On Mother’s Day….after Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day was just a few days ago, as I’m sure you all well know. It’s hard to miss the flowers, cards, and gigantic balloons (at least they were at our grocery store, the kids loved them!). At our Mass on Sunday, and many churches regardless of denomination, there was a special blessing for mothers and we were given a rose.

I happened to be the one holding Eliza, now almost 16 months old and full of her own spunk and will, so naturally I brought her to the front with me for the blessing and flower. During the course of the blessing, she caught notice of the yellow rose and lunged. What followed was a rather comical tug-o-war between she and I over that rose. At first she managed to simply bruise a few petals, but that’s when her desire to fully experience that rose kicked in. I nearly dropped her while trying not to smack the woman next to me with that tempting rose. Despite my best efforts, she managed to get a hand on it and began squeezing the bloom within an inch of its life. I did salvage some of it, now rather lopsided and looking less than full.

We still brought the damaged rose home, along with a few extras the girls received after Mass concluded. It is in our bouquet on the dining table. As I pass it, I meditate on how it is actually the bruised rose that offers the fullest representation of what motherhood is.

On Mother’s Day, motherhood is held up as the crown of roses it is. Mothers, those with us and those who await us, are celebrated, cherished and loved. And this is both wonderful and important. But Monday always comes. And Tuesday, and Wednesday, and every day after that. GK Chesterton so wisely said, “A crown of roses is also a crown of thorns.”

There are moments of motherhood that are bursting with roses, and those when you are acutely aware of the thorns. And this is true for all vocations.

It makes me wonder whether or not roses had thorns in the Garden of Eden. When everything was in perfect balance, would roses have needed thorns? Before the Fall of Adam and Eve, they lived in perfect harmony with creation and with God. Now, as products of that fall from grace, sweetness is mingled with sour, joy often contains a tinge of sorrow, a rose has a thorn. It goes both ways though, for even in sadness we find hope.

We look to the Cross for our prime example of this. When Jesus died, we don’t call it “Sad Friday”, but “Good Friday”. Here is the most awful, horrific thing that could happen to a human being. Yet we call it “good,” because through this terrible sorrow, the whole course of human history was redirected heavenward.

I hope that the vocation you follow is one blessed with abundant roses, even knowing that mixed in there will be thorns. May the beauty of the rose inspire you to look for the beauty and goodness in your life, even in the midst of the thorns.Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

 

Don’t you know you have 4 legs?! Reflections on who we truly are

Well not you specifically of course! But you might be surprised how many times I have said this to our dog, Max, over the years we have had him. Whenever Max gets muddy we try to wipe at least his paws down before letting him back into the house. 1. He is a white dog so the mud really stands out and 2. the kids track in enough, I don’t need extra muddy footprints to wipe up. Nearly every time I have to clean him off he tries to escape around the 3rd leg. This leads me to inevitably complain, “Don’t you know you have 4 legs?! Stand still!”

I was sharing this with Ben a few weeks ago. I said something to the effect of: “You would think that even Max should be able to understand something so integral and basic to his identity. He has 4 legs. Period. Even if he can’t count per say, shouldn’t he at least be able to recognize that not all of his legs got cleaned off yet.”

As I was complaining, a light bulb went off in my head. We are just like Max. Not in that we actually have 4 legs (wouldn’t that be awkward), but that there are realities so basic and fundamental to our existence which we fail to grasp. We are made in the image of God. We have God’s life in us, grace freely given to us at our baptism. We have the opportunity to become living tabernacles, hold Jesus within us and letting His goodness, mercy and love shine through us. But so often we get caught up in the day to day, the sin, the temptation, the hustle, the bustle, the good times and the not so good times. We, or at least I for sure, lose touch with who I really truly am – a daughter of God.

Today is the first day of the new Church year, the First Sunday of Advent. Advent is a unique moment in the year where we are preparing for the coming of the Savior, Jesus Christ. Jesus, the most incredible and abundantly generous gift of our loving God, is truly God and truly man. St. Irenaeus teaches:

“For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God”

Advent is our opportunity to enter deeply into communion with the Word, with God, so that we might become a son or daughter of God. There are many ways we can enter into communion with God, especially during Advent. We can commit to a daily Mass or weekly Confession. We can carve out time for a Morning Offering or daily Rosary. There are many reflection series, both online and in print, designed specifically for Advent. Advent is an excellent time to explore God’s Word in a more prayerful and intentional way – have you printed out your free Lectio Divina journal yet?

Advent is a time to step back and evaluate who we are in relation to who God is. Who are we, in our most basic and fundamental elements? The Catechism of the Catholic Church professes that we are:

  1. Made in the image of God (355)
  2. Capable of relationship with God (357)
  3. Willed by God into being – both body and soul (362)

This Advent, what are you going to do to help you reconnect with these basic truths about your life? Why are they important? What impact do they have on your life and relationships? And, how will they bring you into deeper communion with God as we await the coming of the Savior?Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

December 13, 2016 – Perspective on Creation

What did it feel like to take the time to intentionally ask Jesus into your heart and day yesterday? For me at least, I know that this is something I can gloss over. I believe in Jesus, I love Jesus, Jesus is a part of my life. But taking the time to say the words, especially saying them out loud, carries impact. This impact can, has and I’m sure will continue to influence who I am and how I perceive the world.

Presently I am reading an excellent book called God is Not Fair And Other Reasons for Gratitude by Daniel P. Horan, OFM (look for the book review post-Advent). Horan’s book covers a wide range of topics that all link to why we should be grateful for God’s overabundant love, generosity and mercy. One of the key themes that I can see arising from this book is how we look at the world differently when we see it through our relationship with Jesus.

Horan has one chapter that discusses our relationship with creation. He challenges the more standard stewardship model that many Christians operate on: “Rather than think about the whole of nonhuman creation as entrusted to us, which makes us cosmic landlords or property managers for God, we should consider our inherent kinship with the rest of creation” (32). When we view the created world through Jesus’ eyes, what will we see? Will we be looking at a world created for our benevolent (and often not so benevolent) stewardship, a property to be managed that is separate from our own destiny? Or, would we see how when we speak of this thing called “creation” we are necessarily speaking just as much of ourselves as we are the plants and animals residing alongside of us. Are we managers or co-workers in creation?

Do you see how the difference in perspective changes the way we should be operating in the world? Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si is a challenging call for this shift in perspective. Pope Francis says:

I urgently appeal, then, for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all. The worldwide ecological movement has already made considerable progress and led to the establishment of numerous organizations committed to raising awareness of these challenges. Regrettably, many efforts to seek concrete solutions to the environmental crisis have proved ineffective, not only because of powerful opposition but also because of a more general lack of interest. Obstructionist attitudes, even on the part of believers, can range from denial of the problem to indifference, nonchalant resignation or blind confidence in technical solutions. We require a new and universal solidarity. As the bishops of Southern Africa have stated: “Everyone’s talents and involvement are needed to redress the damage caused by human abuse of God’s creation.” All of us can cooperate as instruments of God for the care of creation, each according to his or her own culture, experience, involvements and talents (14). – Bold mine.

So what are we to do about it? Today, take your 3 minutes to list 5 ways you impact creation around you. Then, list 5 ways that creation impacts you. Finally, come up with 2 things you can do today that will improve your relationship with creation (some ideas might be being more conscious about your water usage, taking care not to throw food away or if you do need to finding a way to compost it rather than add to a landfill, placing a birdfeeder, talking with your children about the beauty and necessity of winter as part of the seasonal cycle, etc.).

***Does inviting Jesus into your heart allow you to see the world more clearly through His eyes? How does this make you feel? Uncomfortable, challenged, motivated, passionate?Please feel free to share your experience, thoughts and offer support to one another in the comments, on Twitter with the #DailyGraces or on the Facebook page.Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com