Thursday, February 12, 2015

When everything is going wrong, and Jesus seems to be sleeping

Humble Confidence – taken from: I Believe in Love; Reflections on St. Therese

What does Jesus lament most when He is with His Apostles? Their lack of confidence.  “Men of little faith!” This is the main reproach He makes to them.  He does not say to them, “Men of no character, men without energy, without discipline.” No He says, “Men of little faith!”

 Jesus was crossing the lake of Tiberias in a boat with His disciples.  He was asleep in the stern.  A great windstorm blew up, and the waves poured into the boat so that it was already filled.  Seized with anguish, the disciples awakened Jesus: “Lord, save us; we are perishing!” And rising up, He reprimands the winds and says to the sea, “Peace! Be Still! And the wind abated and there was a great calm.” Then, turning to His Apostles, He asks, “Where is your faith?” I can hear Jesus scolding them with gentleness, but with pain too: “Why is this? I was in the boat with you- I slept, but I was there – and you were afraid; you were terrified. You doubted either my omnipotence or my love.  Do you not know after all who I am, and do you not know after all with what tenderness my Heart watches over you continually?” It is truly such doubt that pains and offends Him most. 

But you see, we have lost so completely the notion of the entire confidence that HE expects of us, that we sometimes make a prayer of the words for which He reproached His Apostles: “Lord, save us; we are perishing!”

This is not how we should pray, but rather, “With You, Jesus, I cannot perish; You are always in the boat with me; what have I to fear?  You may sleep, I shall not awaken You. My poor nature will tremble, oh yes! But with all my will I shall remain in peace in the midst of the storm, confident in You.”

In hours of anguish, think of the Divine Master calming the violent storms with one word.  This will be a tremendous source of comfort for you as you wait – peacefully- for Him to waken. 

The great tempest is what our sins stir up in our souls.  It is there that Jesus must arise in order that “a great calm may descend.”

Listen to what little Therese has to say in the fable about the weak little bird who, not having wings strong enough  to soar in the heights, at least has eyes and a heart to gaze at the Sun of Love: “With bold abandonment, he remains gazing at his Divine Sun.  Nothing can frighten him, either wind nor rain; and if dark clouds come to hide the Star of Love, the weak little bird will not move away, for he knows that on the other side of the clouds his Sun continues always to shine.” 

“I am not always faithful, but I never get discouraged.  I abandon myself into the arms of Jesus, and there I find again all that I have lost and much more besides."

Since He has granted it to be to understand the love of the Heart of Jesus, I confess that He has chased all fear out of my heart.  The memory of my faults humiliates me, leads me never to rely on my own strength, which is nothing but weakness; but even more this memory speaks to me of mercy and love.  When we throw our faults, with a completely filial confidence, into the devouring furnace of love, how could they not be totally consumed?” 

May these words remind us, that even when everything seems to be going terribly wrong, Jesus is there, whether we feel Him or not, He will be there to take care of us and make sure we make it through the storm alive.  

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

How Do I Know God Exists?

After school yesterday I was meeting with a high school student and she was really stumping me with some questions.

"What moment in your life did you know God really exists?"
"How do I prove God exists to someone who doesn't believe in love?"
"What can I do to trust God more?"

I wanted to say I had all the right answers, that I could spit out logical and factual reasons for the existence of God and that with one sentence I could convince anyone to believe in Him.  But that just didn't seem to be the case as I stumbled around my words.  What I ended up realizing is that I don't have that answer, because if there was one thing that we could say to convince someone in the existence of God, then that would defeat the purpose of Faith.  Faith - belief that is not based on proof.  I believe in God because I know He has changed my life.  I know that as I have come to know Him more and invite Him into my life, I have never experienced such great joy and peace.  It doesn't mean that I don't face problems, but now I realize I do not face them on my own and that my problems are not what defines my life; my life is defined by being a beloved child of God.  I also know that all of the people that I look up to and admire have a love for God and radiate with love as they strive to follow His will.  So do I have the perfect answer, no, but in my heart there is no doubt of the existence and love of God. For we walk by faith, not by sight. 2 Cor 5:7

"Our hearts our restless, until they rest in you." Famous and true words by St. Augustine . We all long for something and as we continued talking over our coffee (aka smoothie in my case) we discovered that God has placed moments of peace and grace in each of our lives, but then in other moments it is easy to feel far from God and question our trust in Him.  So our next question was "How do we learn to trust God more?"  Now I really wasn't sure to this answer, but the simplest answer seemed to be to get to know Christ.   How can we trust someone we don't know?  So over the next few weeks we plan to read through and pray with the Holy Gospel and encounter Christ in a personal way.

But we also wanted something that we could start right now and this  is what we invite you to join in with us.  We are starting gratitude journals where at the end of each day we will write down five to ten things that God has blessed us with that day.  Allowing us to see how much He provides for us each day and guides us along the way.  Of course there will be really hard parts to each day, and what do we do with those? Well her idea was that we write those down also, giving our problems to God, and then reflect on how He could possibly use them to bring good into our lives. This doesn't mean that God caused the bad to happen, it just means that we believe God is greater than sorrow and even in the worst situations, He can bring hope.

An example of this was my two and a half hour commute home on public transportation. I could have really let this irritate me, but I thought back to our conversation and realized that God could turn this traffic jam into extra time for me to pray for those around me.

We hope, that through this nightly reflection, the love of God will be made clearer in our lives as well as in anyone who wishes to join us on this journey to know The Lord deeper.  We hope that God will reveal His love to each of us if we only ask.  "Dear Lord, please make your love for me known and felt in my life."

Sunday, September 28, 2014

“The Lord hears the cry of the poor”

“The Lord hears the cry of the poor”

Friday, September 26th
So today was pretty amazing, God really blessed me with an incredible insight into His love and into the humanity surrounding me. 

After a beautiful rosary at the basilica, confession with a Missionaries of Charity Father, God was preparing me for my favorite day thus far, as well as the hardest. Father sent us over to their soup kitchen were we arrived just as everyone was beginning to eat.  I got handed a baby that was 5 days old wrapped up so tightly in a blanket you could barely see his face.  He was there with his parents, 5 year old brother as well as his 8 year old sister.  They were currently homeless after being recently deported and weren’t able to eat any of the food served because they have eaten food from the states for so long they can’t take the Mexican spice.  It’s hard to see such a loving family be forced to leave a job and a home and have to try to raise a family with nothing. 

After the soup kitchen we headed to Villa Mujers, a home for women, usually older who have mental illness or have been abandoned by family members who no longer want to take care of them.  As we walked through, everyone was calling out and longing for us to show them attention, you could tell that all they wanted was love.  I knelt and said hola to one lady, and as she held my hand she started telling stories of her mama and papa and tear started streaming out her eyes.  It was one of those moments when you don’t know what to do but simply listen.  The rest of the time there we spent in the room where the really sick and dying were.  Two ladies were so excited to see Craig and just started telling him all these stories.  There was one lady that was curled up on the bed next to them, her body bent in weird unnatural positions and nothing but skin clinging to her bones.  Holding her hand and listening to her try to talk, but only be able scream was a moment when it took everything inside of me to hold back tears.   Life can be so hard to understand. 

Next we went to the rehab center and met the priest there. He was so full of love and showed us around.  Down stairs there were two boys who had just come off the streets, hooked to IVs. Our hope is that Sunday two of the street kids that we visit will come with us to the rehab center.  We went and saw them after leaving and they were so full of love for Craig as he walked up and just excited to see us.  I got drilled for about 10 minutes about whether or not I had a boyfriend and how tall he was and if they could fight him.  They are always entertaining to talk to and try to understand.

Pray that the boys stay committed to going to rehab today.  The whole process is a lot harder than most people think.  When you have been on drugs for so long your body doesn’t know how to function without them.  The first three days of rehab will most likely be spend throwing up and hooked on an IV to make sure that the body stabilizes.  Only through Christ will any of us be able to let go of our addictions big or small and be able to live in in the freedom we were designed for. 

Saturday, I was blessed to get to spend time at the Missionaries of Charity here in Mexico.  They also have a home for women with disabilities who are sick and dying or have been abandoned by their families.  Upstairs is where we spent most of our time, with the babies.  There were about 10 of them who were being fed and cared for, most of whom had disabilities; either mental or physical, and all of whom had been abandoned by their families and left on the side of the road.  It was such a joy to hold them and get to walk them around the garden outside.  Holding Jaime felt so different than a normal child because of his tense body and inability to relax like most children would.  He had a constant smile on his face and a look of awe and wonder at everything we looked at.  Some of the girls who are in their first few years of preparing to be MCs and consecrate their lives to Christ forever were from the US so it was fun to talk and joke with them and see the love in their eyes for the work they are doing.  May God bless their ministry and all those that see the love of Christ through the love that the sisters show to them. 

Remember, if we love those in front of us, no one will ever go unloved.  

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Medical Mission

Warning: thoughts in this post skip around and don't make much sense 

Who would have thought, God has a way of pulling through when I am being a chicken.  Don’t ask me why, but I have come to hate making phone calls, especially to people I don’t know.  A week ago a college priest approached Elizabeth and I about going on a medical mission trip with his students.  I was really excited until four days later I was supposed to call the girl in charge and let her know we were coming.  Why did I not want to make the call, who knows?  Basically I took the approach, “okay, Lord, if you want me to go, make it happen.”  Thursday I get a Facebook message asking if we wanted to go, and Friday afternoon we were getting on a bus with 30 unknown college students headed to the mountains. 

The purpose for traveling to the mountains was to go to villages where there is no medical service and let everyone know that we would be having free medical clinics.  It was also supposed to be an opportunity for the college students to encounter a deeper relationship with Jesus as well as to remember the passion that goes into medical practice.  I really appreciate the purpose of the trip and what I got out of it, but it also really made me appreciate FOCUS mission trips and the emphasis they place on quiet prayer time as well as going into detail of the joy that comes from being in a relationship with God. 

What I have really started to realize is that Mexico is quite similar to the United States in that the people here are often unable to fully grasp the concept of God’s Mercy.  Many are just unaware that God loves them no matter what they have done, and only wants for them to accept His Mercy and forgiveness.  Anyways, it was a great experience, I made some friends, and I have no focus to write this blog.  I am sitting in a coffee house that looks like it belongs in West O.  I spent the last day in my apartment staring at my computer trying to learn Spanish and started a new bible study.  I learned I can’t sit still for a whole day at a time, surprise surprise. 

(I should say however, the online Bible study is amazing and anyone interested in learning more about their faith should check out  It is free and you can do it whenever you have a little free time.)

Blogs looked at instead of finishing this post

“Do not fear sharing the Truth; the Truth can take care of itself.   Our task is to ask questions, pursue the Truth, and then simply unleash it.  It’s quite elementary.”

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Why Mexico City?

 I have now been in Mexico City a little over a week, and I am sure many are wondering why.  For anyone who knew me in high school, they knew I was ardently opposed to Spanish.  I took two years, hated it (mainly because of a teacher), and swore I was never going to need it and therefore deleted it from my brain.  That’s why even I have a hard time believing that I am actually here.  I don’t think it even really hit me that I was in Mexico until the other night when I was sitting in my neighbor’s house, eating a meal I can’t pronounce, and listening to a conversation where I understand only 1/500 words. As I looked around it sunk it, I am in a two room house in the middle of the largest city in the world, but I feel at home. 

How did I get here?
After my first international mission trip to Haiti, I felt my heart being pulled towards foreign mission work and then after India last summer I had no doubt.  So while other people were applying for normal jobs, I was searching the internet for organizations that would allow me to serve in an unknown land.

It was mid-December and I was still trying to decide.  Looking back it must have been December 13th, since the day before was the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  I hadn’t heard her story in a while and someone had mentioned it to me the day before and it caught my attention. For those of you who don’t know: After the Spanish had taken over Mexico, they were trying to spread Christianity anhere 
d put to the polytheistic and human sacrificing religion, but in eleven years, only a few hundred had converted.  Well in 1531 a man was walking by Tepeyac Hill and a woman appeared to him claiming to be the Mother of Christ.  She asked him to talk to the Bishop and tell him she would like a church build on this hill so that the Mexican’s could learn the love of her Son and feel her protection.  Well when he went to the Bishop, the Bishop didn’t believe him and asked for a sign.  Our Lady told him to gather roses (in winter) which she rearranged in his tilma (a cloth worn), and as he let them fall in front of the Bishop, there appeared a beautiful image of a woman, otherwise known as Our Lady of Guadalupe.  This image is in the Basilica in Mexico City and has been studied by scientists over the years who have no explanation to many aspects of the image or how it has lasted over 500 years. Within nine years after the appearance, over 9 million Mexicans had converted to Christianity.  To find out more click

Anyways, as I was telling a friend this miracle who didn’t know much about Mary, he just kind of stared at me and asked to see a picture.  As I showed it to him his eyes got big and he said that half an hour before when we were at a thrift store he had seen a few statues of the image.  At first it just seemed to be a coincidence.  Well the next day I was telling a FOCUS missionary about the previous day’s events and she perked up and asked if I had considered Mexico as a place to do mission work.  Mexico was the last place I thought of, it wasn’t even on my radar.  But she started telling me about another missionary who had a friend, Craig, who has lived in Mexico the last 8 years as a missionary and had connections to a home for women and children; an area I have always had an interest in.  Just at that moment the other missionary who knew Craig walked out of his office.  Long story short, I got in contact and from there it was a quick process to finalizing my move.  God even answered prayers and opened the heart of another college student from MO to go down with me for a while, who speaks every good Spanish; easing the nerves of my parents who feared I would be wondering the streets of Mexico alone. 

Whenever I got nervous about leaving, whether in a friend’s house or in a church, there was about a 95% chance that a few seconds later I would see an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe reassuring me that this was where God was calling me.  He continues to impress me as He slowly reveals new plans He has for me while I am here.  A few months before I left I heard of all the FOCUS mission trips that were coming to Mexico that I could help with, causing me to laugh because God was answering another prayer that I had prayed two years ago, but didn’t trust would ever be answered.  He is constantly full of surprises.

This past week has reminded me that as long as my heart is aimed towards Christ, God will make His desires for my life quite clear; and let’s face it, His plans are way better than our own.  We just have to be patient and listen. 

Dios te ama


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Why the homeless are actually richer

I had one of those eye opening moments Friday that make someone stop and contemplate their own life.  I was praying in church after all the students left mass and a few 2nd grade students wondered back in and went up to the homeless man who sits in front of me to keep out of the cold.  They brought him a piece of cake and told him to have a nice day and went off to spend their day learning.  It is a beautiful thing to watch kids at such a young age start to learn the value of giving and loving everyone around them.   While seeing this interaction was moving enough, what happened next really stopped me in my tracks.

As soon as the students left, what was the first thing he did? Turn around and ask me if I wanted to share the piece of cake with him.  It totally caught me off guard, but was such a generous gesture. Here was a man who has very little, probably isn’t sure if he is even going to eat the rest of the day and yet he is offering part of what he has been given to me. 

How often do I ever do this? Get something and think ‘now who can I go and share this with?´ I’ll give you a hint, it isn’t usually my first thought.  This really brought me back to my time in India and Haiti; the poor were always the first to try to share. They didn’t cling to things like we do in the US.  They didn’t see possessions as the source of their happiness and instead they get joy from sharing with others, even the little they have. 

Pope Francis explained it the best:

“The promise was that when the glass was full, it would overflow, benefitting the poor. But what happens instead, is that when the glass is full, it magically gets bigger nothing ever comes out for the poor.

Are you willing to give even when your glass isn’t full, or does your glass just keep growing?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Why do we do this at Mass?

Mass is a beautiful experience for all those wishing to grow closer to Christ and share in His life.  For me, mass has become so much more powerful the last few years after understanding why we do certain things during it as well as learning the meaning behind all the parts of the mass.  I was astounded to see all the biblical routes of the entire mass while reading The Lambs Supper by Scott Hahn and watching him speak on the origins of the mass  

For this post however, I thought I would look into more of the motions at mass, especially the ones I saw at the Newman Center my freshmen year that were different than I was used to in my home parish. I have gathered explanations about some of these things such as holding hands, how to receive the Eucharist, as well as why to pray after mass from a few people who are much more knowledgeable about the mass.

Silence before/ coming early to mass
 Sacred Silence be observed in our churches prior to the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy to allow the clergy and the faithful to properly prepare and dispose themselves for the Sacred Mysteries to which they are about to participate.           

>The General Instruction of the Roman Missal reminds us: “Sacred silence also, as part of the celebration, is to be observed at the designated times.... Even before the celebration itself, it is commendable that silence is observed in the church, in the sacristy, in the vesting room, and in adjacent areas, so that all may dispose themselves to carry out the sacred action in a devout and fitting manner.” (GIRM 45)

Holy Water:
Used when making the sign of the cross to remind us of our own baptism, the promise we made to Christ, and an outward expression of the new sinless life you are trying to living because of Him. 

Scott Hahn notes,a North African theologian named Tertullian mentions the custom of symbolically cleansing one’s hands before lifting them in prayer.  It was a Jewish custom that predated the coming of Our Lord, and it may be what St. Paul was referring to when he wrote to Timothy: “I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands” or “pure hands” (1 Tim 2:8)”

Tracing the cross on our foreheads, lips, and hearts before the gospel

Fr. Mateo offered the following explanation for this ritual: "For the word which Christ brought and which is set down in this book we are willing to stand up with a mind that is open; we are ready to confess it with our mouth; and above all we are determined to safeguard it faithfully in our hearts."

Not holding hands during the Our Father:

Bishop of Covington, Roger Foys:

“Special note should also be made concerning the gesture for the Our Father. Only the priest is given the instruction to “extend” his hands. Neither the deacon nor the lay faithful are instructed to do this. No gesture is prescribed for the lay faithful in the Roman Missal; nor the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, therefore the extending or holding of hands by the faithful should not be performed.” 

It is a theological argument that Pope Benedict XVI made in his book, Spirit of the Liturgy. The point of holding hands is a sign of community and communion. Since this is the case, it is a misplaced sign, because we aren't truly in communion until we have exchanged the sign of peace. this is why Communion happens after the Sign of Peace, because it is the sign of communion par excellence.

Receiving the Eucharist on the tongue:

When I was younger and preparing for first communion, they told us that we received on our tongue because it was like rolling out a red carpet for God because He is a king.  While it is acceptable to receive on the tongue or with the hands according to the church, receiving on the tongue reminds me that I am unworthy to even touch Jesus, but yet he still chooses to come to me.   On Marc Barnes blog, BadCatholic, he does a good job explaining his reason behind his choice for communion,

“Now when I unworthily receive the body of Christ, I should do so with the profound understanding that it is not by my power that I receive Him, but by the authority of God made manifest in his Church. It is by the power of Christ granted to the priest. The Eucharist is the gift of God to us, Love Himself made vulnerable to our ingestion. It is not a thing we can take or claim — it is a person we receive. Receiving on the tongue expresses this truth in the body.

As a baby bird lifts its head for food, or as an infant seeks its mother’s milk, so we open our mouths. There is no action between the administration of the Eucharist by the priest and my reception of the very same. In this posture of helpless receptivity we conform our bodies to the authority of God, and to the reality that we are dependent on his action — manifested in the Church — for our salvation. We recognize by our bodies that the Eucharist is gift, pure gift."

After Communion/ Praying After Mass  
So many people go up for Holy Communion simply to go through the motions and think nothing of it, and yet, St. Pius X said that “if the Angels could envy, they would envy us for Holy Communion.” And St. Madeleine Sophie Barat defined Holy Communion as “Paradise on earth.” (more saints quotes on the beauty of Holy Communion)

St. Alphonsus Liguori once wrote that “there is no prayer more dear to God than that which is made after communion.” He continued that our loving thoughts and prayers after communion mean more then than otherwise “because they are then animated by the presence of Jesus Christ, who is united to our souls.”“You envy,” said St. John Chrysostom, “the opportunity of the woman who touched the vestments of Jesus, of the sinful woman who washed His feet with her tears, of the women of Galilee who had the happiness of following Him in His pilgrimages, of the Apostles and disciples who conversed with Him familiarly, of the people of the time who listened to the words of grace and salvation which came forth from His lips. You call happy those who saw Him ... But, come to the altar and you will see Him, you will touch Him, you will give to Him holy kisses, you will wash Him with your tears, you will carry Him within you like Mary Most Holy.”

Jesus once complained to St. Faustina, the Polish nun to whom He first gave us the Divine Mercy Chaplet, of people who "treat Me like a dead object" after receiving Him in Communion.

The Catechism teaches Christ remains physically present in us, in the Eucharist for 15-20 minutes, until the accidents (observable qualities such as taste, appearance, smell, ect) of bread and wine subsist.  The same time it takes the digestive juices in the stomach to work on the Host before it is no longer recognizable as bread.

This being said, think of the amazing grace that comes from spending extra time in prayer after mass has ended instead of rushing out of the building.  

“While God is everywhere, and we can pray to Him at any time or place, what better time is there to give Jesus our love, thanksgiving, and concerns than during our special time with Him after receiving Him in the Eucharist?”

"Another point to be emphasized is the importance of staying during the entire Mass.  There are many plastic images to illustrate this, but most can grasp that if their boss, or the local mayor, summons them to a meeting, they would not dare leave before their host has formally brought it to a close.  If we behave thus before mere human authority and relationships, then how much more should it be true when our host is the Father who created us, the Son who died and rose for us, and the Spirit who gives us life?"

When you rush in and out of Mass as if the world can't wait another ten minutes, you are showing God you have other priorities more important than Him.

One Priest once made the comment, "Please remember when you receive, that the Mass is not ended yet.  Give thanks to God for His gift of the Eucharist.  Let us not imitate Judas.  He was the only one who left the Last Supper early, and you know what happened to him, don't you?"

So next time you are at mass, really think about all the things you are doing, and don't be like Judas, stick around to spend some intimate time in prayer with Christ.