As the new year began, I was still jobless and doubting that it was God's plan for me to make such a big move in just a few months. However, I went to daily Mass one day and found myself begging God to help me understand what He had planned for me. I remember praying over and over, 'Lord, give me the grace to follow you, even unto death.'
I'm not sure if you know this about me but something rather drastic happened in my life a couple months ago – I found out I had an intolerance for gluten. If you follow me on the Twittersphere (LT_Christina) you've probably seen me talk about this. Scratch that, you've probably seen me complain and bemoan my gluten-less state while everyone else is so happily eating muffins and bagels and brownies.
This summer at all of the Life Teen Summer Camps, the hosts have been walking through the Beatitudes.ÌâåÊThe first Life Teen week, I was able to sit in on all of the sessions and was deeply challenged by the truths that the host was sharing as he talked about poverty, justice and what we are really called to as Christians. (Thanks Gomer!)ÌâåÊThe Spirit began stirring in me and in Erik, and we decided that we needed to really examine our lives, our lifestyle, and our understanding of our call as Christians to live in solidarity with the poor.ÌâåÊ
Read that verse again. It doesn't say lay down part of our lives. It says lay down our lives, and that means everything, including our money. For us this hasn't been easy. As we currently seek to purchase our first home, it would be nice to have that extra money to put toward our down payment. But God doesn't promise this life to be easy. He asks us to trust, and that's what we do.
St. Paul says in Ephesians 4:4, 'Live a life worthy of the calling you have received.' The reality is that for a lot of us the calling we have received requires us to have 'things' in order to carry out what God wants us to do and be who God has made us to be. It's different for everyone, because everyone has a different calling.
Clothes say something about what we think, what we value. They also influence how we behave and feel. Sunday is special, and God's House is special. Some things are really important, and our clothing and demeanor ought to reflect this truth.
The exterior reflects the interior, and God definitely deserves the best we have inside and out!
The fact is that every time I see a hero in a movie do something awesome, I want to do the same. However, thinking I’ll hit like Rocky or climb walls like Spiderman is not realistic and will likely get me in over my head. The heroes we look up to train very hard to be ready for the big moment. Firefighters train for a long time before getting on the truck and going to put out fires. The 2008 Olympics wasn’t Michael Phelps’ first time in a pool.
At some point when I grew up, I stopped praying like a kid. Maybe I was embarrassed to ask God for what I really wanted, or maybe I just wasn't so sure He was able or willing to take care of me. I think one of the reasons that Jesus said that the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to children (Matthew 19:14) is because children still believe in a God who cares about every little detail of their lives. They are still courageous enough to ask for miracles when everyone else tells them to not get their hopes up.
As we go through our sacramental preparation for Confirmation, Confirmation saints are chosen to be a person we want to be like, as well as someone who can pray for us from heaven.
It means waiting for the person God intended you to be with, and especially saving sex for marriage. The world says, 'Go ahead . . . do whatever you want, whenever you want, as long as it makes you feel good.' God made sex, and He made it to be an expression of free and fruitful love in the context of marriage. Don’t forget though, that it’s never too late to recommit to purity if you’ve already fallen. None of us are perfect; it’s very hard to stay pure.
Ìâ‰âÂÌâÅÒBlessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.' (Matthew 5:3)
This is one of those Scripture passages that many people 'know' (meaning, they've heard it before) but countless people fail to understand. My own parochial school teacher taught us that it simply meant God loves poor people 'more.'
Ummm, to put it as charitably and bluntly as possible . . . no, that's not what it means . . .
As a result, 'loving your neighbor' has become more of a general accepting of someone for everything they choose to be and do. This idea is summed up as the great 'virtue' of tolerance. On the surface, it seems like a great and honorable ideal. Everyone can do what they want without being judged and nobody hurts anyone else’s feelings.
Yet we find something radically different in the biblical vision of love. In the gospel of John, Jesus says 'No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends' (John 15:13).
Catholics are able to speak in tongues if they have been given the gift of tongues by the Holy Spirit.
“Tongues” is a kind of prayer that can either be vocalized or internal and it’s when a person is able to pray in a language that they do not know. Not all Catholics are given this gift, but that's okay. All Catholics receive the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit at Confirmation. These are the important gifts that everyone needs to grow in holiness.
In the history of the church numerous Saints have been given the stigmata, the physical wounds of Christ, as an outward sign of how they are living their lives. Jesus told his disciples 'If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me' (Luke 9:23) In order to become holy we must become like Christ, and this includes making sacrifices.
Do you ever feel like there's some big secret to becoming a saint and you can't figure out what it is? What did they do to become so awesome? Was there a book they read? A certain prayer they prayed? Does a diet of bread and fish help?
That's what I was wondering. (Not so much the bread and fish part.) God has been teaching me that you become a saint by . . .
We observed workers moving rocks barefoot because they only had one pair of shoes and needed them to last. Families who lived in a landfill without electricity or running water, hoping to make a dollar a day sorting trash. As the mission director, Julia, told us, 'I know that you think that you have problems in the U.S., but compared to what we have here, you live in heaven.' While we had grown up hearing about those in need, our first hand encounter was sobering.
I decided to ask one of these teens at the pool what she thought of the book, and she turned bright red when I interrupted her. She even admitted to being embarrassed because I interrupted her at “a really naughty part.” When we talked about it, she said that she knew the sex scenes were “a little much” but didn’t see anything wrong with it. “After all,” she said, “It’s not like I’m sitting here at the pool making out with my boyfriend while I read.”
Modesty is annoying. That's right, I said it.
And not just little brother level of annoying. It's like stand-still traffic, spilled hot coffee, only AM radio, and little brother in the back seat level of annoying.
I really, truly, feel this way. Dressing modestly is not easy. You have to search longer when you're at the mall. You can't always embrace the new fashions without a little (or a lot) of modification.
Catholics follow the Ten Commandments because Christ, Himself, followed them and because He told others to follow them (Matthew 19:16-19). We also follow them because they were given to us by God. In the book of Exodus we read how God himself gave these commandments to the Israelites through the help of Moses. However there is more to following the Ten Commandments than just because 'God told us to.'
We obey God's commands because He loves us! Because God loves us and loves us perfectly we can always trust His word. Also, because God created us we can trust that He always knows what is best for us.