When I first heard Isabel’s testimony at a retreat, I was tearing up just thinking about what life would be like without having parents around. It made me wonder… do I respect and value my own parents? The words of advice that I couldn’t stop thinking about from Isabel were, “Always love and respect your parents before it’s too late.” That talk really inspired and helped everyone realize that our parents should be loved, respected, and valued every day while we have them with us.
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.
The next few Sundays looked the same. Each week I was presented with an opportunity to tell them more about my faith but each week, I responded with a one-word answer. After a month of this happening, my siblings caught on. They noticed that instead of cramming for a test on Sunday night, I was at church. They called me anything from “church freak” to “soon-to-be-nun.”
To make matters worse I began struggling with even more anxieties, anxieties about: past worries, college decisions, the future, and even my faith. I wrestled with these anxieties for a while and though I have certainly been able to manage them better, this is something that I still struggle with today.
Often I wonder why did this happen? I felt fine in the beginning of the school year. I’ve had worries like this in the past, but nothing that has trapped me as much as these anxieties did. After praying and reflecting on this question a great deal, I strongly believe that this was Jesus telling me to wake up.
Q: I am a junior in high school and I have never been asked to the Homecoming Dance. How can I help from feeling hopeless when I see my friends getting asked to different dances?
The other day, my youth minister threw my phone out of a (moving) car window. It was his way of teaching me to be “in the world but not of it.” He’s a tough-luck kind of guy. Just kidding. He did throw my phone out the window, but it was an accident. I was shocked. […]
When she would shoot, it was always a swoosh. When she dribbled, it was between the legs and around the back. And when it was a no-look pass, it was the slickest alley-oop you’d ever seen. Or in this case imagined. At 34 years old and a whopping 4 foot 6, she was our determined Down Syndrome winner of hearts and the star of every imaginary game she had ever played in our family room back home.
And not only was he my teacher; he was a mentor, an inspiration in my faith life, and someone from whom I had often sought theological advice. How fitting, then, that he was there that evening to make physical God’s promise to uphold my right hand — and the right hand of each member of my beloved class.
When God makes promises, I learned, it’s anything but a metaphor.
It was two days after my college graduation. I was supposed to be happy. Proud. Filled with a sense of achievement, satisfaction, and security.
Why, then, was I instead consumed with feelings of frustration, confusion, disappointment, and resentment?
I didn’t have a job lined up. I didn’t get into graduate school.
Eventually, in my heart, the answer became clear. But it was gradual. It was never a burning bush or a voice from the heavens. And honestly, I think I grew more as a person because of it. Throughout my seemingly endless period of questioning my future, I learned to trust. God created the Universe. Did I honestly think He couldn’t handle University?
Now, as a senior in college I am not a princess or a wedding cake maker. As I grew up I realized that I could not continue to plan my life around things that could change. I decided it made sense to anchor my life in the one thing that would never change, the one thing that would continually satisfy me – seeking the will of God the Father and living my life asking for His help and direction.
May is when it gets real. The predictable routine of school is about to end and suddenly you realize that you’re not 100% sure what the future holds. When I started college as a freshman, I assumed that life was now on a set track — I’d meet and fall in love with my future husband around the middle of my junior year so we could be engaged by the time we graduated and get married in the summer. We’d both get great jobs, acquire a house with a white picket fence, live happily ever after with our dog and three kids and be active volunteers in our local Catholic Church. I had seen this story unfold in the lives of others, so I figured it would be mine, too.
What if I told you that your life was halfway over? I’m guessing you’re 15 or 16, maybe 17 years old. What if I told you that your life expectancy was to live until you were 32 years old? I know what you’re thinking – “dude, most people live past 32. You’re being way over-dramatic.” […]
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.
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.
So what exactly was Jesus talking about when He said, 'It is finished'?
As the new year began, I was still jobless and doubting that it was God's plan for me to make such a big move in just a few months. However, I went to daily Mass one day and found myself begging God to help me understand what He had planned for me. I remember praying over and over, 'Lord, give me the grace to follow you, even unto death.'
Read that verse again. It doesn't say lay down part of our lives. It says lay down our lives, and that means everything, including our money. For us this hasn't been easy. As we currently seek to purchase our first home, it would be nice to have that extra money to put toward our down payment. But God doesn't promise this life to be easy. He asks us to trust, and that's what we do.
St. Paul says in Ephesians 4:4, 'Live a life worthy of the calling you have received.' The reality is that for a lot of us the calling we have received requires us to have 'things' in order to carry out what God wants us to do and be who God has made us to be. It's different for everyone, because everyone has a different calling.
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.