Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Calling All Future Saints of America...

Come Holy Spirit!

Tonight my guardian angel and I made up a game. It's called "The Future Saints of America." The students formed into teams, and I asked Catholic Trivia questions, and the winning team received a bunch of candy and were officially titled the 'future saints of America...'

It's really amazing to be able to travel all over the US and have a glimpse into the lives of young Catholics, and share just a moment in their lives. The Catholic Church is alive and well in the hearts of the young people! I always wish I could be at these classes for longer, to be able to talk to people and hear their stories and how God is working in their lives. My favorite part of the night is when someone comes up to me after a presentation and says how much they love God, how much they learn from being with their youth group, and how they have taken the Faith as their own, and how much it means to them.

It was especially beautiful tonight, on the eve of the Feast of All Saints. Tonight is really such a holy night for the Church, for tomorrow we celebrate all the people who have gone before us and are rejoicing in Heaven forever. We can't let scary halloween festivities get in the way of the holy night. Over 150 kids gave this night for God, and came to Religion Class to hear a talk on angels and saints instead of attending costume parties and going trick-or-treating.

I am realizing more and more how much our Faith is such a gift. The knowledge of God and Catholicism is something we cannot take for granted. If we believe, then we must learn as much as we can about our Faith, that we might be able to know WHAT we believe, WHY we believe it, and then pass this faith and love of God on to others. That's what the job of the future saints of America is: to love God above all things and to do His Will.

Where are the future saints of America? ... Look around. Look in a mirror. YOU! Dear future saint of America! Don't sell yourself short on what the world may offer you. Don't think you can't become a saint. The world is waiting for you, and for your love of God to be shared. Other future saints need your guidance and example. You better believe He is calling you...

Tomorrow (November 1st) is their day. Maybe one day it will be ours, too.

God bless, Mary

Monday, October 29, 2007

Ta da!

We have had our first official performance of the new season!
It was for a youth retreat in Ocala, Fl. On Saturday, we got an early start to the day (think rising at 5:45 am! Eek!) , since we had a four hour road trip ahead of us, plus a McD’s stop… ☺ It was a bit drizzly and cloudy out, but that didn’t dampen our enthusiasm or that of the kids we performed for! There were about fifty of them from 6 different parishes in the Ocala/Tampa area. They were a really great group, very attentive and very lively. Perhaps too attentive though, as I quickly found out. In the play we did, I start out as the worldly narrator and at one point I ask the kids to give me some examples of what you need to be perfect. The idea is to get them to say cars, money, fancy clothes, lots of friends, etc, to set up for my next lines. Unfortunately (fortunately?) they were too smart for me. One kid raised his hand, and said “No one is perfect.” “You need to love Jesus” was another one. Rats. They spoiled my lines… What was I supposed to say? “No, no, no, guys, you’re supposed to be worldly and answer all the wrong things….” And so confuse them? And yet I couldn’t stay in character and admit they were right either. Ah, well, the difficulties of life on stage. ☺
The rest of the play went well. Both the youth leaders and the youths loved Mary’s performance as the perfect girl whose little falls lead up to a big fall, and who at the end finally returns to Jesus and His Love. One boy asked me if I was the devil. It was amazing to see how seriously they took the play, and how much they really do understand. One of the kids came up to us to compliment us on the simplicy of our set and props. "I was able to really focus on the story," she said. Another one raised his hand during the little talk I gave after the play. Expecting a question on the real meaning of perfection, I knodded at him. "Can I have that bracelet?" he asked instead, pointing at one of our props... Yes, kids are indeed a serious bunch.
We ran an icebreaker game (Immaculata, a fast-paced version of Musical Chairs) later in the day, and also gave out white paper roses to help remind the kids about the theme of the retreat: making good choices. Those roses looked so simple… but tell that to our hands after rolling, folding, and trimming, fifty of them, petal by petal, stem after stem! Ah me! Ok, fine, so I don’t really merit too much sympathy…
It was a great experience! May the Holy Spirit work His wonders and inspire us all to love God more and more!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Eden's Fall... to her knees.

Come Holy Spirit!

I just finished reading "The Thrill of the Chaste" by Dawn Eden. Wow. It is an excellent book. As a young single woman, hoping and praying for marriage one day, this was exactly the encouragement I would hope to find, yet is so rarely found on the shelves of our bookstores. Eden is a woman who has tried to live according to the socially acceptable norms of life and relationships, yet found that road to be exactly what it is: deceptive and leading nowhere. She discovered the very serious and scarring consequences of the lifestyle that magazine pictures and stories don't dare to publish. She picked herself up from a promiscuous past and through the mercy and forgiveness of God, found the strength to return to the Foot of the Cross and walk the straight and narrow way to salvation. It's hard. It's uncool. It's countercultural, and she knows it, and often times pays the price for living as a Christian in a world that won't tolerate morality or standards. In my eyes, Eden is an inspiring woman and great writer, who does a fantastic job of relating to her readers. She doesn't condemn. She isn't graphic in her details, but she is very honest and witty. She has a deep conviction for what she writes, and because she believes what she says, you respect her and thank her for her wisdom. She's funny, too. I laughed out loud many times. It's a great great book. She knows the problem and offers the answer, and walks her readers through life, pointing out the good and the bad. I learned a lot from her, and was very inspired.

Chastity and purity are virtues hardly talked about, and rarely practiced. There's too much pressure all around us to allow us to remain chaste and pure. I would go so far as to say we are EXPECTED to be promiscuous, uncontrollable, "free" creatures without any sense of morality. We are prudes or stupid or 'there is something wrong' if we desire to wait for marriage. Purity is uncool to talk about, and anyone who does is sure to be made fun of and criticized. I just met a man a couple days ago who told me it is IMPOSSIBLE to be chaste... and he actually believed that.

Living a chaste and pure life is hard - but it is by no means impossible.

I'm waiting... (am I allowed to say that? Will people laugh at me? Will they believe me? Shoot. Do I really care? I'm proud to say that...) I'm waiting. I pray everyday that I will be strong enough to remain chaste and pure. I want to save myself for my husband. I want to be in a holy and pure relationship that is strong and centered on Christ - not blinded by emotions and feelings and - dare I say it? - self gratification and sin. Not that I'm perfect, because I'm not - for sure. I fall. I sin. I go to Confession. But I, like Dawn Eden, believe in God's mercy and that He has a plan for my life - one that is far more beautiful and fulfilling than I could ever plan or hope for. I am His, first and foremost. And I pray that I can be faithful to Him in every way, and that I don't believe or give into the seductive and easy lies of the world. They promise fulfillment and happiness. That couldn't be any further from the truth.

If you are interested, read Dawn's book. There are other great ones out there, too, but she wrote something beautiful here, and it should be read...

God bless, Mary

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Our Plays

Our plays bring the truth before the eyes of others to let them experience with the characters the dynamic and real-life consequences of issues such as abortion and loss of purity. These are not issues to be debated intellectually but are personal ones that touch each of our lives at one point or another. The plays are not meant to be preachy or sentimental, but are intended to show how much we all stand to lose when one of us chooses abortion or chooses to succumb to the temptations of the flesh. We must realize that the choices we make do not just affect our own lives and bodies but are part of a larger picture, one in which others are painted as well.

“Do you see them? The little girls who never got to play. The little boys who never had their chance to save the world. The friends we never had, the loved ones we never got to meet.” Sarah’s Secret

Mission: Possible!


Come Holy Spirit!

The media is the most dominant and influential force in the lives of countless people over the world. So it makes sense, that if we want to reach people, we would use it. Using the powerful venues of music, theater, and film we present 2,000 year old beliefs in forms people relate to today. Entertaining audiences of all ages, we perform two-woman plays with themes that include pro-life, chastity and modesty, as well as direct a fashion show. Our focus is aimed at highschoolers and middleschoolers, who are so often the victims of the onslaught of impurity and the lack of faith that our modern world glorifies. The youth are at the front lines and we look to them as the soldiers for Christ. So, we are young people reaching out to young people, hoping to inspire and challenge others to pick up their cross and follow Christ.

As a theater company, we bring words to life on the stage. As Catholics, we bring Christ, the Word, to life every day through our actions. As a Catholic theater company, we aim to bring the Word to others, both showing them and learning ourselves how to make our faith real and present in our everyday lives.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Off To A Great Start!

Whew, here we are Monday after our first showcase performance as The Morningstar Players! Our director Kevin flew down from St Louis to run a week of rehearsals. They got pretty intense! One 5 minute scene took almost two hours to get through! On Wednesday, he decided that it would be a great idea to perform in front of an audience on Friday afternoon. Uh oh! So we ran through our plays again and again, straightening out the kinks, identifying the 'moment,' and fixing another detail each time, until finally Friday came!
We set up a little stage area in our office, complete with sound (from a computer!) and lights (from directed desk lamps!). The people filed in a little past three o’clock, and took their seats with expectant chatter. Mary and I stretched and cleared our throats… and off we went!
It was an amazing experience! Working in front of a crowd like that really brought the scenes to life. We taped the rehearsals and the performances for our records and to complete our World Youth Day application. Hopefully we will send that in soon and see what happens!