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"Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart." – Luke 2:19 (RSV)

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rosary

These are a few of my favourite things

When I’m down, I like to think/do things that give me comfort/pleasure. Doing these things don’t help with my low mood but they do give me small measures of joy that I cling to until my mood ‘normalizes again.

So, these are a few of my favourite things (in no particular order, just off the top of my head)…
1. The Sound of Music
2. Dutch braid crowns
3. Ribbons in dutch braid crowns
4. A good Roman Catholic book
5. Gregorian chants
6. The Blessed Sacrament (in tabernacles, during Holy Mass, during Eucharistic adoration)
7. Latin (such a beautiful language)
8. Mantillas (chapel veils. esp the lace ones.)
9. Lots of cuddles and tender kisses
10. Praying the Rosary

Symbols; visible signs of the invisible

tradition the counter revolution.jpg

These days, the idea of submission to the authority of her husband is frowned upon, to put it mildly. But it shouldn’t be, once we realize that the bridal veil signifies the submission of this particular woman to the loving care of her husband. It signifies her trust, her confidence in his Christ-like leaderhsip. It signifies that she has chosen to follow him as a loving partner and companion. It also signifies that he has been specifically consecrated to handle that sacred vessel – to safely touch that ark – and that’s something mysterious and beautiful.

But that doesn’t explain why little girls would wear a veil, does it? It doesn’t explain why professed virgins, nuns, religious sisters would wear veils, does it? Obviously, the mystical symbolism of a veil goes far, far beyond the relationship of one particular woman and one particular man. What does it mean? What sort of a mystery is presented us when we see a woman veiled before the altar?

It’s a very great mystery. Like Our Lady, every Catholic woman, as a woman, is a living icon of the church. So when she veils herself here, in the presence of Our Lord, it’s a visible reminder for all of the spousal relationship – the bridal relationship – between the Church and Christ.

That relationship between the Church and Christ is a very deep mystery, indeed. So whenever we see a veiled woman here, before the altar, be she six or be she sixty, it’s a visible reminder for all of us of this spousal relationshp, this bridal relationship between Christ and His Church.

And because the veil also signifies the submission of the bride to the loving care of her husband, it means that the veil of a Catholic woman is also a visible reminder of the perfect submission of the church to the loving rule of Christ.

The veil is a visual sermon, it’s a visual statement, it’s a public proclamation before the Lord that He IS the Lord and that we love Him and that we are ready to obey him. It’s a totally counter-cultural statement proclaiming obedience in the midst of a culture that is totally permeated with this attitude of “I will not serve.”

That, in any age, but especially in ours, is a very great mystery indeed.

The Theological Significance of the Veil

As I was driving today, a question came into my mind. How can we as human beings made of body and soul fight in a spiritual battle that we cannot ‘see’? The war that is being waged all around us is a war against the principalities and powers of wickedness and high places; this is the realm of the spiritual, of the invisible. Well, in fighting a battle that is invisible, it only makes sense where we can to make the invisible ‘visible’.

It is often said that symbols are a visible sign of the invisible. Therefore, powerful symbols are a crucial part of the spiritual battle. Since the Tradition of the Catholic Church is packed full of symbols in the forms of beautiful Cathedrals, art, and practices such as veiling in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament (just to name a few), it is so important that we treasure and preserve the great Tradition of Mother Church.

St. Thomas Aquinas says, “Three things are necessary for the salvation of man; to know what he ought to believe, to know what he ought to desire and to know what he ought to do.” Symbols are a powerful visible reminder of these three things.

To dismiss the symbols in the Tradition of the Church as out of date or irrelevant is to remove the visible signs of the invisible battle being waged around us.

Fight with verve and joy and gladness because this war against the principalities and powers of wickedness and high places is the one absolutely just and therefore absolutely beautiful war in the universe. Hold your head high, it’s a glorious war.

– Dr. Peter Kreeft, How to Win the Culture War

rosary weapon

Trust

trust-family-hands-of-child

I have been thinking about why I feel stressed lately. I have always attributed the feelings of stress to the fear of not passing medical school (1st year finals are in 4 weeks). There is not much else in my life that I am stressed about, and for that I am grateful.

As I walk (30mins) to the trains station to catch the train to Uni & sit on the train, I have recently taken up praying the Rosary. When I arrive at the train station I usually pop into the Catholic Church next to it and sit in silence with the Blessed Sacrament. While doing all these things, I ask the Lord to form my soul in the way He sees best, like a Papa guiding his little child. I ask Our Lady (Mummy) and Saint Thérèse of Lisieux (big sister) to pray for me. I relax (or try to) into their love and their guidance.

I didn’t know what to expect when I did this, all I knew was that the Lord will form my soul in His own time and with His ways. I did these things, entrusting myself to the Lord’s care and into the intercession of Our Lady and Saint Thérèse, with a childlike expectation that my trust and obedience will bear good fruit of some kind in the right time.

To my delight, the Lord has lovingly taken me in hand and has formed my soul, heart and mind. I now realise that I am not actually stressed or scared over failing medical school, I was fearful of not being able to carry out what God wanted me to do. I was afraid that I’d screw up what God wants me to do. This realisation was so radical because it’s the first time that I have thought about the stress in my life in this way.

While contemplating these things in front of the Blessed Sacrament, while praying the Rosary and in my heart as I went about my day, I realise that I can just relax. I can relax because as my loving Papa, God will not give me a task and then not guide me or provide me with what I need to carry it out. God’s help is always there for me and all I have to do is to have open hands to receive it. I can relax into the care of my Papa God and the loving intersession of my Mother and big sister. A child is carefree when she knows her every need will be provided lovingly by her parents. So too can I relax in God’s perfect love and be free to take delight in the simple pleasures that my Papa sends my way. ‘Perfect love casts out fear’ – 1 John 4:18 (RSV)

When I experience fear, it is because I don’t trust in the love of God. I don’t trust that I will receive everything I need to carry out the task that my Papa sends my way. I don’t trust that God’s plan is what will give me the most joy and peace. I want my own plan, not God’s plan. In where I am in my life, it is my attachment to passing 1st year of medical school the 1st time round that puts fear into my heart when I say to myself “What if God’s plan for me is to have to repeat 1st year?”.

The antidote to this fear is just trusting that God loves me so much that He will always nurture my Soul in the best possible way. And if that means having to repeat 1st year then I will (try to) gladly accept because it will lead to a greater joy than passing 1st year the first time round.

Living out Ephesians 5:22-33 (RSV) by trusting and submitting to my husband helps me to practice trusting and submitting to God. A post for another time perhaps.

It all comes down to trust.

Open hands do three very important things: they let go, they receive, and they give…

Like most people, I have a hard time doing any of these things very consistently or very well… my life seems to operate in cycles of accumulating disordered attachments and then releasing them at the behest of the Holy Spirit’s insistent, still small voice—then my disordered attachments clog up the pipes again and I have to do it all over. And it is always painful…

Perhaps the most pernicious bit about those attachments is that they actually keep me from recognizing and receiving the Love of God where it is offered—and in turn, I am inhibited from sharing that Love with others…

Let the Love of God peel your fingers open around whatever it is that is preventing you from receiving it. Let go, receive, and give. Live life with open hands…

– Audrey Assad, ‘Open Hands’

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