He Knows Not How

There are over 7 billion people living on earth right now, which fact may lead you to wonder if you – little, tiny you – really matter in the grand scheme of things. If you’re like me (you know, human) then it usually feels like you don’t. The world is a mess and you don’t see how you can make it any better, you often feel like you don’t make any difference at all.

Last weekend, in the Scripture passages for June 17, 2018, the roughly 1 billion Catholics in the world (including me) were given a chance to wake up to reality and offered a glimpse of our true worth.

seeds

Continue reading

What Would You Do? The Prisoner

Prison

Last week, as my father and I were passing through the bright and lofty lobby of a medical center on our way to my routine pulmonology appointment – he, walking along, me, driving my power wheelchair beside him – we saw a woman in chains.  There were two deputy sheriffs beside her, badges and guns clearly visible, escorting her toward the soaring, glass-enclosed exit.  She was obviously a prisoner, clothed in an orange jumpsuit, either a convicted criminal or someone awaiting trial without bail.  She must have needed some kind of medical attention that the prison or jail could not provide – and shackles and guns would make sure that she wouldn’t elude the law and escape.  And as we neared each other, heading in opposite directions, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with her. Continue reading

Ascending

Mother, mother and child, ocean, light

What does it mean to ascend?  To move upward; to rise through the air; to succeed to (as in ascending a throne).  On the day of this posting, we are celebrating the Feast of the Ascension, when Christ ascended into Heaven.  After the Resurrection, he was taken up from the sight of the disciples, he even rose through the air.  And he ascended his heavenly throne.  In celebrating this great Feast Day, I would also like to include two other definitions of the word: to rise up from a lower degree; to go back in time through your family’s genealogical succession.  (Don’t worry, this won’t take long.  Don’t trust me?  Then here’s a quick preview: kindness and mothers.)

Fr. Finnigan shared a bit of a poem during his homily at Mass today – the priest, in his mid-to-late eighties, often reads to us wonderful quotes and clips from theologians, saints, and poets.  This particular one he found in a book by Father Frederick William Faber, who lived in England during the 19th century.  The writer of the poem itself is anonymous, but it fit beautifully with Fr. Faber’s work, in a book called, Kindness.  The poem also fit with Fr. Finnigan’s homily on loving one another – for, isn’t that what kindness is?  The words started my mind thinking about the power of love and how it is so powerful that it can be conveyed through the smallest things… Continue reading

Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?

velizar-ivanov-502066-unsplash

The Mystery of Suffering

You know you’ve asked this question before.  Many have.  And I am asking it now, but – well… I’d first like to start with a little thought on the wording of this question.  Do “bad things” exist?

To quote GK Chesterton as he paraphrased Saint Thomas Aquinas: “There are no bad things.  There are only bad uses of things.”  That is to say that God doesn’t create things that are bad or evil.  God looked upon all that He created and saw that it was good.  We human beings, however, often use the things that God has created quite poorly.  The very first human beings did this when they consumed something that wasn’t meant for their consumption.  And, yes, because of that freely chosen break from Divine Will, that Original Sin, we have suffered a separation from God and live in a fallen world.  There is evil in the world – but the evil isn’t a thing.  A mutated gene is a thing.  A tumor is a thing.  And, if these are things, and there are no evil or bad “things,” then are mutated genes or cancerous tumors “bad”?  Sacred Scripture tells us, “We know that God makes everything work for good for those who love God….”[1]

If we truly love God, then we trust God.  And if we trust God, then we are able to allow God to make things – even our great difficulties and sorrows – work out for our good.  We might not be able to see what that good is, especially in the midst of our tribulations.  We are, after all, limited, too small to see the big picture that is God’s Masterpiece.  But, loving God and trusting God, we believe in God’s promises.  We hope in what we cannot yet see.

That’s the first thought that I leave you to ponder.  In the pondering, think of how we can make our own natural sufferings worse. Continue reading

Our Sufferings He Endured: a Meditation

(Once, I prayed these words when I received Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament – and my teeth pierced into the Body of Christ…. )

For my salvation, Lord, this is what you will… Mystery of Mysteries…The unfathomable wonder of your love…

Oh, my Lord and my God…

Crown-of-Thorns

The circle of thorns,

the only crown that we deigned to give you in our wickedness,

pierced into your temples – and you hallowed us.

Three_Nails_1

 The iron spikes, with which we nailed you to

the only throne that we deigned to give you in our worldliness,

pierced through and bound your limbs – and you set us free.

pierced-by-lance

The lance,

the only honor that we deigned to give you in our waywardness,

pierced open your heart – and you saved us.

 

Hold us within your Sacred Heart, Christ Jesus!

Pour forth your mercy upon us, O Lord, and help us, by your grace,

to fall upon penitent knees

and humbly lift our begging bowls to you, so that you may fill them…

Fill our hearts to overflowing with yourself-giving love, Lord!

And, in the overflowing,

may we truly love one another as you love us.

Amen.

© 2018 Christina Chase

Lasting Words: The Gospel

What good news would you share with the people who will mourn your death?

This is an important question to ask if you, like me, want to plan your own funeral ahead of time.  I have no idea when my last day on earth will be – but, I do know that there will be a last day here.  That’s why I decided to write the blog post, Preparing to Die in 5 Easy Steps.  In my recent posts, I have shared the Bible passages that I want read at my Funeral Mass: Old Testament reading, psalm, and epistle.  Now for the Gospel – the Good News.

And, yes, the reading (continue to the end) is about Heaven, about life after death – but… with a twist.  The twist is that this particular reading, taken from St. Matthew’s Gospel, helped me to finally understand that Christianity isn’t all about what happens after you’re dead.

Christianity’s focus is about how you live right here, right now.  It’s about whether or not you know Christ and have encountered Him in the flesh.  In Christianity, having a divine experience, having a living relationship with God, isn’t relegated to the afterlife.  Because God is here.  God is here among us – right now.  Do see him?  Are you even looking?

HomelessnessDo you care?

Because, right now, God is living in your neighborhood, lonely, sick, and suffering.  God is hoping that you will, as my grandmother might say, “shiv a git” and drop in, even just to say hi.  Right now, God is holed up in the corner of a filthy room, having not eaten for two days, her mother strung out and wasted on heroine, waiting for you to knock on the door, to call protective services, or to become a foster parent – to do something.

What are you doing?  What am I doing?

Some people think that disabled people like me need religion as a crutch and a comfort.  But, even though I seem to be one of the needy ones, I am also called to give – not just to receive.  Christianity, in reality, is more of a challenge than a comfort.  In fact, if you are comfortable in the living of your Christian faith, then you’re probably not doing it right.

I’m not doing it right, I confess.

We are all sinners in need of a Savior.

But, the good news is that we have one.

And our Savior isn’t far away on some candy sugar mountain waiting for us after death so that he can pat us on the head and say, “That’s okay, you didn’t have to listen to me.  You didn’t have to look for me on earth or go out of your way to care.”  Nope.  That’s not how it’s going to play out.  At the end of days, our Savior is going to tell us one of two things.

Either: “I remember you!  Thank you for being there for me.  Thank you for sacrificing and being brave enough to comfort me, to take care of me.”

Or: “Who are you again?  I don’t remember you.  I’ve never seen you before.  Where were you when I needed someone?”

Homelessness, poverty, Boston

Continue reading

In the Bleak Midwinter

Frozen, ice, midwinter, angel wings, angel

On the day that this is being posted, I should be hard at work fulfilling my New Year’s resolution – writing a book.  Should be, But am I?….  Because this is my serious intention, I’m scheduling posts ahead of time for January and February.  (Hmm… “ahead of time” sounds so sci-fi….)  But, I will still be checking on comments, so please share your thoughts (and keep bugging me to fulfill my resolution!)
This week, as we are still celebrating Christmas (Merry Christmas, everyone) I’m sharing an old carol that caught my ear a couple of weeks ago.  Even though the context is inaccurate – Christ being born in Bethlehem, not a place known for frozen ground and piles of snow – the sentiment is wholly accurate and beautiful.  Much to my surprise, I discovered that it was based on a poem written by Christina Rossetti.  (What a good first name, don’t you think?) Since the poem is slightly different than the lyrics sung by James Taylor in his version (the one that caught my ear) I’m sharing them both here.  My favorite line is “Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain…”.  And, in this poem, as well as in the song, I find the eternal importance of giving God my heart….
In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.
 
Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.
 
Enough for Him, whom cherubim, worship night and day,
Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.
 
Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.
 
What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.

© 2017 Christina Chase


Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Happy Christmas

Christmas, Isaiah, Nativity, Jesus, divine incarnate

© 2017 Christina Chase

Just One

Sometimes, I feel so small.

NASA, earth, planet

This planet is far too large for me to understand, with way too many people for my mind to comprehend.  What does 7 billion mean?  And here I am, just one.  Just one blade of grass in a continent wide savanna, one tiny drop of water in an ocean of earth-time.

And yet…

And yet, within these little bones of mine, beneath this fragile skin, I feel gnawing, aching, heartbreaking sorrows, quaking everything within me more violently than tectonic plates and magma flow.  This quivering verge of cataclysm is somehow hidden, unseen by other eyes, the tremors undetected.  And this is true for every one.  A human life can slip so easily through a fissure of space where no hands can grab it back – and the earth doesn’t even know that it is gone.

Why would God want to feel like this?

Why would God take on human flesh and limitations, a tender heart susceptible to storms and pain?…  To become a small blossom of humanity easily decimated by the winds of war, sickness and age, forgotten, neglected, rejected, ignored, unseen…?

God must know something that I don’t.

babies, infant, newborn, foot

In preparing to commemorate the birth of God Incarnate into the world, filled with awe, I wonder… and I wonder… and I am stilled with wonder

– that the All-Powerful Creator and Master of the Universe Entire should become so small.

© 2017 Christina Chase


Photo by NASA on Unsplash

Photo by Ryan Graybill on Unsplash

Mama

My mother is having surgery today.  She needs to have a full tear in her rotator cuff repaired – a surgery that is not uncommon.  But, I admit… I’m still worried.

Yes, I’m a bit of a worrier, what can I say?

Of course, I hope and pray that all will go well – that God will guide the hands and minds of the surgeon and all who are involved, according to His Perfect Will.  And I do trust in God’s goodness.  (All prayers are welcome!)

I thought I’d take this opportunity to share a little of my mother with you.

So much more to me than a mother is she, although a mother is beyond good and beautiful, a wonderful wonder to be…

I’ve always been disabled, but mothers are supposed to take care of their children.  Now that I am an adult with great dependence and need, my mother is still my caregiver – even though, through the years, her own physical abilities have declined and racked her body beyond her age.  Being a hard worker, selfless, and stubborn, she pushes through pain and weakness, shuffling, bent over, dragging herself to do what she feels needs to be done.  As a woman, she is a marvel.  As a mother, she is a treasure.  And, as a human being, she is my friend, one of my favorite people in the world.

Hoping that this doesn’t sound too sacrilegious, I was thinking the other day of how my words to describe my mother are many of the same words that I use to describe Christ.

She is my rock.  Not only because she is tough, but also because her gifts and talents are constants, reliable, always there when I need them.  She is the firm foundation of our family.  No matter what the many things that assail her, if I really need her, she finds a way.

She is my refuge.  Everyone who has ever come to our house knows that my mother’s home is a true home, not only for her family, but for everyone invited, who all feel comfortable and lavishly pampered in a house of love.

She is my light.  When my mother is happy, everything is easy, music and laughter fill the house, and we deliciously delight in each other’s company.  Even when she isn’t happy, if I have a small decision to make, if I’m not quite sure how to do something or move forward, my mother is the one to whom I turn.  Her practical wisdom is unmatched (even if she doesn’t always take her own advice!)

As we are preparing for Christmas (my mother’s favorite time of year) these thoughts about my own mother make me think about Christ’s relationship with his.  Aren’t many of the things that I said about my mom true about many good mothers?  Of course, the mother of Jesus is exceptional – there is no denying that.  Mystery of Mysteries, God chose her to be His own mother.  How he must have loved her!  But… my mother is exceptional, too.  As disabled as her body is, she pushes through her pain and weakness and cares for me (and I so don’t deserve it – no arguing.)  And she cares for others with love and joy, with a selfless generosity that goes beyond being a “good” mom or even a great one.  And… mystery of mysteries, God chose her to be my mother.

I thank You, my Lord and my God, for the amazing person whom I am honored and privileged to call, “Mama”!  Watch over her and take good care of her, please, helping her to recover fully and well, with as little pain as possible.

© 2017 Christina Chase