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

Thursday, April 21, 2016

St. Conrad of Parzham: the Holy Porter

On the edge of the Rott Valley in Lower Bavarria was a German-Christian family, fourteen strong.  Of the twelve is John Birndorfer, the second youngest of the bunch.  John, now known as Saint Conrad of Parzham, was born on December 22, 1818 and was the first German saint to be canonized after the reformation.  At a young age he experienced his share of trials and sufferings within his family and the Catholic Church. Both his parents suffered from the Napoleonic Wars, his mother died at the age of fourteen and the Church at that time was becoming more and more secularized. Germany was losing its Catholic identity, seventeen Catholic Universities had been shut down and twenty-two dioceses in the country were reduced to just five. 

                Still in the midst of all this chaos, John remembered the strong teachings handed down from his mother. He prayed rosaries, attended confession and received communion as often as possible. Soon there came a point when he was discerning religious life. To his surprise, his confessor told him to visit the Capuchins saying, “That’s where you belong.” Thirty-one years into his life, John taking the name Conrad, went through the same doors that he would be opening for the rest of his life. On October 4, 1852, the feast of Saint Francis, Conrad professed and consecrated his whole life to God and the Capuchin Order, thus entering fully into the Order. Saint Conrad was assigned Porter for the friary. For forty-one years Saint Conrad was faithful to his duty as a Capuchin brother, he remained calm and patient with everyone he received.  He opened not only the door of the friary, but also the door of his heart to everyone he met. Saint Conrad came into contact with so many people that he was able to experience the glory and misery of the world. Often getting up early, sometimes two or three in the morning, he would open the door to children and mothers, the poor and the homeless, the hungry, the sick and even the unemployed. He was opening the door to Christ in his own eyes and because of that he gave his heart with compassion to everyone.

As we celebrate the life of Saint Conrad of Parzham, I think we can gather a few things when it comes to being a doorkeeper of our own hearts in relationship with Christ our Savior. As Conrad was faithful to his work, he opened the door for many; he opened the door for the weak. We hear in the gospels that Christ himself dwells in those people! 

"Truly I tell you, Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." Matt 25:40

The call for us is to open the door of our hearts, to let Christ enter for a dwelling but also, so that He can change and renew us from the inside. The effect of this is that we remain always with the Father and the Father in us.  

The call for us is also to greet the Lord, to give him our attention and undivided hearts. Just like Saint Conrad, always listening and never growing tired of his ministry, when we greet the Lord we are turning our hearts to Him with a desire to listen to what might be said and of course, with a willingness to speak! Let us greet the Lord.

I think that lastly, the final message from the holy porter is to see the Lord. See the Lord in the world despite the violence and chaos. Find glory in the weaknesses of the world.  Saint Conrad found Christ in each and every person he opened the door to. He sought the Lord in Heart, mind and soul by opening the door of his heart. 

Saint Conrad of Parzham, Pray for us

Friday, April 15, 2016

Trusting in God: 5 Methods

With the Easter season in full swing the message of Hope and trust seems to be a constant theme for us. Jesus has risen, so we should have hope in finally conquering a death that keeps us from Christ. We should also trust that a greater plan is coming into fulfillment. The plan of light that is truly able to overpower the darkness or the plan of hope over fear, maybe even trust over worry. It’s that image of finally being able to see what has been hidden in the dark for so long. There are just a few things that have to be done so God’s light can reveal to us what it is we have been seeking the answer to.

                Discernment in the house these past few months has demanded another level of trust and confidence in God’s plan. I say that because of the darkness that’s been presented. It’s rocky and cloudy so I think naturally there is doubt and fear. Just like the Resurrection account we hear in the gospel, there was fear within the community of Apostles because they had no idea what would happen to them. The problem for many of us is learning how to trust God even when we don’t know and can’t see. Here are a few methods that have help me to trust in God’s working under the shadows of fear or worry.

Don’t fear! That’s right you’ve heard it a thousand times from Saints, writings, even in the Old Testament. Do not Fear. God is with you in your struggling and He knows what you are going through. The obligation for us is to turn to God, pray to God asking him for courage because He walks with us and accompanies us wherever we are being sent. He said this to His Apostles, sending them with His Spirit, but accompanying them in their journey. The challenge for us is to recognize that God is with us, seeing the Emmanuel in our lives and using that knowledge to stir up courage.

“God Is Still Good” This is a phrase that has come up in meditation quite often. To me it is being able to believe in the power of God’s love even when things go wrong. God never holds back His love from us, if he did just for a moment than we would cease from existence. This is proof that He loves us! So being able to trust in God even when you understand the consequences of being hurt is real trust. True trust in my opinion is moving forward despite realizing and recognizing those things that can go wrong in our lives. For me it has been a blessing to recognize my faults, to stand up, shake off the dust and say “God Is Still Good” and nothing has changed.

Jesus There is nothing better than taking those things that bog you down to the Eucharist. God brings so much to the table of the Eucharist, why would He not allow us to bring so much to him. Take those worries and fears and present them to Him. Receive Jesus Christ body, blood, soul and divinity in the Holy Eucharist. Find out if there is Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at a Church near you. Saint John Paul II says “Jesus Christ, our hope, is a sure compass to guide you on your journey. Look to him and trust in Him, advancing courageously on the path to Holiness.”

Look Where You’ve Been …Imagine your hiking up a mountain. You start becoming more and more exhausted with each step you take. As you look back to see where you have been, it begins to push you because now you realize how much further you need to go. In Saint Paul’s opening letter to the Philippians, he tells them,” I am sure of this, that He who began the good work in you will bring it to completion on the day of Jesus Christ.” The good work in us has been started! A big part of trusting in God for me has come through reflecting on recent events or times in my life. We begin to realize that God was with us back then, and so is certainly with us now.

Lastly,  Remember God’s Faithfulness continuously meditate on the faith that God has toward his people, especially in the Old Testament. Countless times we see God always reminding his people that he is with them and that he will never leave them. He was there for the Israelites throughout the whole Exodus; He made it known to Joshua that He is with Him, for him to be strong and courageous in facing those enemies.

With these in mind, let us each place our trust and faith in God that He delivers us from all our fears and worries and place us carefully under his love. May we always work to strive to do your will, for the building up of your kingdom and not our own! Jesus I trust in you!