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.
“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.
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.
Daily Mass became part of my routine when I was in college, and because of Mass, I am a changed person.
I am reminded each day that Jesus loves me and is a very real part of who I am. Through His holy sacrifice — and my human one in getting up early for daily Mass, His grace and goodness transform me. Maybe you’re thinking, “but I just don’t feel anything at Mass,” or that,“Mass is boring.” These are common feelings, but we shouldn’t let these feelings or thoughts come between us and Jesus. We should realize that it’s how we respond to Christ’s call to be with Him daily that makes the difference in how we are receptive to Him.
“I can’t go to Confession! I don’t know how to start! I don’t know my Act of Contrition!” If you blank on how to go to Confession, just let the priest know. He is there as a representative of God’s love and patience. Plus, he went to school for this. Even if you don’t know how it’s supposed to go, he can walk you through it.
Change can be a good thing. You’ll learn and grow and learn some more. God may bring you places you never imagined you’d go. He may ask more of you than you think you’re capable of. Be open to new things. However, remember to stay true to what you believe in. Jesus is the “way and the truth” (John 14:6). Hold tight to the truth, and He’ll show you the way. You might be challenged to think outside the box or to get out of your Catholic bubble.
We walk into confession as spiritual lepers, wounded and scarred by sin. In the case of mortal sin, we’re even spiritual outcasts of heaven, living outside of the state of grace. But we walk out of Confession as people brought back to life and made new.
If we were to truly recognize what God is doing in us, our reaction would be one of wonder and awe followed by humble gratitude.
A few years ago I felt my relationship with God was kind of “meh” so I asked a priest I knew, Father Chris, for advice. “Are you attending mass every day?” Father Chris asked. Keep in mind, I worked at a church that offered mass twice a day. All I had to do was walk […]
When we stand in line waiting to enter the confessional, it’s natural to sometimes feel a little fear, a little anxiousness, a little nervousness. After all, we’re standing in line to speak our sins aloud! Sometimes though, we walk out of the confessional and we might still feel guilty, or ashamed of what we’ve done […]
I’m still not exactly sure why I started writing them. I wish I could say that I had some noble, romantic reason, but that would be a lie. It was more like a combination of frustration and distraction. One night, I was trying to pray before I went to bed. I was really struggling with […]
“When you get confirmed, what happened to the Apostles is the exact same thing that will happen to you . . . maybe minus the visible tongues of fire . . . I don’t know, I’m not making any guarantees. But the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit will actually be upon you. This is what happens in the Sacrament of Confirmation, that we receive these gifts. And these gifts are what? St. Paul writes about them in the book of Galatians – the fruits of the Spirit are: love, and joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. You receive the power to live a new life, not just for yourself but for other people.”
If I want to live, there are things in me that need to die. My selfishness, my lust, my greed, my grudges, and my sin have got to go.
Each day we're faced with this choice: will I live for myself or will I lay my life down? Is my life focused on success or sacrifice?
When we walk into a church, we are confronted with the radical call to die. When we see the baptismal font, we are reminded that it's only through death that we can rise with Christ. And when we dip our fingers into the Holy Water, we trace the sign of the cross to say, 'God, drown whatever needs to be drowned in my heart. I want to live with you, so I'm willing to die like you.'
One older lady gasped, 'Well, I think that that would be the worst. It would be so depressing; hearing all about people's sins.'
I told them that it was the exact opposite. There is almost no greater place to be than with someone when they are coming back to God . . .
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.
Oh, Tom and Katie, what went wrong? What happened that made a love so exciting, so public, so strange and sort of off-putting, end? It made me wonder about the general state of marriage; about half end in divorce. It seems more and more that marriage is a mission impossible. (See what I did there?)
That was a tough question, but the next one worried me:
'Was I afraid to talk with God, to be honest with Him, and listen to Him even if I didn't like it?'
I had to think about it for a while. I realized that while I trusted God with most things, there was still one thing that I avoided … Confession. I would go to Mass every Sunday and pray throughout the day asking for help or thanking Him, but I didn't like sharing my weaknesses with Him.
Did any of your family or friends think you were crazy for becoming Catholic? How did you respond?
My family was supportive, but my friends were not in the least bit. Most of them doubted that I could ever change or stick with it. They were just waiting for me to fall again. In a way, that doubt from other people pushes you harder. I looked at their doubt in me as an extra source of motivation.
Joanna and I became friends in college, when I was a junior and she was a freshman. Her family had converted to Catholicism when she was a teenager and she struggled to embrace their new beliefs. I was a theology major who loved my Catholic faith and a good discussion. Joanna would often knock on my door, offer me a pudding snack, and spend hours grilling me about the Church.