“All we have to do is decide what to do with the time that is given to us.” -Gandalf

27 02 2015

This apt piece of wisdom given in the midst of the gloomy depths of an epic journey most perfectly applies to our Christian life. Our’s is a pilgrim journey: a quest for perfect life, truth, and beauty; ultimately, this is what we seek; it is what we want; it is what we need, but we don’t always seek first the Kingdom of God and its righteousness. Rather, we chase after fool’s gold only to find that all that glitters is not gold.  It takes a much more discerning eye to see that “all that is gold does not glitter” –at least not initially.  Through the light of reason, we can see the natural order speak to this truth: in order to achieve some higher good or live a higher life–to attain that gold, one must suffer through that which does not glitter.  Every athlete knows that it takes much training to excel, no student earns a degree without long nights of studying, no couple owns a home without struggling to make ends meet, no worker gets a promotion without long, underpaid hours in the mailroom: no guts, no glory; no pain, no gain.

When this light of natural reason is betrothed to the heat of super-natural faith in the flames of the Holy Spirit, we see the continuation of the ordinary things and circumstances of life leading up and converging at the cross of Our Divine Savior.  Here in pinioned hands and whipped and bruised and bloodied carnality we see what we don’t want to see: the divine and harsh truth to which all those all-nighters and internships were pointing. On that cross where Christ married his Bride the Church, formed from His pierced side in the sacramental waters of baptism and His precious Eucharistic blood, so too is our God-given natural human reason married to divinely-bestowed super-natural faith in the completion of the phrase: “No guts, no glory; no pain, no gain; no cross, no crown; no Good Friday, no Easter Sunday.”

Our crucified Lord now has risen in the triumph of the resurrection and has been raised on up through the heavens to be seated in glory at the right hand of the Father– the pledge and promise of what our human nature is to be if we but follow after Him.  This life is our pilgrimage, heaven is our home, the life of Christ is our path.  As we pray these sorrowful mysteries on this Tuesday, step by step I am brought the image of the footsteps of Our Blessed Lord from the clay of Gethsemane–literally Christened with beads of bloody sweat, forming as it were a crimson rosary of redemption– step by step to the ring of steps about a pillar of injustice, step by step to the curl-toed steps of shame and humiliation under crown of thorns, step by step to the stubbed, dusty, and bloodied steps up the rocky slopes of Calvary, step by final step to the pierced feet pushing an exhausted and spent corpus up for air breath by breath to redeem us sin by sin.

We are given time. Time, that oft-wasted gift, can be used as we please, and use as we please we do.  I used my time Tuesday morning (the only day I managed to show up) to treasure an extra 10 minutes of my precious and dear sleep. I had to run to catch up to everyone on Maple Street.  Others were there who journeyed from far-away campus to get to the starting line at the 35th St. Mary statue.  My bed is 30 seconds away, but it was more precious to me that day. That’s how I spent my time.  In perfect day-late-and-a-dollar-short form, I in penance refused myself breakfast with everyone at the Newman Center until I had finished up the lost decades I had missed.  We each must decide how to use our time; will we lie on a deathbed of shame trying in vain to make up for lost decades? Will judgement day be suspended to give the dice-shakers and the by-standers time to throw on sack-cloth and ashes and join the saints at the foot of the cross– to give the State time to stoop to a bow before its King? Perhaps.  But why not already be there? We have about the cross the archetypes of all humanity, for Our Blessed Lord said, “When I am lifted up, I will draw all men to myself.”  There is the State exercising political expediency, the brutes and the guards quickly resorting to violence and as they mockingly wait for a miracle, gamble to bide their time, the many by-standers giving a second glance to see if this latest execution might satisfy their gluttony for entertainment, the agents of Satan who conspire against the just, the greedy who find 30 pieces of silver more valuable than the loyalty owed his Lord, the 10 who feared and hid in despaired, the Cyreneian who unexpectedly found himself carrying out the work of redemption, the women who prayed and wept out of sorrow for the price of sin, the woman who saw in a criminal slated for execution the face of God and so was given the Veron-icon the true-image of that face, and, Mary who would become our mother, John the beloved, and Magdala, ever the three to be found at the foot of the cross: innocence, priesthood, and repentance.

Many options have we, every day a gift to choose an option; now, all we have to do is decide what to do with the time that is given to us.

In Christ,

-Jeff





Trying Really Hard to Hit the Snooze Button

26 02 2015

I don’t know about you but waking up early has always been struggle for me, I just can’t do it. In order for me to get up every morning I have to set multiple alarms, I already know that I’m either going to snooze most of them or simply turn them off. Preya walk has always been really challenging for me, mostly because I have to wake up earlier than I would like, I am a big fan of beauty sleep. With the week fast approaching I knew I wanted to go but I also knew that it was going to take something more than just my will to pray that early for me to get going. In the end I managed to convince one of my friends to Come along, which always makes things better. As soon as we began it was really hard for me to keep focused on prayer, all I could think about was how tired I was, how I would much rather be sleeping even long after I was fully awake. During Praya I asked myself why I would rather be sleeping than praying, or doing anything else productive,why I would much rather set three alarms in the morning instead of simply setting one.

As the walking continued, I began to get frustrated with this dilemma in my head, why would I be more content in my bed than being present in prayer. Prayer really made me understand what was going on within myself. The truth is I am a very lazy person, not in terms of school or being active,  but in terms of my faith. I am constantly hitting the snooze button every time God is asking me to grow, asking me to meet someone knew, to grow in community, in faith. And that is something that has always been really scary for me to admit. My faith life is far from being perfect, or even close, but I turn Christ away 6 out of 10 times he challenges me to do something, to grow as a Catholic. I realized then that that was why I was having such a hard time concentrating on prayer, I don’t like that about myself, I don’t like that I keep telling Christ to wait for me when I am the one who is waiting for him. The truth of the matter is that God is asking for me to die to myself, die to my comfort, to my laziness, to my indifference, so that I may truly be his servant. Sometimes the things that seem most trivial are the things where God wants us to grow the most.

JP

PS- I leave you with this picture of a baby pig, God’s greatest creature





New Beginning

23 02 2015

I don’t know about you, but I feel so fresh and revitalized after going to SEARCH. I needed that weekend to really get connected to God again and connected to those around me. I am extremely grateful for the experience I had. I definitely don’t want this feeling to end. PREYA Walk was a great way to start off the first full day back from SEARCH. It was amazing to be able to experience the wonderful gifts God has given us in our world by walking through the streets and praying for Mary’s intercession with my friends. Praying together is a great way to connect with people. The people who came are very good friends whom I love dearly. I know that praying with them strengthened my relationship with them. God is very present in our relationships and in our love for one another. The sun was coming up and creation was beautiful. It was a new day and I hope a new start. I really want to focus on being more grateful for all that God has given me and enjoying each and every moment. I know I enjoyed every moment of the peaceful walk and prayer I had this morning. It allowed me to start my day off giving all that I have to God so that hopefully throughout today I will be able to do His work and be His hands and feet in the world. I’m excited to go again tomorrow and start off another morning giving myself to God.

Love,
Shanni





30 05 2013

magnificat

This morning on our walk a few thoughts went through my head. Firstly, it must’ve taken a lot of trust for Mary to completely accept God’s plan for her, especially the part where she would be a virgin mother and Joseph just had to go along with it. Next, I thought about the trust that she probably had her entire life. I think as well as being born without sin, she probably had a really good sense of God’s plan for her. If she didn’t I don’t think she would’ve had the same capacity for holiness. She lived every moment for God.

Then I thought about the level of trust in God that I have—which is not close to enough. I’m pretty sure my last post was also about trust—I don’t mean to sound like a broken record, but it’s been a really important theme recently. I have a lot of room to grow in trust. Trust that God will move me and that I will have the humility to recognize His plan. I look to Mary because she is the perfect role model in trust.

I thought about why we even pray the rosary in the first place. It’s not just to say a long prayer and get it out of the way (am I the only one that sometimes checks off a “prayer” block in my head mentally when I do a formal prayer and then lose the prayerfullness throughout the day?). We’re not just saying the words of the prayers by themselves; we’re reflecting on the mysteries, especially how Mary played a part in them. She was a holy lady and the Mother of Jesus, and she knew her son. I imagine she also reflected on the mysteries of His life, much like we do when we pray the rosary.

This quarter’s PREYAwalk is coming to an end, but hopefully that doesn’t mean we stop reflecting on the mysteries of Jesus and Mary’s lives. Mary is the ultimate model of trust, after all. No one else would’ve accepted her mission as wholeheartedly as she did. Hope to see you at the last PREYAwalk of the school year. In parting, here are some words from the Magnificat:

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.”

-Lizzie





Get lost.

29 05 2013

This morning was the last Wednesday of PREYA for the quarter. I woke up, got ready, and (surprisingly) got to the Mary statue early. Since the moment I had woken up I had an extremely uneasy feeling within me. This feeling was causing me to think, think, and think some more.
We started praying, and as we were walking I was constantly getting frustrated with myself because of my lack of focus. My mind was in so many different places, and the only place I wanted it to be was fully immersed in prayer. The first decade came and went and I was still not fully focused. Then the second, the third, and the fourth. I was praying along but for some reason couldn’t get my mind into it. Then, the fifth mystery came. By this time I was so frustrated with my lack of focus that I decided to picture one person and one person alone, Mother Mary.
As I prayed each bead I felt a difference in the way I was praying, I was praying with intention. We finished the Rosary and were silently walking, but again I was getting lost in my mind. If you know that song then you can probably relate when I say that song pretty much explains my life. As I was getting back to being lost in my thoughts, frustrations, and worries I saw a bumper sticker… Get Lost.
Get lost. Something about this was striking me but I couldn’t figure out what. Get lost. Get lost in what? Get lost. The image popped into my head of a little girl running in to her Father’s arms. Then it made sense. Get lost with Jesus. Get lost in your faith. Get lost and let Jesus find you and show you the way. Get lost, get away from those frustrations, worries, and doubts.
The rest of the walk, I was so lost in my thoughts of God and my faith that I realized I had no idea how long we had been standing at the Newman Mary statue. It could have been two minutes, it could have been ten…all I knew was that I was supposed to close us in prayer and I needed to get to it.
I am so thankful that we had the opportunity to pick up PREYA again this quarter. PREYA is such a blessing, I don’t think we can fully comprehend how special it is. How many people can say that in college they woke up at six in the morning to go pray with their closest friends? Not many. I am thankful for each and every person who has participated in PREYA and I pray that those who haven’t gotten the opportunity yet are able to go in the next two days. If you have never gone, I strongly suggest going…you won’t regret it. 

Love,
Lizzy





It’s All About the Little “Things!”

29 05 2013

For some reason, Preya walk this morning was exceptionally moving. It included the usual bleak, overcast skies with the slight drizzle of rain, but there was a certain mood in the air above the walkers that made it clear that Christ was with us.

For me, there is a theme that repeatedly comes to mind while participating in Preya; waking up early (or in today’s case, staying up) to walk among fellow believers makes me constantly recollect and remember all of Christ’s gifts that we are blessed with every single day.

Today, I was thinking of “little things”. I started things about these “little things” in two different ways:

First, God blesses us with the little things. There are so many times when we don’t stop to smell the roses. God blesses us with an abundance of wonderful things all the time. Many times we don’t thank Him. All we need to do is take a moment back in prayer and think of all the times that we have been blessed. Just imagine the change of heart that a brother or sister in Christ would have if they allowed their hearts to dwell on positive things they experience throughout their day as opposed to the negative! Think about it!

Second, as the Body of Christ, we are called to spread God’s love in every single thing that we do, ESPECIALLY the “little things.” Imagine if every man and woman who has come to know Christ lived every detail of their lives to serve God. They smiled at every passerby that they came across, they opened the doors for those behind them, and they were genuinely present in every encounter that they came across. God’s love would spread like wildfire! So would the number of those who follow Him! St. Francis of Assisi teaches us to do just this! “Preach the gospel always; when necessary, use words!”

Let the light of Christ shine through you in everything that you do.

Remember to thank Him for everything.
And lastly, in both, focus on the “little things!”

Thanks be to God!
JT





Falling Plates

28 05 2013

“Will you follow me?”

This is a question we answer everyday. Encompassed in every decision we make is the answer to this question. We must always strive to live our lives following Christ, but I know that this can be difficult.
Today I made the decision to follow Christ by participating in PREYAwalk but honestly I don’t always say yes to him and I think that hurts me a lot more then it does him.

This video really hit my heart because it shows what Jesus did for each and every one of us. He loves us in every moment but instead of treasuring this love, we tend to hinder it in some way. I am sure that each one of you has experienced sin in your life and have made the decision to not follow Christ at some moment, but here you are, despite that. We have all been broken plates. We each have our own story of why we began to break but it all comes back to Christ.
We begin to fall and break when he is not in our lives. When we do not pray, when we do not live our lives for Christ, that is when we start to break in to tiny pieces. When this is happening it may seem useless to put yourself together and you may think that nothing can help you but the LORD will ALWAYS be there. He will be the super glue that puts you back together but he makes sure you never break again. He will mold you back in to a plate that has no scratch on it and do you know why?
because he LOVES YOU no matter what. He died for our sins and when he came once again and rose from the dead it was to rid us of the sins we continue to commit. He is here to continuously cleanse us and to be with us in every step of our lives. All we must do to be the best shiniest plates in the cupboard is FOLLOW the lord.

So I ask you, when you reflect on this day, have you followed Christ? Can you answer yes or no to his question? If you answer no then what can you change about your life to make sure you are following Christ?
Remember that he loves you no matter what your answer is, but strive to follow him so that you will not become a falling plate.

Have a spectacular week striving to say YES to Christ!
-Magaly 🙂





A very belated post: The Reality and Existence of Hell.

28 05 2013

I was told to make a post on this here blog, and I have finally come around to actually doing it! so, here goes something!

A friend said to me one day “I have to say: Brother Jed has my respect. He is willing to say publicly that there is a Hell, and that people WILL go there. We don’t know who, we don’t know when, but they WILL go there.”
And he was absolutely right. Hell DOES exist. People WILL go there. I dare to even say that the people who go to Hell will NOT be strangers. Among the people who go to hell will be friends, family, roommates, classmates and possibly even you or me!

He doesn’t take “okay people” into Heaven, for final Judgement is a zero-sum game. There are those who have humbly laid down their lives for God, and those who have put someone/ something above Him (I’m sure you know who goes where.) There is no “Second Place” or “Half-Heaven” at the End of All Things into which all the people who are “good” go. God Takes ONLY the Holy, ONLY the Just, ONLY the Pure, ONLY the Humble, and ONLY the Perfect. We have to pray HARD that God will give us the graces to be made perfect in His sight. Everybody else goes straight to Hell. There is no passing “go” nor is there any consolation prize.

For those who think they should not worry, or that in Hell there will be a party with all their friends I have a few things I have heard about Hell to relay:
The door to Hell is locked from the inside. They willingly turned away from God (who is existence itself) and therefore hate Him with a perfect hatred. Since they hate existence, they hate themselves and ALL around them. They hate everyone so much, they want to drag THEM away from Heaven as well (because Heaven is the ultimate good for all souls!)
Being in Hell has been described as cutting yourself off from all existence. Being in total, dark nothingness and looking in on the eternal and perfect happiness in Heaven; and you HATE them. You want to be in there with them, but you HATE them too much.
TLDR: Hell is Hell. It is eternal loneliness and hatred. It is NOT someplace to even PRETEND to want to be in.

My rant is over, and I hope that someone takes something away from this.

with great love,
~Christopher Paul





I am a LOSER, pick me

27 05 2013

The topic of leadership has been on my mind and a part of some of my conversations for the past couple of weeks since I have been hired for my two summer jobs as a sales associate at Family Christian Stores and the media specialist for the Girl Scout summer resident camp I have been attending since 2002. I recently made the realization that my leadership through my faith is going to look quite different between the two jobs and roles I will be filling in each of them. For the sales associate position, I can be open about discussing my faith and God with my co-workers and the customers and it is even encouraged to do so. For the camp position, I cannot be as open about it because even though all faiths are accepted, the majority of the staff are either not Christian/religious or they do not feel that camp is the place to discuss religion openly on a daily basis with each other and with our campers. Given these two opposite standings on the role faith plays in the work place, how is God calling me to be a leader this summer through these two leadership roles?

I believe that God calls each of us to be a leader in one way or another so that by doing so we are utilizing the gifts He has given us as individual human beings. At my home parish in Olympia, our high school Life Teen group has a sub-group of leaders called LOSER (Leaders Out Serving with Eucharistic Reverence; the w is silent). On the back of their t-shirts they made for the group, there is an image of a “kick me” sign taped to the shirt but the word “kick” is crossed out and replaced with the word “pick” so it says “pick me” instead.  If we let it, this message along with the meaning of the acronym can be really powerful. To start, what is a Leader? One of the definitions in the dictionary is “a guiding or directing hand.” This does not mean that a leader is someone with a title or in a position of authority or power as is often thought when we think of what a leader is. It can be inferred to mean leading by example so that others may see you and want to do the same; be a role model. In my opinion, this is what the rest of the acronym, Out Serving with Eucharistic Reverence, means. If we are out in the community serving as God has called and taught us to, then in essence, we are being leaders. This could be anything from being the face of an aspect of the ministry to smiling at someone, taking the time to get to know them, and becoming their friend. Think about the friends you have made and how they have helped “lead” you to become a better person or get involved in something you never saw yourself doing or take it one step further and think of the peers that have lead by example and inspired you to do something. No matter what gifts we are given, we are called to lead others by living out a life for Christ and following His teachings and inspiring them to do the same. We are called to have the “pick me” sign taped to the back of our shirts day in and day out so that we are able to say “I am Catholic and I am proud. I know who I am and who I am called to be so pick me to be a leader in whatever way I can.”

That last sentence came to me when I was praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet with a couple of other people in the Communications Facility last night before mass. As we were singing, I kept thinking how different it felt being openly Catholic in a building where you do not normally see others praying so freely. As others walked past us who were not part of the Newman Center I watched them to see what their reaction was to a group of students sitting on a bench singing about Jesus. I felt self-conscious and I felt that we should have chosen a more private place in the building to pray. Looking back on these feelings, I might as well have had the “kick me” sign on my back instead of the “pick me” sign. Why should I let the thoughts of others influence my actions and feelings in concern to my faith life and make me feel like I am not worthy to be a leader in my faith? After I realized that this is what I was feeling, I then began to think that praying in as open and public of a space as we did was a beautiful opportunity to show at least some portion of the Western community who I am and to be a leader through the example of showing confidence in my Catholic identity as a college student.

Having said all of this, my challenge to each and every one of you is to declare yourself a LOSER, tape a metaphorical “pick me” sign to your back, and walk with your head held high as you lead others through the example of your Catholic identity and who you feel God is calling you to be. Whether you are in an environment where it is easy or difficult to be open about your faith like the ones I will be placed in this summer, inspire others to grow closer to God by being better people and being leaders themselves. You have the amazing and beautiful ability to have an impact on other’s lives and I encourage all of you to not take that for granted by actively seeking out ways to be a leader. You have one life and one opportunity to make a difference. Take it, run with it, and do not look back. Live your life as God intends you to and be glad for every thing and every person He has placed in your life. If you do this, you will truly be the leader He is calling you to be.

I am a LOSER, pick me.

Peace in Christ,

Lydia





Why so serious?!

27 05 2013

“Whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me and whoever receives me receives not me but the one who sent me.” – Mk 9:37

During our PREYAWALK, I realized I’ve been taking my faith too seriously lately. It sounds silly to say but it’s true. I’ve gotten too caught up in thinking about how to be a good Disciple that I’ve stifled myself from living it out. I want to do God’s will in my life so bad that I want to make sure I think things through and don’t make any mistakes. I’ve subjected myself to rationalizing God.

Going back to the verse from above, I thought about how there is this true joy that children always have. They do whatever comes to their minds. The source of their joy is from the Holy Spirit. They aren’t caught up in being perfect and as a result are way more trusting and docile to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit. There are times when kids do something they shouldn’t, but that is when their loving parents step in to guide them.

I think this is how I am supposed to live a childlike faith. I need to just run around in life looking for fun and joy. That is what God wants of us. He wants us to live joyful lives. If I end up doing something that I shouldn’t, God steps in to guide and teach me, like the loving Father that He is! We don’t have to have everything down to a T as to how we will enjoy life. That is the whole reason Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit. To remind us of all Jesus taught us and to continually teach us more.

“The Advocate, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.” – Jn 14:26

I don’t have to know everything right now. I need to simply follow the Holy Spirit and He will guide me. Don’t get me wrong, there are still those BIG choices that require discernment. However, if we have a prayer life where we are daily in contact with God, we should be able to trust Him and ourselves a little more with some daily decisions. God’s will for life isn’t a puzzle we’re trying to solve, its move like a Create-Your-Own-Adventure book. At the end of the paragraph, we’ll get to choose what to do next and whatever we choose, we’ll always finish the book.

Pray on!