This is probably really different from any other retreat you’ve done before. I want to offer you a way to retreat within the silence of your bedroom, the peace and stillness of the Blessed Sacrament chapel at your church, or even better Adoration.
We see this beautiful young woman and hear about her wedding and learn of her pain…and we feel compassion. We feel so sorry for this woman whose life has been entirely disrupted. In doing this, we are being human. It is human for us to feel such compassion for Brittany (and anyone else in pain). And it is natural that we don’t want her to suffer any more. If there is a way that her pain can be taken away, wouldn’t that be better than for her to needlessly endure?
I wanted names, dates, places, and the assurance of a happy ending. I wanted to know what the future held for me. I wanted God to tell me everything.
You see, there’s something about studying abroad in Europe that made me ask The Big Questions about life.
What was I supposed to do with my degree? Was I supposed to be a nun? Should I work this summer or look for an internship? And, the most pressing question — why weren’t boys asking me out? I knew that I was called to holiness through the sacrament of baptism, but this felt generic.
Yes, guardian angels really do exist! In fact, every year on October 2nd the Church celebrates a Feast Day in honor of Guardian Angels. Your guardian angel is one of God’s greatest gifts to you. They are a source of His power. They never leave your side yet they are constantly looking upon the face of God, too. Guardian angels are not only real they are very active. You should invite yours into your day. Invite your angel to pray with you, to protect you, to help keep you focused on God and to protect you from evil and from harm.
Once I told them I was going home for a break, the next question that usually followed was “what is your major?” I always get varying responses when I tell someone I studied Theology, but on these plane rides in college, there was one response that was pretty common.
“What do you want to do with your degree in Theology? Do you want to be a priest? Why can’t you be a priest?”
I want to share some of that wisdom with you. Here are a couple short quotes from his letters that have left a lasting impact on me.
“Jesus is with you even when you don’t feel His presence. He is never so close to you as He is during your spiritual battles. He is always there, close to you, encouraging you to fight your battle courageously. He is there to ward off the enemy’s blows so that you may not be hurt.” (8/15/1914)
“The storms that are raging around you will turn out to be for God’s glory, your own merit, and the good of many souls.” (6/15/1914)
“Every sacrifice which your soul makes, every good is does is directed to God for the sanctification of all.” (4/2/1917)
“Don’t be daunted by the cross. The surest test of love consists in suffering for the loved one, and if God suffered so much for love, the pain we suffer for Him becomes as lovable as love itself.” (7/14/1914)
When the main characters shift in my life, I often find myself scrambling to justify my “right” to be the main character. I find a way that I am “more than” someone else — more interesting, more stressed, more Christ-like, more anything. I find ways to make myself the center again. This mentality is so easy to get caught up in. I spend so much time justifying my “right,” I forget that we all have the fire of a main character in us. My perception of others is all in relation to the false, puffed up version of myself.
I talk to teenagers just about every day, and the conversations are often the same. They deal with the Bible and what the Church teaches and how challenging it can be to live a holy life in an unholy culture. I’d say that most teens that I talk to are truly looking for the Lord; some, however, are looking less for the Lord and more for the loopholes.
For instance: “I heard that the Bible doesn’t say drinking alcohol is a sin.”
“Well, no, the Bible does not say that drinking alcohol is a sin,” I respond. I then go on to explain that it does become sinful (very easily), if any of the following happen:
'Well, no, the Bible does not say that drinking alcohol is a sin,' I respond. I then go on to explain that it does become sinful (very easily), if any of the following happen…
Every couple of weeks I solemnly walk into a small room where another person is sitting. It kinda feels like a closet, kinda looks like the smallest grandmotherly-parlor-sitting-room you’ve ever seen (complete with appropriate seating and decoration).
We sit there, me and this other person, and have a nice little conversation that consists of me telling them all the things I’ve done wrong recently. It’s a varied, and unexciting list that doesn’t change nearly as often as I change the tone of voice I use to disguise myself. (Don’t judge me. You know you’ve done it too.)
When I was in 5th grade, Beth gave me a packet of Catholic magazines that she had when she was a teenager. I responded oh-so-enthusiastically by shoving them in my closet and forgetting about them. Though I believed in God, I had rarely applied that belief to my daily tasks.
About twelve years ago a teen named Billy asked me this question, “Why do you Catholics believe that Mary ascended into heaven, when it’s not even in the Bible?”
He said “you Catholics” because he went to a local Bible Church but had been coming to a Life Teen Summer Bible Study with some of his Catholic friends.
“Well, first… ” I replied, “Mary did not ascend into heaven; the Blessed Virgin Mary was assumed into heaven. Jesus ascended by His own power. Mary was taken up into heaven by God.” That little difference is a big difference, so I wanted to be sure he understood it.
Billy then replied, “Okay, fine… but it’s still not in the Bible. The Church made it up.”
This is where the conversation got really interesting.
Billy then replied, 'Okay, fine’Ìâ‰âÂÌâ_but it's still not in the Bible. The Church made it up.'
This is where the conversation got really interesting.
Especially in high school, it sometimes seems that if you’re being a good Christian it means you constantly have to say ‘no’ to things. You might look at your friends’ weekend schedule and think, “Gosh, I can’t do this, or this, or that, and definitely not that!”
I used to make fun of my neighbor behind his back. I didn't want to see him do well. I secretly hoped he would strike out or the outfielder would catch his ball. Then I could get up there and hit a home run! At last, I'd have my moment to shine. I would be considered the best. Everyone would want to be like ME! I was envious and it tore me apart. I had no character. I was a bad teammate and a bad friend.
God hid His glory under the appearance of bread and wine so that every week, or even every day, His grace could pulse through your veins. His grace would be in every beat of your heart, bring energy to your body, and healing to your hurts.
Greatness; that’s our goal as men, right?
Whether we want to be a scientist or a lawyer or a football player, we want to be great. That’s a good thing because we are called to greatness by God. However, every great doctor or athlete or plumber or teacher had someone coach them. If we’re going to be able to face the challenges and do what seems impossible in manhood today, we need a coach.
I sometimes wonder what the disciples felt like when Jesus told them that he had to leave them. Probably a little confused, startled, and worried. I don’t blame them, the man they came to know and love was no longer going to be by their side. In fact, Scripture says that because of this news, grief filled the disciples hearts (John 16:6), and yet Jesus still tells them that it is “better for you that I go” (John 16:7).
“Don’t walk into mass out of shape,” proclaims the bridge of the song “Mass Fitness” performed by some, gangly, shaved-eyebrow dude.
Well that Vanilla-Ice-looking dude is me. I love writing silly songs with catchy hooks and was asked to add a comedic spark to Life Teen’s semester on the Mass through song, dance, and video.
The original idea came from our Life Support Coordinator Joel Stepanek. He thought an 80’s style Richard Simmons workout video featuring specific movements that would get people in shape for Mass would be a fun introduction to the topic (since we all know there’s a lot of kneeling, sitting, and standing going on at Mass). I laughed just thinking about it and then suddenly got inspired to blow it up. So I wrote an original song, shot a music video (with the help of some wonderful and talented people), and decided to give it an early 90’s vibe instead.
This month of May, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary – offers us a unique opportunity to deepen our contemplative prayer life.
Just as Mary pondered all the early events surrounding Jesus in her heart (Luke 2:19), we are invited to contemplate what the Holy Spirit chose to inspire and share with us regarding Mary – not only as Christ’s mother – but as our own (John 19:27). Below is part of a reflection I wrote some time ago that I recently rediscovered. Perhaps it will bless your own contemplative prayer life . . .
I’ve noticed that sometimes we receive the Sacrament of Confirmation the same way I received Mousetrap so many years ago. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that the effects of the Sacrament of Confirmation are that it “increases the gifts of the Holy Spirit” in us (#1303). The same gifts of the spirit prophesied by Isaiah in the Old Testament. The same Holy Spirit that descended on the apostles at Pentecost and empowered them to carry the news of Christ to the ends of the known world and even die martyr’s deaths.
Yes — he is very old but during his time, he captured the hearts of many and his goodness and simplicity took the world by storm.
Sound familiar? Of course it does. Unless you’re living under a rock, you know the goodness and simplicity of Pope Francis. For the past year he’s been the Catholic grandfather to billions of people all over the world. But Pope Francis wasn’t the only one seen in this light. During the early 1960’s the world fell in love with a humble man named Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, also known as Pope John XIII.
While many people find Francis’ style of leadership to be new and original, here are five reasons why Pope John was indeed, the “Original Francis.”