God Sightings!

Icon of the Transfiguration by Theophanes the ...

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I have not posted anything in a couple days, and for that, I apologize.  In my defense, my dad messed up the internet and I have not been able to get on the computer that is hard-wired to the internet because it is in my parent’s room and they go to bed while the sun is still up.

So here are some “God Sightings” that I’ve had these past couples days:

1) Mom and I went downtown on Wednesday because she had jury duty and I wanted a vacation from my house/give her moral support.  On the way back to the train station, we stopped by a church to say hi to Jesus for a little bit.  About five minutes in (and some random whispered side-conversations later), I noticed the monstrance, and suddenly it clicked that we were literally in the presence of Jesus, and I suddenly felt all nervous and stuff because I found myself in the presence of Christ in the Eucharist and had been making all that noise with Mom.  It made me think, though, about all those times I don’t realize how THERE God IS.  God sometimes likes to hide right in front of my face, in plain sight.  Sometimes I’m just the one whose eyes aren’t open all the way.  Intriguing indeed.

2) Earlier in the day, one of my best friends was telling me a story about a vision she had in Alabama. Of course I believed that she saw it, but also believed she was a little whackadoodle in the noggin, because well, God has never spoken to me in such a crazy amazing way, and if it hasn’t happened to me, then it isn’t possible, of course.  Later in the evening I went to my young adult group at my church and we talked about the transfiguration of the Lord (where Jesus took Peter, James, and John up the mountain and got really glowy and God said “This is my son! Right here! Do you see him?? Do you need a brick to fall on your heads??”).  We were talking about why it is that God chose to reveal Jesus as his Son in such a magnificent way to only 3 people… why not to everybody?  Or why did Jesus insist on keeping it a secret?  And then I thought about the story that my BFF told me, and how I thought she was crazy.  If Peter, James, or John came up to me and said, “Jesus started to glow like he had some bad skin condition and we were really worried at first until we heard a voice from Heaven and saw Moses and Elijah, all of whom said it was okay, it just meant that Jesus is the Messiah,” I would probably say the same thing I said to my friend… that I believed she saw it, but also that she was crazy.  So perhaps Jesus will reveal himself in the way we will understand the best… whether its via the quiet peace in our hearts or a brick falling on our heads.

3) Last night I received a very disheartening email from my JVC rep saying that none of my potential placements were a match for me.  I felt my heart break, my eyes broke and tears kept leaking out, and I felt those familiar feelings of a hopeless future start to seep in again.  But then, clear as crystal, I heard in my heart the verse that gave me the strength to survive college.  For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord.  Plans for your welfare, not for your woe. Plans for a future full of hope.  (Jeremiah 29:11).  Those three placements I interviewed for obviously sucked for me.  There’s somewhere better. Or God is a sick, sick man. I’m hoping for the former.

4) I got this amazing massage today.  I literally feel like a brand new woman.  If you do not believe heaven is a place on earth, then you have clearly not received a professional massage.

There are my ‘God sightings.’  Hopefully it’ll appease you until the next time I am able to post… whenever that will be. 

And hopefully you will be able to find God hiding in plain sight this week, too. 🙂

Bad Catholics, Unite!

I’m bad at being Catholic.

Did you know that I didn’t know artificial contraception was a no-no in the eyes of the Church until I got to college?  Or that it would be more likely for a priest to get married before a woman could become a priest, and even that is highly unlikely?  I didn’t know the Eucharist was the actual body and blood of Christ.  I didn’t know people cared enough about Mary to consecrate their entire lives to her.  I didn’t know anything about the Catholic memorabilia… the medals, the scapulars (I still don’t know what the heck a scapular is for), those bead bracelet things with pictures of the sacred heart or Mary or (insert favorite saint here) on them.  I couldn’t tell you what my patron saint (Cecilia) actually accomplished in her life other than the fact that she is the patron saint of musicians.  I didn’t know daily Mass was something for everyone until college.  I didn’t know being a nun was even an option for me because I wasn’t 80-years-old yet.  I didn’t know that I had to go to confession before Mass… that it was an obligation.  I didn’t know there was such things as holy days of obligation.

I was a really bad Catholic.  And I still am.

Even after studying theology for 4 years… I still feel completely lost.  I still don’t understand my Catholic faith, and what it means.  The only parts of my faith that I know and understand (aside from a new understanding of the Eucharist, which I now agree with after spending some serious time asking questions about why God was asking me to be a cannibal [God wasn’t]) from my childhood are that I was created by God, I am loved by God, and I am on a mission from God (much like the Blues Brothers, minus the fedora).

I have only gone to confession before Mass twice in my life.  I will probably be using artificial birth control when I get married (and if you think a piece of rubber is going to stop a baby from getting born when God wants that baby born… you are dumb, I’m just sayin).  I cling to the hope that one day, a woman will be allowed to be a priest, and a priest will be allowed to be married. I think a 50% divorce rate and little white chapels in Vegas are a bigger insult to the institution of marriage than sexual orientation.  It is highly doubtful that I would ever consecrate myself to Mary.  I don’t fall asleep at Mass anymore, but I still don’t always pay attention.  My relationship with God will always be important to me… even when I am beyond rock bottom and am not even sure if God exists at all. I hope I will always be crazy enough to think that I can make a difference in this broken world in which we live… and that when I die, I will leave it in better shape than when I found it.

Don’t get me wrong.  I may bitch and moan about the teachings of the Church sometimes, I may not agree with everything, I may not have a collection of scapulars and statues to adorn my house with… but I love my Catholic faith.  I may not understand it… but I love it… and really, when its really love, how can you explain it?  I know there is a place for me in the Church.  I know God loves me just the way I am.  And at my confirmation as a sophomore in high school, I was fully aware of the commitment I was making.  I’m in it for the long haul.  I will wrestle with these teachings until I agree with them, and if I don’t ever agree with them, I will not stop wrestling with them.  I believe that God loves me… that God will not send me to hell because I didn’t go to confession before receiving the Eucharist.  I believe that God loves you, too, and that is why I love you.

I believe God just wants us to be with him.  I think God just wants to see us keep swimming towards him.  And if I’m wrong… if God really cares that much about doing everything by the book and being perfect… then I’m screwed.  But I don’t think I’m screwed.

So anyway.  To all my fellow bad Catholics out there… hollaa.  May you rest easy tonight knowing that I don’t think you’re all that bad, because I don’t think I’m all that bad.  Besides, you and I were made in the image and likeness of God, and God isn’t bad.  So don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Who Do You Think I Am!?

Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, the Euchar...

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I was freaking out all day today about the confirmation class I had to teach tonight.  Last week didn’t go so well in the slightest.  I was really nervous, my voice and hands kept shaking, my face kept burning, and my mouth was so dry tumbleweeds were spilling out of it.  The kids in my class did *not* want to be there, and they did *not* want to talk about whatever we were supposed to talk about.  They looked at me like I had a second head, and I had a hard time not letting my awkward high school self shine through.  Seriously.  It was a hot mess.  So today I felt so much stress and so many nerves about my class.  I reviewed my lesson plan over and over again (even between the lines and in the margins).  I created a “Confirmation Class Contract” laying down my rules and expectations for my kids to sign.  I brought in my blue brain-shaped stress ball to use as a “talking stick” so we wouldn’t have everyone talking over each other again.  I wrote notes on sticky notes and stuck them on more pieces of paper.  Before Mass, I went in to adoration for a couple minutes and freaked out.

What if they don’t like me?  What if they think this is stupid? What if I can’t get through to any of them? What if I misrepresent You?  What if I get too nervous to speak again? What if I spent all four years studying theology in college to be a youth minister, only to realize that I am completely terrible at it?  What if I missed my calling?  What if??

It wasn’t a very pretty scene and I’m glad that only me and Jesus were in the adoration chapel at the time.  But then, in the silence of the chapel, staring into Jesus’s gigantic Host-y eye, He gave me a good metaphorical whack across the face.  He said, “Sara, do you seriously think I’d throw you to the wolves like that?  Do you really think that there is no reason you were put with that particular class?  Who do you think I am!?”

Duh.

First of all… it’s not about me.  Who cares if I look cool. What the heck.  That doesn’t even matter. All I have to do is be myself… because myself is who is teaching that particular group of freshmen.  There is going to be one or two or twelve of those students who are going to be affected because of me being the person God created me to be. Secondly…  I shine God’s love.  That’s what matters.  God takes care of the rest.  Even if they all look at me like they think I’m crazier than wearing flip-flops outside in a Minnesota winter… so what.  God is taking care of whats going on in their hearts.

Duh, Sara.  How liberating.  The responsibility doesn’t entirely lie on my shoulders.  I am just supposed to reflect God’s love in a way my freshmen can understand.  I am supposed to travel with them on their spiritual journeys.  God will use me however God will see fit.  And God placed me in that particular class for a particular reason, dang nabbit.  The ONLY way I can screw it up is if I go in there and say, “Hey. How about we toss those Bibles for a minute and smoke something illegal instead.”  Otherwise, seriously… it’s foolproof.  God’s got it.

It was a great feeling.  And tonight’s class went SO much better.  We got into a lot of great conversation about God’s plans for us, and we learned a lot about what the Bible has to say about leadership.  And we created a heartfelt covenant prayer that actually shows some beautiful thoughts about our roles as Catholic-Christians.

And maybe… just maybe… those kids left my class today changed just a tiny little bit.  Maybe… just maybe… that mustard seed has been planted.  Maybe!