergency passport to return home.
I gave away almost everything I brought to Haiti (I didn't even have a clean shirt to wear home!) and some article of clothing were a bit difficult to fold and leave behind. Yet, in the midst of my steps towards poverty of spirit I learned that it is entirely acceptable and even required that when in a foreign country, covet your passport!
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
I'm ashamed to say that I immediately begin thinking of the most "wretched" clothes I own, the ones I never wear or don't particularly like, and deemed those to be the clothes for the Haitians. But why? Why do they deserve the clothes I don't want, the ones that aren't as quality as the rest?
Without question, I know I'll have at least a little trouble with this. Yet I've been tossing around the idea of poverty being a path to purity. One source (resulting from a google search) defines purity as an adjective that means, "being undiluted or unmixed with extraneous material". Is this not a similar definition of poverty? A closer look has revealed a type of liberation that I don't often consider. Detaching myself from these clothes that I really like will put me one step closer to freeing myself from the materialism of our society.
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
I was invited last week to join a mission team of young adults that will travel to Haiti for one week in May. Our mission is this (as stated in the informational handout from Fr. Rick Nagel, our fearless leader) :
To be Christ to our Haitian brothers and sisters and to seek Christ in the poor.
To bring the HOPE of Christ to a suffering people of God.
To grow missionary hearts for the poorest of the poor.
To raise up Catholic Young Adults as future mission leaders.
To build relationships between [Indy young adults] and 3 Haitian Parishes/Villages and seek ways to learn from one another and support one another.
To learn more about the Catholic Social Justice Teaching of having a preference for the poor.
To answer Pope Benedict's call to provide relief to a growing population of starving and uneducated children and families in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
As this is not beautiful enough, an extremely generous anonymous benefactor has donated the costs necessary for this mission team to form! Without that gift, I would not be able to accept the honor of being among fellow young adults on this adventure that has already deeply moved me - I can only imagine how the stirrings in my heart will grow as we prepare and then participate in this journey!
There is another dimension to this tale.
I was uncertain whether I could even dream of saying 'yes' to Fr. Rick's invitation because of a tiny little part of my life: my full-time job. I do not, and will not by May, have enough vacation time to take off a week from work. After praying for God to send an answer, I approached my bosses with my situation, inquiring if there was anything that could be done.
Without hesitation, the owner of the company I work for said it would be no problem if I simply took the week off unpaid. My direct boss had no problem either, and even mentioned he might like to help out with something like this.
I wanted to jump for joy!!
As I considered what this meant, I was filled with even more gratitude, because I came to two conclusions. 1) One week without pay while require some creativity for my budget that month, and this will perhaps call me forward to experience, not just in Haiti but in my own life as well, a greater sense of solidarity with the poor. I am happily anticipating this challenge. 2) My happy anticipation is largely rooted in the knowledge that while my budget is tight (as all young adults might say), it can withstand a one-time loss of one week's pay...this alone fills me with a great sense of thankfulness for the blessings God has showered upon me over the past year.
There is so much to say, but I will save it for another time.
Much is to come in the next couple months. +
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
An example would be finishing off a box of crackers. It provides the surety that you no longer have old crackers in the cabinet, yet it does something more because in freeing up that little bit of space in the cabinet, there is now room for something new, something perhaps better.
The same is true of life and the spirit. In freeing life from unnecessary noise or distractions, there is room for something new, almost certainly something better, and that is God. He comes and speaks in silence, in our nothing, and when we create that space for Him, there is a guarantee that He will fill it with more than we could ever imagine.
I'm finding truth in this poverty, and as we know in our hearts, the truth will set us free. +
Thursday, February 25, 2010
"The trouble is... the fact that you cling too fast to these doubts and fears. You concentrate upon the too much, instead of ignoring them and casting yourself upon God in utter self-abandonment, as I have consistently exhorted you for so long past. Only through this holy and happy self-abandonment can you ever enjoy an enduring peace full of perfect trust in God through Jesus Christ. Yet once again, what have you to fear in this self-surrender especially after so many plain signs of God's great mercy to you? You seek for conscious support in yourself and in your works and conscience, as if they provided more assurance and stronger support than God's mercy and Jesus Christ's merits, and under the assumption that these cannot lead you astray...
When we have reached the lowest depths of our nothingness, we can have no kind of trust in ourselves, nor in any way rely upon our works; for in these are to be found only wretchedness, self-love, and corruption. Such complete distrust and utter scorn of the self is the one source from which originate those delightful consolations of souls wholly surrendered to God - their unalterable peace, their blessed joy, and their unshakable trust in none but God. Ah, would that you knew the gift of God, the reward and the merit and the power and the peace, the blessed assurances of salvation that are hidden in this abandonment; then would you soon be rid of all your fears and anxieties! "
Father Jean-Pierre de Caussade, S.J.
Father de Caussade (+1751) was a French Jesuit, a writer, and a revered spiritual director.
From: Cameron, Peter John (Father, OP), ed. "Meditation of the Day." Magnificat 11.13 (2010): 339-40. Print.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
As Thomas Dubay puts it, "We have no security in anything finite."
how many people ever stop and think about that? and what would it do to our mentality...to our society! if this consideration became a more routine part of our thought process?
Recently, I've rid myself of something finite, something that provides ample opportunity for the instant gratification we are attempting to flush away this year:
yes, I deactivated my facebook account.
I spent weeks weighing up the pros and cons of such a decision - I knew deep down that I needed to be rid of it, but it seemed as though every day, a new reason for remaining a member (all very well intentioned!) was placed before me. Finally, a conversation with a very dear friend the other night sobered me to the reality of this situation. She gently pointed out that poverty of spirit isn't usually something that is grappled with and carefully thought out, but that it is something that one commits to whole-heartedly, plunging in with wild abandon, trusting completely in the power of God and His Divine Providence. It's time to cut the ties that bind. The Lord will fill any holes facebook seems to leave: fill them until they overflow.
You see, I think all the desires to keep facebook had something to do with greed and control. Is it really necessary to be 'friends' with every person I've ever known in my life and to have the ability to connect with them with just a few clicks at any time of the day or night? This is not 'friendship'. Instead, there is something very finite about the interaction facebook allows, and as I remove it from my life, I make room for more meaningful relationships. Now, if I want to get ahold of someone for whom I have no contact information, not only will it take interaction with other friends or family, but it will also take more time - more of an investment. In the fast pace of these current days, there's something about our time that, when gifted, lets others know we care. There's something within an email or an actual phone call or best yet, a letter in the mail(!) that allows us to know we are loved in a deeper way than a facebook post or message ever could.
This has all at once been enriching, liberating, refreshing, even. Like moving a dresser (half-full of junk) from in front of a window and allowing the spring breeze to fill the room. So I'm taking a deep breath...