Coffee and Catholicism

What I'm Drinking: Oscar Wilde once wrote, "Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative." I wholeheartedly agree with him, except in the case of coffee.  With the huge range of fall coffee drinks available, I still tend to end up drinking my dear old friend, the vanilla latte.  There is something about sitting in a coffee shop, listening to live jazz music and sipping one of these gems.

 With that being said, next week's goal is to branch out a little and try something new.  We'll see how that goes - I may end up back with my old favorites.  But Oscar Wilde also says that "Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast."  Life motto right there, friends.

What I'm Thinking

:

Sports.  Don't read this wrong - I am not the definition of a sporty person.  Actually, if you were to look up sports lover in the dictionary, the antonym would be "Chloe Mooradian."  It could have something to do with the fact that I haven't played an organized sport since 2nd grade community league soccer, which wasn't that great of an experience.

I broke my wrist the day of our last game, and I only scored two goals that season - both for the other team, who jokingly said that I was their MVP.

Typical Midwestern that I am though, I love watching baseball.  Out of all the sports that are out there, I understand the concept of baseball.  Hits, pitches, runs, and strikes are all words that I can gladly define.  I don't have a certain team that receives all my loyalty, and I'll watch just about any team.  However, I'm also a Kansas girl, and that spells some good news this weekend.

Kansas City Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar (2) snags an out on Seattle Mariners' James Jones in the ninth inning during Wednesday's baseball game on September 23, 2015 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.

For those of you who aren't baseball fans, let me catch you up to speed.  The Kansas City Royals are a team that haven't done so hot in quite a while.  Actually, let me throw down some statistics for you.  The Royals were founded in 1969 and as a team, they were pretty decent.  In fact, between 1976 to 1985, the team actually qualified seven times for the playoff seasons.

In 1985, the Royals won the world series and then after that, things took a turn for the worse.  For 28 seasons from 1986 to 2013, the Royals did not place high enough to play in the postseasons.  This statistic meant that the Royals had one of the longest postseason droughts in the wild-card era of baseball teams.  Not a number we're proud of.

But then 2014 hit - and we all partied like it was 1985.  The Royals made it all the way to the end, playing against the Giants in the World Series, but the crown was not meant to be Royal, and they lost.  

2015 rolls around and here we are again, in the nicknamed oKCtober fall season - and the Royals are again in the final two teams to play against each other in the World Series.  Fans sit on the edge of their seat with bated breath, anxiously waiting for Tuesday's game  - the first in a seven game series.

This weekend at Mass, our priest had a brilliant quote.  "Am I as excited and energized about winning the prize of Heaven as I am about the Royals winning the World Series?"  How true.  Seats at the Royals games are selling for hundreds and hundreds of dollars.

Seats at Mass - the sacrifice where Christ's body and blood is made present in the Holy Sacrifice of the Eucharist under the appearance of bread and wine - those seats are free thanks to the grace of God - and also completely empty on the night of the game.  At a parish near my house, the parish mission on evangelizing and the Catholic faith was cancelled because the event couldn't compete with the Royals game on television.

What game are we concerned about?  Are we pouring our energy and time into a game as temporary and fleeting as a baseball game instead of putting time and effort into things like our prayer life, the state of our eternal soul, and our relationship with Christ?  

Virtue stands in the middle - a balance between an enjoyment of the world God has given us as well as an eye towards the end goal.  Who are you cheering for?

Enjoy life.  

Go Royals,

 Praise God for every blessing - including baseball, and

Be Not Afraid. 

Coffee and Catholicism

What I'm Drinking: Once again, the amount of coffee that has been consumed this week is borderline addiction level.  I'm averaging a good five cups a day, and that doesn't count the two cups I usually have at night.  I heard on the news today though that coffee is just as good for you as water, because it is in fact 97% water.  But then they dropped in the line about how this only applies if you drink your coffee with no sweeteners, so that comforting statistic quickly dropped out of the window for me.

The convenient store two minutes from my house put their coffee on sale for ninety-nine cents for any size cup.  That's a disaster waiting to happen for me - it's been two weeks since this sale started (which will go 'til the end of January) and the clerks already know me by name and face.

So my coffee for the past week has mostly consisted of the above, and I'm not complaining. Coffee for the week and under $10? Nope, not a complaint at all from this addict.

,

What I'm Thinking: How interesting is it that everyone puts up a facade of 'having it all together' for each other?  We go about our lives with the phrase "I'm fine!" as the response  to anyone asking us how we're doing, and we may not even have anyone in our lives who really asks us "No, how are you really doing?"

It's okay to not have it all together - believe me, I'll be the first in line to say that I am falling apart.  Some days I'm making it minute by minute by the grace of God, held together by Him and a bunch of good intentions.

Yet what is even more amazing than the solidarity found in this day-in-day-out struggle is the beauty of a God who has been through our experiences and has remained steady in the face of adversity, hardship, and temptation.  The readings this weekend were on point for this subject.  The first reading was from the book of Isiah, and check these verses out:

"Yet it was the will of the Lord to bruise him; he was put to grief; when he makes himself an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.  He shall see the fruit of the travail of his soul and be satisfied, by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities."  (Isaiah 53:10-11).

Then, the relate-ability of Christ to our struggles was magnified in the second reading from Hebrews, where Paul wrote,

"Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the Heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confessions.  For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we,  yet without sin.  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."

It's ok to not be ok.  It's also highly recommended to draw near to the one who has it together at all times - Christ Jesus.  People will disappoint us.  Friends and even family will come and go, creating ripples in our lives.  But Christ?  He's the steady one who we can lean on - he's not going to shift with time, but instead promises to be a presence

So lean on him.  Don't loose hope or get lost in the struggle.  Go get yourself some ninety-nine cent coffee.  Be Not Afraid. 

Coffee and Catholicism

      I've had so much coffee today that picking just one drink isn't going to be easy.  Ok, honesty hour, I've had so much coffee this

week

 that all the drinks blend into one (no pun intended).  Yet the root of the extra caffeine is simply because my increase of coffee is making up for a decrease in sleep hours - which happens to be nineteen hours of sleep this week.  That is a new record if anyone is counting.  Thankfully homework has settled down, midterms are done for the most part, and I am ready to embark onto another week of coffee sipping and hopefully sleeping.

     Where was I? Oh right, coffee reminiscing.  Can you tell I'm still a little sleep deprived? I'm going to have to go with the new spiced pumpkin latte from Panera with my "What I'm Drinking" for the week.  Every Saturday night I swing by that bakery and this week I saw that their coffee menu had changed to include this beauty.  Guys.  It's amazing.  And call me the typical white girl as long as you want (minus the Starbucks, more on that later) but there is nothing quite like a pumpkin coffee as you watch the leaves off your back porch.

Ah, a site of beauty. 

Would you look at that? Just look at it!

      Now onto the thoughts of my crazy, jumbled brain, if that wasn't crazy and jumbled enough for you.  My little sister is eighteen years old, which is a fact that usually blows my mind.  It doesn't seem that I'm old enough to have a little sister who has also crossed the bridge to the adult world. Yet, eighteen years old she is, and I'm incredibly proud of her.  It's an incredible blessing to go to the same college as her as well - we share a professor this semester and it is exciting to know that when he talks about his 'Freshman class,' he's talking about her.  

     Earlier this week she came home from classes and said that she wanted to go to Nicaragua over the winter break.  This floored me - because she's not a super adventurous gal.  Yet she was not only wanting to go on this trip, she was excited about it.  She pulled up pictures, schedules, and sent off her request for a passport.  As I'm typing this, she just came home with her passport picture all printed and ready to go.  Her deposit was put down Tuesday.  Talk about delving into something that you are passionate and striving after a goal that you've selected for yourself.

     She is going to be able to expand into a better version of herself on this trip, and it all stemmed from the ability to get out of her comfort zone.  Getting out of your comfort zone is what I'm thinking about quite a bit this week.  Mady is taking a leap of faith and adventure that I wish I would have had the bravery to do in my freshman year in college.  Not that my freshman college experience was horrible by any stretch of the imagination, but it was safe. 

     Our faith life isn't meant to be 'safe.' Or 'convenient.'  Instead, it is a call to get out of our comfort zones and interact with other human beings on this road to Heaven.  It means talking to people, and being vulnerable.  It means admitting you don't have it all together - and realizing that perfection is a goal that is only reached when Heaven is attained.

Take a lesson this week from Miss Mady.  Side not - she also blogs, I am beyond excited to be able to follow her adventures.  Get out of your comfort zone - and apply that to faith and general life goals tat you have in mind for yourself.  You do not have to travel internationally to accomplish amazing things for Christ.  You can be His hands and feet here with your own family, campuses, friends and workplaces.

    Saint Teresa of Avila (yet another one of my favorites up in Heaven) once said, "You pay God a compliment by asking great things of Him."  Don't be afraid to ask God for something that seems out of your reach.  If it is in His plan for your life, it's going to work out.  Awareness that the answer could be 'Yes,' 'No,' or 'Maybe' is also 

     I wrote about this earlier this week, but it's still relevant.  Get into the trenches.  Get out of your   comfort zone.  Life is too short - take it from the twenty year old who is realizing that my life could be over twenty percent lived.  Honestly, who knows? It could be that my life is already ninety percent completed.  But I know this - I don't want to look back on my life (however much of it God gives me) and think "Wow, I could have done so much more for Him if I'd only put my plan aside and let Him take over."

Be bold.  Jump into the deep end.  Drink some coffee.  Be Not Afraid.

Coffee and Catholicism

If there are two things that I am passionate about, two things that have a constant presence in my life...I'd have to say they would be coffee and Catholicism.  My mornings start not only with a good shot of caffeine, but also a morning offering or rosary on the way to work.  So this weekly blog series is going to combine my two favorite things in the world.

What I'm Drinking: Ok, I'll play favorites.  There is a little coffee shop on the corner of campus that I adore.  It has a more industrial theme, with exposed metal lighting, rough wooden benches, and modern, local art hanging from the walls.  The baristas are spectacular, and the drip brew coffee is phenomenal.  It's a popular place for off campus studying, and even on the weekend, seats could be hard to come by.  The hustle and bustle of student life is alive and well there, and the night crowd is fantastic.  Poetry readings, book clubs and local musicians draw different crowds.  In other words, the perfect place for people watching...one of my favorite hobbies.

The drink of today is my usual - I honestly have never tried anything else there.  Vanilla latte - medium, for here.  The cup has a quote inscribed in the inside rim - "Without love, it's just coffee."  Expertly crafted hearts line up, ready to be sipped and enjoyed.  I can be seen at the window, cup on the bar, laptop plugged in. This is my place.  This is my drink.

What I'm Thinking: Do you know what is really neat? (besides neature) Swing dancing.  I am by no means a pro at swing dancing, but there is something that is really awesome about it - and something I can't exactly pin point.  I love how classy it is - and how much Theology of the Body is tied into the dancing itself.  But more on that later - there's a whole post on that coming soon.

Anyway, this week at the campus center, we had a guest speaker come by and teaching us not only how to swing dance, but how swing dancing can correlate to our faith.  I was beyond excited.  So excited in fact that this deserves a Taylor Swift reaction.  Talk about an epic combination.  Ok, now onto what he really talked about.

taylor swift animated GIF

Have you ever danced with someone who you don't know? Maybe at a bar, or at a formal, but even if you have never danced with a stranger before, you can imagine how nerve racking it can be.  You don't know them, they don't know you.  Do you just worry about not stepping on their feet or do you try to strike up a conversation with them?  It's interesting.  It can be awkward.  But then you push past it, and realize that you may have some things in common (even if it's just the fact that you're both dancing) and you can have a great interaction with another human being.

What if we viewed evangelizing or talking about our faith in the same light?  Yep, sometimes in the initial conversations, it can be weird.  Do you say your plans include Mass when someone asks you what you are doing this weekend?  Or talk about the retreat you just went on with someone in class on Monday?  What about when a crude joke gets brought up in class, or a work place situation calls for you to stand your ground in terms of morality?  It's interesting.  It can be squishy.

When I swing dance now, I don't know what I'm doing.  Honestly.  I am exceedingly grateful to be the gal in this situation - I just have to follow a guy's lead.  Yet it takes a lot of trust to know that he isn't going to drop me or run me into another couple.  It also takes practice.  You can't just walk onto the dance floor in a bar and impress everyone with your mad skills (ok, maybe you can.  I can't.)  But after practice and familiarity with your partner, things start to get smooth - and you can really make an impact.

Your relationship with Christ is something that should invade your life - but it's also something that takes practice.  And time.  Do you know how long it takes someone to be considered an 'expert'?

 10,000

hours of practice.  So whether that practice is dedicated to swing dancing (not a bad use of your time, honestly) or your faith (even better use of your time) - or both! - know that practice does indeed help.  And your faith is never going to be 'perfect' - take it from the saints, you won't always have it together.  And that's ok.  Sometimes you'll back into someone on the dance floor.  You may drop someone, or get dropped - but you pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get right back at it. 

So that's my ramblings for this weekend.  If you need me, you can find me at this counter, pouring over Youtube swing dancers.  Feel free to join.

Have an amazing weekend,

Chloe M. 

Value of a Soul

This morning I stopped by my favorite coffee shop for a vanilla latte, a quiet place to write, and the general peaceful atmosphere.  The atmosphere of this particular coffee shop is really neat - it's right off of campus and a general gathering place for some pretty intellectual conversation.  Poetry nights and political discussions are often hosted there and the conversations overheard tend to be interesting.

Today's conversation was between a young man and older gentlemen who were discussing the morality of determining how a person contributes to society.  The younger man said that ultimately we have to decide when to let someone go because, essentially, they are causing more problems than solving them.  Which, from the looks of the body language of the two, didn't set well with the older gentleman.  In all reality, it shouldn't sit well with anyone.

In light of the recent videos released concerning Planned Parenthood's selling of the dismembered parts of aborted children though, this topic seemed highly relevant.

While the news explodes over the death of Cecil the lion in a big game hunt, where is the media outrage over the fact that innocent children, made in the image of God, in possession of an eternal soul were not only brutally murdered in their mothers' womb, but were then dismembered and sold.  To what depths has society sunk in that an atrocity such as that is not greeted with unanimous uproar and demand for justice?

The reason there isn't such a response is because we live in a world where a the value of a human soul in the eyes of their fellow humans is determined by their 'value.'  Not the value of their inherent worth as a child of God, but their value to the societal whole.  What can they do? What are they worth? What is their contribution? Are they 'valuable'?

Yet in order to make these rationalizations, the values system used by society is based on man made notions and significance factors.  Which means that each persons' value placement will vary based on subjective beliefs and conscience formation of those assigning placement.  And in an instant gratification and result driven society, those whose contributions to the greater good is non apparent or whose affect is gradual are considered menial and unnecessary for the 'greater good.'

credit

You can't tell me that this gorgeous smiling girl is less valuable and wanted just because she has a disability.  Or that if someone is down on their luck, they don't deserve a second chance?  The person who is struggling deserves the least amount of attention, because the focus should only be on the success stories? If someone doesn't fit into your box of societal perfection and contribution, they aren't worth having here?  Pardon me, but that sounds a lot like the notions of a certain German dictator.

But in the end, those who place value and judgement based on their own morality are affected negativity as well.  Similar to Ronald Reagan's saying, "I have noticed that everyone who is pro-abortion has already been born," those who claim the authority to decide who is or isn't a contributing member of society primarily consider themselves the cream of the contribution crop and outside the evaluation of their peers for the greater good of society.

Ultimately, the point that I'm trying to vocalize, and tend to ramble on about, is that the value of a person and their eternal soul is something that can only be given through the objective moral compass prescribed by the maker and lover of the soul itself...God.  Who better than the originator?

Amazingly, we have the ability to see how God says each soul measures up.  In fact, He tells us Himself. In 1 Samuel 16:7, God says,  "The Lord does not look at the things people look at.  People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."

Look at the example of Mother Teresa.  The people she spent her life around, in the eyes of the 'greater societal good' had no value.  The man dying from malnutrition and laying on the road was just seen as taking up space.  The child who had no one to care for him was a waste of effort.  Yet she poured her life out for them.  Why?  Why spend your days in the dredge of people who can never return the favor, and in reality, may not even make it back out of the hospital.

Because they deserve love.  Despite what they can or cannot give.  The beauty of the gift of giving though is that you can never give out of the love of your heart without receiving blessing in return.  "Our life of poverty is as necessary as the work itself.  Only in Heaven will we see how much we owe the poor for helping us to love God better because of them."  (Mother Teresa)

And even if you look at your relationship with God, you find that God loved you despite the fact that you can never repay Him.  If anything, we owe our lives to Him simply because He gave His while we were still sinners.

Who are you?

I'm one of those people who can find happiness in the weird, small things.  Some people probably think I'm crazy - but this world is so full of amazing things to like.  I'm very easily excited by a house with a red door, a really great YouTube video, getting to spend time playing outside with a big dog, or my favorite book being in at the library when I hadn't requested it.

I'm a homeschool graduate through and through...I love reading.  Ever since high school, I've read like crazy.  I read the 'normal stuff,' like classics, modern literature, juvenile fiction.  But I also read 'not so normal stuff' too, backs of magazines, Kraft's message to me on the back of their Mac and Cheese boxes and weird non fiction books.  Example: Last summer, my project was a 900 page biography of Ted Williams, a Red Sox left fielder whose son had his remains cryonically frozen.  I couldn't tell you the reason why I picked that book.  I love watching baseball, but I love the game itself and not the teams, and I'm not even a huge Red Sox friend.  But even though I don't know why Ted Williams was my summer reading, I do know that random. weird subject topic reading is fascinating to me.

I love coffee.  I had my first cup at age ten and then after that, forget about it.  I easily drink through a pot a day, and it's probably one of my biggest expenses during the college year.  I've visited every cafe in town, have my favorites, and like to think they recognize me when I walk through the door.  Thanks to my sister's job as a barista, I am pretty well versed in the menu.  That's right, I know the difference between a latte and a cappuccino - be amazed.  I can even make my own espresso.   And I know it's cliche, to be the college girl who likes coffee, but it's me.

I know what I love.  My favorite band, my favorite movie, my favorite ice cream flavor.  I know my passions, my best friend saints, favorite Bible verses, and dog breed.

Do you?

Do you know who you are? Who is your identity?  What is your story?

Know who you are - your identity in God.  But know who you are, not for yourself or for your own benefit, but so that you can be a gift.  

Whitney Houston sang this song called Greatest Love of All.  And in it, she sings, "The greatest love of all is easy to achieve  - leaning to love yourself is the greatest love of all."

Sorry to break it to Whitney, but you were wrong.  It's not the love of yourself that will fill your heart to bursting and make you want to sing to the world about how great life is.  John 15:13 says, "There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends."  Great love - no, the greatest love?  It's selfless.

Love is sacrifice - and that involves a sacrifice of yourself.  So don't know who you are so that you can keep it to yourself.  Know who you are so that you can connect with others and than bring them to Christ.  Know yourself so that you can form friendships that are Christ centered, but are also common-centered.  Being passionate about something opens your possibilities and your awareness that, frankly, this world is amazing.  And God-filled.  And awe-inspiring.

If there is something you do this summer...live.  Explore.  Fall in love with God and ask Him who He created you to be.

Pope Francis told the youth of a Roman college "You were made to live...not just exist."

Sounds like a good life motto to me.