O, that deep and hidden love

You know you’re a mom when it’s past midnight and you’re chatting with your friends in a different time zone and you suddenly realize the time and whisper to yourself: “Thou shalt pay for this in the morning!”

All that aside, I’ve felt a sudden gust of inspiration from the Holy Spirit above to get off my lazy bum and start blogging again.

I’ve also been prompted lately to use a good half hour, at least, of my morning routine to contemplate the daily Mass Gospel reading and to meditate on other spiritual readings before the day begins.

And my, how the latter has done my soul good.

I finally feel like I’m being fed again. And in turn, I finally feel like I have a more whole version of myself to offer to my husband, my son, the baby in my belly, my extended family, my friends, and those that I serve…!

When you take care of yourself, it’s so much easier to love others.

I’d forgotten that in what often seems like the rat race of family life, the goal is not to accomplish. And yes, even as a stay-at-home mama, life can feel ALL too HARRIED at times!

It’s crazy because you’d think that of all vocations, being a stay-at-home mama has the potential to be one of the ‘most relaxing’: or so, you’d think. But no, it has demands in and of itself, and of course Satan always wants us to feel rushed, hurried, threatened, and unappreciated for all that we do (so we try to do things more perfectly, or we try to do more, more, more to prove ourselves– both to no avail!). Moreover, Satan always wants us to feel unsure of WHO WE ARE, God’s very sons and daughters, beloved despite all of our deficiencies and defects!

Recently, I’ve been relishing in the fact that it is OK to stop and smell the roses (ha! seems so cliche, yet it’s such an important aphorism to remember), to smile, to laugh– to REALLY laugh and joke and make merry, to take time to saunter in the sunshine (and the Son), to take time to pray and to reflect (so as to grow!).

Just this past week, I woke my son up from a late nap. And usually, if he’s rested well enough, he’ll roll over and give me the BIGGEST smile this side of the Mississippi. After this particular nap, I was holding my breath wondering if he had rested enough, though– but lo and behold, what did he do? He rolled over after I kissed him on the cheek and started to play with his hair… and gave me the biggest grin ever! He continued to hug me and to just stare into my eyes. 

Fast forward to a week later, and my toddler son told me to cuddle with him. He then gave me a big hug and proclaimed, “Love you, Mommy!”

My heart got smashed into a million pieces both instances. That’s how smitten I was with my toddler son’s adoration and affection of his dear Mama.

This is the kind of time God wants us to spend with Him, I realized. Not just so we can show Him that we love Him… but so that He can show us that He loves us, uniquely, individually! God wants to spend time with us when we are well rested, i.e. those intentional mornings offered to him (in addition when we are not well rested at all, and think we have no time to spare!) so that we can feel well rested. The math of it is mysterious, especially in that latter situation, but it’s a Divine equation. And God always comes out more generously on His end.

This is the kind of joy that God wants us to find in different moments of our day. Sometimes these moments are direct and easy to come by– and other times, heck, most of the time– they’re indirect, hidden, difficult to find. But those moments of Divine encounter and love are there, because He’s always there.

So here’s to trying to live a calm, peaceful, intentional life– yes, amidst the chaotic humdrum of the everyday and the ordinary.

And here’s to trying to find the joy, whether it’s at hand or it’s deeply embedded in the more obscure places of our lives.

how foolish are you?

Since 2009, I have been volunteering to teach Confirmation class to Catholic-raised teenagers. It’s a weekly class that meets for about 1.5 hours.

Confirmation is one of the three Sacraments of Initiation in the Catholic Church; Baptism and First Communion are the other two. If you are Catholic teenager, Confirmation seals your infant Baptism in the Trinity, and at that time, your parents and godparents take oaths to raise you in the Catholic Faith. At your Confirmation, you take an oath to take on those Baptismal vows as your own.

Every year, I get this extreme bout of anxiety and doubt about whether or not I am called to teach the teens again. They’re so full of life, questions, and oh so many emotions and thoughts… every class feels like a marathon!

Do I still have it in me? I ask myself once fall rolls around yet again.

But when I take it to prayer, I find the Holy Spirit rekindling Himself within me, and telling me this:

Rosanna, I called you not because you are wise, not because you are a great teacher, not because you are morally upright… none of that.

I call you because you are WILLING to be a FOOL for me, and for the Faith!

Come, follow Me!

So after I get over the panic, self scrutiny, pride, laziness, etc., and I throw it at the foot of the Cross, Jesus gives me the energy and the passion to do what I’ve done every year before!

Christ gives me the energy and the passion to yet again start on the journey alongside the teens, going forward all the while I am interior-ly on my knees, so to speak, hoping that the teens’ eyes are opened to the one fact that WE ALL NEED CHRIST (especially their teacher) because WE ARE ALL FOOLS.

Isn’t that a beautiful thing to rely on– the undisputed fact that you are an idiot, a fool– but that in the eyes of God, stupidity is all that it takes? Your foolishness is ALL that God needs.

Jesus simply needs you, stupidity, foolishness, and all. This is where humility meets mercy. Yes, you in your shame, your brokenness, your sin– Jesus needs you with all of these things– so that he can give you His glory, His wholeness, and His righteousness in its place.

In Him you are healed! And only in Him you are wiser than you ever could be.

Today, these awesome words of 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 floated into my heart:

Consider your own calling, brothers. Not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.

Rather, God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong,

and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something,

so that no human being might boast* before God.

It is due to him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, as well as righteousness, sanctification, and redemption,

so that, as it is written, ‘Whoever boasts, should boast in the Lord.'”

 

 

 

 

on feeling silenced

I never thought my voice would fade.
The vigor, the passion.
I let someone
silence me.

Slowly.
You’re too this-
Can’t you see
that?
Insert judgement
(here.)

I’m tired of
Withdrawing
Denying.

Letting go of who
I am.

So here,
here I am, world.
Here I am, yet again.

Hello!

(c) rosannanoelle

Being a disciple of Christ can be one of the loneliest feelings. Simply put, you feel quite ostracized by society. Particularly in this day and age, and in meeting so many wonderful people, mentioning that you’re Christian feels almost taboo. It’s not that I don’t connect with non-Christians; it’s just that I feel that it’s a large part of my life that seems like a turn-off to many that I meet. So I either consciously or unconsciously keep my faith at bay, even when the Holy Spirit feels like it’s burning within me. Don’t wanna char anyone!

Religion is seen as archaic, and , well, the opiate of the masses.

(I suppose this is what lead me to meet my spouse on a faith-based dating website– ha, ha! Well, that and Divine Providence.)

But in all seriousness, it felt nearly impossible to find a guy my age practicing his faith with equal fervor. At least for who I am as a person, it was so important to share that deepest part of me with the love of my life.

It’s hard to feel deeply lonely among your peers and most especially among your own family at times. The latter can really grate at your soul, and pierce you, because your family is who you love the most.

I used to so fervently blog on my site “Catholic Twenty Something.” However, as the years passed, I noticed my vigor for writing about my faith taper down– sadly, almost to a trickle.

And after years of introspection and prayer, it finally dawned on me what had actually happened.

I succumbed to bullying.

I let a few angry, judgemental voices of individuals near and dear to me really erode my heart.

Perhaps they did not know they were hurting me so. But in so many instances, it truly felt like they knew, and they simply wanted to have their word with me. By the grace of God, and truly not my own strength or willpower, I have forgiven them and moved on.

For NO matter the faith walk of those that I love, I love them because they are who they are– not because they do nor do not support my faith walk. Loving someone just because they make you feel a certain way or approve of all of the things you do and say– well, that’s probably a utilitarian relationship, at best. I want to love like Christ loved. And he especially loves those who hate him.

But it’s true that those who you love the most can hurt you the most.

And their words can break you.

And my heart, well, it sank, and sank, and sank listening to such voices. Deeper and deeper into an abyss, into the darkness.

Yet my eyes were always pointed to the light.

It just felt as if I had let my voice… drown. Under those who are so much more confident than I am, so much more approved by everyone else I know.

But this post is not meant to be a sob story!!!

Being a disciple of Christ is, for the most part, a life of JOY, at least in my own journey. And in this bullying, I found the deepest peace I had ever met, in the pierced heart of Christ Himself. 

In these last few years of feeling like my zeal to evangelize was dampened, God actually did something amazing: He stirred that thirst for Him even more vigorously within, in a contemplative, meditative way. And He brought truth to my situation: that the pain from this kind of bullying was stopping me from being the beautiful person that He made me to be. That His love and approval is worth gold, and that the love and approval of the world is rubbish.

During these years, God has never ceased to send people to walk alongside me in my faith walk, with open ears and open hearts. I have so many strengthened relationships, and a much stronger marriage, because of this internal struggle.

And step by step, in many ways– and this blog being one of them!– I hope that I can reclaim my voice that began to fade a few years ago.

Have you ever been in such a situation? I encourage you to take it to contemplation, meditation, and prayer.

No voice deserves to be silenced.

 

 

 

 

a letter to my dear toddler son

Dear Dominic,

I love you so much. You have no idea! You are such an amazing little man. You are full of compassion. You are so tender and sweet. You abound with curiosity. You want and you yearn to be independent, useful, and industrious– at the mere age of two! I cannot believe how much you have grown physically and mentally and SOUL-fully in the last 28 months. You have a BIG personality all your own in that little body, and you express it in the biggest ways!

I am ever grateful how your presence in my life, and your Dada’s and my life and marriage, has helped to make us less self-centered and selfish– more others-focused and selfless– and best yet, so full of WONDER and AWE. At YOU, at GOD and His goodness, at the world at large.

Your pure and innocent heart has helped my heart beat more passionately and fiercely again. I’m sure Dada would say the same.

We love you so much, Dom. We are always so proud of who you are. We love you. You are our gift.

Love,
Mama =)

not just luck

It seems that lovers are meant to have those “aha! I knew we were meant for each other all along” moments. Epiphanies of such curious serendipity bring strength to a relationship. They bring meaning and purpose and a powerful sense of invincibility. These aha moments hold two individuals together like cosmic glue.

I can’t help but smile thinking of all of the circumstances and coincidences that my spouse and I have deemed as part of our own cosmic glue. For instance, we were both incredibly in love with New  York City. He had family there, and I took a trip there at the golden age of ten ,and it would leave an indelible mark on my heart. We also found out that we both received our First Holy Communion on the same exact day!

I can’t help but believe that all of these circumstances that were so coincidental before we even met are all part of the holy will of God. My hopeless romantic heart will believe in this cosmic glue theory it until the day that I die. And I gladly will tell my son of each and every one of these aha moments!

This has to be more than good luck, for this is far too good than I could ever conceive! These are my thoughts, the words of my heart.

I refuse to attribute the good things in my life to luck. I know that my God must have a master plan, because sheer chance could never deal out to me the goodness that I have met.

What good things do you hold dear in your life? What good things are you grateful for,and simply beyond amazed by? Why is that so? I invite you to wonder about the sheer serendipity in your life.

awaken wonder: new wine into fresh wineskins

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Tabula rasa. Clean slate.

I’ve spent the past weeks pondering whether I should maintain posts from my Catholic Twenty-Something on this new blog, Awaken Wonder. I added to them slowly and often spontaneously throughout grad school, a long distance relationship, the beginning of my married and family life, and the establishment of my career in counseling. During that time, I was knocked off my feet to see that I had visitors from all over the world, with over 24k views. And what an honor to have readership. Knowing I had even one reader was such an honor! I am truly humbled.

Recently, I’ve felt like something is amiss, however. My old posts no longer sound like my current voice. My intention for writing has also slowly changed. Glancing through the timeline of my blog, it seems that I went from lots of theological musings to simply reflecting upon my most ordinary happenings, and how they moved me and touched my personal spiritual life and faith journey. With much thought and prayer, I’ve decided that I want to change the tone of my blog yet again, and to give it a new name to signify this change.

So with vigor and excitement, I have decided to move on from Catholic Twenty-Something and to begin anew with Awaken Wonder.

As Christ once said:

People do not put new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise the skins burst, the wine spills out, and the skins are ruined. Rather, they pour new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved.

A new name, a new beginning.  My hope is to pour new wine into new wineskins with Awaken Wonder. Well, metaphorically.

I’d like to start afresh with a more broad approach for this blog. I’ll write about things that awaken wonder within me, with the hope that I might be able to touch just one soul out there. That beging said, I will still incorporate my faith into my posts; I mean, how could I not, whether directly or indirectly?! Impossible. Catholicism is so core to my being, and it still colors my whole world. So while I will not always blog about faith directly anymore, everything I write about will still be from eyes of faith—my own unique set, that is.

I am not quite sure how this new blog will look. I am not sure how it will be formatted. I do know, however, that it will be challenging and exhilarating with this new focus of “wonder” in mind.

I’ll likely doing my usual blogging about “every day curiosities and musings,” yes. I also might also be putting up a poem or short story on occasion… or reflecting on a song, movie, or other work of art… or writing a book review… or sharing about some new experience or place travelled.

If you have read this far, I am honored that you have. May we walk on this journey of awakening wonder, together!

Pax et bonum,

Rosanna

in silent adoration

Today, my mommy self simply needed a BREAK. My body knew it. My heart knew it. My soul knew it.

After making sure my splitting from home would be responsible (note: emphasis on the verb “making”; I was more aggressive than passive, LOL!)– I was off in my (ultra suburban) mini-SUV!

Before I left, my husband suggested, “Maybe you should get frozen yogurt.”

“Ehhh,” I replied. “I’m SO full!”

But I hopped in my car, anyway. Off, off, off and away.

And not going to lie– I considered a shopping trip. A little retail therapy. But I knew that was not what I needed. 

“Where do I go… where am I going?” I asked myself.

“Jesus– Blessed Sacrament Chapel!” I quickly concluded. Truly my guardian angel whispering the wisest destination suggestion into my ear.

So I sat before my LORD Jesus, present in the Holy Eucharist in our nearby Catholic church’s 24/7 Adoration Chapel.

Rest. Respite. A time to be LOVED by my LORD. To know that I am loved.

And I felt so much peace. I was so hungry, and Jesus was there. He fed me. I was so thirsty, and Jesus was there. He gave me water. Living water. Himself. All I could hum when I left was Matt Maher’s rendition of “Come to the Water”!

It’s based on the first few verses of Isaaiah 55:

 AN INVITATION TO GRACE

All you who are thirsty,
come to the water!
You who have no money,
come, buy grain and eat;
Come, buy grain without money,
wine and milk without cost!

Why spend your money for what is not bread;
your wages for what does not satisfy?
Only listen to me, and you shall eat well,
you shall delight in rich fare.

Pay attention and come to me;
listen, that you may have life.
I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
the steadfast loyalty promised to David.

Eucharistic Adoration… I highly recommend it. It is impossible to take your life and your loved ones for granted when you feel so loved by Jesus Himself, truly present before you!

You will be swept by His beauty. You will be moved to wonder about what He has given you in this life. You will praise Him. You will thank Him. You will be filled with joy, and know that it is complete in Christ alone. But don’t take my credit for that train of thought.

Just so happens that I also saw this GEM of a tweet today (just below)! Definitely a quote that will serve as a weapon in my spiritual arsenal on my conquest for JOY. Because joy, my friends, is what we are made for!

@FOCUScatholic:

We need beauty because it leads us to wonder. We need wonder because it leads to praise. Praise leads to gratitude. Gratitude leads to joy.

I wanna hold your hand

On our half-hour car ride back home from Sunday Mass, our little boy got a little fussy… a little whiny… a little inconsolable.

“Mama… Mama… Mama…,” it all started.

Apparently, being buckled into a restraint is the worst feeling for a two-year-old. Especially after a long, napless (God forbid!) day.

“Maaaa-maaaaa?” Long pause. “Maaa-maaaaa?” Long pause. “Maaaa-maaaa?” Long pause.

I responded every time with a calm repetition of his name, hoping that my tone signaled to him: “I know, I know. Yes, I pity you, my little baby. I know something’s wrong.”

Apparently, that didn’t work for my two-year-old.

The sheer desperation quickly avalanched.

“Maaaaa…. maaaaa. Maaaaaa…. maaaaa.” His normally joy-filled voice turned into the bleating of a helpless little lamb.

My husband asked him to ‘use his words.’

I asked him how he felt.

And in the back of my  mind, this: C’mon! He barely talks. He has no idea what we’re even asking! We have no idea why he’s so miserable!

So I tried to validate how I thought he felt then console him accordingly.

Nope, didn’t work.

And then it dawned on me: Mama, you have no idea. Mama, just hold his hand.

So I did it. I held his little hand.

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I turned halfway around from my shotgun seat and twisted my body into the most awkwardly contorted position. I dangled my hand above his car seat handlebar and grabbed one of those little hands. And I squeezed and stroked that tiny little hand lovingly whilst it laid in mine. 

Then the cutest thing happened. My son squeezed back with his five tiny little fingers. I felt tension, and then release, not just physical, but spiritual.

And a smile spread across my son’s little face– smack dab between his two little cheeks. 

My son calmed. His mama was holding his hand. I was there. I cared how he was feeling, even though I didn’t understand. 

He was not silent for long, unfortunately. (Toddlers will get ya like that!)

Soon, he went right back to bleating “mama” while holding my hand the whole car ride home. But there was less desperation in his voice. And there seemed to be less agony in his little body (and his already big, big soul at age two).

I continued to hold his hand anyway. I wanted to show him my unwavering love. Even when he was (innocently and unintentionally) being mighty annoying.

This all made me reflect upon Christ’s presence in my life, and my spiritual mother Mary’s presence in my life. Christ and my Mama Mary: always willing to hold my hand, especially when I am afraid. They so ardently want my desperation and agony to turn to calm. They so deeply desire that I cast my anxiety aside and rest in them, especially in my sufferings.

So many days and sleepless nights, I just lack that childlike faith to hold out my hand! While even an earthly toddler knows the benefits of holding his mother’s hand, I sometimes lack the logic of a grown adult to do the same to my Lord and to my spiritual mother. Yet they are always there, wanting me to take their hand, to squeeze their hand back: in times of fear and anxiety, in times of sorrow, in times of confidence and calm, in times of joy, in the painstakingly ordinaries and the very banalities of life! Always.

O ye of little faith! Won’t you just hold my hand?

I hope we all live lives of wonder, but I hope that the one thing that we will never wonder is how truly loved by God (and his Mama) we are. None of us are orphans. All of us are wanted. If not by earthly people then by God and Mama Mary above. That unconditional love is truly a wondrous marvel in and of itself.

and O! Your flesh and blood

“Jesus, I am not worthy. I am a broken (wo)man. But only say the word and I shall be healed again”!

I cannot WAIT to show this to my Confirmation students tomorrow morning.

What beauty there is in the Eucharist! What joy, what strength! For in the Body and the Blood of Jesus Christ therein lies the beginning and the end of every human creature.

Every bit of his precious flesh, every drop of his precious blood– all of this man-made-God Jesus’s soul– given up for me on Calvary AND simultaneously forever in the Eucharistic sacrifice!

This is the food that will heal my generation.

This is is the drink that will create a revolution of peace, of love in the world.

He is our answer.

#EucharisticGeneration

Amen.

dear son: bad things happen, but we’ll be here

I feel like the Gospel applies to my life so vividly as a mother. Why? Because I can see God the Father’s relationship with me– and love for me– even more clearly now, reflected in the way I relate to and love my own son.

Why would I give my son a stone when he says he wants bread? I would give him not just a piece of bread, but an entire feast!

Why would I hand him a snake when he asks for a fish? I would never want anything harmful in his hands!

And if he wants a fish– why, I would give him a fish, and a whole ocean of love.

This is how much I adore him, care for him, and simply want the best for him.

Jesus tells me to ask, to seek, to knock– and I will receive, find, and be welcome. More than that, I will be home in his arms.

God the Father promises me good things. And that’s an understatement. Not necessarily in the form of my prayers being answered in the way that I conceive is best for me– but instead, in my prayers being answered as according to His Will, which, in some mysterious way, is the best for me, even though it bears the bad and the suffering– in addition to the good and the joy.

With a mother’s heart, I hope and I pray that nothing terribly bad ever happens to my son (and that he never commits anything terribly bad out of his will).

After all, I want the best for him.

But alas, we do not live in paradise. Not today, at least. One day.

I cannot promise my son that nothing bad will ever befall him.

What I can promise my son, however, is that I will always try to give him the best of me: my presence in his life, my love for him, my prayers, my witness to Jesus and to the faith– come what may.

In the good, the bad, the joys, the suffering, this is my gift: my presence.

As I near my son’s first birthday, I realize that this Madeleine L’Engle quote could not ring more true as I reflect upon my own life, and God’s steadfast presence in it….

“God doesn’t stop the bad things from happening. That’s never been part of the promise. The promise is I am with you. I am with you now until the end of time.”

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Jesus said to his disciples:
“Ask and it will be given to you;
seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds;
and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
Which one of you would hand his son a stone
when he asked for a loaf of bread,
or a snake when he asked for a fish?
If you then, who are wicked,
know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will your heavenly Father give good things
to those who ask him.“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.
This is the law and the prophets.”