What Am I Doing Here??

The most popular post on my blog has consistently been “Your Talent is God’s Gift to You; What You Do With it is Your Gift to God.”  After noticing this trend I also noticed that it was neither categorized nor tagged.  This means that people are purposefully googling this quote or something similar.  It seems to me this indicates the sincere desire of my readers to discover God’s will for their lives.  This is something we all wonder about: what are our talents and how can we best use them to glorify God? Well I wrote that post back in August of 2010 and now, almost 2 years later, I’d like to think that I have a bit more experience in the department of discerning God’s will.  In that post I wrote about the fine line between recognizing your gifts and talents and being boastful about them.  I recently heard a quote which shed some light on this issue: humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less. There are several pieces of advice I’d like to impart: God wants you to be happy!  Pay attention to the times when you experience peace and consolation – they can help point you towards God will.  A really smart guy named St Ignatius of Loyola wrote all about this in his book The Discernment of Spirits.  A great introduction to it was written by Fr. Timothy Gallagher.  Lastly: your vocation can be found where your greatest joy and the world’s greatest need meet. What we’re really talking about here is vocation.  No, vocation does not mean being a priest or nun.  It’s your calling in life, but it’s more than that.  It’s the particular way in which God is calling you to a life of holiness. Here’s a fun video which sums up the idea of vocation nicely:

Like It’s the First Time

Tonight a few people from my school were welcomed into the Catholic Church and I had the incredible privilege of being one of my best friend’s sponsor.  My friend was so excited to receive the Eucharist for the first time.  I’m jealous that he received the Body and Blood with a better understanding of the incredible mystery he is now able to fully participate in.  I wish that I had appreciated it as a third grader.  He was crying tears of joy and right before we went up he whispered, “I can’t believe this is really happening”.  I realized that should be everyone’s reaction every single time we receive the Eucharist and I prayed to be given the grace to receive Jesus’s Body and Blood like it’s the first time every time.

So I was looking for a song to portray this idea and I found a perfect one!  It’s First Time by Lifehouse.  It’s supposed to be a love song but can totally be applied to the Eucharist.

Every time we receive our Lord’s Body and Blood should feel like falling in love with Him all over again.  It should strengthen and renew our commitment to become more like Him.  And as the song says, “I”m taking a chance, letting you inside.”  I once heard a homily about the risk of surrendering to Christ – if we truly let Him take control of our lives and He might take us places we would never have imagined going.  He might ask us to do things that seem impossible.  He might ask us to be vulnerable and broken, to make sacrifices that seem beyond our strength.  Yet all the strength and nourishment we need is found in the Eucharist.

I just searched for quotes about the Eucharist and came up with an overwhelming amount from Saints and holy people(guess it’s important!)

Here’s a taste:

“This food we call the Eucharist, of which no one is allowed to partake except one who believes that the things we teach are true, and has received the washing for forgiveness of sins and for rebirth, and who lives as Christ handed down to us. For we do not receive these things as common bread or common drink; but as Jesus Christ our Savior being incarnate by God’s Word took flesh and blood for our salvation, so also we have been taught that the food consecrated by the Word of prayer which comes from him, from which our flesh and blood are nourished by transformation, is the flesh and blood of that incarnate Jesus.” – St. Justin Martyr, 2nd Century

“If we but paused for a moment to consider attentively what takes place in this Sacrament, I am sure that the thought of Christ’s love for us would transform the coldness of our hearts into a fire of love and gratitude.”– St. Angela of Foligno

“You come to me and unite Yourself intimately to me under the form of nourishment. Your Blood now runs in mine, Your Soul, Incarnate God, compenetrates mine, giving courage and support. What miracles! Who would have ever imagined such!”– St. Maximilian Kolbe

“Our own belief is that the renovation of the world will be brought about only by the Holy Eucharist.”– Pope Leo XIII

Enduring Hope for the Battle

I’ve had a few comments concerning my posts about persecution.  Since it seems to be a common concern, I thought this issue deserved another post.

Firstly, there was concern that I am feeling hopeless in the face of this persecution or afraid in some way.  Don’t worry readers, this is not the case.  God tells us over and over to “be not afraid.”  Matthew 16:18 says, “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.”  I know that no matter what we go through, the Church will endure.  And we can be assured that no matter how hard the devil fights, God will always win.

Another reader made an interesting point that made me think about an underlying problem in the world.  This reader reminded me that Christians are not alone in being persecuted.  This is absolutely true.  I realize that the discrimination Catholics experience in America is nothing compared to the lack of religious freedom in other countries.  I don’t mean to belittle the atrocity of persecutions that are happening in places like Nigeria. Our world is becoming more secularized and distancing itself from all religion.  I have to wonder if this means we are getting farther from the basic tenet which makes up most mainstream religions: loving our neighbors.  An attack on religion in general is equally as disturbing as the persecution of a certain belief.  We are abandoning basic values and embracing relativism.

As for the persecution of Catholics – I was referring to the United States specifically.  Historically, there has always been anti-catholic sentiment in this country and at times that sentiment is stronger.  For example, the New York Times had no problem posting the ad I referenced in another post, but hesitates to offend muslims with similar cartoons.  The healthcare reform, which would violate our religious freedom, may be ushering in a new era for our nation, which was originally built on Christian values.

All of this is a warning to not become complacent.  Christianity holds counter cultural beliefs – as society rejects those beliefs more and more strongly, we will come under attack.  Yes, there has always been religious persecution, but that doesn’t mean it can’t get worse, especially for those us who haven’t ever experienced overt persecution.  Regardless of this, we have always been and are now, taking part in a spiritual battle of good and evil.  Charles Baudelaire said, ‘The greatest trick the devil ever played was convincing the world that he did not exist.’  Please don’t forget the daily battle that we are all waged in, so that when it comes out of the shadows you will be fit and ready for war.

Every Life is Beautiful

I just went to see the movie October Baby and wow.  If you haven’t seen this film yet, please do a.s.a.p.

It tells the tale of nineteen year old Hannah, who discovers she was adopted and an abortion survivor all in the same day.  The movie didn’t shy away from showing the physical, emotional and psychological that abortion causes.  Hannah experiences a heart wrenching experience of forgiveness and letting go.

I also just finished reading Unplanned, which recounts the story of Abby Johnson, who used to direct a planned parenthood clinic until she “saw the light” so to speak.  This video sums it up nicely:

 

 

The more I learn of the truth about abortion, the more I am convinced that it is the greatest tragedy of our time.  Yet, I am finding it hard not to become overwhelmed by feelings of helplessness.  I regret that I have not been more active, through prayer and other activities, in fighting the disrespect for life that is poisoning our world.  At one point in October Baby, Hannah wonders why her mother didn’t want her.  No child should ever have to feel like that.  God has a unique plan and purpose for each life; he wants each one of us and we are precious in his sight.

Jeremiah 1:5:  “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart”

 

Spiritual Warfare and the Coming Persecution

I just watched this video of Glenn Beck talking about the Catholic Church and thought it was great.  He talks about how the Vatican is strengthening itself for spiritual battle and the harsh persecution against Catholics that is surely coming (and has already started).  It is imperative for every Catholic to realize the reality of the spiritual battle we truly fight every day.

Watch the video:  Catholics Under Attack

Ephesians 6: 10-17: Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

How Do You Tend to the Wounds of Christ?

For the past few years my church has had a great Good Friday tradition: “Social Justice” Stations of the Cross.  This involves the confirmation class narrating the stations of the cross along with reflections on the lives of people of faith who have served humanity in some great way.  The people included were: St. Padre Pio, Mike Piazza, Martin Luther King Jr, Immaculate Conception Shelter(in Hartford), Cardinal Roger Mahony, Jean Donovan, Dorothy Day, Mother Teresa, Pope John Paul II, Nelson Mandela, Sister Helen Prejean, Archbishop Oscar Romero, Gaylord Nelson and Mahatma Ghandi.

The last time I attended this powerful celebration of Our Lord’s Passion and death was four years ago when I was a senior in high school.  Now, as a senior in college I am struck by the difference in my life then and now.  I have become such a different person than I was four years ago.  Yet, I am at a similar point – I am graduating and wondering what life will hold next. The words I wrote in my journal that night are still the same ones that are on my heart today.

It was extremely moving and I felt such a strong call from the Lord.  I know deep within me that this is what he is calling me to do – to go out and help the poor, starving people of the world.  I want to spread His love and shout His praises from the rooftops.  I want to be a light to the world.  In my mind I can imagine how I can achieve this but God is going to guide my footsteps.

At that point, I couldn’t begin to imagine where he might lead me.  Even now, I’m waiting and discerning how he wants me to spend this next year.  All of these amazing people who spent their lives serving others give us a glimpse of the things that God can do when we surrender everything to Him.

I’ll leave you with the challenging and thought-provoking questions that accompanied each station, and my favorite song about the crucifixion.

Jesus is Condemned to Death: Do you stand up for your faith or deny your faith?

Jesus Takes Up His Cross: If you were put on trial for being a Christian today, would there be enough evidence to convict you?

Jesus Falls the First Time: Can you expand your circle of love to include all of humanity?

Jesus Meets His Mother: How many times do you blame others for their condition?  Have you ever sad; he’s homeless because he’s lazy?

Simon of Cyrene Helps Jesus: Do you reap the benefits of migrant workers in the United States yet never think of how our government treats them?

Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus: Have you ever looked inside your own heart and asked how can I respond to the tears of the suffering children of the world?

Jesus Falls a Second Time: Do you care more about things than people?

Jesus Speaks to the Women of Jerusalem: How willingly do you help others when you are asked to do so?

Jesus Falls a Third Time: Do you make room for God in the midst of your busy life?

Jesus Stripped of His Clothes: Can you let go of revenge and grudges and forgive those who have hurt you?

Jesus is Nailed to the Cross: Do you condemn the sin or the sinner?

Jesus Dies on the Cross: In order for evil to prevail, all it takes is for good people to do nothing.  Do you do nothing?

Jesus is Removed from the Cross: What can you do today and everyday to care for God’s creation?

Jesus is Placed in the Tomb: Can you respond without hateful words or violence to those who anger or persecute you?