Favorites (For Now)

I answer a lot of the same questions when I speak: Where do you shower? How do you get money? How did you decide to do this? And I don’t mind answering them, but sometimes I get really good questions that make me stop and think. A recent one was my favorite parable.1 So I got to thinking about some of my other favorites and thought I’d share them with y’all.

Now, I’m a rather indecisive person, so these are all subject to change. And some of them really might only be my favorite today and never again. But as of right now, here are my favorites:

Jesus snuggling a lambParable: The Lost Sheep (Luke 15:1-7). He never stops searching for you, no matter what you’ve done. What a God, to love us so desperately and rejoice so passionately at our return.

Gospel: John. “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.”2 “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.”3 “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on, do not sin any more.”4 “In the world you will have trouble, but take courage: I have conquered the world.”5 “And Jesus wept.”6 “For my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.”7

Psalm: 20 (Grail translation)

May the Lord answer in time of trial;
may the name of Jacob’s God protect you.

May he send you help from his shrine
and give you support from Sion.
May he remember all your offerings
and receive your sacrifice with favor.

May he give you your heart’s desire
and fulfill every one of your plans.
May he ring out our joy at your victory
and rejoice in the name of our God.
May the Lord grant all your prayers.

I am sure now that the Lord
will give victory to his anointed,
will reply from his holy heaven
with the mighty victory of his hand.

Some trust in chariots or horses,
but we in the name of the Lord.
They will collapse and fall,
but we shall stand and hold firm.

Give victory to the king, O Lord,
give answer on the day we call

Sometimes, to memorize Bible passages, I set them to music. This one happens to be recorded on my computer, so if you promise not to be annoyed by the metronome in the background, you can listen in:

 

Book of the Bible: Isaiah. “The virgin shall be with child and bear a son and call his name Emmanuel.”8 “You are precious in my sight, you are beautiful, and I love you.”9 “Though the mountains leave their place and the hills be shaken my love will never leave you.”10 “Can a mother forget her children? Be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you. See, upon the palms of my hands I have written your name.”11 “You shall be called ‘my delight’ and your land ‘espoused,’ for the Lord delights in you and makes your land his spouse. As a young man marries a virgin, your builder shall marry you. And as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride, so shall your God rejoice in you.”12

And yes, those are all set to music in my head.

Bible Story: Jonah. I love what a drama queen he is. I love how he runs from God. I love how grudgingly he does God’s will. I love the fit he pitches after God works miracles through his reluctant obedience. I just really identify with him, I guess. Also, Moses and the buts, Elijah’s still small voice,13 and the sacrifice of Isaac.14

Jesus' feetGospel Story: The Anointing at Bethany (Mt 26:6-13). Scholars think that the oil she used on Jesus was her dowry. She kept nothing back, offering her past, her present, and her future in her desperate longing to be close to Christ. If only.

Place on Earth: Assisi. Have you been? Go! It can get crowded around feast days, but when it’s quiet, there’s a spirit of prayer that permeates the place. I love Rome, too, but Assisi makes it more possible to submerge yourself in the sacred without being dragged out by Vespas and lingerie ads. Do make sure you get to pray before the relics of St. Clare. She can be easy to miss in the hype surrounding Francis, but that spot before her body has been one of the most important places in my life.

Place in the Holy Land: the synagogue at Capernaum. You wouldn’t think it, given that I’m pretty much a professional Catholic, but I’m quite a skeptic. So visiting the Holy Land was hard for me–there’s just not a lot of evidence for the claims that this is the exact spot where Jesus died or this is the spot where Mary met Elizabeth. Since it doesn’t really matter, I didn’t much mind, but it did get frustrating, waiting in line for half an hour to see a place where Jesus maybe was 2000 years ago when I could walk right in to the chapel where he is right now. But Capernaum is definitely the Capernaum. It’s in the right spot and it’s even labeled. And while they like to tell you “This is Simon Peter’s house” or “This is where Jesus healed whoever,” eventually you get to the synagogue, which is the ruins of a first century synagogue. The only synagogue in the village, it’s pretty clear that it’s the synagogue from John 6. And the synagogue in John 6 is where Jesus gave the Bread of Life Discourse. Intense.

Saint: Josephine Bakhita. Okay, this is really hard. St. Damien and St. Catherine of Alexandria are my standard answers. I also love Francis Xavier, Teresa of Avila, Edmund Campion, Margaret of Castello, John the Beloved, and about a hundred others. But yesterday was Josephine’s feast day and she wanted to be a Sister so bad that she fought her “owners” all the way to the Italian courts for her freedom and then said that she thanked God that she had been sold into slavery because that’s how she came to know Christ. And then she lived the rest of her life in mundane religious obscurity. Yeah.

Josephine Bakhita

Hymn: Come Thou Fount.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

Yes.

Praise Song: How He Loves.

The lyrics are just exactly what my heart needs to be reminded of: how he loves me.

The Annunciation by Carl Bloch

The Annunciation by Carl Bloch

Feast Day: The Annunciation (March 25th) This is where it all began. Mary’s yes brought about God made man. In being incarnate at the Annunciation, God the Son consented to 33 years of poverty, ignominy, and rejection, culminating in betrayal, torture, shame and death. The Annunciation holds the promise of Christmas, Good Friday, and Easter, and all because one girl was willing to do God’s will. What a day.

Book: On Being Catholic by Thomas Howard. It’s an intellectual’s love letter to the Church. Howard has an impressive vocabulary–so much so that I read it with a dictionary–but he’s not showing off. There’s a richness in here that you don’t encounter in a lot of modern writing. Just go read it.

empty tabernacleLiturgical Season: the Triduum. I kind of feel like it’s cheating to pick such a short and hardcore season, but it’s technically a season and it’s awesome. Tenebrae and the silence at the end of Holy Thursday and the empty tabernacle and the Seven Last Words and stations and priests prostrating and the darkened church and the seven first readings and the Gloria and the lilies and the Alleluia and the bells and the lights and the feasting! I always end the Triduum exhausted, even when I’ve been on retreat. It just makes my heart so tired–and so full.

Sacrament: the Eucharist. I feel as though I ought to pick Baptism since Baptism saves you and is necessary15 for salvation. And then I feel as though I should pick Confession since everything good in my life is the direct result of one good confession in 1997. But, oh, friends, the Eucharist! Jesus Christ in the flesh, holding nothing back, stopping at nothing to be close to you, desperate for you. Source and summit, “the center of existence” (Flannery O’Connor), “the one great thing to love on earth” (Tolkien).

Thing about being Catholic: Ditto. Also, the fullness of truth. Obviously, it’s the Eucharist. But a very close second is the confidence I have in the truth of Catholic doctrine, the knowledge that there is an answer to every question I have. It’s a truth steeped in theology, inviting questions and searching and hours of meditation, but the truth is there for the embracing. What a gift this Church is!

Okay, it’s on you. Tell me some of your favorites! Answer them all or just pick out the ones you can decide on. And feel free to throw a few new categories in there–I may even get around to adding them!

  1. Yeah, he was a Protestant. Catholics don’t generally ask about the Bible. Sigh. []
  2. Jn 1:14 []
  3. Jn 14:18 []
  4. Jn 8:11 []
  5. Jn 16:33 []
  6. Jn 11:35 []
  7. Jn 6:55 []
  8. Is 7:14 []
  9. Is 43:4 []
  10. Is 54:10 []
  11. Is 49:15-16 []
  12. Is 62:4-5 []
  13. 1 Kgs 19 []
  14. Gen 22 []
  15. By water, blood, or desire. []

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About Meg

I'm a Catholic, madly in love with the Lord, His Word, His Bride the Church, and especially His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Eucharist. I'm committed to the Church not because I was raised this way but because the Lord has drawn my heart and convicted my reason. After 2 degrees in theology and 5 years in the classroom, I quit my 9-5 to follow Christ more literally. Since May of 2012, I've been a hobo for Christ; I live out of my car and travel the country speaking to youth and adults, giving retreats, blogging, and trying to rock the world for Jesus.
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21 Responses to Favorites (For Now)

  1. Oh this is so much fun. You know I can’t resist.
    Parable: The Good Samaritan (but only because I read *Jesus of Nazareth* and learned about the Church Fathers’ allegorical interpretation of it. The Road to Jericho=human history; The half-dead man=humanity after the Fall; The priest and Levite=the religions of the world that seem like they might be salvific but in the end aren’t; The Good Samaritan=Jesus; The wine and oil that he pours on the wounds of the man=the Sacraments; The Inn that he leaves the man in until he returns=the Church; The price he pays for the man’s lodging=his death on the Cross. Yeah.)
    Gospel: Luke. Because…Mary.
    Psalm: This is ever-changing, but right now I’m pretty obsessed with 40.
    Book of the Bible: It’s a tie between Sirach and Wisdom, because I’m really a romantic and poet at heart.
    Bible story: Joseph. Hands-down.
    Gospel story: Jesus’ resurrection appearance to Mary Magdalene. I love that she only recognizes him when he calls her by name. Chills.
    Place on earth: Rome. Assisi is second. The only reason why I love Rome more is because of the Forum and the Mamertine prison and all of the sites where Christians were martyred.
    Place in the Holy Land: I LOVED Capernaum (and I love even more that we were there together and that I remember you reciting the Bread of Life discourse as we looked at the ruins) but I think my favorite place is Ein Karem because I had one of the most powerful experiences of prayer outside of the church of the Annunciation and the beauty of the hill country outside of Judea was true food for my soul.
    Saint: St. Nicholas. He’s my birthday saint AND he was super-generous (which I’d like to be), a fantastic bishop, AND he cared so much about the truth of Jesus’ divinity that he punched Arius in the nose to defend it. Second favorite would be a two-fer: Perpetua and Felicity. The story of their martyrdom will always be a source of encouragement for me.
    Hymn: O God Beyond All Praising. Makes me cry every time.
    Praise Song: Lord, I Need You by Matt Maher. Pretty sure I’ve listened to this three times a day for the past two weeks.
    Feast Day: The Annunciation!
    Book: My most recent favorites are A Song for Nagasaki (Fr. Paul Glynn) and What It Means to Be A Christian (Ratzinger)
    Liturgical Season: Advent
    Sacrament: Eucharist (duh)
    Thing about being Catholic: EVERYTHING. Nothing slakes my desires for truth, goodness, and beauty more than Christ and the Church. Nothing.
    Christina Grace recently posted…A Prayer Request and a Links Round-upMy Profile

  2. Chris says:

    Parable: Prodigal Son (Have you heard Hurry Home by Jason Michael Carroll? It isan awesome modern version of this parable)
    Gospel: John
    Psalm: 51
    Book of the Bible: John
    Bible story: Tobit
    Gospel story: Wedding at Cana
    Place on Earth: Cape May, because that is where I first fell in love with Jesus
    Place in the Holy Land: I’ve never been to the Holy Land, but I would like to see Calvary
    Saint: Maximilian Kolbe
    Hymn: Prayer of St. Francis
    Praise song: Lead Me to the Cross
    Feast day: Immaculate Conception
    Book: Diary of St. Faustina
    Liturgical season: Triduum
    Sacrament: Eucharist
    Thing about being Catholic: Beauty. Nothing on earth can compare to a truly beautiful Liturgy.

  3. Katherine says:

    Remember that time I should be studying for a test and finishing a paper? Oh well…
    Parable: The Prodigal Son
    Gospel: John
    Psalm: 88 (melancholic I know)
    Book of the Bible: Deuteronomy… Just kidding Philippians
    Bible Story: Ruth
    Gospel Story: When Jesus resurrects Jairus’ Daughter- nothing more awesome than Jesus taking care of a little girl :)
    Place on earth: North GA mountains
    Place in the Holy Land: LOL.
    Saint: Okay well if Blesseds count, Bl. Mother Teresa but Saints Dymphna and Joseph are pretty tight too.
    Hymn: It is Well with My Soul
    Praise Song: Lay it Down
    Feast Day: The Annunciation (Ave parties hard for her Feast Day)
    Book: Right now: The Jesus of Nazareth Part 2 Holy Week.
    Liturgical Season: Easter! and Triduum
    Sacrament: Ummm can you say something other than the Eucharist? But I’m pretty excited for marriage
    Thing about being Catholic? Mass and Scripture and Tradition but also Community. Yeah I know we think Catholics stink at community because we don’t stay after Mass to gossip with our neighbors about the pot roast last night and maybe sometimes we do, but therese no greater communion than being united in the Eucharistic Liturgy. boom.

  4. Karen says:

    Used your post as inspiration for one of my own. Inspiration that has been quite lacking in recent months. Absolutely love your blog, your writing style, your perspective, your enthusiasm…. Heck, I forgot “Favorite Catholic Blog”. :-)

    http://crooked-lines.blogspot.com/2014/02/todays-faves.html

  5. Ed Graveline says:

    Favorite Parable: Luke 8:4-15 the Sower and the seeds
    Gospel: John of course
    Psalm: Psalm 91

    1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.[a]
    2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”
    3 Surely he will save you
    from the fowler’s snare
    and from the deadly pestilence.
    4 He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
    5 You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
    6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday.
    7 A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
    8 You will only observe with your eyes
    and see the punishment of the wicked.
    9 If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
    and you make the Most High your dwelling,
    10 no harm will overtake you,
    no disaster will come near your tent.
    11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;
    12 they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
    13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
    you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
    14 “Because he[b] loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
    I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
    15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble,
    I will deliver him and honor him.
    16 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.”
    Book of the Bible: Revelation (the Mass on earth)
    Bible Story: Moses and the Ten Commandments
    Gospel Story: Peter walking on water
    Place on Earth: My home with my family
    Place in the Holy Land: Never been there, the Via Del A Rosa
    Favorite Saint: Blessed Mother
    Hymm: Tantum Ergo
    Praise Song: (Okay, I know this is a protestant song, but I still love it) We Are the Reason by David Meece http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GaUzSa3eYCA
    Feast Day: Is Easter Sunday a feast day? Ok the Annunciation
    Book: Thomas a’ Kempis -Imitation of Christ
    Liturgical Season: Lent – Love getting ready
    Sacrament: Penance (need it so bad)
    Thing about being Catholic: Ditto everything everyone said above. I love sharing the Beauty of the Church to all those I speak with on the Las Vegas Strip. I start with the Beauty and if time allows, I go into the grace, the history, the Sacraments, the JOY!
    IN Christ!

  6. Sara Rose says:

    Meg, have you read Dawn Eden’s “My Peace I Give You”? She has a fantastic chapter about St. Josephine Bakhita. It’s also an overall wonderful book that might be helpful in your ministry: http://www.amazon.com/My-Peace-Give-You-Healing/dp/1594712905

    My favorites:

    Parable: The Mustard Seed (Mt. 13) – God augments even the smallest actions and flickers of faith.

    Gospel: John

    Psalm: 84: Better one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere.

    Book of the Bible: Isaiah — Advent!

    Bible Story: Tobit, specifically Chapter 7 and the moment that Edna tells Sarah to be brave, her grief would turn to joy.

    Gospel Story: John 6 – the Bread of Life Discourse. My favorite moment is from Peter: To whom else shall we go?

    Place on Earth: In front of any Tabernacle with my fiance.

    Place in the Holy Land: Never been.

    Saint: I have two, but they are married, so it’s allowed: Sts. Anne and Joachim. Anne was instrumental in my reversion and I’m getting married on their feast this year. I also love St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Cecilia, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Joseph and St. Elizabeth. St. Dominic is pretty cool, too. I’m seriously into the life and writings of Elisabeth Leseur right now. I believe her cause is open, but don’t know how far along it is at this point.

    Hymn: O God Beyond All Praising, WITH the elusive middle verse:
    “The flower of earthly splendor in time must surely die,
    Its fragile bloom surrender to you, the Lord most high;
    But hidden from all nature the eternal seed is sown
    Though small in mortal stature, to heaven’s garden grown:
    For Christ the man from heaven from death has set us free,
    And we through him are given the final victory.”

    also, Those Who Love and Those Who Labor:
    “Jesus says to those who seek him, I will never pass you by,
    Raise the stone and you shall find me; cleave the wood and there am I.”

    Praise Song: I Can Only Imagine — I’m old school, and anything about the beatific vision is OK with me.

    Feast Day: The Immaculate Conception followed closely by the St. John the Evangelist.

    Book: Oh, this is hard. I love “The Reed of God” by Carolyn Houselander. But there’s an essay on chastity called “To Be Someone Radiant” that helped me to see and believe in the beauty of this virtue. It was a game changer for me the first time I read it. Here’s a link to it: http://incarnationandmodernity.wordpress.com/tag/to-be-someone-radiant/

    Liturgical Season: Advent (it is the most feminine of penitential seasons), followed closely by Ordinary Time, which has one of my favorite collects:
    “Attend to the pleas of your people with heavenly care,
    O Lord, we pray,
    that they may see what must be done
    and gain strength to do what they have seen.”

    Sacrament: Oh man. I’d have to say Penance followed by Eucharist. Marriage is up there, too, but ask me again in six months.

    Thing about being Catholic: The Sacraments. It gives me so much comfort to know that Jesus is present in the Eucharist no matter how distracted I may be at Mass and that my sins are truly forgiven whether I feel that reality or not. It’s not up to me and that is extremely good news!

    That was fun. Thanks, Meg!

    • Meg says:

      Ordinary Time? We need to be friends! Not because I particularly like OT but because I’m sure I would like someone who does :) I’m going to need some time to pray on that part of Tobit now that you’ve pointed it out. And I love your favorite place on earth!!

      • Sara Rose says:

        Ah, man. I could give you a whole treatise on the beauty of Ordinary Time. Just say the word. It’s so important and so overlooked, but it probably likes it that way (and yes I just personified a Liturgical Season).

        You know, I had a curious aversion to the whole book of Tobit when I first encountered it. But, that chapter and that scene really hit me one day as a fitting and stark example of true bravery.

  7. T.J. Capaldi says:

    Parable: John 15, I am the vine, you are the branches (esp. “Without me you can do nothing”)
    Gospel: John
    Psalm: 40
    Bible Story: Genesis 1-3
    Gospel Story: The Sermon on the Mount (wherein Jesus flips the world on its head)
    Saint: St. Josemaria
    English Hymn: O God Beyond All Praising
    Praise Song: Letting Go by Matt Maher
    Sacrament: Holy Orders (In general, the sacrament that makes other sacraments possible)
    Thing(s) About Being Catholic: Fides et Ratio (i.e. it makes sense), the testimony of History (i.e. we don’t have to ignore/obscure past events), and Matthew 16:18b

    • Meg says:

      “Wherein Jesus flips the world on its head”–exactly! I’ve gotten so used to the Sermon on the Mount that those revolutionary maxims have almost become platitudes–time to revisit with fresh eyes. And Holy Orders, huh? Hmmm… ;)

  8. nancyo says:

    Isaiah is my favorite book of the bible, too. I even named my blog after an Isaiah verse (via Handel). And my favorite book is Guardini’s The Lord.
    nancyo recently posted…Quick Takes: manuscripts, mostly medievalMy Profile

    • Meg says:

      There are passages in Isaiah that always evoke Handel to me–I wish I knew the Messiah better so that I could accidentally memorize more of it :)

  9. Rachel Meyer says:

    Sorry, I know you posted this a few days ago, and I guess time moves really fast in the blog world. But I only just read it, so here are some my favorites.

    Parable: The 5 talents. “You have done well, good and faithful servant. Come, enter into the joy of your lord.”
    Gospel: John. Because I don’t know much about the person who wrote the other three, but I love imaging John’s life with Jesus and his meditation on all of these things later. With Mary, who lived with him. So, it’s probably secretly the gospel of Mary.
    Psalm: Really? Just one? 118. “I was punished, I was punished by the Lord, but not doomed to die.” Plus, bees.
    Book of the bible: Hebrews. It’s really deep and theological and has a richer writing style than most of the New Testament. Also, I loved the bible study we did on it in the convent.
    Bible story: Is it cheating to just say the exodus? I really love Moses. I like the part where God walks before him, but he can only see his back. I like to read it and then look at an image of the holy face. My second choice is the story of creation. How can you beat that? I get to see it every day.
    Gospel story: I like the woman at the well. I don’t think it’s my real favorite, but it’s the first thing I thought of that’s not totally generic like the last supper or the resurrection. I like it as a beginning of the extension of salvation to the gentiles. We no longer worship on a mountain, but in spirit and in truth.
    Place on earth: First of all, I’ve never left the country. Regardless, I want to say some great church or cathedral, but I have to say my grandma’s house. It’s the only place that’s been constant for me since I can remember. To me, it’s stability, family, never-changing love, and really fun.
    Holy Land: See above. But I will take this as an opportunity to brag that Henry was baptized with water from the River Jordan. So maybe that’s my favorite. If I could go back 2000 years to the actual place of anything I wanted, I would pick the home where the Holy Family lived when they came back from Egypt.
    Saint: Thomas Aquinas. Because I love logic and structure, but also because I love his purity of heart and how he could turn a real mystical relationship into the Summa instead of some poetry nobody understands. He’s my hero.
    Hymn: I CHOOSE ALL. Since we sang “Lord of all hopefulness” at our wedding, it’s my new favorite. It’s simple, but deep, and always applicable. It has multiple levels of understanding. It has a pretty melody. But “Come thou font” has always been a favorite. Can we sing baptist songs together when you visit? Have you ever watched “Love Comes Softly?” Actually, I think we watched it in the convent. That song features prominently. We always sing “I want to walk as a child of the light” for sacraments of initiation at my parish, so now I love that one, too.
    Praise song: “I have been crucified with Christ.” Because it helped me memorize a good passage of scripture.
    Feast: All saints day. On that day I can almost physically sense the communion of saints and the cloud of witnesses joining us for the liturgy. It’s like hanging out in heaven for a day.
    Book: The Catechism. It’s not just a reference book. It’s deep and beautiful and comprehensive and definitive and trustworthy in any dispute. The truths of the church don’t need to be dressed up to be beautiful.
    Season: Easter. Because I do whatever I want and say that I’m living the liturgy.
    Sacrament: I think this question is wrong and refuse to choose.
    Thing about being Catholic: The magisterium. I really like being contrary, so I probably wouldn’t do well without it.

  10. Hadleigh says:

    I just have to ask- what’s your favorite set of mysteries of the Rosary? And if you had to pick just one mystery as your favorite, what would it be? :)

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