Thursday, May 28, 2015

joy and sacrifice

Joy is mysteriously intertwined with sacrifice, because the origin of all joy is Jesus Christ.

Joy seems to be in short supply these days. A quick look at the world around us, is all we need to convince ourselves of that.

Immediately, I think of my colleagues at work. I can say that many of them have little or no concept of joy. Most of them may be reasonably happy - things are good (or at least not bad) at home, work is not terrible - but they don't seem to have any particular joy in their lives.

Joy and happiness are most certainly not the same things. One can be joyful in unhappy times, even those filled with terrible suffering. 

Over last weekend, seven men were ordained to the holy priesthood for the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. I was privileged to have the opportunity to photograph the Ordination Mass. Over the past several years I've spent as a photographer, ordinations have always been my favorite event to photograph - the joy is always so pure, so unconditional.

What about weddings, you say? Well, weddings are great, yo, but today, so few weddings are about anything more than contrived expectations of what it means to have a "perfect" wedding, that joy is frequently a guest whose invitation is forgotten. The secular invades the sacred, and joy is lost. And marriage preparation? With few exceptions, marriage preparation is often more focused on getting used to sharing the toothpaste (and of course, an awful lot of people getting married these days are already doing plenty more than that), and managing finances, than it is focused on the fact that the joy of marriage is pre-loaded with sacrifice.

Back to ordinations.

There is a certain kind of joy that marks those who have responded unreservedly to the Lord's calling. They understand that the origin of all joy is Jesus Christ. They have already made many sacrifices for their vocation, spending years in preparation for ordination, often far from home. They know that the price of their vocation is their entire life – “poured out like a libation” – even if they don’t fully know the depths of what future sacrifices that pouring out may entail. (If only marriage preparation helped couples understand the sacrificial nature of marriage…)

As it was sung at the Ordination Mass, “Take me as I am – summon out what I shall be – set your seal upon my heart, and live in me…”

That “summoning out” – the conforming of our lives to Christ – is sacrificial. Sometimes it hurts. But there is joy to be found in the sacrifice, and joy to be found in the surrender.

Linking up with Blessed Is She today on finding joy! 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015


"Only that which is eternal can satisfy us." 
- St. Therese of Lisieux

Lord Jesus, you are love, sublime and beautiful. 
Oh, to be consumed by your love for all eternity. 
You are everything. 
Ever constant, yet ever new, your love. 
You poured out your Precious Blood for us - 
Your Sacred Heart aches and longs for us - 
Yet we love you so poorly. 
All you ask is for us to respond to your invitation. 
Draw us more deeply into your love, Lord... 
Show us your heart. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

finish the race

When life brings us the unexpected, 

grace helps us finish the race...

I've been away from the blog for a couple of weeks - life away from the computer intervened. As it often seems to happen, time passed more quickly than I'd imagined possible.

Last night, the high school students at my parish who have spent the last nine months or so preparing for the sacrament of Confirmation, were confirmed. Thanks be to God!!

It was a special evening for them - a wonderful group of teens, with whom I was blessed to spend many hours over the months of their preparation. Back in September, I'd met them all for the first time as a Confirmation teacher. Last night, I presented them for the sacrament of Confirmation, as the parish's Confirmation program coordinator.

Yep, that was a big change. To say the least.

I certainly hadn't expected this - but a few months ago, the parish's director of religious education took a new job, and I was asked to assume leadership of the high school Confirmation program. I accepted enthusiastically - and yes, a few people thought that was crazy, in and of itself. I knew full well what I was taking on... 21 teenagers in the final months of Confirmation prep... All the joys of making sure they had fulfilled all of the requirements to be confirmed... While doing my day job, on top of all that.

There were moments of joy. The times when I just knew they "got it" - that they understood something of what I was trying to teach them - or when a teen who had been disengaged, found a reason to be interested in why they were studying to be confirmed.

There were moments of stress and thinking I might just lose my mind this time. Perhaps I had bitten off more than I could really chew.

There were moments when I said, "Lord, why am I doing this?" - when the demon of insecurity that often tries to creep into our efforts in youth ministry, would rear its ugly head. I mustered all the trust I could muster, and tried to forge ahead.

But at the end, there was joy, despite the fact that I was a bundle of nerves and adrenaline last night. There was joy in knowing that while this particular race was finished, these teens had finished it strong, and hopefully were ready to walk back out into the world, not as if they'd graduated from faith, but with greater strength, ready to live their lives with faith... Ready for the next leg of the race toward eternity.

They had persevered. I had persevered. We made it, together.
Because... Grace. Without it, we could not persevere. Please God, may we continue on the path you place before us.

Not the greatest pic, I know... But not bad for a snapshot from an early morning run a few days ago... the sun coming up over the mountains, headed up a hill... With the bonus of a bird flying through at just the right time! Kind of a nice analogy for life, right? 

Joining the Blessed is She linkup on "perseverance" this windy Thursday night...