When I was 6 years old, there was a book was on display in the family room. It had a picture of Pope John Paul II on the cover and about 1,000 pages of text about his life inside. And around 11:45 p.m. on New Year’s Eve 1998 I decided that my resolution for the […]
You see, here’s my thought process… if everyone’s so worried about waiting and preparing for Him, what if they start ignoring Him? What if “preparing” for Jesus turns into buying presents and putting up “better than last years” Christmas lights? What if “waiting” becomes an excuse for spiritual laziness and complacency?
What if Advent flies by and it’s Christmas Eve and your soul is in the same place as it was on November 30th? That’s the real nightmare before Christmas.
I am doing the same thing that the saints do for me when I ask them to pray with me to Jesus… to join their prayers to mine, en route to Christ. Since they’re closer to Him than I am, it actually makes even more sense for them to pray for me, than for my earthly friends to pray for me.
After two years and the loss of the use of her legs it became clear that Chiara Luce wouldn’t survive. Despite her pain she refused morphine so that she could remain lucid and offer all her suffering up to Jesus. She encouraged her parents to go out to dinner together, trying to prepare them for life after her death. Paralyzed in her bed, she kept loving.
In October 1990, Chiara Luce died at home. But her story doesn’t end there.
People became so inspired by the life and holiness of this “average” girl that her bishop opened the cause for her sainthood. In September 2010 she was declared “Blessed” (or one step away from becoming a saint) at a ceremony attended by over 25,000 people from 57 countries. Not bad for a small-town girl who never sought fame.
No one is supposed to work on the Sabbath – not you, not your son or daughter, not your manservant or your lady-servant, not even your donkey or ox or Chia pet… nobody.
So that means you can (dare I say… should?) sleep until noon on Sundays, right? And if sleeping ‘til noon means missing Sunday Mass, then God is cool with it, right?
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.