Sunday, January 20, 2013

Second Sorrowful Mystery

While on a rosary walk the other day, we were reflecting on the mysteries and as he read the second sorrowful mystery, something really hit me hard.

Second Sorrowful Mystery
Pilate said unto them: “What shall I do then with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all say unto him: “Let him be crucified!” And the governor said: “Why, what evil hath he done”? But they cried out the more, saying: “Let him be crucified!” (Mathew 27) So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas to them and, after he had Jesus Scourged, handed him over to be crucified. (Mark 15:15)

I remember growing up and even to this day being discussed at this story.  This crowd had no reason to hate Jesus and still yelled crucify him, crucify him; trying to condemn him to a miserable and torturous death.  And Pilate, finding no fault of his own, decided to go along with the crowd to satisfy them by handing Jesus to be crucified to prevent the crowd from turning on him. I always got so angry thinking that it was so easy for them to turn their backs on Jesus, the savior of the world, and wish unthinkable pain upon him.  What hit me hard during that rosary was the fact that every day I am the crowd, and I am also Pilate. 

While I might not physically yell out crucify him, every time I sin that is exactly what I am saying.  Every time I know God’s will and yet decide to break his rules and do my own thing, I am saying crucify him, crucify him.  Jesus died for my sins, for your sins. That means that every time we sin, we are the one driving the nail deeper into his hands; that little sin we don’t think is a big deal is an extra lash from the whip tearing into his skin.   

Pilate on the other hand, didn’t want to harm Jesus because he knew he was innocent and Pilate didn’t want to do anything wrong; but he was more worried about what the crowd would think of him than doing the right thing.  By standing by and watching other people sin and not saying anything, I am being Pilate.  I am going along with what I know is wrong and ignoring Jesus’ silent plea to help him. By lack the courage to stand up for my beliefs and continuing to watch others sin, I am allowing Jesus to be crucified.
This is a sobering fact, when you think of all the things you do throughout your day that are just adding extra pain and suffering to Jesus’ crucifixion.  Take a minute to think about where your life needs to change so that you are no longer silently yelling crucify him, crucify him.  Even those little sins are an extra blow of the hammer, are they worth it?

Friday, January 18, 2013

False Humility

What is Humility? Well the dictionary describes it as the quality or condition of being humble; modest opinion or estimate of one’s own importance, rank, etc. Humility can be one of the hardest things to master because as soon as you try to say that you are humble, you are no longer humble because you think you are good at being humble, confusing I know.  I think that most people think that to be humble means to think you are bad at something and that your talents are less valuable than they are.  But let’s be honest, it is real annoying when someone who is a great painter tries to tell you they are terrible, you both know that it’s not true, so why pretend like they aren’t good?

In C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters, one of the devils is explaining false humility states, “And sense what they are trying to believe may, in some cases be manifest nonsense, they cannot succeed in believing it and we have the chance of keeping their minds endlessly revolving around themselves in an effort to achieve the impossible,” (trying to believe that their talent is not valuable).

 It’s not bad to admit that God gave you a special talent.  When someone gives you a compliment, thank them and then thank God for giving you that gift. 

One way that I think about humility is that to be humble means that you don’t admire something greater just because you were the one who did it and not someone else.  You should find just as much joy in someone else making the last three throw or bringing your best friend to Jesus (even though you have been trying for years), as if it were you.  We should not think greater of ourselves just because God gave us different gifts than he gave those around us.  We should admire all that God has created and the different talent sets he has given. 

Next time you start to feel prideful because you are the super star athlete or an amazing poet, remember it was God who gave you this talent and He who deserves the praise.  And if you say that you got to be good because you practiced the last ten years, well then just remember God gave you the patience and the drive to keep practicing.  We all have special talents and gifts so why not use them to glorify the Lord and give him thanks. 

"False humility downplays one's genuine strengths to receive praise.  Arrogance plays up one's genuine strengths to receive praise.  Humility raises up others to they can be praised."  

Monday, January 14, 2013

When I'm 80

Today I was asked to think about what I want people to say about my life when I am 80.  And since I am only 21, I have a lot of time till this day actually comes.  No matter what I write down about what I want people to think about me in the future: she was always willing to talk to anyone, motivated everyone she met to be a better person, helped those around her to find God, put others before her, always striving to improve, humble, committed; it’s impossible to know if this is really what people will say about me. Or is it?  The only person in control of my life is me (besides God).  I have the next 59 years to live my life and determine how people will see me.  What if I started now, could I guarantee that this is what people would say about me?  I don’t see why not.  If I wrote these descriptions of how I want my life to be and looked that them every day and made sure that I lived everyday in such a way that it represented these qualities; there is no reason that people would describe my life any differently than how I hope. 

But let’s be honest, do all of my actions truly represent the list that I told you up above of how I hope to live my life? Why is it that we constantly do things on a daily basis that cause us to go against what we hope to stand for and represent?  To state the obvious, the devils is often behind our lack of motivation and drive to be the person that God has planned for us to be and that we hope to be one day.   He is so good at placing the thought of “I will start tomorrow” in our heads that tomorrow never comes. He is so good at distracting us with worldly desires and material goods that we lose focus on our true goals and we start to work towards being who the world says we should be.  

  So my goal for us this week: write down 10 things you want people to say about you when your 80.  Hang them up on your wall and look at them every night and decide if someone would describe you as this person based on your actions from the day.  

Sunday, January 13, 2013

You Are More

Some days I think we all need to be reminded that who we once were doesn't define who we can become and I don't think anyone says this better than Tenth Avenue North:

You are more than the choices that you've made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You've been remade.

'Cause this is not about what you've done,
But what's been done for you.
This is not about where you've been,
But where your brokenness brings you to

This is not about what you feel,
But what He felt to forgive you,
And what He felt to make you loved.

You are more than the choices that you've made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You've been remade.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Sign of the Cross

What does The Sign of the Cross mean to us anymore? Sometimes it seems as if it has just become another routine that we do every time we say a pray or walk into church.  Just a little arm exercise to add to the lunges we do before we enter the pews.  Why is this? Why is it that one of the most important prayers has just become another motion that we do to hopefully help get us to Heaven even if we don’t take time to understand what we are doing?  Most of us were taught to do it at a young age and have forgotten why.  Some people don’t even say the worlds and just make the motion, forgetting the true meaning of this prayer.  I was recently wondering why this was turning into just a motion for me and where had the spiritual aspect gone.
 I think the answer is in the words I was saying.  So often when making the sign of the cross I am not even paying attention and all I am saying is ‘the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen.’ I have been leaving out ‘In the name of.’ Does that really make that much of a difference you might ask? I think it does.  Without these four words I am simply relaying that God is one in three; which don’t get me wrong, this belief is a huge part of our faith, but those four words add so much more.  ‘In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.’ When I say this prayer, I am saying: everything I am about to do is in your name Lord; everything I say is honoring you; every move I make, I am doing it in your name and through my actions everyone should know that I do everything for Christ. Do you feel this way when you make The Sign of the Cross?  Every time you walk into mass and dip your hand into the holy water, are you saying ‘Lord, take over my life, fill my heart while I am here at Mass and when I leave, and may all my actions represent your love’? I need to focus on slowing down when I say this prayer and reflect upon if I am being honest when professing that my actions represent all that God stands for. 

I think another important thing we need to look at is the action that we are making.  We draw a cross across our body to represent so much more than we often reflect upon.  This website gives descriptions of different reasons for this action and a few really caught my attention:

Through this symbol we are recognizing all that Christ did for us when he died on the cross.  We recognize that we have the hope of eternal life because of what happened on that cross. We are also accepting that while on Earth we all have our own crosses to bear and we are all willing to do so, just as Christ suffered upon the cross for us.  When we add in the words, ‘In the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit,’ we are saying that we will carry these personal crosses to represent our love for God and to offer up all our trials and tribulations to Him.

It is also a sign that from Christ dying on the cross, the devil did not win; instead he was defeated by Jesus laying down his life for us.  Every time we make the Sign of the Cross we are causing the devil to cower in fear and run the other way because of our faith in Jesus Christ.  When we speak these words and trace the cross over our bodies, we are reclaiming our bodies for Christ by saying that we reject bodily desires and temptations and want to live our lives ‘in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.’

Become the Best Version of Yourself

While in Florida for the FOCUS convention Mathew Kelly was the opening speaker and his talk focused on becoming the best version of ourselves. A lot is us probably think, ‘well ya we want that,’ but how many of us actually take the steps to become that person? What is required of us to be the Best version of ourselves? Let’s be honest and say that there are many things in our lives that need changing, but God doesn't expect us to be able to change everything at once. This is a new semester; it's time to start working on the new you, the best version of you. The first step is to think about the biggest thing that is preventing you from becoming the best version of yourself; what is it that thing that we put first before our relationship with God…..(pause and think).

Now think about what that thing was that came to your head that you tried to shut out and argue with yourself that it really isn't that big of a deal. What was that sin that came to your mind that you get to much pleasure from so you tried to immediately stop thinking about it so you didn’t have to admit it is wrong and interfering with your relationship with God?

This is what God is calling us to change right now in our lives. By changing our lives in this way we are saying ‘yes God’. Yes God I do believe you know what is right for me. Yes God I love you more than worldly pleasures. Yes God I want to give my life totally to you because you are the reason for my existence.

Momentary pleasure does not create everlasting happiness. I can almost guarantee that whatever it was that you thought about gives you pleasure during it, but that next day guilt sets in and you have to start denying to yourself that you did anything wrong. You start trying to prove to yourself that you are still a good person because “hey at least I didn’t do what Bob did last night, that’s way worse.”

I know this seems like a lot to handle and how do we go about becoming the best version of ourselves and turning away from our favorite sin? Well in Mathew Kelly's book, The Rhythm of Life, he says that it is as simple as simply 'doing the next right thing.' You don't have fight giant battles all at once and expect to never be tempted to sin again. All you have to do is tell yourself that in every situation you come across you are simply going to do the next right thing. It makes our battles seem a lot more manageable.

Someone asks you if you want a drink even though you are underage, or if you are of age and that next drink that will put you past your limit, you don't have to try to decide if you will look stupid not doing what everyone else is doing or if someone will judge you, all you have to do is the next right thing and say no thanks. What about when see that last cookie sitting on the counter temping you even though you just had two and are full. It's not World War Two with yourself; it's simply doing the next right thing and showing a little self control and walking away. Is that pleasure of ten seconds of eating the cookie worth the guilt you feel the next few hours as your stomach is complaining because you ate too much? Or maybe it’s trying to decide if you should go to mass or do your homework. You could argue for thirty minutes with yourself and say you don’t have time for mass when in reality you should do the next right thing and go to mass because you will end up spending that hour on facebook anyways. 

I hope that as humans aware of God’s love and as students wanting to change the culture and grow closer to God, that we will all take this step to face the individual challenge that separates us from God; so that together we may grow to become the best version of ourselves and therefore producing the best version of the world we live in.


You know those things that you can tell God wants you to do, but you just keep kinda putting off or saying that you will get to later, well I think God has been asking me to write a blog and my new year’s resolution is to do everything that I feel the Holy Spirit is calling me to do. Whether that is saying hi to the stranger I am walking by, telling someone that they inspired me, or writing a blog; my goal is to just do it. We often put these things off because we are fearful of embarrassing ourselves or that we might do a bad job, but why be fearful if you know the Lord is with you?

My hope is that whoever reads this will be inspired to grow to know and love God more and to share that love with those around them. 

And as a forewarning I am a terrible speller and will do my best, but I give no promises. 

‘For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear; I will help you’  Isaiah 41:13