What It Means To Illuminate Peace


Hello readers! It has been a while, hasn’t it? Well, I’m safe here in my second semester at Franciscan University, and I’ve semi-retired from blogging to focus on all the stress that comes from being an English major. I have to write about two essays, from 800-2000 words, every week, so fun writing is pretty low on my priority scale. How have I stayed sane with that kind of workload? Mostly through the amazing ladies of my household, Illuminata Pace.

Here's most of us. I'm in there somewhere!
Here’s most of us. I’m in there somewhere!

Illuminata Pace, translated to “illuminating peace,” is a household dedicated to Franciscan spirituality, and we center our lives around peace, joy, humility, and prayer. I’d never really considered peace hugely important before I came, and I thought the peace prayer of St. Francis was just a weird song that my grandparent’s very 70’s parish sang, with twangy guitars, to the point where nobody really listened anymore. Certainly, I never thought of peace as something illuminating. But we pray the prayer several times a week, and the more I’ve looked at it, the more it’s come to mean to me. For all of you who have forgotten, here are the words:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Amen.

I started saying this prayer as a morning offering when I became a full sister in Illuminata Pace two months ago, and it has led me to do a lot of meditating on the nature of peace and what peace can do.  CCC 2304 says that “Peace is not merely the absence of war…Peace is “the tranquillity of order.” Peace is the work of justice and the effect of charity.” There have been a lot of reasons this semester to not be peaceful, but the words of the peace prayer stop me, slow me down, and help me remember who I am as a sister of illuminating peace. Every line has had its place in my life.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace… We are not the creators of peace, but merely the instruments of God’s peace.  As Mother Theresa said, we’re just little pencils in the hands of a writing God, who is writing a love letter to the world. We need to ask God to let us be His instruments, His paintbrushes of peace, so that He can cover the whole world in peace. We must be grounded firmly in the peace of Christ to give His peace to the world, and it’s a peace that surpasses all understanding. Being instruments of God, surrendering ourselves to the higher calling of Christ, allows us to enter into that peace fully.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love… when people are angrily gossiping, are mad at each other, or are refusing to respect human dignity, being instruments of God’s peace means gently and lovingly leading them in a better direction, and prayerfully asking Him to show you what that better direction is.

Where there is injury, pardon… when I have hurt someone, or someone has hurt me, being an instrument of peace means being the first to apologize, the first to forgive. Is it difficult? Hell yes! But oh, the graces that come from this struggle of peace are incredible. This, again, requires constant prayer while trying to do, but when you ground forgiveness in peace, it becomes much easier to give.

Where there is doubt, faith… People, even people at Franciscan University, doubt the love of God. They doubt the forgiveness of God. They even doubt the existence of God when desolation becomes strong enough. Being the light of peace means letting God shine through you into those people, in whatever way you can. It means listening, encouraging, explaining points of the faith, and doing it all in prayer and with the quiet joy of peace that allows doubts, but strives to assuage them.

Where there is despair, hope... People despair. I despair. A year ago, on October 23, 2015, I tried to kill myself. I think many people know what despair feels like. Many cannot get out on their own, and need a leg up. Peace is that divine elevator to help people out of despair. Peace sees the trials and pains of life and acknowledges them, but doesn’t let them win. Peace allows pain to be put in the right place, as something real and difficult, but not overwhelming as long as one is clinging to the cross, even if one is only clinging to their cross through the nails that are holding them to it. Peace sees all that, and reminds us that, no matter how painful the crucifixion is, there is a resurrection to come, and so we need not worry that the pain will completely overwhelm us. Being an instrument of peace here means being there for those people who are in their stage of crucifixion, being there to remind them that every Easter Sunday comes after a painful Good Friday and a cold and dead Holy Saturday. You don’t even have to say it out loud to them. You just have to pray and love as God leads you to.

Where there is darkness, light… the world is dark, but, as St. Francis said, all the darkness of the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle. We can be the light in a dark world when we allow peace to illuminate us, when we allow God to lead us in peace even as all the darkness of our fallen world seems to be sinking around us.We illuminate peace when we study the teachings of the Church and gain knowledge about God. We illuminate peace when we shine through the darkness of ignorance and lead people to the truth of the gospel. We illuminate peace when we choose perfect joy over anger at our situations, when we choose to sink into the joy of the gospel that counteracts the world’s calls to dissatisfaction and cynicism.

Where there is sadness, joy… One of the charisms of Illuminata Pace is this perfect joy, which we’ve matched to this picture: our-lady-of-sorrows

This picture of Our Mother of Sorrows seems contradictory to joy, what with all the tears and the corpse of Christ in the middle. But perfect joy is found in perfect suffering, because suffering allows us to see clearly what choosing joy means. It doesn’t mean ignoring all suffering. It means putting it into its proper place, and recognizing that all the pain of the world cannot ever destroy the joy of the Incarnation and the Resurrection, and cannot even begin to come close to threatening the joy of heaven. Peace puts our thoughts solely on those things, puts our eyes on the lighthouse of heaven so that all the storms of the world, while they may crash and blow, are seen as what they are– changeable nature, not eternal life. When we sink into perfect joy, we create a beautiful example of peace, one that others will want to emulate. Peace illuminates, it spreads outward from the person who is peaceful and lights up everyone around them.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console… Illumination goes outward from the person, by definition. Peace isn’t really about what we’re getting, it’s about what we’re giving to the world. We aren’t seeking to be consoled be others, we’re trying to give them the consolation of God. God has no arms but ours with which to hold people, no ears but ours with which to listen to them, no mouth but ours with which to encourage. We ask for the grace to be these for Him.

To be understood, as to understand... The peace of Christ makes us as absolutely selfless as He is. We know He understands us when we are secure in His peace. Others might not feel that way, and might need human understanding to be reminded of the all-understanding love of God. We need the grace of God to be able to understand the hurts of others and to show to them how God’s understanding is even greater.

To be loved as to love… Again, peace makes us selfless. We aren’t seeking to become instruments of peace so that we can have all the love and admiration of people. We are here to love others. Everything we have been given is for the good of others, and that includes the love of God. To be peacefully secure in the love of God is to want others to be as secure, so we must prayerfully try to show that love to everyone we meet without any thought for what we are getting out of the deal. Heaven is quite enough, thank you.

For it is in giving that we receive… Mother Theresa is quoted as saying “I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.” The same goes for peace. However much we may give, God constantly gives us more. To wish to give all your God-given peace away is to also be giving a never-empty fountain of peace. We cannot ever run out of the love of God or the peace of God. He will always give more as long as we are giving.

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned… Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, right? When we pardon the faults of others, no matter how much they have hurt us, we can be confident that God will forgive us to the same degree. God follows our lead on that point. His capacity to forgive us is infinite, yes, but He will forgive us only as much as we forgive others. So we must forgive everything, and be peacemakers to all, and seek to forgive as infinitely as we wish to be forgiven.

And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life… I am going to die. It is going to hurt more than I can ever adequately describe. The thought of how painful my eventual death will be drove me to try to kill myself, that’s how afraid I am of it. But the peace of Christ takes away that sting, because no matter how much death scares and hurts, it will never be greater than the joy of heaven. The great paradox of Christianity is that we lovingly accept even the hardest death, so as to gain eternal life. Even if your suffering is so great that it kills you, if you suffer in the peace of Christ, you can be secure in His promise of heaven. And that makes it all worth it, doesn’t it?

Amen? Amen. Now, have a really pretty sung version of the prayer, and go out and illuminate!

Love to all!

-Tani

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“I Stopped Talking to God Because He Stopped Talking to Me.”


“I stopped praying because I feel like God never says anything back.”

A few friends have said things along these lines, and it’s pretty disconcerting. We all feel better when God talks to us, right? We feel peaceful and empowered, and that’s a good thing. But most human prayer doesn’t get a concrete answer, and it’s silly to think that it should. 

God is not a vending machine. You can’t expect that if you put x-amount of time/energy/prayer/sacrifice in, you’ll definitely get what you want out of Him. God does not owe us answers. He is not our servant, waiting on our every word so that He can give us all the attention we need. He is not our boyfriend, showering us with constant ministrations. Heck, He’s not even human, with the human need to interact. Trying to fit God into one of these boxes will just lead to frustration. 

God is God. He’s all-knowing and all-powerful. He’s a pure spirit, and He is complete and perfect on His own. He doesn’t need to talk to you in order for you to see His love for you- that should be brutally obvious just from looking around you. From the colors that you see to how your body works to the sounds of birds singing… all of the entire universe exists so that God could show his love. And you demand more? You demand that He personally come down and talk directly to you, as though you are the most important person in the world? 

Don’t get me wrong, you are very important to Him. St. Augustine said that, “If you were the only person on earth, Christ would have still suffered and died for you.” And that’s true. But don’t let that puff up your ego, for the love of God. Don’t think that just because God died for you, you are somehow owed personal interaction. It doesn’t work that way. God will choose whether or not He talks to you, and you will still be infinitely loved and cared for even if He does not. In fact, it would probably be better for you if He didn’t speak. The silence on the other end of the lines forces us outside of ourselves, forces us to look around us at the world to see what His answer is. When we stew in our misery that the creator-of-the-universe didn’t pop in for a spot of tea and a chat, we miss the homeless man on our doorstep, the children crying for clean water, the war-torn nation begging for help. Our focus is incessantly on ourselves, so we can’t stop to see the misery of others, which is so easily fixed that it’s a marvel nobody bothers to do anything about it. 

You know who God does talk to? The humble. The people who don’t expect Him to. The people who love Him and praise Him even when they can’t feel Him. The people who are kind to their brothers and sisters around them without Him having to ask them to be.

So here’s my advice. Let. It. Go. (Yes, we all did just sing the song.) Follow God, praise Him in good times and in bad ones, be charitable to each other, be merciful, be humble. Put your whole heart and soul into helping others, don’t leave even the tiniest bit of yourself free to be miserable. God doesn’t come in the fire, or the windstorm, or the earthquake… He comes in the silence and stillness of a patient and humble heart.

Pray without ceasing, as St. Paul said to the Thessalonians, rejoicing always and giving thanks in all circumstances. Give thanks when you feel happy. Give thanks when you feel sad. Give thanks that you woke up this morning and had access to food and even to internet, for your friends and family and dog who all love you, for the sacrifice on calvary and the sacrifice of the mass, for the color of sunlight on leaves and the twinkle in a child’s eye and that lovely bit of music you heard as you walked down the street. There are a lot of things to talk to God about, when you try. Pray especially, if you are someone who struggles with God not talking to you, for the virtues of patience, humility, and peace.

Love to all!

-Tani

Walking The Line


I love the internet.

I love the internet because it allows you to connect with people, from all over the world, who believe the same way as you. I love the internet because you have a wealth of information at your fingertips. I love the fact that there is a light veneer of anonymity on the internet. I can present myself as some polished and wise and mature young woman who is ready to take on the world, not a shy and awkward girl with messy hair. I can say whatever I want on the internet without fear of repercussions.

We all know that I loathe the “don’t judge” mentality, because it gives the impression that sin doesn’t exist or doesn’t matter and we should all just stand by and let sin happen, regardless of the consequences. I will always feel this way, I can promise that. But, especially in the past few weeks, I’ve been experiencing a rather radical paradigm shift.

In a previous post  I said, ” …to continue fighting now, not out of love, but out of hatred, is folly!” That post was about how a battle to shut down an anti-Christian page had just turned into a crapstorm of hatred from both sides, and we needed to back off. I’d say that a lot of the fighting we do on the internet (including people who fight alongside me on the Catholic Memes page) has become more hate-based than love based, especially on the hot-button topics of homosexuality and abortion.

I’ve noticed that we have stopped distinguishing between the sin and the sinner. Both are roundly condemned, and nobody ever speaks a word of forgiveness or hope. Brothers and sisters, our only purpose in life is to get ourselves and those around us to heaven. Screaming on the internet that every woman who has an abortion is a murderer might be true (she killed her child, yes, that’s murder) but it’s not helpful for her soul. Whining that every homosexual is depraved might be true (ok, no, it’s not- they are human beings trying to fill the human need for love with another human, instead of with God) but saying won’t get them to heaven. I have forgotten that every human being, no matter their sin, is loved and unique and deserves respect simply because they were made in the image and likeness of God.

Some people don’t want to hear that. They want to yell that homosexuality, abortion, contraception, etc. are all the worst sins ever. They feel holy when they talk like that. I’ve been there. But abortion is usually a choice made by a woman who first made a terrible mistake and then made the wrong choice- she’s not some slut who has an abortion for the sheer joy of killing something, like many well-meaning internet commenters would like us to believe. Abortion hurts women, and post-abortive women are far more likely to be depressed and suicidal than the rest of the population, and we aren’t helping them heal and be forgiven when we call them murderers and tell them they are going to hell; they might be bound there, sure, but they at least deserve the chance to be healed. The best thing for these poor women would be for them to know God, know his forgiveness for the sin of abortion, and then be reunited with their babies in heaven.

Homosexuality is no worse and no better than any other form of fornication. And when we realize where all that kind of sin comes from (again, a desire that God placed in every soul to love and be loved) we shouldn’t feel anger, we should feel compassion. I won’t go too deeply into the homosexuality topic, because, while browsing the interwebs, I found an AMAZING post about what an actual person with homosexual tendencies thinks of the horrific arguments that we used on her and people (yes, PEOPLE) like her. So go read that, and prepare to have your world rocked a bit.

Back to the no-judging bit. I’m just going to amend that- don’t tolerate sin, but don’t tell people they are going to hell. You don’t know that. Tell them, instead, that there is mercy and forgiveness and love, everything they ever wanted, and they aren’t going to find it in sex or in drugs or in parties or in anything but God. No matter what sin your brother struggles with, he is just like you in that he deeply craves love and may be looking for it in all the wrong places. So why not show him that love? Open his eyes to the everlasting, life-changing, soul-filling love of God. If you don’t, who will?

Love to all!

-Tani

How to Give Up like a Christian (even if you’re winning.)


Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve almost definitely heard about the internet-wide firestorm of controversy surrounding the Facebook page “The Virgin Mary Should Have Aborted.” Hundreds of thousands of Catholics and Christians got together (as was their right, if not their duty) to shut this page down. Together we said that hate-speech against our religion and against Mary would not be tolerated. And it was hate-speech. It was irrational, incorrect, mindless hatred targeted towards a specific group for no reason except that the page creator disliked their beliefs. If a Catholic were to make a hate-page against Hinduism or Islam with the same slurs and profanity that this page presented, it would still be an evil act that would not be tolerated. So, like many of you, I joined the fight, reported the page, argued with the trolls, and tried to speak the truth.
And we won!
(Sorta.)
They got a new page today, same name, and the Athirsts (typo very much intended) are very, very pissed off at us. Many Catholics are now trying to shut the new page down as well, which prompts me to ask, what are we fighting for? Why are we fighting? Heck, who are we fighting?
At this point, the battle against the page has become less about defending The Blessed Virgin, and more about one-upping the haterz. I see Christians who are so obsessed with winning that they’re gleefully calling the members of the page idiots, devils, and hell-bound bastards. This, sadly, produces the opposite effect to what they want- instead of shaming the page members and helping them see truth, we’re giving them a martyr complex and reinforcing their stereotype that we are rabid hate-mongerers.
Guys, THIS ISN’T CHRISTIAN. The life of a Christian is one of mortification and humility, not seeing how much we can make the Athirsts hate us! We fought, yes, and we won a very small battle. However, to continue fighting now, not of love, but of hatred, is folly! We know who wins the war for this world, and it’s not going to be the Athirsts! Unless your fight for truth comes from a desire to spread the love of God, the fight is immoral.
So, brothers and sisters, at this point, we need to lose. We need to back off, cool down, and remember that Christ forgave his torturers even as he hung from the cross. Forgive them, because they don’t know what they’re doing! They are SO THIRSTY for love, but they deny themselves of Love’s very existence. This has made them bitter, sick, cruel, and… Athirst! Thus the name I’ve been calling them this whole time! Have compassion for these wandering souls, lost in a darkness of their own making, and treat them with the love and respect they deserve as people made in the image and likeness of God! Then, and only then, can you ever hope to reach them.
Love to all!
-Tani

Vocation, vocation, vocation (Or, God is yelling at me again.)


There are few things that make me prouder than to see my friends express a desire to enter the priesthood or religious life. There are also few things that make me more jealous. See, my vocation and I aren’t very good friends. You are probably sitting there thinking, “ooh, Tani’s about to tell us she’s called to be a nun AHHH!”
Actually… No. This is where it gets annoying. Lets go back to impatience. As I mentioned a few days ago, I am very, very impatient. I plan things out weeks in advance, because I always want to know everything that’s going to happen. I’m a writer (well, duh!) and when I write, every post and essay has a long and detailed plan that it must follow. I keep plans for my week in every detail on my phone (and occasionally written on my arm.) I always need to know what is going on and when and why.
Sadly, God doesn’t always tell me exactly what He is planning. Ok, scratch that, God never tells you exactly what his plan is (he doesn’t have to, he’s God. You’re along for the ride.) All we know is that there is a plan, and that it’s a plan for good things. It’s in Scripture- in Jeremiah 29:11, God says that he “knows the plans he has for you, plans for prosperity and not harm, to give you a hope and a future.”

But hey, impatient Tani over here. Can I have those detailed plans for my entire life, like, right now?
God doesn’t work like that. Now, here’s the part you’ve been waiting for for two whole paragraphs and an aside. I am not called to religious life. But I sure as heck want to be! An entire lifetime of service to God with my fellow nuns and never having to worry about stinky boys again? SCORE.
Seriously, though, I wish I was. The contemplative life, the life of a sister, speaks to me. A few years ago, I was so sure of my vocation to the married life, but then I got sick. One of the effects of EDS is that I will probably be unable to ever carry a pregnancy to term. My body is just too fragile to handle it, and either the baby or I (or both of us) would die. This is deeply painful, since I very much want to be a mom. I’ve been struggling with this, of course- how could God give me a vocation to marriage if I can’t have kids? How can I be faithful to the call of being open to life in my marriage, if the child or myself could die? So I started discerning the single life and religious orders. But I’ve been so full of confusion and chaotic fear that I can barely stand to think on those options. When I think about being married, I feel peaceful… Until my doubts come back to assault my mind.
I’m realizing now, after neglecting this blog for months, that there are a lot of things I just haven’t surrendered. At LEAD, I was forced to share the Surrender the Brownies story (ok, so not forced… I needed to talk about how God changed my life, and I picked that story.) and it really brought into sharp focus just how many things I was allowing myself to fear, how many things I was refusing to Surrender because I was afraid it would hurt more to Surrender than to worry. But you know what I forgot?
(Evelyn, you can turn away now, I know you hate it when I get this way!)
I forgot that God has a plan. I forgot that God won’t let me fall. I forgot that I had told God in February 2012 that my entire life was his to control. I forgot that God had changed my life when I added too much flour to a pan of cheesecake brownies. I even forgot that God loves me! How could I do that?!?
So, am I still worried about my vocation? Yes. But I’m going to try, from today onward, to trust God with it and simply be open to His will. I love the quote by Elizabeth Elliot that graces the top of the web page (under the STB sign!)
“God is God. Because He is God, He is worthy of my trust and obedience. I will find rest nowhere but in His holy will, a will that is unspeakably beyond my largest notions of what He is up to.”
Surrender your brownies, my friends. God has a plan for them.
Love to all!
-Tani (who is AGAIN writing a deep thoughts post at 11:40 at night while sitting on the bathroom sink with an empty toothbrush because she just felt like she needed to say something. Gosh.)

The Terrible Comfort of Hell (and Purgatory, cause, y’know, God is merciful and stuff.)


***WARNING- POSSIBLY INFLAMMATORY STATEMENTS AHEAD. IF YOU’RE NOT TOO AFRAD TO HURT ANYONE’S FEELINGS, READ AHEAD. IF NOT, DON’T READ THIS POST.***

If you’ve been watching the news lately, you probably HAVEN’T heard of Kermit Gosnell. He’s the guy who killed hundreds of babies born alive at his abortion clinic by stabbing them in the neck with scissors. I was going to put a picture of one his victims, but I can’t even look at the pictures. They are so horrible- children who are full-size, who came out alive and screaming, and he callously butchered them. Now, the media desperately wants to cover this up. They don’t want this accurate representation of what not only Gosnell, but every other abortionist in the world does, which is slaughter children. It looks like Gosnell will be getting off pretty much scott-free.

Or will he?

There’s a place that Christians don’t want to talk about. A place that most Christians like to pretend doesn’t exist, because it would mean that some people are actually bad. A place so terrible that the very name is curse word. Hell is controversial- most people would rather believe in a God who loves puppies and rainbows and never sends anyone to hell because he loves us soooo much and no matter what you do, you’ll never go there. These people believe in puppy Jesus.

Cuddles and rainbows and butterflies!
Cuddles and rainbows and butterflies, Batman! It’s puppy Jesus!

This is the guy who never cleared out a temple with a whip, who never insulted any pharisees, who never said “I bring not peace, but the sword.” (Matt. 10:34) Oh no. Puppy Jesus said only one big thing, which was “don’t judge. Cause it’s not nice and stuff.” Then he died and rose from the dead so that everyone on earth could live happily ever after in judgeless peace. Angels sang Kumbaya, the Bible magically fell down from heaven, and life is good.

Groovy!
Groovy!

But the fact remains, that Hell absolutely exists! Yes, Jesus is God and God is love, but that does not mean that he doesn’t condemn those who chose to be condemned. It is because God is so merciful that Hell exists- God loves us SO MUCH that He lets us decide if we want to live our lives without Him. And if we want, we can have an afterlife without Him too. Hell isn’t just about sin being punished- Hell is the everlasting consequence of pride. There is no escape from Hell- every single evil thing you have said or done is counted. You can’t hide or use public opinion to counteract your own sin. It will catch up with you one day.

What does this have to do with Kermit Gosnell? It’s a comfort to those of us who are heartbroken by the evils that he can’t escape them forever. Even if he’s acquitted of these crimes here on earth, one day he will get justice. But hey, hey, you say- that’s not very Christian to wish Hell on someone! Which is why I don’t, and it’s not my job to decide if he goes there or not. Do I wish justice? Heck yes! Can I say that what he did is evil? Yes again! But I don’t wish him to go to hell. Now, a nice, long purgatory stay sounds nice. And if he repented, like the great Bernard Nathanson (abortion doctor who killed an estimated 20,000 children, then repented and became a driving force in the pro-life movement) it would be a cause for rejoicing in heaven and on earth! There is no sin too great for forgiveness- as long as you are truly repentant.

So there’s the comfort, but what’s the terror bit? It’s the fact that I can’t escape, either. Every single time that I have lied, said something cruel, thought something impure, snapped out in anger, and not repented- it’s on my soul. I am deserving of hell as much as Gosnell is right now. But repentance- going to confession, doing my penance, and striving to do better- can give me a clean slate. Nothing compares to how amazing you feel after confession- the feeling of weightlessness, that your sins are forgiven. Now, you may still need purgatory to burn off the last attachments to sin you have, because only that which is 118.5% pure can enter heaven, but the bulk of your sin is GONE. Your robes are washed clean in the blood of the lamb!

So pray, pray, pray, my brothers and sisters, for the conversion of Gosnell. He should at least have the chance to repent, the chance to turn from his evil ways. He will be forgiven, if he but asks, and we will welcome home with open arms! And pray for the end of the wickedness of abortion- life is precious from conception until natural death, and only God should have the power to end it, not any person for any reason.

Thanks for your time.

Love to all!

-Tani

Love to Banish Fear.


“If, then, you are looking for the way by which you should go, take Christ, because He Himself is the way. ” -St. Thomas Aquinas

To be full of Christ is to be empty of all fear. To love Christ is to be empty of all hatred of others. To trust Christ is to be empty of all pride. We live here, now, as cowards and fools, concerned with ourselves and our  problems. We are callous fighters, lusting blindly over pleasures so small as to be insignificant except to our own minds. We look with fear upon both God and our fellow men, or rather, at anything we cannot ourselves control. We love only that which we can understand. We may claim to love God, but we ignore our brothers and sisters who live in the dark and the cold.

As Christians, it is a tragedy that we live thus. We are called not to love only God, but each other. God is not a person that we can give a hug to, in fact the only way we can really show love to God is to love our neighbors, our enemies, the random people on the street. To stand in the gap, put one foot in heaven and one on earth, and be a bridge for the love of God to cross out into the world. There is no fear here, no doubt. Though this may seem to be a lovely fairytale, we need only ask for the courage to stand, the courage to love, and it will be given.

Just an unreachable dream?

Many of us grew up hearing about David and Goliath, to the point where now it’s just another tale in the league of Cinderella, pretty, but not really considered possible. Well, I can tell you that it is possible, when one is filled with the love of God, to stand before a giant, to walk on water, to ride singing to your execution. There is nothing that can stand against you, no army, no demon, no fear that can possibly prevail against you.

Psalm 27:1
The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?”

If you would, please go and listen to Luminate’s new song- Banner of Love. That is our calling, right there. Love is our banner. We have been filled with the Holy Spirit for this purpose. In the words of the mass, “Go forth to love and serve the Lord!”

God’s love is huge enough for all of us to enjoy. It’s so huge that He made an entire universe of stars for us to look at and enjoy. He made our skin to feel the cool winds that He sends. He made all the sweet smelling flowers and the sweet sounds of water and trees. He made the colors on a peacock, the eyelashes that protect our eyes, the lovely curves and shadows of clouds, the taste buds on our tongues, the sweetness of honey, and the savoriness of a juicy steak. He made all this, and more, for the single purpose of making us happy! And even then, He had more to give! He became a human being, suffered the most torturous death ever imaginable, and rose again, all for us! He comes into our hearts every time we pray to Him, and He answers every prayer! He gave us numerous books and many great people to teach us about Him! He gives us friends, family, pets, houses, food, jobs, comfort, and life itself! We owe him everything! The least we could do is spread some of that love around, eh?

Be not afraid. Those three words are repeated dozens of times in the bible. Many people are afraid to love, afraid that to show their faith they will be subject to ridicule and abuse. They add this on to the piles of other things they fear, like snakes or speaking in public. I know, I’ve been there too. It took an awful lot of brownie-surrendering to get me out, and even now I still fall in to the trap of fear sometimes! For the past month, I lost track of my trust because I worried incessantly about how my disease was affecting my future. Thankfully, after a lot of praying and a lovely time in adoration, I managed to get back up and begin to rebuild my faith. This post is for me every bit as much as it is for you!

Mother Theresa said,”“I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.” Love isn’t something to be feared. Love is something to fall in to, like being hit in the head by one of those big waves at the beach, love should knock you head-over-heels, twisting you around and covering you with light. Fall in love with God first, and before you know even know how, you’ll be loving every person around you, simply because it makes God happy! If you don’t know how to love God, don’t be afraid! God takes even the desire to love Him as loving Him, and He’ll give you that love and that grace until you are overflowing with it!

And, with love as our shield, we can do anything! Cure diseases, walk on water, speak in tongues, set the world on fire with love! We can go from the poorest of slums to the richest of palaces, approach every man, overcome any danger, with the banner of love held high above us! There is no more fear, no more self-doubt. The future is in God’s hands, because there, we know that everything will work out for good. Our pasts have no more hold. What do we care if we are ridiculed or persecuted  It’s only some pride that we lose. We carry something so much greater than simple fame. We cary the all-encompassing love of a God who seeks only to love us and be loved in return! So go out now, love! Love! For the greater glory of God!

Peace, blessings, and most importantly LOVE to all!

-Tani

What’s really important.


As a Church, we Catholics (and heck, Christians in general) are a diverse and argumentative group. We sit and complain all day that the choirs were bad, the priest was facing the wrong way, some bimbo is wearing spagetti straps, and then get upset when opinions clash. But what we fail to see is…

NONE OF IT MATTERS. 

Not a bit. The choir can croak, the priest can stand backwards or forwards, the people can drip out of their clothes. In the end, these are like bug bites compared to the crucifixion of problems that assault our churches today. While we squabble like seagulls fighting over a bagel, the Christian and Catholic communities are being flayed alive about contraception, homosexuality, divorce, and the Eucharist. Christian pastors are portrayed as fuddy-duddies, Catholic priests are pedophiles, Christian families are backward, nuns are evil, and we’re all brainless sheep, a position supported and underscored by all of our fighting.

What really matters is not that we are perfectly up to par on the teachings of our respective Churches. It’s not that we are almost Pharisee-like in our devotion to our rules.

What really matters is that Jesus died for each and every one of us. What really matters is that He loves us more than a universe of words could ever explain. What really matters is that every person finds Him in their own way, and if that’s with praise and worship or chant, with a pastor or a priest, in a church or in a car listening to the radio, that that is how God wants it to be. We have bigger things at stake than just some pride. We are living in a country that does not respect life, does not respect women, does not respect marriage, does not respect religion, and does not respect the holiness of work. Our petty bickering seems pretty small after all that, eh?

We must stand together on these big issues. For the small ones, live as you see fit. Complain if you must, but remember that each person is gloriously different and has come to God in their own way. Each person has a plan and a path that is different than yours. I believe that a Mormon or a Baptist can be every bit as passionate as a Lutheran or a Catholic. We all love God, and God loves ALL OF US.

And that’s what’s really important.

Live with joy, my friends.

Love to all-

-Tani

Respecting the Eucharist. (Catholics only!)


Have you ever stopped to wonder at how amazing the gift of Holy Communion is? I mean, first, you have the fact that God himself, the creator of the universe and the trees and eyeballs and musical notes, became one of his most imperfect creations, took on every sin of every person ever, suffered an agonizing death, and then came back to life three days later, all for the love of you. Secondly, we’ve been given a gift by this selfsame God, the gift of His presence any time we need it, not simply to be looked at or thought about occasionally, but to be ingested, to be made one with our very selves, in a form both humble and glorious- a piece of bread. Just as Christ clothes Himself in our unworthy flesh, He now clothes himself in the humble form of the Eucharist- a mix of water, flour, and salt. Ane anytime the words of consecration are spoken over this bread, the bread becomes something infinitely more glorious- Christ himself. The man who healed the sick, drove out demons, cleansed the lepers, challenged the complacent, bolstered the weak, gave strength the the martyrs, died on the cross, was buried in a tomb, rose from the dead, returned to heaven, will return again, and is inside a piece of bread to be eaten by you and me. Take a second now, and just think about the glory of it all!

Now that you’ve had your second, it’s time to think of the complacency we treat the Eucharist with. It’s as normal to us as taking a shower or tying our shoes- we do it so often that we cease to think about it. And when we cease the really meditate on the immense power and love of God that the Host represents, we cease to respect the host. After Vatican II, many pastors took the ideas of reform in the wrong way, and began to encourage the disrespect. Kneeling when receiving the Eucharist was all but abolished, and now many people take the host by hand, tossing it into their mouths like popcorn. It’s almost as though we are saying to God in the Eucharist, “I don’t need to kneel before you. I’m every bit as important as you are, so why bother to show respect?” This mindset is not only wrong, but sinful. God has given you everything you have, but do we care? Of course not! As the good president said, “He didn’t build that!” (Feel the sarcasm, Barak!) We helped, or so we think. We obeyed, when it sounded Ok with our plans. We walked the straight and narrow, when it didn’t get in the way of our pleasure. Should we really have to show respect to a God who only really sat in the passenger seat and gave occasional advice to us, the drivers?

So how does one show respect to the great gift that is our Eucharist? I, to speak of myself, have since Easter knelt when I received the host and the wine. I also wear the mantilla, the veil that shows respect by covering my head,  helping to block out visual distractions. I do not, or at least not yet, advocate that everyone do this, and I know that for some it is physically impossible. But I do advocate that we at least stop receiving in the hand, and receive on the tongue instead. Try working your way up, to more and more respect and love for the Eucharist. We must not let ourselves make the Eucharist mundane, the mass a boringly normal event. It is the apex of Catholic life, the crowning glory of God’s love story with humanity.