The story of The Visitation is the gift that keeps on giving, especially for us women.
I’ve written before on this holy get together, but the more you sit with those words, the more that the Spirit reveals. Not surprisingly so, after all, it is the Living Word.
What strikes me the most about Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth is the model of charity and service that is perfectly lived out by Our Lady.
But, this time around, it was the connection between the two little hearts inside those bellies that really tugged at my soul.
Play out the events of the Visitation in your thoughts like a movie…it is one of the most adorable scenes in the Bible.
Think of the two tiny babies connecting with each other, not body to body, but living soul to living soul.
Seeing baby St. John the Baptist “leap” inside of his mommy because he actually feels the presence of baby Jesus in Mary’s womb, wow.
I see the two little boys smiling during this moment.
Love radiating all around.
The presence of the Holy Trinity, right there.
The Spirit is so present that it actually moves Mary to break into song in the following verses.
What a moment.
Four people, four souls, all connecting with each other.
The Holy Spirit moving within all of them, bringing them together, gifting each to the other for the sole purpose of glorifying God.
And we all know what happens when humans glorify God, He turns right around and blesses us in the most unimaginable ways.
It’s what He does. It’s that love He has for us.
Isn’t the gift of life so precious and beautiful?
Can’t help but see the pro-life message in all of that.
Text ©Stephanie Stovall
In an effort not to look stupid, I avoid things. I especially avoid things that could broadcast my perceived stupidity publicly. Like writing a blog about Jesus and Mary and being a Catholic mom. Because, you know, the world might start hating me because I’m not smart. My intelligent Christian friends will see how incredibly ignorant I am or worse, how bad a Christian I really am. Other people might start to think I’m one of THOSE people who need religion to console themselves and they’ll think I’m weak and feeble minded. Really, I could list a zillion things that keep me from being a fool for Christ but they all come down to fear.
And I’m pretty sure Christ said, “Do NOT be afraid.” (Emphasis my own.)
A zillion times He said that. (An exaggeration, I actually do not know how many times Jesus actually said it.)
Yesterday I was doing my reading for a study that I am doing called “Courageous Virtue” by Stacy Mitch (it is a really wonderful study by the way) and I read Wisdom 2.
Crack open your Bible to the second chapter of Wisdom. I’ll wait. If you have a Protestant Bible, well, you are missing out. Read the second chapter of Wisdom here.
I had to pick my jaw up off the floor after I read it. Then I headed straight for the World Wide Web to find out when Wisdom was written. Folks, it wasn’t yesterday. It was written about 50 years before the coming of Christ. So, for at least the last 2067 years (give or take a few), the world has been rejecting believers and embracing the “live it up now because we’ll soon be dust” mentality. The culture of death?? Yah, I guess that’s not a new thing.
I almost cried when I read the misguided reasoning, “Let our might be our law of right, for what is weak proves itself to be useless.” (RSV, 2nd Catholic Edition) I can’t help but think of abortion and euthanasia. The exploitation of the poor and the exploitation of women and an amazing list of a zillion other sins that our culture embraces continue in a long train in my mind, torturously reminding me that in our great country the majority rules, even when the majority is horribly wrong and terribly misguided.
And then I stopped being afraid. The people of God of have been insulted forever and they will continue to be mocked and called stupid. We have all been tasked with taking up our crosses and following Christ. He didn’t say to take up our crosses but only if you feel like it, or only when you have the encouragement and support of your peers, or only if you can safely do so.
So here I am, O great big Internet. I love Jesus.
I want to share him with all of the people. I want you to know Him. I want you to love Him. And I want you to share Him too.
If even just one person is stirred to crack open the Word by my post, then Jesus wins. If even just one person turns their mind towards Christ because of some word of mine, then Jesus wins. If even just one person wants to get to know Him better because of some feeble thing I said, then Jesus wins. And the thing is, Jesus wins anyway, so maybe more of us can win with Him and spend eternity basking in the heavenly glow. Yes, our bodies will someday return to dust, but they are joined to a soul that is eternal.
Lord, show me the areas of my life where I am afraid to be a fool for you. Help me live for eternity and not for the acceptance of others. Amen
© Natalie Clevenger 2017
“We were made for greatness, not for comfort.
Take a moment and really read those words.
Think about your life and that thing God has been asking of you.
That thing that keeps popping up in your heart… maybe mostly during your prayer time, or while at Mass or a bible study.
Is it a hard thing He is asking you to do? Does it make you a little queasy?
Faith is one foot on the ground, one foot in the air and a queasy feeling in the stomach
Let’s go to our Blessed Mother at The Annunciation.
I wonder, hours after that conversation, was she jumping up and down in excitement for what the angel had just told her?
Did she rush to post on her Facebook status how pumped she was about the gigantic, life changing task ahead of her?
We know she was humbled and ready to go.
Didn’t matter what she wanted, she was on earth to do God’s will and God’s will alone.
No matter how scary…or uncomfortable.
These days us Christians are a bit nutty with our theology of how God works.
Everyone wants to “feel good” about what God calls them to do.
And, if suffering is a part of anything at all, well, it must not be God’s will for me!
We are wrong. So, so wrong.
God never promised us easy. Exactly the opposite was promised, actually.
Yet, whenever we are discerning a potential call from Above, do our own feelings about it all cloud the Truth of what is being asked of us?
I know I’m guilty of this.
That’s a great idea God, but…I don’t have the money for it, that’s totally out of my comfort zone, I don’t have the time right now, I don’t have it in me but so and so- they would be great at it- call them!...and the list goes on and on.
Now, what if there is potential danger within what you are being called to?
Let’s say, for example, ohhhh…death.
Well, what’s the worst thing that could happen if you decide to take that trip to Target? You need mascara, milk and maybe a new shirt (the kids have been awful lately, you deserve it).
You could get in a wreck and die. Dramatic, yes, but true.
Do you still decide to take that trip? Yup.
Simply going to the scriptures we see time and time again God calling the simple to huge tasks.
Tasks that got them in a lot of trouble and were no fun.
But, these people that said yes, these Saints, knowing the negatives said yes anyway.
They knew God didn’t put them on earth for warm fuzzies and lots a fun.
He gave them a mission, and they were going to get it done no matter the cost.
Jesus on Good Friday.
Meant for greatness, not for comfort.
So, at the end of this Lenten season, make it a goal to open your heart and mind a little more to that crazy thing God is calling you to do.
Your reward will be great and wide for that little “yes.”
The reward of knowing you are working hand in hand with Jesus in this life is the greatest feeling of all.
Let your “yes” to God bring you your warm and fuzzies.
A few years ago, I was sitting in a hospital room (seems like a common theme with me) having a dialog with the Lord. Really, I was ranting. I was upset, I was tired and I was on the verge of despair, but not quite there. At that moment I was just angry. “Lord, why? Why us? Why me? We are doing your will!”
I was like a crazed pre-teen ranting to her father over the injustice of it all.
“You SAID it would be okay! This is NOT okay! We stopped contracepting! We are open to life! We followed our conscience to do your will and we were rewarded with Lily Gianna who died before we heard her heartbeat. We were devastated but comforted knowing she was in your arms. Then we waited in anguish to conceive again because the doctor said there was a chance of having cancer. I faithfully got my blood drawn each week and, yes, we cheated a little bit and began trying to conceive a tad earlier than the doctor would have liked, but we knew you were still in our corner and my numbers were perfect. I wasn’t even that upset about having gestational diabetes this time around. Spending several hours in the hospital getting an IV because I was dehydrated was tolerable, but now you’ve crossed the line, God. You’ve asked too much of me. You misled me.”
I had spent the night in the ICU after what turned out to be life-saving surgery to unblock my kidney and stop the infection that was working to destroy my body. Both baby and I had survived the ordeal, but I was stuck in the hospital recuperating and concern had turned from me to the baby. The doctors thought the baby’s heartrate was dipping too low at times and I was under the threat of an emergency delivery. I was broken and tired of it all and I lashed out. I shouted at the Guy who loved me so much that He willingly suffered humiliation and torture. I was accusing Him of being a liar. I might as well have been in the crowd that day, yelling “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Such was my anger and disgust.
Then I was silent. And in that silence, I felt His presence. I felt Him telling me that I was okay.
I immediately did what any pregnant woman would do when she is a ball of nerves and confusion and has just done something really embarrassing. I began to laugh hysterically. “Okay God, you’re right. You said it would be okay. You didn’t say it would be easy.”
Lord, help me to follow you in the midst of my suffering. Help me to say yes to your will, even when it is painful.
My child, when you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for trials. Set your heart right and be steadfast, and do not be impetuous in time of calamity. Cling to him and do not depart, so that your last days may be prosperous. Accept whatever befalls you, and in times of humiliation be patient. For gold is tested in the fire, and those found acceptable, in the furnace of humiliation. Trust in him, and he will help you; make your ways straight, and hope in him.
I’m supposed to be writing, but I’m just standing in my office, surrounded by piles of stuff. Books, instead of being nestled snugly into place on the shelf lay haphazardly on the floor. Piles of papers that were once necessary action items are now ugly reminders that I’m behind on everything. An empty camera bag that I don’t need sits forlornly on top of a basket of cords and who knows what else. I usually avoid this space because it makes me uncomfortable. I sink into the swiveling office chair and slowly scan the room. All these items are shouting at me, telling me I’m not good enough. I’m lazy. I don’t deserve such a nice home or 90 square feet of space to call my own. I see rough mountains of junk and think to myself, “Don’t you want a nice tidy space? Don’t you want to be able to enjoy a project in there? Don't you want to pay a bill quickly without having to search for 10 minutes for a pen or to move piles just to find the space to write a check?”
And my answer was classic.
Yes, I want those things but I don’t have the time to work on it now. Yes, but I really don't know where many of these items go. Yes, but I don’t have the proper storage yet. Yes, but the kids will just mess it up as soon as I get it done. Yes, but before I start cleaning, I need to make a decision about how the room should look when I'm done. Yes, but I need a babysitter for a weekend to tackle a project like this. Yes, but I can’t get rid of those half empty packages of specialty paper because I might need them again. Yes, but I need to work on the laundry, it is more important right now.
I really WOULD like a tidy office, so why do I put off the task of making it nice? I’m avoiding the cleanup because I’m avoiding CHANGE. I’m avoiding making decisions about what to keep and what to toss. I’m worried that it’ll be too hard to decide what to keep. And worst of all, what if I don’t like how I’ve arranged my shiny new space?
This is exactly how I often respond to God when He calls me.
When asked to create this space online I said yes, but I’m not good enough. Yes, Lord, I want to, but I can’t because I’m not equipped. Yes, but there are a million people in the world who can and are doing this very thing you want better than I ever could, why don’t you ask one of them? Yes, but not right now. Yes, but that sounds scary and hard and what if I fail? Yes, but I don’t like change so show me how you can keep my life exactly the same and still let me accomplish your will. Sound familiar?
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told God yes, but… How many times have I locked myself into the upper room, like the disciples, scared to death of meeting some horrible or humiliating fate if I followed God’s plans?
I’m in a lovely study group with some amazing moms from my parish. At a recent meeting we were asked how we experienced the Holy Spirit. Was it like the fire in the upper room? A rush of wind? Or a tiny breath? I responded, “The Holy Spirit usually just slaps me in the face repeatedly.” Only now, I realize I am the one doing the slapping. The Holy Spirit has gently breathed on me and I use the guilt I feel over my disobedience as a battering ram. He sends loving reminders in the form of kind friends saying just the right words and I beat myself up because I am still saying “Yes, but….”
Instead of walking out of the room and soothing myself with some mindless social media scrolling I prayed.
“Come Holy Spirit”
And guess what? He showed up. He provided. I stepped out of that muggy upper room and let the Holy Spirit do the talking and my fingers do the typing. How liberating it is when I don’t have to make all the decisions. I’ll probably fall. I’m still scared that I don’t have everything figured out. Growing is usually painful, but I can be confident that I won’t be alone and that he is leading me to a place that will be better than any I could have imagined on my own.
Are you stuck in the upper room? Just ask for that little breath to guide you.
Come Holy Spirit.