Monday, January 30, 2006

Most blessed Mother

Dear Wretches,
I pray that each of you is persevering with our novena to our most blessed Mother. Even though it is still the beginning days, I offer my encouragement knowing that the smallest endeavors can make the most life changing reactions. In my own life, Mary has played a crucial role in my journey toward holiness despite my very wretched state and I am comforted by her presence during this tumultuous battle on earth. Our prayers and intentions will be lovingly heard and so I leave you with this excerpt from True Devotion to Mary,

“She is so full of love that no one who asks for her intercession is rejected, no matter how sinful he may be. The saints say that it has never been known since the world began that anyone had recourse to our Blessed Lady, with trust and perseverance, and was rejected. Her power is so great that her prayers are never refused. She has but to appear in prayer before her Son and he at once welcomes her and grants her requests. The prayers of the dear Mother who bore him and nourished him always lovingly conquer him.”

Friday, January 27, 2006

54-day Rosary Novena

I'm sorry I didn't get this posted on time! I'm such a wretch.

The wretches began a 54-day rosary novena yesterday, January 26th. It will end on the feast of St. Joseph, which this year is celebrated on March 20th. Feel free to jump on board!! It is a wonderful opportunity to join together in common prayer, and encourage one another in making time for prayer.

Sr. Spice has a unique way of praying with us, and for anyone who is struggling with doing a whole rosary, I encourage you to try this out!

Every day for the first week, meditate on the first mystery of the rosary. (Sun, Glorious/ Mon, Joyful/ Tues, Sorrowful/ Weds, Glorious/ Thurs, Luminous/ Fri, sorrowful/ Sat, Joyful) Pray that mystery in the morning, and meditate on that one mystery the whole day long. The second week, take the 2nd mystery, and so on. On the last week, say the whole rosary. Beautiful!!

Then, 9 days before March 20th, we'll start our annual "real" novena to St. Joe. More to come on that one :)

Monday, January 23, 2006

Child of Wonder

Sisters Wretched - I present for you a poem by Macrina Wiederkehr entitled Child of Wonder

"My bare feet walk the earth reverently for everything keeps crying,
Take off your shoes
The ground you stand on is holy
The ground of your being is holy

"When the wind sings through the pines like a breath of God
awakening you to the sacred present
calling your soul to new insights
Take off your shoes!

"When the sun rises above your rooftop
coloring your world with dawn
Be receptive to this awesome beauty
Put on your garment of adoration
Take off your shoes!

"When the red maple drops its last leaf of summer
wearing its ‘burning bush' robes no longer
read between its barren branches, and
Take off your shoes!

When sorrow presses close to your heart
begging you to put your trust in God alone
filling you with a quiet knowing
that God's hand is not too short to heal you
Take off your shoes!

"When a new person comes into your life
like a mystery about to unfold
and you find yourself marveling over
the frailty and splendor of every human being
Take off your shoes!

"When during the wee hours of the night
you drive slowly into the new day
and the morning's fog like angel wings
hovers mysteriously above you
Take off your shoes!

"Take off your shoes of distraction
Take off your shoes of ignorance and blindness
Take off your shoes of hurry and worry
Take off anything that prevents you
from being a child of wonder

"Take off your shoes;
The ground you stand on is holy
The ground of your being is holy."

Friday, January 20, 2006

A Mary and Joseph Story

(Printed by approval; Names changed and some details left out to protect the innocent and slightly edited for length- Joseph wrote a lot!)

A man's letter announcing an engagement:

Dear friends,

I proposed yesterday, July 6, on my parents' wedding anniversary. Mary is a stunning beauty, 5'4'', blonde, has beautiful eyes, and a great smile. But more important is her inner beauty that I recognized from day one in her eyes. She has a deep and abiding faith, a gentle manner, incredible artistic skills and more flair and creativity in her pinky finger than I have overall...

The Meeting

Mary and I met last year at the young adult bible study at my parish. I remember noticing a beautiful young woman across the room. After the meeting, Mary and a friend of ours came up to me and said, "Joseph of Nazareth, where do we know you from?" I knew the other young woman, Elizabeth, but I did not know Mary. It turned out that she knew who I was because our sisters would play together occasionally about ten years earlier. My mother had mentioned that she had a son who worked at the local grocery store and, yes, even then my manly charms were to hard to resist, so Mary figured out who I was but never talked to me. It was a nice beginning to a friendship but it did not seem then that it would be anything more. At that point I was not pursuing romantic relationships because of vocational discernment. That didn't keep me from looking her up on the Bethlehem U. website the next day and finding some of her portfolio online. A few times over the summer Mary and I would hang out in larger groups but never one-on-one. We were also together in a group at World Youth Day. Our friendship developed over the course of the summer, but we also kept a little distance because of the mutual attraction and my vocational questions.

The Autumn

In the late summer, my sister was looking for a Confirmation sponsor. I suggested Mary as a good fit because of her deep faith and ability to package that faith in a way that could speak to the world. They hit it off right a way and Mary has been an incredible guide for my sister. Mary and I talked about how it is often easier to evangelize those outside of one's family rather than those within it and I told her how grateful I was to her for sacrificing her time and sponsoring my sister. After Confirmation, we had a big celebration. Mary and I were still just friends but I was so happy for her friendship and for her presence in my sister's life. My mother says that she saw something special between us then.

It was also during this time that I had begun praying more deeply for discernment. A young priest I know in South Bend told me to pray to know whether my fatherhood and husbandry was to be mediated or immediate and to pray with a specific time frame in mind. I still had desires to date and I knew that those desires would remain even if I was called to be a priest. Yet this desire was of a different sort from before as it was not so abstract but more concrete. I began to pray to God to show me if I could date again by the end of Christmas vacation. If nothing was shown to me, then I would be resolved to continue not dating.

Meanwhile, my friendship with Mary continued to deepen. At Thanksgiving time, she and I got together for coffee and ended up spending three hours together. I would later find out that we were meeting on the 27th day of a 54 day Novena that Mary was praying for my discernment. We stayed in touch and then at Christmas-time I came home for about a month. My family and I went to Egypt for Christmas and nothing had changed in prayer, so as we returned home I smiled to myself and assumed that God was saying that the door of dating and marriage were to remain closed.

God is however a God of surprises, a God who acts and overturns our human assumptions. A few days after returning from Egypt I was out with a few friends from World Youth Day including Mary. I had a blast hanging out with the various friends and catching up. Everything seemed pretty ordinary. That night or really early the next morning, I knelt down to pray night prayer. As I was finishing up my prayer before hitting the sack, I experienced movement in my prayer like never before. In a moment of deep clarity, I sensed that God was re-opening the door to dating and telling me to take that leap. (I later learned that the day before, Mary had finished her 54-day Rosary novena for my discernment.) The next couple of days, I prayed and talked to others about what to do. I came to the conviction to call Mary up and ask her out. We had our first date on the birthday of St. Therese, who has been quite an intercessor in our relationship and in my process of discernment.

The Courtship

Well, that day began a beautiful and wonderful relationship in which Mary and I grew in love and in faith. I was so content and at peace when with her. It was effortless to spend hour upon hour with her talking about some heady subject or watching some chick flick (of course it does not hurt that I generally like chick flicks). I was moved beyond myself and began to see the fruits of the relationship in other areas of my life as well. We truly worked with each other trying to pull each other toward holiness. After spending January through May away from each other, we were blessed this summer to have the opportunity to spend several months together in the same city, with a schedule that allowed us to have a more normal relationship. That was a true blessing. As I prayed, reflected, and worked with my spiritual director this summer, I also began to come to the internal conviction that I should take the "Geronimo" leap and ask Mary to marry me. I stewed over this for awhile and prayed more. Much time was spent in front of the Blessed Sacrament in Adoration. Finally, late last week I woke up and decided to go take another look at some rings.

I went to Mass and offered my prayers and communion up in part for courage and conviction. Then I stopped by Adoration very briefly. After leaving Adoration, I dialed the Nazorean House and asked to talk to Joachim. I asked him if I might be able to take him out that night for a beer or for breakfast the next morning to discuss something important. He was nervous as well as he stammered and asked me when I was free that night. We decided to get together that night at Starbucks. Then I headed out with my mom to buy the ring. When I got to Starbucks, Joachim came out and suggested we go to a place that served alcohol. I had brought materials with me to pretend like I was studying in case anyone else ran into us. I also brought a copy of Lawrence v. Texas, the recent Supreme Court case to discuss with Joachim because we had been talking about it the night before. I had it in hand to start the conversation with him, just in case I chickened out, and also in the event that I was asked by anyone what we had been doing, I could truthfully reply, we were discussing that case. We ordered up Hard Mike's Lemonade and starting talking a little about the case. I was avoiding the main subject.

Finally, about 20 minutes to half an hour after getting there, I said, "Well, why don't I get to the point why I called you. I love your daughter and I want to lay my life down for her. I would like to ask for your blessing to ask Mary to marry me." He said, "Yes you have it," shook my hand and breathed a sigh of relief saying, "I was getting worried that I had misread what this was about!" He then told me about how happy Mary was when with me and shared wonderful words with me about the joys and struggles of marriage. We ordered a second round. I also asked him to keep everything a secret until Sunday when I was planning on popping the question. Anne had instructed all of Mary's siblings to keep the meeting a secret.

Sunday came along. Those of you who are married, please let me know if you were as nervous as I was. I woke up at 4 am to go to the bathroom and saw my mom. Then later after another hour of attempting to get to sleep I got up to go to the bathroom again. My mom who was up asked me if I wanted to pray. We prayed a rosary together, the Luminous Mysteries. I went back to sleep for a couple of hours and then got up to get ready to drive down to South Bend with Mary. I had told her that we were going down to Mass and to spend the day with a Professor and his wife. We were in fact going to spend the afternoon with him but we had some business to take care beforehand. After a Mass in which I was a bit nervous and praying fervently, I suggested we go to visit the Grotto. We lit two candles together and placed them next to each other in the rack and then knelt down and prayed. I suggested we sit down at a bench and pray a decade of the Rosary. We prayed the Mystery of the Wedding Feast at Cana. I then turned to Mary, who had applied for a teaching job in Rome, and said, "I don't think you should go to Rome. I don't see you as a Mediterranean girl. I think you are more of an East coast girl. I think you should marry me." Mary wasn't really sure what was going on. She certainly wanted to marry me but I hadn't gotten there yet and hadn't asked her yet.

Then I got down on my knee, pulled out a box with a ring, and asked, "Mary of Nazareth, will you marry me?" She said, "Yes," and then began to hyperventilate. I remained on my knee for a good five minutes and then we went and prayed prayers of thanksgiving at the Grotto. We then headed up to the Basilica where we had just been to Mass and found a priest who blessed the ring and our hands in the font and our future marriage. It was a fitting way to celebrate and consecrate the moment. We called our families. Finally, we headed over to the professor's for lunch. Their family knew that I was going to pop the question and so had a bouquet of flowers ready and a bridal magazine there. They had been praying for me that I didn't get cold feet as well. It turns out that Mary had been praying during the week as well that I would pop the question at the Grotto. When we originally scheduled the trip, I hadn't been certain I was going to do it there but it seems that her prayers were answered and so many of mine as well. Anyhow, we are excited. We hope to be married as soon as possible. Now it just becomes an issue of finding a church and arranging schedules.

For those of you who have never met Mary, I cannot wait for you to meet her. I don't call her the woman of my dreams. Rather, I call her the woman of my reality. Her presence in my life is an incredible blessing and I am so thankful that God put her into my life and that he led me to this point. Please pray for us as we enter into this time of engagement that we grow deeper in love and fidelity to Christ and to each other.

God Bless,
Joseph

give me a break!

one of my patients yesterday was a woman, not old, age 56, who was essentially dying of pancreatic cancer. she was extremely ill in almost every system and organ of her body as they were shutting down. intense suffering--iv's and tubes in every orifice, but Lord, a SMILE on her face. and such appreciation. amazing appreciation. "thank you" she said when i gave her a heparin INJECTION. "thank you" she said when i gave her mouth swabs to get the medicine out of her mouth, and again when i pulled the covers back up, and AGAIN when i turned the light off. she is on the verge of death, yet so full of life! i said, thank YOU. but i wanted to say--your attitude is remarkable and beautiful and let me know if i can get you anything. a foot massage. a gingerale for your chronic nausea. anything. i want to give you your life back.

she's an honorable lil'wretch. (although-- her wretchedness is like extremely small in scale, and i'm not even kidding) shall we name her? Sista Night (is there one?) because she is beautiful and dark like the night and she'll soon be going ni ni with God(!)
luuuuuchky.

i said goodbye and her phone rang. as i walked to the door to leave she answered with "Good Morning, it's a Beautiful Day" --- chillgiving. absolute amazing grace.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Albacete is the Man

Read the whole article by Msgr. Albacete here on Godspy

When Fr. Luigi Giussani was asked whether he was not anguished to see the small number of faithful Catholics in certain areas of public life, he replied as follows:

"Certainly, the pain is great. However, the certainty that Christ is the answer to all the problems of human life brings me tranquility. Christ, who is alive in the present, allows the creation of a relationship with people which, without judgments of any kind, involves you in relationships with men and women that engages them with the proposal that nourishes your life. Men and women will come together for this. A different climate emerges in the social atmosphere. The pastoral concerns for recovering lost ground and such things end up by treating the Church as an organization, agency, office, or even political party. But the Church is mystery... We must only be concerned about announcing Christ, so as to bring together men and women in the name of Christ and confront history together with them. A great network of relationships is born from this, and its 'successes' or human failures are in the hands of the Father. Let God sort it out Himself. It is not for us to judge if someone does or does not respond to the call of Christ. We must simply exalt the Church" (II Sabah), August 9, 1988).

This is also a great line: "I see what you see, but I see more," Father Giussani said.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

God-incedince...

Today while surfing the internet I ran across a reference to our word 'wretch' and noticed that though Webster defines it to mean an unhappy person, the word itself comes from the old english word meaning 'exile'.
A few minutes ago I was sitting on the couch and I noticed Earth's Magnificat and decided to take a look at the reflection for the day. She had it dog-eared of course;) This is what it says;

"Christ brought us back from exile, from that lie that exploited our weakness, our laziness, slackness, small-mindedness,opposition! How often he brought us back from the exile imposed by the lie that used our restlessness, our presumption, or our taste for power against us!...
The Lord came for the man who knows he is weak, for the man who recognizes his frailty and desires a strength that is not his, who desires the power of salvation that belongs to God...
The Lord did not die so that his cross would fall down on us as a judgement to destroy us, but so that it would grant mercy, to renew us in contrition and in gladness, in the mortification of ourselves and in the cheerfulness of self-abandonment.
Monsignor Luigi Giussani

Enlightening...

Greetings dear wretchlets! What a great site, Mother Earth! Let's all connect around the world! It was such a blessing to visit the beginnings of all sisterly wretchedness in D.C. this past weekend and meet several of you! My heart is full of joy at the wonders God is working in our lives! And praises to Him for the rampant extension of the sorority across the nation and the oceans too!!
I just wanted to share with you a high
light from my day that comes from the 'Call to Faith' textbook I use in class with 6th graders for faith formation. Its straight-forwardness, simple yet profound, resounded in my soul and caused me to exalt the Lord! "As often happens today, many people in Jesus' day equated happiness with trouble-free lives, security, and wealth. Jesus calls you to a form of happiness that is greater than any happiness that material things can give. To help you follow this path of holiness, the Holy Spirit empowers you with a willing heart, self-discipline, the strength to pray, and the courage to keep your eyes focused on God." Amen!!
WoW - What a God of faithfulness and generosity have we! Glorify Him! y'all in my prayers!

What are you reading?

I just finished a fun little book, which I had to do very early in the semester when I do not feel toooo guilty not reading for class.

Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynn Truss. It was delightful! The subtitle is: A Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation. No, really, it is a book all about punctuation. She makes you feel sorry for the apostrophe and appreciate its hard work; support semicolon usage; sing the praises of the comma; and other such punctuation points.

I also finished Blink. It was ok. Anyone else?

Testing 1 2 3

Yeah, not that I have anything to say, but I thought I'd at least send a little thunder, lightning, rain, wind, and hail your way and see how this shared-profile thing works...the li'l wretch site has just developed a multiple personality!
Boom.
Crash.
RRRRRRRumble...

Onward in Christ, my wretched sisters!

Friday, January 06, 2006

Danielle Rose

Last night was such an amazing experience. Catholic singer and songwriter Danielle Rose gave an informal concert at a friend's house for about 25 young adults in the area. She was incredible. It was almost like being in heaven, the Holy Spirit was present, each song was a prayer, and I felt so encouraged and challenged to live better.

Danielle shared with us the songs she is working on for her next album about Mother Teresa. I am trying to hold on to them in my head so that I can sing them as reflections in prayer. Mother's words, prayers the Missionaries of Charity pray each day, the litany of humility, the Memorare, all set to music. I cannot wait until that CD comes out and I can pray in that way. Danielle is really special, God loves her so much and has shown it in extravagent ways. She is humble and authentic, and we loved it so much that Spring and I are going to her real concert tonight too.

Check out Danielle's website

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Coooookies

Holidays = Cookies.

In my big Italian family, food is of crucial importance. You arrive somewhere: "You must be hungry! Let me make you something." But more importantly: "Here, have some cookies."

Every holiday and every big event (weddings, funerals, Baptisms, First Communions, Confirmations, anniversaries) results in huge platters of cookies from the family. The picture on the left (a random online one) is nothing in comparison.

My great-grandfather was a baker when he came to America, and remained one until he was 86 years old. His sister, his children, everyone knows their way around the kitchen. My dad is good, when he does it. My mom is a baker too. We love baking!
There is a sense of abundance and extravagence in cookies. As Charlie said in the Chocolate Factory, candy doesn't have to have a point; That's why it's candy. The cookies at our celebrations are, first and foremost, homemade. There is never, ever, ever, anything bought from a store or made from refrigerated Pillsbury dough. Nothing is really plain. Chocolate chip cookies are rare, pizzelles and thumbprints more common. Peanut butter cookies with peanut butter cups inside... nutrolls... 7 layer cookies... princess bars (heavenly, with dates)... mmmm. All of these things take time, which is perhaps the most crucial point. Here we live in an instant gratification world, and these cookies are a testimony to patience and details. Some of my aunts participate in cookie swaps- brilliant. Since every recipe makes dozens of cookies, you get together with some friends and come home with 4 or 5 of each kind. It is such a good tradition, and I hope to do that soon enough. Maybe I should start next year :)

This post does not have much of a point... kind of like the greatness of cookies. ha.