Thursday, June 11, 2015

RSVP to the evil one

Why do I fight you?
and why do you scare me?

You try to convince me I've done something horrible,
ruined something precious, destroyed something vital,
made people hate me and caused the people I respect most to not care about me.
You are the accuser- accusing me of your own sly crimes.

It's not okay to give you any power
any attention, any emotion, any serious thought.

God is stronger than you,
and I can tell you, "No."

When I fail, it's because I'm ashamed to admit
you're getting the upper hand,
but if I don't, no one can know to help me fight.

Fear of the Lord is a healthy respect, a secure defense.
Pride is a toxin, slowly ravaging souls.
You want to keep tempting me to drink that pride,
like a sedative, to calm your attacks.

You work to scare me that life will disappoint
and will hurt me every time.
Fear of being hurt is the most stupid fear there is.
Hurt can't harm like losing my soul.
And you can harm me without hurting at all,
with the opiate of your empty promises.

Why do you terrify me that people don't love me?
Screaming those lies at me, night and day.
And that I am a bad person for caring at all.
You serve me self-pity and drama as food,
when I have the bread of eternal life.
Why, you fool, do you even try?

Since all you know to talk about is I, I, I and
me, me, me--
The only way to shut you up is not to think about myself at all.
You don't know me anyway.
The only "me" you know is the
prey you want to capture
in your quagmire of eternal pain.

I will drown you in your useless tears,
Lock you in a cell to shut out futile cries,
Your impotent lies. 

Hell. That's right. Just go there,
Suffer by yourself.
I won't be joining you.

-Laura Marie Teresa Paxton

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Prayers for Pretenders

With a stony heart,
It was hard to forgive,
the years you pretended
to be my Lord.

You accepted His praise.
You accepted His gifts.
You accepted His money.
You are a thief.

You took His devotion.
You took His love.
You distorted His holiness,
called Him a parasite,
when the real parasite was you.

You are not Him
and you are no mirror for Him,
for me, or for anyone.
Not once did you even try to be,
although you let people 
believe that you did.

You stood in His place.
You blocked His way.
You made promises 
you never intended to keep.
Why do it?
It wouldn't serve you.

It was my crime too,
to believe in you.
I have agonized over
my idolatry,
and how I too
betrayed my Lord.

I will always go against myself
in everything I say and do
because if I don't,
I will stay the victim
of people like you,
who make "all for self"
your golden calf.

I unite this betrayal with Jesus' betrayal by Judas.
And I offer it up for His holy purposes,
for I am His, now and forever-
not yours.

God gave me a natural heart
just like you said,
please pray for me to use that heart
to love my betrayers,
leave God to judge them,
and wish for His mercy,
for me and for them.


Monday, May 4, 2015

Paul and Barnabas- Why Not Be "As Gods?"

Today, I was the lector for daily Mass and I read something that really made me think and reflect. Today's scripture was about when Paul and Barnabas fled Iconium because they were almost stoned; they healed a man in Lystra; were lauded as gods and then they turned down the honor. (Acts 14: 5-18)

What stopped them from accepting the crowd's willingness to treat them as gods? Did they just stop and remember that they weren't supposed to, because of the ten commandments? Did they berate themselves for pride and find that turning down the honor was a difficult temptation?

No. They "tore their garments." I believe Paul and Barnabas loved Jesus very much. I believe they loved Him so much that to even consider accepting any credit for His glorious actions pained them deeply. 

I thought about so many modern "teachers" or "gurus" who teach people to love themselves above all else, some of which may not encourage but do allow people to worship them as "enlightened ones," like gods. What if Paul and Barnabas had reduced themselves to that level?

They could have. Why didn't they? Paul and Barnabas lived devoted to our Creator, the "living God." It was the love for Him that fueled their passion. To accept any credit was unthinkable. Their joy was to spread the message of God's ever-living, ever-loving power, everlasting power- A love so great that our Creator took on flesh and then sacrificed that flesh for us. 

What if Jesus had not risen? Would He even have been remembered as a teacher and prophet? Or would he have been remembered as a failure, a weakling and a fraud? 

A great truth emerges from the Resurrection- The strong and firm foundation on the living God is the only true enlightenment, the only firm rock we can trust, the only freedom and power worth giving our lives for. 

To consider any credit for anything our Creator gives us is pure blasphemy. I have nothing and am nothing unless my Creator allows me to have it. 

By spending time with God- in prayer, in service, in the sacraments, or in any act of worship, we come to love Jesus more and more. We come to love Him so much that receiving credit for anything becomes absolutely unthinkable.

Daily Readings:

Monday, April 20, 2015

Look at Original Sin With New Eyes

Nobody likes the idea of original sin. The people of today's world like to choose which beliefs suit them and "original sin" certainly does not suit them. If I were shopping for beliefs, I'm sure I wouldn't buy that one. Who would?

"Original sin" may be the two most important words you will ever hear. And, as strangely paradoxical as this may sound, if you hear them, while listening with an open mind, you will understand something beautiful. You will understand how much God loves you. You will understand how to be joyful and at peace. 

But, if you close your ears to hearing these two words, and close your mind to taking in their meaning, any experience you may have of spiritual freedom will be counterfeit. 

Once upon a time, in a galaxy (thankfully) now far, far away in my mind, I was told a little story. It went something like this:

A baby is born in perfection, radiating perfect love. But, later the people and culture surrounding the child convince him that he is imperfect. They are all lying to him! How the people appeared before him who were imperfect and able to spread the imperfection came to be is a mystery, but that's what happened.

Because, you see, Adam and Eve never really left the Garden of Eden. We're still in there. The problem is that we can't see the truth that is around us. We believe we are walking around in a broken world,  but this is nothing but a "bad dream" based on lies about our imperfection. That is what the knowledge of "good and evil" was- The lie that there really is good and evil. There really was no original sin, but only an original judgment, which began when Eve and Adam ate the forbidden fruit and gained that "knowledge."

If we can extricate ourselves from judging ourselves, life's situations and others, we can return to the innocence of realizing we are perfect and our world is perfect. As a result, the Garden of Eden, Heaven on Earth, will appear to us. 

Sound extreme? Although it is the norm in our culture to shun judgment of others, some take it to its natural extreme conclusion and it becomes a "spiritual path." It's not just a philosophy, but a dedicated lifestyle. 

What do I see happening here? Fifty shades of profound loss.

The story you have just read is perfectly plausible if you deny original sin. As I pointed out, who wouldn't want to deny it? It's not an enjoyable idea, and it's certainly not an "empowering" one. But, let me explain to you the outcome of not believing in original sin, and perhaps you will see how harmful the denial of original sin can be.

I spent over six years trying to create Heaven on Earth by training myself not to judge anything. And the condition of my soul, by the time I found out the real truth, was dead.

What is lost when original sin is denied?

God can't get through to us. He can't strengthen what isn't weak, heal what isn't sick, fix what isn't broken. 

Of course, the point of being born perfect is that you are also born all powerful and can accomplish all that strengthening, healing and fixing just by denying, denying, denying original sin. If you deny it well enough, you will feel happy, like the dear little carefree child you once were. 

Yes, it would be great if it worked this way. The problem is that it doesn't. Just like children who aren't able to feed and clothe themselves from the moment they are born, we always need to depend on what is beyond ourselves. 

We are created for God and we weren't meant to live and operate without our connection with Him. 
If we deny that there is any God beyond ourselves; believe that we are that God; or that someone else is a god; that all of us are one god together; that we don't need God because we can tap into some place called the "source," or any other variant of this denial, we're missing exactly the same boat.

With an understanding of original sin comes the understanding that we are not in Eden any longer. 
Our first ancestors disobeyed God and as a consequence, that door to Eden was shut. We were born outside Eden as a consequence of what they did. The world outside of Eden is a broken one. And suffering and evil are randomly unleashed on the earth in ways that are not just or fair. 

God loves us too much to leave us like that, abandoned, outside of the world He intended for us. 
Disobedience is what caused our first parents to sin, and they disobeyed based on the pride that they wanted to be gods and not need God. When we return to Him and admit we need His help, His guidance, His mercy and His love, the doors are open once again to paradise. When we return with humility and with obedience (the opposite traits to the ones our original parents had), we are able to repent and break free. 

One reason original sin is a hard idea to take in is that it makes us feel "originally puny" when we think about it. Nobody wants to feel puny, or bad just for being born. However, I don't mind feeling puny anymore, because now I can accept the love and mercy of the omnipotent Creator of the universe who cares about each soul as if it is His only one. 

I'm talking about restoring natural connections that were broken when I talk about original sin. We are floundering in an unnatural state when we resist the idea of original sin, which negates the possibility of an antidote. 

If we don't accept the illness, we can't receive the medicine. 
And our souls die. 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Tiny Star

Let me be your little nothing,
whom you love with all your heart.
Let me be your glory's mirror;
may my pride receive no part.

Let me be your emptiness,
to give you room to live.
Let me offer up your majesty;
I have no more to give.

Let me be your tiny star,
obscured by clouds and night.
Only you shall see me there
and keep my flame alight.

-Laura Marie Hall Paxton

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Only A Soul

I gave you my soul
for eternity.
You accepted 
that forever bond.

You are a vampire
you told me that night;
and we are the antichrist
you told her that day.

Each Easter, we ate and drank
communion offered
to ourselves, as the gods.

Find God in you
in the mirror, you said,
hours, days, months and years
believing and hoping
I'd find her there,
But, all I could see
were my vacuous eyes.

The eyes you photographed,
saying they looked up to see
you, infinity itself. 
I gave you my trust,
loyalty, devotion
and faith

So, if you happened
to notice this girl
dying slowly,
Don't worry.
It's only a soul.

Only a soul,
sacrificed for you
for your comfort,
for your wealth,
for your pleasure.

Am I being selfish,
you asked me that night.
You are enlightened
and can't be, of course.

One day, you released me,
but kept that bond.
And it weighed me down
like a ball and chain.

I'm not a victim
Victimhood is not allowed.
But for every dollar you make,
For each admiring face, 
for every blissful, tearful eye,

Don't worry,

It's only a soul.

-Laura Marie Hall Paxton,

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Network Breakdown

The wires aren't connected
the signals won't move.
And he sits there, many worlds away.
His voice is there, so sweet, so dear..
but he and I aren't connecting here.
Since not with him,
not with anyone.
They all are all so far away.

Just need a connection..
a connection.. connection.. please..
any.. I reach... hand is slapped or pushed back.
Too much trying.. wrong way trying..
Afraid. Hide inside. 

Do they wish I would disappear?
They all turn back in scorn,
ones I love, ones I admire,
even the ones who used to look me in the eye and
just talk about the weather..
They talk about snow while I talk about rain. 

My reflections in the mirror blur.
My echoes come back in someone else's voice.

One by one, the synapses break,
in his mind,
in our minds
I will never meet the Dad I knew
again in this life.
It's not you.
It's not me.
It's everywhere I go.
It's everywhere I turn.
It's everyone I meet
and everyone I know
No matter how much I've known them
they all go further away-
friend, acquaintance, confidant,
all the synapses break
between us all
shatter and snap
just as his break.
Am I losing them all?
All at once?
He matters, so much,
They matter, so much
I don't matter.
I don't matter.
I can't connect, connect, connect..
Just like he can't, he can't, he can't.
The whole world has become him
and I have become him.
Weakness is a crime
So, just like him,
take the key and
leave me in this cell,
in my shell
where the lonely wind cries
and my heart dies again and again and again.
-Laura Marie Hall Paxton, 03/05/15

Saturday, February 28, 2015

A Real Mother and a Rare Child #RareDiseaseDay2015

I can't know what it's like to watch my baby in the hospital, constantly subjected to painful tests, surgeries and procedures, to not be able to hold him, to not be able to heal him, save him, comfort him or do anything at all to make it better.

I can't know what it's like, for over a year, to not know what's wrong and how to help, despite the tests, despite the experts, despite the fights, despite the prayers and despite the tears.

I can't know what it's like to dedicate my life to fighting day and night for a way to heal my precious baby- to argue with doctors, to demand a fair chance for diagnosis, to seek to the ends of the earth for someone who can save my precious son. 

I can't know what it's like to have a tiny little girl who also wants her mommy's attention, and to give her every ounce of my time that I can and always feel it isn't enough.

I can't know what it's like to have a nearly paralyzed baby on life support who could stop breathing at any time, to deal with that daily fear and pray constantly to our Lord for his help, for strength to make it through and to have the faith to believe in what feels like the impossible. 

I can't know what it's like to have nurses and caregivers getting sick or cancelling their work shift, leaving me to abandon my plans for the entire day to watch my little child to make sure he doesn't stop breathing, while watching my little girl at the same time and being the best wife to my husband I can be. 

But I can admire her. And I can support her. And I can hold her up as an example of what it means to love, to sacrifice, to devote my life to faith and courage. 

Priscilla Zahner Rosenlund, I love you. 

And that is one of a million reasons why I support #RareDiseaseDay2015.

And I ask for more research, more funding for research, more public attention and more prayers for the one in ten people with rare disease, such as Baby Truett and for mothers like my cousin Priscilla, with nowhere to turn. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Falling for God

We are born to die and dying is the most important thing we can do, to prepare for leaving this world. I want to do that well. Can I feel pain and suffer and still love and forgive? Can I look for every opportunity I can to show God how much I love Him? Can I make my life a gift to God that culminates in the final sacrifice of my life?

Blessed Titus contemplated these things from prison as he waited to be killed. He had been tortured ("experimented on") in Dachau, day after day for many weeks. The entire time, he prayed for his torturers and cried out, "Thy will not mine be done!" 

While in prison, he wrote, "(Christ), in your weakness, you conquered the world. Let me be weak with you and bow deep under the weight of life. Be insignificant and small in the eye of the world and stand up again with you for new suffering until my death will be the crowning of my offer. Amen." 

Blessed Titus lived and died this prayer. 

The world we live in does not teach us these things. The world we live in teaches us that "Heaven on Earth" means an abundance of wealth and pleasure, and that we can be empowered, full of great self-esteem. Some take it to the extreme and see themselves as gods and goddesses. 

Yet, it is pride that separated us from God in the beginning- The pride that we knew better than God whether or not to eat the fruit of the Garden. And it is only through humility that we may return to Eden. 

Jesus fell for me. 
May I also fall for Him, and when I fall, let it be all for His glory.
Let me fall to the ground and never get up, but let only Jesus rise in me.
Blessed Titus Brandsma, pray for us.

Edit: As of 02/25/15, this blog has been significantly edited. There were a couple of theological errors in it that are now corrected. So, some sections have been omitted in order to make a clearer point. Thanks for your patience!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

An Invitation to Eternal Friendship

My former formation director asked why I haven't blogged in a while, and she suggested that my writing about the humanity of Christ may be a good idea. I had shared with her something my spiritual director taught me last week and she said it had revolutionized her thinking and deepened her experience of the Eucharist. So, she wanted me to let more people know.

I will be happy to share it, although it is not my idea, but my understanding of his lesson. Jesus Christ is more human than we are. He is not less human, but more human. Humanity doesn't equal sinfulness because humanity was never intended to be sinful. As humans, we were created perfect and our fall from grace actually made us less human, a warped distortion of what it means to be human instead.

Jesus came to restore humanity to our original perfection and goodness, as a “second Adam,” and to offer humanity a second chance. Jesus is 100% human, which is 100% good, and He is also 100% God.

So, what does this mean to us? I imagine it means something different to each one of us personally.

For me, it means the opposite of what I was taught in my "new age" spiritual path before. I believed that we lost Eden because of our desire for knowledge of good and evil, which had to do with judgments. If we could stop judging, we could return to Eden, where we could reign as gods.

Well, good luck with that, since even if we did not judge we would still live as a human who is less perfect than were designed to be. We would just convince ourselves we were perfect anyway, and lose the opportunity to know the real return to our natural and perfect human state.

That solution does not re-unite us to God our Creator. It only blinds our vision from the truth of our alienation from that God. Judgment is not the enemy. Alienation from our loving Creator is the enemy and judgment did not create that. Pride did. We wanted the knowledge of good and evil so we could “be as gods,” after all.

And this explains why I am creating the app I am developing. I want to bring us closer to our loving Creator through Christ, the new and perfect man. I want people to relate to Him as a human man, as well as to God, because this is the reason He was born and died for us.

In Father's homily this morning, he talked about what Christianity has that secular “spirituality” lacks. We have a real relationship with the Trinity, the Trinity that original sin wrenched us away from. My new app has over 500 quotes by Jesus Christ himself, from Sacred Scripture. It also includes over a thousand quotes by four Carmelite saints and four blesseds.

What's the point of using quotes from our saints and blesseds, and not just the words of Jesus Himself? Their life was dedicated to helping bring people into a deeper relationship with Christ. So, I want to do that for us, too. I want their words to help us form friendships with these masterful guides, so we can come to know our true Love and Master, Jesus Christ.

I want everyone to know the profound and permanent intimacy, healing, love and joy this friendship offers.

So, in my usual peculiar style, I have been developing a “communication gadget,” a “telephone” of sorts, to help us form a deeper connection with Him.

“If anyone comes to me, I want to lead them to Him.” -St. Teresa Benedicta (Edith Stein)

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Longing to be Still

Jesus, through this frantic world, could you just hold me still?

I don't want to be happy.
I do not want comfort,
for these things pass.

O How I long to be still, still, still with you.

I've had enough,
and nothing else will satisfy.
and there is nothing I won't do
to be still with you.

Let the world keep spinning,
Let it spin until I'm sick,
but Jesus, hold me still.

I want to be unmoving
when life moves lightning fast,
blowing me apart,
and leaving torment in its wake.

There is not much I can count on here.
People lie and use each other.
People die and people leave and
my world spins upside-down.

Just freeze me in your constant stop.
Still my thoughts, Still my heart, Still my being.
Still my all.

Your stillness,
dear sweet stillness,
doesn't have to feel good.
Only make your stillness last.

and Jesus,
Bind me to your cross forever,
for that is where the greatest peace is.

-Laura Marie Hall Paxton,