Advent Waiting… Christmas Is Coming

I love the Advent Season.  When I was a kid, that meant that I loved Advent calendars.

Advent calendar

Oooo… my kind of Advent calendar!

Opening little doors every day to find hidden words, pictures, or best of all, CHOCOLATE, gave me a delighted little thrill that is still very warm in my memory.  I confess, the deeper, symbolic meaning of Advent was lost on me.  Back then, Advent was all about counting down to Christmas.

What child who receives presents on Christmas morning doesn’t shiver with excitement as the day draws nearer and nearer?  My parents were generous, but also practical.  My older sister sister and I knew that the only toys or games that we would own would be gifts received for either our birthdays or Christmas.  And we both have April birthdays.  So, during that long, long period between the end April and the end of December, whenever we might desire something, from a toy to a jacket, we would hear from our mother, “Christmas is coming.”  Even in July! Continue reading

The Blogging Experience

video cover

Four years ago, I pushed out of my comfort zone and did two things which have had lasting effect on my life: (1) I made a personal act of consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and (2) I started a blog.  This blog.  The original intent of Divine Incarnate was to chronicle my consecrated life.  (My fourth anniversary was this past Sunday, The Feast of Christ the King.)  This experience has taught me many things…

4 Things Learned in 4 Years of Blogging

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Radically Give Thanks in All Things

Thanksgiving, Bible quotes,

“In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.”[1]

You know that Thanksgiving tradition of going around the dinner table asking each person for what he or she is most thankful?  One easy way for me to respond would be to say, “I’m thankful for my family.”  Simple and, perhaps, cliché – yet, this gratitude is so profoundly, undeniably, and unshakably true that I do feel compelled to say it aloud whenever situations allow.  May I write out right now: Thank You, God, for the awesome blessing of my family and friends!!!

Yes.  It is good to express gratitude out loud for good people and genuinely praise God for them.  But…

Radical Thanks

In the Bible verse that I quoted from St. Paul, it doesn’t say to give thanks for the nice things in your life.  It says to give thanks in all circumstances.  And this calls to my mind the words of Jesus, who reminded us that it is easy to love the people who love us – but what about the people who hate us?  Christ calls us to cast into the deep, to not be bound to what comes naturally to us as creatures of the flesh, but to transcend instinct and do what is supernatural, what is divine, responding in accordance to the spirit within us.

As we, then, are radically called to love our enemies, we are also radically called to give thanks in all circumstances.  Yup, all of them.  If we are in the midst of an unjust situation, then we are called to be thankful for the opportunity to practice virtue, to right a wrong, and to share God’s compassion.  If we are in the midst of grieving the death of a loved one, then we are called to be thankful for having known and loved this precious person, who is thankfully not lost, but alive in Christ for all eternity.

This gratitude doesn’t mean that we are called to be complacent.  We pray for the courage to change the things that we can… but we also pray for the serenity to accept the things that we cannot change.

One Big Thing That I Cannot Change

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Scripture Quotes on the Mind

Tree, earth, light, Creation

I left you (last week) with this thought:

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” ~ Romans 12:2

I wondered how this might be the key to letting God love me – and the key, in so receiving Real Love, to authentically loving myself and others in my ultimate joy.  So… let me think… Continue reading

Scripture Quotes from the Heart

I’ve been trying to find a biblical quote to put on the wall of my bedroom.  In researching passages (focusing on the heart) I decided to share a few here with some reflections.  (This idea is inspired, in part, by my friend’s “Scription” at DonnaMaria.org.)

Heart, windowpane, cross

From Matthew 6:21

For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.

 

What do you treasure?

Would do you hold most dear?

For me, my treasure is my family.  According to this Scripture quote, therefore, I think that means that my heart, the core of who I am, is with my family.  My identity and my very being is intertwined with loving them and being loved by them in our interactions, our relationships.  If what I treasured was wealth or fame, then I would be caught up in money, possessions, and other people’s opinions, linking up my identity with them.  And I can see how that wouldn’t be good.  Either way, however… I see that I would be treasuring finite things. Continue reading

Art of My Heart: The Annunciation

Perhaps you, like I, have looked upon many artistic depictions of biblical scenes and have been left wanting.  Jesus’s hair is way too long and pretty, everyone’s garments are far too pink and blue, the buildings and courtyards are inordinately clean, etc., etc.  I’ve written on this subject before.  Loving beauty and truth, I want to be both aesthetically pleased and spiritually impacted.  Good religious art should cause me to be powerfully moved by the beauty and meaning of the piece, powerfully taken back to the moment depicted.  In other words, I want to be spiritually transported by the aesthetic image to feel myself present at a moment when Heaven touched Earth.

And so much art just doesn’t get that done for me.

There are exceptions, of course, and I have reflected on them from time to time in this blog.  One exceptional work of art has recently been purchased by me (in the form of a print bought through AllPosters.com) to hang on my bedroom wall.  (My awesome parents are helping me to mount and secure it as I write this.  So many blessings for which to be thankful!)

It’s a depiction of the Annunciation by Henry O. Tanner.

Before I show it to you, if you aren’t familiar with it already, a little on the traditional depictions of the Annunciation.  I do appreciate them, typically with symbolic touches, usually with the winged angel kneeling before the Virgin Mary, who looks humble, pious, and open to what she is hearing.  The work of Fra Angelico comes to mind:

Annunciation, Fra Angelico

(Check out a wonderfully informative video on this work and other frescoes by clicking HERE.)

But, the angel, Gabriel, is as usual, lavishly and heavily garbed and Mary is so very calm and serene.  And, for some reason, this doesn’t strike my heart.  In Fra Angelico’s work, the pair look like they are in some Italian portico, in others,, young Mary has a greatly receding hairline.  I am willing to look beyond the contemporary “fashion” details that an artist will add in keeping with his time – if, and only if, I am taken in by a look in the face, a gesture of a hand, a radiant light….  Too often, however, details not contemporary to Scripture get in the way of the heart of the matter.  And, so, the works don’t find their way to my heart.

The 1898 work by Henry Ossawa Tanner is the exception.  In it, Mary is real, vibrant in her attentiveness, in what seems a lively curiosity, as well as serenely open and willing.  She is on the edge of something, almost vibrating, yet perfectly still.  The Angel Gabriel is, well… alive, aflame, pure light, marvelously and wondrously a powerful messenger from God.  Now, that is an angel!

Without further ado, then, I present to you the moment when the Angel Gabriel appeared before the Virgin Mary and told her that she was to conceive the Son of God by the power of the Holy Spirit…

Annunciation, Henry Ossawa Tanner

This man-made painting of the moment when the Divine pierced the temporal veil and awaited a young woman’s full acceptance and embrace of faith, embrace of God’s salvation… Well, this work of art does find my heart, deep within, striking the chord of truth and beauty that only a sublime and subtle glimpse of the Divine can.

Yes.

I say with Mary, Yes.

Read my  depiction of the Annunciation in words by reading my posts: A Stranger Appears in the Making of the Bread  and In the Cloud of Glory a Portal Opens

© 2017 Christina Chase

 

For the Feast of All Hallows: The Saint Maker

With All Hallows’ Eve and All Saints Day approaching, I’m sharing this reflection about, well, reflecting. For we are all called to reflect the Divine Light of Christ into the world…

Divine. Incarnate.

After I had chosen, intellectually, to become a Christian, but way before I had embraced Christ in my heart, a priest told me that I was a saint maker. And I was perplexed. He looked at me, thin and frail, all crippled and crumpled and stuck in my wheelchair, and seemed a little surprised that no one had ever told me that. Explaining, he said that people were drawn to be more generous, kinder, and gentler around me. He told me that I was a powerful help to others because of my disability. My vulnerability, my weakness and dependency, inspired people to step up and be better persons – to be more like the saints they were created to be. My response? Well… not being right in the heart yet, I said, “But, what about me?” Yup, that’s right. I wanted to know what was in this whole saint-making business…

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Respecting Death: an Odd Family Tradition

I’m a stickler for family traditions.  Therefore, as I told my doctor, my preferred way to die is of some kind of cardiac incident in a church.

That was how my maternal grandmother died – and how her mother died before her!  And both in the same little church of St. Henri in my mother’s French-Canadian hometown…

Their Death Stories

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Life with Dignity: a Personal Plea against Assisted Suicide

Saint Augustine wrote, “it is never licit [right] to kill another: even if he should wish it, indeed if he request it because, hanging between life and death, he begs for help in freeing the soul struggling against the bonds of the body and longing to be released; nor is it licit even when a sick person is no longer able to live”.  (Ep. 204, 5: CSEL 57, 320)

For centuries, good and brilliant people have been advocating respect for human life.  I am not so very good, and certainly not brilliant, but the issue of assisted suicide, the so-called “right to die with dignity”, is very important to me. Physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients is the law in some states, like Oregon, Washington, and California. Other states have sought to pass similar legislation, including my own state of New Hampshire. When attempts fail, advocates continue to push and I’m sure that more proposed bills will be coming to a state or country near you – perhaps your own.  Here, I don’t offer pages of arguments against these laws.  Instead, I offer a heartfelt plea against “Death with Dignity” in the hope of saving countless innocent lives.

Christina Chase, disability rights, pro-life

My Life

Do you know what it’s like to be weaker than an infant, laboring daily to breathe, ravaged by an incurable disease, completely and utterly dependent on others for every basic need of survival? I do.  Although I am not terminally ill, but rather chronically ill, I know that one chest cold can turn into pneumonia and kill me… probably an agonizing death over days… or weeks.  Living all of my life with a progressive motorneuron disease, I have slowly weakened over time, becoming more crippled up and deformed, losing strength, losing simple abilities, losing energy, losing privacy. My family and paid home health aides feed me, brush my teeth, clean me of waste, bathe me, dress and undress me, transfer me to and from my wheelchair… and more. My parents have made tremendous sacrifices in order to help me survive each day. They are sacrificing their time, energy, strength — their own personal lives — for my life. And there have been times when I have wondered… is my life worth all of this? … all of this work, sacrifice and heartache? Continue reading

On Mass Killings and Respecting Life

james-barr-302867

I want to help build a culture of life.

My vocation, I believe, is to inspire and foster respect for human life, compassion for every human being, and recognition of everybody’s inherent, indissoluble dignity.  No matter how small or seemingly useless a person may be, each and every one of us is supposed to be here, each and every one of us is intrinsically sacred and beautiful in the eyes of the Creator Who brought us into existence.

Sometimes, though, my conviction in the core worth of every person gets tested.  On Sunday, October 1, 2017, celebrated on the Catholic Church calendar as Respect Life Sunday, a man perched in a high-rise in Las Vegas, Nevada fired upon a crowd of over 22,000 people, injuring nearly 500, and killing 58 before ending up dead himself.  This man had no history of mental illness, appears to have been a “normal guy”, was a wealthy, older man, and has no apparent ties whatsoever to any kind of terrorist group, foreign or domestic.  So… Why?  Why did he do it?  What was wrong with him?  Something must have been wrong with him… right?  I am asking these questions because I don’t have the answers….  Perhaps, there is no definitive answer. Continue reading