Weekly Reflection: Fordham’s Beautiful Music - Julianne
Fat Tuesday - Angela
Today, I had a friend over for lunch – just some grilled cheeses and tomato soup. Not the most extravagant of Fat Tuesday meals, but the company was the important part, and something that I think is worth celebrating on Fat Tuesday – the privilege of friendship and companionship.
In considering and speaking about what I may give up for Lent this year, I have been thinking in less materialistic ways than usual – I have been thinking about the idea of emotional fasting, and wondering how such an endeavor could play a role in the self-reflection and preparation of Lent. While I have had thoughts along these lines at other times, I think it is because of highly publicized events in the international sphere that these thoughts have resurfaced this Fat Tuesday.
Currently, it is uncertain just how alone those in Ukraine, bracing themselves for Russian invasion, will be. Will another nation come to their aid, or will they be left, severely outnumbered, to handle Russian forces themselves? Regardless of the political pros and cons for any country considering direct involvement in the region, the unfolding situation has caused me to really think about the emotional and spiritual joys that are rarely considered when I decide what to give up for Lent. From my limited understanding of Jesus’ forty days in the desert, his isolation was a necessary step in his preparations for performing public ministry.
I have many questions about why we give things up for Lent and have heard many different answers – to share in Jesus’ suffering, to show gratitude and humility for Jesus’ own sacrifice, to prepare our hearts for his resurrection – the list is a long one. And many times, I find others and myself picking things that are “bad” for us to give up, thus hoping to benefit ourselves as well. Sure I may love sugar, not going to the gym, sleeping in, getting seconds at my meals, etc. – but giving up these things during Lent may help me accomplish goals I already have – losing weight, being healthier, being more well rested. And I do not think there is anything wrong with benefitting from sacrifice. But is there some way in which these types of Lenten promises keep us from really understanding the sacrifice Jesus made, not only alone in the desert for forty days, but to climb to the cross and to take every else’s sins entirely onto his own shoulders?
It is difficult to put these thoughts into words, but as I look back on my Fat Tuesday lunch with my friend, I wonder if some form of Lenten promise regarding relationships with others would help me better understand Jesus’ real sacrifice, and the emotions that may be felt by those in many places around the world, both on a national scale like in Ukraine or North Korea, and on a personal scale, like those at Fordham (or anywhere) who feel they lack human connection in their lives.
Would doing so be self-destructive – to say, for instance, that I will spend more evenings n self reflection than hanging out with friends? If so, is a little bit of self destruction or self sacrifice perhaps not a bad thing? Would it help me to be more ready for “public ministry,” or for being a true friend, after the 40 days are over, like it did for Jesus? Would it help me to know a form of sacrifice – real isolation from others – that he took on, and that many others have thrust upon them because of where they live?
We Cannot Do Everything - Clare
Recently I reflected on this poem with my Global Outreach team. The words really hit home for our team
and how we are going to attempt to approach our time of service abroad in Guatemala. Our team has been
talking more and more about how we can change our mindset from one of “We’re here to fix a problem in this
community,” to “We’re here to learn something from this community.” This poem altered the way I think about
service work, and I think that the idea of our role as the workers, planting “the seeds that one day will grow,” is
a beautiful way of embracing the limitations yet the incredible importance of service.
I particularly love the line, “We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing this.” It is
not only applicable to doing service, but to our everyday lives. I personally have a hard time accepting the fact
that I cannot do everything, and it is hard for me to admit that I can’t do something. However in looking at my
limitations as bringing a sense of inner freedom rather than a sense of failure, I feel that I can give myself more
room to grow.
A Future Not Our Own (words attributed to Oscar Romero)
It helps now and then to step back and take a long view.
beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a fraction
do is complete, which is another way of
says all that could be said.
pastoral visit brings wholeness.
objectives include everything.
This is what we are about. We plant the seeds that one
knowing that they hold future promise.
yeast that produces effects
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of
something, and to do it very well.
opportunity for the Lord’s
difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not
The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.
No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession
No program accomplishes the Church’s mission.
brings perfection, no
No set of goals and
day will grow. We water the seeds already planted
We lay foundations that will need further development.
far beyond our capabilities.
liberation in realizing this.
This enables us to do
a step along the way, an
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning,
grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is
messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own.
Weekly Reflection: Teach Me How to Trust My Heart - Alyssa
Hey team! A member of my GO! team brought this to reflection last week, and I’ve been thinking about it a lot. It’s a Lakota prayer:
Great Mystery, teach me how to trust my heart,
my mind, my intuition, my inner knowing, the senses of my body, the blessings of my sprit.
Teach me to trust these things
so that I may enter my Sacred Space
and love beyond my fear, and thus Walk in Balance
with the passing of each glorious sun.
Last weekend was amazing. My GO! retreat was perfect. I’d gone home for Dad’s birthday, spent time with my parents and BOTH my brothers (a rare occurrence now that Ben’s in college too), hung out with the guy I’m in a relationship with, played with my cats, had a Skype interview for JVC with people I immediately clicked with at a placement that I’m really pumped about.
And then, a weird, out-of-the-blue crisis hit. Mom dropped me off at the train station on Monday so I could head back to Fordham for my weekly GO! Board meeting. I sat down on the train expecting to feel excited for the meeting later that day. Instead, I started to cry. I am not a public crier (the fact that I’m even writing this is evidence of how much I trust this community). I was embarrassed by the fact that I was crying, and confused about why I was crying in the first place.
I thought back on my weekend—a weekend that had made me really happy—to look for answers. I second-guessed relationships, involvement at Fordham, post-grad plans… I finally stopped thinking, started breathing, and just sat with God for the rest of the train ride, but I spent the rest of the day in a funk.
On Tuesday, a team member brought the Lakota Prayer for reflection. In that reflection, I realized: I don’t trust myself. In my prayer this week, I’ve figured out that my instincts are a lot more accurate than I let myself believe. I psych myself out at the slimmest shadow of doubt—no, that boy doesn’t like you, no, that placement isn’t going to hire you, etc.; you’re seeing what you want, not what’s there—rather than putting my trust in my own God-given “inner knowing.”
Again, I haven’t figured out where those tears came from last week, and I don’t trust myself. But I’ve got a starting point now, and a Lakota prayer saved as a constant reminder on a sticky note on my laptop. I have direction.
I hope that you all can find some insight in this prayer, that it speaks to each of you in whatever way you need it this week.
And, ladies and gentlemen, my positive gut instinct about the JVC placement was correct. I’M GOING TO CLEVELAND!
Much love to you all,
Weekly Reflection: Ubuntu - Mary Frances
Hi, everyone! I hope everyone’s spring semester has been wonderful so far- I am missing all of you very much!
Here in South Africa, I am exposed to an extremely diverse community. With 11 official languages and various tribes, this diversity is unlike anything I have ever experienced before. I have met men with multiple wives, students who have encountered witchcraft, and races I never even knew existed. Being here has only confirmed that humans have the capacity to experience life in so many different ways.
Reflecting on this reminded me about the greatness of life and how it allows people to grow in completely different ways, which made me cherish all the beautiful and unique qualities that our retreat team brings to the table. As opposed to attempting to conform to certain lifestyles to be perceived in certain ways, you embrace your you-ness. In fact, you even search for ways, such as reflection and retreat, to further grow into yourselves.
Right now, I am sure it is overwhelming going through the team selection process. I wish I could be more present full of it, but please know that I am thinking about you all and praying for you. Just remember that there is a reason why you were put on the retreat team. There is a reason why other people will be put on the retreat team, and other people won’t. It is only part of the journey of getting to know yourself. Keep on embracing your you-ness, and embracing other’s otherness as well!
This idea of celebrating yourself and what it means to be yourself in a community (in our case, the retreat team) I would like to share a Desmond Tutu quote about Ubuntu, the philosophy that my program is named after. It is as followed:
“Ubuntu […] speaks of the very essence of being human. [We] say […] “Hey, so-and-so has ubuntu.” Then you are generous, you are hospitable, you are friendly and caring and compassionate. You share what you have. It is to say, “My humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in yours.” We belong in a bundle of life. We say, “A person is a person through other persons.”
[…] A person with ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed, or treated as if they were less than who they are.”
I hope this quote and reflection finds you well! Thanks for reading :D
Weekly Reflection: Beautiful Simplicity - Meg
Hi lovely people!
Weekly Reflection: Christ Within Me - Tommy
"Christ be with me, Christ within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort and restore me. Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ in quiet, Christ in danger, Christ in hearts of all that love me, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger."
Weekly Reflection: Light, Darkness, and Seeing - Mike
As some of you may know, one of my favorite books in the bible is the Book of Job. The themes of human suffering, wisdom, our relationship with God, and light and darkness really fascinate me. I think these themes are especially relevant during the season of Lent.
To briefly summarize the Book of Job (you can skip this paragraph if you’ve read the Book of Job), Job is an upstanding man that loves God and is very blessed with a family, land, animals, etc. Ha-Satan then tells God that Job is only faithful because of all the things he has. So God allows Ha-Satan to take all Job has but his health and Job remains faithful. Ha-Satan then tells God that once he takes Job’s health Job will no longer be faithful. God then allows Ha-Satan to inflict sores and the like on Job and Job’s three friends and wife now come to him to tell him to repent. Job does not speak out against God but then starting in chapter 3 there is a sudden transition and Job curses the day he was born. Throughout the rest of the Book of Job, each of Job’s three friends speak to Job and tell him that they will teach him wisdom and that he should repent. After each friend speaks Job replies. At the end of the Book of Job, God finally answers Job, Job then responds to God, Job is humbled and satisfied, Job’s friends are humiliated because their wisdom was false, and Job is restored.
Light, Darkness, and Seeing
What I noticed most when I read the Book of Job again recently was the theme of light and darkness and seeing. Something that I can relate to at this time is how Job feels like God is distant from him. He says in Job 23:8-9, “If I go forward, he is not there: or backward, I cannot perceive him; on the left he hides, and I cannot behold him; I turn to the right, but I cannot see him.” At the same time however, Job feels that God will not leave him alone or take him out of the focus. In Job 7:17-19, he says, “What are human beings, that you make so much of them, that you set your mind on them, visit them every morning, test them every moment? Will you not look away from me for a while…?” I think in these parts Job deals with things that many people deal with today: Where is God in all of this and in my life? How can I find God working in my life when I feel like God is so distant? Why is there human suffering? Etc.
Job often plays with the idea of light and darkness in answering the so-called wisdom, a false wisdom that seems to exist still to this day, of his three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. Their wisdom consists mainly of looking to the past for wisdom, that bad occurrences or fortunes in one’s life are a sign that one has sinned against God, and that they can speak for God. Job shows that this is a false sense of wisdom and that it is unclear why bad things happen to good people and how the light is not so easily distinguishable from the darkness.
During Lent we often hear the idea that we are in darkness waiting for the light that comes when Christ rises on Easter. In Job17:12, Job questions the notion of how “the light…is near to the darkness.” I often feel, like Job, it is not easy to distinguish the light from the darkness in my own faith and in my own Lenten fasting and reflection. Rather, I feel I am mostly situated in the gray area, the shadow that exists between the dark, and the source of light. For me, at times it’s easier to see or experience the light of God, just like how a shadow can vanish or become smaller. While in other times there can be the complete darkness of feeling distant from God like the dark of night or where the shadow becomes much larger. Unlike Job’s friends beliefs, the light may not always seem near to darkness and the darkness may not always seem near to the light.
Some Questions for Reflection:
- In your own relationship with God, is the light easily distinguishable from the darkness? How so? Why not?
- What have been times when you have felt you were in the gray area or the shadows in your faith journey?
- How does the theme of light and darkness play in your own Lenten fasting and reflection?
Sorry that was a bit long but I hope it may be fruitful to your own reflection. I have attached my attempt at a poem that I wrote about Job for my Old Testament class if you’d like to read it. I also attached this beautiful painting that comes from a series of paintings I love that depict scenes from the Book of Job. This specific scene depicts when Job is finally answered by God in chapter 38 through a whirlwind.
Blameless and upright
Job, Yahweh’s delight
Skin for skin
Ha-Satan’s plan for Job’s sin
Take, take, take, and take
Death becomes a rake
Animals, servants, and progeny fall
Nothing left but a man standing tall
Ha-Satan strikes once more
Job’s body inflicted by loathsome sore
Faithful he may still be
That is until chapter three
A wife and three friends that tell him to repent
Psalm 1 describes his signs as a life wickedly spent
Unhappy despite not following the four sinners’ imposition
Job’s frustration and stubbornness become his ammunition
Physical signs as a tell
Challenges to society’s notion of a grace that fell
An attempt to know Yahweh and how He acts
Society’s measures naïve tracts
Yahweh gives, Yahweh takes, blessed be Yahweh’s name
But who in this story of life is to blame?
Some say it’s all just a test
At the heart a larger story of love, life, and quest
Growing in Inner Freedom - Megan
If I had to pick a theme for my faith life and life in general for the past few months, this would be it. I have been going to God with a lot of questions about who I am and what is my role in my relationship with him. In all of my relationships, I have been questioning whether or not I feel free. This has caused there to be a big shakeup with my relationships, with some rightfully falling away and other, new ones coming in. For a long time I’ve felt constrained in my relationships and in my ability to be myself in them. All my life I’ve struggled with the need to please everyone around me, and to not cause waves or make a mess. For me, this is an issue of freedom.
This past year has been both the best and the most challenging year of my life, and it was this area—not feeling free in my relationships—that was challenged the most. The year started with a beautiful little wake-up call I had about what it means to feel free. I started last year by going to Spain with a teaching program, where I would teach English to 2nd graders while taking education classes. While in Spain, I lived with a host family—a sixty year old woman named Pepa and her son Jose.
Pepa is a typical Spanish mother—she devotes every hour of her day to cooking, cleaning, and taking care of her kids. Part of the host family agreement is that she would provide me with three meals a day, and do laundry and clean my room once a week. I was apprehensive the first few days as I tried to figure out what sort of relationship Pepa expected us to have. The first moment out of the taxi, Pepa declared that she would be my Spanish mom….but I wanted to see exactly what that meant. I didn’t want to disrupt the way their family did life, or assume that I had a place with them.
My second night there, after family dinner, Pepa brought me into the kitchen with her. This was already a big deal because Spanish moms typically do not let anyone, even their kids, in the kitchen. But, I had seen that Pepa allowed her son in the kitchen and told me to do the same. She spent the next twenty minutes giving me a complete tour, explaining every appliance and every single food item in the pantry and fridge. She told me how to prepare my coffee in the morning, how to work the toaster, and where to find plates and the olive oil and utensils.
She told me to not worry about cleaning up, to leave my dishes in the sink. She told me to have as much coffee and as much food as I like. She asked me if there was anything special I liked, that I used to eat at home that would make me comfortable here.
Then, she took both my hands and said, “Megan, remember, you have freedom here.” Her words hit me pretty strongly, for a reason I couldn’t understand, and for the rest of the night I kept turning them over and over in my mind. Megan, you have freedom here.
From that day forward, day by day, I truly became her daughter, and she became my mother. Any and all anxieties I had about being an imposition or making a mess or taking up space in her house disappeared. I stopped walking around constantly aware, with my ears perked, ready to pull out my best manners. I stopped sitting stick straight at the table and lounged on the couch like they did when we watched movies. I stopped trying to be the perfect house guest, and the moment I did that, I became the daughter she always wanted, AT HOME.
As I thought more about it, this is what I realized. By saying that, “I had freedom there” Pepa was inviting me to act as a daughter in the house. She was telling me that I had the same free reign that her own son did in her house. I was loved and welcome to be me. She was inviting me to make a mess, to be real, to make my life here.
She was doing my laundry, cooking my food, cleaning up after me like she did with her own son. By saying that I had freedom there, it went so much deeper than just the kitchen. She was saying, this is your home. You are free to act like it, to be comfortable and confident in your relationship to me. To ask me for things and approach me. You are free to act like a daughter, like one of my own. You have freedom here.
What she taught me is this: Freedom means being home, wherever I go. It is being invited to make a mess in someone’s “house.” To not have to be a perfect house guest in their life. It is the ability to move without constraint, without second-guessing if something is allowed or too messy or too myself or too “real.”
This type of freedom speaks to my identity. It encourages me to lose the need to impress people, to lose the fear of taking up space and making waves and making a mess…of being fully alive.
I think of Pepa, and then I think of God. When have I come to Him thinking that I need to clean up my act? What is my role in my relationship with God? My role is to be a daughter, not a house guest. My “space” is sitting on the couch with my feet up, and not standing in the doorway waiting to be invited in to sit down with him. It means to be at home. God is inviting me to make a mess, to be myself, to bring in my dirty laundry at all times of day, to let him feed me and provide for me. To relish in the feeling of being cared for, fussed over. I want to always feel at home, with no fear of being too messy or taking up too much space.
I want to feel at home. Our faith tells us that God is everywhere, all the time, and where He is, we are at home. Here on campus. Back with our families. After graduation, wherever I end up. I am home. In every area and every space and every moment of my life, I can feel at home, and I can feel free.
And when I grow in this inner freedom with God, then I can grow in it with my other relationships, and every day the fears of not being good enough, not being lovely enough, of taking up too much space, of making a mess, will fade away. In the Gospels, Jesus says, “In my Father’s house there are many rooms.” We each have a room in the house of God. In all of my relationships, there is room for me. Space to fill, to stretch out my legs and be myself. It’s taken me a while to find that space where I belong, but it’s the worth the search to be in the place where I find freedom.
Weekly Reflection: Take Care of Yourself - Marc
Weekly Reflection - Love More, Do More, Be More: Erin
To say that the past month of my life has been a whirlwind would be an understatement at best. Since the moment that I drove onto campus onto campus January 13, life has been a mix of class, work, leading a GO project, being present to friends and their struggles, dealing with my own internal struggles, discerning a job for next year, and trying to find time to take care of myself and be healthy. Coming into 2014, I had a lot of goals. Last night I was talking to my roommate and she asked me if I was keeping up with my New Years Resolutions. I struggled to answer her. I couldn’t even remember half of the goals that I came up with. This is where this reflection came in handy. I opened up my journal to figure just what exactly I promised myself that I would achieve this year. This is what I wrote down:
1. Start training for a half marathon
2. Confront feelings when you have them; don’t bottle things up
3. Be compassionate
4. Be more organized
5. Eat at Cosi less because it’s not good and it’s overpriced
In taking inventory of these things, I am both pleased and disappointed in my progress so far. Some of them resolutions I have taken VERY seriously and others I have let fall by the wayside, (I haven’t really stopped eating at Cosi.) After being rather hard on myself, I tried to shed a little more positivity on my life thus far in 2014. I haven’t started training for the half marathon, but I have started running more. In terms of organization, my room is the messiest it has ever been, but I have been more organized about how I spend my time and whom I spent it with. In terms of compassion, I find myself getting frustrated with myself more than I get frustrated with other people which shows that compassion is a virtue that must be practiced internally as well as externally. Perhaps most importantly, I feel that I have truly become more self aware and more confident about why I feel what I feel. This reflection is not a pep rally urging you all to “go out and tell everyone how you feel” (even though I think that it is very important.) Instead, I urge you all to listen to the deepest desires of your heart and then figure out how to express those desires. Expressing these desires might mean different things for different people. For some, it might mean having some difficult and courageous conversations, for others it might be expressing themselves creatively through singing, writing, painting, etc. For others expressing these desires might mean making some hard choices about how to spend time in life giving, sustaining ways. I am a big believer that fulfillment is the culmination of a lot of small actions. Every choice we make has a consequence and brings us closer to or further away from our deepest desires, aka God. Every day, I am challenged to wake up and ask myself: “Does my work, do my friends, do my choices bring me closer to God, toward the person that He calls me to be?” There are often times when I have come to uncomfortable, painful answers that help me to revaluate my trajectory. Most importantly, this daily discernment has brought people into my life that hold me accountable for my choices and my feelings.. I ask all of you to take a moment in the next few days to think about the choices that you make every day, and which choices are bringing you closer to and which choices are bringing you farther away from the person that you want to be and the person that God wants you to be. I realized that God does not require that we succeed, but rather that we try. (Otherwise He would be VERY displeased with my resolutions.) Therefore, I was waking up every day thinking of my sin, my failure and my inadequacy when instead I should have been feeling challenged and excited to love more, do more, and be more for God. I will leave you all with one of my favorite quotes from Rumi:
"Find the real world, give it endlessly away, grow rich flinging gold to all who ask. Live at the empty heart of paradox. I’ll dance there with you—cheek to cheek."
Weekly Reflection: Peace - Julia
BE AT PEACE
Do not look forward in fear to the changes of life;
rather look to them with full hope that as they arise,
God, whose very own you are,
will lead you safely through all things;
and when you cannot stand it,
God will carry you in his arms.
Do not fear what may happen tomorrow;
the same everlasting Father who cares for you today
will take care of you today and everyday.
He will either shield you from suffering,
or will give you unfailing strength to bear it.
Be at peace,
and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.
—St. Francis de Sales
Weekly Reflection: Prayer - Nick
I hope that everyone has been enjoying the snow!!
As I sat down to write this reflection, I realized that it had been the first time in a long while that I had taken the time for quiet contemplation and prayer. The past few weeks have been, in a word, overwhelming. Now that I’m approaching the end of sophomore year, I have to start thinking about study abroad and internships all while going to class, participating in various clubs and extracurriculars, and continuing my job in Campus Ministry. These are all good things that I am glad to be doing, but it sometimes feels like I’m drowning in a sea of applications and resumes, GO! meetings and a cappella rehearsals, essay drafts, textbook readings, and work hours.
I usually end up fitting everything in (occasionally I’ll forget something, e.g. a Praise and Worship reflection oops), but what I don’t often fit into my schedule is time for what I really need: prayer! Since I work twelve to thirteen hours a week in the Campus Ministry office in addition to leading retreats and helping out at daily and Sunday mass, it sometimes feels like outside prayer is just one more obligation on top of an already busy workload. I’m surrounded by religion and spirituality for most of my days- why do I need to take an extra five minutes to talk to God before I go to bed? I could be sleeping. Better yet, I could be rewatching How I Met Your Mother on Netflix. I mean, I’m sure God is also a big HIMYM fan, though I’m sure He too is disappointed by the final season.
Prayer can sometimes feel like an unnecessary addendum to your daily to-do list, one that can be easily checked off in the case of exhaustion. When you’re running around all day trying to fulfill all your responsibilities, it can be hard to take a few minutes to breathe, close your eyes, and have that conversation with God. One of my biggest sins is pride. I am often convinced that I can do anything and everything without asking for anyone’s help. As the kind of person who enjoys participating in as many things as possible, I am often overwhelmed, but I’ll consider it a sign of weakness to take those necessary five minutes to ask for God’s help by taking a breath of fresh prayer air.
Tommy talked last week about New Years Resolutions. I’ve already failed at going to the gym everyday, but one of the resolutions I have that I am still hopeful for maintaining is admitting that I cannot do everything and remembering to breathe. It is not a sign of weakness to ask for God’s help nor is sending a quick prayer of thanksgiving up to heaven an unnecessary addendum. When prayer starts to seem like too much work, I need to rethink my schedule, myself, or how I’m praying. It’s important to take some time out of your busy day to calm down, be thankful, and just be.
ANYWAY, what I’m trying to say is remember to breathe!!! It’s the beginning of the end of the school year. Things are going to get a bit stressful, but don’t forget to pencil in some important you-time. Try to take a five-minute retreat everyday!
Here are some lovely songs that I like listening to when I relax: