When I Met Mary at the Foot of the Cross

The LEnt I met Mary at the Foot of the Cross
Photo Credit: The Joy Filled Catholic ♦ The Grotto – National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother

I have a blog post in the works that I will post after we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord — and I think it will be a great post to kick off the Easter season!

Today is Holy Thursday. This evening will mark the end of Lent and the beginning of the Pascal Triduum. It is during this time that we should pause to reflect on all of those moments leading up to the crucifixion. All the actions, words, betrayals, tears, and the brutal sacrifice of our Lord Jesus.

Even though I grew up Catholic, Holy Week wasn’t really something we took time to pause and reflect on. All of that changed for me several years back.

My husband and I were struggling to conceive, my step-dad, and also a very dear friend and co-worker of mine, were both battling colon cancer. It was through my sadness, disappointment, and grief that I was starting to cling to my Catholic faith – which a few year before, I nearly abandoned. I was praying for the intercession of Saints, praying the Rosary, I went to confession which didn’t turn out as I had hoped (my fault – but that is a story for another day), visited my favorite sanctuary, and started going to Mass more often than I ever had in years.

So, that year, I decided that I would go to Mass on Holy Thursday. I had never been before and I really didn’t understand what was going on. It was long, and there was just a lot happening, and yet sometimes, nothing was happening. It’s even hard to explain that now. I felt like a stranger, somewhere that I typically felt (for the most part) like I knew what was happening and what to expect next. It left me wanting to know more. This was the year I dipped my toe into Holy Week.

Fast forward several years, our twins were almost 6 years old and we were expecting our third son. Two years before, my husband had gone through RCIA, we had our marriage Convalidated, and we became regular Mass attenders. Lent became more and more special each year. However, this Lent was different than any other for me and one which I will always remember. It was the Lent when I met Mary at the foot of the Cross.

I know that may sound a bit strange. Especially, since Holy Week and the Triduum are focused on Jesus, of course. But when I took a moment to look at Mary, I discovered something about Jesus that I hadn’t really thought of before – He is not only our Lord, Son of God. He is not only fully divine — but fully man as well. He is Lord – but he is also Mary’s son.

How often have I seen photographs, painting, or statues of the infant Jesus cradled in His mother’s arms. A tender embrace of love. She fed him, snuggled him, and taught him how to do all those things that faithful, Jewish mothers of her day, taught their sons. There is very little information about Jesus’ childhood – but I can imagine all those moments that they shared together. Many of those things I even share with my own sons.

But Mary had to witness the Passion and death of her only Son. She watched in gut-wrenching, heart-crushing, soul-piercing, horror as her precious baby was dragged through the streets. He was beaten, spit on, ridiculed, and died — all as His mother watched; helpless to save Him.

I don’t know what Mary knew – but I do know she had an unwavering faith. She trusted the Lord with all her heart, soul, and mind. However, that doesn’t make having to witness the brutality against her Son any easier to watch.

That day, I believe that a sword did pierce through her own soul…just as Simeon had foretold. (Luke 2:35) I believe it because if I even let myself think for a second, about how I would feel having to watch that happen to one of my boys – it brings me instantly to tears.

When I think of that moment in Mel Gibson’s movie, The Passion of the Christ, where she and Mary Magdalene are taking rags and soaking up Jesus’ blood that was spilled out on the streets, that also brings me to tears.

I can’t begin to imagine what that was like for her. I can only look at her with my mother’s heart and meditate on what transpired that day. When I do I just want to hug her and hold her. I want to put my arms around her and cry with her…at the foot of the cross.

Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy.    John 16:20


God’s Peace be with you!

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Hush World, Just Hush for a Moment

www.joyfilledcatholic.com

 

I have not been great about keeping up with this blog. I could say that it is because I am focused on my children (a good thing of course), that the world is noisy and full of distractions, or that writing for my clients zaps every ounce of creative energy that I have – but the truth is, I can make the time. It is just scary for me to be vulnerable. In fact, I haven’t even told any of my friends or family about this blog. Well, I mentioned it to my mom the other day but I didn’t give her any details.

Why is that? What am I so afraid of?

I think I am afraid to speak out. To state my truth – or more importantly THE truth that Jesus and the Catholic Church teaches. Through my studies, I have learned things that make everything the Church teaches crystal clear – but it is hard for me to articulate it when questioned. Not that anyone HAS questioned me yet, but putting myself out here will definitely open those floods gates.

I’m always the person who comes up with the BEST comebacks about a half an hour too late. The thing that I am learning with apologetics though (not that I consider myself a Catholic apologist – yet), is that I don’t have to know all the answers, or have the “best comeback” at that very moment. It’s actually, as I have learned from amazing apologists like Trent Horn and Tim Staples, a lot about listening, asking the right questions, finding where we agree, and then giving my defense. When I think of it in those terms, it doesn’t seem quite so daunting.

I want to be able to share God’s truth! I so want to, but I have trouble discerning where I should start and how my perspective and life experiences can help lead people to Him and encourage them in their faith journey. So, the other day I decided I needed a little retreat to clear my mind. I needed to shush the world, meditate on His will, and get back on track, and I went to my most favorite spot in the world — The Grotto in Portland, OR

It is my happy place. It is where I go when I need to feel like I am wrapped in the arms of our Lord and be filled with the Holy Spirit. Where I can sit with Jesus and have a real heart to heart. Where the Blessed Mother is there to encourage and guide me along the way. Sure, I can do this anywhere, but The Grotto is where I can really connect to Him and disconnect from the world. Where I can truly be still and listen. While there, I did my best to shut out the world, the fears, the distractions, and to be like Samuel saying;

“Speak,  for your servant hears.”  1 Samuel 3:10

I prayed, I wrote, I meditated, I cried, and I snapped a few pictures that are beautiful – but could never do justice to the magnificence actually being there. Since that retreat I have been flooded with ideas for this little blog and I’m looking forward to sharing them with you.

 

Have a blessed day!

 

 

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“Do not be discouraged. Be Not Afraid!”

John 15 18 19

 

Sometimes I just cannot hide the frustration I feel when it comes to the world view on things like; abortion, euthanasia, gender neutral bathroom and locker room faculties, and other hot button issues. Our culture is so misguided and I often wonder, why can’t they wake up and see how incredibly wrong they are?

The thing is, these people passionately feel that they are right and that I, and people who agree with me, are wrong — but I wonder, if I was still part of that world, would I think they way they do? There is a good chance that, at some degree, the answer would be yes.

When faced with my thoughts on these issues, compared to popular culture, I realize how much I have changed – and that many of my views have changed as well. It is also difficult to keep quiet about my views – and that is a very good thing! None of us should keep quiet. We need to shout the Lord’s truth from the roofs tops, in a charitable and loving way.

So, as much as I know in the very depths of my soul, how wrong and confused the mainstream culture is, I can also see quite clearly how everything in the world has fostered a rich environment for these types of ideas and opinions.

When I was away from the church, living a life contrary to God’s plan, and wrapped tightly up in the culture, I was unaware that I was being brainwashed by what I was seeing and hearing. This was not just happening by watching the news, but also my regular television shows, commercials, song lyrics, etc. As I began to step back from that, it has become so clear and I see things in a way that I never did before.

Have you found this to be true for you?

The verse above perfectly explains what is happening. The more I disengage from the things that our culture holds dear and focus my attention toward Jesus and seek to discern the Lord’s purpose for my life — I belong less to the world and more to Him.

When I live my life in an effort to serve others and focus less on myself, I become happier. The more I learn about the Lord, nurture that relationship, live my vocation and seek Him in all things – the more JOY and fullness I feel.

So, let us all strive for holiness. Let us keep evangelizing. Let us live holy and the seek the Lord with all our heart, soul, and might. Let us be rebels and not go with what society tells us how — we should be, do, want, have, and think.

People are being lead by false prophets and fake ideas. They are willing to indulge people’s fantasies instead of facing the real problems of this world. They are jumping on and off whatever the most popular bandwagons is at the time.

http://www.joyfilledcatholic.com

Brothers and sisters, we must remain steadfast and not get discouraged by everything we hear and see. As St. John Paul II said — Be not afraid. We must be the voice of reason bringing the truth in this very confused and misguided world. In any way and every way we can — starting of course, with our own families.

God bless!

Let’s Try This Again!

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

 

I know, I know. I started this blog. I got it (mostly) up and running; even wrote a few blog posts and then *POOF* — I was absent!

A terrible way to start a blog, I know. The thing is, I do write a lot of blog posts every month, but those are for my clients. I am just not very good about writing them when it is a personal project of mine.

However, I  have to remember that this blog isn’t just a personal project, I feel it is something that God has been leading me to do for a loooooooooooooooooooooooooooonnnnnng (get the drift) time.

Since today is June 1st, it seems like a good time to challenge myself to write a post every day for 30 days. We’ll see if that will help jump start my blog writing and make it something I do regularly. I think I have heard that if you do something for 28 days in a row that it will become a habit – so let’s see if that works.

I can’t promise that every post will be entertaining and filled with wonderful knowledge and inspiration, but I can promise — well, I probably shouldn’t promise anything. We’ll just see how the Holy Spirit guides me and see how well I listen and follow direction.

Some posts might be short, some might be long, some may be silly and others serious. I do know that I will need to let go of my insecurities and instead be confident in what I am doing. Some may love it, some may hate it, and others might be like “meh” but you know what, I’ll own it!

 

“But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength to proclaim the word fully, that all might hear it.” 2 Timothy 4:17

 

Welcome to the Joy Filled Catholic Blog

Welcome to The Joy Filled Catholic

Hello! Welcome to The Joy Filled Catholic Blog.

I am Christie, a joy filled Catholic, who, after being raised Catholic, attending CCD, and then Catholic School 7th-12th grade, drifted away from the Catholic Church and her teachings. I was what some call a “C&E” (Christmas and Easter) Catholic for many years and I slowly made my way back to the fullness of the faith, shortly after our twins were born. You’ll be able to read my story soon on the About Page, once I write it!

The reason that I decided to begin this blog, is because God put it on my heart to do so. This blog has been in my heart and on my mind for the past year. In fact, I created all of my social media accounts last year but put my blog on the back burner. However, this blog is constantly on my mind. I hear something or I read something, and I think – “That would make a great blog post.” I sure wish I had written all those ideas down at the time – though I don’t think I’ll run out of topics any time soon!

So what can you expect to read on this blog?

Well, I’ll share a little about me and my journey – but more importantly I hope to provide YOU with information and resources to help you along your journey toward the Catholic Church.

I also hope to provide information that will clear up some misconceptions that people have about the Catholic Church and her teachings. Though I have always identified myself as a Catholic, I didn’t adhere to, or think that I even agreed with the teachings.

In those days, you might have heard me say things like:

I’m Catholic but….

  • I don’t really go to church.
  • I don’t agree with all of the teachings.
  • I still like to have fun.
  • I just stay Catholic because that’s what I know.

…and on and on it would go. I shudder at the thought of things I said. The ways that I may have unknowingly lead people astray or gave them a false impression of the church. Looking back, I think I said these things in part because I believed them and partially because I wasn’t prepared to defend my faith against those I knew would challenge my beliefs.

www.joyfilledcatholic.com

Back then, I was FAR from the church. Goodness, I sure hope no one judged the Catholic Church based on me, my words, and my actions – but I’m afraid they may have. That is another reason this blog is so important to me. Maybe I can’t go back and tell anyone who I may of spoken to just how wrong, and uninformed I was – but I can share all that I have learned and continue to learn. I can joyfully evangelize and as St. Peter instructs us:

“Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence.” 1 Peter 3:15

I know why I’m Catholic now. I know that the Catholic Church is the one Christ founded 2000 years ago. I know so much more than I did and I’m learning more about my faith than I ever thought possible – and I’m so excited to share it with you!