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I do not think I can read one more post filled with hate, anger, and condemnation. I have read tons of articles, opinions on both sides and what I have determined is this; as a Catholic faith filled woman I value every single person. I do not condemn anyone, not those who are persecuted and not those who are persecuting. My responsibility is to love all people exactly where they are. I love each person because they have human dignity which comes from being created in the image of God. Every human being has human dignity and it cannot be taken away. I want everyone to discover and embrace their human dignity and worth. No person is better or less than another. I think this statement from Archbishop Blase J. Cupich says it best when he quotes from the Catechism of the Catholic Church….

STATEMENT OF ARCHBISHOP BLASE J. CUPICH 
ARCHBISHOP OF CHICAGO
June 28, 2015

“It is important to note that the Catholic Church has an abiding concern for the dignity of gay persons. In fact, the Catechism of the Catholic Church says: “They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.” (n. 2358). This respect must be real, not rhetorical, and ever reflective of the Church’s commitment to accompanying all people. For this reason, the Church must extend support to all families, no matter their circumstances, recognizing that we are all relatives, journeying through life under the careful watch of a loving God.

It is also important to stress that the Supreme Court’s redefinition of civil marriage has no bearing on the Catholic Sacrament of Matrimony, in which the marriage of man and woman is a sign of the union of Christ and the Church. In upholding our traditional concept of marriage, we are called to support those who have entered into this sacred and loving bond with God and each other.”

My calling and purpose in life is to bring people closer to God not by condemning people but by loving them. That is what I will continue to do the best way possible and to me that is by loving all people right where they are. Hopefully then they will glimpse the love of God that is unconditional. God will never love you more or less than God already loves you. God loves you so much that he sacrificed his only son so you could know that love and give it selflessly to one another. I invite you to stop spewing the hate, anger, and condemnation and start spreading the love for every person because God is within every soul you witness. I have said my peace and now I am just going to live it!

My family fishing together

Yesterday was like a staycation for our family. My husband works long hours in the summer time and many weeks he works all 7 days. Yesterday he was off for the entire day. We started our Sunday with an early Mass and then packed up to go for a day at the Parklands.

It was an awesome day we took all 6 bikes and rode 16 miles. The wildflowers were unbelievable! The clouds looked like they were painted in the sky. The weather was perfect. It was a great ride!

We stopped and had a relaxing picnic lunch on blankets in the lush green grass. Then we went fishing. My oldest son was proud that he caught 2 fish and everyone else had only caught 1. He decided at that point that he should learn a little more about fishing and instead of asking his dad he got out his phone and looked up Bassmaster.com. My husband and I were laughing out loud! In the old days you asked your dad or your buddy for fishing tips. Now kids google fishing tips even while they are fishing. Our world is changing in lots of ways!

No matter how many things change with technology some things can stay the same as long as they are made a priority in life. Our priorities were in the right order today; we started with our faith in Church and then spent the day as a family, exercising, relaxing, laughing, and being together.

Disney Pixar Movie Inside Out

As a family we usually see a movie about once a year at the movie theater. Last night we saw Inside Out together. I completely recommend this movie for families with children of all ages. Toddlers may not be able to sit through the quiet parts and there are a few scenes that may frighten them. I majored in psychology during college so I was very intrigued by the premise of this movie.

It’s basically about the emotions of a little girl as she is growing up and facing changes in her life. There are many good morals that this movie teaches about family, friends, and acceptance. The overall lesson of balance in our emotions is a lesson that we should all learn at any age.

Spoiler Alert: Do not read this part if you don’t want to know some details about the movie. As a person who loves to be happy and wants to keep others happy this movie is a wake up call to remind us that we should experience every emotion. All our emotions are connected and help us to grow. There is a time for joy and for sadness if we don’t accept both we cannot mature.

I hope you take the time to see this movie. I cried in many parts and that’s ok because sadness is important too.

Yesterday I attended a retreat for the teachers, DRE’s and other catechists of our Archdiocese. I have led many retreats over the last several years but until yesterday it had been almost 8 years since I had attended a retreat. I was so excited to be the person sitting in the chair listening, talking with others, praying, and reflecting.

It was a different experience being on the other side of the room, not the one speaking and leading it. I listened to the leaders’ thoughts and connected her ideas to my own. I enjoyed the reflective time for prayer and walking around the campus and being in nature as well as a silent church. I experienced a peaceful feeling while praying without so many distractions.

It made me realize I should go on a retreat weekly. After thinking about it I came to the conclusion that I do go on a retreat weekly. I go to Mass every Sunday. I listen to the word of God, I listen to the priest connect the word to my every day life. I am given time to pray with others, silence to pray alone, and the sacrament of the Eucharist to grow in my relationship with God as well as with my community. It is an hour away from the world that I take every single Sunday with my family. We all need that time away from all the distractions of the world to sit with God.

Try going on retreat this weekend and you may discover what I did!

Mark 5: 24 – 34  The woman with the issue of blood – She had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors and had spent all that she had. She had heard about Jesus…. If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured. She was honest… It says so much to the fact that when we have no more and cannot do anything else that’s when we go to God. When we are out of alternatives. Her faith was so strong that she knew only to touch his cloak would cure her.

In our lives do we try everything possible before we go to God? Do we make God our last resort?

 

As a teacher I attend at least 15 hours of professional development each summer. Yesterday I had the privilege of attending a class titled, “The Catholic Social Teachings, Come Alive.” Half of it was the background of our Catholic Social Teachings, encyclicals, the history and ideas for how to live out our faith through these principles. There were a few teachers from local schools that shared their experiences with service that were feasible for us to replicate in our own classrooms. Then Fred Whittaker from St. Francis of Assisi spoke. I was floored. His ideology, and that of the school, made me want to enroll my children in that school. He did not talk about projects but about living out our faith. He did not talk about how Catholic Social Teaching should be cross curricular, but how these are the principles we should live in life. He teaches his students how to listen with compassion to others. At a young age they are trained to listen for feelings, opinions, facts, and to put themselves into the shoes of the people speaking. Their school welcomes refugees to come and speak to their students at least monthly. The school has a service program that is so embedded into the school that it is now a part of their culture. He teaches his students to thank those they serve for allowing them to be a part of their life experience. He understands so well that service is not about the hours you write on a log but serving because you must, it’s a response to loving others so deeply that you have to serve.

Mr. Whittaker spoke of the slippery slope of serving others for that rewarding feeling. That feeling that says I have more than you and I am grateful that I do and that I can help you. When what we should really feel is I have more than you which can be my own poverty, you have less than me but you are richer in so much. That we are interconnected as a family that should love and take care of one another. His students react to current social events and are driven by the Holy Spirit to change things. They have been a part of legislation and agents for change within their own community. They host a farmer’s market weekly so that the local refugees can sell the food they garden to support themselves. They mentor and help out Catholic Charities not just during the school year but during the summer. His has a social justice club that meets year round.

During the class there was a great emphasis placed on this idea that Pope Francis has talked about; making “the other” a person, “another”. Because we are them and they are us. One of the speakers spoke of how we are all in need and those of us who are not in need at this moment have been or are temporarily stable. However, we should never forget from where we have come. If we are all creations of God made in God’s image then we are truly all family. Family takes care of one another not because of need but out of love. When you truly love someone you feel that love in your soul and must help them it is a reaction and a choice.

I am a note taker in classes and I took 6 pages of notes. I don’t want to forget these ideas, lessons, or feelings. We believe Jesus was indeed the suffering servant that Isiah spoke about in the Old Testament. He served God with full dedication, devotion, and undying obedience all the way to the point of death. We should be humble servants not looking for that feeling of reward but searching only for our family members to love. If we see others as our family and truly love then we are not seeking that high we are only doing what God has created us to do; to love without condition, to be in full relationship with God, ourselves, creation, and not “the other” but one another. 

Print by Chris Cooke

Our culture is so varied in its religion, beliefs, and values. There are many people within our culture that believe the old idea; an eye for an eye. Then there are those who believe in forgiveness. Violence, in our society, seems to be a spiral that begins with a reaction to conflict. However, violence doesn’t have to be the reaction to conflict. Instead one could react with peace, understanding, or love. Jesus Christ refused to hate. Jesus was given the death penalty in his culture. He could have fought back in many different situations but instead dealt with conflict with peace and love. Jesus could have asked or commanded that his apostles fight those who would take him to his death. He did not. Jesus Christ instead took the symbol that represented the most violent death possible and conquered it with a quiet peace, forgiving, in his agony, those who crucified, tortured, and killed him. He took the cross, a symbol of death and violence, and transformed it into a symbol of eternal life and ultimate peace.

I tell my students constantly the only thing you can control in this life is your reaction. Choose to make your reaction one of peace and love. Hate begets hate, violence begets more violence but love begets more love. In the broken times of Charleston, South Carolina, they have chosen to react with love, peace, and forgiveness. Those people are Christians who not only gather to share the word of God but live the life of Christ in times of crisis. In a time when most people would react with hate, violence and anger, they are choosing to react as Jesus Christ would react.

The choice is up to you. When you are faced with a conflict as small as frustration on your drive to work, or as massive as dealing with the injustice of others, you can decide how you will react. If you try to live your life in peace, love, and forgiveness you will train yourself to react with these emotions in times of trial. How do you want to react? You can transform your life to do that. Follow Jesus Christ and you will one day be able to react with peace and love.