Friday, November 16, 2012

My "Advent"ure with Mary

My husband loves Christmas more than anyone else I have ever known. He will start listening to Christmas music as early as October, and watching Christmas movies as soon as he can. It's not that he wants Christmas gifts- he just simply loves Christmas.

I love Christmas too.  But, I think I love Advent even more. I love thinking about Mary, and how the angel visited her to tell her she was to have a son. I have always wondered if she felt confused and lonely, and unsure as to her future. The great thing about Mary to me is how she blindly trusted God and let him take control.  Every year I try to remember and reflect upon how her faith and obedience to God's plan for her became his ultimate plan for us all.

I know what others say about how we "worship" her, and nothing could be farther from the truth. We revere her - God revered her too. He chose her to be mother of his son. She was the one that was chosen out of every woman who ever lived to be the mother of his son. How can we not give her our love and respect?

My journey with Mary began long before I converted to Catholicism. Even as a child growing up in a Southern Baptist home, I always wondered why we only talked about her at Christmas. I almost got in trouble once when I was about 6 years old because of my little "devotion" to Mary.

We were in a Sunday School assembly right around Christmas in my little hometown church and the preacher came in to visit. He gave us an opportunity to ask questions, and it was the opportunity this shy little girl was waiting for. I innocently asked why we never mentioned Mary except at Christmas, and even though I have no recollection of how he answered me, I do remember feeling that I had brought up an uncomfortable issue.  Instead of making me forget her, it made me more interested in her.

Somehow, I got a statue of Mary when I was a kid. When I think of it now, I realize it is something of a mini-miracle. I was in a tiny town in South Carolina with no Catholic church and especially no Catholic  gift shop anywhere near me.  But I had that statue in my room for the longest time. I just looked at her and thought about how special she must have been to be the mother of the son of God.

Of course, now I realize God was preparing me for my conversion to Catholicism. I know he knew already that I would meet and marry an Italian Catholic boy and I would convert with my first child, my son, in my womb.

He knew I would need his Mary in my life when I faced my hardest trial. She lost her child and so did I.  Her loss became our gain. Because of her loss, I will see my child again.

"Savior of the nations, come; Virgin's Son, make here your home. 
Marvel now, both heav'n and earth, That the Lord chose such a birth.

Not by human flesh and blood, by the Spirit of our God
Was the Word of God made flesh, Mary's offspring, pure and fresh.

You, the Father's only Son, Have o'er sin the vict'ry won. 
Boundless shall your kingdom be; When shall we its glories see? 

Brightly does your manger shine; Glorious is its light divine.
Let not sin o'er cloud this light; Ever be our faith thus bright. "

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Are we meaner than we used to be?

I'll be so glad when this election is over, and I almost feel the same way about football season at this point. It seems that politics and football bring out the worst in people. I cannot believe some of the ugly and personal remarks I have witnessed both on television and on social media this political season. It seems some people think social media gives them license to just be mean-spirited about the person they oppose. Never mind the issues, just trash the person.

It is not right, in my book. Gone are the days when people really sought to educate themselves on the issues, and discuss them rationally. We should really know what we are voting for when we go into that booth. It is vital that we look past the party and the personality, and try to discern the man or woman we think will represent us best in our state and in our nation.

Same goes with football. People are so mean about other people's teams. I am a great believer in rivalries. I think it is healthy and American to have sports rivalries. Haven't we seen enough already with two dead trees, and a so-called "fan" who is now a registered sex-offender for behaving like a jerk after the national championship? You even see little league parents getting into fist fights at their children's games.  I'm sure there are countless other examples, but these were fresh in my mind.

I read the news daily about children being abused, tortured and killed by strangers and even their own parents, in some cases. There are "gone missing" cases every day and our children are being bullied to the point of suicide.

We as Christians are called to show Christ to others in our lives. As Catholics, we are taught to "be Christ" to others. I try not to say too much on Facebook and Twitter about politics, although I do post about my favorite football teams!

Maybe someone might call me a chicken, for not stating my opinion on politics. I will say this, I am a Catholic and a Christian, and as such, I am pro-life. So my voting is very influenced by that issue. I believe in taking care of the poor and marginal, which is what my faith teaches. I try to be as Christ to all, and fall short every day of my life. But I try.

I pray that we as a society, will return to some sense of decorum and integrity. I hope we can learn to love each other, but if not, I hope we can at least respect each other's right to our own opinions, and learn to tolerate our differences.

Peace of Christ.