Catholic Soup is a food for thought blog based website designed to provide Catholic insight through personal experience.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Our Lady of Guadalupe

In 1531, Our Lady appeared to a lowly, humble man Juan Diego so that he could carry out a message of hope and Christianity to the Bishop. Our Lady sent him out to the Bishop, so that a church be built, a new way to Christianity for the sake of many people. Before Juan Diego he left that morning, he would set out to find a priest so that he could hear his uncle's last confession before death. When Juan got the message from Our Lady to go to the Bishop, he feared his uncle's death. He promised Our Lady he would return and carry out her mission, but at that moment the Blessed Mother spoke to him something that still strikes me today. She confirms him and assures him that she is a Mother who cares and is always by our side, giving us everything we need by the power of Christ, her son. She tells us:

"Listen, put it into your heart, my youngest son, that what frightened you, what afflicted you, is nothing; do not let it disturb your face, your heart; do not fear this sickness nor any other sickness, nor any sharp and hurtful thing. Am I not here, I who have the honor to be your Mother? Are you not in my shadow and under my protection? Am I not the source of your joy? Are you not in the hallow of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Do you need something more?"

We have assurance from Our Lady, the Mother who welcomed Christ into the world telling us that she is with us under her protection and in the crossing of her arms. Mary is telling this to Juan Diego, but essentially to all of Humanity.

Our Lady appears to a land where there is no Christianity whatsoever, she goes there to place in them a faith, and trust in God her son. The Americas at that time, were sacrificing their own to gods of the cosmos so that they might live. They were placing their trust in false gods. When Our Lady appeared, it wasn't long after, that many people were being converted over to Christianity. This is why in many respects, the people of the Americas have such strong devotions in Our Lady of Guadalupe, because without her they would be nothing and never know God. Mary, literally established Christianity among the land and for the people. She is the patroness of the Americas. Another interesting point is that Our Lady appeared to the Indian people, as one of their own. She is dressed in a tilma that resembles their own culture, what the people saw was a woman who was just like them, leading them to a way out. She appears over the sun and moon, signifying she is greater then these false gods, she is the Queen of Heaven and Mother to all. The people recognized her as a Morenita, which is Spanish for "the dark woman". This is yet another attribute giving for the people letting them know she is one of them, but not only is she one of them, but also appearing as a Mestiza, a woman of mixed European and Indian ties. Many times, these women and children were victims of rape, abuse and so many times neglected because of their color. The Blessed Mother, is identified as one of them, she places her self with the suffering and with the most vulnerable, the children. She is also the Patroness for the unborn.

The universal mission that can be seen is the Catholicity of our Lady of Guadalupe, she places a foundation for people to follow Jesus, people of all race, even the lowliest who were once abused because of their culture. Mary came to place in them a new hope, a hope in Jesus her Son by assuring us that she will always be with us praying for us.


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Imitating Mary: 3 Ways

With the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception just two days ago, and the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe coming up, the whole week in my own reflections have been based on the Blessed Mother Mary and her model of a perfect christian life. For the first time in my life, I feel like God has placed in me a real, authentic desire to be obedient and truly humble with myself and who I am. For me there is an intense calling to radically change who I am internally and abandon once and for all my pride, my own personal ambition, my desires that hurt, my past and even my rule. But at least! what better time to have this reflection come by the Grace of God during the season of advent and even more so in between the feasts and solemnities of Our Lady, who IS the perfect model of obedience and humility by the way. This was the girl who abandon her self so easily, without hesitation and freely to be a holy tabernacle by bringing Christ into the world. I'm sorry but it makes perfect sense to pray to this perfect woman, our blessed Mother and ask for her intercession so that we might be made worthy of the promises of Christ (see what I did there.) So I'm in and I want the few readers I have to join me. As far as God calling me AS WELL AS YOU, here are three things that God has placed in my heart to change in my life starting right now during this very "Mary-week" in the Church. I call them the Marian Virtues.

1. Suffer in Silence.
When I think of Mary, I picture a pretty quiet person, a girl of strong faith and peaceful mannerisms if you would. The call is to live in silence each day, in the stillness and calmness without fast decisions or quick ordering of the senses.  There is discomfort since so often we might be so use to just getting up and going some where really quick, submitting to the passions. Silence brings peace and I think that in silence, it is when we are most actively listening to God and what he has to say to us. It is in silence that we can build up our lives around prayer and conversation with God. Now, so much of silence involves us being quiet, listening and sitting still. Not only sitting our physical bodies still from movement, but silencing and pausing our senses and those passions we have. When we look at the life of Mary, there is a call to silence what hurts us like our sin and learn to control those things that can potentially keep us from Christ. Mary, full of Grace, help me be silent in the night as you are.

2. Being Obediently Faithful
Mary is the ultimate model for obedience in the Church. I always find myself thinking about that, how faithful she was and how complete she was in her surrender to God. The joy is that we can obtain that perfect obedience with the help of God's grace through the blessed Mother who experienced it in the most profound, divine way possible. In the call to obey, on an even deeper level there is a call to die to self and that means letting other people have their way, even God. Thinking about Mary's surrender, we should have a desire to obey God that same way, perfectly, wholly, every bit of ourselves, everything. That means surrendering our lives, our own ways and what we think is best, all of that we should be willing to give up and obey God understanding that he will bless us with so much more in the future. It's okay if things don't go our way, and it's alright if the only trust we have at the moment is in ourselves, because God can restore that trust we once lost in him with the help of his Grace. The person to first experience this faithful obedience knows all about it, ask her to reveal and share with you her trust and obedience in God.  Mary, help me be as obedient as you someday.

3. Humbly Submitting
Mary, humbly submitted herself to God to bring Christ into the world. She also submits herself to us, to offer our prayers and petitions to Christ her son. The call is to humbly submit ourselves to other people, being present to them compassionately. Submitting ourselves to them in our service and doing it only for God's sake, just like the blessed Mother did for us. The great thing about this submitting is that we are not the only ones. God himself, became the least of men so that he might suffer and submit himself to death so that we can live. Being humble means to think less of ourselves, to be submissive and undistinguished. Submissive to those around us, and those who tell us of our faults and remind us of our shortcomings.Thomas Kempis says what does it matter that they bother us with our faults, they are doing the best possible thing for us, that is making us humble. Being humble involves an abandonment of pride and of course help from the one who experienced it firsthand for the sake of the world. Mary, help me submit myself to Christ present in other people through the ministry of his Church.

I think to reflect on this is an invitation to ask Mary for intercession and prayer that we can participate in the fullness of christian life and faithfulness as she has. She alone is perfect in all virtues and can lead us to God by her prayers. In our silence we can grow obedient to God and then we're given grace to submit ourselves to the people and their needs through the ministry of the Church. These are all things that I am called to work on, starting in silence, in prayer, faith and alongside the fervent intercessory prayers of our Most Holy Mother. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Mary: The One That Leads

Mary in her holiness and faithfulness places on us a tender, loving aid that comes to us only through the Father, and through this she leads us to Christ her son. The only thing that might be so hard for us male-breeds to understand is that Mary by her role, is someone we are suppose to turn to, and not only turn to but FOLLOW. That's right I said it, we should follow a woman. 

Follow her obedience and faithfulness to seek out a life that she did in holiness, yes. But as a man we should be willing to follow her, because it is by her loving care that she leads us to God and prepares us along the way before we are presented. It can be hard to give into an idea that says we should let the woman lead the way, with all respect. For so long our role as a man on the earth has been to lead the woman, be the man of the house, or work your ass off to provide food for your family and eat meat with meat drink. Following a woman can't possibly be the answer, because that means doing what she says. We're suppose to be tough, chop wood and grow beards right? Sure, but it can be easy to lose sight of the whole purpose of Mary in a bigger perspective. She was a Mother to Jesus, carried him for nine months knowing she could be killed if she had been caught bearing child outside of wedlock. Still, she gave birth to our Savior, raised him and accompanied him even at the time of his death. The message is that Mary as a Mother can raise us the same way she raised Jesus, she can protect us and care for us. All we are called to do, is follow her path of holiness and come to know her in a relationship of prayer and devotion. 

The thing is that God placed Mary as the Mother of Mercy and Queen of Peace. Her role in the Church is to lead us to Christ her son, as intercessor to pray for us, and prepare our hearts for the Mercy of Christ available to all.  The Joy is that in her completeness, she perfects us and cleanses us before we are presented to her son, our King. It doesn't matter what we have done or what we still do, Mary still offers us the love of God through herself and by it we return to Christ. Saint Jose Maria Escriva once said, "To Jesus we always go, and to Jesus we will always return, through Mary."

So, calling ALL MEN, to embrace the love that Christ gives us through Mary, to follow her deeply in prayer and devotion, pray to her, ask for her intercession; that she be present in both our lives, mine and yours. She is a Mother placed before us to love us tenderly, to care for us, protect, prepare and lead us to Christ in the same way she brought Christ to us; by her prayer. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Advent: Come & Wait

The word Advent derives from the Latin word adventus, meaning coming. Who is coming, the Christ is coming, our Savior is coming. Jesus, born unto the world from the Blessed Virgin comes to save the world and ransom the captive Israel. However, with this coming of Christ in the Christmas season, there is also a waiting, a preparation, and a renewal. Advent is the season of waiting, with faithful hope for the coming of our Lord, but not only a waiting, a coming to too. Advent in many ways can remind us of the holiness and virtue there is in waiting and being patient. Patience, is a virtue that can lead to holiness, because when we are patient, we are still and we are quiet, and when we are quiet we are thinking, or meditating or praying. See more on patience. This advent season, there is an invitation not only to come to Jesus just as he has come to us. But an invitation to wait for his coming with prayerful, faithful hearts each day of the season. Its two different words with the same meaning, on one side we can come to Jesus, prepare ourselves for the journey, (just as the wise man did) praying, fasting, meditating and even emptying ourselves.When we come to Jesus, we are placing ourselves in His presence and therefore, allowing His presence, Love, Grace and Will to be placed within us. On the other side, we can wait for Jesus, prepare ourselves for his coming (Just as Mary did), be patient and faithful in the hope of his coming just as in his Resurrection and welcome him into our hearts. Both are means of welcoming Jesus into our hearts and into our lives. So in the season of Advent, we are invited, not only to wait for Jesus and prepare for his return, but run to him upon his arrival. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Created with His Image

The world is full of wonders, so many that God himself created. Sometimes we take for granted the world we live in, almost as if we don't even know where living in it. Were so caught up in our day by what we think we have to do, or what we think we need to get done that we don't notice the things God has set in front of us. The world today is to busy to just stop, take a deep breathe, and meditate on what God has created. Even to thank him for loving us enough to create us almost exactly like him. We are all created in God's image and that to me is a privilege. In the world, it's hard to be still, its hard to be quiet on a spiritual level. It's easy to be loud, or always moving because that's what the world requires of us. Constant movement, constant change, it seems like there is hardly enough time to sit and be still, something that causes discomfort. It reminds me of the scripture from Psalms 46:10 " Be Still and Know That I am God." sometimes it just takes all that we have to sit still and thank God for everything we have, but that's okay because God is a loving and merciful God, He looks forward to the prayer that we say to him. God wants everything that we have to offer to him, when we were created, the image he placed within us is the image of his own self! Our souls, are made from the very image and likeness of God, we read this in Genesis 1.Our lives, have goodness, they have meaning because we have the very image of God dwelling within us. We were created to be holy to see everything that God sets in front of us. To see everything that he sees. It's our destiny to be Holy. It's What we were created For. Reminds me of the story of Jesus in the bible when he is speaking to the Pharisees. The Pharisees, in those days were holy people, they were obedient to the law, very meek and humble. The sad part, is that they were on a mission to catch Jesus by confusing him in his teaching. They wanted a reason to arrest him. They asked Jesus for his opinion, "Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?" Pointing to the coin Jesus says, whose image is this? "Caesar's" they said. Jesus said "So then, give to Caesar what is Caesar's and give to God what is God's" Jesus is teaching on the very image that is placed in us. Just like the coin, bearing the image of Caesar, we are inscripted with the very image of God. The coin belongs to Caesar, and we belong to God. So for us the message would be to give to God the image he placed in us. This means our lives, our hearts and our souls. Everything about us should be placed at the mercy and will of God because we bear his image. We were created to be his, created to be holy and loving as he so we could share in Eternal Glory with Him, our creator.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

St. Luke: The Loyal Comrade

It isn't until you make big changes in your life that you start to see who your real friends are. You see who stands by your side when times get tough, you understand who is willing to be there with you when you need it the most. Today, we celebrate the feast of St. Luke, and from what we read in the gospels, he was a great friend, and a loyal comrade to Saint Paul. Paul in his early life, was under order by the chief priests to persecute. He killed families for the faith, and watched saints be martyred, Paul, known as Saul at that time, issued death for Saint Stephen, the first christian martyr. After his conversion on the road to Damascus, St. Paul began preaching and ministering in cities all over regions of Syria, Macedonia, and even Greece. Soon accompanied by St. Luke, we see in the Acts of the Apostles that Luke traveled with St. Paul from Troas to Philippi, after Paul had a dream of a Macedonian man standing before him begging for help. During St. Paul's journey, conflict arises between his teaching over the resurrection of Jesus and the law of Moses so while in Jerusalem, Paul is arrested.  He is brought to questioning in front of the chief priests, the people who accused him, the Sanhedrin, the Governor Felix, and his successor Festus. St. Paul was imprisoned and under accusation for more then two years. This is before he would go to Rome for an appeal to Caesar. As they set sail for Rome, Luke is the loyal comrade and accompanies him throughout the whole journey.On that journey, they experience ship-changes,disastrous cargo loss, violent storms, even a shipwreck and St. Luke accounts of it all in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 27). For two years St. Paul is under guard in Rome, preaching to all those who visited him. Saint Luke, the loyal comrade, stayed with Paul even to his death and we see this in scripture, "Only Luke is with me." (2 Tim 4:11)

The message from St. Luke, is to be there. Be there for those that matter, and those friends that you have and they will be there for you. Treat your friends with respect and honesty, be there for them when they are having a hard time, when their lives are a shipwreck. As friends we are called to comfort and share in whatever suffering. I think St. Luke understood that St. Paul needed that friendship and so he accompanied him for two years to be that faithful friend. We learn to be loyal and trustworthy to all those that we know. I think it extends not only to our friends, and family, but even to God. We should be loyal to him, faithful and obedient just like St. Luke. Pray for us St. Luke, loyal comrade, that we be as loyal as you!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Good, the Bad, and the Divine

There's always a constant battle in life between the good and the bad. A battle between the divine, and the evil. In our lives, it's up to us to make that distinction and we have to do it quick, like Clint East would (No pun intended). The battle, is of three things, the good, the bad and the divine. While the good is from the divine, theologically, there is also a good that we might be distracted of. This is the world's view of good, or what might be good. Life is full of good things, and as sensible beings, we desire everything that is good, or what makes us feel good, or be good. We hear from philosophers that the good, is that which is desirable, meaning we desire it, we want it constantly. This is why we sin, because in our eyes it's good and pleasing to us. Sin has to have something 'good' about it or else we wouldn't do it, right. There is good, because it's pleasing, but it might not always be healthy. What we don't see, is that most times, our desire for the divine goodness is shortened and we turn to those things that aren't good for us. It's like we cheat ourselves from experiening that divine goodness.  All of life, from beginning to it's end, leads and points us to the divine goodness. We are slowly, ordered, prepared and led to this great goodness that God wants us to experience. Where we fall short is when we turn to something false, something that only pleases us for a moment and then it's gone. The cool message is to seek the divine goodness and look past those temporal things that take us further and further away from the divine hand. We become distracted and now what was bad becomes 'good' and that's it, we don't wanna move any further because we're set. Now, there is no longer a move to experience a greater goodness, that divine goodness because, we are content with that 'good' the world gives us. So...

 Don't cheat yourself.

Don't be content with the bare-minimum.

We should strive to seek God's goodness everyday, start by recognizing that there IS a greater goodness, one that is eternal. Like I said, it's a constant struggle, even for me. The battle is now, and it's either life or death. The great thing is that this takes time, patience. I always want to be spot on, or be virtuous all of a sudden, like if it happens overnight. It doesn't. Conversion is a process and takes prayer and silence even when it is hard. I read somewhere, that the hardest yet most effective prayer, is the prayer that comes when you don't want to pray. It's almost like we have to force ourselves to sit still, we have to literally sit and train our minds and our hearts to be faithful and fruitful. and It doesn't happen overnight. Take steps and join me in being faithful in small matters first before the great matters. Often times we have to habituate, train and mold those small basic virtues before we can strive for those heroic virtues.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Work of Our Words

I work at a Veteran's home and some days require a little more intervention from God as far as communication goes. I've learned slowly that God works everyday of our lives without us even knowing. I'm seeing more and more that God, in his Infinite Being, holds not only us up, but everything about us, this means also our time, our speech and even our actions; good and bad. Does God cause bad and evil to exist in the world? Not at all, but he does allow it because there is always a greater good to be fulfilled. Bad actions are allowed and never caused by God. God works for the good by allowing bad and always works for the good. But again,with us in the participation of God's divine realm, not only does he hold up our existence, and action, He also holds up our communication and interaction with other people that we encounter. It's like everyday we speak to someone, it is a 'Divine Appointment'. We are made handmaids of God through our speech, action and existence. This means that God guides us and gives us His Spirit to spread a message of love, faith and joy through the gospel he preaches. It's an amazing thing to remember during a conversation. In recognizing that God is with us every minute of our lives, even in conversation, we allow the Holy Spirit to intervene. It's like a green light. I just left from a two hour conversation from a resident and I remember sitting there, listening and thinking about how God is working continuously, in my life, in his life...why wouldn't God work through the words we say? I instantly became more aware of my words, my thoughts, even in my listening; ultimately the Spirit lead and did the work of God through my own mouth.

I think about conversation and what it means to people, even if we're just listening to what people have to say. I think in any instance, the Spirit can lead us and guide us in that conversation. It makes me think of our words and how they can either heal or hurt a person. We don't know the last time we will ever see somebody, so the notion of letting God be present in our words is very crucial for somebody. We should be up lifting in our speech and give kind words with love, not hate[and it's something I'm working on]. But if we think, the only way to talk out of love or listen with love is to allow the Spirit to be present in our conversation by realizing God is uniquely working in us at every aspect of our lives CONSTANTLY. I will type it again, I think the only way to talk out of love is to allow the Spirit in our talk. How can we do this, by realizing God is working at every aspect of our lives CONSTANTLY. I think of a person who works clay, the wheel is constantly spinning and the worker molds it in every angle and every aspect to fit the shape and frame that he wants. With us, God  shapes and molds us to who he wants us to be. God works within us at every aspect of our lives and to recognize that while we live is pretty cool. So the message, the reflection from me, is to love with words and then words will be loved. It's cool to recognize God being present in all things, even our speech, in my own mind, it makes me attentive, more alert and aware of what a person needs to here. More importantly, God sends the message through the work of our hearts and our tongues. That alone is pretty awesome.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Workers of the Kingdom: The Beggar Builder

Building the Kingdom of God is such a vague phrase that I think a lot of times we're confused by it. For me questions start coming up like, how? and with what? It's like all of a sudden I'm looking for the new employee orientation signup sheet. Ok, maybe I should of took a construction class or two or watched dad while he was working extra closely. It's easy to miss the point, as you can already tell. In my reading, the life of Saint Francis can help us learn alot about building the kingdom, but not just building, we can learn how to rise up, and when to sit down. When we sit down, we instinctively listen, when we stand, it's a movement to get things down. A good worker knows that he can't get nothing done when he's sitting down, but it's good to sit and it's healthy to listen. St. Francis, was a builder, he was called to build not only himself, but the kingdom of God through the restoration of his own innerself. Which I find interesting. He was a beggar-builder. In his early conversion, St. Francis, lessened himself entirely so that he can build up. This came by placing himself in the dark and quiet caves. He would pray for hours at a time in the dark. Despite his lifelong desire to become wealthy and an honorable knight, amazingly, he abandoned all of that and placed himself at an even lower rank. First, francis sat and listened, he placed himself at the foot of the cross, inside an old shrine, the church of Saint Damian. Over the years the church had been neglected, run down and even worse, it was falling to pieces. It was here that Saint Francis of Assisi would pray before the crucifix. As Francis knelt before the cross, a voice came to him and said, "Francis, do you see that my church is in ruins? Go and restore it for me." That moment St. Francis rose, and did what he could to repair the broken church. Not only was the message a message of rebuilding, it was also a call to leave the things that he cherished so much and rebuild internally, and then outwardly from that. Francis would rise up and place himself among the lowest of the low; a beggar he would become, but not only a beggar but a new kind of beggar that asked for rock in order to build, rather then bread to satisfy himself. When we hear about the lessening of St. Francis, the message for us is to place ourselves at the foot of the cross, abandon those things that we want and listen to what God wants of us. We are each by our very nature, called to build up the kingdom of God. The Lesson from St. Francis is to put ourselves down first, in order that we build up. Sit down, pray and be silent even in chaos. Asking for bread in the sense of fulfilling what is good for ourselves, we are turning to the very needs of our own. By asking for rock, as Francis did, we are also asking God to provide us with everything necessary to build and fulfill his mission placed in us. But the kneel down is not easy, especially for a man, it's like asking for directions when your driving--guys just don't do it. But with this kneel down, this lessening comes all sorts of things, suffering comes, uncomfort, challenges and even changes that we might not be accustom to. The Joy is that all those things need to happen so that we can be made builders and workers for Christ. As a beggar builder, we are called to lessen ourselves, place ourselves below the rank of others and build up from there the Great Kingdom that we are called to build.  

Friday, September 5, 2014

Knowing your Blessings: 3 ways

There is tendency in life to look back on what we've done in life. No matter how many great quotes we read to let our past be our past, there is always that habit of looking back. I always think of Rhafiki off of the Lion King when he says you can either run from it, or learn from it. At times I think I need a stick to the face to wake me up, and help me see what's ahead and those things that I have and others don't. Sometimes, it can be hard to look at life in a positive way when all we see is what we have done. Aside from that great movie, instead of recognizing our past that we so often do, we should recognize the things that we love so much. Recognize our blessings and the things that make us who we are today. Here are three ways I have come up with to help me see the good in my life and alter the bad.

The first is PRAYER.
Learning to build ourselves up in prayer is not an easy thing to do, I struggle with it and I'm sure many of us do. It's a process and takes habit. The joy is that by our prayers, not only are we conforming ourselves to the heart and will of God, but we are also building a foundation for a relationship with the divine; in mind, body and soul. By our prayer and communication to God, we are able to recognize our blessings in a more complete way. But it doesn't end there, we are also able to see those faults and weaknesses that hurt us, for example our sin, or our vices that were once virtues overpowered by pride. Prayer in essence is our communal relationship with God and it allows us to see what breaks us (sin) and what makes us (blessings). 

The second is the EUCHARIST. 
After our prayer we are in relationship to God, however, as long as we are on earth, that relationship will never be in a complete way. Once we recognize those blessings and weaknesses in our lives, we ought to thank God and give him praise because of them. But why would we thank God for our weakness? The fact is that they help us become better. Just by us recognizing that weakness is a sign and movement toward the good. The word Eucharist, comes from the Greek translation of "thanks-giving" and so if you think about it, in our partaking of the Eucharist, we are professing by word and action our thanks to God, Most High. The Eucharist, in its holiness, is a perfect and most sincere way for us to praise and thank God in all He has done. In our partaking we are made alive, and alert. We are awakened and ready to combat those evils that come for us, this comes from us seeing our weaknesses and what truly hurts us the most. 

The third is LOVE OF SELF
In our prayers and thanksgiving, our "true colors" and true vocation will be made known to us. We will see who we really are, and what we are called to be. Before we sign that divine contract as I like to call it, what should be practiced is a love of self, not so much a pride but who you are upon recognizing yourself. Loving yourself and who you are made to be. If we compare ourselves to other people constantly, then what Joy will that bring us. If we learn to love ourselves and the unique characteristics we each have, we can understand that somehow on a spiritual level, we too can be a blessing for another person. As a consequence of our prayer, we learn to accept who we are and see those things that prevent us from loving ourselves, therefore building our spirits up not down. 

In our prayers and relationship to God we are able to recognize our own strengths and weaknesses. God allows us to see those goods and bads. In our participation of the Mass and the Eucharist we are praising Him and giving Him thanks for all that is preparing us. Then, when we love God in our prayer and in the Eucharist we learn to love who we are and who we are called to be by altering those weaknesses for the good. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Abandonment

In today's gospel, there's a reminder for us to leave what we truly desire so that we can follow Christ. It's called the abandonment, and its not easy. We hear in the gospel, a young man who asks the Lord what he has to do to obtain the Kingdom of God. Right away the Lord tells him to follow the commandments, but what is interesting his Jesus' focus on the those commandments that have to do with our neighbor. The young man said to the Lord, "I have observed all of these, what else do I lack?" Jesus tells him to sell what he has and give to the poor. The interesting part for me is at once, the young man walked away sad because he knew he had many possessions. The sense of abandonment can be hard for us and as we read, even for the young man. Jesus tell us that it is not so much of leaving the things we love, but recognizing what it is that keeps us from Him. What consumes you in your life, your phone, computer, relationships, these things can keep us from God in terms of time and so Jesus calls us in the gospel to abandon those things and let go of what really keeps us from Him.The joy is that in this abandoment of possessions, there is true happiness because we learn and train our hearts that God is worthy of all our time and all our possession.   

Jesus, help me to recognize those things that keep me from you, and give me strength so that I can look past those possessions and seek the cross. I give you permission to take away those things that keep me from knowing.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Beggar: Fill Your Cup

Here at the mission house, the usual call for morning prayer is at 5:30am. This marks the start of a meditation period that is widely used in Capuchin Friaries across the globe. This morning during my meditation, I had an interesting experience with Jesus being present to us on the cross. As I held my coffee in my hand gazing directly up at the cross. I remember being attentive and in full focus. I was more in tune because we'll coffee on a white Nike shirt is not a good thing, and I was being aware of the burning sensation on my hands from the hot mug. The point being is that I was reminded of the warmth and the radiance  that God can offer us just by looking at the cross of our Lord Jesus. As I drank my coffee pretty soon I had none and the reality if the moment was that I was empty, and not only was I empty but I was also broken. I pictured myself a poor man, looking up at the only source of happiness with a plea for mercy, love and grace. I felt like my cup had to be filled with a love that can't be replaced and in a sense, replaced with a coffee far greater then any coffee. This morning I envisioned myself a poor man, begging Christ on the cross to fill my cup once again, and not only fill it, but overflow it with love.

If we think about it we will always seek satisfaction, it's what we do as humans. Is that bad? No. It's just disappointing to know that some satisfaction is not true satisfaction and we can't ever be truly happy with a false sense of happiness.  It isn't real. So with an empty cup, a cup seeking possessions, money, fame, fortune and materialistic things, that cup will always be empty because they don't make us happy. What we should do is ask Christ to fill our cups with a love that is greater than all things, even our own faults. If that means presenting ourselves as a poor beggar, who seeks nothing but happiness. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Crucifying the Flesh

Ever since man was created by God in the beginning, man has a direct calling and destiny to be one with God. This means that we are called to know and love God in his fullness. Before the fall of man, Adam and Eve knew God in his fullness, they were in a perfect and holy relationship with God. The consequence of sin was a rift between man and God. Man can no longer know God in a perfect and complete way all because of sin. Today, we are baptized by water and made members of the Catholic Church. It is at that very moment of baptism that we are given a holy, perfect and sacred relationship with God. However, just like Adam our sin hinders our relationship with God and it prevents us having that intimate relationship with God the Father. Now in order to know how sin keeps us from God, it is important to understand what Sin really is. Sin is a action or an offense against God and his divine love for us. When we sin, we are acting against God in disobedience to his love. We in our hearts are professing that we don't need God in our lives therefore we are rejecting his love for us. The thing with sin is that it doesn't place anything within us, but rather it strips out everything that is already in us. We are hurt by sin and our personalty becomes dull. We have no energy, depression, we might feel weak, lost, confused and even tired of our own lives. In sin, man is supplying to his passions and his desires. I want this, I want that and when we want it we give in to ourselves and usually follow through. The problem is that we are always looking for things that don't make us happy and if they do it's only for a moment. When we talk about crucifying the flesh, it's important to understand that we should do this daily and not just for a couple days. Avoid sin and even the near occasion of sin! That means know your weakness and your own struggles. We have to know the affects of sin and what they can do to us. More importantly sin can separate us from God for eternity. Second, sin puts a blockade between us and God so know we can't ever know him fully on earth, and Third, we can't ever know ourselves and who we are if we are trapped by sin. If I don't know myself and who I am, then how can I try to understand someone else in a relationship, boyfriend or girlfriend even in marriage? So we should know the effects of sin and avoid it everyday. I shared a story of some Alaskan wolves:

If the owner of the land spots a wolf, his primary objective becomes to kill that wolf because now that wolf is a predator and a threat to his home, his family and his livestock. So what he does is kill a goat, takes it's blood, places it on the blade of a knife and allows it to freeze. He does it about 7-8 times before there is a thick shell of frozen blood. So he walks out to the forest and places the knife in the snow with the blade up and walks away. The wolf smell the blood from miles out and approaches slowly at first because he's a little curious. He takes his first lick of the blood and likes it. So he licks it more and more until his tongue becomes numb by the frost. As the wolf licks more he slices his tongue, and enjoys fresh blood not realizing its his own. Soon enough the wolf will leave and die of blood loss. The fact is that sin, kills us without us even know it. It harms us without us even knowing the damage we are placing on ourselves, our hearts, our bodies, our spirits and our souls. So the message is to crucify the flesh, abandon all sin, live in the spirit and not the flesh. Don't give into your passions or your desires but give into the spirit of God. Saint Paul tell us in Romans that we shouldn't live in the sins of the flesh, but rather the fruits of the Spirit. By our creation and baptism, we are called to live in the spirit not the flesh.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sanctified: Spirit, Body & Soul

For the week I helped out at a Catholic Summer camp in New Mexico with the youth of Amarillo and I can say that it helped me really understand my role as a member of the Church and here's why. There's a message in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, a prayer for us that we be purified and sanctified in our Lord Jesus Christ. It's a calling for us to be out of the ordinary and step outside that box that we've always been living in. So I think the message for us is to be spiritual, and understand what it really means to be sanctified and purified. By that I mean for us to answer and fulfill the prayer that Saint Paul set out for us that we should be sanctified in the spirit, purified through the body, and perfect in the soul. The real only way to be sanctified is through us giving a hundred percent to God everyday that we live, in Prayer, in Mass, by the sacraments and meditation. That all helps us be one with God and ultimately sanctified by his never-ending grace. There's a call to be sanctified in Spirit, that means for us to be open to the Spirit of God, and his graces that he supplies us with everyday. To be sanctified in the Body means for us to never give in to our desires and our passions because in reality it is our desires that please us only for a moment. So the message is for us to crucify the flesh by never turning to what is evil and sinful because sin can separate us from God, our Creator. In the Soul, we are alive and well. It is the soul that gives us life, and the soul that makes us the very image and likeness of God. We should purify our souls by meditating and praising God. Let the mind conquer our emotions and from that the will of God will be revealed to us.

To be Sanctified means to be renewed and cleansed, it was great to be around a fired up youth that require a cleansing and a purification of self and I'm grateful for that. The joy is that by us admitting our faults and our sins we are sanctified and purified by the very sanctifying grace of God through confession. I always love the guilt that is placed inside of me because through it we return to the yard of Christ. We are sanctified all you gotta do is admit and confess with your spirit through grace, abandon the body of sin, and pray to God through the soul that was breathed into us.

Shoutout to everybody that went, Perryton and Sunray! God bless you guys.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Obligation to Man

When God created Adam and Eve, man had a perfect and unique relationship with God. So much that it was free of death and full of grace.In this perfect relationship with God, man knew God and loved him. Man was given a beautiful relationship with God and also woman, Eve.  Of course we were blessed with a happy fault and given original sin through the fall of man. By sin, that perfect and unique relationship was stripped and there were rifts that were placed that hindered man's perfect relationship with God and even with other man, in this case a woman. Well, by our baptism as infants we too are given a beautiful yet not so perfect relationship with God through sanctifying grace. In our roll as humans we are also united in the body of the church and the communion of peoples across the world. We are all of the same species so why wouldn't we be of the same family. However, when we sin, that sanctifying grace is removed from us, hindering our relationship with God and also man. So we are disconnected if you will from the very life of Christ, from his Church and his people. We are still under the protection and aid of God just in a lesser degree, yes thank you human nature, by it, we are also bound to sin and in our weakness we fall! Saint Paul writes that we should live in the Spirit of God and not the Spirit of the flesh meaning sin. He writes in Romans 8:

"Those who live according to the flesh are concerned with the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the spirit are concerned with the things of the spirit. The concern of the flesh is death, but the concern of the spirit is life and peace." Romans 8 5-6

As I was looking at this I noticed a similarity between the words of Jesus in the gospels and the words of Paul in Romans hinting at a universal call and obligation to every man. Free or slave, upper class or lower-class, clothed or not-clothed. Jesus tells us in Matthew that we should not be afraid of those who kill the body by sin. This means helping our friends, our families and even our acquaintances. We should be courageous and help them, comfort them because we have an obligation to them. Matthew recounts the words of Jesus in Chapter 10:

"Therefore do not be afraid of them. Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known...And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna." -Matthew 10:26-28

In my own reflection, Jesus is letting us know that we should not be ashamed of Him and afraid of those who are living in trial, temptation and sin, we should reveal to them who God is in a loving way. We should be a light for them in the darkness. Why should we be afraid of man, living in sin or not, we should help them because it's our obligation, we have the same father, we are of the same family and our duty to help those who are suffering is a great commission given to us by God.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Called to be Saints

A Saint in the church is someone who is holy, and venerated by the communion of people that make up the Church. Saint, literally means 'to be Holy', these holy people, these holy saints are worthy of our prayers and worthy of our intercessions. They are not perfect people, they are just like us but faithful and obedient to the will of God. Many people speculate about the saints in the church, often asking why we pray to the Saints, why should we pray to them when I can just pray straight to God. The answer is that we need help. The church venerates the saints as intercessors. I like to use the example of a mail-carrier. The Saints for us, are those who hear our intentions and pray for us since they are declared Holy and with Christ in heaven. If I am suffering, lost, broken or in chaos, then I would want all the help I can get. That means from my family here on earth, my friends and even the Saints who are models of faith. All of these people can pray for us in our suffering and God can offer us His mercy and grace. The fact is that we are all called to sainthood, by our baptism as infants, we share in the goodness of God's love and therefore have an initial invitation to holiness. In our call to holiness not only do we need to know God and love God, but we also should know 5 key principles that can help us obtain true holiness. These I explained during the Junior Rally workshop I gave this past weekend:

The First is HUMILITY:
We should be humble in life and know that we are creatures of God and we need his mercy more then our pride. We should be humble when we do things, we should not let our pride get to us. Humility is about abandoning our pride and understanding our weaknesses. I just graduated with my Bachelors in Theology so it would be weird for me to go into a career of teaching mathematics. One, because I'm not good at it, and two, because that is not my field. Humility is about not thinking of ourselves less, but thinking less of ourselves, as G.K Chesterton once put it. When we are humble, we know and understand that it is not all about ourselves, but about God who sustains and holds everything about us in place. second is FAITHFULNESS:
Faithfulness is about trust. Sure, it's good to trust in ourselves having confidence in what we can do. But faithfulness in this case is about trusting in God it is about having confidence in the character of God. Sometimes it is rejecting that notion of 'I am the center of attention' and the problem with the common notionof faithfulness is that the focus many times is on me. Faith is realizing that God is good, deserving of our trust and knowing that God sees what we can't. Faithfulness is recognizing that God is the better driver and he is able to control our lives toward the greater good better then we can because that is what he wants after all! We see in the Old Testament when God commissioned Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, Moses in his fear, was not faithful or trusting in God's divine promise. He gave God five excuses and said he couldn't do, I am not fit for this job, he said, pick somebody else. After placing his trust in God, Moses succeeded and led God's people out of Egypt just before he would die. Prior to his death, God would commission Joshua as the successor to Moses. I will touch on him more later. So, we can see that faithfulness requires a trust in God and faith in his divine will.

The third is PRAYER:
Prayer is the most fundamental aspect in the lives of the Saints. What prayer is, is the communication and the bond they had between the Father and themselves. Without prayer there can be no relationship. Think about a common relationship, dating or marriage, in that relationship that has to be a fundamental level of communication, without communication then the relationship either won't exist or if it does already, goes haywire all because of a lack of communication. It is the same with a relationship with God, if we don't have that prayer and communication with God then how can God reveal himself to us, and how can we learn to know and love God. God made us to be holy, He made us so that we can be happy with him. This means that He wants us to pray to him, because He wants that relationship and He wants to reward us because of it. If we look in the New Testament with Jesus and his Father, Jesus was made known the will of the Father because of his Prayer to him. Yes, the Church teaches that Jesus and God are one in the same, however, Jesus still had that human nature and by his prayers to the Father He set an example that we should pray to God so that our will can be made in union with the will of the Father; this is exactly what Jesus did when he said "Let your will be done, not mine" So prayer to the Father, is a fundamental part in our call to holiness.

The fourth is COURAGE:
Going back to the commissioning of Joshua after Moses' death, God told Joshua to be strong and courageous more then any other person in the bible. He instilled in Joshua and reminded him to be strong and be courageous, because I will be with you wherever you go. So I think there is a message even for us, that we should be courageous, we should be bold. This means strong and courageous in our faith, in our prayer lives, we should stand up for what is right and against what is wrong. Who cares if we are young, who cares if we are weak, we should be strong and courageous in everything we do. One message from Saint John Paul II that I see alot is "Do not be afraid" There is a message that we should be strong and remember that God will accompany us always. Many times we might feel like were sent with no direction on where to go, but God is not a clockmaker where he creates us and lets us run on our own. Rather, he creates us, sends us out and accompanies us even after he sends us. So we should be strong and remember Joshua 1:9, "be strong and courageous".

The final is OBEDIENCE:
Obedience being our offering and our giving in to the reality that God is King and Ruler of our lives, yet still allows us to do our own thing. Obedience is us just listening and paying attention. How can we listen to what is going on if we are loud in our lives. Loud with sin and loud with our actions. We are called to obey God, be obedient to him and mindful of who He is. So many times listening is about shutting up and just staying still, even for me I have a hard time just being quiet that I miss what is going on. Psalm 46:10 tells us "be still and know that I am God." When we obey God that is us professing in our hearts that we are trusting and surrendering to the very goodness of God's will. The perfect example of obedience is the Blessed Mother, in her youth she obeyed God, placed her trust in him and surrendered her body as the vessel that would bring Jesus into the world. She is a model for us all and we should pray through her for the same obedience, humility, faith and courage as she. One thing I touched on during my presentation is that obedience starts now, in our homes and with our families. If we cannot be obedient to our families on earth then how can we be obedient to God who is in Heaven. So it starts now.

By our baptism, we are all called to sainthood, we are all called to holiness and to achieve true holiness we should be mindful of God in humility, trusting in him with faith, we should call upon him in prayer, stand up with him in Courage and surrender to him with obedience.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

A Moving Will

Usually when we accomplish something we feel good about it, if we did not feel good about our accomplishments then there would be no reason to start. I think of my younger days when I would run up the water bill by leaving the waterhose on in the backyard to make a small river that trickled down from the patio all the way to the end of the yard. I would dig a small trench and make turns and curves for the water, make reservoirs where the water would gather then soon continue down the path I created. I tried so hard to keep the water from overflowing and out of control, I placed sticks and rocks to make it look authentic and then I would connect it all together, end to end to keep the water running. The fact is that when it was all done I was proud of what I had done, It was fun to watch, my toes got wet and muddy but it was an accomplishment in my eyes.

 In a bigger picture, in all eyes man has a moving will. Our will is moved primarily by Grace and secondarily our will may be moved by motivation, joy and even the outcomes that we foresee. What I mean by the will is our plan or our judgments of right and wrong, even our desire. God gives us free will, meaning we can choose to go left or right, we have the option to live a good life or a bad life. The reason why we have a moving will is because we do things, and we are moved. As humans we want to see the outcome, we want to see our accomplishments and we want to be happy and joyous because of them. Ultimately, God moves our will by the Grace he provides. God aids our will by his presence in our lives, and so it is by his aid of Grace that our will can be conformed to the will of His.
The past May I graduated from college, after four long collegiate years it is joyous yet at the same time, it is a reminder for me that God has moved and continues to move my own will. Free will is not so free, because God captivates by his love and Grace and He aids us to make the right moves in our lives. One Catholic musician by the name of Luke Spehar describes it well in a song he wrote, God as a Master chess player, knows every possible move, but plays the one that is best in fulfilling that goal. God in his love for us, wishes to move the will rather than the mind. This means that God wants to have an impact in our lives on helping us choose right over wrong, and good over bad. This is why we have goals in our lives. Today our lives are made up of 'finish lines' if you will. Finish lines like graduating high school, or graduating college, getting a new car, buying a new house, or learning that rainbow soccer trick. All of these are finish lines and goals, they are ends. The reason why we start in attempting to obtain these goals are well one, because we are naturally ordered to an end. We are naturally ordered to finish lines just like a flower is naturally ordered to full blossom and then on to it's withering, it is apart of life. The joy is that we have to work for these things and God allows us to work for these things, God allows us to strive for these goals, and He wants us to experience the joy in crossing that finish line. Since God desires to move the will, he allows it and aids it to be moved. If we are given perfect clarity in life and given no natural end then there is no practice in moving the will. If we know the outcome of our each and individual lives then it would harm the will, build up our pride and humble our minds.

So therefore, God in his love for us, allows us and aids us by his Grace in moving our will. As humans, we naturally have a moving will, that will is ultimately moving towards God. So when we accomplish something, recognize that God moves our will, He places motivation in us, He helps us be determined to accomplish, He helps us overcome adversity all by the help of His Grace and it is through all of this that our wills are being trained and moved to God.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

St. Francis: Man of Peace

These past few months, have been extremely Franciscan for me, by the help of Grace I am more drawn to the life of Saint Francis, who he is and what he did. With the help of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio taking on the name of Pope Francis after Saint Francis, I have became attracted more to who Saint Francis is and Pope Francis by the authority given to him by God, invites us to do the same. In the life of Saint Francis, he leaves us with a message of love and compassion. He leaves us with a message to follow Christ with immediate obedience and I think this is what makes the life of Francis so attractive. A few weeks ago, I picked up a book over Saint Francis and found myself so drawn to his life, pretty soon I found myself halfway through the book. There are a couple things that I think are the most profound and necessary in following Christ, especially through the Saint Francis lens.

1.) Saint Francis at a young age was thrown in prison because he left the army he had only been apart of for a day. He was left in the dark, the silence and the cold for over a year. The interesting thing is that Saint Francis in essence,  was formed and molded by the silence, much like the Apostle Paul. It was said that it was in the silence where  Francis found God and so when he was released from prison he was so wrapped up in the silence and the insight he got because of it! So much that he would even seek the silence and look for caves in the nearby mountains. The very thing that he was afraid of before he was now seeking out. Saint Francis new the impact the silence had on him, he wanted to hear the voice of Christ, he desired him and he wanted to now more about him, so he placed himself in the silence and the very darkness he was afraid of.

2.) Saint Francis before his conversion wanted desperatly to become a noble knight and fight for the king of the land. He knew it would give honor to his family, especially his wealthy father. One night in a dream, God spoke to him asking, "Francis, who is it better to serve, The Lord or a man?", without question, Francis said "The Lord" Francis then left his original desire to become a noble Knight to listen and harken to the voice that he had heard. While seeking out this voice in the caves, and in the silence, Francis came upon small run down church and began praying before the altar, with his hands outstretched. Suddenly a voice came from the cross of the altar that said, "Francis, rebuild my Church, because as you can see, it is in ruins." It is described that God spoke directly into the heart of Francis and immediately, Francis ran home, sold everything he owned to follow Christ.

3.) The last is one that I find to be very appealing even in my own life. Saint Francis was a care giver and he cared for everyone even those who were not cared for. The lesser, the sick, the imprisoned, the  naked and the leper. One day St Francis was off to the Courtyard of the king on his father's horse. He recognized a leper on the side of the road. In those days, a Leper would yell, "unclean! unclean!" as they are ringing a bell so that passer-byers would stay clear of them. Well this particular day, Francis got down from his high horse, which is symbolic of losing his pride and honorary status. As he got down, he gave him what little money he had left before he could walk away, Francis was became prompted by the spirit to hug this poor leper. So he did the unthinkable and gave him a hug, with no words exchanged, he got back on his horse, left and as he turned to wave goodbye, he noticed that there was never was anybody there. At that moment, Saint Francis knew that he did not just embrace a leper, but he was embracing Christ and professing not only a love for the leper, but a love for God.

I think the joy is that we are reminded to live a Franciscan lifestyle, one that involves the silence and it involves a little immediate obedience, maybe even some embracing. Embracing those who are lesser than we are and those who don't have anybody. Francis in his life, wanted to serve God the King of Kings, he wanted to know God in a perfect way. How he did it is was through serving those people in need, and listening in the silence where he was placed.  We are called to live in silence, not in noise, with the help of silence God becomes present to us and I think Saint Francis realized this and so he wanted more of it.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Sunday: Death Has Lost


Original painting by Randy Friemel © 2013

Christ has risen from the dead! Death has lost it's sting and now we are all free because of the great love that Christ has for us. The message for us is that death has been defeated, defeated by Christ, and that it can also be defeated by us. There is hope this Easter Sunday, because by the resurrection of Christ the message becomes clear to us that even we can defeat death. We can rise up from our sleep, our sin, and our distress and overcome the grave that has once kept us tied up and bound from becoming all that we can be. Paul in Corinthians tells us that we are all made alive in Christ, in his life and death. (1 Cor 15:22) This Easter should be a message for our hope, hope to overcome, hope to be better, and hope to seek a new life in Christ everyday that we are alive. The debt has been paid, and we are no longer hostages to sin because God in his immeasurable love for us would come down to die on a cross and be raised to pay the price for all our sin. Death has lost, and we are brought to new life because of it.

So Rejoice my friends, Rejoice. Happy Easters.

To see more of paintings by Randy Friemel you can visit his website at

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Joy: a New Motive

Whoever said life was a roller coaster was not lying. There are so many up and downs in our lives that sometimes it might be so hard to keep up and even "hang on". There might be stages of having no motivation to do anything, no desire to speak or even get out of bed. It's like we want joy an we want peace but there's a distraction before all of it. For a college campus like this its everywhere and it leads us to depression and sadness. All of this and it seems like your in a rut with no way out, its like a hole that we dug underneath our feet and we forget to jump out. The tool being used to dig is in fact our very sin. Since sin is a distraction and hinders our relationship with Christ, it also separates us and breaks that natural link of sanctifying grace that is placed within us constantly. It makes perfect sense that in this break between man and God, sin can also break our relationship between man and creation, therefore keeping us from what we can fully be! Even Saint Irenaeus said it himself when he said that glory of God is man is fully alive. We are called to be fully alive, enduring sin, and resisting what hurts. If this is you, unable to move with no desire to get anything done, no motivation to get up out of bed I think the answer is very simple. For me its the people and the very creation of God. Besides prayer with a desire to rebuild that relationship with Christ, just talking to people and enjoying what they have to give you can be a relief. In my experience it gives joy and true happiness. The joy that is found, comes from the people and from God indirectly. Talk to your friends and peers talk to your co-workers, jump outside the box an forget the childhood rule that says "don't talk to strangers". Lent is the season of our joy an it can help bring you up an give you peace. Since we as a humanity have an obligation to each other, to build each other up and be a light for others, we are our brother's keeper and we should rely not only on our friends and peers to bring us up in speech, but also God who sustains all of us while granting a never-ending grace that unites us all together as one.

#Catholicsoup #JoyRide #JoyInThePeople

Monday, February 3, 2014

Restoring the City of Man; Jerusalem

In our brokenness, there is always room for healing. In God's eyes we can be forgiven of any fault and fall that we've endured. In our sin, there is restoration by God to a spirit a faithfulness and obedience to him. Just as the restoration of Jerusalem is described in Psalm 147, we too, are restored and brought to new life in him. We might feel so unworthy for the love that Christ offers to us because of who we are and maybe where we've been. We might feel so unclean that there is no room to be washed and cleansed but the joy is that in our sin and suffering, there is healing. Healing of a better heart, a better soul, even a better mind! Because in our unworthiness God restores us and still holds us up even after we sin. In this restoration of Jerusalem, or man, God sustains, He provides, he rebuilds, gathers, strengthens, blesses, proclaims and delights in this City. He does all of this for us. God, in our sin, restores us, he sustains us still, and provides for us the necessary grace to return to his yard.
For me in my unworthiness, it can be hard sometimes to be fully devout because I know that I am unworthy of His love. With that, it doesn't mean that I can't be as faithful and obedient as I can be. It is my unworthiness that should allow me to be faithful, obedient and fully devout to God who restores even in all of this. God made us, he built us, why wouldn't he be able to rebuild us in our sin, and restore our relationship with him?