Why are we discussing “belovedness” today? What does that word really mean?
“Yes, belovedness is one of my favorite topics to dive into first and foremost because it comes from the bible. It is taken from a couple of different passages but probably most notable is the baptism of Jesus when. In the gospel of Matthew, it says that when Jesus comes up out of the water. The heavens were torn open and God said, “This is my beloved son with whom I am well pleased.” The term "you are my beloved son or you are my beloved daughter" tells us how God feels about us. It reveals the core of God's heart towards his creation and his children. It's vital to our faith and I think it's often taken for granted so I'm hoping that in our conversation we can kind of break down what that means and how to live it out more practically. It can kind of just seem like a buzzword but it's so much more than that. Being the beloved means that when God created us He saw that we were good and that's not just vague sense. It's like when God created Michaela or when God created Whitney but that you're good and He loves us so deeply so what does that mean?” -Michaela
Why is it important to talk about this as Catholics?
"Especially as Catholics, it holds a significant weight because we are baptized into the same baptism that Christ was baptized into. The sacrament changes our lives and we too are called to share in the blessed life of the Trinity that was revealed in that moment of His baptism. To live as the beloved means to allow the truth of our baptism, the reception of the Eucharist, the absolution during confession, and all of these things that are so tangible in our faith; it allows them to truly crack open our hearts wide open and to change everything about our lives because so many of us, even faithful Christians and Catholics, can kind of go through the motions. We can receive our sacraments or claim to be practicing Christians or Catholics and yet we're still living mediocre lives.
There is an invitation from God to allow the truth of his love for us to unburden us from the things of the world. I think we can become numb to the joy of the gospel and that's just not what we were made for. It's not as simple as just one day deciding, "Oh I'm going to live as the beloved."
The book "Life of the Beloved" by Henri Nouwen is the reason why I am so on fire for this topic. It has truly changed my spiritual life. Henri Nouwen, the author, talks about how being the beloved is available to all of us. It's some that we're freely given. But there's also a reality that we need to become the beloved throughout our lives so we become more capable or more receptive to what that means and living that out. He breaks it down into 4 different points which are taken, blessed, broken, and given.
If you recognize those words, these are the same words that are said during the consecration. He talks about how passing through each of those aspects of our faith allows us to truly become the beloved. I'm talking about this because it's a lifelong process that we're invited into which is just so beautiful." -Michaela
Can you break down the four words--taken, blessed, broken, and given?
"Henri Nouwen breaks it down into four words (taken, blessed, broken, and given) that echo the consecration. Taken, a more modern way to describe that would be to be chosen. We are each chosen by God. We are called by name. He knows us, He knows every hair on our heads. The apostles talk very clearly in the gospels about having been claimed by Christ. Their lives have been changed by the gospel and it's irrevocable. That's what it means to be taken. Before we've chosen to be Christians and to live out the faith, God has chosen us. He's claimed us. There's a lot of security in that and a lot of joy in knowing that I'm claimed by him.
Blessed is pretty self-explanatory. Just by that word, it speaks to the truth that everyone is uniquely bestowed blessings in their life. They are particular to each of us and how God wills our lives to look. He just wants us to know his heart and for us to reflect Him into the world. Those are very beautiful consolations that each of us experience at some point or another in our life. Sometimes we are blind to them and it's important to pray for the grace to have our eyes opened to the blessings that are all around us and how he uniquely is blessing us in each moment.
Broken. It just speaks to the truth that Christ first modeled for us. He was broken and beaten and killed. That wasn't futile, that wasn't for no reason. It has a beautiful, salvific purpose to it and our brokenness can be the same. This is the reality that our suffering isn't for nothing. It's not in vain. There is a plan for it. It is allowed by God and He wills good out of it.
Given is just the understanding that we are meant to be sent out into the world as missionaries into whatever sphere we're called into the same way that Christ is continuously given to us in the Eucharist. He's always with us until the end of age that is true.
These things are not linear. You can be in a season of blessings and understand that and that can draw you into your belovedness; but, you can also be in a season of being given to the world and that is also just as much an experience of belovedness. Same with being broken and being claimed. It's kind of ebb and flow and we pass through these different things at various points. This is how we begin to experience and mature in being the beloved.
What is one piece of advice that you want every young Catholic woman to know?
"I want to pass along a piece of advice from my spiritual director. He asked me if I'd ever prayed with my baptism. I was a baby when I was baptized, but he invited me to understand what took place at that moment. I put myself in the place of Jesus in His baptism narrative in the gospel of Matthew. I can imagine the heavens being torn apart, I can imagine a dove descending upon me, and the voice of the Father booming over me telling me how much He loves me. It wouldn't just be quote-unquote my imagination. Yes, my imagination would aid in this meditation; but, that's an opportunity for an encounter with the truth of my identity coming directly from God and the reality is that in the moment of our baptism, we're not just welcomed into God's family. We become a part of the body of Christ. God relives His entire life in each of us in the moment of our baptism. He dies to sin and resurrects new life in our souls at the moment of our baptism. That reality changes me & you forever.
So my piece of advice would be to pray with that gospel, to read it a couple of times, and then to put it aside and imagine that you are in the place of Jesus in His baptism and allow the Lord to take over. Allow the truth to sink in to tell you who you are, who you're not, and to invite you into a life lived as the beloved." -Michaela