NFP Week: Saturday Saints–Anne and Joachim

Originally posted on Proverbial Girlfriend:

*Disclaimer: I am away on a cruise and may not have access to update/edit this post or moderate comments. Please be charitable!*

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Saint Anne and Saint Joachim

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The Holy Family Generations statue at the Saint Anne Shrine in Sturbridge, MA.

Saint Anne and Saint Joachim are the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Immaculate Conception. Today is their feast day! I never learned much about this couple growing up, but now I have an increased interest in these two, they who brought up the world’s most perfect woman. Now, we don’t have much to go on except tradition–we’re not even sure Anne and Joachim are their real names. But the story of their lives has much to tell us. Here’s a neat little legend from the USCCB:

An ancient story dating to the first centuries of the Church’s life recalls how Saints Anne & Joachim, like Abraham and Sarah…

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The Ball and the Cross

”The Church is not a thing like the Athenaeum Club,’ he cried.’ If the Athenaeum Club lost all its members, the Athenaeum Club would dissolve and cease to exist. But when we belong to the Church we belong to something which is outside all of us which is outside everything you talk about, outside the Cardinals and the Pope. They belong to it, but it does not belong to them. If we all fell dead suddenly, the Church would still somehow exist in God.” – G.K. Chesterton

Doubt.

“St. Thomas asks for the very thing the other disciples received [...] he wants to see the risen Christ for himself. St. Thomas shows us that doubt, even deep doubt, is not the opposite of faith. Doubt need not be a sign that faith is weak and dying. Doubt can be a sign that faith is alive, longing for the risen Lord to renew our life. Perhaps precisely on account of his doubt, Thomas is able to make the strongest confession of faith of any of the disciples in the gospels: ‘My Lord and my God.'”
– Fr. Kevin McGrath, O.S.B

Here I am, Lord

This weekend at the Steubenville Conference in Atlanta was absolutely amazing. I’m still processing everything that I encountered last weekend. Throughout the duration of the event, we were surrounded by about 1,300 people in the Gwinette Center. It was a bit crazy at times, but it was inspiring to see so many teenagers come from all over the United States and outside the country to grow in their faith. I was ridiculously excited when I found out Mark Hart was one of the speakers! He’s one of my LifeTeen role models (besides Jackie Francois)! Any who, it was a wonderful weekend full of prayer, work shops, and Eucharistic adoration.

I had a few highs and lows during the weekend:

1) No one, for the love of all things beautiful, believed that I was an adult. Seriously, I’m twenty-three, I have a stable job, and I’m married. It was incredibly annoying at times, but even through much of my frustration, I had a super awesome experience during my personal adoration time.

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 (So, I love this picture because at one point I was standing between Cal, Pat, and Fr. Kevin. I’m just ridiculously short compared to all of them!)

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(Heather joined me in my suffering. Hardly anyone believed that we are adults. We were interceded by our youth minister many a time.)

2) The president of LifeTeen sat next to me during mass! Oh, and here’s the kicker, I had no idea until our youth minister told me later that day. I just thought he was a friendly stranger just grabbing a seat. It was funny, I was told that the seats infront of me and the two beside me were reserved and I let him sit next to me anyway…I wasn’t going to say no, it was for mass. After he and his son sat down I turned to Heather and said, “Whelp, those seats are gone.” I’m so happy he didn’t hear that, lol.

3) Adoration was absolutely amazing. I honestly wish I could think of better words to describe it. I remembered at the Savannah Diocesan Youth Conference, Fr. Ortega said,”this is the moment when Heaven kisses Earth” and it has been impossible for me to see mass or adoration the same way ever since. I’ve been debating on and off whether or not I would share my writing from holy hour. I had to stop writing during adoration because I just kept being called to kneel and pray:

“Oh beauty divine and ever ancient, here I am. Just me. I’m weak, broken, tired, and torn. Please hear the longing of my soul. My heart cries to you. Why have I been so afraid to fall on you? Forgive me for my weakness and doubt. Heal me, please. I long for you.”

Saint Faustina once said, “He who knows how to forgive prepares for himself many graces from God. As often as I look upon the cross, so often will I forgive with all my heart.” For me, just letting go is something I have always struggled with, but this time, it felt like I was finally able to do it.  Seriously, I started crying before they put Jesus in the monstrance.  I just knew that adoration was going to be beautiful.  I always get teary eyed when I see so many youth praying and worshiping God-seeing the beauty of the Church grabs my heart every time.

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4) I met the nicest nun! She is one of the Missionaries of Charity. It took me the entire weekend to sum up enough courage to talk to her. You know, introvert problems. She gave me a Mother Teresa Medal and a prayer card. Seriously, if I had never married I probably would have joined the Missionaries of Charity or the Benedictine Sisters. Nuns are just awesome.

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I wish I could write more about this weekend, but I’m still processing a few things.

Not all those who wander are lost.

The title of this entry is a quote by Tolkien and it happens to be one of my old favorites. Today’s scripture reading, Matthew 8:28-34, is also one of my old favorites. There is so much that can be taken out of this passage! It says:

28 When He came to the other side into the country of the Gadarenes, two men who were demon-possessed met Him as they were coming out of the tombs. They were so extremely violent that no one could pass by that way. 29 And they cried out, saying, “What business do we have with each other, Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?” 30 Now there was a herd of many swine feeding at a distance from them. 31 The demons began to entreat Him, saying, “If You are going to cast us out, send us into the herd of swine.” 32 And He said to them, “Go!” And they came out and went into the swine, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and perished in the waters. 33 The herdsmen ran away, and went to the city and reported everything, including what had happened to the demoniacs. 34 And behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus; and when they saw Him, they implored Him to leave their region.

This is such a beautiful story. It reminds me of the strong love and abundance of grace Jesus has for His children. It reveals His nature to us.   This reading always makes me wonder how long those men were in that condition. It’s so terribly sad. The men in the story, their souls, were tormented day and night until the very moment Jesus set foot before them and cast the demons out.  In the Gospel according to Mark (Mark 5:1-20 and also Luke 8:26-39) the demoniacs would “scream among the tombs and gash themselves with stones.” The men had broken chains around their bodies and their clothes were torn, and on top of that, they lived among the dead. That’s a terrifying picture to imagine. It’s not surprising that the villagers were afraid to go near them. Personally, I would be terrified, but that’s my own weakness showing.

It is so amazing that even in that state, when no person in their right mind would go around them, Jesus was not afraid to go to them. Why would the Man who calmed the stormy sea not calm the suffering souls of the men? Jesus is never afraid to reach out to us no matter what state of sin we are in. It is his nature to love. There is never a “too far away” from God.  Those men, in my opinion, were pretty much as far away from God as a person can get, but even in that state, the grace of God was still abundant. It reminds us that we just need to open our hearts to him. How could a Father not help his child suffering in the most unimaginable way? The demons feared him. Jesus’ presence, his name even, repealed them. The devils hold on our soul, but our sin, is never too great for God to cleanse.

Along with the beautiful message of hope this story ends in a sad way. After Jesus had performed this great miracle, He was asked to leave. It’s amazing how even in the moments in life where the presence of God is so relevant in our lives we still turn away. We see love incarnate and we reject it.  Saint Augustine of Hippo once wrote, “What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.”  We search and long for love and we don’t know what to do with it when we find it. That is the human condition.

Our Wedding Reception

Introducing Mr. and Mrs. Anderson: Our Wedding Reception

The wedding reception was beautiful! Aunt Barb and MaconNite Life (Brandon and Lindsay) did a fantastic job putting everything together. Didn’t I mention before that I really love Christmas tree lights, lol? I really do enjoy the warm ambiance they create. I think the theme of our wedding could best be described as Shabby Chique meets English Tea Party.

After the wedding party entered, Kurtis and I had our first (and very awkward) dance as husband and wife. The song I chose was Love is not a Fight (acoustic) by Warren Barfield. It suited us perfectly.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FzWCoIDOr6g

After our first dance and Kurtis’ dance with his mom, Father Kevin blessed the food and it was finally time to eat! I was so hungry! I was too nervous to really eat anything before the wedding so I just went without.

During dinner Kurtis’ Best Man and my Maid of Honor did a toast. Both speeches were really sweet and reflective of our relationship with them.

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After that it was time to cut the cake! The cake turned out better than what I had expected. We chose a three tiered marble wedding cake with butter cream icing. Our wedding cake topper was actually set to the side, but it was called “Promise” by Willow Tree. I’ve always have been a big fan of Willow Tree, their products always show so much emotion in such a simple way.

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After the cutting of the cake we had the money dance with the bride and groom. Yay, more awkward Leila dancing! I had a wonderful time, but I was just really afraid of stepping on people’s feet.

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Following that it was finally time for me to toss my bouquet (One Way or Another by Blondie) and for my husband to throw the garter (I’ve Gotta Feeling by Black Eyed Peas). This was hilarious because to everyone’s surprise, including her own, my Maid of honor caught the bouquet (her face was priceless btw) and Robert caught the garter.

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We had a marriage appreciation dance where all of the married couples came out on the floor to dance and who ever had been married the longest gave my husband and I marriage advice.

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Following that it was time to open up the dance floor to everyone! I don’t think I’ve ever seen Kurtis or any of his groomsmen dance that much but it was a wonderful thing to see. I’m really glad that everyone seemed to have a really good time.