God Speaks

This reflection was given by a sister, to sisters and guests gathered for a Holy Hour event this past week. The reflection was meant to illustrate the importance of Sacred Scripture, and as a means of prayer and relationship with the Lord. The first section comes from Jeff Cavins’ blog post, “The Bible is Inspired by God“. The second part from the prayer of the sister who gave the reflection.

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Pope Leo XIII said, “Scripture is a Letter written by our Heavenly Father” to his children for the purpose of revealing himself to them.

The Catholic Church teaches that divine revelation comes to us through three channels: the Bible, Tradition, and the Magisterium (the bishops of the Church). Dei Verbum (DV), the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, states these three channels “are so linked and joined together that one cannot stand without the others” (DV 10).

While all three are infallible, that is to say incapable of error, only the Bible is divinely inspired. What do the words “inspired,” and “inspiration” mean? The term “inspired” comes from the Greek word, theopneustos, which means “God breathed” (Theos, “God,” pneo, “to breathe”).

Keeping in mind that breath is what gives life to words, we can more easily understand why the Bible is called God’s word. It is God’s breath that has filled human words with divine meaning. God, who is the primary cause of every thought and every sentence of Scripture, has transformed the common words found in the Bible into uncommon words by the fact that he is its author. Just as Jesus Christ came clothed in human flesh and was in every way made like men, so does the word of God come to us clothed in human words. The holy comes clothed in the common. This is why St. Jerome could say, “Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ” (CCC 133). Pope Pius XII said in Divino Afflante Spiritu, On Promoting Biblical Studies, “For as the substantial Word of God became like to men in all things, ‘except sin,’ so the words of God, expressed in human language, are made like to human speech in every respect, except error” (Divino Afflante Spiritu, 37).

Not only are the Scriptures inspired, but they are written to inspire you. The question one needs to address is: “How will the Bible inspire you?” Jesus asked his followers, “Who do men say that the Son of Man is?” Since Jesus is the word made flesh, it is fair to ask, “what do you say about the Bible?” What is your response?

The Church teaches in Dei Verbum, “The obedience of faith is to be given to God who reveals, an obedience by which man commits his whole self freely to God, offering the full submission of intellect and will to God who reveals and freely assenting to the truth revealed by Him” (DV, 5).

By our response, the world will know whether we believe that God’s Word is inspired or expired.

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If today you hear [H]is voice, harden not your hearts” (Psalm 95).

Yesterday’s Gospel acclamation is one of those tunes that I often have stuck in my head after Mass. The melody I have embedded in memory, and its words and meaning I have been taking to prayer.

Just yesterday the Church celebrated the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. There is an older Portuguese woman who attends the daily Mass at the Newman House (the Catholic Campus Ministry house at Virginia Tech), and most of the time she prays Evening Prayer with Father David and I. Yesterday at Mass, Father David asked us to be seated before the final blessing, so that Irma could share some words with us. Turns out, Irma is a lay member of the discalced Carmelites, and has been professed for 12 years. She gave a brief presentation about the history of Carmel and her order, and the gift of contemplative prayer. I loved that Irma began by recounting the account from the first book of Kings about Elijah on Mt. Carmel, who basically challenges the false prophets of Baal to a prophet’s duel to see whose God is real by seeing which offering was consumed by fire. Irma smiled ear to ear and described it as “one of the most dramatic accounts in the Old Testament”. I don’t know if she has ever been to that mountain, but she loves that place and everything it stands for. To her, that holy mountain is a part of her story. The account of Elijah from 1 Kings is a part of her history. The faithfulness of God revealed on that mountain is a part of her heart. She is a woman inspired.

I think as women we are in a unique position to be inspired. Our femininity, our genius—that receptivity, sensitivity, generosity and maternity—these are gifts which prepare us well to love Jesus, and specifically in prayer with His Word. I think being a sister in this community places each of us in a position to be inspired and to receive life. Our commitments call us to daily Mass, where we hear God’s Living Word. We are meant to pray every day, and encouraged to return regularly to the Liturgy of the Hours. When we read, pray and go on retreat together, we do so with Sacred Scripture. I think that a large part of our apostolate in loving the Young Church is sharing with the young people our love of Sacred Scripture, by helping them to know Jesus better and to be transformed by His Truth.

The Lord has already spoken His Word, but He desires to speak it to you anew. “If today you hear [H]is voice, harden not your hearts”.The prerequisite for the Lord to truly speak to you is a softened, open heart. The prerequisite for the Lord to speak to you is that you are listening.

By entering into the Word of God, listening to God in Scripture and taking what we hear to prayer, this is how our hearts can be changed.

As long as the words of the Bible stay on the page in front of us, they don’t have to change our behavior. That’s easier. Reading the words of scripture daily is a good start toward allowing them to transform us, but it’s only getting part of the way there. Truly meditating on Scripture means taking it into our hearts, letting it take root there and allowing it to change us from the inside. It means allowing God’s breath to give us life. It means allowing God through His Word to be a part of our story, our history, our hearts.

What has the Lord revealed to you in His Word, lately? With what kind of heart do you approach Sacred Scripture in your daily prayer? How do you enter into the Word of God?

I’ll end this reflection with three different simple, short prayers I use to approach Sacred Scripture:

Come Holy Spirit, inspire me.

Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.

Jesus, help me to know you better, that I might love you all the more and serve you well.

July Reflection

I love summer! By day there’s frisbee, swimming, hiking, picnics, beaches, and bicycles and by night it’s s’mores, citronella-filled tiki torches, and lightening bugs. And I especially love traveling for vacation, camps, and service trips. It’s a season of excitement, fun, and gusto, which I often enjoy experiencing through little expeditions and adventures.

In the midst of adventures I’ve found myself thirsty on an island without a way off for several hours, knee deep in anaerobic marsh mud, and boating through a swamp with alligators. Adventures have risks (and often leave me with a good story) but life begins when you go outside yourself with a sense of intentionality and purpose.

Bigger adventures have trained me to look for littler ones as well, such as introducing myself to a stranger after Mass or being curious enough to learn the about the history and culture of a new place I’m visiting. Adventures express hope for a new encounter and counteract my tendency to pass the hours and days with passivity and boredom.

Ultimately the best adventure we can embark upon is our relationship with God. We don’t have to travel to the ends of the earth to let our heart, mind, and soul encounter His goodness and beauty. This summer, I pray that our activity makes room for a purpose greater than ourselves and that through seeking we are further transformed by grace, the very life of God dwelling in our souls.

Sincerely in Christ,

Tiffany Lambert

Directress, Women Youth Apostles

June Reflection

Today I had an atypical experience of heading to daily Mass on my own. While presently in Northern Virginia, my consecrated sisters had work commitments which prevented our usual morning common life of prayer. I chose to attend a noon Mass, and while the resulting late start to the morning was nice, I also had a “to do” list that needed doing and was unfortunately preoccupying my thoughts on my way into the church.

So when Father announced that this Mass would be a little different from the typical Tuesday of the seventh week of Easter in honor of a married couple in the parish who was celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary, I’ll admit my very first thought was about the inconvenience. Would this add 10 or 15 or 20 minutes to the Mass?

Then a grace prompted me to pay close attention to the prayers of the Mass. I’d never been to a vow renewal Mass before, actually. This could be interesting. And the words were beautiful. I was struck with a realization: This is Easter joy, and this is Church! What better way or time to celebrate union than as the Body of Christ, in the Easter season.

My next realization was that my “to do” list wasn’t all too unrelated to the experience of this Mass. A lot of my time has been spent recently planning for ministry and a particular focus has been on how to have honest conversations with young people about vocation. While of course I want young people to engage more with and be open to consecrated life, I ultimately want young people to see God calls them to sacrificial love in any vocation, and to help them see this in married life, too.

In Father’s homily today, he said to the honored couple, “Your union says that love is possible. Love that is unconditional. That commitment is possible. You bear a special witness of Christ’s love for the Church.” I prayed, Lord, this is what I long for young people to know. This love that comes from you.

The closing blessing contained the words “May God bless you with joy…May He be always with you in good times and in bad…May the Holy Spirit always fill you with His love.” These words were not specifically addressed to the honored couple, but to the entirety of the congregation, the Church, the Bride of Christ. That we are His bride is something He said Himself.
I pray that Jesus would remind each of us in some way of His love and His promises. I pray also that we would recommit our own love to Him and to those He has called us to in our vocations, communities and apostolates; That we would recognize our special witness of Christ’s love for the Church.
May God bless each of you with joy, may He always be with you in good times and in bad, and may the Holy Spirit always fill you with His love.

Sincerely in Christ,
Krysti Patient
Assistant Director, Women Youth Apostles

May Reflection

Alleluia! He is Risen! Last Saturday we gathered with family, friends, and supporters at our 3rd Spring Tea. Moments like this prompt reflection on the work God is doing in and through our community and it was beautiful to see the grace of the Resurrection continuing in our midst today.

The Resurrection was communicated to the disciples in surprising and life-giving ways. Jesus conquered sin. Jesus conquered death. Jesus conquered hell. And instead of the pageantry of a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, He sought people out personally, intentionally, and quietly. When I glimpse the awe-inspiring magnitude of the Resurrection, my instinct is to throw a party with fanfare and celebration.

But Jesus came to pour the grace of the Resurrection into hearts and souls, so He appears to women at the tomb, disciples leaving Jerusalem, and apostles in the Upper Room. It is very powerful to encounter Christ and hear a call to share the Good News. But to discover Jesus is doing a similar work in another’s heart is a double blessing because you are able to rest in the assurance that it is His work and not something you are manufacturing.

The joyful power of God’s work imparting new life in ways we could not have generated on our own is something Women Youth Apostles continues to experience in the growth of our community, the work of our ministry, and the renewed support of our family, friends and benefactors. May we all continue to bring the light, joy, and power of the Resurrection in new, hidden, and personal ways to a world in need, and through this may we find ourselves in deeper awe of the mystery of God’s plan of loving goodness!

Sincerely in Christ,
Tiffany Lambert
Directress, Women Youth Apostles

April Reflection

Recently, I took part in a training course on ‘Listening to Understand’. The participants were mostly campus ministry staff, but not entirely, so the approach was not overtly faith-based. In an early group discussion about the concept of respect, I offered the truth of the inherent dignity of the human person which should afford all with a right to be heard and understood, even loved. A woman with no ministry background responded, “that’s… beautiful” with tears in her eyes, elaborating that she had never heard that before. She ached for that truth.

Last month I was with one of seven Alternative Spring Break trips from Virginia Tech’s Catholic Campus Ministry. My group spent time in DC with the Little Sisters of the Poor caring for the elderly poor, and in Alderson, WV with the Alderson Hospitality House ministering to the families of women incarcerated in the federal prison down the road. There was a common thread between each ministry- hospitality. Incidentally our group spent a lot of our evening reflection time diving into our faith and hospitality, into care for the other.

It was clear that the elderly we spent time with in DC knew the truth of their human dignity, thanks to the care of the Little Sisters. One of the sisters referred to a resident with the words, “She is God’s special one.” It was a privilege to offer our own care in our short time with them, and to see the college women on my trip offer this care generously and authentically in the form of conversation over lunch or ice cream or coffee, games, piano playing, wheelchair pushing and arts and crafts.
In Alderson at the Hospitality House, the families we spent time with knew this truth because they hold onto it for their loved ones which the world often forgets or condemns. But they also seemed to ache for affirmation of the truth they believed for their sisters, mothers and wives. It was a joy to look around at the tables at dinner to see my students spread out to sit with each family and the room was filled with laughter and life. This joy was a manifestation of the goodness of these family visits, too easily overshadowed by the hardship of the situation. One of the House’s directors, to a family member leaving for visitation at the prison for the first time, left his work to offer some final words of encouragement. “Enjoy your visit! Have fun!”

My prayer these past weeks has been for the Lord Jesus to show me this joy. I have prayed with such gratitude in my prayer for the hospitality and care others have shown me. I have also prayed that the Lord Jesus would show me the loneliness, vulnerability and fear in those around me and in my ministry; to show me where hearts ache for the truth of their worth, for love. And I have prayed that the Lord Jesus would use me to heal some of that, to provide care in a spirit of joy and hospitality, especially to young people in my ministry. I have prayed that the college women I served with on our ASB trip would desire the same and offer joyful service in their daily lives as they did on spring break.

I pray that in these remaining weeks of Lent that you ache for the joy of Easter, and that this ache would manifest itself in care for those around you who need it. I pray that we would all share this truth of our human dignity which is beautiful and good, especially with those who have never heard it or do not believe it. This is a truth which Jesus came to die for and redeem.
Sincerely in Christ,

Krysti Patient
Assistant Director, Women Youth Apostles

March Reflection

At some point last week I became aware of two things: #1 Lent was just around the corner and #2 I didn’t have a plan. I knew I didn’t want to try to take up a random act of self-denial. Recently God has shown me in some gentle but clear ways how much I rely on self-will and honestly I’m pretty done with putting in a lot of effort to eventually experience not a lot more than my own limitations.

So I first called to mind the reason why the Church offers us the disciplines of almsgiving, fasting, and prayer. Together they help us direct our entire being back to God: our external goods back to Him through almsgiving, our bodies back to Him through fasting, our souls back to Him through prayer. Then I began to ponder what these things looked like from God’s perspective and it led to a deeper appreciation of His generosity and desire for communion with each of us.

What is God’s almsgiving? The entire created universe, in all its glory, beauty, and wonder is freely given to us to know that there is a Creator and He is good. What is fasting from God’s perspective? He deeply desires to be united to us and yet restrains Himself from forcing this desire on us so as to not overwhelm our freedom. He invites and patiently awaits our response. And finally, how does God experience prayer? For Him it is joy, union, and love. The Catechism puts it this way, “Whether we realize it or not, prayer is the encounter of God’s thirst with ours.” Ironically, when we open ourselves to Him and begin to experience just how much we need Him, in the midst of our dryness we are quenching His thirst to be in relationship with us.

My prayer for each of us this Lent is that our almsgiving, fasting, and prayer goes beyond the human experience of these disciplines and is transformed into deeper communion with the One who enters into His own way of almsgiving, fasting, and prayer with overflowing generosity in order for us to know His love.

Sincerely in Christ,

Tiffany Lambert
Directress, Women Youth Apostles

February Reflection

Recently I had to run an errand at Tysons Corner Center on a busy Sunday afternoon. I needed to grab lunch and shortly after sitting down, found myself across from two young college students. They seemed a bit shy but friendly, and I could sense the Lord prompting me to start a conversation. This was confirmed almost immediately as one of them bowed their head to say grace and made the Sign of the Cross. “Hi, I’m Tiffany,” I said with a smile, and the conversation evolved naturally from there.

We talked about where they go to school, they asked what I do for a living, and we talked about where we are from. Having learned they both grew up in Vietnam, I asked them what the one thing they found the most different when they came to the United States. Until this point, the conversation had mostly gone back and forth between myself and one of the girls. Now the other girl answered so quickly and definitely, I was almost startled. “It’s so lonely.” There was a long silence and three pairs of eyes looked down as we digested the honesty and pain in her statement and in our own memories. The words of St. Teresa of Calcutta flashed through my mind “America suffers most from the poverty of loneliness.” “Back in my home country,” she continued, “everyone opens their doors in the morning and you see your neighbors.”

The only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love.

–St. Teresa of Calcutta

This is one of the reasons it seems so providential that we have been called not just to form Women Youth Apostles, but have a vision to minister to young people in a way that helps them become community for each other. Please pray that every one of our ministries will continue to help young people see that they are not alone, but rather are known, loved, and have great reason to be filled with hope in God’s promises.

 

Sincerely in Christ,

Tiffany Lambert

Directress, Women Youth Apostles

January Reflection

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! The Christmas Season ends with two beautiful celebrations – the Epiphany when we recall the visit of the Magi and the Baptism of the Lord. Both point to how the Lord can be both manifest and hidden at different moments in our lives.

 At the Epiphany, God intervened in the lives of the Magi with clear and direct signs. The star “that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was” (Matt 2:9). You may have had a particular moment when you clearly knew God’s presence and intervention in your life. Through an extraordinary set of circumstances and as clearly manifest as the words before you now, you knew that God was real and was working for your good. These moments of great grace are gifts we should cherish and recall with love.

 On the other hand, through his Baptism, Jesus allows himself to be completely identified with sinful humanity. He enters into this act of repentance, not because he has sinned, but because he has come to redeem us. Sometimes Jesus’ humility almost allows his divinity to be hidden from sight, seeming to leave us searching with no other guide than the interior light of faith.

 As we enter into 2019, I pray that we are able to both follow God’s clear manifestations with deepened wonder and to continue searching in moments when the Light of the World appears to be buried in the depths of our limited world.

Sincerely in Christ,

Tiffany Lambert

Directress, Women Youth Apostles

 

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God in Transition

presented by Fatima Perez, Full Member sister for Women Youth Apostles’ Formation meeting this past August.

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“Let nothing disturb you, Let nothing frighten you. All things are passing away: God never changes. Patience obtains all things. Whoever has God lacks nothing; God alone suffices.”
-Saint Teresa of Avila

Since 2014, the above quote of St. Teresa of Avila has been serving as an important reminder in my life. In 4 years I’ve had handfuls of major life changes. I got engaged in May 2014, then 2 months later, changed youth ministry positions. I got married in May 2015 and less than a year after, had a baby. Four months later, we moved into a new apartment then 2 months after that, made a big career change. Almost 7 months later, had another baby. At the end of 2017, we then moved into our house, then just this past May, I changed jobs again.

Needless to say, I’ve been journeying through transitions like it’s a hobby or something. But in all of what I have experienced thus far, God has shown and taught me many good life lessons. Changes in our life don’t have to be huge ones either; they can also be on much smaller scales as well. Regardless, change can be very difficult, and so I want to share what has helped me in navigating through unknown territories throughout these past four years in particular.

Because I have a fascination with word origins, I looked up the world “transition” in the Dictionary as I was writing this. It is a noun and from the Latin transitionem — “a going across or over,” noun of action from past participle stem of transire “go or cross over”. I believe and see now why the Holy Spirit led me to this thought, because its root – go or cross over – can apply so well into our lives as Catholics. On that note, having gone through several life changes within four years, here are three teachable moments from my seasons of transitions.

Call Out Fear

The first was putting a name to what it was that I struggled with in midst of transitions.  For me, my fears were stemmed from a lack of trust. This happened, for example, years ago when in college and I needed to fully let go of my then-boyfriend (now-husband) Jon, but didn’t. I feared being alone and I feared him diving off the deep end with his faith when it wasn’t my responsibility at the time. And it’s because I lacked trust.

In more recent years post-marriage, I again experienced lack of trust initially when Jon and I found out we were pregnant with our second child, Lucy, only within 6 months of James being born. I feared what people would think or say about us, I feared how we would manage financially, I feared many things that were truly beyond my grasp.

Though I initially lacked radical trust in both instances, it was through prayer and reflection that the lack of trust shifted into the realization that God will provide, which He, of course, did. After completely letting Jon go and trusting in God’s plan for him, years later we both reconnected through ministry, grew in friendship, and years after got married. And now we have our amazing children, James and Lucy. And we are also living in a house. While these changes were not all planned for, we entrusted our entire lives in God’s hands and He time and again showed His generosity and faithfulness.

Moreover, it was time spent in Adoration that I realized the same God who saw me in all my fears and suffering was the same God who saw me in my joys and triumphs. This is the same God who calls us out of our places of familiarity and into uncharted waters. And when that happens, He calls out to us on the water and says, “It is I, do not be afraid. Come to me.”

If you are afraid of transition right now, a helpful question to ponder is “what is it that I am afraid of?” Because if we are unable to put a finger on what it is that we are afraid of, we begin sinking due of our lack of faith, thus preventing the Holy Spirit to guide us to the place where we need to go, to cross over.

Communication is imperative 

Through prayer and the counsel of family, friends and sisters, communication with God and loved ones help us to more totally discern God’s will. Communicating options, addressing fears or concerns, bringing everything to prayer or even asking for prayers all benefit transition. Not only does communication help further you in discernment, but it gives way for peace of mind, and this is a tremendous grace when transition finally occurs.

For those who know my past know that I didn’t pursue a career path with my degree upon graduating. Instead I decided to do youth and campus ministry full-time as that is what God was calling me to. In a personal blog post I wrote in August of 2016, I said: “a week from tomorrow will be my last day working as a campus minister at Bishop Ireton. I recently accepted a position that would finally help jump start my interior design career path and I can’t even put into words how excited and nervous (in a good way) I am. Though I will deeply miss doing what I’ve done as a day job, I look forward to learning and overcoming new challenges in the design world, and being able to provide more for my family – my domestic church.”

Constant communication with God in prayer and with loved ones helped me understand that at that specific point in my life, God was calling me out of full-time ministry and into my career so that I would not only utilize the gifts that He blessed me with, but more so that I would be able to provide more for my family, especially since we were preparing for Lucy to be born into the world.

All I experienced during that transition was an outpouring of grace, understanding, and complete support, all of which helped ease my “cross over”, again.

Orienting towards Heaven

In Hebrews 8:11, St. Paul wrote: “By faith, Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place which he was to receive as an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was to go. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living intents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he looked forward to the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”

In our Church’s Liturgical Calendar, there are different seasons our Church journeys through – the New Year begins with the Advent season, then into the Christmas season, then Ordinary Time, then Lent, then the Triduum, then Easter, and then back to Ordinary Time until the Solemnity of Christ the King. Then it’s Advent, again.

These changes in seasons are important to the life of the Church because it draws us out of the routine of our lives and plunges us into the very salvation history we are a part of, which is all about transition, a crossing over – literally Christ dying on a cross, rising from the dead, and having faith in Him coming again. We pray this every day at Mass in the Memorial Acclamation. And so when we bear in mind our salvation and the history attached to it, there will be countless opportunities God presents us with for growth, for challenge, endurance for hardships and steadfastness in suffering – all to prepare us for our Heavenly home. Orienting our life toward Heaven is the ultimate transition, to cross over from our earthly life to our eternal home.

Be Not Afraid

In addition to St. Teresa of Avila’s quote, another motto and very simple prayer of Pope St. John Paul II that has helped me move forward throughout my transitions is “be not afraid.” This was the first thing he said when he was elected pope, and continued to say throughout his papacy; it was his message to be not afraid in times of uncertainty and fear. This cry of JPII continues to drive my mission and to not hold on to fear or anxieties of the future, but to truly allow the Lord to work through and in my life each day at a time, and to “cross over.”

Transitions will happen in our lives, both big and small. Though we are unable to see God’s plans fully, may we never lose sight of His generosity and faithfulness in midst of those transitions, both of which will surely aid us in our daily “crossing over” of our earthly lives to eternity.

…and kindle in them the fire of your love

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by Krysti Patient, Full Member and 2017-2018 Missionary to Youth

Today the Church celebrates Pentecost after fifty days of glorious Easter, and welcomes once more with great and grateful need, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the people of God. While reflecting on this time in preparation for this blog, I happened to also be preparing a talk on the very same season to our Girls’ CLC (Catholic Life Community, discipleship group) at All Saints Catholic Church, where I’ve been assigned for the past two years for ministry both as a volunteer and a Missionary to Youth through Women Youth Apostles. Providence aligned a few subjects or themes that provided a lens through which I wanted to look at this beautiful event- the birthday of the Church. I was inspired to dig up an old talk I gave to my own community and several other guests at our Annual Retreat two years ago on Mary, Queen of Apostles, for this, one of the oldest titles given to Our Lady comes from this blessed event in the Upper Room, where she was present with the disciples. Furthermore, it seemed appropriate to involve the Blessed Mother in my reflection given the month, for May is the month of Our Lady, and this coming soon after Mother’s Day. Finally, Women Youth Apostles just this past Wednesday welcomed guest speaker China Briceno to speak to us for our Formation meeting about “The Fight for Femininity”. China took us through John Paul II’s document, Mulieris Dignitatem (On the Dignity and Vocation of Women). This document highlights attributes of the ‘feminine genius’ that I would like to use to provide some thoughts on Pentecost, the Blessed Mother, and my experience as a Missionary to Youth these past 9 months.

Receptivity

The receptivity of Mary is genius. This quality is what made her the ‘handmaid of the Lord’ and inspired her Fiat. This very attribute of Our Lady is what welcomed the Holy Spirit to overshadow her and bring into flesh the presence of Christ, the Word and Son of God. This openness to life, the life of the Christ child, and this trusting openness to whatever God has planned for me, is something I have asked for in prayer throughout these months as a missionary and in diving into youth ministry. In the Spiritual Life, I have made efforts in prayer to ‘do’ less and ‘be’ more, to allow the Lord to overshadow me and provide me with an understanding of His will. As a youth minister, and a sister in my community, I have recognized how key this receptivity is to become a vessel and then instrument of the Holy Spirit, to be used to bring that Christ-life to my sisters and the young people I serve. Our community spirituality places great importance in the Fiat of Mary, her radical ‘Yes’, and in fact the first line in our own community prayer is “Gracious Lord, we are your handmaidens”. This receptivity has been the first priority of my mission and impressing the importance of this quality on the young women in my ministries is the utmost goal, the first step to a life with Christ. For this was Mary’s first step. This Pentecost, receptivity is what is needed when we pray, “Come, Holy Spirit”.

Generosity

This attribute is so closely linked with receptivity. The very receptivity of Mary that welcomed the Holy Spirit and gave way to God’s will in her life was radically generous of her. It is typical for us to think of generosity in terms of giving, but this is not contrary to receptivity because we are first called to be generous with our very selves to our Lord and His plan. I often think of the story of Mary and Martha here as well- both of these women showed Jesus generosity, but it was the generosity of Mary’s prayerful presence to Christ that was most pleasing, not the material service of Martha. Another line of the Women Youth Apostle prayer that comes to mind here is, “Place within us a burning desire to do the work of your Kingdom here on earth.” This burning desire is the same as that ‘fire of [His] love’ when we invoke the Holy Spirit- “Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and kindle in them the fire of your love.” We ask the Lord to be generous to us, with a generous outpouring of His Holy Spirit that will fill our hearts to the brim. This generosity of God’s is an active initiative that burns within His faithful. The Blessed Mother was generous with the whole of her life, submitting herself entirely to the Spirit, allowing the Lord to initiate a very good- the best- work within her, filling her to the brim and kindling a mothering heart for all that was generous with all. I have found myself in this year of mission asking for Our Lady’s intercession to show this generosity in my giving of self to the Lord, to my sisters, and to the Lord’s young people.

Maternity

               I mentioned Mary’s mothering heart, which leads to this third quality, maternity. Our Lady’s unique identity as both virgin and mother is so beautiful because through Mary we are to understand woman’s universal call to motherhood, no matter her state in life. From the cross Christ gave the world through John His own mother, and all of us the Church, to Our Lady as her new adopted children. From that moment on, the Blessed Mother looked upon each human face and saw the face of her son. The care she must have shown- a mothering care- for the souls of each of these children taken as her own, is a quality needed in our world, and especially by the young people. Mary was present there in the Upper Room with the disciples as they awaited the Holy Spirit, this woman who had received the Spirit herself at an important beginning years ago. I imagine her leadership, her maternity in that room for these men and some women gathered in anticipation and probable uncertainty. I think of her words in the Magnificat, “The Almighty has done great things for me” as she anticipated the great gift the Lord wished to give her spiritual children.

               Two ministry experiences come to mind as I reflect on Our Lady’s maternity at Pentecost. The first began earlier in the schoolyear, around the end of the Fall Semester in December, as we celebrated the close of the semester with our high school teens at All Saints with a family potluck and talent show. I watched many teens share their gifts with their peers and families, gifts I wasn’t even totally aware of, and a true celebration of this being a beautifully diverse Body of Christ. Later in the evening, one of the young women in the youth ministry, and a member of the Girls’ CLC, approached me to ask me to be her sponsor for her confirmation. Being able to pray for her in this special and intentional way in the months since has been a true gift of spiritual maternity (she receives confirmation tomorrow evening!). The second experience was on the two girls’ 8th grade confirmation retreats this past April. A simple reflection to be sure, but it was another gift to be able to watch several of our high school girls join us as assistant leaders and to witness their own qualities of receptivity, generosity and maternity in their care for their younger 8th grade sisters in the Church. I watch some lend musical gifts, others give talks, and all of them help lead and teach and offer personal experience to share with the 8th graders the truth of their experience of a relationship with Christ. Certainly watching CLC girls make commitments before an altar in honor of this very relationship and in the liturgy always catches me by the heart, because there’s a combination of joys between knowing what the Lord has done for each one of them while also assured of how much more He plans to do.

It’s amusing to realize that I’ve been in my missionary year now for 9 months, as I reflect on carrying the life of Christ and spiritual maternity. As I reflect on Our Lady’s presence at Pentecost, I recognize I have been blessed to have this sense of carrying, of holding something special and important, a not-so-secret secret that is the truth of God’s love and to have been able to share this truth with others and especially the young people I’ve been privileged to serve. I praise God for, and I have been blessed to witness the ways the Lord has done great things in the lives of the youth in my ministries, and am confident in the many ways He will undoubtedly do even greater things in their lives in the days to come. I also await with great expectation and assurance in my own inner Upper Room for the Spirit to come to me in new ways and to lead me along new journeys of trust, of receptivity, generosity and maternity as his handmaiden in Women Youth Apostles.

(photos above are of 1. Me giving a testimony to high school teens at our Sunday Lifenight program, 2. Our Girls’ CLC president giving a talk at the 8th grade confirmation retreat, and 3. A CLC girl making her final Full Member commitment before the altar at a commitment mass)