The Little Way of Greatness

“The splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not rob the little violet of its scent nor the daisy of its simple charm. If every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness.”

This is one of my favorite quotes from St. Therese. We celebrate her feast day today.

By all intents and purposes, Therese was not on the trajectory to be a Doctor of the Church. She was a spoiled, youngest child. She got what she wanted, when she wanted. She was raised by, and alongside, literal Saints who adored her and waited on her hand and foot. Yet, little Therese learned too soon what it meant to suffer: she lost her mother at a young age, fell deathly ill, and said goodbye to each of her sisters as they entered the convent. Therese grew up with a holy boldness that women everywhere could learn from: she believed in her vocation and she fought for it, all the way up to Rome.

Therese goes against everything our modern society equates with power, yet she is one of the most revered female Saints in the Catholic Church. She never traveled the world; she never found a cure for cancer or invented a new technological advancement. In her quiet cloister in the sleepy town of Lisieux, before she even reached the age of 25, Therese changed the face of morality. She was simply herself; she didn’t try to be anyone else. She modeled the great paradox: we can accomplish great deeds in our littleness. She paved a way for us to strive for holiness by doing everyday activities with love.

From the Little Flower of Lisieux, we learn the vital importance of rejecting the lie from Satan that we have to accomplish great things (in the eyes of the world) to achieve greatness. We learn to reject the lie that we have to attain a certain degree of social status or age in order to be a Saint. And we learn that, in the end, it matters little what we do, but that it was done in love.

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Sarah Rose hails from Long Island and graduated from Franciscan University in 2016 with a Bachelor’s in Theology & Catechetics. She is happily married to her college sweetheart John Paul. They welcomed their first child, Judah Zion, in 2019. She is passionate about her big V-vocation: motherhood, and her little v-vocation: bringing people to encounter Christ through the true, the good, and the beautiful. She loves fictional novels, true crime podcasts/documentaries, the saints (especially Blessed Chiara Luce Badano), & sharing conversation over a good cup of coffee. She is currently the Coordinator of Young Adult Ministry at St. Cecilia Church in Oakley, Cincinnati. You can find out more about her ministry here: https://eastsidefaith.org/young-adult OR at https://www.facebook.com/stceciliayam.

She Cries With Us

The Catholic Church has always fostered a devotion to the Mater Dolorosa, or Sorrowful Mother. It is actually one of my favorite days of the year. The Tradition of honoring Our Lady of Sorrows is rooted in Scripture. In Genesis 3:15, God foretold Mary’s role in salvation history as He addressed Satan, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel” (Genesis 3:15). After the fall of Adam and Eve, God promised to send a savior to redeem mankind from their sins. With this, He immediately included the Blessed Mother in this promise by saying that she would oppose the devil along with her Son. This is the first instance of Mary’s intimate participation in her Son’s Passion. Isaiah 53:5 prophesized Christ’s future suffering as a physical one, but we know that Mary’s participation is spiritual and emotional. However, any parent knows that the sword of anguish can be just as piercing as a physical sword. In the book of 1 Maccabees, a woman witnesses her seven sons being martyred. This imagery gives us a glimpse of the pain Mary will feel as her Son is killed. God uses this immense love between a mother and a son to measure the grief that one will have upon beholding Him who has been sacrificed, as we see in today’s Gospel.

Mary’s sorrowful journey began with the ridicule she felt as an unmarried pregnant woman, continued through the poverty of Jesus’ birth, reappeared when Herod sought his life, extended when Mary thought she lost her son for a day in Jerusalem when He was 12 years old, and culminated as she stood underneath the cross as He gasped for air and breathed His last.

In many depictions of Our Lady of Sorrows, we see arrows piercing the Blessed Mother’s Heart. This imagery comes from Simeon’s warning during the Presentation in Luke 2:35, “And you yourself a sword will pierce so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

In this passage, we find that the tradition of Our Lady of Sorrows intersects with another Marian belief: that of her participation in her Son’s Passion and cooperation in the redemption of humankind. Simeon tells Mary that she will experience a sword piercing her heart along with her son. The wording of this passage emphatically states that she will be intimately involved with her Son’s passion. He wasn’t saying it as a metaphor; he meant it quite literally. The pain Mary felt, beginning with her pregnancy and culminating as she watched Christ be crucified, was a very real, poignant sword, forged with the hatred and rejection of men towards Jesus. She pondered these words of Simeon for the 33 years leading up to her Son’s death. From her very conception she was chosen for this special role, and God set her aside for His Son. She would, in turn, suffer a spiritual martyrdom as her Son suffered a physical one.

​Mary’s participation in the Passion of her Son has its source in her divine motherhood. In a 1997 general audience, Pope John Paul II references Lumen Gentium when he says, “By giving birth to the One who was destined to achieve man’s redemption, by nourishing him, presenting him in the temple and suffering with him as he died on the Cross, ‘in a wholly singular way she cooperated…in the work of the Saviour.’” Although we are all called to participate in the work of salvation through our suffering, Mary’s role in her Son’s Passion is unique and unrepeatable because of the maternal bond between her and her Son. The climax of Mary’s role as in her Son’s Passion takes place at the foot of the Cross, where the total suffering of her motherly heart was united to the suffering of her Son’s heart in fulfillment of the Father’s plan of redemption. As she looked upon her dying Son, the anguish she felt because of the sins of mankind was so strong that it literally pierced her heart as His was pierced with the lance. “These wounds which were scattered all over the body of Jesus, were all united in one heart of Mary” (St. Bonaventure). That is the proof of the strength of maternal love. Thus Simeon’s prophecy was fulfilled as Mary stood beside her dying Son at the foot of the cross, the true Mater Dolorosa.

“Mary meets her Son along the way of the Cross. His Cross becomes her Cross, his humiliation is her humiliation, the public scorn is on her shoulders. So it must seem to the people around her, and this is how her own heart reacts. The words spoken when Jesus was forty days old are now fulfilled. They are now completely fulfilled. And so, pierced by that invisible sword, Mary sets out towards her Son’s Calvary, her own Calvary. Although this pain is hers, striking deep in her maternal heart, the full truth of this suffering can be expressed only in terms of a shared suffering – ‘com-passion’. That word is part of the mystery; it expresses in some way her unity with the suffering of her Son” (St. Pope John Paul II).

Without Mary’s “fiat” to God, our redemption would not have occurred the way it did. Therefore, we can call her “Co-Redemptrix,” because her act of silent martyrdom and submission to the Will of God contributed to humanity’s ransom. Her sacrifice occurred through her compassion, (com-passio, to suffer with), which was the sword destined to pierce her heart. As Christ suffered in the flesh, Mary suffered in her heart. “The heart of Mary became as it were a mirror of the agonies of her Son, in which were seen the spitting, the scourging, the wounds, and all that Jesus suffered” (St. Lawrence Justinian).

Devotion to Mary as Mother of Sorrows is so incredibly important to the life of the Church, and why the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows is celebrated in our liturgical calendar on the day after the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. Oftentimes, Mary is overlooked or reduced to simply “blessed.” She was indeed Blessed, but, as we know in the Christian life, along with blessedness comes much pain. Mary revealed to St. Bridget, who coined the devotion to the Mater Dolorosa, that this grief which St. Simeon announced to her, never left her heart till she was assumed into heaven. She witnessed every word spoken against Christ, every time people chose and still choose today not to hear the word of Him who came to save them. As He was suffering, every blow and nail were driven into her heart; yet still she echoed her original “fiat,” in order that the salvation of man might be complete. ​

Our Mater Dolorosa had experienced the greatest of all sorrows, her heart had been pierced, and she felt utter abandonment and desolation. But like our Lady had always done, she kept the faith and accepted the will of God so completely and so perfectly. Our Mother chose trust. When nothing made sense, in the height of her agony, she kept her “yes.” She knew that God was good and worthy of thanks. If she could believe that during her bleakest hour, there is grace for us to believe it in ours. Pain has a way of making us feel isolated. But we are not alone. You are not alone. She suffers with us today. Who else would be a better companion, a better comforter, a better Mother than our own mother?

“Behold, your mother.” (John 19:27)

For some reason, I find the image of Our Lady crying extremely comforting to me. In times of my own sorrow, I cling to our Mother and allow her to cry with me. And I pray she lets me, unworthy though I be, bear her grief as well.

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Sarah Rose hails from Long Island and graduated from Franciscan University in 2016 with a Bachelor’s in Theology & Catechetics. She is happily married to her college sweetheart John Paul. They welcomed their first child, Judah Zion, in 2019. She is passionate about her big V-vocation: motherhood, and her little v-vocation: bringing people to encounter Christ through the true, the good, and the beautiful. She loves fictional novels, true crime podcasts/documentaries, the saints (especially Blessed Chiara Luce Badano), & sharing conversation over a good cup of coffee. She is currently the Coordinator of Young Adult Ministry at St. Cecilia Church in Oakley, Cincinnati. You can find out more about her ministry here: https://eastsidefaith.org/young-adult OR at https://www.facebook.com/stceciliayam.

Breathing the Breath of God

I had quite the feisty temper when I was little and my mother would always tell me to take a deep breath before responding if my reaction could be hurtful or damaging. The power of that one breath was remarkable. There is so much strength in something as simple as taking a deep breath.

The Hebrew word for “breath” in the Old Testament was “Ruah”, also meaning “wind”, or “spirit”. However, “Ruah” was specifically understood to signify the “breath of God” that animates all of God’s living; a distinct presence of God that enables life to be.

 “…concerning ruah, we can say that the breath of God appears in them as the power that gives life to creatures. It appears as a profound reality of God which works deep within man. It appears as a manifestation of God’s dynamism which is communicated to creatures.”

-St. Pope John Paul II

Humanity’s first recorded encounter with God’s “Ruah” is found during Creation: “then the LORD God formed the man out of the dust of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (Gen. 2:7). There are two other significant mentions of “Ruah” in Scripture. One is in today’s first reading, “Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: Listen! I will make breath enter you so you may come to life” (Ez. 37:5). The last is John 20, “And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the holy Spirit’” (Jn. 20:22).

The image that we have in the First Reading of dry bones being brought back to life is so powerful for us today. I look around at our society and communities and all I can see are dry bones, as far as the eye can see. We live in a time where human life is trampled upon, human dignity is not valued, and the transcendent and eternal realities of our faith have no bearing on the way people lead their lives. We were not created to simply go through the motions of our daily lives. We were created to have life, and life in abundance!! We are dry bones, parched for hope and for human connection, and we are in desperate need of a revival – a “ruah.”

But as I read the passage from Ezekiel again, I realize that the Lord is not the one reviving the bones, at least not directly. He is telling Ezekiel to prophesy to the bones, to say His words and give life to that which is dead.

That is the same call for us, brothers and sisters. The world around us is desperately crying out for hope, and it is up to us to breathe that Gospel message into those we encounter. Grace builds on human nature; God works in cooperation with our willingness to be His vessels. Just as Adam’s life came from the breath of God, and the dry bones were revived through Ezekiel, so also did the disciples’ new spiritual life come from Jesus through the Breath of the Holy Spirit. Through our Baptism, we were imparted with that same Spirit; that same life of Christ in our souls that enables us to live out our vocations of priest, prophet, and king. So with every breath within us, let us speak life.

“I will put my spirit in you that you may come to life, and I will settle you in your land. Then you shall know that I am the LORD. I have spoken; I will do it” (Ez. 37:14).

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Sarah Rose hails from Long Island and graduated from Franciscan University in 2016 with a Bachelor’s in Theology & Catechetics. She is happily married to her college sweetheart John Paul. They welcomed their first child, Judah Zion, in 2019. She is passionate about her big V-vocation: motherhood, and her little v-vocation: bringing people to encounter Christ through the true, the good, and the beautiful. She loves fictional novels, true crime podcasts/documentaries, the saints (especially Blessed Chiara Luce Badano), & sharing conversation over a good cup of coffee. She is currently the Coordinator of Young Adult Ministry at St. Cecilia Church in Oakley, Cincinnati. You can find out more about her ministry here: https://eastsidefaith.org/young-adult OR at https://www.facebook.com/stceciliayam.

The One vs. the 99

Today’s Gospel is one of the most well-known Gospel stories we have. We are told that, in order to inherit the Kingdom of Heaven we must become like a child.

Children are not jaded, cynical, or critical of themselves or others. They do not hold grudges. They reserve judgment because their only experience of the world is their own. Children wave and smile at complete strangers because to them, everyone is a friend. Children trust and do not worry.

Is it any wonder that Christ wants us to be like children? They have utter purity of heart. “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.”

I desire deeply to see God in everything, but the cloud of “adulthood” makes that difficult. I am slow to trust others. I have unintended prejudices towards other cultures, races, disabilities. I worry almost all the time. With adulthood comes more freedom; but that freedom is a double-edged sword that brings along with it negativity, stress, and apathy. It causes me to be critical in my thoughts and actions toward others without first approaching their shortcomings with compassion.

We slowly let go of the purity of our hearts along the road to adulthood, causing us to lose our ability to see God in all things.

For all intents and purposes, I am one of the ninety-nine—a safe, comfortable sheep following the Shepherd, nourished within the sheepfold of the Church. I have not gone “astray” from the Church, but I catch myself judging the one that has. Like the brother of the Prodigal Son, I wonder why I am not the one being commended for staying faithful. Yet where does this false piety and need for justification leave me? It causes me to forget the times when I have been the 1 who needed rescuing. It depletes my ability to feel empathy towards the painful experiences of my fellow brothers and sisters. It creates an even deeper divide between them and me that was never supposed to be there in the first place.

You see, the shepherd who goes after the 1 does not abandon the 99. He is not saying that they don’t matter, that they aren’t as important to him, that their lives don’t bring value. He is intimately in-tune with the immediate needs of his flock. Right now, the 99 are okay. They don’t need him as urgently.

It is the same in our world today. As Christians, we too are called to go out and seek the lost. With our baptism comes the commission to comfort the afflicted and respond in humility and kindness to the needs of others. The word compassion comes from the combination of two Latin words. Com = with. Passion = suffer. Com-passion. To suffer together with.

Right now, our discriminated brothers and sisters need us to fight for their rights in human solidarity. Our immunocompromised and elderly brothers and sisters need us to protect them by wearing a mask and staying home when asked to. Our poor children caught in sex-trafficking need us to recognize their cries for help and do something. This Christian call to arms is by no means comfortable or easy, but it is absolutely necessary and utterly vital to our Christian mission.

As I contemplate the Good Shepherd’s heart, I am filled with awe, gratitude, and relief that He would do the same for me as He does for that one missing sheep. He will never forget me or give up on me. When I find myself lost, He never stops ardently pursuing me, and rejoices to welcome me home. Until then, I’ll do my part to keep the 100 sheep united.

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Sarah Rose hails from Long Island and graduated from Franciscan University in 2016 with a Bachelor’s in Theology & Catechetics. She is happily married to her college sweetheart John Paul. They welcomed their first child, Judah Zion, in 2019. She is passionate about her big V-vocation: motherhood, and her little v-vocation: bringing people to encounter Christ through the true, the good, and the beautiful. She loves fictional novels, true crime podcasts/documentaries, the saints (especially Blessed Chiara Luce Badano), & sharing conversation over a good cup of coffee. She is currently the Coordinator of Young Adult Ministry at St. Cecilia Church in Oakley, Cincinnati. You can find out more about her ministry here: https://eastsidefaith.org/young-adult OR at https://www.facebook.com/stceciliayam.

Being a Mary in a Martha World

Mary is so humble, anointing Jesus’ feet. Mary is so contemplative. “We should all be like Mary,” I say to myself as I skim the Gospel at rapid speed while listening to a podcast and putting my son’s toys away for the 1000x time today.  I catch myself judging Martha. Doesn’t she realize Jesus is just sitting there, waiting to spend time with her?

Oh. wait. Reality check. When was the last time I chose “the better part” like Mary?

To-do lists. Deadlines. Self-inflicted doubts. Unmet expectations. Comparisons. These false priorities consume 99/9% of my waking thoughts.

I have always been a do-er. I am not one of those people who can sit around all morning, sipping tea with a good book and avocado toast. (Much to the dismay of my husband, who can do this all day!) I thrive in a go-go-go environment. Give me a triple shot of espresso over ice and 10 errands to run and I am SET.

I even find it a struggle to quiet my mind and just sit with our Lord in Adoration. I have to fight the tendency to talk at God the whole time. In silence, my mind wanders every which way. So I often resign myself to praying memorized prayers.

So then I find myself defending Martha because I see so much of myself in her! Poor Martha. So misunderstood. As the oldest of 4 girls, I can definitely attest to similarly tattling on a sister who is sitting on the couch while I cook dinner. I’m so preoccupied with serving everyone. Meeting very present needs, but often too frazzled for my own good.

In learning more about myself through prayer and self-reflection, I have come to peace with the fact that resting is just something that will never come easy for me. I have to actively seek opportunities to hone the art of resting. Furthermore, I have to fight the lie that Satan has fed me for years that resting = laziness.

Our society today idolizes busy-ness, to the point that, when asked how we are, “busy” becomes a valid response. We are all so “busy” doing nothing worthwhile, that, as a result, we are unable to be present to anyone. We have lost the art of leisure. I am talking about true leisure, not scrolling through Instagram for 2 hours (although, sometimes, that is necessary).

But, the great paradox here is that we cannot have Mary without Martha. We cannot appreciate leisure without also understanding the value of hard work. The all-too-familiar passage from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 reminds us that “For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.” It is up to us to discern what season we are called to live in, in every moment.

2-day old dishes in the sink? Maybe not the best time to kick my feet up and binge Netflix.

Our Lord in my living room, waiting to converse with me? I better drop that sponge and sprint to His feet.

That is what being a Mary in a Martha world looks like.

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Sarah Rose hails from Long Island and graduated from Franciscan University in 2016 with a Bachelor’s in Theology & Catechetics. She is happily married to her college sweetheart John Paul. They welcomed their first child, Judah Zion, in 2019. She is passionate about her big V-vocation: motherhood, and her little v-vocation: bringing people to encounter Christ through the true, the good, and the beautiful. She loves fictional novels, true crime podcasts/documentaries, the saints (especially Blessed Chiara Luce Badano), & sharing conversation over a good cup of coffee. She is currently the Coordinator of Young Adult Ministry at St. Cecilia Church in Oakley, Cincinnati. You can find out more about her ministry here: https://eastsidefaith.org/young-adult OR at https://www.facebook.com/stceciliayam.

The Magdalene and the Bride

In college I had the great blessing of taking a course on the Old Testament with renowned Biblical scholar Dr. John Bergsma. What I learned in that class fundamentally changed my life, especially the way I look at and pray with Scripture. Something I have carried with me from that class is the appreciation for how intentional Holy Mother Church is with her liturgical reading choices. For example, today’s feast is one of the few times when Song of Songs is read at Mass. There is a reason for that.

During that class, I developed a love for, and almost girl-crush on St. Mary Magdalene, whose feast we celebrate today. I will never forget how Dr. Bergsma led us through this passage from Song of Songs, and pointed out every parallel it carries to our Gospel reading today. The first time I read it through that lens, I got chills! Honestly, I still do.

On that first Holy Saturday, Mary Magdalene, in real time, experienced the dream sequence of Song of Songs from today’s first reading. We can parallel the two accounts verse for verse. The bride goes out at night in desperation to search for her loved one, just as Mary Magdalene headed to the tomb “while it was still dark” to find her Lord. Once there, Mary ran into the angels. Angels are often referred to as the “watchers of heaven.” In Song of Songs, as she looks for her beloved, the bride comes upon watchmen making their rounds around the city. She asks them if they have seen Him whom her heart loves. Mary Magdalene’s interaction with the angels, the “watchmen of heaven”, is almost identical. She tells them “they have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him.” The word she uses here for “Lord” is “kyrios,” which is oftentimes a term used by a woman referring to her husband. Obviously, we know that Mary Magdalene was not married to Jesus. However, this symbolizes that she is yearning for the one and only Bridegroom of her heart. In both Song of Songs and John 20, almost immediately after this interaction with the watchmen does the woman find her beloved.

Mary Magdalene is a type of all of us. The level of intimacy that she has with our Lord is the same intimacy that we are called to. Throughout the Gospels, we see Mary Magdalene clinging to Christ from the moment of her conversion; she cries at His feet, perfuming them with sacred perfumes and drying them with her hair, and clutches His risen body. She is wholly and freely intimate with Christ as man and God, and she holds nothing back from Him. Furthermore, Mary discovers in the Risen Christ the bridegroom of her Soul. Christ has come to be the Bridegroom of our souls. He gives Himself totally to us, as a Bridegroom does for His bride. A God who in Himself lacks nothing, desires our hearts.

Like I said before, today’s readings are a perfect example of how divinely intentional Holy Mother Church is in choosing and pairing readings for Mass. Our Psalm today perfectly captures the emotions of both the bride and Mary Magdalene as they seek their Bridegroom. “O God, you are my God whom I seek, for you my flesh pines and my soul thirsts.” Those words echo almost exactly the words of the bride in the Song of Songs dream sequence, and they reflect the deepest desires of our hearts as well. We were created for communion with our Creator. Whether we have recognized it or not, we have all had or will have the same experience of finding Him for whom we were made. Until then, nothing else satisfies our thirst.

So now, instead of just having a girl-crush on Mary Magdalene, I want to be like Mary Magdalene. I desire to experience that level of intimacy with my Lord. I want to leave behind my old life of sin in pursuit of a Divine Love. I want to run to Him with reckless abandon WITHOUT looking back on what I am leaving behind. I want to live my life in total anticipation of my Bridegroom, the only one for whom my soul thirsts.

(P.S. The Apostle John paints Jesus with incredible Bridegroom imagery throughout his narrative.  There are many more parallels between the Bridegroom of Song of Songs and Christ at His Passion and Resurrection that would take many more blog posts to unravel, but I encourage you to look into it and pray with it for yourself! A good place to start is with Dr. John Bergsma’s lectures that can be found on YouTube.)

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Sarah Rose hails from Long Island and graduated from Franciscan University in 2016 with a Bachelor’s in Theology & Catechetics. She is happily married to her college sweetheart John Paul. They welcomed their first child, Judah Zion, in 2019. She is passionate about her big V-vocation: motherhood, and her little v-vocation: bringing people to encounter Christ through the true, the good, and the beautiful. She loves fictional novels, true crime podcasts/documentaries, the saints (especially Blessed Chiara Luce Badano), & sharing conversation over a good cup of coffee. She is currently the Coordinator of Young Adult Ministry at St. Cecilia Church in Oakley, Cincinnati. You can find out more about her ministry here: https://eastsidefaith.org/young-adult OR at https://www.facebook.com/stceciliayam.

How Can We Sing?

Today’s Psalm is eerily poignant for our current state of affairs.

The Psalmist is wallowing in his own misery while exiled in Babylon. There are many things he could have been weeping about.

Perhaps it was over the deaths of loved ones. We can relate to that right now, in the throws of a worldwide pandemic that has claimed the lives of so many.

Or perhaps he was weeping over the destroyed city & great temple of Jerusalem, and the loss of almost everything he owned. I’m sure small business owners whose stores have been ravaged and destroyed during the nationwide riots can sympathize with that.

He proceeds to remember in lamentation the great Zion, which was one of the hills that they had built the city of Jerusalem on. In Jerusalem, they were free to pluck their harps in joyful song to the Lord. The Psalmist is looking back on his past with longing of once-had pleasure and blessings, sitting in the present of forced captivity and cruelty, and looking toward the future with bleak hopelessness.

I don’t know about you, but that sounds almost exactly like what I have been feeling these past few months. Even the simple pleasures that we took for granted, like going to the park or enjoying a meal with loved ones, seem so distant. If God is good, how can He allow all of the brokenness, hurt, anger, and sickness that are surrounding us on every side? If we were created for love, why is there so much hatred amongst mankind right now? This is the age old question, isn’t it?

Like today’s Psalmist, I cry out to the heavens from my 3 bedroom place of captivity in desperation. I throw yet another load of laundry in the dryer, wash yet another dish, scramble to answer yet another email during naptime. How can I sing a joyful song to the Lord in this time, when I am barely able to mutter a sleepy Hail Mary as I trail off to sleep during my Rosary?

And then I remember my “Zion”. My 16 month old, bright-eyed, food-loving angel. Some mornings, he is the only thing that gets me out of bed. I turn on praise music and watch him raise his arms and sway with a reckless abandon that I wish I had. His first name (Judah) means ‘praise’, and he is the hill on which my hope is found right now.

How is it possible to cling to faith in the face of desperation? Look into the eyes of a child.

The world insists that “what you see is what you get!” If that were true right now, I don’t know if we would be able to find any reason to keep on living in today’s world. However, faith says otherwise – what we see is not what we get. We long for what is unseen by our mortal eyes. We await what we do not know because we have yet to experience it, almost like a baby that has yet to be born has no experience of the world.

In the Old Testament, hopelessness is often expressed by the narrator lifting up his voice and crying out to the Lord in desperation. Brothers and sisters, right now we are being called to echo the Psalmist. This is the great paradox of hope – being called to hang on to the branch even as it is beginning to break. In this year of 2020, we are being brought to our knees so that we can praise Him in the driest of valleys. Have faith that our Heavenly Father will come to draw you out. Your Zion will come again. But for now, let our tongue be silenced if we ever forget Him.

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Sarah Rose hails from Long Island and graduated from Franciscan University in 2016 with a Bachelor’s in Theology & Catechetics. She is happily married to her college sweetheart John Paul. They welcomed their first child, Judah Zion, in 2019. She is passionate about her big V-vocation: motherhood, and her little v-vocation: bringing people to encounter Christ through the true, the good, and the beautiful. She loves fictional novels, true crime podcasts/documentaries, the saints (especially Blessed Chiara Luce Badano), & sharing conversation over a good cup of coffee. She is currently the Coordinator of Young Adult Ministry at St. Cecilia Church in Oakley, Cincinnati. You can find out more about her ministry here:
https://eastsidefaith.org/young-adult OR at https://www.facebook.com/stceciliayam.

Comparison is the Thief of Joy

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”
-Theodore Roosevelt

This is a quote that I have come back to many times throughout my ministry and my adult life. I have struggled with comparison my whole life. When I was a little girl, I compared myself to all the other ballerinas in my class. They were always taller than me, skinnier than me, better at balancing than me. When I was in college, I compared my grades to those of the other Theology majors.

Even in quarantine, I catch myself comparing my feelings and my day to everyone else’s. We are bombarded on social media with sweaty selfies of women who ran 10 miles this morning before waking up her 7 children, homeschooling them, baking cookies for the local fire dept., and praying a family rosary. Sometimes, I consider it a successful day if I remember to brush my 15 month old’s teeth!

So I find myself internally chuckling at Peter in today’s Gospel. Looking at the Apostle John, Peter probably thought, “Why me? Why was I chosen to be the ‘Rock’?” He may have found himself comparing his impulsivity to John’s steadfastness; his tendency to put his own foot in his mouth with John’s silent wisdom; his denial of Christ with John’s fierce loyalty. Even to us, it may seem that John, the disciple that “Jesus loved”, would have been the first, most logical choice for that role.

However, Peter was chosen.

Christ looked beyond his rough spots and saw his strengths. Peter’s passionate determination and humility were gifts needed for his calling. If he were more like John, or Paul, or Matthew, we would have had another holy man, certainly. And probably another saint. But we would not have had Peter, the first pope and the Rock on which our Church was built.

True humility consists in knowing who you are in relation to God, and resting in that knowledge. C.S. Lewis defines humility as “Not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.” While pride turns us inward and magnifies our flaws until we have no room for anything else, true humility brings us out of ourselves and gives us the ability to focus on others. While comparison leads to frustration, rejection, and sadness; humility leads to peace, confidence, & contentment. Comparison truly is the thief of joy!

Christ sees both our strengths and our weaknesses. And He has created us each for a unique mission and purpose, just like Peter. If we were all meant to be the same shade of blue, we would never know the beauty of red, or yellow, or green, or purple.

So I wish I could go back and tell that little girl who measured herself every day that being short is part of what makes her, her. If she was two inches taller like everyone else in her ballet class, who would have been able to fit into the smallest tutu? If she was able to balance for as long as the other girls, she might not have been able to do as many pirouettes as she could.

Brothers and sisters, I urge you now to silence those lies from Satan who tell you that you aren’t good enough. Curated photo collages on social media do not share the whole story of someone else’s life, just like your struggles do not define the entirety of yours. Listen to John’s words at the end of today’s Gospel:

“There are also many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written.”

 If we were all to be described individually; beauty, flaws, and all, I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written.

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Sarah Rose hails from Long Island and graduated from Franciscan University in 2016 with a Bachelor’s in Theology & Catechetics. She is happily married to her college sweetheart John Paul. They welcomed their first child, Judah Zion, in 2019. She is passionate about her big V-vocation: motherhood, and her little v-vocation: bringing people to encounter Christ through the true, the good, and the beautiful. She loves fictional novels, true crime podcasts/documentaries, the saints (especially Blessed Chiara Luce Badano), & sharing conversation over a good cup of coffee. She is currently the Coordinator of Young Adult Ministry at St. Cecilia Church in Oakley, Cincinnati. You can find out more about her ministry here: https://eastsidefaith.org/young-adult OR at https://www.facebook.com/stceciliayam.