Because of this, we need to strive extra hard to keep first things first. Namely, prayer. If we aren't trying, prayer can easily get lost in the chaos. In order to help with this situation, I've compiled a brief list of things that help me continue to stay on point during these summer months.
If you’ve ever been afraid to make the sign of the cross in public, you’re not alone. A lot of us Catholics have done that. Sometimes we make the sign of the cross really quickly, so that people won’t notice. We might even pretend to be swatting a fly or scratching our fore head to begin making the sign as we say grace before lunch in the cafeteria or in a crowded restaurant.
As a kid I remember being super excited for a road trip from Massachusetts to New Jersey to visit my grandparents. In my five year old brain, 'New Jersey' might as well have been the moon and a week was basically forever. I had to pack accordingly. Pulling bags out the closet I filled them with my stuffed animals, dolls, books, art supplies, my sticker collection and a panda poster.
One little bump and I go from calm and collected to, 'This plane is going to crash, and I'm too young to die!'
Yes, I'm that dramatic, sometimes.
I think of all the things that I want to still do with my life, things that I want to accomplish, places I wanted to go; I think of children and enjoying the benefits of becoming an old man who sits on his front porch drinking lemonade and yelling at kids to get off his lawn (face it, you know that is going to be awesome).
Fear will grip me the rest of that flight. I can't focus on anything … not the weird in-flight movie or awkward conversation I am having with the person next to me. I'm gripping the armrest like it will actually steer the plane for the rest of the flight.
When I was in high school, during those ancient years in the 90’s when we had an alarm clock that was separate from our phones, I hated waking up early.
Pope Francis celebrated holy mass with the Cardinals in the Sistine Chapel on Wednesday and within minutes his homily was made available online.
As a former youth minister, I remember how exciting Steubenville Youth Conferences were. Thousands of passionate people, on fire for God, devoting an entire weekend to worshipping the Lord and coming to know Him better. That is powerful stuff!
As a high schooler, I was a scrawny, ghost-white toothpick with very little strength but a lot of stamina. (Oh, wait . . . I'm still like that.) I loved to play sports and I certainly had the genes for it. Unfortunately, my build made it easy for the opposing team to crack me in half before the referee had any time to notice what happened. Good thing I was fast.
It's fair to say that my driving is always an adventure full of surprises, disappointments, and apologies to my passengers.
Whether you're directionally challenged like me or not, life is pretty tough to navigate. Everyone has moments where we are unsure of who we are, where we're headed, and if there is a voice that we can trust to get us there. Even prayer can be frustrating as we go through different periods where God may seem close or distant, loud or silent.
Ìâ‰âÂÌâÅÒHold on,' you're asking me, 'Are you telling me I shouldn't own anything fun?' Of course not. Music and movies help us relax, clothes help us express beauty, and smartphones keep us connected and informed (and yes, entertained). These are all good things.
My challenge is this: to look at the things that we're spending money on and ask ourselves, 'Do I really need this thing?' Do I need a new pair of shoes, or are the ones I have okay? Do I have to buy these songs or can I just listen to the radio?
In about three weeks, my wife is going to give birth to our first child. This is beautiful, overwhelming, humbling, and more than anything, exciting.
Our faith, however, is not based on hollow rituals or oppressive rules. It's based on an encounter with the person of Jesus, who changes everything. Our relationship with Christ connects us with the origin of our life and the meaning of where we are going. He desires us not to be weighed down but rather to live life to its fullest potential (John 10:10).
When He calls us to live a holy life, it's because he knows what we are capable of and is drawing our potential out of us like any good sports coach does.
The Apostles couldn't explain how Jesus rose from the dead but they still spoke the truth because they experienced His rising in person. I couldn't intellectually or scientifically prove the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist (see CCC 1374) yet I proclaimed it as true because I have experienced what Jesus has done for me through the Eucharist.
This is how we can grow in holiness in everyday life. Every day gives us new opportunities for our selfish, superior part to die and for us to grow in love. Maybe we do the dishes without grumbling about it, help someone with school work even if we'd rather be doing something else, or take time to hang out with our siblings.
We’re in a time where our leaders and beliefs are under a lot of scrutiny. It’s not always a popular thing to stand up for the Gospel these days. However, it wasn’t easy to stand up for the Gospel back in the days of the Early Church, either.
It’s ironic because I think it should have been easier back then. I have to pull out scripture to show people what Jesus said and did. The Apostles just had to say “Guys, don’t you remember two weeks ago on the boat when Jesus said this and that?”
I'd probably be on my way home, too. Because, in a way, I have felt like they felt. Maybe you have, too.
We've been on the great retreats, attended the amazing youth conferences, heard the killer homilies, felt the graces of Confession, gotten into the power of the Triduum. We've heard His voice and felt His presence. Everything is working according to plan.
And then, a little time goes by . . . a couple hours, a couple days, a couple weeks. And the feelings are gone. And it feels like Jesus is gone, too.
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.'
If you're on any type of social media and have an opinion about anything, you've probably experienced this. You type, 'Wendys fries are so much better than McDonald's' as a status update. You walk away from your computer and return to find World War III has broken out on your wall, with friends declaring their allegiances.
There's no room for that kind of wishy-washy-ness when it comes down to deciding where you want to spend eternity. Saying 'I do' during those baptismal promises was a powerful moment for me. It meant I was recommitting to giving my life over to my bridegoom, Jesus Christ, and His Church (Ephesians 5).
It was annoying. It was irritating. It was frustrating.
These are not major things. They are tiny, annoying things that piled up one after another. There are greater tragedies in the world, for sure, but that doesn't mean that I still didn't feel like throwing my hands up and wallowing in my own misery.
But then I remembered something.