A new 52 week series of reflections by Fr. Guillermo Serra, LC. See all chapters here.
A SECURITY DRESS
I passed by you, and I saw you… I spread my cloak over you and covered your nakedness (Ezekiel 16: 8)
I am safe in God’s love, a faithful love that covers me and protects me.
Our hearts all hold memories of situations in which we have felt fear, coldness, and darkness. Remembering your childhood, you probably had a favorite blanket. When you covered yourself with it, you felt safe. You felt happy. You felt protected.
It was like a special kind of dress. You used it more to cover yourself, and not so much to draw the attention of others. Perhaps it was your most authentic dress, the one that made you feel the most real, or the one you needed at some specific moment in your first few years. Continue reading
The Church has been through the wringer. In a much smaller way, so have I. My mind has been inundated with information, data, speculations, and questions. My heart has been bleeding for the pain of those victims and the courage that they have had to come forward and share their stories. Every moment of prayer and each daily mass, when I enter the church, the recent events of abuse fill my mind and heart. Seventeen years ago I consecrated myself to Christ and His Church as a consecrated woman of Regnum Christi and I find myself asking: ‘what I am supposed to think and feel about this?’ These are horrific actions – and at the hands of men who have also dedicated themselves to Christ and the Church.
Every time I enter a church and look up at the crucified Christ, He seems to answer me silently and with a penetrating gaze. His Heart is pierced and bleeds. His Heart feels the pain and shame of every sin and every sinner and every victim. He has taken the full weight of sin upon Himself on that salvific cross. Used to the crucifix in our Catholic churches, I now see Him in a new light. From His cross, He speaks to me in a new way. He understands. He hurt. He is hurting right now. And my small offering of my own suffering heart each mass and moment of prayer, I pray can in some way be a reparation for the sins that have been committed. Continue reading
One of the most transformative books I read last year was Cardinal Sarah’s The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise. As a peace-and-quiet-loving mom of five, silence is something I crave always. It can never be too quiet. I love the stillness of the early morning before anyone else is awake, and the sudden calm after everyone’s gone off to work and school. I don’t put music on when I’m alone in the house, or have earbuds in when I’m out for a walk, and when I’m driving on my own, the radio is usually off. To be honest, I wasn’t sure if Cardinal Sarah could teach me to appreciate silence any more than I already did.
But the first thing I learned is that God’s silence is not simply an absence of noise. In fact, silence is not an absence at all, but the “manifestation of a presence, the most intense presence of all presences.” Continue reading
Middle Age: This is What You’ve Been Waiting For
We need new terminology to describe the age range between young adulthood and old age. Middle-aged just doesn’t cut it. It’s describing something by what it is not. It’s not the beginning… it’s not the end… it’s just…the middle (…yawn). It’s time to give these years the credit they are due. They are a total roller-coaster and a missionary adventure.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, middle-aged refers to “The period between early adulthood and old age, usually considered as the years from about 45 to 65.”
I turned 44 this week, and I am now four years into my favorite decade of my life. Seriously! I LOVE being in my 40s! I LOVE being over the insecure worldliness of my 20s and the anxious striving of my 30s. I love knowing who I am, loving who I am, and having the confidence to give bravely from my experience and my core identity. These have all been 40’s developments for me. Continue reading
52 Dresses: The Heart of a Woman as Seen by God
A new weekly series of meditations by Fr. Guillermo Serra, LC. See all chapters here.
Chapter 1 – A Sundress
A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. (Rev. 12:1)
God loves me for who I am, dressed with the sun, with the kind light of Christ, in whom I am what I am called to be.
Mary, the perfect woman, is presented wearing this glorious dress. She is the complete fullness of what women are created to be, caring for us from heaven, inviting us to clothe ourselves in this sun that is Christ, her son. She, who carried Jesus in her womb, brings him into the sunlight in Bethlehem. At the end of her pilgrimage, she is dressed in life and warmth, in light and power; it is Christ who covers her, who makes her humanity shine in its fullness. There is no creature more beautiful because the light of the son perfects her, and it lets her see the totality of love perfectly, from the highest vantage point. Continue reading
I think Teresa of Avila might have made a great blogger. I read her Interior Castle this year, and while it was sometimes tricky reading, her organization style and penchant for lists would have made for some catchy titles:
The 7 Mansions of the Soul (and How to Get There)
3 Signs Your Locutions are Actually from God
Spiritual Jewels: The Top 3 Gifts Jesus Gives His Bride
It’s Not in Your Imagination: 5 Reasons to Believe the Lord is Speaking to Your Soul
I just spent the entire summer petitioning God for one thing after another. Could You keep my children safe? Could we please have nice weather today? Could this please be the last child in our family to catch Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease? But I also asked Him for less tangible consolations: Could You please make me less anxious? Could I please feel You near? Could please You reveal Your will (in a super specific and undoubtable way)? If God were anything less than ever-patient and totally understanding, He would have grown weary of my constant demands. Continue reading
A new weekly series of meditations by Fr. Guillermo Serra, LC. See all chapters here.
This summer I had the chance to visit my family and spend some time with my nieces. Being with them has taught me a lot. One thing I noticed was that even though they are very young, only two and five years old, dresses are very important to them.
I was amazed, for example, by the excitement of my older niece when she dressed up as a princess. Her delight was so intense that she wanted to sleep with her princess dress on, as though if she took it off, the magic of being a princess would disappear. For her, despite her young age, wearing the dress and being a princess were one and the same. There was a complete identification. Dressing up as a princess transformed her into that character. The dress opened the door to a world that was magical but real, where she felt like she was the heroine. Continue reading
The German language has a great way of expressing broad ideas or sentiments in a single word. Treppenwitz literally means “staircase joke”, and describes that witty comeback you thought of too late. Fremdschämen is “exterior shame”, and describes the cringey feeling you get when you empathetically feel embarrassed for someone who is in an awkward or uncomfortable situation. Schnapsidee (“Schnapps idea”) are those regrettable ideas you might have after having too much to drink!
I wish we had a word in the English language for that moment when you’re ready to go, and then at the last minutes, something goes wrong. You’re set to head out to the door, and then you can’t find your keys. You’re about to sit down to eat and the telephone rings. Or, like yesterday, when I was about to lie down in bed at the end of a long day of soccer tryouts, grocery shopping, and staining the deck for over four hours, and then my phone charger was missing. My reaction is the same in all these situations: blame. Who didn’t put the keys back where they belong?! Who is calling right at supper time?! Who stole my charger?! My first thought is always to pinpoint who in my life has created this last-minute inconvenience. Continue reading
September’s here, the kids are back at school, and most of us are ready to move from the lazy-hazy chaos of summer to a bit of life-structure that helps us make the most of our time and energy. As we set up our fall routines, this is also a great time to make fresh starts in how we live our faith.
Here are ten suggestions of ways to make a fresh start this fall, in our spiritual lives, in our communion with others, and in our God-given mission. Choose your own adventure! Pick one to start with, pick one a month for the ten months of the school year, or take some time to come up with your own spiritual fresh starts.
Caveat: I firmly believe that God wants us to be proactive and plan the best use of the gifts he gives us. However, I believe more even more firmly that somewhere along the way, he is going to change those plans. Being sensitive to the ways he does this is critical. You are not the master of the universe, or even your own schedule 24/7, 365. Let God disrupt your plans, remove and add things, and change your goals. Holiness is found in following him, not your agenda. Continue reading
As a linguist, I love virtues with weird-sounding names. Benedicencia is the virtue of speaking well of others, from Latin bene, meaning “well”, and dicere, meaning “say” (we have the word benediction in English, so benedicencia really means to “speak blessing”.) The virtue of eutrapelia is another favourite of mine: the Greek word literally means “good turning”, but translates as “wittiness”, and connotes the qualities of rest, play, and cheerfulness combined (and would be a fun virtue to focus on!) A final favourite funny-sounding virtue is the virtue of parrhesia, and might be the most challenging of the three. Parrhesia comes from the Greek word literally meaning “all speech”, and this virtue challenges us to speak freely, candidly, and boldly, even – and especially – when it’s not welcome. Continue reading