Friday, September 25, 2009

Days of Awe

So the days in between Yom Teruah and Yom Kippur are called the Days of Awe and are normally a time of serious introspection. The first few days I was really thinking back on my year, my sins, and what I wanted to change, but mid-week came along and it all came crashing down. I had a lot of schoolwork. I did pray and everything, but I lost the time to make teshuva.

Tonight I came home for a family party and somehow the topic of swine flu came up. This winter is going to be a trying time, as the virus becomes strongest. A few kids at my school caught it and there are countless others on college campuses contracting swine flu as well. One kid at Cornell died. I have never been a hypochondriac or anything, and the swine flu craze hasn't scared me; however, tonight I realized how easily this life can be taken away from us. We are such fragile creatures. That is what scares me...realizing my own mortality. And as Christians (especially Catholics) this is something we remember everyday and we should be aware of, but I always want to push it back and away from my thoughts.

When I was little, my grandmother and mother would take my brother and I to mass every Sunday at a very old church nearby. The church had a huge sculpture (a little bigger than the size of actual people) of Mary holding Jesus in agony. The body had been painted to show the blood and was a truly gruesome scene to show in a house of prayer, but it was the TRUTH. Jesus didn't magically die on the cross, he suffered horribly and his mother had to watch. So many of my messianic friends say "don't think about that, think about what it accomplished!" or "I hate cross jewelry and crucifixes because it only reminds me of the suffering and not the salvation." Um what?! Crazy, I know, but anyways...As a child, this statue FASCINATED me, it was like I was looking at a real dead body. I remember always asking to go look at it, and my mom would never wait long enough for me to really absorb it the way I wanted. I really appreciate this about the Catholic faith since death is an everyday occurrence. They don't hide it and sugar coat pain, suffering, and our eventual demise. From an early age I was exposed to death, not just in the art at Church, but in my own family. When that time came, I wasn't afraid like most of my friends were when their grandparents or pets died. I was upset of course, and I cried when one of my grandmothers died, but I remember being envious. I know weird. But I knew my grandma practiced her faith and was with God. She was in His presence and I had to stay here and cope with the pain around me. Death didn't scare me then like it does now.

I love the scriptures about having faith like a child.
(Such as Matthew 19:14 But Jesus said, "Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.")
As a child my goal was Yeshua and being true to Him so I could be with Him in heaven. I would always wear a dress to church too, something my friends told me recently. They said I was very pious even back then. I feel like in a sense I have lost that yearning and "no-fear" attitude I had as a child. Dawn's post, Life Between the Dash, really helped me realize I need to revert back to that love and passion I had as a child. I need to spend my moments wisely, bear with those who anger me, forgive those who hurt me, and love everyone, friends and enemies alike. Her post drew me back into a repentant mind frame, just in time to usher in Yom Kippur. I know Yom Kippur is not truly a day to atone my sins, as that can be done any day of the year by the victory and grace of Yeshua, but it did foreshadow the cross. I don't need kapparot or the blood of animals as I have the greatest blood of all covering my sins. I just truly believe these holy days help us Christians REMEMBER what it is we are here to do. Don't lose sight of what our goal is, and don't fear the bad things ahead. I may be the only one here who gets side tracked since I am a very busy college student and I try to keep my faith to myself while at school (though many of my friends rely on me to take them to church...all different denominations, oy!...and they ask me for advice, so I am not completely shutting off) I just pray that I keep recieiving guidence so that I may fully serve YHVH, the Most High.

and hopefully I can ward off swine flu until the shot comes out!
I had a scare earlier, but it was just a cold :( haha
Shalom & Ahavah/Peace & love on this great Shabbat!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Shana Tova Umetukah!

I can't believe it's Erev Rosh Hashanah! And Erev Shabbat. It's been a whole year since I first celebrated Rosh Hashanah properly...well to the best of my ability because last year I had school. I also had my driver's test, as I have posted here before. The Lord truly blessed me that day and he made my year very sweet. And no one had ever said shana tova umetukah to me haha which is a Hebrew greeting for wishing someone a "good and sweet year". I don't know what I'll do today to celebrate, since my college gave us the day off, but I do want to make a trip to the grocery store to pick up apples and honey to eat. (which is a traditional R.H food to celebrate the sweetness of YHVH and of the start of a blessed new year) I may also do Tashlikh, which is where participants throw pebbles into flowing water to symbolize the washing away/casting off of sins, something Yeshua has accomplished for me. It's a way for me to remember and incorporate his sacrifice on this Holy Day.

I know I won't be going to the frat parties tonight. I love the Erevs, they give me an excuse to stay in on a Friday night for Shabbat or for other days they happen to fall on. They're so cozy too (haha) because they are always at night and usually candles are lit and it's just a great time to spend with family over a meal, music, etc. Which is much more appetizing than the normal things kids and adults do come the end of the week (fridays/saturdays). While we sit at home spending quality time with God and our families, others are normally doing the opposite and sinning. lol sadddd!!

This coming of a Biblical holiday, which in the Bible is only called Yom Ha-Zikkaron (day of remembrance) and Yom Teruah (day of sounding the shofar), shows me how far I have come. I feel so at peace, like my journey is coming to a stable place. For the past few years I have been drawn to Catholicism and to my biblical "messianic" faith and the guilt caused me to bounce back and forth between the two. When a Jewish holiday came up, I'd sometimes miss it because I thouht being a Catholic meant I could NEVER return to the OT traditions, and when Lent or Easter, etc came around, I'd miss it because I would reason that YHVH despised the Church and so should I. Only a week or so ago did I find this balance I had been praying for. I knew God was calling me to the Catholic Church, but I couldn't figure out why. I also knew observing shabbat, the feasts, and keeping kosher was drawing me closer to him than I had previously been as a Catholic. I didn't know where to go, except to His feet in prayer. And now as the Biblical New Year is almost here, I can honor and worship God in true shalom.

When holidays come around, it makes me think that someday I'll have my own family and thus someone to celebrate with. Right now I am kind of alone, though my mother is excited to hear I am going to be celebrating All Saints/All Souls day this year. We never did when I was a kid, but I told her I wanted to make soul cakes with her, go to mass, and other things to make the day a special day for God, and for us spiritually. She is really happy (as am I! I have a worship buddy now haha), i don't know if it is simply because I am not abandoning my Catholic faith, or because she wants to dig deeper into her own. Probably a mixture of both, but I have noticed a difference. She is very vocal about prayer now, and trusting in YHVH, which makes me smile :) She used to be all unitarian saying blasphemous things like "maybe krishna is God" :O ah!!!!!!! haha well thankfully that phase is being put to rest.

I reccomend reading this website for those who do NOT celebrate the biblical feasts. I'm not trying to persuade you that you should observe the holidays or anything, but it's a way to kind of show you why I do. I love them because YHVH instituted them himself and they all have inklings of the messiah in them :) Rosh Hashanah especially reminds me God had protected me for a whole year, and now as the new year approaches, He determines my fate. I don't want to enter into a new year in sin or forgetting Him and His appointed times, I want to be a vessel for Him. I want to be an instrument in His plans and spread His Word. So this is a great time to look back on the past year, the sins you committed, and spiritual growth you achieved and then look forward to all you want to accomplish and do for Him! It's simply a great day for everyone to remember God in a special way, a day of real scrutinty of ourselves. The tradition goes that God inscribes our fate during Rosh Hashanah, but we can change our fate during the days following, the Days of Awe, before Yom Kippur, through Teshuvah (repentence), Tefilah (prayer), and Tzedakah (good deeds/charity). All things Jesus taught ;) So remember the 3 T's this holiday season! I hope all who celebrate have a great Rosh Hashanah!

So I will leave you with...

Ketiva ve-chatima tovah!!!

(may you be written and sealed for a good year)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Anne Boleyn and the Reformation

For many years I have been a huge fan of Henry VIII. Not the man he was per se, but the wives he had and the religious turmoil that arose under his rule. Each wife was very different; some had a drive of their own while others just wanted to sit back and take orders. (nothing wrong with either) Of course the two main wives 90% of us know about are Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn due to the widespread rumors and tensions between this powerful threesome.

I admire Catherine very much; she was a pious woman who truly put up a fight to save her marriage that was rightfully sealed by God. I also have a special place in my heart for Anne Boleyn. You may wonder why...but honestly many of the myths about her are untrue. I visited London a few years back and picked up a book on her at the Tower of London. I'm not claiming to be an expert or!...but much of what was written about her was done so by her enemies and critics, those who wanted to tarnish her name. For instance her marriage to Henry in general was not some evil scheme to make it wasn't even a marriage of passion. She had been engaged to a man she knew and loved, but when Henry took an interest, the Boleyn men set out to seal the deal. A marriage between their family and the Tudors benefited them financially and socially. Thus for much of the arrangement, Anne had no say. She even resisted his sexual advances, as to not commit adultery. She guarded her purity for marriage, something her own sister and many women at court ignored.

Anyways, I know many Christians, both Catholic and Protestant, view Anne Boleyn as a trouble maker. A false Christian even. From the Catholic perspective it's clear as to why...she attacked the Church and her teachings. HOWEVER! That time period was a shady one in Catholic history. This woman was knowledgeable about her faith and she saw the atrocities and abuses those leading the Church were orchestrating. She played a big role in the Reformation, and while this may make some of you gag, do you think it's reasonable to say the Reformation was NEEDED?

Think of it this way...the Catholic Church held the Council of Trent soon after to reform the abuses and redefine the true teachings of the faith. It was a real wake up call for those in charge; they realized they didn't have the right to take advantage of the laity. Without the reformation, would this have happened? How would it have affected our faith today if the Church kept on going as it was, since it would have faced no opposition? Did Anne Boleyn perhaps have a right to speak up? While she was Queen she made her servants read the Bible everyday (as did she), she was also very devoted to Mary. She wanted the true message of Christ to be accessible to those without the power to fight the abuses. I think that was heroic. She risked her ideas on the faith being rejected by Henry. If he disagreed with her reading illegal books about the reformation, she could have been killed. (Although...she was anyways lol) But the point is, she risked her life to defend Christianity and what she thought was right in achieving salvation.

thoughts? opinions? anything? haha
Peace all!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Halloween: Pagan? or Christian?

Since coming out of a protestant frame of mind recently, I realized I still had many of the same reservations about the "pagan-ness" of many holidays and traditions. As Halloween approaches, I see my family members and room mates looking for costumes and decorations. I will not lie- I LOVE the fall, I love the Halloween decorations, the eerie activities, the memories from my childhood, and the Disney channel movie marathons haha. It's just a fun time people of every age seems to enjoy. For the past three years I kind of tried to shy away from celebrating since I had read so much protestant propaganda on the web and from my own neighbors/religious friends. And for some reason, not even by my own doing, I ended up missing the past few trick-or-treats because of trips or school work. At the time, I figured it was best anyways, finding a way not to participate in a satanic holiday with a legitimate excuse. This eventually snow-balled into the same people warning me Christmas and Easter were satanic as well and that ONLY Biblical feasts should be celebrated. (Naturally, my family and non-religious friends thought I was crazy and wanted nothing to do with my ranting. But anyways...)

Now that I'm in college, I am sure the dressing up and Halloween spirit will start again, but not the way I wanted to. My room mate proposed a grand idea for us all-Lets be Hugh Hefner and Playboy Bunnies! Um NO WAY! Not to mention there would be no innocent trick or treating. Halloween activies would include frat parties, scantilly dressed party-goers, and gallons of alcohol. I immediately reverted back to my anti-halloween mindset and called home. I told my mom that I thought coming home that weekend would be best.

While home, my mom bought a halloween movie that came with a little decked out stuffed animal. I looked at the endearing little toy and wondered why on earth Pagans would dress up and go around asking for treats in their rituals. I had asked one of my anti-Halloween sources and they said "we speculate the pagans cloathed themselves in animal skins and animal heads". That did not satisfy me. Not only was is a half baked theory, it didn't cover the whole question. I wanted unbias halloween history, but I really couldn't find anything.

I had read a blog last Halloween by a young Catholic mother who had re-entered the Church. She wrote about coming home to the feasts and how she celebrated Halloween with a new outlook...A Catholic one. She taught her kids about All Saints Day, they baked cookies in remembrance, and then they trick-or-treated for some fun. It was similar to Christmas Eve traditions in preparation for the true holiday. I remembered All Saints Day was November 1, hence the All Hallow's Eve which was later shortened to Hallow'ene. Hallow just means saint, or holy. It's not satanic. So I decided that was a step toward some truth, pagans did not create the title of the day, so I wanted to dig further. I wanted a Catholic perspective. Their holiday spurred the naming of this mysterious practice, maybe there was some insight from a Catholic author.

I ended up finding *this* article, which I found very compelling. This answered all my questions in full, it makes historical sense, and there is no real grasping-at-straws "this is satanic because I said so!" mentality. I never really enjoyed hearing the pagan anti-holiday ranting the religious people I knew spewed, but I felt they were on to something at that point in my life and spiritual journey. Then, I hated the "evil" Catholic Church and the lies and traditions she created. Now that I see the complete idiocy of my ways, I need to fully re-evaluate all of my religious habits.

For one, Christmas was always my favorite holiday, I never fully stopped celebrating, but I did put a spiritual damper on it for the past few years. I made myself feel guilty about enjoying it and tried to put the focus on Hanukkah. This was such a shame because as a child, I would meditate (yes as a child!!) on that day and about how Mary was in labor bringing Jesus into this world! Luckily I came out before too many Christmases went by. But now I see there is more than just Christmas at stake. I cut myself off from hundreds of holidays and feastdays by ignoring my Catholic heritage. Even if you disagree that Halloween has some Catholic/Christian root in it, there are still the saint days and feasts I forgot about.

So this year, I will openly participate in Halloween, but not just on a secular level. I want to in preparation for All Saints Day. I probably will still come home seeing as college life and festive occasions usually equal sin (haha), but I will do so with a new perspective and intent. I have friends who go to college in our town so we're already making plans to trick-or-treat with her little brother, watch some Halloween movies, and bake (soul cakes?). Hence why I shall go costume shopping tomorrow before I go back to school later that night! I will for sure be looking for a modest one, there will be no hoochie mama outfits in my wardrobe. any ideas? :P

I'm already looking forward to All Saints Day this year. I've been doing research and reading the various blogs about the saints on their "days" and this has done nothing but nourish my faith. I can feel the realness of their sacrifice. I see the terrors they faced in keeping their faith strong...something we don't see in a free country like America. In my english class, the same topic has been brought up: for how long will we be free? Will there come a day when my religious rights will be stripped from me and I am placed into the same positions the saints were all those centuries ago? Will I have the "guts" to proclaim Yeshua's name with the threat of death looming over me? I take my easy life for granted which is something the martyrs of Christendome never had. They never had the chance to practice their faith freely and their deaths paved the road for my fortune. I feel honored to be united with such heroic souls in the Body of Christ and as they are our spiritual family, I want to remember the saints, those known and unknown, for all they have done for me.

Like the veterans who won me my American freedom, the saints won me my right to practice my faith, and for that I am ever grateful.

Ps: Click this too, good information here. Especially like the point about Germany and Ireland ;)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Bon Anniversaire!

Today is the Liturgical celebration of the Virgin Mary's birth. I read up on it today since many of the Catholic blogs I follow posted on the topic. I know this may not seem impressive to many Protestants, but the tradition began in the 6th and 7th centuries. That's an insanely long time ago!! And while I always knew the Church is 2,000 years old, it's so amazing to really think of the countless generations who celebrated, attended the same mass, and prayed almost the same way Catholics do today. Their traditions unite the faithful throughout history. That gives me the chills! In a good way haha

While this day was most likely not Mary's birthday, it's still a great way to honor the mother of our Lord. I don't think it's idolatrous because we celebrate family members' birthdays every month, and as the united Body of Christ, Mary is family. Spiritually. To all those who love her Son. I wish I had been taught these things in Sunday school, these are the days that really make the faith uniting. If I am to stay Catholic, I would definitely keep days like this with my future family. I read on one blog how they make a cake every year on this day in blue and white to symbolize the purity and life of Mary. This is an inspiring tradition for young have Mary as a figure to strive to mimic and appreciate instead of Paris Hilton. haha...well of course, silly comment.

I read somewhere today that in celebrating Mary's birth, we are celebrating the switch from the Old Testament to the New...the time when YHVH chose to dwell in humankind. Not only in the literal sense of Mary's womb, but the Holy Spirit in us. That's amazing!

So Happy Birthday Mary, through your agonizing choice, my salvation was achieved. Baruch HaShem for her strength and trust in the Lord's will...I have trouble keeping a covering on my head and she accepted conceiving a child out of wedlock, during an age when the penalty was death. Although that was not a threat she needed to worry about, the ridicule and criticisms must have been torutre...I know how my faith is persecuted...her's must have been 10x worse.

Shalom to all!

Praise YHVH I'm a Catholic

So today is trashed Tuesday at school...which means a lot of students get drunk since not many of us have Wednesday classes. Outside my room (in the common room) my room mate's friends are here to party, and I all can hear is slurping and burping. yuck! lol and thus I Praise Yah I am free from that; I can sit safely here in my room!

I cannot imagine my life any other way...

I love waking up and putting on any outfit I please; knowing my figure is concealed. Knowing that I don't have to please the lust and desires of men. Knowing that I can workout to be healthy and not over-do so I can look good in a bikini. (you would be surprised to learn how many HOURS girls work out here!) Knowing my body is a temple and I don't have to and am prohibited from intoxicating myself and abusing the body that has been lent to me by YHVH Himself. And lastly, but most importantly, knowing I am forgiven for all the times I happen to slip up. I see so much hurt in my friends sometimes...they say they "know" God has abandonded them and thus why not live recklessly?

I try so hard to convince them otherwise, but what they truly need is a little faith of their own. Sometimes we can be so deep in sin and so far in Satan's hands that salvation seems unattainable and we are undeserving anyways. Which we are, but we have the Greatest Love, the Love that Saves. I wish my words could convey this to let them know they are as free as me. A freedom only felt when you relinquish sin and control and cling to the robes of the Lord.

I hope you all are enjoying the coming of September. God is so great to have sustained us to this season, and I am so truly thankful! I see my life surrounded by blessings and I see how far I have come spiritually...How wonderful Yah is!

Mark 9:23
"'If you can'?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for him who believes."

Friday, September 4, 2009

I should be reading right now, but...

I'm sorry it's been a while since I've posted, I've had so much work to do. Most of my school work is reading, and not just little passages, but lengthy chapters and articles. I read more in one class alone than I used to overall in high school. It worries me that come test time, all this reading will mesh together and I won't remember one class or article from the next. I don't know what to expect with college exams and grading...YHVH willing I'll be fine and retain it all.

Aside from the work, I've just been feeling really run down. This morning I had trouble getting out of bed because I felt so nauseous. It's a good thing I'm leaving for the long weekend. One of my friends here is going home and not coming back though, which upsets me. She was an awesome person, but she said the independence was too big a step and she's transferring to a local school where she lives. It makes me think of how scared I was when I came here and how I was actively looking for a way to stay home and commute to a university in my town.

I felt very unready to live away from home, from my security and privacy, and especially the freedom to delve into religious life. Here things are much harder...I lost a lot of my privacy and have a harder time keeping God in my head at all times like I used to. But right before I came I prayed extensively and asked for his grace, that I may love it here. And I really do; somehow my fears vanished as soon as my parents left campus. The peace I felt was, and is, something this girl lacks. She was very vocal about hating church yada yada, and look where she is now. I couldn't imagine not having God's comfort in my most trying's something many Christians take for granted in their lives. I can't even imagine the last time I faced a struggle WITHOUT the peace of God running through my makes me pity those who have turned from Him. I didn't lose freedom by adhering to God's word when I became a Christian, like many of the secular students here believe, I gained an arsenal of love, protection, guidance, and mercy.

Oh and even though this is getting off the above subject, I did go to the Catholic ministry here at the beginning of the week. My friend went with me and I could tell she was uncomfortable. I thought it was a little odd playing ice breaker games and singing...but then again I have never had a religious group to practice my faith in. I think my own aprehension and discomfort stemmed from the fact that I had to become vulnerable. I have to be vocal with my faith in this club, I need to share my experiences and praise God in public. Something I really have never done outside of mass. I said I wouldn't go back...but I think I really should. What use am I in this spiritual walk if I can't open up? I can't practice my faith in my own personal bubble forever. I need ministry, I need to be an instrument.

May God bless you & yours~