Monday, October 31, 2016

A Reflection on Chesterton’s Book: Tremendous Trifles

Chapter One 

By Cara Ruegg

So, I am planning to do a bit of a commentary for sections on Chesterton’s book: Tremendous Trifles.

Chapter I: Tremendous Trifles

Here, Chesterton introduces his concept of pride vs humility with a story; two boys Peter and Paul come into contact with a fairy. Paul with “business-like abruptness” (an interesting choice of adjectives, might I add) said he wanted to be a giant to shorten his journey to far-off lands that he wished to see. The fairy granted his request, but Paul’s wish was quickly proven foolish for he realized these great places were now suddenly small and insignificant compared to his massive size, and he grew bored and laid down to sleep. Unfortunately for him, he fell asleep outside the hut of a backwoodsman who came out at that moment with an axe and a book of Neo-Catholic Philosophy. In this book, Chesterton is sure to make a point which leads to this story’s moral: “It can be maintained that the evil of pride consists in being out of proportion to the universe.” (Ch1, p.I) So, with that being said, the backwoodsman decides to cut the giant’s head off. Paul chose wrong when he made his wish. He wanted to be large, massive, bigger than the biggest things so as to make trips so short they’d be nearly instantaneous. He chose abruptly, too; he did not reflect. His pride led him to boredom, dissatisfaction. He saw himself as the biggest thing and so nothing held any wonder for him.

In contrast, Peter, as one might guess, chose instead to be small -- a pigmy half an inch tall. Once he became small, he realized ordinary grass appeared extraordinary and it was like he was in a jungle. So, unlike Paul, Peter was humble. He did not strive to enlarge himself but to shrink. So it is with the saints. Their happiness increases in proportion to their level of humility; they are too focused on the largeness of God.

Chesterton then claims that Peter and Paul are representations of two primary influences in European literature of his time period. He also adds that he is the pigmy.

“The only excuse for the scraps that follow is that they show what can be achieved with a commonplace existence and the sacred spectacles of exaggeration…The other great literary theory… moderns are to regain the primal zest by sprawling all over the world growing used to travel and geographical variety, being at home everywhere, that is being at home nowhere.” (ch 1, p.4)

Chesterton’s point is that, while some have this notion that in order to write about things well they need to go travel and experience many different cultures, he, on the other hand doesn’t think it’s necessary and wishes to talk about very small affairs in big language (ch 1. P.4). He also adds, in a quirky way, that while it may appear to some that he is making molehills into mountains, they are mountains to someone as small as a pigmy. In today’s society, this is a very important point. So many things that shouldn’t be enlarged and exaggerated are, and so many things that are really very important are basically downtrodden. For instance, being a stay-at-home mother. In today’s society, that is looked down upon. The world pushes its women to work, to be doctors and lawyers, to sell houses, to conduct business, anything but to stay home with their children; be a stay at home mom! – that’s a waste of time; that’s a pointless existence. Meanwhile, today’s society is falling to pieces and people wonder why. Easy, the heart has been taken from the home. Family life has been destroyed. The world talks about women’s rights, while at the same time making her into a sex object by its filthy portrayal of her in the media. The world sees money as a measure of success, when really it is not that at all. The most successful jobs are not the ones that bring in the most money, but rather the ones that lead you and others to your ultimate end: heaven.     

Chesterton also makes mention of the “Alpine guide”, also known as the devil, and alludes to the time he tempted Jesus in the mountains, as he (the devil) overlooked the “kingdoms of the world” (Matthew 4:08). Chesterton states, he doesn’t wish to go to the peak of the mountain like the devil had in that instance, but rather lift up his eyes from the hills where comes his help, alluding, it would seem to psalm 120: “I have lifted up my eyes to the mountains, from whence help shall come to me.  My help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth”. He doesn’t want to look down upon the world as the giant did, but upward not as a ruler, but a humble servant, upward to heaven, to God.

“The world will never starve for want of wonders; but only for want of wonder.” – this is Chesterton’s triumphant ending to his first chapter, and it is a beautifully profound line. There are many beautiful things in this world, many things to lift our souls to God. The problem lies not in anything that is lacking around us, but rather what is lacking within us.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Being a Teacher is Like Being a Mom to Thirty Kids

Colorful Breakfast Fruit Bread

Breakfast Fruit Bread

So, I had all these ingredients that I needed to use and decided to make a fun breakfast bread. Forgive me, these measurements won't be exact since more often than not, I tend to just dump stuff in and hope for the best, but I will try my best to remember/guess how much of each ingredient I used. 

  • Milk - 2 cups
  • Flour - 3 cups
  • Eggs - 2
  • Orange Peel Shreds - 2 tablespoons
  • Frozen Fruit - a handful or more
  • Honey - 1 tablespoon
  • Sugar - 1/2 cup
  • Cinnamon Cream Cheese - 2 spoonfuls 


First, put fruit, eggs, milk, honey and cream cheese into blender/food processor. Once mixed, pour it into bowl.

Second,  put in about 3 cups of flour and stir until combined and you have a sticky and slightly thick texture of dough that is still moist.


Third, dish into any type of oven-safe dish.

Fourth, preheat oven to 350-400 degrees. If desired, stick some leftover frozen fruit into the dough before cooking.

Fifth, remove bread after 20-30 minutes or when golden brown.

Hope you enjoy! 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Discerning God's Will (with a poem)

A Reflection and Poem
By Cara Ruegg

This is incredibly personal and I hesitated putting it up, but I am sure many can relate to it and perhaps be encouraged that they are not alone.

There are times that God seems far away. There are times the soul feels such darkness it is as if it were in a haze; suddenly, nothing is clear even what was once so very clear she thought she'd never doubt it.

When I was in the convent, deciphering God's will for me, I felt keenly this very cross. I had been there for nearly three years and had wanted so much to keep to my commitment and be His, entirely His as I had said I would, but as vows approached, I was suddenly not so sure anymore about anything. I craved a family of my own, a little child. I noticed my other Sisters didn't have the same yearning as strongly as me. Of course, they were human and did want such a thing, but they seemed to accept the prospect of not having a child of their own much easier than I could, taking comfort in the thought of the many spiritual children they would have. I couldn't accept it so easily. Before, I could, but as vows approached that sacrifice suddenly seemed almost unbearable to me and I began to feel incredibly restless. Was God telling me something? Was this no longer His will for me?

I dreaded the thought of leaving as much as I dreaded the thought of staying and having to give up forever a family of my own. It seemed so hard to choose. I just wished my superiors would send me away and make the choice easier for me, but they never once pulled me aside to say, "Leave." They wanted me there. They thought I was a good member to their spiritual family, they let me cry on their shoulders when it all seemed too much.

In the end, I did leave, after much prayer and reflection and some help from my spiritual director. I remember sitting in the chapel, looking at the tabernacle, and finally feeling this peace. It felt like nothing, really. There was no bright light or fuzzy feeling, I just finally felt at rest, which was quite a relief after such a long period of dryness and aridity and darkness. I knew then that I could make my decision. I didn't feel I could before, being so restless. I thought maybe my want to leave was just an escape, me choosing the easier way out just because it was hard. When peace came, I reflected that God alone could satisfy me; that was clear as day to me then. However, there was some sort of inner conviction that God wanted me to move on elsewhere. I wasn't certain of it. I even left with the pretext that I might be back. Mother said the doors were always open if I decided to return.

This poem below was written during a time of wavering and uncertainty. I thought maybe it could comfort someone who also is experiencing such a time.

God is always in control. I do not regret the time I spent in the convent. It was not wasted. It gave me a foundation I may not have gotten otherwise. I am blessed. And those Sisters were so full of joy, it was contagious and I greatly enjoyed their simplicity and kindness. I saw clearly how beautiful of a life it is to be a Sister, a bride of Christ, and I hope to possibly be able to foster a vocation in my future children, God willing.

I breathe the wind
Into swollen lungs
Red eyes blink
And all is gone.

It disappears
At least for a moment

Standing at the crossroads
Nervous and trembling
Do I even want anything?

There is no silent conviction
There is no conviction at all

There is nothing

My heart is torn
It is broken
It cannot decide

To be loved
In a special way
By a person I can see
And hear and touch

It seems much more real
Even if it’s not
Even if it’s in fact false

A fickle thing
This love of humans
Changes like the wind

God is eternal
His love infinite
And He gives me Himself
He gives me everything

Where is my gratitude?

The ground beneath my feet
Is hard
The grass cannot be seen
Under this dirt

What do I want?

And everything
At once

The world’s vanities
Make me shrink

But so does the cross
Of my Jesus
Covered in blood

And I want to be brave
I want to give Him everything
All of me
Not counting the cost

But I’m a coward

And I stand here
At the crossroads

“Dear God”

He seems far away
I once felt His peace
Such a wonderful calm

There is nothing now
I am numb

The little children huddle around me
But do they really care?
In the end, they go home
And I’m not ever there.

My Sisters laugh and joke
But still a barrier I hold
My heart can’t get attached
Not to a human soul

I want a shoulder to cry on
A friend to wipe my tears
I want to be loved by someone

But I am here

Before a silent God
Who I know is before me
But who I cannot see
And cannot hear
And cannot feel
At all.

The romance of the cross
Should be enough
It should be all
But the crucifix
On the wall
Is motionless

He beckoned me
And I responded
I said, “Yes,
I’d follow His call”

Now here He is
I’ve crossed the ocean
I’ve left behind my home
I let myself be forgotten
Erased from memories of loved ones
Affections have gone cold
They have changed, gone old
But I am here, frozen
I still care…too much
And they don’t know.
I cannot tell them. 

And will I be happy
In the world?
I cannot see over this picket fence
And do not know
If there is any grass there at all.

And can I give up the treasure
Of a baby I can call my own
Tiny hands and soft feet
Eyes that look like my own?

For God. For God. For God.
How dry and tasteless
I feel
Shattered in a silent way
No tears
No pain

I’m just not happy

Waves aren’t crashing
All about me

I cannot even cry.

“Dear, God,
I want Your will

Not mine”

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Forget Yourself: Inspirational

Forget Yourself

by Cara Ruegg

Drip…drop…drip…we are that tiny drop of water being immersed in that great stretch of Ocean, in that deep, unfathomably loving heart of God. At least, we are meant to be, but how often do we forget to forget ourselves? How often do we try, instead, to make ourselves out to be a god — to be the ocean even though, in ourselves, we are nothing? We are not even that speck of water without Him. 

We forget to forget ourselves, to lose ourselves in Him. We don’t have Him beside us throughout our day. Maybe He’s there in the morning, as we mumble a morning offering while fumbling with clothes and heating up water for much-needed coffee. But once we jump out that door and start our day, do we remember? Do we continue to unite ourselves to Him? Of course, we can’t be expected to actually think of Him at all moments since our minds have to otherwise be engaged, but where are our hearts? If they were really with Him, we probably wouldn’t be so troubled when a moment arose and we had to choose between ourselves and our neighbor, or even ourselves and Him. 

So often we get caught up in our own lives, in our own troubles, in our own sufferings, skills, abilities, expectations, we forget to be kind, to see things through someone else’s eyes. We show our impatience, our disappointment, our anger so easily. We say to ourselves, ‘why is this person complaining so much? I have so many other crosses and look at them complaining. Do they really expect me to care?’ We forget about Our Lord who hung on that cross, blood streaming down His face; He did not forget the poor thief beside Him; He did not forget us just because His day wasn’t going so great. He sacrificed Himself. How often do we sacrifice ourselves? How often do we put aside our own crosses to help someone else with theirs even if it seems so much smaller than our own? We are talented. We see people who lack our talent, who are reaching for the stars but just can’t seem to actually touch them. We grow impatient. How can this person be so disorganized, so clueless, so frazzled, so weak? We criticize them and tell them, more or less, they can’t reach those stars, they don’t have the talent, the skill, the ability. We don’t always recognize it when we do, but so often we do, and maybe not even to them but to us, in our own heads, we constantly are judging people around us for not being good enough. And it’s true, they are lacking, but we are too. 

So often we deal with people the way we think best, which may not be the way that is best for them. For instance, we may be too critical with a person who does not grow when told all the “don’ts” but will quickly grow when encouraged and motivated and believed in. We forget that not everybody is us, that some people learn differently, have different talents and skills, and that, while it’s true there is natural talent and some have more or less of it, most skills can still be taught and honed regardless of the lack of foundation.  

Let us try to forget ourselves, to let ourselves become that drop of water immersed in God. Once we do that, we will find ourselves being kinder, more patient, more willing to help others and turn away from our narcissism and pride; we will find ourselves much, much happier.

The Important Facebook Status

Well, I have to say, it rather amuses me sometimes the types of statuses people post on Facebook whether it be because they are too personal or so incredibly amusingly unimportant. I have edited some posts to show examples of what you might just see when scrolling your newsfeed.