Sunday, April 29, 2012

Nouwen on Writing

Things have been a little hectic, but now that the 7th grade Leadership retreat is done and tonight is the last official youth group session until the Fall, things should be winding down for the summer (whatever the heck that means for youth ministry!). So anyway, posts have been a little sparse. But today I simply want to share a quote from Henri Nouwen. I receive a daily e-mail with one of his quotes, and this was from yesterday:

Writing can be a true spiritual discipline. Writing can help us to concentrate, to get in touch with the deeper stirrings of our hearts, to clarify our minds, to process confusing emotions, to reflect on our experiences, to give artistic expression to what we are living, and to store significant events in our memories. Writing can also be good for others who might read what we write.

Quite often a difficult, painful, or frustrating day can be "redeemed" by writing about it. By writing we can claim what we have lived and thus integrate it more fully into our journeys. Then writing can become lifesaving for us and sometimes for others too.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

National Princess Week

The Target Corporation has started a new tradition...they have created a "National Princess Week." It's kind of a neat idea, although most likely just a ploy to get dads to buy Princess things for their little girls. I know some people aren't the biggest fans of the obsession with Disney Princesses, but I think we can use it to our advantage.

In one way, with the commercialization of all the Princesses, it has led every little girl to believe she can be a princess. It doesn't matter where she grew up or what her family life is like, all she needs is a dress. Or maybe just shiny shoes. Or a simple paper crown. I had "Cinderella shoes" when I was 4; they weren't anything special, just shiny white shoes I wore for Easter! But they made me feel special.

A princess should carry herself with dignity and respect. As those little girls grow up, they lose sight of that. They trade their beautiful gowns for low-cut tops and their crowns for hook-ups with guys. What happened in-between? Were they told they could never actually be a princess? Or did they come to think the idea was silly? When I was in high school I was told I was still a princess because I am the daughter of the King of Kings. How cool is that? And today I still want to find my Prince Charming!

While Belle, Ariel, Jasmine, Cinderella, and the others all have their struggles, they do make it look easy to be a princess and fall in love with your prince. But we can look beyond the stories and fairy tales to our own lives. We don't have to give up being a princess because it's something that is only for little girls! There are a lot of positive messages we can give girls today about being a princess. It's time to write our own stories (or for the guys, help co-author them).

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Why I'm Catholic: The Triduum

While the rest of the world goes about their normal weekend festivities, our Church blesses us with the holiest three days of the year and we are called to participate in the services that are so rich in tradition. These three days, the Triduum, have become a special part of my life ever since college.

Growing up I had no idea my dad attended the Holy Thursday Mass, and I didn't really know it existed. We always attended Good Friday together, and then either the Easter Vigil or Sunday morning Mass. When I was home for Easter one year, I went with my dad to the Holy Thursday Mass. It was then when I realized the holiness and power of the three days; they're not three separate liturgies, but one! How awesome is that?! And at all three we are given an intimate way of sharing in Jesus' life, death, and resurrection. A reflective look at how he served others while he was here and his very purpose for coming to earth, to become a victim for us, to conquer death, so that we might have eternal life with God. Wow.

Now I will not miss these three days for anything. The Triduum, to me, is a great reminder of how we are to live our lives and who we are to live our lives for. I'll admit, I even get a bit upset when I see people posting status updates about all the "fun things" they're doing over the weekend. I want to hit them in the head and remind them of this solemn time. Ok, now granted I went to Red Lobster with some friends on Good Friday...but we still kept our meal very simple (we split everything) and we were at church for almost three hours, I think that deserves some good fellowship and food, no!?

These two songs are absolutely beautiful. Both by Matt Maher. The first one works up to the great climax of the song when he is questioning and proclaiming, "O Death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory? O Church come stand in the light, the glory of God has defeated the night...our God is not dead, He's Alive, He's Alive!" Those words put a smile on my face and tears in my eyes. Our God is so amazing - which leads into the next song. It's about the amazing thing it was that God became man. The line that gets me in this song is, "Oh glorious, beyond all measure, bending low to wash His traitor's feet, people just like me. Why would a king do such a thing?"

Happy Easter! He is risen, Alleluia, Alleluia!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Holy Week Inspiration

Here are two videos that I find to be quite inspirational during this Holy Week. The first is the song "This Man" by Jeremy Camp and the video includes scenes from the Passion of the Christ. I had my youth group watch it on Sunday, and when I was screening it beforehand it definitely brought tears to my eyes. The movie The Passion of the Christ makes the events seem more real and the suffering more real. I hope to find time to watch the whole movie this week (if I can find my DVD). The second video is simply a song by a little known Christian group called Rend Collective Experiment (yeah, weird name). But the song is touching. Enjoy the videos and I hope they help you enter into Holy Week a little bit more.