Catholic Girl Journey

Awesome root canal

Many jest saying they’d rather have a root canal than deal with whatever difficulty they are currently facing , but after having one, I have to admit it’s really quite awesome.

I was very lucky, my only symptom was a bubble in my gum that would come and go; I had no pain. My endodontist is a rather jolly fellow who enjoys his work and took the time to explain the procedure to me. As the procedure can be rather lengthy, there’s not much one can do but sit, meditate, and pray. So there I sat, in between Hail Marys, thinking about my eyetooth that was being drilled, drained and then plugged. A tooth is not that big, and to go inside to clean out an even smaller area than the tooth itself is amazing! Being such detailed work, it’s a wonder that a human can do  it. All the branches of medicine have progressed, and continue to do so. Is that what it means to be created in the image and likeness of God?

I started to think about some of the details that God created: a minuscule atom, a drop of water, a baby’s breath flower, a cat’s fur, and a human being.  There is such variety in his creation  from a field full of kaleidoscope-colored flowers to men and women with so many different skills and interests. Dentistry is not something that interests me, but clearly my doctor loves his job. It takes people with an interest to study, understand and make progress in their field of work, not just in the medical profession, but in every field including business and agriculture. It’s amazing that there are people interested in focusing in just a small part of their field to really know it and progress its understanding. Yes, God has created us all, but he made us unique so we can cooperate with Him as creation continues.

While my initial intention was to offer up any suffering and discomfort during the procedure to God for the holy souls in Purgatory, I was quite surprised that I had such a spiritual journey during the root canal. I’m very thankful that I didn’t lose the tooth and that the recovery has been relatively benign. God has truly blessed us. I only hope I can do my part to further His creative work to make things even better for the future. How? I don’t know, but if I try to do His will, I’m sure He will use me in some way for the good of others both now and for the future.

Catholic Girl Journey

Reality

How do you determine what is real? It’s a simple question, but is there a quick or easy answer?

I received a coloring book for Christmas from some friends entitled Jesus Calling by Sarah Young (they know me way too well).   Besides the  illustrations to color, this book has  quotes for reflection. One of these got me pondering:

I am far more REAL than the world you can see, hear, and touch.

When I first read it, the correlation that came to mind was Bishop Barron referring to  St. Thomas Aquinas’ teaching on this topic: “God is the essence of being itself.” While that may answer the question of how can God be more real than the world around us, it doesn’t  explain the impact of God being more real than the world around us.

As humans, we live our whole lives based on our encounters in the world with people, places, and things. In a way our lives are a response to our experiences. We are immersed in what we see, hear and touch. We use these senses to understand and react every second of every day. Our reality is based upon our understanding. So if God is more real than what we live every second of the day, what is reality? I’ve been thinking about this for a week now, and I’m not sure, beyond “God is being itself”, that there is a simple answer. But I think it is still a question that every person should ask themselves.

Since God created the world in which we are immersed, it does contain a reflection of Him. Perhaps reality is seeing the various facets of God in the things around us. Maybe it’s seeing the qualities of God in the world He created: the warmth of the sun, the strength of the mountains, and the cleansing of a rain shower. As we are created in God’s image and likeness, do we see Him in others that we encounter?

Perhaps the question to really ponder is: how real is God to you?

Catholic Girl Journey

All things new

In the midst of a brutally cold start to winter, it can be hard to imagine the newness of springtime with the grass turning green and buds ready to burst  into flower. But in a way, Christmas and New Year’s Day are all about beginning again and starting anew.

The celebration of Christmas lasts for 12 days and near the middle is the first day of our calendar year. One can see the correlation between celebrating the birth of a child as the beginning of not just the child’s life, but also a new start for the family into which the baby is born. I find it rather significant that Christmas and New Year’s Day are so close together.

If we go deeper into the mystery of the Incarnation, we might be aware that by the simple act of  becoming man, Jesus has blessed and sanctified the everyday actions of family life. Eating, sleeping, working, learning and teaching were all things that the Holy Family engaged in as Jesus grew to maturity. The venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen said, “Our Lord spent three hours in redeeming, three years in teaching and thirty years in obeying…” Jesus was part of a family for 30 years, being a dutiful Son, not just to God the Father, but also to His earthly parents, Mary and Joseph. Do we consider our work, both household chores as well as our occupation, as something holy? Do we consider the relationships within our family as something sacred, especially with our parents? Do we respect the body’s need for rest and give it the amount of sleep it needs? How about the need for food and drink?  Do we hurry through our meals or do we take the time to enjoy the flavors and seek to nourish ourselves with a healthy variety of foods?

The calendar that we follow numbers the years based on the birth of Christ. While man has been on the earth much longer than 2,018 years, in a way creation was started again with the birth of Jesus and our daily life was sanctified  through this gift.Perhaps as we begin another year, a good  resolution would be to be to cognizant of the holiness of daily life in order to grow closer to God.

May you have a blessed new year in the journey God has planned for you!

Catholic Girl Journey

The gift exchange

A Blessed and Merry Christmas!

What constitutes a good Christmas for you? Fifty percent of the gifts you receive you like and will actually use? Is it less or more? In this season of giving, somehow even though it is “the thought that counts”, the culture is obsessed with the gifts we receive and what we do with them. But what about the giver?

Have you ever thought you found the perfect gift for someone only to see the happy expression of receiving a gift freeze on their face as they try to find something nice to say? In that circumstance both the giver and the receiver are disappointed. The receiver wonders what the giver was thinking when they picked out that gift while the giver is wondering why the receiver does not like it. After a few experiences like that, it’s easy just to give up and give gift cards so the receiver can buy whatever he/she wants or needs.

It’s one thing when a gift is not functioning or too small/large. But sometimes, if you give a gift a chance, you end up liking it much more than when you first received it. Sometimes other people’s perspective is deeper than we care to admit and their gifts do have purpose and meaning even when we don’t think so upon receiving them. It’s the same with God’s gift to us: His Son, Jesus.

Jesus is a gift in the truest sense of the meaning: a voluntary transfer between two people without compensation. He puts His glory aside and takes the form of one of his creatures, man, with the sole purpose of dying in order to save us. He spent His time on earth to teach us how to live as the Father wants us to live, in His love. We may think that when we “put Jesus on”, His ways may not fit us well. But if we keep trying, He may just become our favorite gift of all.

God knows us much better that we know ourselves and the gift of Jesus fits every person perfectly. It’s only when we cast God and His gift aside, in favor of what we think we need and want, that we find ourselves less than satisfied. Perhaps Jesus will be a gift we not only treasure, but give to others as well.

Catholic Girl Journey

Act like a princess

It seems the items that interest me on Netflix all have some sort of royalty in them. Whether it is a movie, a series or a documentary about real or make believe monarchies, a common story line is the requirement to act the part, especially in public. It’s usually contrasted when the character or person has presented themselves less that what is expected. I must admit that the thought has crossed my mind more than once, “I’m glad I don’t need to worry about that.” But then again, maybe I do?!

Being a daughter of God, who is the Kings of Kings, wouldn’t that make me a princess? Before I go ordering a tiara, let’s think about this. When Jesus came, there were no parades, just a few simple shepherds and 3 very select wise men who came to welcome Him. His crown was of thorns and His throne was the cross. While those aspects are not typical, His actions, that of a leader and setting the example for others, are common factors between Jesus and any earthly ruler.  

What would acting like a princess of God look like? We have plenty of examples in the saints. High on the list would include loving every person with the same love and compassion that Jesus has for me. Another would be setting the example of following the commandments by living them in my daily life. It may not be waving at crowds of strangers, but a smile or wave could help brighten a person’s day. Help those in need in whatever means available: by time, money and/or talent. It sounds like much the same as being a follower of Christ, doesn’t it?

Just like earthly rulers, we will fall short of those expectations. It doesn’t mean we stop trying, it just means we try harder. Perhaps in do so, we can bring a little bit of God’s kingdom here to our corner of the earth.

Catholic Girl Journey

God love you

How much does God love you? As our Creator, God loves us each and individually. It’s a concept that one hears over and over again, but without seeing/interacting with God as a being, it can be hard to understand.

Jesus, the divine Son of God, came down to earth, and became man. I believe it, and yet it’s still difficult to understand. Jesus gave His life for us, dying on the cross so that He could descend into the darkest part of our humanity, death, and triumph over it by rising from the dead. I believe it, am humbled by it, in awe of it, and yet it does not help me to understand how much God loves me, Karen, as an individual.

God, in His infinite wisdom understands this, after all He did create me. To help me, He blessed me by allowing me to become a pet parent to my cat, Vera. I love the creature she is, even in her impish times when I’m completely frustrated with her behavior, but I’m glad she’s in my life. I love when she comes and sits on my lap and purrs. I enjoy her company and that simple act of her just being herself,. Even amidst the struggle of the medical issue she has, , I gladly endure the pain and heartache because of all the joy-filled moments she gives me daily.

While this may seem like a crazy cat lady talking about her cat, it’s really looking at relationships in a spiritual light. If I can have such a strong connection with another creature who only sort of gets who I am and my actions, how much more does God know and love me? This is still an imperfect perspective, but helps me to get a glimpse of His love. Vera understands when I get out a toy that it’s playtime, and when I pick up her bowls and take them to the kitchen that it’s feeding time. She also understands when the spray bottle comes out that she needs to stay out of the kitchen or off the dining table. She’s an intelligent creature, but sees things from a cat perspective. I see God from a human perspective, so my understanding of Him pales in comparison to who He really is and what all He does for me.

So every time that Vera jumps up on my lap, kneads before settling down, purring the whole time, I thank God for bringing Vera into my life. And then I thank Him for the unfathomable amount of love He has for me.

Catholic Girl Journey

Living your mission

‘Act of God’ is one episode name for Netflix’s The Crown series.  It has haunted me since I watched it weeks ago. The Crown is a dramatization of the life of Queen Elizabeth II starting just prior to her ascent to the throne and continuing through the early years of her reign. However, it is not the major character, but a minor character used for storyline purposes that has kept me thinking about our mission in everyday life.

The episode takes place in December 1952 during the Great Smog over London. The fictional character Venetia Scott, a secretary to Winston Churchill, is inspired by his autobiography and wants her life to mean something. She bemoans the fact that all she does is put papers in front of the Prime Minister to sign and takes them away again. Churchill, at the same age, was pursuing a military career and making a difference. Scott sees an opportunity when she takes her roommate to the hospital for treatment due to the effects of the smog. The hospital is in chaos. She asks the doctor what is needed and tells him that she can help by putting in a word with the Prime Minister. The doctor scoffs at her suggestion, too overwhelmed by patients needing attention to give any to her. The doctor’s dismissive attitude fuels her passion for making a difference and she sets out to prove that she does have the ear of Churchill. Marching on her way towards Downing Street with that goal as her main focus, she is tragically cut down by a bus that fails to see her in the dense smog until it is too late.

My instinct was to look away from the screen rather than watch this horror. I didn’t want to see it, knowing that no one could survive that type of accident. I felt bad for the character  who never had the chance to convince Churchill that this smog was not some weather phenomenon, but a crisis that needed his attention. While some of the details may be more fiction than fact, the life of Venetia Scott is portrayed as a bright spot for Churchill; so bright, that upon hearing of her death, he decides to visit the hospital morgue to pay his respects.  Her death brings Churchill face-to-face with the crisis and the fact that people are in need of his help. Doing what a politician does well, he quickly orchestrates a media opportunity and delivers a speech declaring monetary support to help the victims. The example of Scott’s life, lived so brightly that it transcended her death, is the focus of my pondering. While the writers of the story may have intended the title “Act of God” to reference the great smog, it is the fulfillment of Scott’s mission to make a difference  that is truly the act of God. He makes her life — and death — purpose-filled, for she succeeds in her mission in the end.

We are all called to mission, to serve others as brightly and boldly as we can. We cannot count the cost, since we can never truly measure the benefit to those whose lives we touch, directly or indirectly. Perhaps our impact will be felt by those we leave behind after we cease to live on earth; perhaps it will  continue to grow as they keep the memory of our lives present in theirs.