Tag Archives: Catholic

Jesus is the Intention

Lent is starting.  Ash Wednesday is here.

This brings up a treasure trove of emotions.

Being raised Catholic Lent meant that we wouldn’t eat meat on Fridays and we would “give something up”…meaning chocolate or swearing or complaining. Kind of like a diet.  Temporary, restricting and doesn’t create lasting change.  At least that’s how it felt for me.

There are things I love about Lent…Fish Fry anyone! I mean, seriously, fish and chips! Yay! Let’s think about this.  I’m giving up sweets but I’m shoveling in fish and chips.  Hmmm….

I’ve been seriously considering my motives for what I give up during Lent and I have found them suspect at best.  I tend to give up something I want to give up, something that will ultimately benefit me like chocolate or sweets in general.  I mean think about it, we can lose weight and get healthier and feel holy!  It’s a win/win.

I’ve been praying about this.  I’m looking for God’s direction here.  I don’t want to take part in rituals that have no meaning for me.  I want to understand what I am doing.  I want everything I do, in life and in Lent to lead me to Jesus.  I want to nourish my relationship with Jesus.

So now I ask myself before I do anything “religious” or “churchy”…does it lead me to a closer relationship with Jesus?   Does it lead me to Grace and Joy and Freedom in Christ? Is it helping me become more like Christ?  Am I growing as a Christ follower?

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Am I getting to know Him better by reading and contemplating and studying and talking about His word?

Is this leading me to pray more, to spend time in quiet stillness more often, to listen to His voice?

Am I muscling through something with gritted teeth because I feel I “should” or because “that’s what we do” or because I’m afraid of what will happen if I don’t do it?

Am I operating out of fear worried about punishment or am I acting out of joy accepting of God’s grace?

Am I trying to earn my way to heaven or am I aware that I cannot earn grace…that it is a free gift given to me by God who loves me?

Why am I doing what I do?

Am I showing everyone how holy I am by suffering in public…putting my “giving up things” out there for everyone to see so they can admire me?

Am I thinking too much about how people see me?

Am I acting different on the outside, externally showing signs of faith while inside closing my heart to His spirit that brings true transformation?

Why do I do what I do?

How am I different because of what I’m doing?  What great work is He doing in me?

Am I letting God in?  Or am I “managing” God and deciding where He is allowed to go?  Am I refusing to open my heart?

Do I trust God?

I have realized that I eat a lot of sweets when I feel stressed.  And when I feel sad.  And when I feel overwhelmed.  And when I feel bored.  And when I feel Stuck.

And never once has the act of eating sweets – be it a pound of M&Ms or a bag of Twizzlers – never once has that taken away stress or sadness or overwhelming feeling or boredom or the feeling of being Stuck.  When I’m done eating I usually feel worse.  I often have regret.  (and a stomachache.)

I think we all have something we turn to when we feel stressed and sad and overwhelmed and bored and stuck.

I believe that’s what we should give up.  That thing that gets in the middle of us and God.  Because here’s the thing.  At times of stress and sadness and overwhelm and boredom and sticky, stuck “ness”, God wants us to turn to him.    He wants us to pray and to read His Word and spend time with Him in quiet stillness.  He wants to fill us up.

That’s what I think He’s telling me.  Give up whatever it is you use to fill up at those times of stress and come to me.  Don’t immediately try to turn off those feelings by stuffing yourself or drinking or shopping or gossiping or surfing the internet or exercising excessively or whatever it is that you do.  Come to me.

Sit with me. Breathe. Feel my love and my grace as we work through some of this stuff. It’s okay.  I get it.  I’m here.

Lent for me this year is an opportunity to put my faith and trust in God.  To loosen the reigns a little and stop muscling through my days and rest in His grace.

In Holy Yoga, one of our favorite sayings is  “Comfortable being uncomfortable”.  It’s okay to not feel perfect all the time, it’s okay to not be “happy” all the time. When we feel “off” it’s our cue to go to God…to replenish…to be loved…to receive His Grace.

Lent can be uncomfortable.  It’s not an easy journey Jesus is on and when we walk with Him, it’s not easy for us either.  We are more serious and somber during Lent.  We go into that desert and we feel thirsty.  We allow ourselves to feel hungry and to feel the “holes” inside of us…we sit in our uncomfortableness and we feel our need for Him.

I need Him.

This Lent I will go to Him to fill me up.

I’m praying for transformation this time.

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©2014 Sue Bidstrup, Great Big YES™ All Rights Reserved

 

Day 20: The Catholic Mass

 


massI went to a funeral today. 

It was beautiful.

I have to say, today…I’m thankful for the Catholic Mass.

Maybe it was because I was feeling emotional, maybe it was because I could actually see the priest, maybe it was because he was so genuine and engaged and passionate.  Whatever the reason, I sat there thinking the Mass is really beautiful.

The way the priest held up the body and blood of Christ and repeated the words that Jesus spoke, “Take this all of you and eat it, this is my body which has been given up for you…when the supper was ended he took the cup, again he gave thanks and praise, handing the cup to his disciples he said…” If you are Catholic, you are reading along with this and can continue to recite the whole thing.  It’s in our heads and in our hearts.

Sometimes, it’s just in our heads.

But today, it was in my heart.  I felt those words.  I felt Jesus saying them.  I felt that bread and wine being transformed.  I was there.  With him.  I felt his love.

I felt His love for me. I felt His love for my dear friend who lost her mom.  I felt His love for her mom.  I pictured her with Jesus at the table in heaven.  I felt Him loving all of us.  Sacrificing for all of us. Saving all of us.

The words we say at Mass aren’t just words.  They are real.  They are powerful. They transform.

So when we lose someone we love and we are sorrowful, we remember His promise that we will be with Him in heaven one day.  We remember the words from John 14:2-4,  “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.  You know the way to the place where I am going.”

Can you feel those words?  Can you see that place?  

Can you feel that He goes before us and prepares the way?   

He does.

The Mass ended with “How Great Thou Art” which was amazing.  I found a version on line I had to share.

I hope you can feel it. 

©2013 Sue Bidstrup, Great Big YES™  All Rights Reserved

Picture from someecards.com on Pinterest

Generation X,Y,Z…Baby Boomers, Millennials…Where do you fall?

I’ve been wondering…where do I fit in?

Here’s the breakdown:

1927-1945  Silent Generation or Traditionalists

1946-1964 Baby Boomers

1965-1983  Generation X or Busters

1984-2002 – Gen Y or the Millennials

2003-Current Gen Z or the Digital Generation

I am in Generation X.  I also have three kids who are Millennials. We are all wondering where we fit in but I don’t know if this chart helps.

I happen to think we are more alike than different.

Regardless of when we were born, there are some things that never change.

I think you can be smart and successful and happy if you know a lot of stuff about the “now”.  If you are tech savvy and post cool pictures on Instagram and know how to work a crowd you will probably have a lot of friends and be really cool.  I think you can rock the world with your perfect abs and your reality show and your million followers on Twitter.  I think you can create a life for yourself that is “of this generation” and you can be “happy”.

But I don’t want to just be “happy”.  I don’t want my kids to just be “happy”.  “Happy” is temporary and shallow.  I want to swim in the deep end.

I want deep down in my bones joy and peace.  I want to be wise.  And to be wise, you have to know about the things that never change.  You must attempt to understand the great mysteries of life.  These are common to all of us.  We all ask questions like: Who is God? Why am I here? How can I make a difference?

I just read this by Rachel Held Evans and it’s SO GOOD.  It’s about the Millennial generation and church.  I’ll give you a minute to check it out.http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/07/27/why-millennials-are-leaving-the-church/?hpt=hp_c4

My favorite line in the article by Evans is “We want to be known for what we stand for, not what we are against.” YES!  That’s what I’m talking about!  For sure! Let’s talk about Jesus! Let’s talk about Grace! Let’s love one another! Let’s encourage and support and be real! Let’s be authentic! Let’s wrestle with our doubts in community assured by God’s promises that we are still known and loved.

Even though I’m not a millennial, I agree with almost everything she writes.  One of the things I don’t agree with for me personally is the part about “finding ourselves increasingly drawn to high church traditions”.  I’m not drawn to that.  Maybe it’s because I’ve been Catholic my whole life and maybe I take it for granted.  The traditions are beautiful but I find myself wanting to scream out, “Is anyone awake??? Did you just hear what he read from Scripture??? THAT IS GOOD NEWS PEOPLE!! Wake up!  DON’T YOU WANNA DANCE?!?!?”

Maybe if you are used to people dancing and praising in church, you get to mid life and look for churches where people are calm and ritualistic.  Since I’ve lived in that world for my entire life, I’m looking for people who want to dance and sing and praise Jesus.  Obviously.  This is why I’m teaching Holy Yoga.

Speaking of Holy Yoga, I had a woman after class one day tell me that she no longer attends church because she really feels that it doesn’t apply to her life.  She is Catholic and she told me that she “doesn’t get anything out of it” but that she loves yoga and feels in communion with God on her mat.  I felt the same way when I discovered Yoga.  I felt that I had come home.  When I was talking to her that night something became very clear to me.  She, like all people in all generations, just wants to feel connected to her source and to her community. I picked up the Bible that I had been reading from and I looked her in the eye and said, “This is the TRUTH.  And Jesus is the Answer. And it has nothing to do with what church you attend. Even if you are frustrated with the church, don’t get frustrated with Jesus.  He is not that.  He is love.  Read His word and He will lead you.”

As Evans says in her article, “Like every generation before ours and every generation after, deep down, we long for Jesus.”

I picture God and Jesus up there having coffee talking and watching and saying, “What the heck? Do you see what they are doing?  They are separating themselves.  They are making people feel less than.  They are judging and condemning and they are doing it in our name…what happened?”

What did happen?

We forgot our source.  We lost touch with our creator.  We forgot to read HIS BOOK.  He only wrote one.  It’s a love letter and a “how to” guide.

As for “how to”…I don’t know but I keep reading Scripture trying to figure it out.  Besides reading, there are a few things I intend to keep on doing as I continue to seek that connection to source and community.  I intend to pray and love and move my body.

After all, this is GOOD NEWS PEOPLE!

Who wants to dance?

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© 2013 Sue Bidstrup, Great Big Yes™ All Rights Reserved