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.
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 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.
Figuring out what to do in the future is one of the things that most young people struggle to figure out. Now that you know your identity, you can remind yourself that God, indeed, has a purpose for you. You were created for a reason, and figuring that reason out will be one of the most exciting things you ever do.
I want a lot of things out of life. I want to be happy. I want to feel like I have purpose. I want to be loved. I want to make a difference. I want to live a life I'm proud of. I want to be a saint. I want chocolate and tacos but not at the same time.
But I don't know where to find those vague and lofty desires. Are they only talked about in poems and songs? Because so many people around me aren't happy with their lives, or haven't found their purpose, or are settling for counterfeit love and a bottle of booze.
Instead of going into the chapel and pouring out my thoughts or trying really hard to hear Him, I'm just sitting in the silence. His calm, gentle, strong voice always comes to me if I submit to the sacred silence in the chapel.
If I can't make it to the chapel, I can sit in silence with God in my room. My reflection this week on my silent time has flowed nicely with my reflections on not speeding.
What I've learned this week is this: I don't always have to set the pace. Whether it be in the car, in the hallway, or in the chapel – I can take my time. I can slow down. I can breathe. I can listen to His heartbeat, and strive to live my life to the rhythm of that heart beat. Let God set the rhythm, and experience the freedom that it offers.
When I was a kid, Lent didn't mean a whole lot. Lent meant getting a filet-o-fish instead of a cheeseburger in my usual Friday Happy Meal. It meant that the music at Mass got more ‘Ìâ‰âÂÌâèÏserious,' and we didn't say the 'A' word: you know, (Allelu—). It meant that soon Easter was coming and do you know what that meant? That's right . . . an Easter egg hunt against my brothers!
Catholics make the sign of the cross because it is a brief profession of the Christian faith, which we received from the Apostles. 'Through the Sign of the Cross we place ourselves under the protection of the Triune God.' (CCC 2157)
As often as we make the sign of the cross in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, we are saying that we believe in God, a Trinity of three persons, and the Redemption of the Cross.
Adoration continued and I began to let go little by little. As I dove into prayer with the other 500 teens, Matt Maher encouraged us to vocalize our prayer and praises to God. Everyone around me was praying aloud and I wanted so badly to have the courage to shout out my love for God too, but I was so consumed by the idea that I would do it wrong or that people would think I was weird.
I stayed silent at first and continued to pray in my heart. I begged God for the courage to pray aloud and to help me get over my pride, self-doubt and fear. He definitely heard my prayers.
Far from offering an escape from the problems of the world, the Rosary obliges us to see them with responsible and generous eyes, and obtains for us the strength to face them with the certainty of God’s help and the firm intention of bearing witness in every situation to 'love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony' (Colossians 3:14).
Our friends at RosaryArmy.com have some great instructions for how to make your own rope rosary. Do something meaningful (and super Catholic) with some of your free time and get together with your friends or youth group to make a bunch of rosaries for yourselves, or to give away. You could even make small rosaries that are just one decade and wear it on your wrist as a witness and reminder to pray
The most important part of all of this is in Jesus' first three words to Peter, 'Come after me.' With these words, Jesus is not only saying that Peter must physically follow him, but that Peter's desires are to come after His as well. If we focus on doing what Jesus is asking us to do, our lives will change radically. Obviously, not all of us will become Pope, like Peter, but I guarantee that God will do far greater things with your life than you could ever do on your own.
I begged and cried and begged more . . . 'God fix this. You have to. I know you're in charge but come on, this can't be what you want . . . right?'
That's how my prayers typically went when I prayed for Catherine, my friend's mom, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2009. Catherine's health fluctuated in the following years and she never left the top of my prayer list.
Her family said it was time to pray for a miracle when Catherine stopped responding to treatment last fall. So I continued to beg God for a miracle. Every time I was miserable about something – the Arizona heat, a hard workout, the flu, or heartache – I offered up my suffering for Catherine.
It's such an honor to be able to write just for you girls this time. I love being able to share with you some of the most important lessons I've learned over the past couple years about being a woman and being a Catholic. It took me a long time to learn these things! I hope you can put this advice to good use in your own life.
One of my favorite things to do is workout. Whether at a gym, running outside, or doing P90X in my home, I love getting my body into shape. (Now, if only I could work on my eating habits a little bit). For me there's just something about the discipline it takes, the feeling I get at the end, and the little results I can see that show me that I am getting healthier.
Here we are, on Fat Tuesday … and if you're like me, you're scrambling to decide what exactly you're giving up for the next 40 days. Will it be candy … no, procrastinating’Ìâ‰âÂÌâ_ or maybe you'll finally tackle that missing prayer time. The possibilities seem infinite and overwhelming. Before you know it, there are going to be ashes on your forehead and all your Catholic friends will be asking, 'So what did YOU give up this year?' Don't worry too much. I've been thinking about it, and I have some rock-solid advice on how to make this the most productive (and rewarding) Lent ever.