The Ache

My TOB Twin 

Last Thursday night I had the incredible honor of getting to hear one of my favorite authors talk on one of my favorite subjects.  Theology of the Body, Sex and God.  Can we just pause and relish the beauty of that combination and the fact that Christopher West spoke on a stage that was literally less than 30 feet away from me?  Or the fact that I was surrounded by almost four hundred primarily college aged men and women who were striving for sainthood alongside me and were interested in the same subject?

Christopher West spoke on a beautiful variety of subjects, but one that has hit me over and over this week while processing the whole talk was about how we live in a world that tries so desperately hard to distract us.  Christopher talked about a time during his college years where he did a miniature social experiment of his own, and decided to stay sober for one weekend of the school semester.  He wanted to see what his crazy life looked like from an outside objective opinion.  What he saw shocked him.

He talked about how his roommate came home so sick to his stomach from excessive drinking that he passed out in their living room on the floor when he walked in the door.  He talked about witnessing the rape of a young woman and being so shocked at the lack of respect for human beings and their inherent worth that he couldn't do anything about the rape situation...and how he still regrets that to this day.

Striving for Sainthood with these amazing people 

Have you heard Alessia Cara's new song Here? It's relatively new to the music scene and is actually what they call a "sleeper hit," or a song that has had quite a bit of air time but no official promotion or sponsorship.  It's a song that sneaks onto the airwaves and makes a huge wave, despite the fact that no one really knows the singer, but can connect at a deep level with the lyrics.  And boy, does Alessia's lyrics ever hit home in today's culture.

Alessia sings about her experience at a party that she really does not want to be at.

But since my friends are here, I just came to kick it.  But really I would rather be at home all by myself, not in this room with people who don't even care about my well being.  

How did it ever come to this? I should've never come to this.  So holla at me, I'll be in the car when you're done.  I'm stand-offish, don't want what you're offerin' and I'm done talkin', awfully sad it had to be this way.  

Oh  oh oh here, I asked myself, what am I doin' here? Oh oh oh, here oh oh oh.  And I can't wait 'til we can break up out of here.  

Whoa.  Talk about an honesty hour.

I don't know what your weekends look like.  Maybe they're a lot like mine and involve sitting around with good friends and large cups of coffee, chatting about life.  Maybe they involve hours spent in the library, pouring over that one last final that you are so close to finishing.  Perhaps they're spent distracting yourself from something whose ache and hurt has rooted itself deep within you at a soul level and you just want a moment of relief from it...so that you can not think about it for just a few precious minutes.

If that's where you are at, if you're in the "here" that Alessia sings about and Christopher was shocked to his core about, then the amazingly beautiful thing is that Christ isn't throwing in the towel on your relationship with Him.

That ache that we want to get away from, to numb ourselves from, to escape from, is an indication that something that can fill that ache is out there.  And we spend a lot of time trying to fill an infinitely deep, God-shaped hole with finite substitutes.

“In essence, Christ’s life proclaims: “You don’t believe God loves you? Let me show you how much God loves you. You don’t believe that God is ‘gift’? This is my body given for you (see Luke 22:19). You think God wants to keep you from life? I will offer myself so that my life’s blood can give you life to the full (see John 10:10).

You thought God was a tyrant, a slave-driver? I will take the form of a slave (see Philippians 2:7); I will let you ‘lord it over’ me to demonstrate that God has no desire to ‘lord it over’ you (see Matthew 20:28). You thought God would whip your back if you gave him the chance? I will let you whip my back to demonstrate that God has no desire to whip yours. I have not come to condemn you but to save you (see John 3:17).

 I have not come to enslave you but to set you free (see Galatians 5:1). Stop persisting in your unbelief. Repent and believe in the good news” (see Mark 1:15).” (Christopher West) 

Run to Him.  Get out of "Here" and into His heart.  Find those along the way who are striving for His heart and push you to His side.  Be Not Afraid 

I heard the voice of Jesus say

Japan, 1603.  The art of Kabuki Theater begins - and it is something that has never been seen before. Actors emerge onto a stage with painted faces which indicate who their character is.  Their movements are so graceful that often the viewer cannot distinguish which movements are dance forms and which are the acting.  Actors train for years to be able to possess the honor of being in a public performance.  It is as if you are learning an entirely new language - the stylized motions convey the emotions that the heart speaks and the mouth has no words for.

Japan, 2015.  A Kabuki Theater performance is staged.  Actors and actresses perform, pride showing in their actions.  They have trained for year for this.  Not to shine as theater stars themselves, but to accurately portray the Kabuki performance the same way the actors before them did.  A Kabuki performance stands frozen in time - performed the same way over and over again.


The performance given in 2015 is the same performance one saw in 1615.

There is great pride in the preservation of the traditional Japanese theater - the actor who plays the part of a great hero says the same words, does the very same actions and wears the very same costume design that the original master actor said, did and wore.



The Last Supper, 33.  While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body."  Then he took the cup and when had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you.  This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.  I tell you, I will not drink from the fruit of the vine from now on until the day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom." (Matthew 26:26-30).

Mass on the First Sunday of Lent, 2015.  The priest leans over the host, elevates it and says, "Take this, all of you, and eat of it, for this is my body which will be given up for you." And taking the wine, he says, "Take this, all of you, and drink from it, for this is the chalice of my blood.  The blood of the new and eternal covenant, which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.  Do this in memory of me."

As Catholics, we gather in Church and are able to participate in the same sacrifice that occurred 2,000 years ago on Calvary.  

Yet our journey does not start by the foot of the cross.  Through the Mass we also are able to experience Christ as we are seated at His Last Supper, and then, (spoiler, my favorite part of the Mass) we join our voices with the angels and saints as we sing in adoration to a God who rose and is in Heaven.  

The Mass is not simply a performance or a ritual performed the same way and preserved for over two thousand years.  The words of consecration are not recited lines said by a priest who wants to be the best priest on the altar since Christ.  Instead, they are Christ's words, spoken by a man who stands in the person of Christ.  

In Luke 10:16, Christ tells his priests that "He who hears you, hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me."  The words "This is my body" does not come from the priest who stands in front of us.  We are not called to eat the flesh of Father fill-in-the-blank and drink his blood.  Instead, the priest acts as another Christ - in persona Christi.
  
The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this belief as such: It is the same priest, Christ Jesus, whose sacred person, his minister truly represents. Now the minister, by reason of the sacerdotal consecration, which he has received, is truly made like to the high priests, and possess the authority to act in the power and place of the person of Christ Himself." 

It is not simply a rote rehearsal of words to make sure that we get everything "just right" and preserve the perfect tradition the way Christ would have liked it if he were still here.  Rather, HE is still here, in the very real way through His physical presence on the altar.

It is also not a simple show, costumes included, of bravado and strict and regulated art.  The priest does not 'dress up' as Christ and carry on actions as to imitate him.  Rather, he puts on Christ Himself.  Rather, even the vestments of the priests symbolize this participation in the person hood of Christ. 

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said, "The fact that we are standing at the altar clad in liturgical vestments must make it clearly visible to those present that we are there "in the person of an Other". Just as in the course of time priestly vestments developed, they are a profound symbolic expression of what the priesthood means...the essence of the priestly ministry, interpreting the liturgical vestments themselves..."

And then we lay people get to participate in that same sacrifice of Calvary on the altar and receive the body and blood of Christ, crucified and risen, into our bodies through the hands of the priest. 

How beautiful! To be given the actual body of Christ through the hands of His priest, who stands in as another Christ.  Saint John Vianney, patron saints of priests, wrote, ""When you see the priest, think of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Saint John Chrysostom, a doctor of the Church, said in 391 AD, "Neither angel nor archangel is able to do anything in respect to what is given by God; rather Father and Son and Holy Spirit manage it all; but the priest lends his own tongue and presents his own hand."

There is great beauty in the priest acting in the person of Christ - and the beauty of interacting with the God of the Heavens and Creator of the Universe in such a physical way.  And while priests are given the honor of such an intimate way do not forget the fact that we too are asked to share in Christ's life here on earth. 

In Paul's letter to the Ephesians chapter five, he wrote, "Follow God's example, therefore, as dearly loved children.  Walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." 

Act as Christ in your world.  Not as an actor, whose life after he is done impressing people returns to it's state of normalcy or even discontented malice.  Instead, let Christ invade your live and take over so that we can say like Paul in his letter to the Galatians , "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."  

14 Days Into the Journey

Well, it's been two weeks since the dating fast started.

It has been a crazy ride in such a short period of time.

When starting out the dating fast, of course I entered with visions of grandeur, a clean and tidy dating fast in which I would automatically fall more in love with God.  I mean, how could you not?

Little did I count in the fact that my emotions are at sometimes, ok, fine, all the times, crazy.  

This is basically how my dating fast prep went:

The month before the dating fast started:  Ah, this is going to be the best thing ever for my spiritual life. How have I not done this before?  Get to know people without tons of relationships expectations, and just relax.  Cannot wait for this dating fast to start.

The day before the dating fast started: Holy canole.  What in the world am I getting myself into. I'm in college.  If I don't meet someone now, it is only going to get harder.  This is huge.  This could be the semester where I meet someone.  And I'm going to have to say no because I'm on this dating fast.

Day 1:  I got this!  Heart to heart talks with God, some scheduled time for the Bible, this is great. This is better than great.

Day 5: Ok, it's hard.  In fact, it's really hard.  I'm surrounded by available, great guys everywhere I turn.  In class.  In the library.  When I go to dinner.  At work.  In my social groups.  Can I just join a convent?  This would be much easier if I could do a dating fast with no men around.  I feel like the only safe guys to talk to are those who are related to me and seminarians/deacons/priests.  I'm so in trouble if this is how it's going to be for the next four months.

Day 9: Ok, how have I never noticed all these couples before?  They are literally everywhere?  That kid is in 4th grade and has a boyfriend?  What am I doing with my life?

And then I caught myself.  Because I'd fallen (again) into the trap that what I needed so badly was a relationship with a guy.  I was getting tripped up by guys because I was hoping that there was some potential there somewhere.  And frankly, that's pretty darn selfish.

Things went from:

"Oh! What a great guy! He opens doors and doesn't cuss and is super into his faith."

into

"Hmm...what would our relationship look like."

Instead of 

"Thank you Lord for a man of God who serves you with His heart.  Strengthen him on his journey and help him do Your will."

There is a great story about three men who go out for a walk on a summer evening.  As they stroll through the park, they walk past a young woman in a revealing top.  The first man immediately averts his eyes, doesn't acknowledge the woman's presence at all and continues on the walk.  The second man indulges in the beauty of the woman for his own good, and cranes his neck to stare at her as she walks past.  The third man acknowledges the woman with a friendly smile and continues on the path, and takes a moment quietly pray Psalm 84:1 - "How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of Hosts!"

This can be applied to dating fasts too.

The first approach is to totally avoid guys at all costs.  You can't date 'em, you don't even want to see 'em.  This results in always wearing earbuds and sunglasses and may or may not include frequent midnight McDonalds runs for food incognito.

The second approach is to go all out.  You're on a dating fast, but dating is flirting.  Dating isn't texting.  You're just lining the options up for when you are done with the fast and in for the feast.

The third option is acknowledge the beauty that God has created in this world (including guys in your life) and thank Him for them.  And then, continue along the path.

So, that's the goal for the remaining weeks.  Acknowledge and appreciate, then find total fulfillment in God alone.  Pretty lofty goals, but with God all things are possible.

Any thoughts? Tips or hints for dating fasts? (pass them over, I will take anything you can give me.)

God bless!!

Chloe