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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 . . .
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.”
God offers us His grace and mercy every day, especially through the Eucharist. Because the tomb is empty, we have freedom. When Jesus descended into Hell he took sin and shame with Him. He left them there, where they belong. It is because Jesus rose that we are free. God's mercy is so big. St. John Vianney put it beautifully when he said, 'Our sins are nothing but a grain of sand alongside the great mountain of the mercy of God.'
This was the moment I’d dreamt of and prayed for since my teenage years. This was my chance to look into the eyes of my hero and say, “Thank you” for what his shepherding and pontificate had meant to me both personally and professionally. We knelt down. I clutched his hand. Fighting back overwhelming tears of joy, we kissed his ring and received his saintly blessing. He spoke to us, briefly, through muddled speech and a wide grin.
He was also known as a pretty witty pope. His most famous quip came after a reporter asked “How many people work in the Vatican?” John XXIII’s answer: “About half of them.”
Another time he met a boy who introduced himself as Angelo. “That was my name,” John XXIII said, then added conspiratorially, “but then they made me change it.”
“Do not be afraid. Do not be satisfied with mediocrity. Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” “What really matters in life is that we are loved by Christ and that we love Him in return. In comparison to the love of Jesus, everything else is secondary. And, without […]
To be clear, the Church doesn’t “make someone” a saint. The Church recognizes the holiness of certain individuals and honors some with the title of “saint.” If you make it to heaven, you are a saint – whether or not the Church recognizes you as one publicly.
The title of saint is conferred on someone after what is called the canonization process.
I’m not going to say all guys are like this… but it is how a lot of people place value on their lives. What you do and how much stuff you have is generally what a person is judged by – especially a man. Do more stuff! Buy more things! Wear good clothes! Work harder than Jobs at your jobs! Be more successful than Wayne Wright! Don’t know who that is? Me neither. But some dude has that name and he obviously wasn’t good enough to accomplish things.
Nicholas was known for his generosity. As tradition goes, he was so selfless that (although he, too, was poor) he helped his likewise poor neighbor support and pay for his daughters' weddings. Nicholas snuck up to his neighbor's house at night and dropped a handful of gold coins through the open window so that the eldest daughter could afford to get married. He would later repeat the generous act two more times. From there, the Santa legend grew into what we now know today – stockings, chimneys, a belly like jelly and all that good stuff.
Those are the little things, the little acts of love that God sees and understands. Those are the things that define you, that make your whole being beautiful. That doesn’t make up for our sins and failings, and it certainly doesn’t excuse them… but it means there are shreds of goodness even in the midst of our brokenness.
The definition of beautiful isn’t an absence of sin or blemishes; it’s the presence of love. Beautiful is not about having arms like Michelle Obama, but like Mother Teresa.
You and I . . . we've got this Martha thing down.
What comes to mind when you hear the term 'roughing it'? Do you envision a camping trip without electricity? Perhaps you think of a hotel room without room service or wireless Internet? Maybe your idea of roughing it means that there's no charge left on your cell phone or, worse yet, you forgot your cell at home and had to go the entire day without the eternal blessing of text messaging. Whatever the case, odds are that your life looks very little like that of an obscure Lebanese monk now known as Saint Charbel.
When I ask you, 'How many friends do you have?' what pops into your mind? Is it ‘Ìâ‰âÂÌâ_
How many 'true' friends?
How many Facebook friends?
How many friends in my whole lifetime? Actually, it's far more than any of those numbers. In truth you have more friends than you can count. The saints in heaven are the best friends you could ask for … and they're pulling for you.
Do you want to know what true love looks like? Here it is. “Behold this heart that has so loved men.” That's what Jesus said of this picture of His Sacred Heart. I bet you've seen this picture before . . . or maybe you haven't and that's fine too. Either way, it's worth learning about. This picture is loaded with meaning and I think you'll love it as much as I do after I tell you about it.