11.06.2014

To Be Vulnerable

Look who’s back! I apologize for my lack of commitment towards this. I hope to do better. Stay with me. A major reason why it has been awhile is what I want to write about. Yes, time is slipping my grasp but there is always time to make time; therefore, it is only an excuse that I find pathetic and ever the more tempting.





Vulnerability -

What does it mean, really, to be vulnerable?
Or rather, what does it mean to not be vulnerable?

One of the definitions that Merriam-Webster provides for vulnerability is to be open to attack, harm, or damage. Extremely enticing, I know. When contemplating this definition, I asked - in what sort of situation could one be in that they would be open to attack, harm, and/or damage? “To accept to be cut to pieces?” How is it that one has enough strength and courage, with ever the more humility, to be able to even accept this - to surrender?

Faithfully, the answer in the question presents itself . . .

Isn’t it due to the cause of abandoning one’s self for something they believe to be worth more than worldly pleasures and comforts, something worth more than that of self, for something that is ever larger?

This is what I so abundantly lack. In the time I’m most vulnerable I have discovered that I’m continuously asking questions. I would even annoy myself with all of my questions. However, shortly after I started college I ceased asking questions - to God, myself and to others. I’ve accepted commonplaceness and the more so I accepted it, the more so I despised it. Through this I have accomplished such things as greater selfishness and pride. 

And I am aware (in which I thank God for.)

It is in the inward looking of self that I am able to recognize my faults and question them. It is in the inward looking of self that expresses humility, my nothingness. It is also in the inward looking of self, which brings forth the above stated, that I’m able to bring myself in vulnerability, more so through vulnerability, and acknowledge my Jesus.

I believe that there is a sense of fear, maybe even denial, when it comes to recognizing. The reason being is that once something is recognized, something is acknowledged, it becomes ever the more real.

To first recognize vulnerability can be daunting, but then to accept to be vulnerable to Vulnerability is a few steps steeper than the former.

To go further, the Latin word for vulnerable is vulnerabilis, which stems from vulnerare (to wound).

To wound? Why does Jesus want us to be wounded?

However, aren’t we already wounded people? Don’t we come from a wounded nature?

Could one possibly think that Jesus is calling us to vulnerable with Him, not so that He can wound us, but that He can possibly enter into our fresh wounds? To have compassion for us, and in the state of vulnerability, letting Him love us and give worth to the pain that comes with purification? To venerate our scars, scars that compare very little, but nonetheless compare, to the scars of the God-man who was crucified and helps carry the cross we bear to the daily crucifixions that are life giving?


Roses drawn by the Jew (Julie). I don't have artistic abilities.


It is in this vulnerability that I am able to surrender to the actuality of an agape love. It was in vulnerability that the prodigal son was going to his father and through the same vulnerability it was his father longing ever the more for him, running towards him and embracing him.

How relevant this is. Every time I take a step towards Jesus it seems as if he takes 3 towards me. He’s the master pursuer, gentle but yet always desiring you more than you could desire Him.

It is here that I run - but away.

Lack of vulnerability leads to a desired distance to all who are coming close. Over the past few weeks I’ve noticed the extent to which this is coming true for myself. It is as if someone would draw near and I would steer away from him or her, draw near to Jesus all the while avoiding getting any closer to Him.

However, in any relationship there should be a holy vulnerability. Be it between parents, spouses, friends, enemies, children, the Trinity and even self. Father Nnamdi gets to the point when he stated that:
“We must be willing and ready to take risks and to place ourselves in situations of vulnerability before others to fulfill the will of God and to meet the needs of others. In Jesus Christ, God took the greatest risk in meeting our need for a Savior by assuming our human nature and becoming one like us in the womb of the Virgin Mary.” 
As Catholics we are called to live a life of holy vulnerability. Now take this in an appropriate way. What I mean is that to live a life of dedication, evangelization and communion there has to be a reasonable amount in which you humbly expose yourself to others and completely surrender yourself to God. There will certainly be situations that the Holy Spirit will lead us to that we would not particularly desire to do, but simply being open to vulnerability is one of the first steps.

Anytime you are open there will always be a greater risk for harm but there will be a certainty for virtue, whether you are hurt or whether you are healing.











To practice what is being addressed: I ask that you would pray for me, that I may desire and come to love the state in which holy vulnerability may embrace me.





Completely giving are You, reluctantly receiving am I, O Lord.





Entire Abandonment
Zoë





“He saw him, he had compassion,
 and went to him and 
bound up his wounds.”
Luke 10:33-34

(Talking about the man who was beaten and left for dead on the side of the road - vulnerable.)


The reason why I said that this is pertinent to why I haven’t written in so long is because usually my blogs come from questions, either from others or myself. So it was hard for me to come up with something to write about while dealing with such aridity. I hope to write again soon! :)






I'm going to be vulnerable and share that I've had an infatuation with Dan Smith for a good year and a half now and this song seems pretty relevant. 

8.13.2014

Emotional Virtue - Thinking Deeper


I posted a while back about the importance of emotional purity and little did I know that at the time “emotional purity” was being looked down upon for certain reasons - which is why I’m writing this post.

If we go back to my latest post and observe the definitions I think we could come to understand that the emotional purity that I’m talking about is not the same one everyone else is ranting about and if it is let’s look back to the definitions. Emotional purity is the freedom of contaminated thoughts and feelings considering selfishness, lust, jealousy, greed, envy etc. (not excluding to whom these thoughts are directed toward).

I have no idea the apparent traumas others have been through dealing with this topic and I’m heartily sorry. However, it’s not about ‘saving your heart’ rather it is more so practicing virtues internally through the emotions of the heart.

Give for example:

1. “It’s a False View of Love”


The point is made by how love cannot be divided but rather multiplied - and I agree, but to the extent in which way you are loving. The English language has a vague meaning of love since we only have one word for it. However, the Greeks distinguish love in these four ways:

Storage - a love as “affection” in modern day. It’s used to describe a parent to child relationship and even described as when one “puts up” with someone. Funny how that’s in the same definition as the parent to child relationship since  it’s very often that my parent’s most definitely put up with me simply because they love me, and I to them.

Philia - a love as in “mental”. Describes friendship and loyalty to them, as well as family members, community and enjoyment of something. It’s described as “give and take; virtuous love; requires virtue, equality, and familiarity.”

Eros - a love as “physical”. Focuses on passions and the sensual; Romantic, pure emotion without logic. However it does not always start or need to be in the sexual nature. *Plato suggested that although eros is initially felt for a person, with contemplation it becomes an appreciation of the beauty within that person, and could even become appreciation of beauty itself. *  Not including or excluding physicality.

Agape - a love as “spiritual”. Reaching that this type of love is not about the attraction and feelings as in eros but rather a deeper sense of what is meant by one that loves unconditionally. This love is selfless, sacrificial and spiritual. This is not a give and take sort of love like philia, rather it is give and then give some more.  I have heard about the term agape through various retreats I’ve been on and it’s also described in the highest regard of the unconditional love God has.




Whenever emotional purity is attacked in a way of “it’s a false view of love” it’s important to ask the question  “In what way are you viewing this love?”

Of course when the example of having multiple kids comes up this love should never be divided but only multiplied BECAUSE it is a giving of yourself fully and selflessly first to your spouse and then to your kids, which you have created out of LOVE.

What’s conflicting is you don’t see anyone encouraging (hopefully) their spouse, girlfriend/boyfriend, son/daughter, and friend to go sleep around with the next person they are attracted to.  So we must be careful in which ways we are talking about this “emotional purity” - for the mind, the heart, and the body work together.

You should never think of the opposite gender as bad, or dangerous or anything of the sort as some have stated from the outcome of emotional purity. Rather you should look at them as good, but in the different meanings of love, give thought to the greater in its due category.


2. “It Cultivates Self - Centeredness”


This can be true, however, determining for what reasons is it that you are practicing emotional purity. The point that people are missing is that it’s not about the comfort and the safety of it all but rather it’s about the virtue in which you are practicing. It’s not about how pure I am, it’s not about ME ME ME ME ME and let’s not forget about ME. Emotional purity is cultivating chastity within the mind for the greater purpose of leading your thoughts back to the goodness and beauty of God. * Back to Plato's comment *

Any type of virtue can very easily be considered “selfish” because what are we trying to attain when we practice virtue? Surely it is for the sanctity of self but we cannot forget the value we have as people who are cherished by their Creator and Lover. And also we cannot forget the we as in many. We must strive for holiness because not only is that our calling but it's also for the sanctity of others. The saints surely, while on earth and in heaven, inspired many saints and still do. This is also a multiplying love.

However, one seeking emotional purity surely cannot “condemn those who fall short” unless they are condemning themselves. We all fall short. That’s a given. But if you were in this boat for the sole reason of whatever selfishness then that’s a different story.

It really all boils down to for WHOM are you practicing this?


3. “It Forgets Jesus and Limits Love”


Emotional purity should not and will not be labeled as forgetting Jesus and limiting love - the person in whom I seek to accomplish this is JESUS and the outcome in which I seek is selfless thoughts, so that Jesus in me may produce selfless love to others.

The whole point of emotional purity is so that you’re thoughts (which can also lead to actions, right?) will not be about YOU but rather be about the other person’s good and for the glory of God.

It’s said “Thus, the love of Jesus working in us through the Holy Spirit is not finite either. As believers, we do not have a limited amount of love to give and once we run out, it’s over” which is so completely true. However our love is not perfect. The reason why first, we must let the Holy Spirit make his home in us. We must acknowledge that God does not intrude or invite him self in - He is knocking on a door that has no handles on the outside. It is our choice to open the door.

We can so easily say that this door could also be a representation of our hearts.

Emotional purity is not all about getting rid of selfish (and all of what I stated above) thoughts but first focusing your thoughts on Jesus so that He will give you the strength and the courage to overcome the vices of purity that can and will encompass the mind if we do not take heed and focus our thoughts on virtuous things.

So…

This is not about “keeping your heart in one piece” it’s about virtue. It’s about prudence, fortitude, temperance and justice of the mind and of the heart. This isn’t about how you can’t have a crush. It’s about the modesty in which way you think about him/her. It’s not about guarding your heart for the sake of self. It’s about guarding your heart because it’s meant for someone else.

The attractions we have to people are good, but it’s in the way we can so easily emotionally invest in someone that could hurt us. Let’s face it - not everyone you are going to be attracted to you are going to marry or even date. Dating isn’t a sport for me. Dating is looking at the possibility of marriage.

The attractions and interactions we have with others is not at all bad - let me repeat - AT ALL. Of course, some interactions can definitely be off putting but on the topic of emotional purity simple interactions with the other sex is healthy. (I advise others to have healthy interactions with others of the opposite sex.) It’s important that one doesn’t get a screwed up idea of the other sex because of such “emotional purity”.

There is just so much to say and it’s already lengthy. . . but a great portion of where I’m coming from is Theology of the Body, so please look into that if you wish!


I can say that the only reason I’m writing about this again is for the clarification of what emotional purity means by going further down into it. By using what I’ve read by others to give (hopefully) a better meaning of emotional purity FOR others.

And let’s remember that these words are not infallible. I am not a Theologian nor am I a Philosopher. I am a young woman who is going through the same battles, the same temptations that the majority of young people my age are dealing with.

I only hope to shed light on this topic.


“Freedom consists not in doing what we like,
 
but in having the right to do what we ought.”
 
- Saint Pope John Paul II



Let us all strive for the freedom of our hearts, our bodies, our minds and our souls.

Also let us keep our brothers and sisters who are being persecuted in our prayers and strive to offer up our daily sufferings, complaints and persecutions for them. 



God bless and Mary protect.




“Above all else, guard your heart, 
for everything you do flows from it.”
Proverbs 4:23


There is no comfort in the shade
of shadows thrown.

7.17.2014

Protecting Yourself - Emotional Purity

In the sexualized society of today we are continually reminded, no matter the age, to protect yourself - either from babies and/or STDs. We are warned to have safe sex (selfish sex) in which there would be no ‘real’ outcome.

However, the point I’m looking to reach is not about sex, or even the emotional (not excluding physical) attachment when one (two) participates in the act. The point of this post is for those who strive to rid themselves, with God’s graces, of all impurities, specifically emotional impurity (not with the attachment of sex).

Emotional purity can be defined along the two words it’s made up of:
Emotional - arousing or characterized by intense feeling and
Purity - freedom from adulteration or contamination.

Now there were multiple definitions for both words but the one’s that I chose interested me more than the others. What caught my attention was the word ‘adulteration’ in purity’s definition. Adulteration means to render (something) poorer in quality by adding another substance, typically an inferior one. 

And what’s happening when one is emotionally unchaste is the feelings, or ‘arousments’, one gets when either thinking, talking, stalking etc. the person he/she likes and running with them - leaving the person with no control of their feelings.

Obviously, the feelings we naturally get when one encounters the other they are attracted to is not bad - It is not evil. The attraction is good; it’s actually very good. However, it seems that in this generation we were never taught how to deal with these attractions. We are taught to either repress them or let them completely submerge you, with no even distribution.

When you repress these feelings and/or attractions completely they come back full force and when you are submerged in them you are literally suffocating in your own thoughts that you’ve created for yourself. And none of the above is a healthy way of dealing with your feelings and can really hurt you, especially when they no longer become thoughts but actions.

The Confessions of Zoë:


For me, emotional chastity was a really big cross of mine. I never let my thoughts become actions in any way; however, I did do all of the above.

There was this guy (that’s how it all starts out, jk) and I really liked him and the natural attraction I had for him was pure to begin with but then I started to think about him a lot, more than what was necessary, and about ‘us’. I was always left anxious and worried of what might happen in the future and so forth and so forth.

You understand - I thought about him and also of the thoughts of thinking about him way too frequently. It hurt me spiritually and emotionally and as I already stated, I was never left with such peace but worry and doubts.

So what did I do next? I completely repressed him and everything related to him. I didn’t even like hearing his name. I just wanted those feelings to be completely done with and I didn’t want anything to do with them because it was clear to me that drowning myself in thoughts and words was not the path of purity.

But then one fateful day they came back like a thousand of bricks that had babies and brought their babies with them. And dear friends, pure love should never be labeled as such burdens. (Which I think that label is a new one ;) )

So, I went back and forth with these ‘outings’, if you wish, and never found peace with any of them. I was getting beyond frustrated with myself, these feelings and what was God’s purpose through all of this.

And there is still so much in this story that happened, so many thoughts and questions that weren’t expressed, but you can most probably figure them out because I know that I am not the only one who suffered/suffers with this sort of impurity.

So what I did next is the reason why I am able to write this post . . .

I picked up my cross and united it with Jesus’. I wasn’t afraid of letting the selfish feelings go anymore and the ‘what ifs’ that came with them. I started to understand what it meant to love in the truest matter and that is to will the good of another. I started to want what was the best for him, even if that didn’t mean me.

One night I knelt down, with my tiny wall crucifix in my hands, and gave everything I was bearing to Jesus. I gave Him my numerous emotions, I gave Him my thoughts, I begged His will be done no matter how difficult it would be for me to let go and I gave Him the guy.

The cross that I built for myself was united with Christ’s. Not so that I may not have to suffer, but that I wouldn’t struggle through this alone and without redemption. Even though my cross was built because of my feelings towards this guy, I now had the opportunity to offer this cross I was carrying for him and for his holiness. To give my cross to Jesus, and through Jesus, with His help, gave the guy to Him.

I’ve learned that when you don’t emotionally invest in someone(s) your mind is truly not bound with thoughts that are selflessly taking from others. Thoughts that I desire only to think of my husband. And they do not have to be lustful thoughts to be impure, it wasn’t lustful thinking that encompassed me, but rather it was the amount of thinking that encompassed me.

Anywho, that’s my confession and I pray that you truly take to heart what I went through and desire more for yourself, your husband and more importantly your relationship with Jesus.

Now to further along - - -

In the Diary of St. Faustina there’s this section where there are Q and A’s about the vows and the virtues they amplify based on the Catechism of the Vows.
The question asked was “What are the means by which this virtue (chastity) may be preserved?” The answer: “To conquer interior temptations with the thoughts of the presence of God, and moreover to fight without fear. And for exterior temptations, to avoid occasions. There are, in all, seven principal means: to guard the senses, to avoid occasions, to avoid idleness, to remove temptations promptly, to remove oneself from all - and especially particular friendships, the spirit of mortification, and to reveal all these temptations to one’s confessor.”

But it doesn’t stop there - it goes on to guide us on how to preserve the virtue: humility, the spirit of prayer, modesty of the eyes, fidelity to the rule and a sincere devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

All are great means to driving out all the vices of purity and for protecting yourself from getting emotionally attached. The last one though is extremely important, you should find out why.

If people don’t know this about me already - I’m mostly an Augustinian. And to narrow down this whole thing I’m going to ask myself, and you, this questions that St. Augustine asked himself:

What do I love when I love my God?

Generally - Am I loving my God when I am doing this, thinking this, saying this? Am I giving God glory and thanks by my thoughts, words and actions? Am I growing more and more in love with God and if not what’s holding me back?

However, one should never go into despair, for despair doubts God’s infinite goodness, love and mercy on one’s soul. Reconcile and begin anew today - resolve to give glory and honor to God by anything and everything that defines you, even your thoughts.

Protect yourself beginning today.




& - Nunc Coepi - Now I begin.



God bless and Mary protect.



Keep my eyes fixed on You, oh Lord.


"Turn away from the passions of youth, 
concentrate on uprightness,
faith, love and peace,
in union with all those who call on the Lord with a pure heart."
- 2 Timothy 2:22



Ulysses - Josh Garrels


6.26.2014

David's Prayer

Around a year ago, I was blessed to be able to meet this man named David. For a year now, he has never left my mind or my prayers.

It goes like this . . .

I went on this service camp called the Real World, where you experience the world in a very real manner. Yes, it was uncomfortable and I’m a tad bit scared to go again this year, but what happened on that service camp can never compare to anything I have ever done or experienced in my life.

One of the real situations we encountered was homelessness. Now we not only lived in “poverty” (meals were guaranteed, health was protected) but we had the privilege to encounter poverty in its realest terms.

On one of the days, we went to St. Vincent’s to help prepare meals, clean transportation, finalize a play ground and so forth depending on which group you were in, which was good, yes? But to me, that wasn’t really uncomfortable, I had my group; we were having a good time cutting humongous Rice Crispi’s and making bags, but that’s not how Jesus broke my heart.  

My heart broke encountering the very real people that live this very real life. It was said multiple times that a bag of food can go such a long way, but a “hello, my names Zoë, what’s yours?” can go even further.

And that proved to be true.

After helping prepare the bagged dinners, we went outside to wait in line like everybody else. When I finally got my food, I went sit down at this table. Across from me was this man who wore an American Bandana (I liked his taste), we talked for a while about how good the green beans were and so forth. Not long after sitting there, something caught my attention - a miraculous medal hanging around his neck. Without thinking I told him of how much I liked his necklace and then that started a very eye opening conversation (who says Mary doesn’t bring her children to Christ again?!)

What was happening was a crazy, beautiful miracle. I learned that this man, David, who was never religious before, was converting to Catholicism. Not to forget that out of ALL of the people that were there who I could’ve sat by, I ended up sitting by a man who desired to convert to the Catholic Faith… as I did 2 years ago.

He said, among many things, of how much he desired the Truth. He had no one and no home to go to and he stated that when you have nothing, Christ truly makes Himself everything. When he was talking he started to cry, of how much it hurts and how hopeless everything seems to be but he found the Truth and he clung to it with everything. I saw the pain in that man’s tears, but not only did I find pain, I found redemption. How rich is the man, who has nothing but has found Everything?

Through this man, Christ gave me so much so much and I realized that whenever you completely give yourself to others out of the love and mercy of Christ, He gives it right back to you but in a hundredfold. You can never give more than what Christ wants you to receive from Him.



We talked some more - he told me how he was going on an interview for RCIA that coming Sunday and where (along with more personal stuff) and then the time came where he had to go. I gave him my St. Michael medal and I told him that I was going to try to be at the Easter Vigil, on which he would be welcomed Home.

And God knows how much I tried; I called the church he told me he was attending on several occasions. I got in touch with the man and I asked about David, and he told me that he did have a David in his class and that he would tell him I called, but I didn’t want that. I wanted to correspond with David. I called again and again, I even emailed them and the lady emailed back that she would forward the message to RCIA coordinator.

However, I didn’t get anything. No one ever responded after that. So the only thing I could find myself do is simply pray.

After we finished at St. Vincent’s we went to the Missionaries of Charity to give Adoration to Christ, in the most Blessed Eucharist. It was there that I offered and wrote a prayer that I still pray from time to time and I would like to share it with y’all.

(Obviously I’m not a pro at beautifully, poetic prayers, but this is it in its rawest form.)

“Dear God,
            I pray intentionally today, as with hopefully my days to come, for David. I ask that you lead him to safety but most importantly to You, oh Lord. Make his heart burn for the Truth that you have given us. Let him desire the goods and fruitfulness of himself, as well as the others he has come in contact with. May he be apart of the evangelization of our Catholic Faith to the homeless community. I hope that one day I will be able to see him again soon and under better circumstances than he has been. I give you thanks for Your protection over him thus far and I ask it ever the more for today and everyday. I give You thanks that I was able to meet him, so that also my heart could be open, but first torn apart, to Your love and Your need for my hands and feet. I ask that You will make your presence known to him through the ways which he is living. Give him a hope, a reason to live. - You are the ways to which all hope and reasons come from. Let it be known to him of Your great mercy and abundant love for him. “For Your mercy endures forever and your love is from age to age to those who fear Him.” I am so overly joy filled that he has recognized this thirst for the only One who is able to quench it. He will find you there and make it his home, never wanting anything more but to have this pure and true faith in You. I love you so much dear Lord, and I give my life so that I may be able to authentically care and love my brothers and sisters who thirst for You, but under different stances of life. I hope I let You shine today and I ask that I would become so little that You may become in me who I was created to be. Keep us safe, Holy Mother, and show us how to love like Christ.

Amen.

St. Michael the Archangel, pray for us.”


What I experienced that week was not comfortable, it was not just some other retreat but rather it was a way for me to actually give myself to others through the vulnerability I was placed in. That week for me was extremely tough but I have never been in more of a humble state - ever.

Meeting David proved to be one of the most humbling experiences of my life. Not because he was in physical poverty, but because I realized that I was the one in spiritual poverty. Through David I realized how much I actually lack,  an how selfish and ungrateful I am.

God puts us in situations of vulnerability to show us how much He wants to be EVERYTHING - to depend on Him. He asks us to serve simply so that while He is giving through us He is also giving to us.

There is no experience in this world more humbling and fulfilling than that of giving yourself all to Christ and through Christ for others - in the way in which He calls.

I ask that you please pray for David and also all those out there who are lost and are trying to find their way back Home. Please pray for me, that I will have the courage to spread the faith and be proud of the faith that I have been given and not to cower away from opportunities of humility and evangelization.

Let this man be an example of Christ's love and mercy for us.

  
May God bless and Mary protect.



You
and only You
are my great Dependency.


“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, 
but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven."
 - Matthew 7:21